“For the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me.” (John 17:8)
In His High Priestly prayer here in John 17, Jesus reviews with His Heavenly Father the ministry He had with His disciples, as a prelude to interceding for their future. In this “prelude” He recalls one of the most important aspects of His ministry to His disciples — which should be one of own priority ministries as well.
Jesus said, “For the words which You gave Me I have given them.” He passed along the words His Father gave Him, to His disciples. Notice the continuity here: the words which God the Father gave Him, were the same words Jesus gave to His disciples. He didn’t get “creative” and “invent” something new; He didn’t alter those words in any way. In of of His most vital works here on earth, Jesus committed to His disciples, the very words which God the Father had entrusted to Him.
We need to consider this as a vital part of our own ministry too: we are to pass along to those whom God entrusts to us, the words of truth which He has given us. These truths are found in the word of God, the Bible. Like Jesus, we don’t need to change them; we don’t need to “create” anything new; we are to pass His word on to our children, grandchildren, congregation, Bible Study class, or whomever God entrusts to our spiritual care. “Passing the baton” of His word is one of the most important things we will ever do in life.
Yesterday Cheryl & I took our son Michael to college almost two hours away. In a sense it was difficult leaving him there; but in another sense we could do it with great confidence and satisfaction. From his earliest days, we have given Michael the words which God gave us. As a preschooler Michael had memorized Luke 2, and quoted the Christmas story to our church body of Christmas Eve. And even as a young man, he recently re-wrote lyrics to Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” which are deep and Biblical. As a good friend of mine recently told me: “Michael ‘gets it.'” What Michael “got” wasn’t anything I fabricated. As any of my kids can tell you, I am not a particularlly insightful or creative parent. But what Michael “got” was the most important thing we could pass on to him: the words which God gave us.
May God help each of us to pass on His word to whomever He has entrusted into our care. May each of us be able to look back like Jesus did, and say: “The words which You gave Me, I have given to them.”