“My Father is glorified in this, that you keep bearing much fruit and prove yourselves my disciples.”—JOHN 15:8.
1, 2. (a) What did Jesus discuss with his disciples the night before he died? (See opening picture.) (b) Why is it important for us to remember why we preach? (c) What will we discuss?
THE night before he died, Jesus had a long talk with his apostles. He assured them that he loved them very much. He also told them the illustration of the vine, which we discussed in the previous article. Jesus wanted to encourage his disciples to “keep bearing much fruit,” that is, to endure in preaching the message about the Kingdom.—John 15:8.
2 However, Jesus told his disciples not only what they needed to do but also why they needed to do it. He gave them reasons why they needed to continue to preach. It is important for us to remember why we too need to continue to preach. Thinking about this will motivate us to endure while we give “a witness to all the nations.” (Matthew 24:13, 14) In this article, we will discuss four Scriptural reasons why we preach. Also, we will discuss four gifts from Jehovah that help us to keep bearing fruit.
WE GLORIFY JEHOVAH
3. (a) According to John 15:8, what is the most important reason why we preach? (b) What do the grapes in Jesus’ illustration represent, and why is this comparison appropriate?
3 The most important reason why we preach is that we want to glorify Jehovah and sanctify his name. (Read John 15:1, 8.) When Jesus told the illustration of the vine, he compared Jehovah to a cultivator, or gardener, who grows grapes. Jesus said that he himself was the vine and his followers were the branches. (John 15:5) So in the illustration, the grapes represent the fruit that Jesus’ disciples produce, or the preaching work that they do. Jesus told his apostles: “My Father is glorified in this, that you keep bearing much fruit.” When vines produce good grapes, it brings honor to the cultivator. In a similar way, when we do our best to preach the message about the Kingdom, we bring honor, or glory, to Jehovah.—Matthew 25:20-23.
When we do our best to preach about the Kingdom, we bring honor to Jehovah
4. (a) How do we sanctify God’s name? (b) How do you feel about having the privilege to sanctify God’s name?
4 God’s name is already holy. There is nothing we can do to make it more holy. So how do we sanctify God’s name when we preach? Notice what the prophet Isaiah said: “Jehovah of armies—he is the One you should regard as holy.” (Isaiah 8:13) We sanctify God’s name, Jehovah, when we view it as the greatest of all names and when we help others to understand that it is holy. (Matthew 6:9; footnote) For example, when we teach people the truth about Jehovah’s wonderful qualities and his purpose for humans to live forever in Paradise, we help them to see that all the bad things Satan has said about Jehovah are lies. (Genesis 3:1-5) We also sanctify God’s name when we help people to know that Jehovah deserves “to receive the glory and the honor and the power.” (Revelation 4:11) Rune, who has been pioneering for 16 years, says: “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 help his disciples understand that they would need to endure?
5 Read John 15:9, 10. A second reason why we preach the message about the Kingdom is that we love Jehovah and Jesus. (Mark 12:30; John 14:15) Jesus told his disciples that they should ‘remain in his love.’ Why did Jesus say this? Because he knew that his followers would need endurance to live as true Christians. In fact, at John 15:4-10, we see that Jesus used the word “remain” many times to help his disciples understand that they would need to endure.
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 have his approval? By being obedient to him. Jesus is only asking us to do what he did himself. He said: “I have observed the commandments of the Father and remain in his love.” Jesus sets the example for us.—John 13:15.
7. How is obedience connected to love?
7 Jesus made it clear that obedience is connected to love when he said: “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.” (John 14:21) Jesus’ commands come from his Father, so when we obey Jesus’ command to preach, we also show that we love Jehovah. (Matthew 17:5; John 8:28) And when we show Jehovah and Jesus that we love them, they keep us in their love.
WE WARN PEOPLE
8 A third reason why we preach is that we want to warn others about Jehovah’s coming day. In the Bible, Noah is described as “a preacher.” (Read 2 Peter 2:5.) Before the Flood came, Noah’s message to the people must have included a warning about the coming destruction. Why do we say that? Because Jesus said: “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.” (Matthew 24:38, 39) Although most people ignored Noah, he faithfully preached the warning message Jehovah had given him.
9 Today, we preach the message about the Kingdom to give people an opportunity to learn what God will do for mankind in the future. Like Jehovah, we really want people to pay attention to the message and “keep living.” (Ezekiel 18:23) When we preach from house to house and in public places, we warn as many people as possible that God’s Kingdom will come and destroy this wicked world.—Ezekiel 3:18, 19; Daniel 2:44; Revelation 14:6, 7.
WE LOVE PEOPLE
10. (a) What reason for preaching is mentioned at Matthew 22:39? (b) How did Paul and Silas help a prison guard in Philippi?
10 A fourth reason why we continue preaching is that we love people. (Matthew 22:39) This love helps us to keep preaching because we know that people may change their attitude when their circumstances change. For example, opposers threw Paul and Silas into prison in the city of Philippi. But in the middle of the night, there was an earthquake that shook the prison and opened its doors. The prison guard became so afraid that the prisoners had escaped that he wanted to kill himself. But Paul stopped him and shouted: “Do not hurt yourself!” The guard asked: “What must I do to get saved?” Paul and Silas told him: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will get saved.”—Acts 16:25-34.
