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John 15-21 begins with the seventh of Jesus’ “I Am” statements and culminates in His resurrection and the restoration of Peter. From beginning to end, these chapters are rich with insight and inspiration pertaining to mission, outreach and discipleship.

In John 15:5 the words, “I am the vine, you are the branches,” describe a relationship characterized by abiding and pruning—resulting in greater fruitfulness. Just a few verses later it is written, “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”

In the concluding chapter, John 21, Jesus has been resurrected. Appearing to Peter, He said, ” ‘When you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.’ This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me’ ” (vv. 18-19).

The biblical concept of glory (or glorifying) is “to honor” or “add weight” to someone. The idea that we are, in life and death, instruments of His glory is found throughout this entire section of John. For instance, John 16 documents Jesus’ words on the essential ministry of the Holy Spirit in our God-glorifying mission: The “Spirit of truth … will guide you into all truth … He will glorify Me.” Furthermore, Jesus’ prayer in John 17 continues the “glory” theme. The pre-existent glory of Father and Son (see v. 5) is revealed in us, the outcome being “that the world may know” that God sent Jesus and “that they may behold [Jesus’] glory.” 

In these chapters, John vividly communicated the “glory of the gospel.” (For more on this, see Paul’s reference in 2 Cor. 4:4.) John described the cross as the central event of the gospel in chapter 19, and throughout his discourse he revealed the profound nature of the mission of the church.

In John 20:21-22, Jesus commissioned the apostles in simple but dramatic terms: ” ‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ ” The old creation began with the breath of God (see Gen. 2:7). Later, the new creation and its mission began with the breath of God the Son.

There are two points of prayerful application as we consider John’s message:

  1. May we understand the mission of the church is to glorify God. Considering the aforementioned concept of glory—”to bring honor” and “add weight”—in what sense do we fulfill our call to glorify Him? We must remember that glory is not honor or weight we bestow on God, rather it is our living expression that recognizes the weight of His importance in our lives. Mission and outreach have less to do, therefore, with our impressive programs and more to do with the impression of His presence in our community of worship and faith.
  2. May we understand and personally experience the essential ministry of the Holy Spirit in fulfilling the “glory” of our mission. The breath of Jesus is always fresh!

Especially as ones who aspire to lead well, may we settle for nothing less than the fresh moving and working of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives, mission and service.

To Him be the glory!

By: Kip Jacob, senior pastor of SouthLake Church (Lake Oswego Foursquare) in West Linn, Ore.

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is a freelance writer living in Long Beach, Calif.