Matthew 3:13-17: “To Fulfill All Righteousness”

Read: Matthew 3:13-17

Up to this point in his Gospel, Matthew has been building a case for Jesus based on who he was and where he came from with a particular emphasis on prophecies. Here, Matthew switches to Jesus’ adult ministry and life with his baptism being the first episode in the gospel with Jesus as an adult. It serves as a bookend to Jesus’ ministry, with the other bookend being the Great Commission. The connection between Jesus’ baptism and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) is uncanny. In both texts we see a reference to obedience, all members of the Trinity, and a reference to baptism. When Jesus starts his ministry, he comes to John asking for baptism of repentance, rather so he could “fulfill all righteousness”. Jesus’ purpose in coming to earth was to save people from their sins, but in order to do so he had to do what they could not: live a perfect life in obedience to the law. The first act of obedience that is recorded in Matthew is baptism. Jesus had nothing to repent of, but it serves to show that he was in submission to the will of the father willing to do deeds in accordance with righteousness.

A key difference here though is that all the members of the Trinity are present at the event. Jesus is being baptized, the Spirit is descending like a dove, and the Father is speaking from heaven. The Father’s statement by themselves underscore Jesus ministry if nothing else won’t. These same words are spoken in Matthew 17 at the transfiguration of Christ which Peter also recalls in his 2 epistle (2 Peter 1:17). The transfiguration account however tags the remarks with “Listen to him”. In both instances though, the Father is acknowledging the Son before people so that they too will listen to Jesus and his message of salvation.

When Jesus ended his ministry on earth, he was not one under authority, rather one with all authority. He acknowledges this fact in verse 16 in the Great Commission, then offers a command for his disciples to make disciples of all nations. Jesus is commanding the disciples to teach others to obey the commands that he had them to follow. The same commission goes out to all those that followed too. Paul in 2 Timothy 2:2 tells Timothy to teach what he had learned to others who could teach it. By implication, there are 5 generations: Those that taught Paul, Paul himself, Timothy, those that Timothy would teach, then those who who be taught by Timothy’s learners. Christians today stand on the authority of Christ and are commanded to do no less than the disciples did: make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey the things God commanded, and baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

Lord, all authority has been given to you so help me to obey you by making disciples of all nations!

Matthew 3:7-12: Baptism

Read: Matthew 3:7-12

John’s words are harsh. He calls those that are coming out to be baptized a “brood of vipers”, which in that time and place was not something nice to say. “Vipers” in the ancient near east were associated with wicked men. Jesus uses the word to describe the Pharisees and Sadducees on 3 occasion (Matthew 3:7, Matthew 12:34, Matthew 23:33). It was a serpent who deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden too (Genesis 3:1-15). Being called a viper was to associated a person as cunning and subtle with ulterior motives – they saw baptism as yet more religion. Those coming to be baptized by John were “fleeing wrath” which implies that they knew judgment was coming and were looking for a means to effectively purify themselves. The thinking was that the more piety one had, the less likely judgment was to fall in them. Likewise, those coming to be baptized were clinging to their heritage as well, thinking that because they were from the line of Abraham made them special and that they wouldn’t face judgment.

The people were right to recognize that there was impending judgment, but they were approaching it the wrong way, wanting to address sin with religion and traditions without changing their hearts and actions. John on the other hand saw through both of these. He was calling people to repent (that is, change one’s heart and mind about sin) and bear fruit in accordance with repentance. He agrees with the people that judgment is coming when he says the ax is near the root of the tree and every good tree that doesn’t bear fruit will be cut down and burned: There would be a “baptism” of the Holy Spirit while others would receive a baptism of fire.

John actually speaks of 3 baptisms in the text and there is a fourth in the Bible, namely Christian baptism.

  • Baptism of repentance – also known as John’s baptism, was a water baptism was performed by John, and is distinct from Christian baptism. In Acts 19:1-7 Paul makes this distinction where he rebaptizes 12 men in the name of Jesus, which would be Christian Baptism, on which they receive baptism of the Holy Spirit. Christians don’t receive this baptism anymore, but it pointed to Jesus.
  • Baptism of the Holy Spirit – This baptism is not a physically manifested baptism, rather it is one that comes when one believes in Jesus and the Holy Spirit comes to live in the life of a believer. This baptism is mentioned a number of times in the book of Acts: Acts 1:5 referring to Pentecost in Acts 2:16-21, Acts 2:38 in response to Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, Acts 11:16-17 where Peter calls it a “gift”, and lastly in Acts 19:1-7 with Paul.
  • Baptism by fire – this baptism refers to an impending judgment that would come to those who did not repent and turn to Jesus. John the Baptist explains in verse 12 that Jesus is coming with a winnowing fork that would separate the wheat from the chaff – the wheat would be stored while the chaff was burned. This is an allusion to the Lake of Fire Revelation 19:20 and Revelation 20:10-15 as a place of judgment for the devil and those who’s name are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
  • Christian Baptism – this is the water baptism that believers receive upon professing Jesus as Lord. Paul in Romans 6:1-12 explains that this baptism is symbolic of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Christians in a manner of speaking “die” to sin and are raised to walk as in the “newness of life” that comes from God. Ultimately, those that do believe will have eternal life made possible by Christ’s triumph over death.

