The next in a series of messages looking at the original 12 disciples of Jesus under the general heading of – “How God uses the average to achieve the amazing.”
The disciples had watched the example of Jesus; they had listened carefully to his teaching; now it was time for some on the job training as they were sent out on a mission assignment to put into practice all that they had seen and heard from Jesus himself. They were to go out into the harvest field and replicate his ministry, in all probability feeling inadequate, afraid and nervous!
Perhaps sensing their reticence, Jesus called them to himself and empowered them with authority, before sending them out with some clear instructions ringing in their ears. These instructions were very specific to the mission of the 12 and cannot be applied in their entirety to the later mission of the church for the following reasons:-
A – The disciples were sent only to – “the lost sheep of Israel” (v 6); while the church would be sent to the whole world (Matthew 28 v 19.)
B – The message of the disciples was that – “the Kingdom of heaven is near” (v 7); whereas the call of the church is to testify to – “the message of God’s grace” (Acts 20 v 24.)
C – The message proclaimed by the disciples was to be accompanied by signs following – healings, resurrections, the driving out of demons, for these were apostolic credentials; while the church today should look for and expect miracles, it is unrealistic to expect that they will be of the same magnitude as those anticipated on this original mission.
But while acknowledging that there are differences, there are also spiritual principles that apply to both missions, and need to be in place if mission is to be effective. Here they are:-
1 – Motivation.
The driving force behind their mission was – “freely you have received, freely give” (v 8.) Consequently the main motivation for mission must always be gratitude to God for his gift of salvation and a desire to offer it to others, with the perfect illustration of this being the apostle Pau himself (1 Timothy 1 v 12.)
2 – Movement.
The disciples were “sent out” (v 5) and were to “go” (v 7) “two by two” (Mark 6 v 7) with team work being the name of the game (Ecclesiastes 4 v 9.) They were to travel light, to expect welcome and opposition, because they were being sent out – “like sheep among wolves” (v 16.) This means that the church is not to be a monument that shouts “come to us”, but a movement that seeks out receptive people and “goes to them” (John 20 v 21.)
3 – Message.
The disciples had a balanced message that was both verbal (“the Kingdom of heaven is near”) and visual in that they got involved in people’s lives (signs following.) Churches today tend to opt for one or the other, all Gospel proclamation, or all getting their hands dirty in social action. Yet the reality is that both are needed in a holistic approach to mission that fulfils the Great Commision to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28 v 19) as well as the Great Command to “love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22 v 39.)
Challenge – Will you engage in a mission that correctly motivated, moves with an outward focus, and has a balanced message?
Theme: “On the job training!”
Reading: Matthew 10 v 1 – 16
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Chris Hughes