Jesus was an unmarried homeless man who was executed by the state for treason. Many of his friends were criminals, sinners, thugs, outcasts and common people. Few of them were religious. He got kicked out of his home church (or synagogue) after saying things that deviated from the status quo. He spent most of his time with the sick, sinful, and sorrowful. He was so close to sinners that the religious leaders thought he was one, yet he did not one time succumb to sin. And nearly everything he said and did made religious people mad — such as when he told them to turn the other cheek, love their enemies, and give their money to the poor. (Preston Sprinkle)
Jesus did not fit into anyone’s box. He did not come as they expected. He did not lead as they wanted him to lead. He was a servant. He came not sit on an earthly throne, but to rescue the sick. Jesus truly was unlike anything seen before. Even the Pharisees knew this; they had never heard anyone teach as Jesus taught. (John 7) He loved enough to share the truth; He told them what they needed, He communicated the truth.
Jesus was clear, He did not pull any punches.
And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” – Luke 9:23-24
"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:26-27
He was clear that we are called to be disciples of Jesus who make disciples of Jesus. Now the great question for the church in 2022 is “What does that look like?” This is obviously important to our Lord and should be important to His people as well. What is the “The Jesus Way” in our own personal discipleship journey and in the way forward as a church.
I often wonder if Jesus were to physically come back to our churches today and offer feedback like He did to the seven churches Asia Minor in Revelation, … what would he say? What would he think? Would he approve or disapprove? What would the standard for whether the gathered local expressions of the body of Christ were meeting God’s approval?
The standard is the Great Commission!
2,500 years ago, Jesus stood on a hillside with His first followers and have them a commission to accomplish.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." – Matthew 28:19-20
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” - Luke 24:45-49
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” – Acts 1:8
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” - John 20:21-23
Jesus’s intentions are clear for His followers … we are not called to sit on our biscuits … we are called to GO! He is calling us to live missional lives. This may mean full-time overseas missions, it may also mean living missionally every second of every day no matter where we are.
The fact that the words we translate “go” in Matthew and Mark are actually participles implies that Jesus assumes that the life of discipleship has an active component: “as you are going” preach, make disciples, baptize and be witnesses. Bob Jacks refers to this as “24/7 availability” to God. As our lives in Christ proceed, we will ask God where he wants to send us, but on a daily basis we don’t need to ask if we are sent. Jesus makes it clear: we are sent, starting right where we are. (Paul Borthwick)
Living missionally is having the words of Jesus set in your mind … “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”. It is realizing at all times we are sent people. This living the Jesus way. This is the way Jesus approves.