Study Notes 8-25-13: Ambassadors for Christ

This post contains notes for John 13:19-20 which was taught on 8-25-13.  Our emphasis for this post is the joy we enter into as ambassadors for Christ.

13:19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.

The Carefully Chosen Words of Christ

We’ve talked before about the deity of Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of Christ, and verse 19 really brings those truths home to us once again.  But what I really want to look at here is how Jesus is saying that all of His words are for a purpose.  Specifically, they are for us. So that we will believe in Him. John notes as much later on when he says:

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31)

And so that is the purpose of what He said, but I want to hone in on yet another thing, and that is that Jesus had a reason for everything He said. For whatever reason this really convicted me as I studied the passage.  I began to realize that I often say things that have no point whatsoever. My words are sometimes inane, babbling, rambling, or (at worst) very poorly chosen.

James tells us that the tongue is a “world of iniquity” and that no man can tame the tongue, and yet one of the things that we most often forget is that Jesus did.  He tamed the tongue, and not because of His divine nature somehow “cheating” and retraining the human nature.  He tamed the tongue because while He was fully human, yet He was filled with the Holy Spirit, and obeyed the Holy Spirit.  He submitted to His Father, and did not sin. Did not think sinful thoughts, did not allow those thoughts to come to fruition and bubble over onto His tongue. He took every thought hostage for the glory of His Father. He loved the Father too much to allow sin to even formulate in His mind, much less fall onto His tongue, and in so doing He showed us not simply what “divinity” looks like, but rather what true humanity looks like.  This is why we call Him the “second Adam”, because He was perfect and was truly human – I don’t mean “fully” human.  I’m not talking about the fullness of His incarnation.  I mean “truly” human.  That is to say that Jesus showed us what humanity was intended to be like.  He is our great example because He is transforming us into someone more like Him, and in so doing we are becoming more human, not less human. We are never more as we were intended to be than when we are less like ourselves now, and more like Christ was on earth. Luckily we don’t have to only look back, we can look forward because this work that’s He’s doing in us He will bring to completion at the day of His arrival!

13:20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

Ambassadors for Christ

I believe the verses 19 and 20 are significant in that they extend again to these disciples the love of Christ. He has just spent time discussing (and will continue to talk about) the treachery of one of their own party.  As John MacArthur[i] tells us, it must have been shocking, and must have raised questions as to their ability to maintain credibility among those who they were going to be ministering to.  How could this new kingdom maintain integrity if one of the first pillars was a traitor?  Well Jesus gives them reassurance here that whoever is sent in the name of Christ (as ambassadors for Him) is actually representing Him with the same authority as if He had been there Himself.

Listen to what Paul says about this to the church at Corinth:

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. (2 Corinthians 5:20-6:1)

This means that we are entering into the Master’s labor (John 4:38), and our mission in this world is to be representatives, little mini-Christs, to the world. We are on a mission of reconciliation.  This is the gospel: that He sent Him who knew no sin to be sin so that we could draw near to Him as His own children.  This reminds us that we were once enemies of God, and we now reach out to God’s enemies with the goal of reconciling them to God.  Not that we do the ultimate reconciliation, no indeed.  But rather, God working through us has found pleasure in using us, the weakest of the weak, to bring His enemies near, to proclaim the good news of Jesus to them in the power of the Spirit. That’s why we’re here, that’s our mission and our joy!

The second part of this is the amazing truth that we are part of a plan that involved not only the man Jesus Christ, but also the heavenly Father Himself. This verse shows us that the Eternal Godhead has had a plan for our salvation, and that they are bringing us into this plan. Why?  Because they know that we will receive joy from it!

This is how the thinking goes: God receives joy from reconciling sinners to Himself, we receive joy from being reconciled to God, God sends us out to be His messengers so that He can reconcile more people to Himself, and now not only does He receive joy, but we too receive that joy!

Have you every thought why it’s so exciting to lead someone to Christ? There are many reasons, I think, but perhaps the foundational reason has to do with our being made in His image. If we are being made like His Son, who loved to bring sinners into the kingdom, then it stands to reason that we too would enjoy what He enjoys.

And this is what sanctification is all about – beginning to think God’s thoughts after Him, and having a heart that is like His, and loving people as He first loved us.

The nature of the trinity and its work in our lives, and the mystery of our inclusion in this process ought to blow you away Christian.  It ought to give you a peak at the depth of the love He has for you, and a sneak peak at the plan He has for you.

