Instruction in the Work of Christ’s Mission

Eating what's placed before you on the journey. Sometimes it's a pleasant surprise,
like this breakfast at a guest house in Germany. 



Scripture:

Luke 9:1   Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. 3 He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic. 4 Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. 5 Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 6 They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.

Observation:

Jesus is a great model of a teacher and leader. God’s purpose is to bring salvation to humanity. For this purpose, Jesus wants to prepare and empower the twelve for current and future service. They have no idea that Jesus will leave them to continue this ministry in his absence. Jesus is always preparing for the future and so he calls them together and shares his power with them and then sends them out to preach and to heal. They are to do the very same work that Jesus, himself, had been doing, and this was their internship.

Jesus’ instructions are quite clear. He doesn’t have money to send with them for this mission and so they are to go with nothing that will hold them down. They are to learn complete and entire dependence upon God for the work of the mission. Along the way, they are to gladly accept the warm hospitality of those who will welcome them in. If there were some who would not welcome them, they were not to waste their time, but to move on. Functioning within the power of Jesus, they preached the good news and healed people of many diseases. 

Chrysostom’s take on this is very interesting, as he views these twelve as undistinguished and ill-equipped men, “Christ had the power to set the human race free from all these evils—not only the Romans but also the Persians and simply every race of barbarians. He succeeded in doing this with no force of arms, nor expenditure of money, nor by starting wars of conquest, nor by inflaming men to battle. He had only eleven men to start with, men who were undistinguished, without learning, ill-informed, destitute, poorly clad, without weapons, or sandals, men who had but a single tunic to wear.” (DEMONSTRATION AGAINST THE PAGANS 1.7)

Application:

Jesus models intentional leadership development for us that provides instruction in the work of the mission. God’s purpose or intent was to reach out to the world and to bring salvation. Thinking strategically, God, through Christ, was working out the plan. Jesus would begin to provide practice runs for the disciples, like helping them to do mission with training wheels. They weren’t gone for too long and were given very specific instructions. 

We are still to be engaged in the mission of Christ, to bring the good news of Jesus to this world. There continues to be a need for leaders and disciples who are following the model of Christ. The leader must be willing to share their power with those who will come after. Any leader who holds onto their power and authority, wanting it for themselves, will have trouble empowering the next generation of leaders. Jesus was very secure in who he was. He didn’t see the growth and the development of the disciples as a threat, but as the fulfillment of his mission. Harry S. Truman, former US President, is remembered as having said, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.” A true missional leader is always concerned about the mission, not about getting the credit. God should be glorified, but those who are learning, the interns, should be given words of encouragement along the way. 

The instructions from Christ are quite specific. When we are training up the next generation of leaders, it’s helpful to be specific about what is required. Far too often we don’t want to take the time to give detailed and specific instructions and instead tell people things like, “just go and try and do this.” Not much will happen if they “just go and try and do this.” They need to have some parameters, training, and education. 

Probably most of us fit somewhere in this story, either as the leader, or the disciple. As the leader, we must be intentional about being engaged in mission, and helping to mentor others who will follow us. As a disciple, or younger follower of Christ, we must find our mentor or leader and submit ourselves to their guidance, being wiling to go out and practice what it is that we have been taught. 

If there is inaction within the Christian community, then maybe there is failure on the part of both leadership and disciples to become actively engaged in the mission. God’s purpose is for salvation to come to humanity. God’s intention is for us to be workers in that mission. 

Prayer:

Lord, through the power of your Holy Spirit, activate us for your mission. Amen.

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