Last Sunday we I began our new series “On Fire” and in the first message I started with and will continue talking about what the Spirit-filled or the “on fire” Christian life looks like. I mentioned that we have hope in Jesus Christ because of His life, death, and resurrection. This hope is what gets us through life. But this hope does not entail an easy life, nor does it mean that there is no work for us to do here on earth. The fact remains, Jesus’ work is both finished and unfinished. It is finished because of sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary, his resurrection, and ascension. It remains unfinished because there are still people who need to hear the Gospel and be saved and this is what we are commissioned to do.
The Spirit-filled life and the Spirit-filled Church is what we are called to be. There is excitement in knowing that Spirit empowered Christians, and churches can do powerful things for the Kingdom of God. One of the most beautiful things about empowered believers is that we are only so because of God’s grace. His Spirit is a gift, and undeserved at that. Why? Because you and I have done nothing to receive it, and we do not need to possess specific qualities or characteristics for God to fill us with His Spirit and use us for the ministry of His kingdom. God uses average and ordinary people like us all the time. We see this in Jesus’ calling of His disciples. These twelve men known as disciples (followers of Jesus) would later become known as the Apostles (sent ones), were a rag tag group of individuals who had little to nothing in common AND uninfluential or noteworthy in any way in society at the time, yet God used them to change the world.
The word Apostle in Greek is Apóstolos which means “one who is sent off”. In today’s text, Luke 9:1 – 6 we are going to look at who a few of the Apostles (sent ones) were and how God used them for the ministry of the Kingdom of God. We will see how God does choose the ordinary to accomplish the extraordinary.
Luke 9:1 - 6
Vs 1 - 2: Jesus calls his disciples together for a purpose, He gives them power AND authority over all demons and the ability to cure diseases. He sends them out (in this power and authority) to preach the Gospel and to heal sickness. Let’s pause for a moment and look at a few of these sent ones and who they were before they encountered Jesus Christ.
These men were chosen individuals who walked with Jesus for three years. They experienced and witnessed things that forever changed who they were. Each disciple had an encounter with Jesus (whether He was calling them to ministry immediately or sometime later in life) and all were deeply impacted. I realize I could do a whole series just on the twelve disciples, but I just want to point out some ways that some of the disciples were impacted and what this can mean for us.
Matthew – The Tax Collector (Matthew 9:9). Tax collectors were not well-liked individuals. They were despised by the Jewish society. They were essentially looked at as scum of the earth. They extorted money for personal gain AND they worked for the Roman government. This was a double whammy. They used bullying tactics to collect money and were thuggish tactics to get their money. One day Jesus passes Matthew and calls him to follow him. Jesus was criticized for this because he associated with tax collectors and sinners. Not only did Jesus associate with Matthew but he called him to be a disciple (follower/learner) and eventually sent him out to be an Apostle. Matthew’s life was never the same from this day forward. We read that Matthew rose and followed him leaving his life behind to follow the savior. Matthew went on to make an impact on the world as a believer and the author the Gospel of Matthew.
James & John – (Matthew 4:21 – 22) These two were brothers and they were called the Sons of Thunder. They were fishermen by trade. Jesus calls them to ministry they and immediately they leave their father in the boat to follow him. This was a bold move. These brothers left their father and their livelihood to follow Jesus. Some would call this reckless abandonment, but we know it as faith. John would eventually author the Gospel of John, 1, 2, 3, John and Revelation.
Peter & Andrew – (John 1:35 - 42) These brothers were also fishermen who left everything to follow Jesus. We know Peter as being the overzealous follower of Jesus. Little is known about his brother Andrew. The one thing we do know is that when he meets Jesus, he goes and finds his brother Simon A.K.A. Peter and tells him that he has found the Messiah. We see, immediately, Andrew gives us an example of true Christian expansion… Notice Andrew doesn’t say, “Jesus, will you come with me and talk to my brother about maybe becoming your disciple?” No, the very first act he does is share his encounter with his brother. Andrew brings Peter to Jesus and introduces him to the Lamb of God.
