John 12:20 begins with some Greek individuals (we’re not sure who they are) inquiring to Philip (a disciple) about meeting Jesus. We are not told specifically why they were so intent on speaking to him. Upon receiving this request Philip tells Andrew about these men and informs Jesus that there are some people would like to meet him. It appears Jesus completely ignores their request and gives a talk about glorification, wheat kernels, obedience, and losing your life. To make matters a little strange a thunderous voice from speaks from heaven (for the benefit of the people) that scares the bejeepers out of the people who heard it.
The core of this passage Jesus lays out before the people his purpose or reason in coming to the earth. In it He affirms and defines his purposes. He states that the hour has come or the time is near for his impending death. In his death he accomplishes his purpose which are to…
- To glorify God and be glorified through his death.
- To judge the world and drive out Satan (ruler of this world).
- To draw people unto him.
- To spread the Good News of salvation through his children (Children of the Light).
This was Jesus’ plan from the beginning of time and the time had come for his purposes to come to fruition.
Purpose… this is what I would like to write about today. I remember many years ago, long before I was a Christian, my “friends” and I would gather in the evening outside at old abandoned gas well site in Jamestown, NY. We would hang out with some drinks until the wee hours of the morning (many times until dawn). As the night grew later we would start talking about some pretty deep topics. Almost inevitable our discussions under a star lit sky would take a very deep turn from the insignificant to the significant. Someone would ask the question, “Do you guys ever wonder since we live in such a huge universe and we seem so miniscule and insignificant, why do you think we are here? What’s our purpose for being here?” Unfortunately I can’t remember the answers we came up with (and that probably doesn’t matter) I am sure they were quite interesting but the reality was even in our (often inebriated state) we knew that we had a reason for existence or a purpose in life.
“Why am I here?” “What is my purpose?” These are pretty common questions asked by millions of people day after day. Have you ever pondered your existence? Have you ever asked why am I here? What is my purpose in life? Maybe some of you are still wrestling with this today. It’s a good question to ask. Many of you have even read the best seller by Rick Warren “The Purpose Driven Life” where he tackles this question head on and I believe Warren does a great job helping the Christian come to terms with his reason for existence.
However I think it is extremely important for us as Christian individuals to know our purpose. We do have a reason for existence. Jesus knew exactly what his purpose was. How about you? Aside from God; having a purpose in life should be what keeps us going day after day. Hopefully you/we aren’t just eeking our way through life without a plan or purpose (like so many do) because you/we have no clue what our purposes are. I believe the Bible has much to say about purpose and I would like to share four of them with you this morning. Hopefully we can answer the question “why” both personally and as a congregation. These purposes are what I would call the foundational or entry level reasons for our being. Discovering our full purpose (beyond the foundational) is an adventure and one that goes beyond the individual self and ego and may take a lifetime to discover.
To Glorify God – I take the first purpose from The Westminster Shorter Catechism. This is a Christian creed that was drawn up in 1648 by the Westminster Assembly that was made up primarily of the Church of England. I believe it answers the question of our chief purpose in life. The catechism is a confession of faith that was written in a question answer format and reads like this, Q1: “What is the chief end of man?” Or what is our purpose? Answer “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” I think this is a beautiful statement and defines up front the core of our purpose. The author’s of this confession site 1 Cor. 10:31… In all that you do, do it for the glory of God (my translation). We were created for more than mere existence we were created to worship God and to praise his name. Not only are we to stop with worshiping God but we are also to enjoy him. I think we sometimes forget this part. We were created by God for him. We bring pleasure to God. So we need to take pleasure in him.
To Walk With God (Discipleship) - We were created by God for God (for his own pleasure) to walk with Him. We need only look to the Gospels to see the truth in this. Jesus became human and walked among humanity. He chose 12 men to walk with him and show them the way to the Kingdom of God. Certainly God could have just programmed the “how to’s of following him” into our brains and just been done with it but instead he sent his son Jesus to walk among the people and physically touch and interact his creation.
As Christians we are called to walk with Jesus or better yet we are called to discipleship. There is a misnomer that discipleship is a program intended only for those who really want to grow in their faith. Being a disciple is not a program it is who you are. We are ALL called to discipleship. We are Christ’s representatives in this world. We are light bearers (as John 12:36 implies). A disciple of Christ simply means following Jesus’ teachings and living in obedience to his word. At the core a disciple is someone who has devoted his life to serving King Jesus in all areas of his life. This entails obedience and submission. We are to obey and submit the commands of Jesus (which can be broken down into the irreducible core…. Love God, Love others, and as you go make disciples of all nations.)
To Journey Together (Relationships) – We are also created to be relational beings. One of the first things we can note in the creation account of Genesis is God saying, “It is not good for man to be alone.” We sometimes take this to only mean that a man needs a woman or vice versa but I believe it means more than male female relationship. God created us to not only to have a relationship with us but also for us to have relationship with each other. In John 17 we read of Jesus’ High Priestly prayer and in his prayer he prays for his disciples. He prays that his followers become one just as he and the Father are one. Part of being a disciple entails being in relationships with other believers. The truth is we cannot successfully live the Christian life by ourselves. We need each other. If Jesus intended the Christian life to be an isolated thing then he would have called one disciple instead of twelve. Just look at the twelve disciples and see the diversity in the group to see the need for community. Did they always get along? Hardly! It seemed as though Jesus was always putting out little fires (or skirmishes) within his group. We also read of jealousy, anger, and backbiting within this group of ragtag believers. However imperfect or flawed the twelve were they still journeyed together with Jesus and it wasn’t always pretty but it worked. There was a family bond within that group that could not be broken. My prayer is that we as a church body could learn to do this as well.
To Share the Good News (Evangelism) – In Jesus’ Great Commission he says, “Pray about going to all the nations and if you feel led make disciples of those you come in contact with. But if you feel uncomfortable talking about this Good News then just stay inside you Christian bubble and let others do it for you.” Oh wait that’s how we translate the Great Commission. Matthew 28:19, 20 reads like this “Therefore GO (emphasis mine) and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Let’s break this commission down… in the previous verses Jesus gives all authority has been given to Jesus to commission these men (disciples) to go (not sit around and wait for people to come to them) and make disciples of all nations. We are to share the Good News with people. Disclaimer it does not say “Go out and be an annoying Bible thumping, self righteous and egotistical person telling people how they should live.” No he says, “Go and share the Good News (tell of what Jesus has done).” Go out and encourage others to walk with God and when they have come to Christ take them under your wing and teach them about Jesus’ commands. Prepare them to go out and make disciples.
At the core there is a plan and a purpose for our existence. The four I shared with you today are foundational. Our primary reason for existence is to glorify or worship God. Why wouldn’t we? He created us, he loves us, and He provides for us, He has given everything for us. Worshiping God should be the core of who were are as human beings. May our lives reflect this in the way we live before our God, Creator and King.