Summary: In the same way that Jesus completed his Father’s work, so he expects us - his disciples to complete the work e has given us to do
Story: There is an ancient legend concerning Jesus’ ascension into heaven.
In it, Jesus is met by the angel Gabriel who asks him, "Now that your work is finished, what plans have you made to insure that the truth that you brought to earth will spread throughout the world?"
Jesus answered, "I called some fishermen and tax-collectors to walk along with me as I did my Father’s will."
"Yes, I know about them," said Gabriel, "but what other plans have you made? "
Jesus replied, "I taught Peter, James and John about the kingdom of God; I taught Thomas about faith; and all of them were with me as I healed and preached to the multitudes."
Gabriel replied. "I know, but you know how unreliable that lot was. Surely you must have other plans to make sure your work was not in vain."
Jesus quietly replied to Gabriel "I have no other plans. I am depending on them!! "
I would like to look at some words of Jesus in our Gospel reading this morning – John 17.
John 17 is part of the farewell discourse of Jesus. It is known as the “High Priestly Prayer”.
It is a prayer that Jesus prays to his Father just before he is taken away - in a series of events - that lead up to his crucifixion.
And the key to this passage it seems to me are the words Jesus spoke when he said
4I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do
And so if this passage is going to have any relevance today, we need to ask the question:
What is the work that Jesus has given us – his disciples to do?
A few verses further on in this discourse, Jesus spells out very clearly the “work” we as Christians have to do.
As you have sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world (John 17:18)
The disciples were sent to proclaim a message.
Jesus entrusted them with spreading the Good News:
In Mt. 28 Jesus gave them the Great Commission
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Mt. 28:18.19)
And of course, that is one of the reasons why the most important “work” we as Christians in the Upper Wreake can do is to bring people to Jesus
That’s why we have started having a Prayer meeting on Thursday mornings from 7.30 to 9 am
That is why we have planned to start an Alpha Course in September.
We are called to “make disciples”
1. We are not told to get people merely to believe there is a God.
2. We are not called to make people Churchgoers
3. We are not called to get money in to pay the parish share
Good as all these things are
We are called to make disciples – that is people who will FOLLOW Christ
In our Gospel reading, Jesus reveals three requirements - for the disciples to be able to fulfil this command.
1. They need to know the message and the source of the message (Jn 17:6)
2. They need to be committed (Jn 17:6-8)
3. They need to be faithful (Jn 17:15-17)
1. The first requirement for preaching the Good News was that the disciples need to know what the Gospel is and where it has come from.
Jesus, speaking about the disciples said this to the Father:
For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them (Jn 17:8) and
“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me” (Jn17: 6)
I suppose it goes without saying – but we can’t preach a Gospel until we know what it is and where it has come from.
The disciples spent three years around Jesus listening to his message.
It was an intense time.
It was the most heavily documented three years in the ancient world.
And we have four Gospels that record some of what Jesus taught at that time.
What we know about GOD is not what we can - in the natural discern - but what Jesus has revealed.
And we don’t need to worry about what we have to say - we don’t have to rely on our own ideas.
We are simply preach what Jesus has revealed to us.
That is why I rate Bible Study so highly.
Because it is there that we can learn form Jesus and his apostles
2. The second requirement to be able to preach the Good News is that the disciples needed to be committed.