Friday, February 07, 2003

The Choosing and Training of the Twelve -- Graduation

This concludes a series covering the choosing and training of the twelve disciples. To start at the beginning, click here.

Before His arrest, Jesus spoke these words to the remaining eleven:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me—and I in him—bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown out like a branch, and dries up; and such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and are burned up. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you. My Father is honored by this, that you bear much fruit and show that you are my disciples. “Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; remain in my love. If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete. My commandment is this—to love one another just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this—that one lays down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that remains, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. This I command you—to love one another. (John 15:5-17, The Net Bible)

Jesus made it clear that these words were for all who believe all through the centuries, but His closest associates heard it first. Certainly there are aspects of Jesus' words hear that apply most to the eleven, "I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father." This is their diploma for leaving everything and pressing on for more faith: an intimate friendship with Jesus, and through Jesus, the Father.

Obviously, my goal for this series was to nudge contemporary Christians to lay down more of their lives and press towards greater faith. You may be someone like Peter brought up in a believing home, living a good life, but fearful of His holiness. You may be someone like Matthew with a lot in life for which you are ashamed. He calls you both. It is only those who claim worth before Him that have cause to fear. Get to know Him and get to know His worth. Lay aside everything He asks you and follow His leading. Let Him challenge you to greater faith. Seek His voice and listen.

The disciples in Jesus' day had an enviable opportunity. They could hear the tone in His voice, watch His hand gestures, react to His posture and other body language cues. We do not have that today, and that actually is a better thing. On earth, Jesus was limited by geography. After His ascension, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to fill and empower us to serve His Kingdom on earth. As Luke writes in the opening words of Acts, "I wrote the former account, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach (Acts 1:1)" Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus continues "to do and teach" and that means through us.

Monday: Some random musings

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