TODAY’S READING: John 14–17
Last speeches are indicative of first and central passions. Today’s text summarizes the heart of Jesus and the points He most wanted His disciples to retain. All fluff cast away, the simple passions of God are laid bare in one last appeal and explanation. To summarize the summary, here are the passages most critical and most consistent with the whole Bible’s message: John 15:5, Jesus to the disciples; John 15:16, Jesus to the disciples again; and John 17:18, Jesus to the Father.
He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit (John 15:5). The word “abide” in Greek (meno) is where we get our word mansion, our home, where we spend our time. The word “fruit” in Greek (karpos) does not refer to character or the attributes of the Spirit in this context, but to that which is harvested, that which is outside and brought into the barns. Jesus is simply saying that those who spend a lot of time with Him will make many disciples. The foundation of discipleship is to help others be like Jesus. If we are to help others be like Jesus, we must be like Jesus ourselves. If we are to be like Jesus, we must spend much time with Him. With His last teaching breath Jesus simply said: In order to make many disciples, you must spend much time with Me.
I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain [abide] (John 15:16). We have been told in no uncertain terms that we have been chosen and commissioned to go and make disciples, disciples that in turn spend a lot of time with Jesus. There is no ambiguity here, only authorization. Our task on earth is to go and make disciples and to center those disciples on Jesus. We don’t have to spend any energy on what we are to do in this life. Over and again, we have been told to go and to make disciples. The only question is where—and Jesus answered that for us, too.
As You have sent Me into the world, I have also sent them into the world (John 17:18). There is no confusion for the pure in heart regarding the focus of God and the locus of where we are to go make disciples that abide. Jesus has sent us to the world, the dangerous world, the unreceptive world, the lost world, the world that uses crosses, whips, mocking, stones, and swords to kill disciples, prophets, and ambassadors of Christ and the Son of God. The Father sent the Son to save souls at a dangerous time in a hostile environment. So Christ sends us—to save souls in dangerous times and in hostile environments.
The only escape from direct obedience to the last (and first) words of Jesus is through either sophistry or stubborn rebellion. It’s pretty clear: Spend time with Jesus and make disciples in all the world. It’s not complicated, it’s just hard.