1st Cor. 12
12 ¶ For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.
13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
14 For the body is not one member, but many.
These are foundational passages teaching us that Jesus Christ is dispersed through the Spirit into a many membered body. Jesus does not minister as an individual. He laid down His individuality that He might minister through us as a people. It’s important to understand that individual ministry as we have known it must give way to something greater, just as Jesus’ ministry gave way to something greater.
13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
14 “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.
15 “All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.
16 ¶ “A little while, and you will no longer see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me.”
Jesus is speaking of His ascension into the Father. Christ is revealing that His life would be dispersed into the disciples and revealed to them. Back in 1st Cor. 12, there is an elaboration on the ministries that belong to the body of Christ.
27 ¶ Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.
28 And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.
Eph. 4 also reveals to us the ministries of Jesus Christ in His body.
7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
8 Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.”
9 (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?
10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)
11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,
The above ministries, along with those listed in 1st Cor. 12, are expressions of Jesus Christ dispersed into His body through the Spirit. This is very important, because we are coming to the heart of this message. The revelation that Jesus Christ relinquished His individuality into His body must be real to us. He does not minister as an individual. This didn’t just happen; He willingly laid down His individual ministry that it might be multiplied through many.
Much emphasis has been placed upon “our” ministry, and our calling. Christianity must give way to a higher revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus laid His life down, so must we. Jesus was the first fruits of God, and the first born of many brethren. This means we are to follow Him into His ascension into the Father. Let’s read again from John 16.
12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth;
We are to be guided into all the truth. Things we could not bear in our immaturity are revealed as we grow up into Him.
36 ¶ Simon Peter *said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.”
37 Peter *said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.”
38 Jesus *answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.
Peter could not follow Jesus where He was going. He did not have the necessary maturity. But Jesus told Him he would follow later. And where was Jesus going? John 13 tells us He was going to the Father. Our maturity will ultimately lead us into a place in God where our individuality, along with “our” ministry, is dispersed into the body as well. Why is there no current emphasis from God on this new level of the kingdom He is opening about receiving words of prophecy related to what we are to become? Why isn’t there an emphasis on what ministry we are to have? Why don’t we hear words like “you are called to be this?” That realm is fading, and already God is emphasizing the next level of His kingdom. As we grow up, we begin to learn how to lay our lives down. Jesus said in John 10:
17 “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.
18 “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”
The Lord will teach us how to effectively lay our lives down. And as we lay them down, we will find we have the authority to pick them up again, but on a new level. As John the Baptist said, we must decrease, but Christ must increase. Ironically, whatever ministry God has given us, it will have its fulfillment, not in us as individuals, but through His body as it’s dispersed. So, how exactly does all this work? When Jesus ascended into the Father, and the Holy Spirit was given, Christ’s voice began to be heard through many. What Christ has deposited in us can also be laid down in a way that our voice, i.e., His voice in us, is spoken through others. Our greatest ministry will be in hearing what God is revealing to us and then seeing it spoken through the mouths of others. This is more than just others hearing the same word from God. It is us ministering that word in the Spirit and seeing it manifested in many. The self-life, and any claims upon “our” revelation, gives way to Christ alone being glorified. It becomes Jesus Christ ministering, but it’s Christ ministry that was established in us being relinquished to others by the Spirit. This takes a conscious effort on our part to let go of what Christ is in us, and any asperations we may have of individually becoming something.
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. And then God highly exalted Him and bestowed upon Him the name which is above every name. Do we see how Jesus shrank into a greater place? Our submission to lose “us” into His body exalts us in the Father. We gain a closer place in His heart. The more we lose ourselves into Christ’s body, the more we understand God’s heart and His eternal intentions.