All True Disciples are on Mission for Christ
Intro: Well morning friends and visitors. My name is Matt Johnson and at present we are looking at the shape of Christian discipleship in Luke’s gospel. Sadly, we live in a world today where many people still identify as Christian, but it seems less and less actually live as Christians. So we are thinking about what it means to live as a Christian and today we are looking at mission. So lets pray…
Well my big idea today is that if you are a Christian you are a MISSIONARY. So whisper it to yourself now; “I am a missionary.” Go on – say it to yourself; “I am a missionary”
Through the middle ages – the Catholic and Orthodox church made a big DISTINCTION between priests and regular Christian’s. THE PRIESTS could read God’s Word. Regular people could not – because it was written in Latin. THE PRIEST’S had direct access to God in prayer. Regular Christians had to get a priest to pray for them because their own prayers were not as powerful. Even when it came to the Lord’s Supper, THE PRIESTS were allowed to have the wine and the bread, but regular Christians were only given the bread…
But during the reformation in the C16th MARTIN LUTHER argued that there is no real distinction. Luther said all Christians are priests, ministers and missionaries. Regular Christians aren’t meant to stand-by while the priests do all the Christian ministry. Rather, the priests were meant to EQUIP regular Christians to do ministry, because every Christian is meant to be a minister. One of the reformation principles was that every Christian is a priest, minister and missionary. Its called the priesthood of all believers. And I believe this is what ultimately led to many of the spiritual revivals around the world. Regular Christians started doing ministry – and amazing things started to happen…
But sadly, the belief in the priesthood of all believers easily evaporates. In many Christian circles there is a big difference between the pastors and regular Christians. In our own Anglican Diocese of Sydney I’ve noticed – we put ministers on a pedestal – claiming the pastors know the Bible or know God better than regular Christians. (As we know this is not necessarily the case). Similarly, in many of the mega churches of America it is often claimed the prayers of pastors are more powerful than the prayers of regular Christians. That’s rubbish. Some pastors when the church argues with them, have even started to say – “Don’t touch the Lords anointed”. This basically means the pastor is special and the church should accept all the pastor’s decisions because he is anointed by God. What the…
Sadly, in many ways this is a return to the Catholicism and Orthodoxy of the middle-ages. The priests and pastors are again seen by many Christians as the professionals in ministry and everyone else is just a regular joe. BUT GUESS WHAT? There are NO REGULAR JOESin Jesus’ kingdom. All Christians are meant to be ministers and missionary’s – whether paid or unpaid. So today I have four points; (SLIDE 2).
Point 1: All Christian Disciples should be on Mission
Show: Lk.10:1-4 (READ – Slide 3-4)
Explain: Well the words in verse 1 “AFTER THIS” are probably significant. Last week, we met three people I would call YES-BUT Christians. At the end of Luke 9:(57-62) we met three different guys who all said to Jesus; “Yes, Jesus I’ll follow you, but…”
The problem is I can’t remember a “BUT” in the sinner’s prayer. You know, “Dear Lord Jesus, thankyou for dying on the cross. Please forgive me my sins and by the Holy Spirit please help me to follow – but… 1)only after I’ve made my first million, or 2) but only after I’ve sown my wild oats, OR 3) but only after I’ve climbed the corporate ladder.” THE POINT IS there is no “BUT” in the sinner’s prayer. Christians who add “but” are what you might call BUTTHEAD CHRISTIANS.
But directly “AFTER THIS” we’re told about 72 disciples who seem to be the real deal. When Jesus sends them on MISSION – none of them say “but”. And what I really want you to notice is that these 72 disciples are just regular joe disciples. The word “OTHER” in verse 1 – means apart from the 12 disciples. This is important because we often view THE 12 DISCIPLES like priests or pastors. When Jesus says to the 12 disciples “I’m going to make you fishers of men” or gives them the GREAT COMMISSION to “go and make disciples” some Christians have told me this is just an instruction for the 12 disciples (and maybe official pastors and missionaries). But certainly not regular-joe Christians.
