Summary: We who seek to follow Jesus: 1) Have received God’s revelation; 2) Are God’s possession; and 3) Obey our Lord
“True Discipleship” Pastor Bob Leroe, Cliftondale Congregational Church, Saugus, Massachusetts
John 17:6, “I have revealed You to those whom You gave Me out of the world. They were Yours; You gave them to Me and they have obeyed/kept Your word.”
Jesus has been praying for Himself; He now turns His attention, and the bulk of this prayer, to His followers, who are in for a shock.
The men and women who were with Jesus had been depending on His presence for their strength, and that was soon to be taken from them. Jesus has already promised that the Holy Spirit will come, and has even assured them that His absence will be better for them than His physical presence…but His departure will be a great trial for them. And so in a prayer He intended them to hear, He commits His followers to the care of His Father.
I mentioned last time how Jesus completed His mission on earth. With His departure, the scope of His compassionate ministry would be expanded through His disciples. In John 14 He explains that they will continue the works He had been doing, and even more (vs 12). The Book of Acts, Luke’s account of the early Christian church, could be subtitled: “The continuing acts of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit through His Church.”
Now bear in mind, this is no ancient history lesson; these words are spoken about us. If you are a disciple, a follower of Jesus, verse 6 is for you! Jesus is praying for His present and future followers.
In Bible days, disciples were people who bound themselves to a teacher in order to learn the theory and practice of a trade. They were apprentices. When Jesus chose His disciples, they hadn’t “arrived” spiritually; He saw them, not as they were, but as they would someday be.
Verse 6 describes true discipleship. We who seek to follow Jesus: 1) Have received God’s revelation; 2) Are God’s possession; and 3) Obey our Lord...
1) A disciple has received God’s revelation, His word of truth. We live in a deceived world, confused by sin and error. When we encounter Christ, the shadows of uncertainty pass and we are confronted with Reality. Jesus answers the basic questions of life: “Who am I?”, “Why am I here?” and “What is life all about?”
When Jesus was on trial before Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor tried to dismiss Him with a skeptical question, “What is truth?” Pilate was no disciple, and felt that it simply wasn’t possible to know truth…yet he was staring blindly in the Face of Truth.
Jesus “revealed” the Father; to see Him was to see the Father. Jesus has many names in Scripture; one of them is Emmanuel, which means “God-with-us”. Jesus was not simply a prophet teaching about God; He was God among us. This we’re told in the opening words of the book of Hebrews: “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son” (1:1).
We can tell we’re disciples by how we respond to God’s word. A true follower of Jesus has a deep love for the Bible…A woman was visited by her minister, and thought she might try to impress him with her spirituality. She called to her daughter, “Dear, bring the book that mother loves.” The girl returned shortly with the J.C. Penny catalogue!
In Psalm 119, a celebration of Scripture, the psalmist cries, “I rejoice at Thy word, as one who has found great treasure” (vs. 62).
2) Next, true disciples belong to God. We’re God’s possession. We’ve been “given” to Jesus by the Father. Paul states in I Corinthians 6:20 that “we have been bought with a price” from the slave-market of sin.
In the King James Version of Titus 2:14, the translators state that disciples are a “peculiar people.” That doesn’t mean they’re odd; most modern versions say that we are a “people of God’s own possession”; in other words, we are His very own.
Believers not only belong to God--we are members of His family and owners of a heavenly inheritance. Parents who adopt children have to decide whether to reveal that they are not the biological parents. They explain somewhat like this: “You are a special child because we chose you.” When we are adopted into God’s family it is on the basis of His choice. Jesus told His disciples, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you” (John 15:16). The Lord knows who are His (II Tim 2:19).
God has accepted us and has made us acceptable. God doesn’t love us because we’re important; we’re important because God loves us. There’s no evidence that Jesus’ 12 disciples were brighter or nicer than other people. In fact, the Gospels suggest that they were constantly missing the point, jockeying for position, and when trouble came, they were only interested in saving themselves. Their qualification was their willingness to rise to their feet when Jesus said, “Follow Me”. As Paul put it later, “God deliberately chose people the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise” (I Cor 1:27).