In 1949 John Currier was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Later he was transferred and paroled to work on a farm near Nashville, Tennessee. In 1968, his sentence was terminated and a letter was sent to him. But he never got the letter. He kept working and doing what he was told. Ten years went by and a state parole officer learned about his pardon, found him, and told him that his sentence had been terminated. He was a free man. Would it matter to you if someone sent you an important message and it was never delivered?
The greatest news in the world is the Gospel. Yet, we live in a Gospel ignorant world. More and more children are growing into adults who don’t know who Jesus is. Too many people have never heard.
Soon after Jesus called His 12 apostles, He sent them out. They had watched what He did and He sent them out to duplicate His ministry in the surrounding cities. We have the same commission. The spread of the message of Jesus is the duty of every believer. Followers of Jesus tell others about Jesus. What do we learn from this Jesus’ first outreach event so we can spread the message of Jesus?
Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. (Luke 9:1)
Jesus gave the apostles power and authority. Power is the ability to accomplish a task; authority is the right to do it. A good illustration is a police officer. He has the authority to stop a criminal. But he also has a gun that gives him the power to back up his authority.
In Matthew 28:18-20 we have the Great Commission. In that command, Jesus begins by stating He has all authority and ends with His continued presence. When you have Jesus, you have power and authority.
And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. (Luke 9:2)
The message description for the apostles was “The kingdom of God.” Jesus taught 2 kingdoms: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Heaven. They are different. The kingdom of Heaven is an earthly, physical kingdom. The kingdom of God is a spiritual, invisible kingdom. In both, Jesus is king and both of these kingdoms He presented to the nation of Israel. But they rejected Him and so He postponed the physical, earthly kingdom. Yet, we have the same message of the Kingdom of God as we proclaim the Gospel – make Jesus king of our life.
The Gospel is the good news that Jesus died for our sins and rose again to give eternal life. Whoever believes that message and receives Jesus as Savior, will have an eternal relationship with Jesus. That’s the message we proclaim.
And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece. (Luke 9:3)
The apostles were to travel light – no staff, no bag, no food, no money, not an extra change of clothes. They were to depend on God and others for what they needed. They were to travel light. The person who travels light travels far and fast. They were to leave at once, without extensive preparation, and trust God to take care of their needs.
When Jesus later sent out 70, the details were a little different. Paul’s three mission trips were all different. Methods may change, but some things remain the same.
First, the mission can’t wait. People need to hear the message. Just go. Second, God will provide for the people who are proclaiming His message. In short, Jesus encourages us to travel light and trust God.
And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart. And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them. And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where. (Luke 9:4-6)
Jesus is making it clear that the listeners were responsible for what they did with the message. As long as the apostles had faithfully and carefully presented the message, they were not to blame if the townspeople rejected.
Likewise, believers are not responsible when others reject Christ’s message of salvation if we have carefully and truthfully presented it. But we do have the responsibility to share the gospel clearly and faithfully. When the message is rejected, they should move on to others who may respond positively to the message.
Luke gives an example of a prominent man’s response to the message – Herod.
Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead; And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again. And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him. (Luke 9:7-9)
Probably out of guilt for murdering John the Baptist, Herod began to wonder who Jesus was? I think the question He asks needs to be asked by everyone – “Who is this?” This is the most important question any one will ever ask or answer. The response to that question will determine a person’s eternal destiny, Heaven or Hell.
A pastor in Australia said he was taking testimonies one night in church and a man said, “I was at King’s Cross in Sydney waiting for a traffic light to change. A shabby man asked me, “Sir! If you were to die tonight, where would you spend eternity?” That question haunted me for 3 weeks until I had to find an answer and I found the answer in Jesus.” A few years later, another man gave a similar story, “I was at King’s Cross in Sydney and a derelict asked me a simple question, “If you were to die tonight, do you know where you would spend eternity?” The man’s testimony was that the question motivated him to give his life to Jesus. A couple years later, the minister went to King’s Cross on the outside chance that he mind find the derelict man. He stood on the corner and felt a tug on his jacked from a poor and ragged man. Before he could said a word, the pastor said, “I know what you’re going to say. You’re going to ask, if I was to die tonight where would I spend eternity?” The old man was amazed and asked how the pastor knew this. The pastor told him about the 2 men who had given testimonies at his church and how they had become Christians because of the question that he had raised when they visited his city. The man was reduced to tears and said, “Some 8 years ago I was an old drunk. But then I gave my life to Jesus. I’m uneducated. I don’t know how to say much or do much. The only thing I could think of was to go around and ask people this same question over and over again. I’ve been doing it for 8 years and today was the first day I had any idea I was doing any good at all.”
Jesus doesn’t expect us to be polished or to possess the best techniques. What he does expect is that we faithfully do what we can to tell people of their need for Christ and His salvation.