It was late in Jesus’ ministry. He knew that His time on earth was coming to a close. Jesus turned to His disciples and stated plainly, “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is still day, night is coming when no one can work,” (John 9.4 ESV). The work Jesus was talking about was the work of making disciples that would produce disciple makers. This is the work He has left for us here on earth to do. Let your mind flash back to the first year in Jesus’ ministry. He is standing alone by a well in Samaria. His disciples had just returned from the market to grab some lunch for Jesus. Little did they know, Jesus had just finished a powerful conversation with a woman at the well that would set in motion an entire community coming to know and follow Christ. As they insisted that He eat, Jesus replies, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work,” (John 4.34 ESV). It was as if Jesus was saying to them, “Guys, there is nothing more satisfying and fulfilling than doing the work My Father has sent Me here to do!” What was the work He was doing? It was drawing people to Him and raising up disciples.
Listen, there is nothing more satisfying than making disciples. You may make more money than you ever thought possible. You may reach the heights of success or plumb the depths of a relationship. You may own things and experience places that most people only dream about, but if your life isn’t invested in something that lasts for eternity, then it’s all shortsighted and short-lived. The work that remains and the work that satisfies for all eternity is the work of making disciples. Now, flash forward to the last night of Jesus’ life on earth. He is sitting with His disciples, sharing a Passover meal. With a full heart, He lifts His eyes toward Heaven to pray. “I glorified you here on the earth having accomplished the work that you gave me to do,” (John 17.4 ESV). Let me ask you a question. What was the “work” Jesus is referring to here? It certainly wasn’t the work of going to the cross. That had not happened yet. Jesus said that He had accomplished this work. The word accomplished is the same word Jesus spoke on the cross when He said, “It is finished,” (John 19.30 ESV). What work had Jesus finished that glorified the Father? What work had the Father given Him to do? It was the work of making disciples who would reproduce.
My friend, this is the same work Jesus has placed in your hands and in mine. Jesus has not put in all of our hands the responsibility to be pastors, vocational ministers or even church leaders. But, He has put in all of our hands the responsibility to make disciples who will carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth and multiply. I find a great deal of comfort in Jesus’ words here. “We must work the works of him who sent me.” The “we” jumps off the page at me. It is an amazing thing to think that as we are making disciples, we are actually partnering with Jesus. There is no time that we are walking more closely in Jesus’ steps than when we are following His example by investing our lives in others. There is never a time when we are reflecting the heart and passion of Jesus more than when we are pouring our lives into another person. And there is a supernatural fellowship with Jesus that we experience in the trenches of disciple-making that isn’t experienced anywhere else.
I believe this is why Jesus gave that wonderful promise at the end of His disciple-making commission. He had just said, “Go make disciples of all nations,” then He adds, “and I will be with you”. I can tell you that when I meet with men early in the mornings, and I pour my life into them, I feel the presence of Jesus in a powerful way. I feel His pleasure. I can sense Him saying, “Craig, this is what it’s all about! Invest your life, just like I invested Mine.”
Imagine what it will be like when you stand before Jesus one day. It’s going to happen. As sure as you are reading these words and drawing your next breath, you will meet Jesus face to face. And on that day, how will He evaluate your life? Will He say that there was so much more He wanted to do through you to leave an eternal impact, but you were too busy? Will He say that your life made such a difference that hundreds, maybe thousands of people were touched? All because you chose to invest your life in one person who touched another, who touched another, who touched another, in the name of Jesus. or will He say there was so much more He wanted to do through you to leave an eternal impact, but you were too busy? I’m sure that in that moment, you would wish you could go back and live your life all over again and this time, leverage all you have for the work Jesus has called you to do. But it will be too late then! The good news is that it is not too late now. You can live today with that day in mind. You can make today count for eternity. You can share the hope that you have in Jesus. You can invest your life in another person. You can make disciples who will make disciples, and set in motion ripples emanating out from your life that will never stop until Jesus comes again.
Photo Credit: Jehyun Sung