“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.” (John 17:6)
Scripture Reading – I Kings 19:19-21
Jesus prayed for His disciples. He knew that the success of their work was not based on their own skills and abilities, but in abiding in Christ. Many people are very intelligent and gifted. Yet they don’t produce a harvest of souls for the kingdom of God. God’s work of salvation is a spiritual work. We are not asking someone to join our club or change their religion. We are introducing them to the Lord Jesus Christ in whom their souls can find peace through the forgiveness of their sins. This is a spiritual ministry that must rely solely on God’s power to work in and through us.
Now that Jesus’ work was completed, He passed on the next stage of the Father’s plan of salvation to His disciples. These disciples were not anything special; they were just normal people with ordinary jobs when Jesus called them. And throughout their training with Jesus, they continually failed to rise to the task. But Jesus was completely at peace as He prayed for those who would continue His work. He knew that the Father had given the disciples to Him, and that the Father knew them and chose them. The Father gave them to the Son for the express purpose of continuing the work of Christ. The Father picked them and gave them to the Son to be trained for the task of proclaiming the gospel. These were handpicked men.
Yet the disciples had a choice to make; they were not mere pawns. They either had to deny themselves and humbly obey God’s Word, or they had to live for themselves and miss out on the calling of God. Apart from Judas, they all chose to obey Christ and His Word—the most important choice. God has a calling on each of our lives too, but we have a choice. Unless we are willing to deny ourselves, we won’t bear much fruit. Jesus told His disciples that they would bear much fruit if they abided in Christ, through obedience to His Word (John 15:7). The Great Commission is a command that Christ gave His disciples. Obedience is required. In the same way the disciples were sent, so too are we sent out to make disciples of all nations. This means putting aside our selfish interests for God’s interests. We now take on a new ambition: to glorify His Name by bringing many to faith in Christ.
In the history of salvation, God has repeatedly chosen people of every age to obey Him, by choosing to do His work of salvation over their own agendas. For example, Noah chose to obey God by building the Ark. Abraham obeyed by leaving Ur, and heading to a destination that would be revealed later. Moses chose to identify with God’s people rather than the riches of Egypt. None of these men were sinless, nor did they obey perfectly, but their lives were characterized by choosing God over themselves and the world. In the same way, we must make our choice. When I was in the university, I knew that God was calling me to proclaim the gospel. However, I was also smart and had a promising career ahead of me. At that moment, I was confronted with a choice: Would I obey God’s plan for my life or would I choose to live for myself? I chose God’s plan, but it was challenging. As disciples, every one of us has to examine our lives. Bearing fruit is contingent on abiding in Christ, and abiding is contingent on obeying Christ. We need to reaffirm our commitment to Christ to fulfill His calling on our lives. Will you choose to do God’s will and place His glory above your own?