TD Jakes - Girded
When his brothers came in after betraying and throwing him into a pit and allowing him to be sold by the Midianites into slavery and telling his father that he was dead and taking 20 pieces of silver, they sold their brother. They sold their brother, and yet Joseph has reached a point of maturity in his life that he comforts his betrayers and says, "You meant it for evil, but God made it good". I don't think you can have peace just by prayer. I don't think you can have peace just because you anointed yourself with oil. I think you can have peace when you make peace with things turned out the way they were supposed to turn out for me to be who God wanted me to be.
When you finally get to the point that you recognize that things had to turn out the way they turned out in order to shape you into the woman or the man that God created you to be, the sting has come out of the viper. And though he has bitten, and though he has left a bruise, you are no longer poisoned in your soul because you know you are, and you know whose you are, and you know that God is working all things, as Ephesians says, after the counsel of his own will. I believe it's Ephesians 1:9, "He worketh all things after the counsel of his own will". God worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.
We need to talk about that right now because things are crazy right now. And there's betrayal, and there's denial, and there's treachery, and diabolical intent that we all deal with every day, and sometimes from people we love, sometimes from people we're married to or people that came out of our own bodies, out of our own loins, or from our parents or grandparents. And we have to rise to the point that we begin to trust the fact that God is still in control, even when the enemy is at the table. Wow, if I stop right there, I've already preached. God is still in control even when the enemy is at the table. Not only did Jesus allow him to sit at the table with him, he encouraged him. In one place, he says, "What thou doest, do it quickly. Go, do what you're gonna do," because he understands that it's not just the good things that people do that usher us into our destiny.
Sometimes it is the wicked things that they do, the treacherous, intentional, diabolical things that they do that still drive us into his will and into his purpose. Such was the atmosphere of the evening, and Jesus sits at meat with them. And not only does he sit at meat with them, it would seem appropriate that if Jesus was having dinner with me, I would be serving him. But Jesus is serving them and he says, "The one who dips with me, one of you is a devil. The one who dips with me is the devil". And he's serving, "Take, eat. This is my body that is broken for you".
So the body of Christ is serving them the body of Christ, and they are eating the body of Christ while they are talking with the body of Christ. Or we could say it this way: the physical body of Christ is serving the memorial body of Christ to the church who is the mystical body of Christ so that eventually they will behold the glorified body of Christ. Did you get that? Don't miss that. That is the tension of this moment. And the Bible goes on to say that supper has come to an end. And when supper has come to an end, Jesus rises from the table, which is always an indication at that dinner is over. When the most affluent one rises, the meeting is over.
If you go to a boardroom and the person you came to meet gets up, the meeting is over. It's just over. If you're having lunch with somebody and the more affluent person rises up from the table, the meal it's over. But it was not over until he had fed them. It was not over while they talked, and while they asked questions, and asked the Lord, "Is it I"? And as they debated and discussed amongst themselves, it was not over. All of that has now come to an end and Jesus rises from the table. Now he who was low has been made high, and now he stands above them and does the strangest of things. The Bible says he laid aside his garments.
Now, take your sanctified mind and just see this as if it were a movie and not a text. And the supper has ended, and Jesus rises up from supper and he starts disrobing in front of his disciples, allowing himself to be vulnerable. Real mentorship is not just teaching people principles, but allowing them to see who you really are. And we really don't get real mentorship. We see our teacher's ideals, but we don't see the realities. And so we go back with a bag full of ideals and an empty suitcase full of realities. And the ideals without the realities throws the scale out of balance. But the truth of the matter is Jesus stands up and begins to disrobe himself, and it reminds us and it tells us so graphically and so poignantly that he who came to cover our sins would be stripped.
