Summary: Like the disciples in our scripture passage, we too have been trained and are being sent out to those frontlines to deliver the message that help has already come! We are being sent out to (1) preach the Gospel, (2) perform miracles and (3) confirm the word of God!
My wife Willow can confirm that I watch very few channels on TV, primarily because the two women in my house dominate our television. I digress. The two I watch the most are The History Channel and ESPN. Usually, I watch ESPN before they wake up and History after they go to bed. One night, on History channel there was a special on about weird war tactics throughout history. This particular episode they were detailing about all the weird ways animals were used in war.
Dolphins have been used to patrol the sea and alert their handlers of suspicious devices, vessels and plant trackers on divers. The Soviets’ used anti-tank dogs during world war two to plant bombs under German tanks. Unfortunately, since the dogs trained on Soviet tanks they kept dropping the bombs under their own tanks. During the cold war the US used cats to spy and gain intelligence through imbedded audio recording equipment. Which just confirms what we all already knew, you can’t trust cats.
My favorite would have to be the War Messenger Pigeon. These birds were trained and commissioned to fly in and out of the most dangerous of places during radio silence to deliver messages to those who needed them! In one battle, it is documented that one such bird saved nearly 200 lives of the 77th Infantry division who were pent down. She flew 25 miles with a bullet in the chest and an eye missing to deliver the message that in their time of need, the 77th Infantry Division, needed help!
Like the disciples in our scripture passage, we too have been trained and are being sent out to those frontlines to deliver the message that help has already come! We are being sent out to (1) preach the Gospel, (2) perform miracles and (3) confirm the word of God!
It’s important to note that Jesus did not say, “Go out into all the world and keep the Gospel to yourself”, he didn’t suggest that we share. We are given the clear command to go out and preach the Gospel!
Point 1: To Preach the Gospel – vv. 15-16
Jesus gave the disciples the straight forward command to go out in different ways. You see up until Jesus the word of God had been shared among the lost sheep of Israel, but now we see the commission being made broader. Jesus is not only commanding this, but in his deity, giving the disciples the authority to go into the world and Preach the Gospel to all people. Jesus drew crowds of thousands, but in this moment he demands that we not have an, “If we build it they will come.” attitude. Instead he says go out.
I read a story of a pastor who never prepared during the week, and on Sunday morning he'd sit on the platform while the church was singing the hymns desperately praying, "Lord, give me a word, Lord give me a word." One Sunday, while desperately praying for God's word, he received it. That word was lazy.
We cannot be lazy with the word of God! It was not given to us to store up for only ourselves, instead, it was given to us take in and prepare only to give it back to those who also need to hear it. Verse 16 goes on to say, “16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Giving us every reason to Preach the Gospel. People’s lives, lives that God cares about, are at stake. We are given the opportunity to “inform them concerning Christ, the history of his life, and death, and resurrection; instruct them in the meaning and intention of these, and of the advantages which the children of men…may have…and invite them, without exception (or exploitation), to come and share in them. This is gospel. Let this be preached in all places, to all persons.”
Oswald Smith said, “The world does not need sermons; it needs a message. You can go to seminary and learn how to preach sermons, but you will have to go to God to get messages.” We’ve been given the message! Before men, women and children are two options good and evil, life and death and that we are confronted with slavery to sin and living as captures to the enemy. If it were not true, there would be no cause spread this message or reason for its existence. But, rejoice! Because of the Christ they can put off the chains that would see them enslaved and sin will no longer rule them, no longer ruin them because Christ has redeemed them!
One of my heroes is my baby brother Timothy. Willow used to call him Hands because he’s very expressive and won’t back down if he believes he is right. Tim turned 13 this past September. I can remember a few years ago, he must have been about 9 or 10. We were driving down McCarter Highway in Newark through the Central Ward. At every light there were homeless people asking for money or food. So every time someone approached our van, which had a huge Salvation Army sticker on it, he would look at me with a faced that said, “Well, help them.” So buy the 5th or 6th light I was out of toll money and explained to him that I wouldn’t be giving out any more money on this road. He inquired why. I said to him, “Tim I can’t help everybody.” He turned and looked out the window and responded, “I know, but you can help the people on this road.”