“My Father is glorified in this, that you keep bearing much fruit and prove yourselves my disciples.”—JOHN 15:8.
1, 2. (a) Shortly before his death, what information did Jesus share with his disciples? (See opening picture.) (b) Why is it important for us to keep in mind why we preach? (c) What will we consider?
ON THE last evening before his death, Jesus had a long talk with his apostles during which he assured them of his deep love for them. Also, he related to them an illustration about a vine, as we considered in the preceding article. By means of that illustration, Jesus encouraged his disciples to “keep bearing much fruit”—to endure in preaching the Kingdom message.—John 15:8.
2 However, Jesus told his disciples not only what they needed to do but also why they should do so. He gave them reasons for carrying out the preaching work. Why is it important for us to consider those reasons? When we keep in mind why we need to continue to preach, we are motivated to endure in giving “a witness to all the nations.” (Matt. 24:13, 14) So, then, let us consider four Scriptural reasons for preaching. In addition, we will examine four gifts from Jehovah that help us to endure in bearing fruit.
WE GLORIFY JEHOVAH
3. (a) What reason for preaching is found at John 15:8? (b) What do the grapes in Jesus’ illustration represent, and why is it a fitting comparison?
3 The foremost reason why we share in the preaching work is to glorify Jehovah and sanctify his name before mankind. (Read John 15:1, 8.) Note that Jesus compared his Father, Jehovah, to a cultivator, or gardener, who grows grapes. Jesus likened himself to a vine, or stem, and his followers to branches. (John 15:5) Thus, the grapes fittingly illustrate the Kingdom fruitage that is produced by Christ’s followers. Jesus told his apostles: “My Father is glorified in this, that you keep bearing much fruit.” Just as vines that produce good grapes bring honor to a cultivator, so we bring honor, or glory, to Jehovah when we proclaim the Kingdom message to the best of our abilities.—Matt. 25:20-23.
4. (a) In what ways do we sanctify God’s name? (b) How do you feel about having the privilege to sanctify God’s name?
4 In what way does our preaching work sanctify God’s name? We cannot make God’s name more sacred. It is already sacred, or holy, in the absolute sense. But note what the prophet Isaiah stated: “Jehovah of armies—he is the One you should regard as holy.” (Isa. 8:13) We sanctify God’s name, among other ways, by regarding it as separate from all other names and by helping others to regard it as holy. (Matt. 6:9, ftn.) For instance, by proclaiming the truth about Jehovah’s wonderful qualities and his unchangeable purpose for mankind, we defend God’s name against Satan’s lies and slander. (Gen. 3:1-5) Also, when we strive to help people in our territory to see that Jehovah is worthy “to receive the glory and the honor and the power,” we sanctify God’s name. (Rev. 4:11) Says Rune, a pioneer for 16 years: “Knowing that I have been given the opportunity to be a witness for the Creator of the universe makes me grateful. It gives me the desire to keep on preaching.”
WE LOVE JEHOVAH AND HIS SON
5. (a) What reason for preaching is mentioned at John 15:9, 10? (b) How did Jesus emphasize the need for endurance?
5 Read John 15:9, 10. Our heartfelt love for Jehovah and for Jesus is an important reason why we preach the Kingdom message. (Mark 12:30; John 14:15) Jesus told his disciples not only to be in his love but to “remain in [his] love.” Why? Because living as a true disciple of Christ year after year calls for endurance. Jesus stressed the need for endurance by using forms of the word “remain” over and over in the brief passage recorded at John 15:4-10.
6. How do we show that we want to remain in Christ’s love?
6 How do we show that we want to remain in Christ’s love and keep his approval? By observing Jesus’ commandments. Simply put, Jesus tells us, ‘Be obedient to me.’ Yet, Jesus only asked us to do what he himself did, for he added: “Just as I have observed the commandments of the Father and remain in his love.” Jesus sets the example.—John 13:15.
7. How are obedience and love connected?
7 As to the connection between obedience and love, Jesus earlier said to his apostles: “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.” (John 14:21) Moreover, by carrying out Jesus’ command to go and preach, we too show our love for God because Jesus’ commandments reflect his Father’s thinking. (Matt. 17:5; John 8:28) In response to our expression of love, Jehovah and Jesus keep us in their love.
WE WARN PEOPLE
8 We have a further reason to continue our preaching work. We preach to give a warning. In the Bible, Noah is described as “a preacher.” (Read 2 Peter 2:5.) His preaching work prior to the Flood evidently included a warning of coming destruction. Why can we draw that conclusion? Note what Jesus stated: “For as they were in those days before the Flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they took no note until the Flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.” (Matt. 24:38, 39) Despite the people’s indifference, Noah faithfully proclaimed the warning message that he had been given.
9 Today, we preach the Kingdom message to give people an opportunity to learn about God’s will for mankind. Like Jehovah, we dearly wish that people would respond to the message and “keep living.” (Ezek. 18:23) At the same time, when we preach from house to house and in public areas, we warn as many people as possible that God’s Kingdom will come and bring an end to this ungodly world.—Ezek. 3:18, 19; Dan. 2:44; Rev. 14:6, 7.
WE LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR
10. (a) What reason for preaching is mentioned at Matthew 22:39? (b) Relate how Paul and Silas helped a jailer in Philippi.
10 Here is another important reason for continuing with our preaching work: We preach because we love our neighbor. (Matt. 22:39) We are moved by such love to endure in this work, recognizing that people may have a change of heart when their circumstances change. Consider what the apostle Paul and his companion, Silas, experienced. In the city of Philippi, opposers threw them into prison. Then, in the middle of the night, suddenly an earthquake shook the prison and opened its doors. The jailer feared that the prisoners had fled and was about to kill himself. But Paul called out: “Do not hurt yourself!” The distressed jailer asked: “What must I do to get saved?” They told him: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will get saved.”—Acts 16:25-34.
