The Christian’s Calling (6)
So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” John 20.21
On a mission
During His earthly sojourn, Jesus Christ was a Man on a mission. He came to glorify God by bringing near the Kingdom of God to the world (Jn. 17.4; Matt. 4.17). For Jesus, this meant fulfilling all righteousness, taking away the sins of His people, and destroying the works of the devil. Jesus came to give life, and to give it abundantly (Jn. 10.10).
Every moment and activity of every day of Jesus’ life was driven and guided by His mission. He was defined by His mission, and His mission established the priorities for everything He did. When His mission on earth was finished, He said to His disciples, and to all who would become His disciples, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
The followers of Jesus Christ are a people with a mission. Everyone who follows Jesus takes up the mission of Christ as the organizing motif and driving force of his life. To be a disciple of Jesus is to be sent into the world as He was sent into it, seeking the Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy, and calling people to repent and believe the Gospel (Rom. 14.17, 18; Acts 17.30). Paul wrote that God has called us to His Kingdom and glory (1 Thess. 2.12), and all disciples must work out their salvation to realize the implications of the calling in their daily lives.
You can tell who the disciples of Jesus are by the ways they seek His Kingdom and glorify the Father.
A mission in five roles
But how can we take up this mission in every aspect of our lives, so that all our lives, and all the time of our lives are fully devoted to following Him? We can’t do what Jesus did; the Kingdom mission on which He was sent was unique to Him, just as ours will be unique to us.
But because disciples are followers of Christ, we must still focus on Jesus as we answer this question. One way to take on Jesus’ mission as our own is to consider the various roles He fulfilled during His earthly sojourn. We can see Jesus fulfilling five different roles. If we can embrace these roles and adapt them to working our own Personal Mission Field, we may expect to make real and regular progress in fulfilling the mission of Christ.
What are these five roles?
First is the role of a seeker. Jesus sought His Father and His Father’s will in everything He did. He came to seek and to save lost people (Lk. 19.10). He reached out to others, took the initiative in coming to them, learning their names, and making their needs His focus. Jesus did not simply go to Jerusalem, rent a space, and hang out a sign advertising “Religion at 11.” He was active and aggressive in reaching out to others, and when we are seekers of others like that, we will be following in the footsteps of our Lord. We will seek to serve the people in our Personal Mission Field, beginning with the other disciples Jesus has set there.
As Jesus found people, second, He looked for ways to be a servant to them. Jesus served God by taking on the form of a Servant and coming amongst us to restore us to the Father. He healed the sick, encouraged people in their distress, spoke words of kindness and compassion to those who suffered or were distraught. When He was in the upper room with His disciples, Jesus didn’t wait around for others to serve Him (Jn. 13.1-15). He was alert to the opportunities around Him and took the initiative to care for others with the love of God. Jesus calls all who would follow Him to learn to be a servant after His example (Mk. 10.42-45). All disciples must therefore learn the skills and take up the role of a servant to the people to whom God sends them.
Third, Jesus was a shepherd for those entrusted to His care. He came as the promised Good Shepherd to gather, secure, and bless His Father’s flocks (Ezek. 34.10ff). He built His followers together as a flock, led them into a new vision of life, fed them with His Word, and defended them amid the temptations and trials of life. He looked out for the souls of His sheep, and He calls all who follow Him to have the same shepherding regard for one another (Heb. 13.17; Gal. 6.1-10). All the various “one another” passages in the New Testament offer guidance for us in carrying out this discipleship role of a shepherd.
Fourth, and perhaps most obviously, Jesus was a sower. He received the Word from His Father and sowed it lavishly wherever He went. He spoke and preached and testified and taught the Word of God at every opportunity, to any who would listen. He was bold in proclaiming the reality of the Kingdom and urgent in encouraging people to repent and believe the Good News. Jesus has given His Spirit to His followers so that we might continue this work of sowing the Word and being witnesses for Him (Acts 1.8), working to make disciples in the “as-you-are-goings” of our lives (Matt. 28.18-20).
Finally, Jesus was a steward of the will and work of God. He said He always did the Father’s will and spoke only the words the Father gave Him. Jesus did not waste time. He was frugal with resources, efficient in all His undertakings, and in continuous communication with His Father. He calls His disciples also to be good stewards of all that God has entrusted to us, so that we might return glory to Him with every “talent” we possess (Matt. 25.14-30).
The Apostle Paul said that the followers of Jesus should regard themselves as living sacrifices to the Lord (Rom. 12.1, 2). All we are, have, hope for, and do should say to the world that we are a people on a mission, and that the mission we are pursuing is the one Jesus began when He was on earth – that of seeking and advancing the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
As we learn to fulfill the roles of seeker, servant, shepherd, sower, and steward in every area of our lives, we will find the power of Christ working through us in new, exciting, Christ-like ways. When we follow Jesus, in the mission of Jesus, taking up the roles Jesus Himself performed, we cannot fail to know the reality of Jesus, at work within us, willing and doing according to His good pleasure (Phil. 2.12, 13).
And as this happens, there will be no doubt in our minds or anyone else’s that we are disciples of Jesus Christ.
1. Jesus came to earth to proclaim and embody the Kingdom of God. What does that mean for His sending you to the world?
2. Review the roles Jesus fulfilled during His earthly sojourn. In which of these do you most need to grow and improve?
3. What does it mean to be a living sacrifice unto the Lord?
Next steps – Conversation: How well do you understand the mission of Jesus? The roles Jesus fulfilled when He was on earth? How can you begin to become more a person who is truly “on the mission” of the Lord? Outline a program for becoming a more visible and consistent Kingdom-seeking disciple, and for encouraging other disciples to do the same.
T. M. Moore
Knowing, Loving, and Serving Jesus
This week our daily Scriptorium teaching letter wraps up the book of Ruth. Next week we begin a five-part study of Colossians. Every day provides worship, meditation, reflection, and prayer. Use the pop-up to subscribe to Scriptorium.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.