Dr. H.C. Wilson, President Gorveatte, fellow members of the faculty and staff, distinguished friends and family, and most of all, to you students;
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
My task this morning is two fold. First
, to be short. Today is about you, individually and as a faith community.
, my job to assist you in the beginning stages of the oft times difficult transition from the life of being a student to that of being a minister in the marketplace,
what ever that may look like, and
So again I repeat to you; Grace and peace.
May, “Well done good and faithful student
” be your watchword and song this day.
Yet at the same time, each of you are riding the crest of a major life transition. You are leaving the “Oh-so-familiar” world of being student. Each semester you receive a lengthy syllabus for every class. Your faculty has predetermined all of your course assignments and their corresponding due dates. And as each of you know, the faculty spend countless hours strategizing on how to make all of your assignments and tests due at exactly the same day!
In the end, for the last 16-18 years, your life-decisions have been in the hands of another.
May I hear an “Amen” that this will no longer be the controlling force in your life?
From here on out, you will make all the decisions.
It will be up to you whether Chapel or its real-world equivalent, the Church will be the central spiritual focus of your week.
It will be up to you to be proactive when it comes to your own spiritual growth. Will you make time to establish and personally invest in your own self-styled D-group? I pray that you will seek brothers and sisters in Christ to keep you accountable to the Scriptures and to live a vibrant life of faith
It will be up you if you ever pick up a book again, either for fun or to feed your soul so you can feed others.
From here on out, you will make all the decisions.
Since your life will no longer be driven by a series of syllabi and assignments and due-dates; here is my question for this morning,
What will become the new driving force in the formation of your Day-Timer entries?
The reason I phrase the question this way is quite simple, what you invest your time in, is truly what you value.
May I suggest a source for your decisions? Yes, of course you all would shout out “the Bible” and you would be correct. But I wanted to give you a special gift this morning of a place to turn that will give you the heartbeat of our Lord for making ministerial decisions.
The Scripture that you just heard read by Aisha, David, and Joshua is what biblical scholars call “Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer.” But this morning, they are wrong
. Today, this is the prayer that Jesus prayed over the first class of graduates from His “School of Extreme Discipleship.”
If you look carefully, John chapters 13-16 are what might be termed the “final classroom instruction” of Jesus. It is during these last few hours that Jesus prepares them for their lives of faith and ministry without
Him as their teacher. Hummm, life without
an incarnate instructor? Does that sound familiar to your situation in life?
Remember, in the first 12 chapters of John, Jesus teaches openly for all to hear; every kind of person in every imaginable public arena. Then in John 13, He initiates His private teaching to them beginning with an object lesson of love. The teacher washes the feet of His students. He sets the tone for all that will follow in the rest of His teaching with this humbling act of self-denial. And may I make a simple observation about this passage? In the first half of the Gospel of John Jesus has repeatedly said, “I only do what I have been shown by the Father.” So, if I ask you where did Jesus learn to wash feet? The answer is simple, Jesus learned this from the Father. Thus, the act of foot-washing is not what the teacher does; it is precisely who He is.
As Jesus copies the life of the Father…May you copy exactly the same in your life and ministry. And, as a word of encouragement, there is no threat of plagiarism in copying Jesus word for word…and act for act. What an honor to reflect the Imago Dei
; the image of God to a lost world with filthy feet.
It was how the Father served the Son. It was how the Son taught the disciples. Then Jesus instructed, “A new commandment I give to you, Love one another as I have loved you
I now longer call you students, but friends. And “May a Basin and a Towel become ministry tools which allows the Lord to use you in demonstrating His love throughout the world.”
We move from John 13 to John 17. Please notice how Jesus’ teaching ends or I would argue, climaxes
as Jesus prays. May I say that again; Jesus prays. At every major decision in Jesus’ life, we find Him praying.
At the selection of His disciples.
At His transfiguration.
In the Garden of Gethsemane.
And most profoundly, On the Cross.
And in our passage this morning, His students overhear how He talks to His Heavenly Father about them. And, if you were listening closely, Jesus is also praying for His future students as He said; “I pray also for those who will believe
in me through their message.” In this prayer, each of you were interceded for by Jesus
. Your first graduation prayer came from the very lips of Jesus Himself, nearly 2,000 years ago. He anticipated this day for you. He celebrates with you as well.