Paul says, "He became poor that through his poverty I might be made rich". And so he divests himself of his vestures, and then, having divested himself of his clothing and they see him as he is, he then girds himself with the towel and goes from above them to stooping down beneath them. Able to stand above is one kind of power, but able to drop to your knees is another. You must realize it takes as much power to kneel as it does to stand. It takes as much power and as much grace to lower yourself as it does to elevate yourself, and to lower yourself in front of your students, your mentees, your disciples, your followers. He strips himself. He raises himself, he strips himself, and then he humbles himself. He raises himself, he strips himself, and then he humbles himself. He raises himself, he strips himself, and then he humbles himself. And that in essence is what he did to come in the first place.
"Who is worthy to open the seals," the book of Revelation says, "and loose the seals of the book"? And the Lamb was found worthy, "I will do it". He rises from glory. He pours out of himself in heaven his glory and honor and empties himself out. The Bible said, "He emptied himself out," in order to become a man, in order to come in the flesh. And then finds a virgin named Mary, and she becomes the mother of Jesus, the mother, the matriarch. The word "matriarch" is the same word we get "material" from. In other words, he got dressed in her womb with matter, her matter, her material, therefore becoming kin to me. He is my Kinsman Redeemer. He has become kin to me, not because of his Spirit, but because of his flesh.
And we now begin to recognize for the first time that the flesh that he borrowed from Mary, that he wrapped himself in, was a human material, matriarch, mother, through which he was able to become brethren and become kin to me. The moment he put on her material, he had to give up his omnipotence. He couldn't be every place. He couldn't have all power. He had to give up his omniscience. They asked him, "When is the kingdom coming"? He said, "It's not given unto me to know not the sun nor the angels, but the Father which is in heaven".
So there were certain things he couldn't know anymore. There were certain powers he couldn't use anymore. Omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence. He could be here and not there. He had to wait on the boat to land to get off. He had to do things he didn't have to do before because he was no longer omnipresent. He emptied all of that out. He laid all of that aside and wrapped up in her flesh. And she became his mother because she gave him the material of humanity. And when she gave him the material of humanity, he became eligible to die for us. Without that matriarch, without their material, without that flesh, there'd have been nothing to nail to the cross.
So we honor and we recognize her contribution because his matriarch, his material, gave flesh to his promise. Let's say it this way. John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God". John 1:14 says, "And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us". Another passage of Scripture says, "His name shall be called Emmanuel". God Tabernacled with us. What is tabernacle? A tent. What is a tent? Material. What is flesh? Material. He got the material from Mary so that God could tabernacle with us. Oh, this is rich. For the first time in all of the eons of eternity, he knew what sleep was like. He knew what tired was like. As God, he neither sleeps nor slumbers, but now he becomes subject to tiredness.
For the first time in his life, he knew what hunger was like. After being tempted in the wilderness, the Bible says, "Afterward, he hungered". And Satan said, "Oh, I've got you vulnerable," and this is what stops most of us from being able to kneel, or to serve, or to work is because we're so afraid of being vulnerable that we would rather wrap up in a lie than strip down to the truth and be who we really are. The courage to love. The courage to be in love. The courage to serve. The courage to lift someone else up. The courage to take the back seat, not the high seat, to come into the room and sit in the back, and wait to be elevated. All of these pictures point toward lessons that God is teaching us.
We are looking at Jesus who is teaching without talking. I said he's teaching without talking. Most of God's teaching is without talking. He allows us to learn through the situations we are able to experience, and experience worketh patience. It causes us to have an experience with God. And sometimes it isn't so much what God says as just watching what God does that brings us into revelation knowledge. And there we are, stumbling around, trying to say with words something that was not revealed through speech.
And the assignment, the reason I wrote the book, "Don't Drop the Mic", is because the big challenge that we have is to take the abstract revelatory experiences of God and translate them into a language that touches the hearer. Oh, that's an amazing thing to do, to have to grapple with, to find language to express that which cannot be uttered. Jesus hasn't said a thing. He's loved them unto the end. We hear his thoughts, but this is the last night. This is the grand finale. There should be a great miracle. He should've levitated, or maybe he should have turned the wine back into water. He'd started out turning the water into wine, maybe he should've ended by turning the wine into water.
