Disciple’s Handbook: How to Labor with Purpose

As John reports Jesus’ last hours with the disciples before his crucifixion, Jesus give the disciples a sort of user’s manual or disciple’s handbook with instructions about how to walk with him while they are physically without him.

In John 14, Jesus explains that we must look to our place and labor in our purpose as we live in his peace.

Knowing that we have a place, a home, a position is indispensable to our mental and spiritual health. So, Jesus, knowing our weak frame, encourages his disciples with the promise that he, himself, is preparing us a place in heaven, itself, where we will be with God, himself (14:1-3). Not only that, Jesus promises that though the world will not provide us peace, he will, and is, providing a peace much better.

In fact, it seems Jesus is connecting for the disciples the notions of living in his peace with looking to our place and laboring in our purpose. Our peace in Christ, in other words, is related to looking to our place with God in heaven and laboring in our purpose on earth. As we meditate on the future Jesus has prepared for us, and see him empowering us to accomplish his purpose in the present, we experience his peace.

Jesus gives further instructions for us to ensure that we labor rightly.

Laboring on the Path. It isn’t just any labor that Jesus commissions us for, but labor in a certain direction. The trail head of our path is belief, in God and in Jesus, and Jesus himself is the trail. I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me (John 14:6, ESV). What we find is that belief in God, in Christ, is the starting point of the journey’s labor, the path that supports our feet, and the end (purpose) of the journey.

Laboring within Parameters. Jesus has told us that he is “the way.” He also says to believe because of his word and his works (14:10-11). In this chapter Jesus emphasizes the connection between loving him and keeping his commands (14:15), between keeping commands and the love of Father and Son (14:21), and the connections of keeping his commands and enjoying the presence of Father and Son (14:23-24). The Way, the Word, and the Works are for our navigation, serve as the warning stripes on the side of the road, and the guardrail keeping us from racing off the cliff.

Laboring with Provision. In telling his disciples that they will do greater works than he has done, Jesus tells them (and through them, us) that they may ask whatever they wish, and receive it (14:12-14). This opens for us the resources of heaven itself! But these resources are not for our personal gain, and self-service. Instead, Jesus tells us that when we look to our place, live in his peace, and labor in his purpose, we have ample provision to accomplish those things that please him.

Laboring in Prayer. Jesus expects that his disciples will be calling on God frequently as they labor in his purpose, and that they will receive everything they ask when requesting for this purpose. Many times believers feel little power in prayer, and fail to see the greater works that Jesus promised. If you do not experience power in prayer, consider praying for great works consistent with the purpose of Christ. If you do not see great works, consider whether you pray too little.

Laboring with Partner. Jesus promises not only that his disciples will carry on his mission, looking to a heavenly place with heavenly peace, but that he will provide us a heavenly partner for the work. Jesus promises the Spirit, who will dwell in them (14:16-17), and who will teach the disciples all things (14:26). We know that this same Spirit dwells in and seals every believers, empowering us for the work of Jesus (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Laboring in His Presence. Not only do we have the promise of dwelling with God, with Christ, in in Father’s house one day, we also have the promise that as we labor in his purpose on his path with his provision, we enjoy the presence of both Father and Son now. Jesus will manifest himself to the obedient disciple (14:21), and the Father and Son will make their home with the word-keeping disciple (14:23). What promises!

Our peace is with God through Jesus for salvation. But our peace is also during our sanctification as we labor with purpose according to Christ’s plan.

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