The Mission of the Twelve (Luke 9:1-9)

Throughout world history, there have been some amazing rescue missions performed. One of the most daring rescues missions to be carried out was the Overland Relief Expedition. In November 1897, an urgent message broke out declaring eight whaling vessels were icebound in the Artic Ocean north of Alaska, and on board were 265 people. The supplies these men had will only last a few months. Starvation and death was staring them in the face. There was only one solution and hope – an overland expedition. Three men with very different personalities embarked on this 2400 km journey in the midst of a harsh icy winter. Warned by many not to go, they knew the mission had to happen as the President had ordered that it occur. Hardship marked this painful journey, but they did not allow personal comforts to slow down this mission. Along the way hospitality by Eskimos was shown to them. With about 1200 km to go, they secured 400 reindeer for the men stranded. After four and a half months, on March 26, 1828, they saw the stranded vessels with their own eyes. They went on board and announced their mission. They provided foods, aid, and care. After the ice melted, they boarded a ship and five months latter returned home.

Jesus told His disciples, “and this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14). That is an amazing statement that reveals that the message of the gospel will go viral. How will this happen? The answer is, through the Church. Though this mission at times will be painful, this mission will be possible. So how should we as God’s people carry out this mission of telling and showing the world the way to Heaven?

In this passage we have recorded a short missions trip the apostles of Jesus Christ were commissioned to carry out. As we read through Luke and Acts, we learn that this task broadens and changes somewhat. In this message we will consider three components that were a part of the mission Jesus gave to the Twelve. Though elements of these components were unique to them in their situation, there are principles here for us today to follow. How did they carry out their mission? We will learn about their message, miracles, and method.   

1.         THEIR MESSAGE

When Jesus sent out the apostles on this mission, they had a message to share. Today there seem to be many different messages being given. What was the message the apostles were to proclaim? Luke tells us that Jesus “sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God” (9:2). Their message was to announce the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God refers to the place where the rule of God is over the people of God and is both present and future. In the present it is to enter and enjoy God’s spiritual rule, and in the future, it is to enter and enjoy God’s rule as King in the new heaven and new earth. This Kingdom will have its full form when Jesus returns. On that day, His rule will expand across the globe and He will rule with righteousness.

How does one enter the Kingdom of God? We must turn from our sins and trust in Jesus Christ for salvation. Sin separates us from God, and as a result of our sin we deserve eternal punishment. But Jesus announced the good news of the kingdom of God. He has made a way possible for us to have peace with God. The message the twelve proclaimed is the same message Jesus proclaimed, and it is to be the same message we proclaim today. The kingdoms of humanity will be brought down and judged and Christ’s rule will last for eternity. Our message isn’t about moralism, self-fulfilment, or popularity. It is about salvation that is exclusively found in Jesus Christ.

2.         THEIR MIRACLES

In addition to proclaiming the kingdom of God, they also demonstrated it by exercising miraculous acts. We read that Jesus “gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases”. This gift was a proof of their message and a preview of what life will be like in this coming kingdom. By proof I mean that these were authenticating signs that verified their message. Just like Moses, Elijah and Elisha in the Old Testament. And by preview, I mean that they provided a glimpse into future and eternal kingdom, where there will be no more sickness and disease (Rev. 21:4).

There are some important principles to consider and apply from this verse. Firstly, the message of the Kingdom should be accompanied with compassion. It is interesting that Jesus chose to make the affirming sign of their message as healing. This met the physical needs of those they ministered to.  The context to Matthew’s account of this commission says that after Jesus proclaimed the good news of the kingdom and healed people, He saw the crowds and had compassion on the people, because they were like sheep without a shepherd (Matt. 9:36). Secondly, the message of the kingdom announces change. Though we don’t have the same gifts as the Apostles, we are able to declare the great change that will take place when we are in Heaven.

3.         THEIR METHOD

Jesus went on to tell them how they are to carry these tasks out. We can call this their ministry method. Jesus said, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them (9:3-5). There are two important principles to draw out from these verses that we can apply. These would be applicable to those in paid ministry, but are relevant to all of God’s people. When it comes to sharing the message of Christ, (1) our actions should be selfless and simple and (2) our actions should be dedicated and discerning.

Our Actions should be Selfless and Simple

We ought not to desire to share the good news of the Kingdom with the purpose of personal gain. Whether that be gaining possessions or power. Now the Bible is clear that a worker is worthy of his hire. It is wrong to suggest that if you are a Christian worker that you should live a life of poverty. There is a saying that goes, “Lord, you keep the preacher humble, and we will keep him poor”. That of course is not Biblical, however, a gospel worker ought not to minister with the view of making great financial gain. The apostles were given specific instructions to follow so that they would not look like those who took advantage of others. This also provided them with a great lesson on what is important and to not allow anything to distract from the message.

Our Actions should be Dedicated and Discerning

In addition to our actions being selfless and simple, our actions should be dedicated and discerning when we share the good news of the kingdom. We are to be faithful where we are at, and give our all. But we need to know when it is time to move on. Some will receive the message but others will reject the message. Not everybody wants to hear the gospel, so we need to have the wisdom and discernment as to when we need to move on somewhere else. There were all sorts of reactions and responses to the message of Jesus Christ. Luke records the reaction of Herod the tetrarch. Herod was “perplexed” by the reports he heard about Jesus. Some thought John the Baptist had been raised from the grave or some other prophet, and others thought Elijah has returned. Herod asked, “John I beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?” (9:9). Though Herod later on proved to only have a selfish reason for wanting to see Jesus, his question is an important one, “Who is this about whom I hear such things?”.

CONCLUSION

As the people of God, we have been given a mission. Our mission is to share the good news of the kingdom. As Christians we are called to “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:5-6). We live in a world of many opinions. But we need to remember that the message we have is not our opinion. The message we have is the good news of the kingdom from God’s authoritative Word. So let us be prayerful that God grant us open doors of opportunity to speak this message, and then give us a gracious manner, and discernment in when to keep speaking, and when to move on. The time is coming when “this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations” (Matt. 24:14). We learnt at the beginning of this message that three men travelled 2400 km to rescue stranded whalers because their President asked them to. Our Master calls for us to go on a mission. By His help, let us be found faithful.