No, he doesn't do any of that. He doesn't raise any dead people. He doesn't have any grand finale at the end. His grand finale is to stand up, take off his clothes, and gird himself with the towel while they watched. What is Jesus teaching the disciples in the final exam of the semester of the graduating class from the University of Jesus? What is the instructor now showing us that we need to learn? How to both abase and abound. How to be able to ascend and descend. How to be able to stand up high, how to be able to drop down low, and how to do it from a place of vulnerability.
I know you don't want to hear this. I know you don't. I don't even want to say it. And I've been in many a time in my life I didn't want to hear it. But God is calling us to be vulnerable. Nobody listening at me right now wants to go to a dinner party and get up at a restaurant or anywhere else, dining room or what have you, and stand up and take your clothes off while everybody else is dressed, and be in your right mind. But Jesus laid aside his garments. In order to be vulnerable enough for God to use you, you have to lay aside your agenda. Everything can't be about you, and how you feel, and what you didn't get, and who wasn't there for you, and who didn't love you, and who didn't come through for you, and what you've been going through, and you, and you, and you, and you.
Stop. If you are going to succeed in this moment, you have to have the courage to lay aside your garments and just be vulnerable. If you lay aside your garments, it can heal your relationship with your daughter or your son, your husband or your wife, but you're so busy covering up. I'm not gonna apologize to you about that. I'm not gonna act like I need you, like if I don't say it that makes it less true. Whether you say it or not, it's still true. Lay aside your garments. He laid aside his garment. And in this instance, the garments can be anything that stop you from your reality. He laid aside his garments.
Have you laid aside your garments or are you asking God to bless your cover up? Jesus laid aside his garments. It is a foreshadowing of the fact that he will be stripped naked, and beat in public, and hung naked from a cross, and die publicly in a place of shame, and degradation, and humiliation. It's a dress rehearsal. If you don't pass the test in private, you won't pass the test in public. If you can't become proficient about being able to lay aside your garments around your disciples, then how can God use you in front of the whole world? Jesus laid aside his garments.
Now, don't think for a moment this is a striptease. It absolutely is not. He did not just lay them aside to lay them aside. He's getting redressed like Adam had to be redressed. And he is the last man Adam. And Adam had to lay aside his fig leaves in order to be covered with the coats of skin. And Jesus laid aside his garments in order to be covered with the linen towel. The question then becomes, for the hearer tonight, a little list you might need to make right now. What all do I need to lay aside to do what God has called me to do? Is it pride? Is it my tongue? Is it my attitude? Is it my perspective? Is it my addiction to proving that I'm right? What do I have to lay aside in order to be vulnerable enough to complete my assignment?
I want to go deeper on this tonight. I hope you're getting something out of this because I think that this is important. I think it is revelatory. I think it is relational. I think it is relevant. I think it is necessary for us to really come into a fullness that you cannot be a Christian from a place of safety. You cannot be a great preacher from a place of safety. You cannot be a great witness from a place of safety. You cannot be a social justice activist from a place of safety. You cannot change the world from a place of safety. Too many of us are so worried about what people are gonna say about us. Do I look right? What do they think of me? What are they sayin' about me? What did they write about me? Da-da-da-da-da.
No, no, no, in order for God to do what he's getting ready to do for you in this season, you have to lay aside your garments and not care what they say because you know who you are. Jesus laid aside his garments and girded himself with the towel. Girded. Jesus laid aside his garments because he is reenacting for us the stripping of Adam in the garden from the fig leaves to the coats of skin; that God has to redress us in order to use us; that God has to take off of us the things that were made for us or placed on us and strip us down so that he can give what he has for us.
A lot of us are covered up right now in things that other people made for us. Their expectations, who they think you are, what they want from you, what they need from you, what they expect from you is all your covering. And you've been dressed all of your life up in a garment you didn't even make for yourself, but you've had to wear it. But God is bringing you into a season that he's gonna take that off, take all of that baggage, and all of that weight, and all of that worry, and all that expectation. Take it all off and strip down, 'cause I'm getting ready to use you.