The Words of Jesus Christ are Keys from Heaven that unlock the Storehouse of God’s Eternal Wisdom. Some of the greatest Keys are in the Words Jesus shared with His disciples the night before He died for their sins.
The first Key is found in John 13:1: “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” Jesus knew that the great Hour of His Sacrifice had come. He knew that He was going to depart from this world and go to God the Father in Heaven. Jesus loved His disciples very much and gave them Keys that would help them unlock the many gates they would walk through in their service to God. Those Keys are found in John Chapters 13 – 16.
In John Chapter 17, we see Jesus talking privately, intimately with His Father. He prays for Himself, then His disciples. That prayer for His disciples includes remarkable insight into our topic this week that every Christian is a missionary:
“As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.” John 17:18
Do you see it? God the Son said He sent His disciples into the world just as the Father had sent Him into the world. We learn a lot about being a missionary (on a mission from God) from the context of that Prayer:
“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.” John 17:9-19
Well, you say, that was just for Christ’s disciples at that time. He certainly couldn’t mean us – now. Oh, really? Look at the next verses:
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” John 17:20-23
Jesus prayed for you and me on the night before He redeemed us with His Blood on the Cross. We have all believed in Christ through the Words of the Apostles. That’s what Jesus said. His prayer goes on to show He wants us to “be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You.” Jesus prays that we will be unified in Him. Why? “… that the world may believe that You sent Me.” There you have it. That’s the mission. That’s what God wants us to do with our lives. Jesus sends us out into the world that people will believe that God the Father sent God the Son into the world to accomplish His Mission for them.
The Bible is filled with “defining moments;” amazing moments in time when God cements His Truth in the hearts and minds of His chosen people. Jesus prayed for His disciples the night before He died on the Cross asking God the Father to send them into the world just as He had sent Jesus into the world. Our Lord shared that prayer with His disciples three days later, on the evening of His Resurrection.
“When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:20-22
What a day for the disciples! They had gone to sleep ( if they were able to sleep) the night before filled with great sadness because the body of their dear Lord lay dead in a grave after a brutal beating and crucifixion the day before. What they didn’t remember that night were the words Jesus had spoken to them many times before that He would be killed and then raised from the dead on the third day. It was several hours later, in the early hours of Resurrection Sunday, that Jesus rose from the grave. Later that same day, Jesus showed Himself to His disciples. He showed them the nail scars in His Hands and His Side. Then they were glad. Jesus then gave them their great mission and all the Power they would need to succeed in that mission – “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus spent a little more than a month with His disciples after His Resurrection teaching them great spiritual insights that they would be able to understand in greater depth because of the Holy Spirit, the Promised Comforter, living in them. Here are some of those insights. Notice how many of them pertain to the mission Christ had given them.
“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” Matthew 28:16-20
“Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.’ So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.” Mark 16:14-20
“Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.’ And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.” Luke 24:46-53
“And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’ Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’ Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” Acts 1:4-9
Jesus sent His disciples into the world “just as” God the Father sent God the Son into the world. It was the answer to Christ’s pre-crucifixion prayer. And what did those disciples do when Jesus said “Go”? They obeyed and went, carrying Christ’s Message for Israel and eventually the world. The 12 Apostles spent most of their “mission” time in Israel, while the Apostle Paul spent most of his “mission” time taking the Gospel to the cities and nations of the Gentile people.
Paul is probably the most prolific human missionary who ever lived. God prophesied to Ananias about Paul’s mission – “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.” (Acts 9:15) And that’s exactly what Paul (Saul) did. Where and how did Paul begin his missionary journeys?
“Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. And when they arrived in Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had John as their assistant.” Acts 13:1-5
Paul conducted at least three major missions taking the Gospel of Christ to the world. He started churches all over the Gentile world and kept in touch with them through his letters and personal visits. In so doing, he wrote almost half of the New Testament. That’s a remarkable feat for one man to accomplish in less than 30 years. No other human being since Paul has come close to matching what God did through him. What did Paul do when Jesus told Him to “go”? He went. What should our response be when God asks us to “go”? We should say, “where You send I will go.”
You may be asking, “where do I get the courage and strength to go wherever God sends me?” It begins with loving God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, then loving your neighbor as yourself. The next step is to give yourself to God for His service.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2
So then, in light of all we’ve seen this week about missions, how should we pray? Jesus gave His disciples the clear answer: “Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38) Look around you. What do you see? People – people by the thousands, by the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions, billions – people whose greatest need in life is Jesus Christ. We need more laborers, more people on a mission from God, to speak the Words of Eternal Life to the hearts and souls of men and women, boys and girls.
That is our prayer – send us Lord, and we will go.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”