11, 12. (a) What does the account about the prison guard teach us about our ministry? (b) Why do we want to continue to preach?
11 What does the account about the prison guard teach us about the preaching work? Notice that it was only after the earthquake that the prison guard changed his attitude and asked for help. In a similar way, some people who do not want to listen to the Bible’s message may change their attitude and look for help when something tragic has happened in their life. For example, some may be in shock because they lost their job or got divorced. Others may be very sad because they found out that they have a serious sickness or because someone close to them died. When such things happen, people may begin to ask questions about life, questions they did not think about before. They may even wonder, ‘What must I do to get saved?’ They may want to listen to our message of hope for the first time in their life.
12 So if we faithfully continue to preach, we will be available when people are ready to accept the comfort we bring. (Isaiah 61:1) Charlotte, who has been pioneering for 38 years, says: “People today are lost. They need a chance to hear the good news.” Ejvor, who has been pioneering for 34 years, says: “Today, more than ever, many people feel emotionally low. I really want to help them. That motivates me to preach.” Clearly, love for people is an excellent reason to continue preaching!
GIFTS THAT HELP US TO ENDURE
13, 14. (a) What gift is mentioned at John 15:11? (b) How can we have the joy that Jesus has? (c) How does joy help us in our ministry?
13 During the night before he died, Jesus also mentioned gifts that would help his apostles to keep bearing fruit. What are these gifts, and how can they help us today?
14 The gift of joy. Is it a burden for us to preach? Not at all. After Jesus told the illustration about the vine, he said that when we preach we will have his joy. (Read John 15:11.) How is that possible? Remember, in Jesus’ illustration, he compared himself to a vine and his disciples to branches. The branches get the water and nutrients they need only if they stay attached to the vine. In a similar way, we can be joyful as Jesus was only if we stay united with him and follow his steps closely. Then we will have the joy that he has, the joy that comes from doing God’s will. (John 4:34; 17:13; 1 Peter 2:21) Hanne, who has been pioneering for over 40 years, says, “The joy I always feel after I have been in the ministry stimulates me to continue in Jehovah’s service.” Joy will give us the strength to keep preaching even when most people do not listen.—Matthew 5:10-12.
15. (a) What gift is mentioned at John 14:27? (b) How does peace help us to keep bearing fruit?
15 The gift of peace. (Read John 14:27.) Earlier during the evening before Jesus died, he told his apostles: “I give you my peace.” How can Jesus’ peace help us to keep preaching? When we keep preaching, we feel peace because we know that we are making Jehovah and Jesus happy. (Psalm 149:4; Romans 5:3, 4; Colossians 3:15) Ulf, who has been pioneering for 45 years, says, “The preaching work makes me tired, but it brings true satisfaction and real meaning to my life.” We are thankful that we have found peace that lasts!
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 told his apostles that he wanted them to be joyful, he explained why it was important for them to show unselfish love. (John 15:11-13) Then he said: “I have called you friends.” What a precious gift it is to be Jesus’ friend! But how could the apostles remain his friends? Jesus explained: “Go and keep bearing fruit.” (Read John 15:14-16.) In other words, keep preaching. About two years before that, Jesus told his apostles: “As you go, preach, saying: ‘The Kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’” (Matthew 10:7) That is why, on the night before his death, Jesus encouraged his disciples to endure in the preaching work. (Matthew 24:13; Mark 3:14) Of course, Jesus knew that carrying out his command would not be easy. But they could do it and remain his friends. How? With the help of another gift.
17, 18. (a) What gift is mentioned at John 15:7? (b) How did that gift help Jesus’ disciples? (c) What gifts help us today?
17 The gift of answers to our prayers. Jesus said: “Ask whatever you wish and it will take place for you.” (John 15:7, 16) Jesus’ promise must have really strengthened the apostles!* (See footnote.) The apostles did not fully understand that Jesus would soon die. But his death would not mean that they would be without help. Jehovah was ready to answer their prayers and help them in their preaching work. And he did just that. Soon after Jesus died, the apostles begged Jehovah to give them courage, and Jehovah answered their prayers.—Acts 4:29, 31.
18 The same is true today. When we endure in the preaching work, we remain Jesus’ friends. And we can be sure that Jehovah is ready to answer our prayers for help when we find it difficult to preach. (Philippians 4:13) We are very grateful that Jehovah answers our prayers and that we have Jesus as our friend. These gifts from Jehovah strengthen us to keep on bearing fruit.—James 1:17.
19. (a) Why do we keep preaching? (b) What helps us to finish the work God has given us?
19 In this article, we have learned about four reasons why we keep preaching: to glorify Jehovah and sanctify his name, to show our love for Jehovah and Jesus, to warn people, and to show that we love people. We have also learned about four gifts: joy, peace, friendship, and answers to our prayers. These gifts strengthen us to finish the work God has given us to do. Jehovah is very happy when he sees us working hard to “keep bearing much fruit”!