What Message Are We Pushing?

Pastor Andy Gehron standing between 2 pillars, pushing each like Samson did in the book of Judges

John 17:20-26
I ask not only concerning them, but also concerning those who will believe through their teaching concerning (about) me, so that they all may be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, so that also they may be in us so that the world might believe that you sent me. And the glory which you have given to me, I have given to them, so that just as we are one, they may be one; I in them and you in me, so that they may become perfectly into one, so that the world might know that you sent me and you loved them just as you loved me. Father, those you have given me, I desire so that where I am and be with me, so that they might see my glory which you have given me because you loved me before the world’s beginning. Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you, and they (the ones God gave to Him) know that you sent me, (26) and I made your name known to them, and I will make your name known, so that the love by which you love me may be in them, and I also in them.

When I was in seminary, every morning, before school, I liked to turn on the television to check the weather forecast. You know how the weather changes so much in Chicago, it could be completely different than what they said the night before. One morning, I caught an interview with Macaulay Culkin about his (then-new) controversial movie called, “Saved”. Towards the end of the interview, he mentioned a movie protest that he remembered. He said that there was a group of Christians protesting against a movie, and another group of Christians who were protesting against those Christians.

Now notice, Macaulay Culkin did not mention anything about what organizations these protesters were from, neither did he mention anything about them being angry parents, nor what they were even protesting about. No, instead he mentioned, on WGN morning news, and possibly on the television sets of thousands, maybe even millions of people, that ‘a bunch of Christians were protesting against other Christians’, and he thought it was funny. He even laughed after mentioning it.

Jesus Christ called His disciples to be different in such a way that would attract non-believers to God as something they don’t have, but need. But is that the message we are pushing about Christ? And if not, then what message are we pushing?

About one thousand nine hundred and eighty-some-odd years ago, all the disciples gathered together for Pentecost in one place, praying and waiting for this Holy Spirit that Jesus had promised to send them. Acts 2:1 says that when they were meeting together in one place, the Holy Spirit came upon them, they ran outside, and preached to all the foreigners in their languages about what God had done through His Son. Now, the issue that I’m getting at is not the fact that they all received the gift of speaking other languages, and it’s not the fact that they all received the same ability at that same time, but what Acts 2:1 said, that everybody was together, united for the single reason that Jesus told them to stay in Jerusalem, together. Their unity in preaching the same message made such an impact on the unbelievers, that in a single day, the first mega-church was formed.

The new believers then set the example for the rest of us down the road, by continuing to meet every day in the temple courts, selling their material possessions to help those in need, and devoting themselves to the teaching of the Apostles’, fellowship, prayer, and breaking of bread. And the Lord added numbers of people being saved, daily.

Next Sunday we will be celebrating Pentecost. Looking at the way in which the disciples behaved towards one another, breaking bread in homes and eating together with glad and sincere hearts, Praising God, and enjoying the favor of all the people, I dread the question that comes to mind…the one question that every parent hears all too often: “Are we there yet?” Because when I hear about Christians protesting against Christians, and the world noticing and laughing at what we are doing, instead of being attracted to the message we have to share, I look at the table of communion and have to wonder when, and how, we walked so far away from the table.

I heard about a man who was called into active duty during one of the wars. He had 24 hours from the time he received the orders to report to duty. That’s less than 24 hours left to put his affairs into order, if you include the time it takes to get to the base. In other words, with the possibility that he may not return alive, he had less than 24 hours to make sure that everything and everybody would be taken care of after he’s gone. No long goodbye’s, no chances to say, “wait I forgot to tell you something,” and no second thoughts about going because it was not his will, but the will of the government. His only will was that if he could save the lives of some of the boys overseas, versus coming home in body-bags, then it was worth it to him to go.

Jesus knew that in less than 24 hours, He would be up on a cross. And with Judas already on his way to get the soldiers, there wasn’t much time for the final preparations of His disciples so they can continue spreading His Good News to the world when He’s gone.

The Last Supper was their last meal together before Jesus’ death. It was the last time they all were together with Jesus (for Judas left after the meal). But most of all, it was a transition. In chapter 6, Jesus claimed to be the bread of life that came down from Heaven, the Manna of which whoever eats of it will not die, they will never go hungry, and if they believe in Him, will never go thirsty. Jesus gave His flesh as the life of the world, and He said that unless we eat His flesh and drink His blood, we will have no life in us, for whoever does eat and drink Him has eternal life, and in the last day, He will raise them up. When Jesus said this, he was not only looking forward to the Last Supper that He would soon have with His disciples, but ultimately the end times. See, the Last Supper was a prelude to their transition into the last days, for when Jesus was resurrected, the new era began. The Law was fulfilled, and new hope was brought, and it fed his disciples both physically and spiritually. Jesus commanded them to do this every time they meet, in remembrance of Him. It was not just a meal, it was an act of unity with Christ as the center…it was an embodiment.