Water baptism is a simple and beautiful picture that symbolizes so many things: cleansing, burial, resurrection, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. While baptism is a beautiful picture and it is indeed a command of the Lord, it in and of itself doesn’t save anyone, rather salvation comes by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Baptism is an act of obedience that shows publicly and outwardly that of an inward change that comes from salvation. Likewise, it also shows publicly that one is identifying with Christ, which is also another reason folks would get baptized. Whether a new Christian is seeking baptism or one has already received it, it is good to be mindful of one’s motives and use the symbol to reflect on the spiritual reality of all that baptism symbolizes in one’s life.

Lord, baptism shows I have been saved by grace! Let my baptism testify to this!

Luke 3:21-22: The Trinity

Read: Luke 3:21-22

Luke presents Jesus’ baptism in his gospel rather succinctly with only two verses. The other gospels record the same event too (Matthew 3:13-17, Mark:1:9-11, John 1:29-24) Unlike the other gospels. Luke though notes that Jesus was praying while he was baptized. Luke records Jesus praying on a number of other occasions including prior to his transfiguration and while he was at Gethsemane (Luke 5:16, Luke 6:12, Luke 9:18, Luke 9:28, Luke 11:1, Luke 22:41-46). Luke’s special attention to Jesus’ prayer life is important to note, because it shows how Jesus was in tune with the Father and that while he was co-eternal and equal with the Father, he submitted himself to the Father while he was on earth. In doing so, God proclaims that with Jesus he is well pleased.

Jesus’ baptism is one of the most clear depictions of the Trinity in all of the Bible with all members present. The Father is speaking from heaven, the Spirit is descending in bodily form like a dove, and Jesus himself is the one being baptized. Explaining how all three of the members of the Trinity are all God at the same time yet three distinct persons is something that theologians have grappled with for years. The Bible doesn’t have a detailed explanation of the Trinity. In fact, the word “Trinity” doesn’t even appear in the Bible. Analogies are often employed, but as with most all analogies they break down at some point. Reconciling how God can be three district persons where each person is co-equal and uncreated, yet one being at the same time is difficult. Many attempts that try to rationalize the Trinity resulted in heretical view of God . A few include:

  • Modalism: God is manifested in different “modes” rather than having three persons of the Trinity.
  • Tritheism: This suggests that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three different gods.
  • Arianism and Macedonianism: the Father is God and Jesus (in Arianism) and the Holy Spirit (in Macedonianism) are created beings.
  • Partialism: This teaches that the members of the trinity are only “parts” of God and they don’t become God until they all come together.

The Early church fathers, while not having a clear explanation of the Trinity affirmed it as a core doctrine of the Christian faith because the scriptures present all members of the Trinity as divine, co-equal, co-eternal, and uncreated. But while they did not have an explanation, they did express the Trinity as “three persons” and “one essence” to serve as a bright-line to weed out heresy. Any view that either separated God into parts such that there was more than one essence or diminish one or more members of the Trinity to a lower status or thing such that one or more of the persons were excluded from the Trinity would be labelled a heresy. This expression of the Trinity has withstood the test of time and is considered the orthodox view of God by Christians across multiple denominations.

While Jesus was on earth, he didn’t surrender his divinity or become a lesser being. He enjoyed the intimate fellowship with the other members of the Trinity on earth as he did while he was with them in heaven. Nevertheless, Jesus made prayer a priority in his life. He did this not because he needed to pray, rather because the this was an opportunity to have uninterrupted, unbroken, and unfettered fellowship with the ones who loved him and who he loved. The awesome part of this though is that the love of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit isn’t exclusive to the Trinity. The Holy Spirit indwells every believer, which draws believers into an intimate relationship with God. And spiritual disciplines like prayer, meditation, and time spent with God draw one into closer relationship with God too. For this reason, Christians ought to make personal time with God a priority so they can be in an intimate relationship with God.