11, 12. (a) How does the account about the jailer relate to our ministry? (b) We want to be available to do what?
11 How does the account of the jailer relate to our preaching work? Note this: The jailer had a change of heart and asked for help only after the earthquake struck. Similarly, some individuals today who have not responded to the Bible’s message before may have a change of heart and look for help when their world is suddenly shaken by a seismic event. For instance, some in our territory may have lost their longtime job unexpectedly and are left in shock. Others may be devastated by the recent breakup of their marriage. Still others may be at a loss after being diagnosed with a serious illness, or they may be heartbroken after losing a loved one in death. When such events take place, some distressed individuals may ask questions about the meaning of life that at one time they ignored. Perhaps they even wonder, ‘What must I do to get saved?’ When we meet them, they may want to listen to our message of hope for the first time in their life.
12 Therefore, by faithfully continuing in our preaching work, we make sure that we will be available to give comfort to people at a time when they may be ready to accept it. (Isa. 61:1) Says Charlotte, who has been in the full-time service for 38 years: “People today are lost. They need a chance to hear the good news.” Notes Ejvor, a pioneer for 34 years: “Today, more than ever, many people feel emotionally low. I really want to help them. That motivates me to preach.” Neighborly love—what a worthy reason, indeed, to continue in our ministry!
GIFTS THAT HELP US TO ENDURE
13, 14. (a) What gift is mentioned at John 15:11? (b) How will Jesus’ joy become ours? (c) How does joy affect our ministry?
13 During that last evening before his death, Jesus also mentioned to his apostles several gifts that would help them to endure in bearing fruit. What are these gifts, and how do we benefit from them?
14 The gift of joy. Will obeying Jesus’ command to preach become burdensome? On the contrary. After relating his illustration of the vine, Jesus said that as Kingdom preachers, we will experience joy. (Read John 15:11.) In fact, he assured us that his joy will become ours. How? As mentioned earlier, Jesus compared himself to a vine and his disciples to branches. A vine supports the branches. As long as the branches are attached to it, they receive water and nourishment that flows from the vine. Similarly, as long as we remain in union with Christ by closely following in his steps, we experience the same joy that he has in doing his Father’s will. (John 4:34; 17:13; 1 Pet. 2:21) Notes Hanne, a pioneer for over 40 years, “The joy I always feel after I have been in the ministry stimulates me to continue in Jehovah’s service.” Indeed, deep-seated joy gives us the strength to keep on preaching even in challenging territories.—Matt. 5:10-12.
15. (a) What gift is mentioned at John 14:27? (b) Why does peace help us to keep bearing fruit?
15 The gift of peace. (Read John 14:27.) Earlier on that last evening before his death, Jesus told his apostles: “I give you my peace.” How does that gift—his peace—help us to bear fruit? As we endure, we experience in our heart a lasting feeling of peace that results from knowing that we have Jehovah’s and Jesus’ approval. (Ps. 149:4; Rom. 5:3, 4; Col. 3:15) Says Ulf, who has been in the full-time service for 45 years, “The preaching work makes me tired, but it brings true satisfaction and real meaning to my life.” How thankful we are to be blessed with lasting inner peace!
16. (a) What gift is mentioned at John 15:15? (b) How could the apostles remain Jesus’ friends?
16 The gift of friendship. After Jesus stated his desire that the joy experienced by the apostles might “be made full,” he explained to them the importance of showing self-sacrificing love. (John 15:11-13) Next, he said: “I have called you friends.” What a precious gift to receive—friendship with Jesus! What did the apostles have to do to remain his friends? They had to “go and keep bearing fruit.” (Read John 15:14-16.) Some two years earlier, Jesus had instructed his apostles: “As you go, preach, saying: ‘The Kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’” (Matt. 10:7) So on that last evening, he encouraged them to endure in the work they had started. (Matt. 24:13; Mark 3:14) Carrying out Jesus’ command was challenging, but they could succeed—and thus remain his friends. How? With the help of yet another gift.
17, 18. (a) What gift is mentioned at John 15:16? (b) How would that gift help Jesus’ disciples? (c) What gifts strengthen us today?
17 The gift of answered prayers. Jesus stated: “No matter what you ask the Father in my name, he [will] give it to you.” (John 15:16) How strengthening this promise must have been for the apostles!* Though they did not clearly grasp it, their Leader’s life on earth would soon end, but they would not be left without support. Jehovah was ready to answer their prayers for any help they needed to carry out the command to preach the Kingdom message. And indeed, shortly thereafter, they experienced how Jehovah answered their prayers for help.—Acts 4:29, 31.
18 The same is true today. As we endure in bearing fruit, we enjoy Jesus’ friendship. Furthermore, we can be sure that Jehovah is ready to answer our prayers for help in overcoming obstacles that we may encounter as we preach the Kingdom good news. (Phil. 4:13) How grateful we are to be blessed with answered prayers and friendship with Jesus! These gifts from Jehovah strengthen us to keep on bearing fruit.—Jas. 1:17.
19. (a) Why do we keep sharing in the preaching work? (b) What helps us to finish God’s work?
19 As considered in this article, we keep sharing in the preaching work to glorify Jehovah and sanctify his name, to show our love for Jehovah and for Jesus, to give ample warning, and to show love for neighbor. In addition, the gifts of joy, peace, friendship, and answered prayers strengthen us to finish God’s work. How pleased Jehovah will be as he observes our whole-souled efforts to “keep bearing much fruit”!