When Peter is brought to Jesus, He looks at him and says, “You will no longer be called Simon, you are now Cephas (Peter – Rock). This is significant because from the moment Jesus meets Peter, he has a plan for this man’s life. We know later down the road before Jesus is crucified, he tells Peter that he will become the foundation (The Church) that Jesus will establish through him and the gates of hell cannot and will not prevail against this foundation (Matthew 16:18).
Philip – (John 1:43 – 45) He was a disciple of John the Baptist and John instructed him to go and find Jesus and inquire about him. When Jesus finds him, He tells him to follow him. Philip then goes and introduces Nathanael to Jesus (continuing the principle of Christian expansion – introducing others to Jesus).
Nathanael (Bartholomew) – (John 1:46 – 51) He was the skeptic who couldn’t believe the Savior of the universe would come from Nazareth of all places. He says, “Can anything good come from Nazareth; let alone the savior of the universe?” What kind of comeback can you offer to Nathanael’s remarks other than what Philip says, “Come and see for yourself”? Philip didn’t spend time trying to talk Jesus up or prove that he was right; his response is exactly the same as ours should be when someone responds to Jesus in a negative way… Come and see for yourself. This is not only an invitation to meet Jesus but a challenge to put aside his prejudices and look beyond his origin of birth and grasp God’s bigger plan.
What is fascinating about the disciples is how Jesus called these ordinary and sinful men for his master plan of ushering in the Kingdom of God. I am encouraged as I see how these ordinary lives were forever impacted and changed so God could use them for his Kingdom and for his glory. Their lives are truly evidenced in the truth that when Jesus becomes the Lord and Savior of your life things will never ever be the same again. John MacArthur writes in his book, Twelve Ordinary Men: How the Master Shaped His Disciples for Greatness and What He Wants to Do with You, “The twelve were personally selected and called by Christ… He knew all their faults long before he chose them.”
In reading these accounts of each of the disciples mentioned you will see one common denominator… Jesus calls them to follow, and they drop everything and follow him. The tax collector gives up his life of luxury and leaves his career behind to follow the savior. The blue-collar fishermen drop everything (this would have been their livelihood) to walk with the savior to see his grand scheme to save the world. The skeptic encounters Jesus and is challenged to “come and see for himself” this savior who does not fit the conventional description of what everyone thought the Messiah should look like. We see Philip and Andrew who are so struck with the Savior they have to go out and introduce their friends to the Lamb of God who is going to take away the sins of the world.
Vs 3: Once again these men are sent out in the power and authority of Jesus and he instructs them to take nothing with them, no money, no food, no staff, or no extra clothes. Jesus calls them to go with nothing except his power and authority. This shows that Jesus is calling them to trust Him exclusively. They are to abandon their trust in in the material world and put complete faith in Him.
Vs 5: This is the important aspect of being sent. Jesus tells them that wherever they go they are to go in His name and authority. If people reject them, which they will, then shake the dust off your feet and move on. This is powerful because it shows that the reaction of the people they speak with and their response to the Gospel is not up to them, it is up to the Holy Spirit. When the disciples/Apostles are sent out they are to be obedient only to the command of “go in faith”. If/when the people respond negatively to you, then shake the dust off your feet and move to the next place.
As sent individuals we also have one command and that is “go to the world in faith”. It is not up to us to determine how people act, respond, or react to the message we proclaim. We are to shake the dust off of our feet because the symbolism in this statement is the truth that you have done all that can be done in a situation and no you no longer carry the responsibility for the actions of the individuals. It is in many ways telling us not to take it personally. We are responsible for our part and those who reject or react negatively are responsible for theirs.
Vs 6: The disciples obeyed and went out and did what they were commanded to do.
In this short account we have seen how the lives of these men were deeply impacted when they encountered with Jesus and obeyed his commands to go. So, what does this mean for us today? What can we learn and what can we take home with us? What does being sent out by God look like for us today?
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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