As we begin this new series, I would like to give you something to write down. If you’re not here next week, I don’t want you to miss this statement. If we can grab hold of this line and let it sink into our brains, it will change our how we live the mission of Jesus. Here’s the line – Salvation should change your life, not just change your death. If that doesn’t immediately sink in, do not miss a week of this series. Come to church. Listen online. Watch the video. I invite you to be present every week through Easter, because I want you understand the significance of that line.
Before we jump in, let me throw out a few “I think” statements. First, I think most Americans that have any church background understand that Jesus died to pay for your sins and my sins. I don’t think any person in this room would argue with that statement. Second, I think many Americans who attend church with any consistency think Jesus could have died any way he chose and still accomplish his mission. Some of us agree that Jesus’ death was payment enough and it didn’t really matter how he died as long as he died. If we paused for some interaction with the 2nd statement, you might be surprised with how many people are okay with it. Some of us can’t believe I would suggest such a think. There is a huge problem with the 2nd statement, it’s wrong. We must understand why death by the cross was necessary. We must understand the cross, not just death, is just as significant as the tomb, the stone and the resurrection.
Have you ever thought that the cross was the only way Jesus could have died? Have you ever thought that Pilate had to sentence him to death? Have you ever thought that it had to be on the exact day that it happened? Have you ever thought that Jesus aligned His death to loudly declare who He was to Israel? Have you ever deeply thought about the week of Jesus’ life prior to his crucifixion?
Over the next seven weeks, we are going to spend some time answering these questions as we discuss the mission of Jesus. Before we dig into those five questions, do you know the mission of Jesus? Jesus spent roughly three years walking through a region healing countless people, but that wasn’t the end of Jesus’ mission. Jesus fed thousands of people on separate occasions, but that wasn’t the end of Jesus’ mission. Jesus got mad in the temple at some church people and threw a bunch tables; getting mad at church wasn’t the end of Jesus’ mission. Jesus kept an adulteress woman from being stoned by those church people, but that wasn’t the end of Jesus’ mission. Jesus walked on water in the middle of the night and freaked out his disciples, but that wasn’t the end of Jesus’ mission. Jesus did some really good things before he fully accomplished his mission.
I wonder how many good things you and I do and never come close to fully accomplishing our mission. I wonder how many good things you and I do that actually impact our mission. I wonder how many of us know what our mission is.
Jesus knew his mission very clearly. Jesus said in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
All those good things that Jesus did were to assist him in accomplishing the mission. Jesus met this lady at a well during lunchtime so she could be redeemed from her sin and reputation. Jesus met a guy who was paralyzed and told him that his faith had made him well and that his sins were forgiven. Jesus walked on water so Peter would understand the God of the Universe appeared before him in skin. Jesus did so many good things while he walked the earth. None of it was so a person could simply have a meal. None of it was so a person would be physically healed only. All the good that Jesus did was to seek and save those who are lost. That is so different than the reason why we do good, isn’t it?
Let’s talk about this mission…
Let’s talk about what the mission of Jesus looked like. It is important because as followers of Jesus, you and I have the same mission. The mission of Jesus is the mission of Chris Peoples and every person who is in this room, watching the video or listening to a recording. Our mission is clear. 1 John 2:6, “whoever says he abides in him (Jesus) ought to walk in the same way in which he (Jesus) walked.
John 12:44-50 (ESV)
And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”
This morning, I want to highlight three steps to living the mission of Jesus. Remember this mission is our mission.
Verse 44 – Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me.
The word “believe” here describes an “intellectual faith” that points to the Father. Every person who claims to follow Jesus has and should continue to experience “intellectual faith”. The first time that we hear Jesus having a faith conversation is at the age of twelve in the temple. You can read this account in Luke 2:41-52. Luke uses words like understanding to describe how Jesus was actively involved in a conversation with teachers of the law.