What About You?

Of course this begs the question: would those who are “receiving” you (accepting what you have to say and your company/friendship) doing so knowing this truth? AND, are your actions and words representative of Christ’s actions and words?

If we are Christ’s ambassadors we need to walk and talk like Christ. If we represent Him, we need to act like Him, and speak His truth to others. If you are a Christian, and cannot say this is true of yourself, then I would urge you to repent. Begin to renew your mind again by spending time in His word. Ask for Him to change your desires, to change your mind, to melt your heart, and to help you think His thoughts after Him. If you do these things what you’ll find is that Christ becomes more and more lovely to you, and loving others becomes more and more of your DNA, it just flows out of your mind and your heart – all of which are being washed by the word.

Charge to Men

Men, we need to be washing our families in the word. We need to be stirring up within them these kinds of thoughts. This is how you lead a family, by the way. You help them renew their minds and their hearts. You teach them to pray and ask for deep and wonderful things – teach them to ask the Lord Jesus to think and feel and talk and act like He does – not because you want to have “good little children”, but because if you really love them, then you want them to know what true love really is. You want them to know what its really like to fall in love with Jesus. You aren’t doing this alone. The Spirit of God will do the heavy lifting. He is the one who is going to change their hearts. But you need to lead them in obedience and out of both love for them and love for your Savior.

Study Notes 5-14-12

4:25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.”

  • The Samaritans knew of the teaching of the Messiah, even though they didn’t hold any of the Jewish prophetic books to be part of their cannon, they had the Pentateuch, and that was surely enough to recognize that there would be a Messiah.  For Moses even said, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen” (Deut. 18:15).
  • The Samaritans viewed the Messiah through the eyes on the first five books of the Bible because they rejected all the other books.  Kostenberger points out that they actually saw the Messiah as a teacher, and someone who would reveal to them “all things” in the spirit of Deut. 18:18.
  • The Jews, of course, saw the Messiah as a political savior who would liberate them from the oppression of the Romans etc.  Calvin says, “Although the religion among the Samaritans was corrupted and mixed up with many errors, yet some principles taken from the law were impressed on their minds, such as that which related to the Messiah.”

4:26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

  • Nowhere else in Scripture (to my knowledge) does Jesus so clearly state “I am the Messiah.”  This is a magnificent verse that ought to serve as a sort of highlight to the entire chapter.
  • First He lays out the excellency of the gift He has to offer, then He reveals to her that He is the Savior of the World!  Ryle says, “There is no heart satisfaction in this world, until we believe on Christ. Jesus alone can fill up the empty places of our inward man. Jesus alone can give solid, lasting, enduring happiness.  The peace that He imparts is a fountain, which, once set flowing within the soul, flows on to all eternity.”
  • What amazes me is that here, to a foreigner, to a sinner, He reveals the nature of His person.  Amazing.  Paul certainly felt the same thing, that as the “chief of sinners” He felt the weightiness of this reality.  That Jesus Christ, the Son of God, had revealed Himself to him, seemed too much to be grasped.  It was too good.  Such is Christ, and is a mark of His character.
  • One of the things that ought to be mentioned here that Boice brings up is that Jesus uses the phrase “I am” to describe himself.  The English version of the Bible adds the word “he” in there to modify the phrase so that it points back to the title Messiah, however, it also should indicate something deeper to this woman. Namely, the phrase or name “I am” is the name for God – Jehovah.  On the mountain top when Moses asked God who he should tell the people of Israel that sent him, God replied “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Ex. 3:14).
  • By saying “I am” Jesus was, at least in a veiled way, asserting His deity.

4:27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?”

  • They marveled, but they didn’t say anything.  They were speechless.  Carson points out that there was sexism among the Jews to the points that Rabbis who talked with women were thought to have been wasting their time – time that could have been spent studying the Torah.

4:28-30 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, [29] “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” [30] They went out of the town and were coming to him.

