Jesus calls us to sense the urgency of His mission for our time!
Everything in this passage points to an urgency in Jesus' mission of rescuing humanity from sin and death. The passage begins with a turning point in the Gospel of Luke as a whole. In verse 51, Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem. Confronting the self-absorbed leadership of His day, offering the ultimate sacrifice that would once and for all remove the barrier between God and humanity, and ushering in the Kingdom of God was Jesus' aim and nothing would keep Him from fulfilling His mission.
Jesus sent messengers ahead of Him to proclaim His approach to the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. We are to hear in verse 52 an echo of the Prophet Malachi's words: See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight - indeed, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 3:1 - NRSV)
Along the way, Jesus and His disciples are met with rejection (a foreshadowing of what will occur in Jerusalem) as well as people who are interested in becoming His followers. Jesus' response to both indicate the urgency of His mission. He tells His disciples that if they are not accepted to shake the dust off their feet and go on their way. He tells potential followers that nothing is more important than joining Him in His mission - not even burying the dead. Jesus also instructed His disciples to pray that the Lord of the harvest would send out laborers into his harvest (Luke 10:2). His mission was too great, too big, and too important to keep it among a few. He also instructed them to travel light and to ignore those along the way who would be an impediment to fulfilling His mission (Luke 10:4).
The Church today needs a renewed sense of the urgency of Jesus' mission. Jesus has not called us to a static, status-quo membership in an institutional church. Jesus has called us to a movement of the Kingdom of God. Time is limited. Opportunities won't be in front of us forever. The Kingdom of God has come near. Peter indicated in his sermon on Pentecost that the coming of the Holy Spirit was a signal to the Church that we are living in the last days (Acts 2:17). Reading 2 Timothy 3:1-5 concerning the last days would also convince us that our time for sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ is now!
Our issue in the Church today is that we are prone to compartmentalize our faith. We have a home-life, a work-life, and a church-life. We tend to focus on one to the detriment of the other. Jesus has called us to exercise a faith that is part of every aspect of our lives. Our love for Jesus Christ is to permeate our home-life, our work-life, and our church-life.
Join me this week in praying that the Church would have an awakening to the #UrgentMission of Jesus. God has called us for such a time as this!
Also, don't miss these links in this week's passage. The story of Jesus and the Prophet Elijah coincide throughout this passage. In Luke 9:31 (the transfiguration story), Moses and Elijah appear to talk to Jesus about His "departure." As we pick up this week in Luke 9:51, Jesus is now making His way to Jerusalem for His "departure. Luke 24:51 and Acts 1:9 give us the accounts of Jesus being "lifted up" into heaven. Elijah was also lifted up to heaven in a "chariot of fire" in 2 Kings 2:11.
In the story of Jesus' rejection in a Samaritan village (Luke 9:52-56), the disciples ask if Jesus wants them to call down fire from heaven on those who have rejected Jesus as Lord. In 2 Kings 1:10-12, the Prophet Elijah calls down fire on representatives of King Ahaziah of Samaria when he rejects the God of Israel in preference for Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron. The disciples of Jesus are simply wondering if they were to do the same as Elijah. By the way, some scholars believe that James and John are named "Sons of Thunder" in the Gospel of Mark 3:17 because they ask Jesus this question.
In the story of the three would-be disciples (Luke 9:57-62), the last person Jesus speaks with is told that no one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:62) Jesus is referencing Elijah's calling of Elisha in 1 Kings 19:19-21. In the Elijah/Elisha story, Elisha tells Elijah that he wants to go and kiss his father and mother before he follows Elijah. Elisha is plowing with twelve yoke of oxen at the time Elijah calls him - which is Jesus' point of reference in Luke 9:62.
The Old Testament and the New Testament are remarkable in their precision of speaking the truth of God in ways that completely complement one another. We should not be surprised by this because the Word of God is a supernatural, living, breathing Word given to humanity as a gift which enables us to have relationship with God and to know God's ways. Let us sense the urgency of sharing the Good News with others so that they don't miss out on a life-changing relationship with God. #UrgentMission