Getting the Lead Out: Learning to EvangelizeWeek 9 Chapter 8Part I
After learning the basics of discipleship, the disciples were going to practice! Jesus wasted no time in having His disciples learn first hand what He had called them (and us) to do.
As soon as they were called, Christ got to work teaching them the skills that they would need on their spiritual journey. He showed them that the miracles, both He and eventually they would perform, were to show that He was God. He taught them the principles of the Kingdom, so they would know the “why” and “when” of their ministry. He gave them the tolls of prayer and right doctrine. He then sent them out to the Jews, to whom they were to minister.
Their first practice run taught them much! While it certainly ministered to the needs of the people, it also showed the disciples that the work is more plentiful than the workers (Matt. 9:37), and that it is necessary for all Christians to participate in missions to the world. Every Christian has a job to do. Why is it then, that one of the major problems in churches is a lack of committed discipleship? Why do so many Christians believe that the church is there only to minister to them? Why do so many church people have no clue that their primary purpose in life is to minister to others and not themselves?
I find that fascinating and frustrating! For all the many “Bible Studies” in churches, most of them focus on how God serves the believer, and not the other way around. There is not too much talk or demonstration of “dying” to self. Rather, it’s all about living for self. That is so sad!
Jesus was not about self! In fact, when He sent out the twelve, He told them not to take anything with them; No creature comforts at all! They were to focus on taking care of others and they were to depend on God to take care of them. They did not have Bible studies on how God loves them, or how he wants them to have a better self-esteem. They just obeyed their Lord! They knew who He was and all they wanted to do was to please Him! They did not need their egos stroked or their feelings fixed. They loved Him and that was good enough! They were not too concerned about self-fulfillment.
In Chapter 8, Bruce talks about the four special things that were noticeable about this mission. They were the sphere of the mission (all of Israel), the nature of the work (limited to Israel), the instructions for the work (even though they were not ready for ministry on their own), and the results of their mission (learning the importance and limitations of what they were doing).
In all of these aspects, Jesus covered every detail. He was careful to give them instructions that kept their inexperience in check. That way, they would not forget whose ministry it really was.
Another thing that they learned was their utter dependence on God. Without Him, they could do nothing (John 15:5).
When they returned, Jesus took them away in solitude. They debriefed, and were able to put the situation in perspective. They learned many things from the experience, such as, numbers are not as important as the quality of ministry, and an emotionally based ministry often is short lived because a “feel good God” is not good in the trenches. Christ is not a “feel good God.” Jesus deserves to have more than just some fair-weather friends.
After the twelve came back, Jesus sent out seventy. They had the same mission and instructions. When the seventy came back, they reported great success, and Jesus applauded the fact that God uses even the plain people of the world to accomplish His purposes. Certainly, their mission showed how Satan’s kingdom would eventually fail.
While Jesus was surely enthusiastic about the disciples’ work, He was also aware of their lack of maturity. He warned them about becoming proud and arrogant. He told them that while the miracles were effective, they needed to remember that miracles were only tools. God and His Kingdom were far more important than miracles!
Next time, we’ll look at the instructions for the mission! See ya next time!