Abiding In The
The Son can do nothing of his own accord, it only what he sees the Father doing.(John 5:19)
Jesus Christ became man that He might show us what a true man is, how God meant to live and work in man, and how man may find his life and do his work in God.
Christ’s work was the fruit, the earthly reflection of the Heavenly Father working. And it was not as if Christ merely saw and copied what the Father willed or did: “The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.”(John 14:10) Christ did all His work in the power of the Father dwelling and working in Him. So complete and real was His dependence on the Father that He used strong expressions: “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do,” I can of mine own self do nothing” (John5:19, 30). As literally as what He said is true of us, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), is it true of Him too: “The Father that dwelleth in me….doeth the works” (John 14:10)
Come and learn from our Lord Jesus the secret of true work for God. “My Father worketh…..and I work” (John 5:17). Divine Fatherhood means that God is all, and gives all and works all. Divine Sonship means continual dependence on the Father, and the reception, moment by moment, of all strength needed for His Work.
Your one need is to wait for and to trust in His working, in deep humility and weakness. Learn from this that God can only work in us as He dwells in us. Cultivate the holy sense of God’s continual nearness and presence of your being His temple, and of His dwelling in you. Offer yourself for Him to work in you all His good pleasure. You will find that work, instead of being a hindrance, can become your greatest incentive to a life of fellowship and childlike dependence.
In the High Priestly Prayer of John 17, Jesus recounts His mission and purpose, and how He had been committed to carry out the Father’s will. He begins by stating these words:
“When Jesus had spoken these things, He raised His eyes to heaven [in prayer] and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, so that Your Son may glorify You.”
In just a few short hours, He will be hanging on a tree, looked upon as a common criminal, spat upon, and mocked by the very humanity that He is dying for. Yet in His suffering, He brings glory to the Father in doing the Father’s will. The Father responds in kind as the earth quakes, the sun darkens and the veil is rent in the temple. From this powerful display, the Father moves a centurion to fall to his knees and cry out, “Surely this was the Son of God.” Nothing that the Son would do would be without the Father and nothing the Father would do would be done without the Son.
As Jesus continues in the prayer:
2 Just as You have given Him power and authority over all mankind, [now glorify Him] so that He may give eternal life to all whom You have given Him [to be His—permanently and forever]. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true [supreme and sovereign] God, and [in the same manner know] Jesus [as the] Christ whom You have sent. 4 I have glorified You [down here] on the earth by completing the work that You gave Me to do. 5 Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory and majesty that I had with You before the world existed.
We learn that the power that was manifested through Christ had been given to Him by the Father and nothing He did was done through His own power but everything was done in conjunction with the Father. He declares that He had completed His work on earth, that of offering eternal life and the knowledge of the Father. He states again that in everything He did, He brought glory to the Father.
This is our example and assignment. We too have been given the task of carrying out the Father’s work. We can only do so by His enablement through the authority of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. We have been called to glorify God with our lives so that we may one day be glorified when we stand before His throne. This ought to be our single motivation for our work in the kingdom of God. So I pause to ask a question for us to contemplate: “Is my life a reflection of Christ and does it honor and glorify the Father?”
As the prayer continues:
6 “I have manifested Your name [and revealed Your very self, Your real self] to the people whom You have given Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept and obeyed Your word. 7 Now [at last] they know [with confident assurance] that all You have given Me is from You [it is really and truly Yours]. 8 For the words which You gave Me I have given them; and they received and accepted them and truly understood [with confident assurance] that I came from You [from Your presence], and they believed [without any doubt] that You sent Me.
Jesus says that He has “manifested”- made known, the Father to the people of God. He makes clear that though they are His disciples, in reality they belong to the Father. He said that these are those who have “kept and obeyed Your word,” defining in precision, believers. Christ further says that the words He gave that the disciples He had received and accepted came from the Father and because of that they concluded that He had been sent by the Father. This must be us. Our task is not to create a club or some social group but to make known God the Father to a lost and dying world. Just as Christ made known the Father, we are to make Him known to those around us. Through every deed and every action and attitude; through every word and testimony, we are to make who Christ is known to those who do not know Him. Further, we are not to give our opinions, our personal views or offer our own values and ideas. We are to give nothing more and nothing less than the words of God Himself just as they have been given to us. We have not the authority to twist, modify nor change them to fit the day or the popular opinion of the moment. We have only authority to repeat and not to create.