So I want you to recognize that the 72 disciples in this story are just REGULAR-JOE Christians. They’re so regular joe that we don’t even know their names. YET, THESE 72 REGULAR JOE DISCIPLES are sent on mission – in exactly the same way the 12 disciples were sent on mission. What this story is making clear is that mission extends to all Christians who follow Jesus as Saviour and Lord. If you are a Christian (even a regular joe Christian) you are a missionary.
Now I know this makes many Christians nervous, especially all the introverts. But Jesus’ simple command to “LOVE OUR NEIGHBOUR” demands that we get serious about mission Not telling someone about Jesus (and how to be saved) is one of the most unloving things we can ever do. So, (whether we like it or not) we need to accept that Jesus wants us to be missionaries, but that doesn’t necessarily mean overseas in AFRICA OR CHINA.
As Jesus sends out the 72 disciples – he says a couple of things (Slide 5). Now when Jesus says THE HARVEST IS PLENTIFUL, the 72 disciples may have wondered what Jesus was talking about. Sometimes we can’t see the mission field that is right before our eyes.
In the context of Luke 10 – Jesus is in Samaria. (Slide 6) Last week I explained Jesus is travelling from Galilee to Jerusalem and he is somewhere here (ENTER) in Samaria. Next Sunday Jesus will tell the story of THE GOOD SAMARITAN because he is still in Samaria. But the 72 disciples are most probably all Jews. And we know the Jews had strong prejudice against the Samaritans. So when Jesus says – “LOOK THE HARVEST IS PLENTIFUL” – most of them would be thinking – “what do you mean? Jesus you really think the Samaritians are going to become Christians?” Sadly, our prejudice and lack of faith often means we fail to see the mission field right in front of us.
Jesus tells us the harvest is plentiful and we’re like; “Jesus you really think my crazy gender bender, latte drinking, post-modernist friends are going to become Christians. Ha! Funny one!” Now change it to your circle – perhaps 1) proffessional business people, 2) or aboriginals, 3) or those in houso or 4) maybe even the gay community (if that is your background). But yes, that is your mission field. And if you think your mission field is too hard, remember convincing a Samaritan to follow a Jewish Messiah was no walk in the park either. It was tough?!
So what do you do when things are tough? Well that’s point 2. Jesus says “ask the Lord of the harvest for help.” YOU PRAY.
Lord help me. Lord give me courage. Lord raise up more workers. And once you’ve prayed – Jesus says “GO”. There comes a point where you’ve got to stop praying and start doing. START by telling your friends you’re a Christian. START by sharing your testimony or inviting people to church. Now Jesus also says he’s sending us out LIKE LAMBS AMONG WOLVES. This means expect opposition and prepare yourself mentally. This is not leisure. It is hard work. Finally when Jesus says “do not take purse, or bag or sandals”, he’s telling us to STEP OUT IN FAITH. Leaving home without these 3 basic things was almost ludicrous. But I think Jesus’ point is that when we do mission – we need lots of faith in God – trust God, trust God, trust God – in every detail.
We need to trust God that the GOSPEL MESSAGE actually works, that it has the power to soften hard hearts and open blind eyes. When we go on mission we are actually trusting God for miracles. Can God provide us with food, when we have no money? Can God give us sandals that never wear out? Can God save gender bender post-modern hipsters? Can Godsave ice junkies with the gospel? (PAUSE) Or have we become “yes, but” Christians. Yes, I’m a Christian, but I don’t think the gospel works anymore – in our atheistic, post modern, gender fluid world. Well this is clear, that every Christian is meant to be a missionary. So let’s look at what Jesus says next;
Point 2: All Christian Disciples should be Channels of God’s Peace
Show: Lk.10:5-7 (READ)
Explain: Well please notice the word PEACE or SHALOM. This is probably the most common greeting in all of Judaism. But in Judaism there was also a belief that when the Messiah finally came he would establish real peace with God and real peace on earth. So presumably the 72 disciples are now explaining that God’s Messianic peace has now come.