Lord, draw me close to you!

Luke 2:25-35: Blessing Through The Spirit

Luke 2:25-35: Blessings Through The Spirit

Luke notes that Simeon was a devout and righteous among Jews waiting for the “consolation” for Israel, which that is the comfort or solace of Israel, but more than that Luke notes that the Holy Spirit was with Simeon which was rare indeed prior to the ascension of Christ. The Holy Spirit had told him that he would not see death until he had seen the Christ, which was Jesus. Luke doesn’t say, but it is probably safe to assume that Simeon had been waiting for a long time for this day, and after seeing Jesus he praises the Lord, saying that he can die in peace.

Simeon also offers two blessings that are also prophecy in response to seeing Jesus – one to God and one to Mary. The first blessing Simeon notes that Jesus is God’s salvation for not only the Jews but also the Gentiles. He says that Jesus was the salvation prepared for “all people” and that Jesus light to the Gentiles. Mary and Joseph were both “marveled” about this, but then Simeon says to Mary a blessing that on the surface may not seem to be much of a blessing. The nature of the blessing notes that Mary’s heart would be pierced and that the child would be for the rising and falling of many in Israel. In other word, Jesus would be a stumbling block for some, but for others would be salvation, ultimately through his death and resurrection.

The connection between the Holy Spirit to blessings and prophecy is remarkable here and elsewhere in the New Testament. John 14:16-18 and later in John 14:26 calls the Holy Spirit a “helper” or “counselor” depending on the translation. The Greek word here is the noun form of the word Luke used in Luke 2:25 when he notes that Simeon was waiting for the “consolation” of Israel, which is “paraklētos”. It was through the Spirit that Simeon was able to know Jesus when he saw him, bless God and bless Mary, and ultimate prophecy concerning Jesus. The Spirit was also upon the disciples when they spoke at Pentecost to in a similar manner (Acts 1:4-8, Acts 2:1-4).

It was after Pentecost though that the Spirit became available to all those who repent and believe in Jesus (Acts 2:38), not only Jews but Gentiles as well. For Christians that are in the in tune with the Spirit there is much that they can sense that those that are not in tune cannot. God works through the Spirit which enables Christians to do the work that God has set out for them. It is imperative then to seek out the will of God by devoutly walking in righteousness the way as Simeon did, and in doing so the Spirit can work!

Lord, use your Spirit to do your work through me!

 

Luke 1:39-45: Blessed Believers

Read: Luke 1:39-45

The Holy Spirit was alive and working among the four characters mentioned in this text:

  • Elizabeth knew that Mary was carrying her “lord” even though the child wasn’t even born. And for this reason, she held Mary in high regard as one would respect a person of honor.
  • Elizabeth and her child John were both filled with joy even as Mary and her child approached – so much so that Elizabeth’s child “leaped” in the womb.
  • Elizabeth recognized these facts in spite of the fact that Mary was yet unmarried. Conventional wisdom would have condemned such a pregnancy.

The blessings Mary received came because of her faith – she had the great honor carrying God incarnate. The coming of Mary and her child caused those who were sensitive to the Spirit’s workings to be filled with joy and with the Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 1:1-8 shows that even in times of hardship and persecution the Spirit gives joy. This is because the readers of Thessalonians had become “imitators” of “us” – namely the apostle Paul and his companions that had been to Thessalonica to plant a church there. Christians nowadays too are like the Christians in the scriptures – they have the Holy Spirit and they have Jesus. When the Lord comes near and the Spirit works, the natural response of Christians should respond in joy in spite of the odd of unusual circumstances as Mary and Elizabeth were experience. Christians can believe and be blessed as Mary was.

Lord, when you come near, help me respond in joy!

Hebrews 5:11-6:8: Spiritual Maturity

Read: Hebrews 5:11-14, Hebrews 6:1-8

Hebrews 6:4-6 is one of the more controversial set of verses in the New Testament. There are a couple of Christian doctrines that are at stake concerning this text. The first is called “perseverance of the saints”, which says that those who are truly saved will persevere to the end. The second, which is closely related to the first, is called “eternal security”. This doctrine teaches that those who are saved cannot lose his or her salivation. Some groups of Christians, however, believe that the loss of salvation is possible based on this text and Hebrews 10:26. Other groups see these texts as what would happen if such things discussed in the text were possible. In any case when one begins to consider any texts, it is important to not remove the text from the context in which they appear. It is also important to consider the whole witness of scripture to support one’s theological viewpoints. Hopefully, through a careful look at this text and others, one can draw a conclusion about what is going on here in the text.