  • Note the influence of this woman.  Certainly God was using her.  Before she was shunned, now she is a herald of good news.  Isaiah says, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’” (Is. 52:7).  Sproul says, “…she was so excited by her conversation with Jesus, that she left her water pot and hurried away. We have no record that she ever filled it.  She couldn’t wait to get into town, to go to that very city where she was a despised outcast, to tell of her experience.”  This reminds me of when Jesus was calling disciples and urged the to leave the dead to bury the dead.  When He calls us, we don’t want to resist, we want to accept Him.
  • This is why we talk about the doctrine of “irresistible grace” because when God the Holy Spirit quickens us to life we suddenly see ourselves for who we are and the offer of living water for what it is!  We drop our water pot and go tell everyone we know – no matter how shameful they may see us – about the gift we just received.
  • You see, when we see God’s grace for what it is, suddenly our shame doesn’t mean anything.  Paul says, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Romans 8:33-34).
  • So when the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the beauty and beneficence of what Jesus did and who we are (condemned men) we naturally grasp onto Jesus with all of our might!  Some foolish men who haven’t studied the nature of regeneration proclaim that Calvinists believe God “drags men into heaven kicking and screaming.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Every so-called Calvinist I know believes and understands that when the dead man is made alive by the Spirit of God, they don’t get dragged into heaven, they go sprinting into heaven!  They run quickly to the cross and embrace their Salvation!
  • Lastly, this ought to show us, more than anything else, that God can use anyone to spread the gospel.

4:31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”

  • They had just come back from their trip to get Him food, so naturally they wanted to make sure that He had something to eat.
  • Ironic that they address Him as “Rabbi” in front of the Samaritan who now suspected He was the Supreme Teacher, the Messiah.  I wonder if this saying further confirmed in her mind what she just heard in her heart.

4:32-34 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” [33] So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” [34] Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.

  • This is the second time in just a short while that Jesus has taken advantage of an opportunity to share the gospel or teach a parable.  He was always looking to turn conversations into teaching opportunities.  That shows you where His head was at.  We know that He must have been at least a little hungry after His journey, for we know that He was thirsty. Yet, He still is intentional about His mission.  I must admit that when I’m tired, thirsty, and hungry, the last thing I’m often thinking about is how to spread the gospel or teach anyone anything.  Calvin also recognized this and said, “…his anxiety about the present business urges him so strongly, and absorbs his whole mind, so that it gives him no uneasiness to despise food…and thus he shows, by his example, that the kingdom of God ought to be preferred to all the comforts of the body.”  I absolutely love that phrase and think that Calvin captures the essence of Christ’s mind – fully absorbed with expanding the kingdom.  I want to have that mind as well.
  • Carson points out that Jesus must surely have been using this as an opportunity to teach His disciples “something of His priorities.”  And further says that Jesus must certainly been thinking of Deuteronomy 8:3, which says:  “And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”
  • Another thing that we need to realize here is how well this response from Jesus ties into His affirmation of deity AND his messianic role. The passage most people think of when they think of the Old Testament prophecy of Messiah is Deut. 18:15-19.  In verse 18 it says, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.”  In other words, Jesus was speaking for the Father and not of His own initiative.

4:35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.

  • Why was Jesus always sharing and looking for these opportunities?  Because He viewed the world in a way that we do not, He saw the harvest and no laborers.  He came to recruit laborers. And as I mentioned earlier, he was so fully “absorbed” in this work that he dominated His mind.  He was always looking to expand the kingdom of God and here He urges His disciples to see the need and necessity of doing so.

4:36-38 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. [37] For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ [38] I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

  • Kostenberger says that the “others” who have labored are Jesus and the prophets who came before Him (notably John the Baptist etc).
  • Jesus wants His disciples to take a step back and realize that they are entering into a time in redemptive history that was brand new.  A new age was about to dawn and Jesus Christ was the One ushering that age in.  Jesus came to usher in the harvest.  This was a time many others in history had longed to see (Matthew 13:17), and now these farmers and fishermen got to witness it and be a part of it (Luke 10:2).  This harvest continues until today, and we are all called to be a part of it as well. Amazing.

How do we teach this to our children? Here’s an example:  Today we learned about how Jesus revealed to a Samaritan woman that He was the Messiah.  “Messiah” is a name for Jesus, and it means, “anointed one.”  To be “anointed” is to be chosen for a certain task. What was the task of Jesus?  (To save the world)  When Jesus’ disciples saw that he had shared with this Samaritan woman they were amazed because the Jews and the Samaritans didn’t get along.  But Jesus taught them that He was bringing eternal life to people from all nations, colors, races, or ethnic backgrounds.  That’s what it means in John 3:16 that “God so loved the world.”  Heaven will be made up of people from all corners of the earth and it is our responsibility and joy to share in the work of spreading the good news (gospel) about Jesus.  That’s why Jesus said we are to “enter into the harvest” with him.