Summary: Mission, Purpsoe, Disciple Making
Matthew 28:16-20 (p. 698) January 19, 2014
I’m 53 years old. I gave my life to Christ 3 months before my 18th birthday. If you want to know my story get one on my testimony CDs at the Welcome Center, but even though I didn’t surrender to Jesus until I was almost 18 I was raised in the Church. As Matt Proctor, Ozark Christian College President says, “I was a B.U.I.C.K. (Brought Up In Church Kid). I was in Church and Sunday School almost every Sunday, VBS and Church Camp were part of almost every summer. I know the books. I knew the really important stories. I had been taught a biblical view of life.
And I’ve been involved in ministry in one way or another for 35 years. Since I was 18, traveling around and sharing my testimony, internships at Hill N Dale and in Florida while in school, then youth ministry and children’s ministry for the first 7 years after Johnson.
When I was younger, first in ministry, I wanted to have great programs, the most exciting week at camp. I wanted to fill children’s ministry went super fun activities. I remember doing a “Journey through Hell” on Friday night at camp so maybe a lot of students would give their lives to Christ.
I came up with catching names, innovative strategies. I wanted big numbers, large crowds and exciting events. My view of successful ministry was driven by how well these events went and how many people attended.
I still care about numbers, because each number is a very real and important eternal soul.
But, I’ve learned something vital, a secret to successful ministry that I wish I could go back and tell my 23 year old “Walk through Hell” organizing self. Here it is:
You will not impact this world through the crowd. It will be through the few. It won’t be a program that is important, it’s people.
Jesus is so different than most success driven preachers and leaders.
Jesus wondered through the streets and by-ways of Israel and Samaria looking for the few. Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying, He wasn’t casual about it. He didn’t meander about with no purpose, like it wasn’t important. Jesus knew His mission would involve a revelation. It would not revolve around the masses, or multitudes. It wasn’t a program. The world would be turned upside down by a few “radical” followers.
What Jesus intentionally set out to do was to teach a few men to think like them, love like Him, serve like Him. Jesus would pour himself into these few so that they could impact the world. That’s why.
I. JESUS TOOK A GAMBLE
Fast forward with me to the Lord’s prayer in John Chapter 17, it’s right before the cross. These words of God’s son are spoken to His Father just hours before His arrest, trial, and crucifixion. And He recounts His ministry on earth to His Father in heaven by saying.
JOHN 17:1-4 (p.)
“I have brought you glory by finishing the work you gave me to do.” (v. 4)
And then He describes the work, and it’s shocking! He doesn’t list all his miracles, even raising Lazarus from the dead, or the sermons He preached. He doesn’t talk about the crowds that came out to hear Him, 1,000s and 1,000s.
Instead, He talks repeatedly about His disciples. These small band of men God had given Him from out of the world. LISTEN, they were the work God had given Him! These few men, 12, no wait, now 11 were quite literally His life.
Look at the affection and the investment He has made in their lives: Look at what He says about these followers in His prayer.
1. “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world.” (v.6)
2. “I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them.” (v.8)
3. “While I was with them I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me.” (v.12)
4. “For them I sanctify myself that they too may be truly sanctified.” (v.19)
Jesus lived for them. While on earth He spent more time with them than anyone else.
How amazing is this, at the end of the Son of God’s time on earth, as He prepares to pay for the penalty of all mankind’s sin on a cross, He has staked everything on His relationship with 12 men. In fact in the middle of His prayer He says “none has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that scripture would be fulfilled.” (v. 12)
These 11 guys were the small group responsible for carrying on everything Jesus had commanded! That’s quite a gamble huh?
After His prayer in the Upper Room Jesus is arrested, beaten, and crucified. He is then buried in a barrow tomb. 3 days later He rises from the dead, and He appears to the women and then these disciples. Scripture teaches He spends 40 days with his followers after the resurrection and then one of His final moments is captured in Matthew 28.