A Life of Discipleship
In this passage, we discover that Jesus’ disciples were not just twelve disciples. We are familiar with twelve disciples, but actually, in Jesus’ time, there were many people who followed Jesus and wanted to be the disciples of Jesus. And Jesus sent 70 people among them to experience what it is to minister to people. And they were also disciples of Jesus Christ.
There was no Christian. Only disciples. Even now, there is no Christian. Only disciples. There is no such thing as “I’m a Christian, but I’m not a disciple.” That doesn’t work. If you’re a Christian, you’re a disciple. That’s what being a Christian is all about. So those 70 people who are sent by Jesus Christ, like them we are also called by God and sent for a specific purpose. So our life is not just life to enjoy. You’ve got to enjoy your life, but your life is not all about enjoying life, but your life is about being called and being sent for a specific purpose as a human being. You’re called as special people of God and God equipped you. And God is sending you back to the world so that you can become disciples of Jesus Christ. That’s what being a Christian is all about.
The Meaning Behind Our Lives
Is there a difference between just living and then living as a disciple? I think there’s a radical difference between just living and living as a disciple. In modern days, Christianity has become so watered down. We’re not quite sure what the difference is between me and those who are not Christians. Okay, I’m going to church. I go to church not every Sunday, but once in a while. But they don’t go to church. Is there any difference? Are we morally any superior to them? Are we any better people than them? It has been watered down so much, there’s not even a distinction between Christian and non-Christians – only just in concept. Intellectually, you ascend to the resurrection of Jesus Christ – is that what makes you Christian? Is it just intellectual belief? It is a belief system that is different? I think there’s a radical difference between living just as a human being and living as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Through today’s scripture passage I would like to reflect with you what it means to live as a disciple. Of course, we cannot just follow the living condition of the people 2000 years ago. That doesn’t make sense. Doing that doesn’t do any good anyway. They didn’t have iPhones, they didn’t have Samsung Galaxy. It is not desirable to just imitate their condition. That is not the purpose. Jesus told these 70 people, “Do not carry your purse. Do not carry your bag. Don’t even greet people when you see them on the street.” Do not even greet them, just keep following them? For what purpose? In this specific context, Jesus gave this instruction for these people. These are not the general rules for disciples to apply at any time, that was specifically given to them at that time, 2000 years ago.
When I went to Kazakhstan, I didn’t take any purse. I didn’t take any bag. I didn’t take any sandals. I just went out and preached the gospel. And then I met people. But that’s Kazakhstan, that’s a very specific context. But here in this world, in Canada, Toronto, what does it mean to live as a disciple? I think behind this story there is a spiritual principle. We need to find a spiritual principle and that spiritual principle is very important in living as a disciple. There are many spiritual disciplines, spiritual principles hidden behind this story, but I would like to just say one thing today. That is, they totally depended on God. Nothing else. When the disciples are one or when 70 people were sent, they had to totally depend on God.
Our Dependence On God
The reason Jesus told them not to carry purses and bags was to give them training to totally depend on God. I think that is a very important lesson for us to learn. Many times, we don’t totally depend on God. We try to handle our problems with our own hands. They had to trust the God who provided them. Even with food. They had to trust that God would give them the power to be able to heal. How can you heal somebody? When they laid their hands on the sick, how can they heal them without the power of God? So they had to depend on the power of God. When they proclaim the Kingdom of God, how can they expect that the Kingdom of God will be established right there? Because only God can do it. So all the things that they had to do, they had to completely depend on God. When you completely depend on God, there’s one experience that you get. Do you know what that is? When you completely depend on God, there’s one experience that you get. That experience is you experiencing the power of God. When you completely depend on God, what you experience is the power of God.
We didn’t read it today, but in verse 17 and 18 the disciples came back and then they share their experience. This is what they said, “The 70 returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!’ He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning.'” They experienced the power of God. When they did the ministry, the evil power submitted to them. They experienced it. When they totally depended on God, they experienced the power of God. In life, experiencing the power of God is very, very important. That experience is possible only when you totally depend on God.
It is different from other kinds of power that you have like the power of position, power of status, power of your wealth, power of your talents and gifts and knowledge, all that. It’s very different. Experiencing the power of God is very unique and that experience gives us tremendous enrichment in our lives. When you experience the power of God, two things become formed within us. As you experience the power of God, these two things form in you. One is joy and the other is confidence. Joy and confidence, or you can say courage. Joy and confidence become characteristics of your life when you experience the power of God.
With Joy And Confidence
Joy. That’s a wonderful thing. Joy brings brightness to your life. When joy becomes a characteristic of your life, somehow your life opens up. Things turn out alright. Your life has to open up, not close in. And joy opens up your life; your life gets brightened up. Joy is the power of life. Joy gives vitality to your life. Through joy, even darkness is driven away. Jesus saw that Satan fell from the sky. The evil force in the darkness will be driven away when you have joy within you. It is life-giving energy. That joy is possible only when you totally depend on God and as a result when you experience the power of God. Another thing that comes to you is confidence; courage. That gives us the authority of life. Authority is not given to you because of your position. Authority is given to you because you have confidence and courage in life.
That is what authority is. We can live our lives with authority. You don’t get easily intimidated or let down. As we experience the power of God, we get confidence and that confidence gives us the authority of life. And we need that authority in life that comes from confidence and courage because a life of being sent is not necessarily easy. People may not accept you. Jesus said, “I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.” You are sent in the midst of wolves. Don’t be like wolves. You are lambs. Be confident as lambs. In the world of wolves, you don’t have to act like them. You don’t need to be accepted by them. You don’t need to be loved by them. You are lambs. You are passing out the peace. You are not fighting against them like wolves. When you are confident, you can be who you are. In the world of wolves, we may face danger, difficulties in life and sufferings and hardships. The road we take is a narrow road. It is a way of the cross. All the disciples, 12 disciples and Saint Paul, they experienced tremendous hardships and persecution, but they stood tall. They were confident. They just spoke the message boldly whether they were accepted or not.
Let Us Be Confident Disciples
Today’s scripture says, “If they don’t accept your peace, then that peace will return to you.” It’s their problem, not your problem. It’s not the problem of the person who sends, speaks the message of hope. Jesus even said that when you go to the town and if they don’t accept you, shake off your dust. You don’t need to beg them, “Please accept my message.” Don’t do that, shake off your dust and leave. This is what he said, “But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the Kingdom of God has come near.” People may not accept you, but our goal is not to be accepted. It’s not to be popular. It’s not to be well-liked and loved.
Our job is to send peace. Our job is to accept them. Our job is to forgive them. Our job is to tell them the truth. Today we have a congregation meeting for Simon Park. After many years of consideration, he has received this call to go into ministry. He gave up his lucre job as a lawyer and he came into ministry not because it pays him better. You will see that. Or his work will be easier; he has to live and work with a kid right now and he has to run around, he has to do the hamburgers and the guy will come in, play piano and there are all kinds of stuff he has to do. He responded to this life calling because there was a burning desire within him. He had no choice but to say yes. That’s a calling. All of you are the same whether you come into ministry or not. That burning desire within you, that is a call.
Simon, you will experience the power of God and you’ll be filled with joy. But you are a servant. You’re not a slave to meet people’s wants. You are a servant who proclaims the truth. Stand tall, be confident, courageous. You don’t beg for love. You don’t beg for attention. You do your thing. We do our own things. That’s what you are called to do.
My friends go out to the world, be the light. You are the disciples of Jesus Christ. Whether at work, at school or wherever you may be, be confident. You are called by God and you are sent there to be the light of the world.