9 I pray for them; I do not pray for the world, but for those You have given Me, because they belong to You; 10 and all things that are Mine are Yours, and [all things that are] Yours are Mine; and I am glorified in them. 11 I am no longer in the world; yet they are still in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, so that they may be one just as We are. 12 While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and protected them, and not one of them was lost except the son of destruction, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.
Here we find in this prayer the comfort that at all times, Christ is praying for us, His followers. He announces that these have been given to Him because they belong to the Father. As He proclaims in the prayer that He is coming to the Father but the disciples will still be in the world, He asks that the Father would keep them “in His name….so that they may be one just as we are.” He declares that He has kept them and none were lost except the one who chose a different path. For us, this calls us to recognize that every believer belongs to God Himself. They may associate with a particular church and sit under a particular pastor, but they belong to God. They are not ours to treat in any way we choose. We dare not misuse or condemn them for they are not ours to do so. We have no authority to do so even to ourselves for Paul tells us: “There is now, therefore, no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” As Jesus prays “that they may be one,” He is asking us to pray that we too can love our brothers and sisters. His desire and the Father’s desire is that the conflict among the people of God would be resolved and our division and strife would find its end as we fully embrace the Word of God and as we strive to live out its teachings. Only as we fully surrender our whole being to Christ can this be possible. As long as the sin nature has its way in us, we will be at odds with each other. Unity can only be found as each believer becomes a reflection of Christ. We may never have the same opinions about things in this world and that’s ok but we must press toward finding our unity in the faith. As a matter of fact, the mission of the five-fold ministry gifts by Christ to the church: apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher have been given for the purpose of:
“until we all reach oneness in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, [growing spiritually] to become a mature believer, reaching to the measure of the fullness of Christ [manifesting His spiritual completeness and exercising our spiritual gifts in unity].”
20 “I do not pray for these alone [it is not for their sake only that I make this request], but also for [all] those who [will ever] believe and trust in Me through their message, 21 that they all may be one; just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe [without any doubt] that You sent Me. 22 I have given to them the glory and honor which You have given Me, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected and completed into one, so that the world may know [without any doubt] that You sent Me, and [that You] have loved them, just as You have loved Me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given to Me [as Your gift to Me], may be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, because You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 “O just and righteous Father, although the world has not known You and has never acknowledged You [and the revelation of Your mercy], yet I have always known You; and these [believers] know [without any doubt] that You sent Me; 26 and I have made Your name known to them, and will continue to make it known, so that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them [overwhelming their heart], and I [may be] in them.”
Christ finishes His prayer by saying to us that this prayer was not just for those original disciples but for everyone who will ever receive Him. He repeats His request that “they may be one,” so that the world may also believe and see that He was sent by the Father and that the world was loved by Him. He completes His request with a plea, “that the love which You have loved Me may be in them [overwhelming their heart], and I [may be] in them.”
On Maundy Thursday we will participate in some form what Brethren have called the Love Feast. We will kneel before a brother or sister and wash their feet. But if we do more than act out a ritual; if we truly take on the role of being a servant to them, we will find fulfillment in the Lord’s Prayer; “that they may be one.” If we choose to do more that eat food together, and make it true fellowship in that we value the other persons and see them as the children of God; if they become more than fellow church goers and become family, then we honor God and the prayer of Christ. As we share the bread and cup, if it is more than eating a piece of bread and drinking grape juice; instead, it is symbolic that we are indeed identifying ourselves with Christ whose body was broken for us, the broken, flawed humanity called the church and that our whole of salvation rests upon the blood of Jesus poured out for us and nothing of our own effort; we will then give all the glory and honor to Christ alone. And if we will give honor and glory to Christ and through Him the Father is glorified, we will find ourselves living in submission to His will, carrying out His work, loving His people and the world will get a glimpse of the Father and Son.
May you and I become the answer to the prayer of Christ. Of all the prayers He prayer, this is the one still yet to be answered. May it soon be so!
Dr. John Thompson