Now imagine all twelve disciples reclining after a good meal, Jesus says something to Judas, who leaves to…where? (shrugging shoulders) The others have no idea what is going on, and suddenly Jesus tells them He’s leaving, but they can’t go with Him. He says His time was short, and begins telling them all how to act towards one another when He’s gone. “So now I am giving you this new commandment: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other, (for this) will prove to the world that you are my disciples…If you love me, obey my commandments.” Jesus then tells them about a Counselor, which is the Holy Spirit, whom God will send to them and lead them to all truth. As they get confused, Jesus explains that the world will hate them, and will persecute them, and why. He makes sure they remain in His love, and encourages them to tell everyone about Him. He reminds them of how much He loves them, and continues to encourage them to continue loving each other in the same way.  Jesus was “putting his affairs in order”.

When Jesus was done, He immediately took His eyes off His disciples, looked up to Heaven, praying for Himself and asking God to glorify Him, for when He is glorified, God is glorified, since it is God who gives Him the glory. And it is by doing the things the Father has told Him to do that brought glory to the Father.

Then Jesus prays for His current disciples, whom God has given to Him. And since God gave them to Jesus, they are Christ’s glory. In the same way that the soldier made sure his family members would be taken care of, Jesus asks God to take care of them so that they may be united in the same way that He and the Father are.

Notice the parallelisms:

  • In 13:20, If you welcome Christ’s messenger, you are welcoming Christ, and if you welcome Christ, you’re welcoming the Father who sent Him;
  • Chapter 14: Enter the Father through Christ, if you know Christ you know the Father; if you have seen Christ, you have seen the Father; Christ is in the Father and the Father is in Christ; Christ’s work gives glory to God; if we love Christ, His Father will love us and so will Christ;
  • Chapter 15: Because the world hated Christ, it will also hate us; because the world persecuted Christ, it will also persecute us; if the world had listened to Christ then it would listen to us; the world will hate us because we belong to Christ; anyone who hates Christ also hates the Father; in the same way that the Holy Spirit will tell us about Christ, we must also tell others about Christ.
  • Jumping now to chapter 17: “The world hates them because they don’t belong to the world as I don’t belong to the world”; “As you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world”; “I also give myself entirely to you so that they also will be entirely yours.”

Not only is Jesus encouraging His disciples in their suffering, but John is using the parallelisms to emphasize the unity of those of us who follow Christ, and the trinity, as well as the unity within the persons of the trinity.

In verse 20, Jesus makes it known that this protection and care that He is asking from the Father is not only for His current disciples, but also for those who will become disciples because of their testimony to the world. In other words, Jesus also prayed for us! Because God gave us to Him, we too are added into the prayer for His disciples for safety, and also for mission, for Jesus said that as God sent Jesus into the world, Jesus is also sending them (and us) into the world. Also, by praying for those of us who have come to believe, Jesus, in the presence of His disciples, was also encouraging them and showing that He has faith in them to get this message out to the world. And at the same time, since Jesus’ prayer for His disciples includes us, then that means that Jesus is expecting us to tell others about it still, and is praying for them, do you see? And Jesus confirms this in verse 21 by mentioning His intention for us all to be one, as He and the Father are one. And in this unity, we can be in them, and the world may believe that God sent Jesus.

The point is so that the world may know and believe. If we love Jesus, then we are in Him and He is in us. Also, Christ is in God and God in Jesus, making us in God and God in us, also, not to mention the Holy Spirit which was given to those of us to follow Christ. Therefore, as embodied creatures, we have the responsibility of portraying Christ to the world so that it may come to know of Christ, believe in Him, and know that God sent Him. But if we are not united, then we are not united in Christ, and the mission to the world fails.

And notice also that each time somebody asked Jesus who He was, instead of giving them a straight answer, Jesus would remind them of what He had done, for only the Messiah is capable of doing such wonders.

1 Comment

  1. Acts 5:41–“The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus”. The deeper our walk with the Lord Jesus, the more I actually rejoice that “the world” hates us Christians (as Jesus says would happen in John 15), as long as we are truly obeying and spreading Jesus’ gospel message (Matthew 28:19). And there’ll always be confused folks criticizing Christians who don’t even really know what they’re talking about, just like at the riot in Ephesus (Acts 19).

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