From "Went" to "Sent"

The Jesus Mission - Part 1

Text: "And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them" (Matt. 9:35-36a). "These twelve Jesus sent out" (Matt.10:5a).

Thought: The mission of Jesus continues today. The Book of Acts records the start of the mission to the nations as it spread outward from Jerusalem to Rome, but in this text the mission is restricted to Israel. We are seeing Jesus in action and on mission in Israel. But this text gives us a pattern to follow and principles to apply as we are on mission with Jesus today by the power of the Holy Spirit. To be fully involved in Jesus' Mission today:

I. We Must Grasp the Nature of Jesus' Ministry (verse 35)
Jesus' ministry was incarnational: "And Jesus went throughout the cities and villages." This verse is a summary statement concerning Jesus' ministry. Jesus went to the people, He didn't wait for the people to come to Him; He went throughout the cities, the villages and the countryside. Jesus came into this world to reach and redeem people and here we see Him travelling throughout Galilee teaching, preaching and healing. Jesus became a human being in order to save human beings, and you see this mission in the way He reached out to people consistently.

Jesus' ministry was transformational: "teaching proclaiminghealing." Through His teaching and preaching, Jesus declared the kingdom of God. Through His miracles, healings and the casting out of demons, He demonstrated the kingdom of God. Jesus didn't come just to present ethical instructions or to do good deeds. Jesus came declaring that God the Father, in fulfillment of His promises was now intervening and was acting to redeem His people and establish a new covenant with them. This was and is the "good news." Of course, Jesus still had to go to the cross and be raised from the dead, be exalted on high, send the Holy Spirit, and plan to return to accomplish Kingdom purposes, but the kingdom of God was breaking into history in a new and profound way, because the King had come. God's rule and reign was being manifested.

With the coming "at hand" of the Kingdom there comes transformation. Jesus taught transforming truth, and Jesus did transforming miracles, because He was seeking to transform people's lives through repentance and belief in the Gospel, and through the power of the kingdom.

Our mission today needs to be incarnational and transformational. We need to reach people and we need to bring transformation through the truth and the power of the Gospel of King Jesus. We see this incarnational and transformational ministry continue in the Book of Acts. The nature of Jesus ministry was not only to teach and preach, but to change. He not only brought truth, He brought transforming truth, Kingdom truth. These truths would bring a new relationship with God, and a new hope for being a part of Kingdom consummation. He also demonstrated Kingdom power, which brought transformation as the level of human need. Jesus had to go to the cross to accomplish the redemptive kingdom mission, but He declared Kingdom truth and demonstrated Kingdom power and transformation on the way to the cross.

II. We Need to Share the depth of Jesus' Compassion (Verse 36a)
"When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them." We are used to thinking this about Jesus, but we need to reflect on His compassion. Jesus saw people. At times, we don't even see the people around us or their needs. We can even be fooled by the outward prosperity of people, and not see the reality of the eternal needs as well as practical needs that people still have. Human need is all around us, and sometimes we need "new eyes," the eyes of Jesus.

Jesus didn't see the crowd as taking up His time, draining His energy, getting in the way of His plans. The crowd was His plan. And He saw them as "harassed and helpless," scattered with no one to care for them. We need to travel into the heart of Jesus and feel His passion, His compassion for needy people, indeed His compassion for a needy world.

Jesus' mission today requires compassion if it is to be done Jesus' way, indeed God's way (see Exodus 3). The Apostle Paul speaks of sharing the afflictions of Christ (Col. 1:24) as being a part of his ministry. When sending Timothy to find out the spiritual condition of the Philippians he commends Timothy not only for being concerned about the things of Christ, but for his concern for the Philippians themselves (Phil. 2:20). That is why he could send Timothy, because Paul knew that Timothy "cared." Timothy had compassion for the people in Philippi.

The Great Commission requires all of us to be about "making disciples of all nations." We need, though, to reach people with compassion in our hearts. Sometimes God leads us by giving us a special burden, a genuine compassion for a specific group of people. At the same time, there is no excuse for lacking compassion for all people, and especially those who come across our paths.

We need to visit the cross and stay there until we sense the compassion of Jesus for us. At the same time, this very text says it well. We need to walk with Jesus and see Jesus meeting people, responding to people's needs, and seeking to proclaim the good news of the kingdom. More than that, we need to pray specifically that we will have His eyes and His heart as we engage people every day.

Thrust: We have a wonderful Savior and Lord, who is also our example as we seek to continue His mission in this world. By the power of His Holy Spirit, we need to continue His ministry with His compassion today.

David L. Olford teaches expository preaching at Union University's Stephen Olford Center in Memphis, Tennessee.

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