THE THREE GREATEST QUALITIES OF A DISCIPLE
Jesus concluded both His prayer and the Upper Room discourse with a summary of all He had imparted to them and prayed for them.
Righteous, Father, though the world does not know you, I know you and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them, and I myself may be in them. (John 17: 25-26)
One almost feels sad that this prayer had come to an end and, at the same time, guilty for eavesdropping on sacred moments like these between the Father and the Son. And yet, since the disciples overheard the prayer and John wrote it down, it is obvious that Jesus wanted them to be a part of it.
We would expect that a summary like this, short as it is, would contain the essence of Jesus’s heart for His disciples – those who were with Him then and those who would come after them.
Three thoughts emerge that encapsulate Jesus’s heart for His disciples;
He wanted them to know the Father. Jesus “knew” the Father in the deepest and most intimate sense of the word. He came to reveal the Father and to give them the name which was most precious to Him. How did Jesus reveal the Father to them? By speaking about Him, by doing His works and by being a perfect replica of the Father to them.
This was an ongoing commitment, entrusted to the Holy Spirit when He left them. As the Spirit revealed Jesus to the disciples and reminded them of the words He had spoken to them, so their intimate knowledge of the Father would increase and their fellowship with Him would deepen. This would be the hallmark of their lives as His followers, loving and submitting to the Father just as Jesus had done.
Jesus’s passion was not only that the disciples know the character of the Father but that they would also know His love. The Father loved the disciples in exactly the same way as He loved His Son. That they were human, finite and fallible made no difference. He loves because of who He is and not because of who we are. To be so sure of that love that no adversity of any kind could shake their confidence in the Father’s love was Jesus’s goal for them. God’s love for them, as it was for Him, would be their anchor through the storms of life.
They, like all people, had been created to live in the circle of the unity and intimacy between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Through His sacrifice, Jesus has removed all barriers and invites us also to enjoy the love and favour that God, the three in one, offers to all who will choose to believe His promise and to live loved, just as He did on earth.
To be one with His disciples, each one in Him and He in them, was His highest ambition. To direct their lives through the indwelling Spirit was the only guarantee that His message would not be distorted, and that the message of God’s love would be taken to the world.
Jesus did not aim for great buildings, great leaders or great ministries. When we listen to His heart, what do we hear? He wanted His followers to know the Father, to understand the Father’s passion as Jesus mirrored it in His life.
He wanted His disciples to be ensnared by the love of God. His love was to steady them in times of trouble, to guide them along His path, to enrich their lives so that they would reflect Him, and to be the spectacles through which they looked at and interpreted every circumstance, good or bad.
He yearned to be in them in such close unity that they would be an extension of Him on earth, understanding His heart and doing His will through the Holy Spirit in them.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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