The problem is – no one really has peace with God because we are all sinners. We have all disobeyed God’s commands and we’ve all basically told God to get stuffed.
Now you might get away with that – with your next-door neighbors. But telling God to get stuffed and breaking His commands makes God angry with us. So there is no OBJECTIVE PEACE between God and sinners. God is actually angry with us because of our sin. But this lack of objective peace with God, then steals our subjective peace. SUBJECTIVE PEACE is the feeling of being calm and relaxed. But it’s hard to have subjective peace – when you know God is angry with you and you’re looking into the bottomless pit of hell. And welcome to the western worlds problem with anxiety. There is no peace.
(GOSPEL) But presumably the disciples are to now going to say shalom and then explain shalom really is possible because as the Messiah dies on the cross – he will take the punishment for our sins. BASICALLY, Jesus takes all God’s anger at our sin – upon Himself on the cross – so that God’s anger is expunged in him. The Bible says – if you BELIEVE Jesus died for you, you REPENT of your sins and you ASK GOD TO FORGIVE YOU – everything is forgiven and God is no longer angry. In Jesus you actually have objective peace with God. And as you process this objective peace with God – it also brings subjective peace in ourselves. Its amazing – how calming it is – not to be looking into hell anymore. THIS IS SHALOM.
Illustrate: Now perhaps as Christians we should literally obey Jesus’ words here and start greeting people with SHALOM. IF SHALOM became your common greeting – how many people would stop and ask you; “Why do you say “Shalom? Are you Jewish?” And as they ask that question – how perfect an opportunity do you have for the gospel. No. I’m not Jewish. But do you know that you can have peace with God in Jesus?
Have you also noticed that whenever we do the Lord’s Supper – I always get us to say the same Bible passages together. Any of you think why (your sneaky pastor) always get you to say John 3:16 and Ephesians 2:8-9 – over and over again? (PAUSE)
Apply: That’s right – it’s evangelical indoctrination. I’m unashamedly and sublimanally getting you to memorise gospel verses. Perhaps Gentiles greeting people with SHALOM might prove to be a perfect opening for John 3:16 and Ephesians 2:8, 9 & 10. Now whether, you follow this FORMULA or not – you should have some FORMULA – for sharing God’s message of shalom.
And Jesus says in verse 7 that when people receive this message of peace – we are meant to have table fellowship with them (eating and drinking). Again, we easily miss the significanceof Jesus saying this in Samaria. Could Jewish disciples really having table fellowship with Samaritans – because of the gospel. Yet that is the true power of Jesus’ shalom. VERTICAL PEACE WITH GOD, leads to more and more horizontal peace with other people. But Jesus isn’t finished yet;
Point 3: All Christian Disciples should be clear about God’s judgment
Show: Luke 10:8-12 (READ)
Explain: Friends, most of us know the story of SODOM AND GOMORRAH. Way back in the Old Testament – the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (without tinder or grinder) hooked up and committed all sorts of sexual sin. Like today – nothing was off limits. But this rebellion against God and nature – made God angry and he rained down sulfur and brimstone on the city. END OF STORY. END OF SODOM.
But Jesus now tells the disciples that on judgment day it will be worse for people who reject Jesus, than it was for Sodom and Gomorrah. The words in verse 12 – “on that day” are referring to judgment day. Jesus actually speaks about JUDGMENT and HELL far more than most preachers today. On several occassions Jesus taught that one day 1)he would return, 2) the world would come to an end, 3) the dead would rise and then 4) everyone will be judged. Those who are true followers of Jesus will enter into heaven and those who have rejected Jesus (or perhaps been “yes-but” Christians) will be sent to hell. And this reality is what motivated Jesus to come and save us.
Apply: The first question is do we still believe what Jesus taught about judgment day and hell? If we do not believe these things – we will never take mission seriously. It will never seem that important or urgent or worth the pain. The second thing we need to consider is how should we respond when people reject the message of Jesus?
