Tuesday, March 26, 2019

12 Men on a Mission

“So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.” – Luke 9:6

A few weeks ago, my wife Christine and I went out to dinner. When we got home from our date, our youngest daughter, Cara, had a message waiting for us on the kitchen counter. Her 9-year-old spelling and grammar are preserved here for authenticity: “I rilly rilly rilly rilly rilly rilly rilly rilly want a hamster. Please I love you so much.” She had also written two replies for us to choose from: “Yes” (with a happy face beside it) and “No” (next to a crying frowny face).

Well, no one would accuse our daughter of being too subtle. We told Cara we’d think about it, and honestly, we hoped she’d forget about it after a day or two. But she didn’t. So, after a few days, we told her we would buy her a hamster if she pitched in $30 for the hamster, cage and supplies. We figured that—best-case scenario—it would take her three to four weeks to earn the money. But Cara was on a mission! She started doing extra chores around the house and sold a partially-used Starbucks gift card to her mother. And within two weeks we were at the pet store adopting Coco, the newest member of the Davis family.

We took a picture of the proud hamster mother beaming beside her pet in its cage. And if I were to put a caption over this photo, it would read, “Mission Accomplished!” 

Many years ago, in Luke 9, Jesus sent his 12 disciples out on a very exciting mission. It marked a new phase in Christ’s ministry. You see, up to this time, Jesus was doing all of the teaching and performing all of the miracles. The 12 disciples were right there when Jesus calmed the storm, but they were just freaked-out spectators. They were right there when Jesus drove out demons and healed diseases, but they were just helplessly watching. Now the time had come for Jesus’ trainees to put their learning into practice. “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick” (Luke 9:1-2).

I want to focus for a moment on two words: power and authority. As Jesus gave his apostles power, he infused them with miraculous abilities that they would have never had on their own. And he gave them authority—the right, or permission, to carry out the Lord’s mission. Until now, the 12 disciples didn’t have the ability to heal a sick person, nor did they have the Lord’s permission to teach his life-changing gospel message. Now, they had both his miracle-working ability and his gospel-sharing permission.

But he didn’t make it easy. In verse 3, before the disciples headed out on their mission, Jesus gave them some last-minute packing instructions:
“Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt.” In other words, “Don’t pack anything! Travel light! No large stick for protection. No duffel bag to carry stuff. No food. No money. No change of clothes.” The disciples’ mission likely lasted at least a few weeks, possibly even a few months. How would you like to head out of town on foot for an extended trip and not take any food, money or extra clothes with you? A little scary, right? Why did Jesus want his disciples to travel so light?

I like the way Bible scholar William Barclay answers this question. He writes, “The man who travels light travels far and fast. The more a man is cluttered up with material things the more he is shackled to one place. God needs a settled ministry; but He also needs those who will abandon earthly things to adventure for him.”

The mission of sharing the good news is an urgent mission. People’s lives depend on it. Eternal souls are at stake. So, we don’t have time to piddle around and prepare for every contingency. Jesus’ disciples didn’t have all the answers. So what? They needed to get out there and start preaching the gospel anyway. Their mission was urgent. And so is ours! 

Jesus also wanted them to travel light in order to teach them to trust God to supply all of their needs along the way. His disciples didn’t have all the material resources conventional wisdom told them they would need for their trip. So what? As long as they were doing Jesus’ work and carrying out Jesus’ marching orders with Jesus’ blessing, he would supply ALL OF THEIR NEEDS. Do you suppose the same holds true today as we carry out Jesus’ mission here on earth? You’d better believe it!

And we’re told in verse 10, “When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done.” If we had a picture of the 12 apostles returning to Jesus at the end of their mission, a great caption under the photo would be “Mission Accomplished.” They had driven out demons. They had healed the sick. They had preached the good news of Jesus Christ, and lives had been transformed by the power of the gospel.

Don’t forget—Jesus still has marching orders for us today. We may not be called on to heal sickness or drive out demons, but we can do something even more important: point the way to an eternity with Jesus in heaven as we share his gospel. Lives were transformed centuries ago, and lives are still being transformed today, as we carry out Christ’s mission in His power and authority.

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information,
visit www.YourVictorvilleChurch.com  and join us for worship Sunday at 10 a.m.

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