Hebrews 6:4-6 appears in the midst of a discourse about spiritual maturity that starts at the end of chapter 5 and continues to the middle of chapter 6. The author of Hebrews is chastising the recipients of the letter because, as he sees it, they ought to be teachers when they are like children. He uses food as a metaphor to explain the fact they are like babies drinking milk when they ought to be as adults eating solid food. He wants them to move beyond the basic doctrines to deeper doctrines, and he gives a list. In verse 3, he declares that he wants “us” to move onto spiritual maturity, but in the warning, he switches to third person, talking about people who have who have been “enlightened” and have “partaken” and “tasted” the things of God (particularly the Holy Spirit), yet have fallen away, saying it is impossible to crucify Jesus again.

At the heart of the debate over this text is if one can be a partaker in the Holy Spirit and not have salvation. For some, only those who are saved can experience the Holy Spirit. For others, some see the work of the Holy Spirit, particularly through “enlightenment” in the life of a nonbeliever as a necessary prerequisite to salvation. The entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 2 talks about the role of the Holy Spirit and the knowledge of God. According to this chapter, the things of God are only comprehensible by the Spirit of God. The spirit of the “world”, “flesh”, and “man” cannot understand such things, therefore it is necessary to have enlightenment from the Holy Spirit in order to fully comprehend the things of God. By implication then, knowledge of the truth concerning salvation and all other doctrines can only come from the Holy Spirit. What appears to happening in Hebrews 6 is that some have experienced to some degree or this enlightenment and have rejected it to the point of apostasy.

The question here, however is whether or not these third person individuals in the text had responded in faith to this knowledge that resulted in salvation. Scripture does teach that those who believe belong to God and cannot be taken away. John describes this relationship using a shepherd and his sheep as a metaphor—the sheep know the shepherds voice and cannot be taken away. These are the ones who have eternal life, and it cannot be taken away (John 10:27-29).  Paul makes a beautiful doxology in Romans 8:33-39, where he is convinced that nothing can separate those who believe from Christ. The role of the Holy Spirit in salvation is that the Holy Spirit as a “seal” for salvation. The idea is that once the decree of redemption is given, it is sealed as a king seals a royal document by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, Ephesians 4:30, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

Given the fact that salvation (and all true doctrine from that matter) requires enlighten from the Holy Spirit and the fact that those who are saved cannot be separated from God, it would appear that one is able to receive some sort of knowledge from the Holy Spirit, yet able to reject it through a “falling away” from sound doctrine prior to the point of salvation. To illustrated this, the author of Hebrews uses a metaphor of rain falling on the ground and bringing forth plant life – sometimes the plants are useful, sometimes the plants are weeds, thorns, and thistles. The Holy Spirit comes to some, and sometimes some believe and bring forth good doctrine, and sometimes some reject the Holy Spirit by rejecting, twisting and distorting the truth. Jesus describes the latter condition as a sin that is “unforgivable” which he calls “blaspheming the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 12:31-32). The reason that the author of Hebrews is spurring the believers to move past basic doctrine to spiritual maturity is so that the deceptions of false teachers will not lead them astray. Paul encourages Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:1-4 to preach the word because a time is coming when people will not endure sound doctrine rather will turn to myths.

Vigilance and aggressive pursuit of true doctrines resulting in spiritual maturity help defend against these deceptive teachings, but there does appear to be a point of no return for some. Rather than take chances, one would do well to believe the gospel and move towards spiritual maturity so they can help recognize and call out false doctrine when it does come about. Spiritual immaturity is not a place to stay, rather something to be left behind.

Lord, help me to become spiritual mature so I can help teach others your ways!

2 Timothy 2:1-7: Soldiers, Athletes, and Farmers

Read: 2 Timothy 2:1-7

After exhorting Timothy to be unashamed of the gospel, he commands Timothy to “be strong” in the grace of Jesus. The word, “ενδυναμου” in the Greek shares the same root with the word translated “power” in 2 Timothy 1:7. Paul was commanding Timothy to rekindle the gifts – that is set the ablaze – for the purpose of standing up for the gospel. The spirit he has been given is a spirit of power, and Paul is encouraging Timothy to be empowered (the verb is passive) in the grace of Jesus. In other words, Timothy is not to act on his own strength, but in the strength given to him by he who lives inside of him: the Holy Spirit, in much the same way he commands him to guard “in the Holy Spirit” (2 Timothy 1:14).