One commentator on John 17 says, What Jesus talks to the Father about could be called, “Listening in to the conversation at the very Center of the Universe.” It’s God talk, and Jesus continues as our teacher by allowing us to overhear.
The early church worded it this way, Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi.
Literally, the phrase means “the law of prayer [is] the law of belief.”
Let me translate this into our contemporary language, simply put, “What you pray is what you believe.” The contents of our prayers are the very things that we value the most. I call this term our ‘lived-out theology.’
Thus, if I want to know what Jesus believed and practiced and valued, simply look at what He prayed; for that is His “lived-out theology.”
Similarly, if I want to know what you value the highest; let me overhear you in prayer. Let me read your prayer journal. What are the very things that you bring to the Father?
May I urge
you (please allow me to employ the Pauline word), may I urge you
to carefully select the matters which you pray for; for they are truly what you believe, what you desire for God Himself to do in and thru you.
May I urge you
to adopt John 17 as your new life-syllabus.
For, if this passage indeed verbalizes what was important to Jesus in His last hours on earth…
For, if it was indeed a conversation at the very center of the universe…
Would it not be a great starting point with which to fashion your own “lived-out theology.” As I have studied and carefully moved through this passage I have found numerous core principles Jesus is teaching us regarding His “lived-out theology.”
But, you do not need me to lead you thru John 17. For you have been trained to read and exegete scripture; you have had an almost unlimited number of opportunities to apply scripture personally and also to proclaim it from a pulpit…but would you allow me to simply to whet your appetite, let me give you one example of how this might be employed…then I will leave the rest up to you for your life-long learning.
Listen to the beginning of Jesus’ prayer in John 17: “Father I have brought You glory on earth by completing
the work you gave me to do.”
May I urge you to live and minister within the “It-is-Finished-ness” of Christ.
(Thank you Darrell Johnson for your book title)
The Greek word for “complete” is the verb “teleiow” which is often translated as “finished.” The initial words of Jesus’ prayer are that He wants to bring God glory on earth by “finishing” His work. This prayer is of course a foreshadowing of Jesus’ final cry from the Cross in John’s Gospel, “It is finished.“
Specifically, what is finished? This would include His work of reconciliation, of adoption, of sacrifice, of suffering, of abandonment, of forgiveness. For you as ministers, remember, Jesus is doing this work NOT you.
PLEASE listen to me carefully apply this text to your lives, this was His work.
This is so much more than an exegetical exercise.
For either we learn to live in the “it-is-finished-ness” or you will try to complete what you think or you feel is lacking in the work of God.
If the work that Jesus has completed actually brought Glory to God, should we tamper with it? Should we add to it? Or should me simply marvel in it? Hear me, IT IS Finished.
All of you graduates have completed your internship. And you know only too well that when you take all the cares of the world and the burden of ministry upon yourself; it is exhausting beyond belief. Hear me, IT IS Finished.
that needs to be done in order for us as broken, sinful people to be re-created in His image and to enter into and enjoy life and ministry with the Living God has been finished
Our task is to enter in. And to invite the world to come in as well; not to fix ourselves or them. That’s the Work of God. Hear me, IT IS Finished
What would a life be like that did not cause you to strive to constantly find the approval of others? Do you recall over the last 4 years the number of times you turned in a paper to a professor and then began to worry about what he/she would think of you when they read it? What would life be like, if you did not become overwhelmed with what people thought about you? Hear me, IT IS Finished
What would life be like, if you did not have to strive to please God? To prove your worthy-ness? Hear me, IT IS Finished
Please, may I urge you to enter into the “It-is-Finished-ness” of Christ.
This is a “lived-out theology” worth living!
In the ensuing days, Post-graduation that is; I beg of you to sit at the feet of your flawless teacher Jesus. Begin in John 13. Allow Him to show you your ultimate worth as He humbly steps from the throne, picks up a basin and towel, and washes away the grime of sin and cleanses you.
Then, search John 17. Listen to what Jesus says to the Father. Listen in to the conversation at the Center of the Universe…so you can fashion your own “lived-out theology” not based upon convenience or creature comforts, but upon Kingdom values that are utterly time-less and God-breathed.
I no longer call you students, but friends.
This is the way Kingdom friends talk to one another. Welcome to ministry.