Summary: Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus: Following Jesus in Mission
Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus:
Following Jesus in Mission
April 11, 2010
I have found that same principle in my own life. One of the biblical priorities as a pastor is making disciples - winning people and training them and then sending them out to do the same. Yet with the time and energy required to maintain an organization, it is all too easy to become preoccupied with many good things –building program, meeting with people, programs, detail, - that lost people get pushed to peripheral.
All of us, especially the church as an organization has to fight this natural drift toward maintenance to say focused on our mission. It is too easy as an organization focus our time and energy on maintaining the organization so that it exists for the only for itself but leaves no energy for mission. We lose sight of lost people and then make excuses for it. Jesus never let maintenance overshadow and overlook mission. Jesus came to seek and save the lost.
We must never lose sight of lost people. Jesus states that his mission was and still is to seek and save lost. That was central to his life and it is still central to the life of his church. Otherwise we end up existing just for ourselves. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He never lost sight of investing in and inviting people into his community of disciples. He did not allow himself to become so preoccupied with his group that he neglected his mission.
Big idea –Jesus’ mission was to seek and save the lost. Those labeled as the worst of sinners were drawn to his message of extravagant grace. Lets’ see how Jesus lived out mission in the course of daily life.
Jesus had set his face toward Jerusalem, determined to fulfill his purpose (9:51). On his way he passes through Jericho and it is there that he runs into Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector for the Roman government. In the minds of the Pharisees and the Scribes, Zacchaeus was a worthless piece of trash who deserved to be burned alive. At this time in history, much of the world was ruled by Rome, a ruthless and atrocious government. There are historical accounts of Rome conquering a city and then taking 20,000 men, women, and children, stripping them naked and crucifying them on the road leading up to that city for up to 40 miles. Everyone going into that city for supplies, to see family, or to work, would have to pass by 20,000 suffering, dying or dead men, women, and children who had been stripped of their clothes as an act of shame to intimidate you. The message was clear - don’t mess with Rome. Now if you rule the world the only way you can govern a landmass that size is with a massive army. But Rome’s population could not supply that massive of an army so as they conquered land, they hired mercenaries and gave them food, weapons and training to become part of the legions of Rome, despite the fact that they were not Romans. Well, how do you fund, supply, feed, and train such a massive army? - taxes. Zacchaeus was a Jew who purchased the right from Rome to raise funds for an oppressive occupying army that was responsible for the brutal death of hundreds of thousands of people. He was considered a traitor, despised by his fellow Jews. But he is drawn near to Jesus. He is not the only one, all kinds of sinners are drawn to Jesus too. “Sinner” was a marked as a class of people who are deformed, diseased or whose job is one that the Jews considered beyond redemption. They were the prostitutes, strippers, slave traders, tax collectors or they had some kind of physical ailment that the Jews viewed as a curse from God. Yet those least like Jesus liked Jesus.
This encounter with Zacchaeus was in the midst of life; much of Jesus’ ministry was as he went about life (v. 1). That is what he tells us to do, as he says in Matt 28:18-20, all authority is given to me, therefore go (literally as you go) and make disciples. All authority means that his authority is unique. His authority is supreme, and that makes this commissioning powerful and effective as we go about life. Because my authority is given to you, go about your life and make disciples. You do not need special training, a special degree, but as you go, make disciples, followers of Jesus. As you go about your life, you are to seek and save the lost. Those who are least like Jesus liked Jesus.
Undergirding Jesus’ life was a divine appointment and a divine plan. It was a God moment in the midst of life. Jesus sees Zacchaeus up in the tree; Jesus commands him to come down because I must stay at your house today (v. 4-5). It was not an option; that word must is used sixteen times between chapter nine and the end of Luke. It shows that Jesus going to the cross is happening according to Gods’ plan. Jesus’ life was according to a divine plan and a purpose. Your life and mine is designed and planned according to a divine plan. Jesus must eat with Zacchaeus because the Father is drawing him.