Paul also commands Timothy to entrust the things that he heard from Paul to other men who will be able to teach it to others. Paul says that faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:10-17). Jesus’ last command in Matthew before ascending was for the disciples to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20), telling them to teach what he taught them. Paul does not want the movement to stop with Timothy; rather he wants it to keep going. Paul was a catalyst that taught what he received to others who are to teach others who will still yet teach more. Nor does Paul want Timothy to shrink back in spite of opposition; rather continue to work according to the plan. Paul describes this with three analogies:

  • The soldier: the soldier does not concern himself with daily life, rather works to please his commanding officer. Paul wants Timothy to not become entangled with things that would detract him from the mission of the gospel.
  • The athlete: the athlete trains and competes according to the rules so that he or she is not disqualified. Paul wants Timothy to live a morally pure life so that he is not disqualified as a minister.
  • The farmer: the farmer gets to reap a portion of the harvest for himself first. Paul wants Timothy work diligently as the farmer so that he will bear fruit.

Paul wants Timothy to consider the implications of each of these analogies and receive from the Lord for understanding accordingly. This is probably in regards not to the analogies, but in the application of what Paul has taught Timothy. Head knowledge about the things of God should result in skillful living according to the things of God, and this is true wisdom. Paul had shown Timothy the plan, now it was up to Timothy to act as a soldier to execute the plan, do it in such a way as to not disqualify himself, and do it with diligence – all by the empowering of God.

Being empowered by the Spirit comes through abiding in Christ. Christ had commanded the disciples to abide in him so they would bear fruit, and apart from him they could do nothing (John 15:4-5). This means that one should be intentional about spending time in prayer and devotion apart from the things of world so that God can speak into one’s life filling his or her mind with his truth and stirring up the Spirit to guide and direct the believer. Believers, through this empowering act should act as the soldier, athlete, and farmer too according to the mission: to teach others who can teach others.

Lord, help me to be empowered by you to execute your mission!

John 20:1-10: A Sharper Ax

Read: John 20:1-10: A Sharper Ax

The followers of Jesus had lived with him for 3 years. They practically did everything with him, and Jesus revealed himself to them such that he considered his work finished (John 17:1-18). The work that Jesus had set out to do in his ministry leading up to his crucifixion was to invest in the twelve so that they would be equipped to go out and deliver the message that Jesus gave them so others might believe (John 17:20). The work of Jesus had been accomplished, but the disciples did not fully understand it — yet.

When Mary went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been rolled away, she automatically assumed what most anyone would assume: they moved the body. She had gone in the morning in the typical tradition of mourners to the place that the deceased were buried to mourn there. She knew Jesus was dead as did all the disciples and everyone else who watched him die. While she and the other disciples had the head knowledge about Jesus and the resurrection, they had not made the connection with the empty tomb and a resurrected Jesus. When Mary goes to find the rest they go to the tomb and find the burial clothes of Jesus. Peter and the other disciples did not know what to make of what they found either, so they believed Mary’s conclusion that they had moved the body.

The particular references to the resurrection are not given by John, but Isaiah 53 is often applied to Jesus as it speaks to one who died for the iniquities of many, but whose soul was not counted among the dead. Psalm 22 is also applied by Jesus to himself. It does not mention a death and resurrection per se, but does mention one who has been utterly humiliated and reduced such that his bones are showing and his heart is melted, but is raised up in victory such that the world turns and worships God. There are many other possible passage applicable to Jesus too. Jesus after the resurrection open their hearts and minds to the Scriptures (Luke 24:27,44-47). He walked through the Old Testament pointing out from the beginning that it was God’s plan concerning Jesus from the beginning. How Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament is the subject of discussion for much of the New Testament, particularly the book of Hebrews. Hebrews, at a high level, talks about Jesus being superior to the prophets, priests, temple, and sacrifices of the Old Testament. Uncovering the depths of this is no easy task and takes lots of time. It took Jesus 3 years to teach the disciples, and even after this, they still did not fully understand!

Jesus is still revealing his truth to Christians every day. On this side of the cross, Christians have a distinct advantage that the disciples and Mary had not yet received: the Holy Spirit. Two of the roles of the Holy Spirit are to teach believers and remind believers of what they have learned (John 14:26). But the Holy Spirit cannot remind believers of what they do not know, and the Holy Spirit can only teach believers who are willing to learn. For this reason, it is imperative for every believer to move beyond the elementary teachings concerning Jesus so that they can become mature in their own faith (Hebrews 5:11-14, Hebrews 6:1). God will take immature believers, but wants believers to be mature in every way so they can be a useful tool for his kingdom work, much like a sharp ax. A dull ax will do the trick, but requires a lot more work. A sharp ax is much better (Ecclesiastes 10:10)!

