The Master’s Plan – Impartation (John 3:16; 15:13; 1 John 3:16)
The Son reveals the Father (John 1:18). Insofar as the disciples look at the Son they behold the Father and become familiar with the Father’s character (John 14:6-9). One aspect of the Father that is disclosed and depicted by the Son is the graciousness of God (John 3:16). The high and lofty or grand and cosmic nature of the Father’s great desire to give and save is made easier to understand in the life of Jesus. He was always giving away what He was given (John 15:13; 1 John 3:16):
- He Gave the Word Given to Him (John 15:15; 17:4, 8, 14)
- He Gave the Peace Given to Him (John 16:33; 14:25-27)
- He Gave the Joy Given to Him (John 15:9-11)
- He Gave the Glory Given to Him (John 17:22)
The essence and excellence of the Father’s exceedingly gracious nature is painstakingly explained in the life of the Son. The cosmic and general grace of God toward all mankind (Psalm 19:1-2) became plain to understand, particular, and personal in the love that the Son of God showed to the men He mentored. What was formerly known of God through the provisions of creation (Romans 1:19-20) was further and finally unpacked in the life-on-life and day-to-day care of Christ for His disciples. The image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3; 2 Corinthians 4:4) made it clear that the unseen Almighty is uncanny and unsurpassed in grace.
Through the Son the Father Says — God gives.
The learners that followed Jesus were altogether unprepared for what they saw. He not only gave it all away, He shunned selfish goals and embraced sacrifice:
Though the demonstrations were often painfully hard to accept, as when he washed their feet (John 13:1–20), they could not miss what he meant. They saw how their Master denied himself many of the comforts and pleasures of the world and became a servant among them. They saw how the things they cherished—physical satisfaction, popular acclaim, prestige—he refused; while the things which they sought to escape—poverty, humiliation, sorrow, and even death—he accepted willingly for their sake. As they watched him minister to the sick, comfort the sorrowing, and preach the gospel to the poor, it was clear that the Master considered no service too small nor any sacrifice too great when it was rendered for the glory of God. (Coleman, 2006, pp. 54-55)
But to what end did He live this way? What was the point of enduring the problems He experienced before the cross? He was teaching them and us how to make the gospel irrefutable.
The Measure of the Ministry (Matthew 10:8)
Jesus did nothing haphazardly. With stern determination He continuously sanctified Himself unto the work of a teaching His disciples apologetics (John 17:18-19). The gospel would become both readily recognized and irrefutable through the way they lived. He taught by example and commanded a ministry that would be easily distinguished and measured by great grace.
- Give-It-Away Graciousness (Matthew 10:8) — They had received the power to help and to heal at no charge. They were to use that power at no charge for the glory of God and the good of His people.
- Lay-Down-Your-Life Loving (John 13:34-35; 15:12-13) — The prior standard for loving others was overturned by the (1) outlandish and excessive exhortation (Matthew 5:38-45) and (2) outlandish and excessive example of the Master (Matthew 20:27-28). Previously it was enough to do for others what I would do for myself. The old commandment was sensible; the new was insane. Jesus says you have done enough when we have done for one another what He has done for us (John 15:12-13); greatest loving would be the new indicator of genuine ministry (John 13:35).
Jesus teaches us to do ministry so well that the proving of our point happens in the irrefutable argument of Christians caring for one another. The world, although trying to deny it, will ultimately have admit that (1) we are His disciples and (2) that He is risen indeed.
The Means of the Ministry (Matthew 26:41; John 6:63; John 3:3-9)
The mind to do ministry the Master’s way and the means to do it are two different things entirely. Let no one suppose that meaning well is the means to good ministry. Good intentions will not garner results that please the Father (Matthew 3:17; 17:5). His work has to be done His way. What way is that? Listen to our Lord:
- Forsake and Forget Flesh-Based Ministry (John 6:63; G alatians 5:19-21; Philippians 3:3-7)
- Filled with the Spirit (Luke 4:1-2, 14-15; 16-21)
Getting the Spirit? Jesus modeled ministry for his disciples. He showed them a graciousness that was outside of expectations; it was heavenly (John 1:16-17). This demonstration and the description was necessary. Without it the disciples may have thought they could muster the the strength to make the kingdom come, to build the church on their own bravado, and accomplish the goals of God by great planning and passionate commitment to the cause. Jesus told them that His ministry was an outworking of the anointing and that they could not start until they too had received power.
- Waiting (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8)
- Walking (Galatians 5:16-23)
Action Plan (BYOB)
- Believe on Jesus for salvation (John 7:37-39; Ephesians 1:13).
- Yield to the Spirit (Ephesians 5:15-21).
- Open your eyes to the needs of others.
- Bless others graciously with your time, your talent, and your treasure.
Questions for Discussion
- Have you placed your faith in Jesus for salvation? If not what are you trusting in or believing on for a right standing with God?
- What is the consequence of trusting in Jesus (John 7:37-39; Ephesians 1:13)?
- Are you looking to the flesh as the means for the ministry?
- What would it look like for you to give graciously?
- What happens to your giving when the asking is outside of your plan?