The first step to living the mission of Jesus is to have an intellectual faith. An intellectual faith comes by reading your Bible more days than you do not. An intellectual faith comes by being part of a small group Bible Study. An intellectual faith comes by being part of a Sunday school class. An intellectual faith comes by never being satisfied with the how much knowledge you and I currently have. An intellectual faith comes by deciding to learn more about a particular area of our faith. Matthew 5 describes this as “hungering and thirsting for righteousness.” The most important part of an intellectual faith is that we use it to point people to the Father. Jesus’ life was about pointing people to the Father. “Whoever believes in me, believes in him who sent me”. Jesus understood His mission was to direct people to the Father.
You will struggle through this series, if you have never surrendered your life to Jesus Christ.
Verse 45 – Whoever sees me, sees him who sent me.
The second step to living the mission of Jesus is to enjoy the presence of God in our lives. John 12:46 tells us that Jesus came to humanity to be a light for the world. Jesus wanted to shine very brightly so any individual that crossed his path could have an “intellectual faith”. Verse 47 teaches us that “intellectual faith” is not enough. If we hear Jesus’ word and understand, but do not put our “intellectual faith” to work, we fall short of our design. We were never meant to come to church a few times a month, listen to a guy talk to us, go home and continue life as normal. If that is you, there is no way possible for you to enjoy the presence of God in your life. You are not in alignment with Jesus. You are not living in the mission of Jesus. You have more potential that what you’re allowing God to use. There are people in your life that need you to live in the mission because they need Jesus.
Verse 48 has a warning for each of us. The one who rejects my words has a judge. The one who disregards his or her responsibility in the kingdom of God has a judge. The one who chooses not to be ALL IN has a judge. In other words, “just wait until your father gets home!” I know you were probably a better child than I was, but I heard that line maybe a few times. It took me a long time to learn the importance of being ALL IN. When I finally learned when to keep my mouth shut and do what I was supposed to do, I didn’t get in trouble as much. During week 3 of this series, we’re going to look at how Jesus decided to be ALL IN for his mission.
Verse 49 – The Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment – what to say and what to speak.
The third step to living the mission of Jesus is to live in a way that is real, genuine and devoted to God. This may be the hardest part of the mission. Every one of us that claims to follow Jesus has been given a charge to represent God the best we are able. God has given each of us specific things to do and specific conversations to have. When you and I are fully living in the mission, we are not afraid to have those conversations and take on those tasks. For example, to fully live in the mission is to go and tell your friends about Jesus despite the social consequences. To fully live in the mission is to tell your gossiping friend to stop sinning with his/her mouth. To fully live in the mission is to make sure the good things we do point people to the Father.
There are times when living out the mission is difficult. There are times when we need to stop doing good things because those good things have become more about whom we are than about who the Father is.
Chris, I love providing meals for people. That’s wonderful, so did Jesus. Those meals better assist you in living the mission.
Chris, I’ve been part of this ministry for years; it can’t function with me. First, that ministry better assist you in living the mission. Second, I am quite certain that ministry functioned before you and will function after you. It is the reason the church still exists. Second, I am also quite certain that Jesus got mad at church people and threw a bunch tables because they were making it about them. Some times are good efforts are prohibiting us from living in the mission of Jesus. If we cannot give up that certain good thing because we have wrapped our “at church” identity around it, we are not living the mission of Jesus. Our “at church”, “out of church” and every other identity should be in Christ, not in any certain good thing we think we need to keep doing.
I understand it can be difficult to RE:mission your life. RE:mission can be stressful. RE:mission can be painful. RE:mission leaves room for uncertainty and vulnerability. Most importantly, RE:mission leaves us in the place where God can use us best. Jesus experienced all those things as he engaged in his mission. During weeks four, five and six, we are going to look at Jesus living his mission during the stressful moments and the painful moments. During week 7, we’ll see how victory comes when we choose to live in and persevere through the mission.
For today and this week. I wonder how many good things you and I do prohibit us from living in the mission of Jesus. I wonder how many of us are living in our mission.
I invite you to ponder and evaluate how your story is living the mission of Jesus. To help you out with that journey, you will receive a 40-day devotional as you leave. My prayer is you and your family will discover about how Jesus lived his mission.