In 2 Timothy, we have the privilege of hearing the Apostle passing the baton to the young Timothy as his life’s ministry comes to a close. I cannot help but be reminded of this stirring letter as I reflect on the events of last Friday.
On that day, 83 young men and women finished up their discipleship year at Year 13, said farewell and prayed for one another as they set out on a lifetime of serving Jesus wherever God takes them. And also on that day, John Chapman completed his life’s service and went home to be with his Lord.
Just a few weeks earlier, John preached at the Year 13 Thursday chapel. It was an exciting day for us. Despite John being 82 and the students being just 18, every one of them knew who he was. Even if they had not personally heard him speak, or read one of his books, they were aware they are the beneficiaries of the ministry of someone who has. If not their father in the faith, then John was their grandfather, or even great-grandfather. Well they knew this, and it was like a royal visit!
The students were silent as John spoke to them from the passage that he said was, for him as a young man, the hardest passage in the Bible: Matthew 11:20-30. Not because he didn’t understand what it said; but because he didn’t accept what it said. His theme was this: Christian maturity can be measured by how quickly one is prepared to change their mind to accord with what God says.
Just in case you were wondering if the Year 13ers were really listening, one student, Veneta, posted this on facebook when she learned that John had passed away:
Here are some points from his last sermon to encourage you guys:
- Maturity is how quickly you embrace what God says when you don't fully agree with it
- We should be willing to rapidly change and listen to the everlasting word of God
- When we became a Christian, we said that we are not God and we cannot do His job
John was due to preach again at Year 13 two weeks later, as the week following he needed to go into hospital for a few days. He contacted us to say things were taking a little longer than his doctor expected, perhaps he’d need another week.
As it turns out, that sermon from Matthew 11 was the last one John ever preached. And how fitting – how just like our Father in heaven – that this elder statesman’s very last sermon should be to 83 keen young men and women just setting out. A fact that was certainly not lost on them: on the same post as Veneta, Jono wrote,
"Well done, good and faithful servant!" I can't help but think it significant that we were sent out into the world, just as he was sent home. Evangelism continues!
Indeed Jono, I cant help but think it significant either. And so this passage comes to mind:
But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.