One of the aspects of our Lord’s life that has always fascinated me is his great humility. It’s not just that he was humble in his conduct and the way he carried himself, but, as we sing from time to time, I’m fascinated by that bigger idea that Jesus, enthroned in Heaven and worshipped by angels, would lay aside all of that that glory and majesty to do… well, this.
I simply can’t put myself in his place, I can’t fathom just how frustrating that costly humility could have been. Whenever He speaks of the Kingdom of God, his listeners miss the mark and start thinking about political power; his own disciples get sidetracked arguing amongst themselves, even putting up barriers to keep people away; and when it comes time for the final sacrifice, he’s betrayed, denied, and deserted by those who loved him. The patience is simply amazing.
Yet, the thing that I find even more fascinating is that Our Lord’s patience and humility doesn’t stop when he re-ascends to the Father’s side.
Really, you’d think that the Ascension, the Lord’s return to his throne in glorious majesty would be the time to set things right. You’d think that, no longer limited by the frustrations of life in this broken world, the Lord would show forth his glory in the most spectacular ways, no longer putting up with a band of bumbling disciples to spread the good news. You’d think, after all the trials, the misunderstandings, and the shameful crucifixion and death, that the Lord would leave the weaknesses and failings of human followers behind.
But that’s not how it works, is it?
No, having suffered at the hands of fallen people like you and me, having been misunderstood and even betrayed by imperfect followers, the Lord’s plan isn’t to finally break free from dealing with humanity; it’s the opposite.
Jesus prays to the Father, “as you have sent me into the world, now I send them into the world” (John 17:18). That’s right – after all the great humility and patience already shown, after all the times the disciples messed up, it turns out that God’s plan isn’t to cut the disciples loose and reveal his great and incredible glory. No, as Christ ascends into heaven, awaiting that day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord, Jesus entrusts us with his mission.
Isn’t that simply incredible? It certainly isn’t a plan that I’d cook up. No human author would read the gospels and then think, “oh, I know what comes next – we’ll take those same followers who made a mess of things while their Lord and Master was right there walking alongside them, and now entrust the mission to them!
But that’s God’s plan. The absolutely incredible reality is that, though I don’t know why, though I know I don’t deserve it, God trusts me with his mission.
Jesus said, “I have given them the words you gave me” (John 17:8). God trusts you with his mission; the message of good news are no longer just the Lord’s words to speak – they’ve been given, entrusted to me and to you.
It’s absolutely incredible. Why would God trust me? I’m learning to follow my Lord every day, offering myself for the life of a disciple – a student, following one day at a time and one step at a time, but, if we’re honest, which of us is deserving of God’s trust? After all, God knows that we have a hard enough time trusting him. God knows that, left to my own devices, we’ll choose what is easy over what is good, and we’ll choose what is cheap over that which requires sacrifice.
Yet, in his incredible humility, the Lord’s plan is to entrust you with the message of hope and forgiveness and mercy that will change lives and save souls. Again, in today’s Gospel, Jesus comes right out and says, verse 9: “I pray for [my disciples]; I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.“
Jesus – the same yesterday, today, and forever – is praying to the Father for you, that you will succeed in the unfathomable mission that you’ve been entrusted with, because you and I are the ones that God planned to bring his good news to those who are searching for someone to trust in and worship, to bring his truth to those who are so curved in on themselves that they think the world revolves around them, to bring hope and the promise of eternity to those who are perishing. God trusts you to do that.
But why would God trust me?
I can’t save anyone, I can’t fix anyone or take responsibility for their decisions or actions.
No, that’s absolutely true, we have no strength or power of our own to offer. But, as we read this morning, “whoever has the Son has life” (1 John 5:12). And we know that life is the light of the world, the light that shines in the darkness, the light that overcomes the darkness.
I can’t save or fix another, but if the life of Christ is in me as it is in each of you, then God is trusting me to shine that light to those still in darkness.
The great miracle of Pentecost is that, rather than the Word of God being found in one sinless man walking this dusty earth, each of us is sent out to have the Word of God on our lips and in our hearts, bringing life and light wherever we go.
And God’s trusting you to do that. Honestly, you might be thinking, “God, that doesn’t sound like a good plan. Don’t trust me! I’m shy, I’m weak, I have a hundred excuses”. But, for better or worse, our excuses don’t change God’s plan; our human weakness doesn’t change the fact that God is trusting you to bring the good news to a world in desperate need of hope and mercy.
The genius of God’s plan is that, by entrusting you with the Lord’s mission, the Body of Christ can now spread out and fill the whole earth. Very practically, God’s plan is that when a person sees you, when they hear your voice, they have seen and heard Jesus.
Friends, think about that one. He who has the son has life. You share the risen life of the Son of God. When your friends, when your family, when your neighbours see you, God’s intention is that they will see and hear the words of Jesus himself. He’s entrusted us with his message, maybe even in spite of our own objections!
God’s plan is to trust you and me. It’s certainly not a plan I’d come up with, but there’s really only one way forward – to carry out our mission.
“Greater love as no one than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).
I’m no prophet, but the reality for us in this part of the world is that we probably won’t be asked to give up life and limb for the sake of the message that God has given us. But there’s a lot more to life than flesh and blood. Life is full of days and moments, full of time and energy and effort, full of joys and set-backs, full of successes and even some sorrows. As those entrusted with the Word of God, the greatest love that we can ever show is to lay down that time and energy and effort, to bear patiently the sorrows or the rejection, patiently looking forward to the little victories, as we show real love by carrying the Good news to others.
My friends, God trusts you. He entrusted you with his good news.
And the great truth is that, if we’re willing to be faithful, He’ll provide what we need. God doesn’t call the equipped. God equips the called, giving us gifts and strength and energy to do more than we could ever ask or imagine.
He entrusted us – let’s trust him, for there’s a world just outside our door just dying to know that they matter, that they are loved, that they can be forgiven, and that there’s hope for a yet more glorious future.
Let’s get to work – to God’s glory.