Jesus tells the disciples to go into the street and wipe the dust from their feet as a sign against those who reject Jesus. Now in the first century Jews would often wipe the dust from their feet when they left a Gentile city or Gentile business. It was a not-so-subtle communication – that the Gentiles stood under God’s condemnation. But Jesus now tells the disciples to do the same thing to any Samaritan or Jewish town that rejects him. Jesus is saying that when people reject the gospel – we need to make clear to them the consequences of that choice. Rejecting Jesus means you are unsaved – whether you’re Jewish, Samaritan, Gentile, Muslim or Buddhist. People need to know the ramifications of their choice.
Now wiping the dust from our feet – will probably mean nothing to the average Aussie. An Aussie seeing us do this will probably assume we trod in dog poo and laugh at us. So we need to come up with a way to be clear on the consequences without being a self-righteous idiot. Some Christians almost seem to enjoy telling people they are going to burn in hell forever. But famous evangelist DL Moody once said that we should only ever talk about hell with tears in our eyes (Rpt). And I think this is close to the right sentiment. When we warn people about the consequences of rejecting Jesus it must come from a place of deep compassion and concern for them. It should not be unnecessarily confrontational or self-righteous. But nonetheless, Jesus says we must warn them…
Finally, that brings me to the last point…
Point 4: Christian Disciples are Ambassadors for Christ
Show: Lk.10;16-17; 23-24 (READ)
Explain: Well these verses (and especially verse 16) are a reminder that when we go on mission we are ambassadors for Christ. When people reject us and our message of peace they are not only rejecting us – they are rejecting the Father and the Son whom we represent). When we go on mission we are Jesus’ representatives on earth. And to some extent as representatives of Jesus we even speak with the authority of Jesus.
THAT IS INCREDIBLE. When we communicate the gospel and someone accepts Jesus as Saviour and Lord – we actually have the authority to tell them they are forgiven and they are now going to heaven. And when someone rejects Jesus we have the authority and responsibility to gently tell them they stand condemned and face God’s wrath. When we are on mission we are ambassadors for Christ. And the question is – are we good ambassadors for Christ? Do we remember who we represent?
Illustrate: Now we know that in RUSSIA and UKRAINE at the moment various AMBASSADORS have been running back and forth trying to negotiate peace between hostile parties. And when the ambassadors meet and speak – they MEET and SPEAK with all the authority of their respective countries. Their job is to be good representatives for Russia, or Ukraine or Germany, or England.
Apply: But are we good ambassadors for Christ? Or are there aspects of our life – like drug addiction, or materialism or sexual immorality or even gossip – that is hindering your witness for Jesus. Of course, we are all sinners and none of us is a perfect ambassador. But if you are serious 1) about mission and serious about 2) being an ambassador for Christ – you’ll know the way you speak, the way you carry yourself and even your priorities in life matter. People are quick to spot hypocrisy. And in recent years the church has had to live with many of Christ’s ambassadors – crashing and burning in spectacular fashion.
This has not helped our cause or our mission. We need to remember at all times that we are ambassadors for Christ and we should act like it. The task we have been given as missionaries of Christ, is a far more important role than that of any king or prophet in the Old Testament. We actually represent the King of Kings. We have the words of eternal. So Jesus reminds us that THE GREAT ONES of the Old Testament actually longed to see what we see – and know what we know. There is no higher honor in life than to be an ambassador for Jesus. There is no greater accomplishment in life than being used by Jesus to bring someone to salvation. (No greater accomplishment) But do we see this? Do we know this?
Today I want you to proudly say to yourself “I am a missionary for Jesus. I am Jesus’ ambassador on earth.” This is your calling. This is your duty. If you are Christian the question is NOT whether you are a missionary, the question is ONLY whether you are a faithful missionary, being a good representative of Christ and sharing the message of peace – in the mission field in which you happen to live.