Lord, help to know the Scriptures so I can make use of them in my life!

John 17:22-26: God’s Glory and Love Revealed

Read: John 17:22-26

Jesus while praying for the disciple prays that the Father would be glorified in them just as the Father had been glorified in Jesus and so that the disciples would know the oneness that Jesus has with the Father. They would know the love of the Father for Jesus and have the same sort of “perfect unity” that Jesus had with the Father. Because of the oneness the disciples will have with the Father, the world will know that Jesus sent them.

The manifestation of God in one’s life is the Holy Spirit living in one’s life (John 14:16-18). The disciple were not be left as orphans, but were to receive the Holy Spirit who would guide and teach them in the way they should go so that the world would know that Jesus was sent. The Book of Acts records the progression of the Holy Spirit coming into the lives of believers and directing them where to go next, what to say, how to say it, among many things as the gospel went out from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. But before they started this mission, they went to Jerusalem to wait on the Spirit (Acts 1:4). The Spirit came and they were filled with power and this started the movement that Jesus was promising even here.

Jesus also asks the Father that the disciples get to see the glory where Jesus was and how the Father loved even before the foundation of the world. Seeing the glory of God revealed was not something that anyone could do and live (Exodus 33:20-23). God’s glory could certainly overwhelm a person as it did with Isaiah when he was in the presence of God (Isaiah 6:1-8) because one realizes his or her sin and cannot stand before God because of this. Up to this point, the disciples had seen some manifestations of God’s glory and had accessed the Father principally through God in human form, Jesus. Jesus was asking God to fully reveal himself to them so they could know the glory of not as in a mirror or with veiled faces as Paul describes (1 Corinthians 13:2, 2 Corinthians 3:18), but rather in the fullest sense of what can be known. He asks this so they can know the love of the Father for the Son, the love of God for them, and so Jesus may be with them in this love.

God did not stop revealing his glory and love with the disciples. Everyone who believes in the name of Jesus can know the love of the Father in the same way and have the oneness with the Father in the same manner the disciples did. In doing so, they will too receive the power of God and will be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can then help guide and direct the Christian as he goes into the world and speaks about the truth of Jesus.

Lord, I have seen your glory and love! Compel me to show it to others!

John 17:1-21: In the World, Not of It

Read: John 17:1-21

Jesus glorified the Father while he was on earth. His mission in part was to make known the name of the Father to all who would hear. Jesus had every opportunity to claim the glory that was given him for himself. Rather than take the glory for himself, he gives it back to God. In John 12, Jesus has many things that could have glorified him, but instead he asks the Father to glorify himself. A voice comes from heaven and speaks in the midst of Greeks and Jews. Jesus could have genuinely have done this because of his oneness with the Father, but he laid this right aside to bring glory to the Father even more so by dying on the cross. In doing so, he would not only glorify the Father all the more, the Father would glorify him (Philippians 2:5-11).

Because Jesus poured into the men out of the world, they were no longer a part of the world. They were granted eternal life and now belonged to the Father. Jesus was not praying for them so that the Father would “keep” them. Jesus says that he had taught them all they needed to know and that he was about to return to the Father. In a way, Jesus was handing off their care to the Father because Jesus was no longer going to be with them. The reason Jesus had chosen these men out of the world was so that he could send them out to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 3:14). The word of God, which is truth, had been given to them. Jesus prays for them and those who would come to believe in Jesus through the words of the disciples and ultimately have oneness with the Father in the same manner that Jesus did by means of the Holy Spirit.

The word of truth went out from the apostles. Many received it and many believed, and they imparted this message to others until even today. The pattern of teaching some and sending them out to preach is seen in Paul with Timothy, when he encourages Timothy to teach faithful men who will teach others (2 Timothy 2:2). This pattern of training up people to send them out to make disciples is well established as the method that God wanted to use to draw men out of the world and to himself. Not every person though receives the gospel with joy. Rather they hate those who believe it because part of the gospel requires that one deal with sin. But in any case, Christians are to be in the world nevertheless making disciples so that more can be made one with God and Jesus will receive praise and worship from every tribe, tongue and nation.

Lord, we are in the world, not of it. Help others to come out of the world into your truth!

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