Then Jesus said, ‘Therefor go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ (Matthew 28:19-20)
We’ve been looking at fellowship, discipleship and evangelism, elements and principles that a professing Christian needs to understand if the Kingdom of God is to be extended here on earth as it is in heaven.
These three things are not something that have been made up in order to see church growth. No, these are all things that can be found in Scripture, The Word of God to us, and Jesus’ own words are no exception, as we see in our Gospel reading.
In John chapter 14 through to, and including 17 we read Jesus’ final discourse to His Disciples before He is arrested. In the verses we had from Chapter 17 Jesus begins to pray for His disciples and in essence He is saying that they have come to believe four specific things about Him (7-8). The prominence of these four things, here in this prayer, and the way they are mentioned elsewhere in John’s Gospel points to their importance. They were vitally important for the founding of the church and for its growth and security against error. Getting these beliefs about Jesus right is important for us too, and so important for how we tell people about Jesus. The four things were:
1. Jesus’ ministry was only possible by the power of the Father (v7): Jesus transformed people. He took them from living by an earthly perspective to one with a supernatural heavenly one. As professing Christians, we have all experienced a supernatural moment with God. Jesus commands us to share the Gospel and when we do, not if we do, it is important for our message not only to be true but for our message and method to demonstrate that Jesus can radically and powerfully transform lives. In your own life do you have confidence that Jesus still ministers powerfully to you and through you?
2. Jesus spoke the Father’s Words (Vs 8a): Read John 5:19-20 and what do you see…” the Son can do nothing by Himself”. Jesus is clearly declaring the secret to how He lives. This is the most radical statement to be found in the whole of Scripture as it indicates that any effort made to use God’s power for our own benefit will leave us feeling hollow and empty; it will never achieve anything. Even if you become really successful in your field and have not found this secret your life will be unsatisfactory, insipid and of no use to God. “The Son can do nothing by Himself”.
Yes, Jesus could have done things apart from His Father, just as we can and do, but He chose not to because He never chose to exercise that power for His own benefit. Never! God willingly and lavishly gives His power to those who will not use it for their own benefit.
If Jesus hadn’t lived out this secret, totally and utterly dependent on another – His Father God – then He would have violated His integrity, it would have cheapened His whole life, and been a total contradiction to what He said and did. So by saying …” the Son can do nothing by Himself” Jesus is saying, no admitting, He could do things apart from His Father, but He did not, and He never did. All Jesus did was totally and utterly in line with the holy and supernatural character of God. Today God’s holy and supernatural character is revealed to us through The Word, and through the life, death and resurrection of His Son.
This is why we should have confidence in our core being that the words of Jesus are of the utmost importance for us and for others. So in sharing the Gospel we must have confidence that Jesus’ words can speak powerfully to people and transform them because that is what they have done to you.
3. That Jesus came from the Father’s presence, i.e. that Jesus is truly God, (Vs 8b): This reminds us of Christ’s humility. He was prepared to jump from the truly amazing glory of heaven to the depth of the slimy pit and into the mud and mire for me and for you. He rolled His sleeves up, got, and still gets His hands dirty in order to sort out my life and your life. And when He left His glory He knew He had to take the pain and sorrow of all my sin, and your sin, upon Himself because only the one true God is able to pay the price for sin. In taking my sin, your sin, upon Himself He unites His divinity with our flesh in such a way that we are now able to know and share His Spirit because it is through this sharing we become children of God. And as children of God we are given eternal life, the most wonderful of all gifts; eternal life through the knowledge of forgiveness for all confessed sin.
4. He was sent by the Father (Vs 8c): While Jesus gave himself for us, we mustn’t forget that the initiative in our salvation begins with the Father. This helps us to remember that the Father loves us just as much as He loves His Son, that He is not angry with us or somehow less loving than Jesus; God and Jesus are one and the same! Knowing this in the depth of our being reassures us that all things work together for our good and salvation. So we can share the Gospel because of our own personal experience and knowledge of the love of God for ourselves, a love that impresses on us that the Father Himself has an enormous love for the lost too.
So know these four things about Jesus
- His ministry was only possible by the power of the Father (Vs 7)
- He only spoke the Father’s Words (Vs 8a)
- That Jesus is truly God because He came from theFather’s presence (Vs 8b)
- He was sent by the Father (Vs 8c)
These secrets of Jesus’ life, which He willingly shares with all, are to be pressed down into our own soul and spirit, until they run over, because from there they will become for us a well spring of life that leads us on to evangelise to those who live in darkness.
Time to think
Read John 17:6-12. With pen and paper (maybe your journal) to hand give yourself time to think about the following as you dig into God’s word….
- Think on the times (v7) when you have felt Jesus ministering to you. Now write down how these experiences made you feel. What did you experience? Comfort, peace, healing, forgiveness, joy, love, God’s powerful presence?
- In your life today do you have confidence that Jesus still ministers powerfully to you and through you?
- Jesus’ words spoke powerfully to His listeners. Write down the times when Jesus’ words spoke powerfully to you. How did they make you feel?
- Real life is only available through Jesus Christ living in and through you. How well do you know Jesus’ words? (v8)
Digging deeper into God’s word
Jesus only ever did what He saw His Heavenly Father doing. In a time of quiet invite your heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, to show you what He wants you to do for Him for the next few days. If you sense God inviting you to do something, test it against Scripture (1 Thessalonians 5:21). All that we do must be in line with the plumb line of God’s character and truths.
Perhaps you could share your reflections with others.
Lord of the Harvest, we see that Your harvest field is ripe and ready all over this nation and the world! We long to see Your kingdom come on this earth, so may we allow you to strengthen us to obey Your commission to go into all the world. May we as individuals, as families and as Your Church allow you to show us how you want us to serve You, to respond to Your command in whatever way You call us, so we answer Your call to go. Show us how to pray effectively for the protection, boldness, clarity, health, and fruitfulness in your mission and ministry here in our communities. May we actively seek to align ourselves with Your heart so that our hearts would be obedient to the desires of Your heart, and the whole earth come to a saving knowledge of the truth–the Lord Jesus Christ, in whose powerful name we pray.