Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Journey, part 1: obedience

And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing. And He said to them, "Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that city. And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them." Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. (Luke 9:1-6 NASB)

The twelve apostles had been with Jesus for months. They had listened to Him preach, heard Him teach the crowds with simple explanations they could understand, seen Him heal the sick and raise the dead. They had watched Him do what no one else could do, and in their watching, they had begun to believe that this Son of Man was also the Son of God, and that He could do anything. 

They had responded to His simple command, "Follow Me," and all they really expected was to be following. Suddenly, He was changing everything. They were not going to be following. They were going to be leading. Even more unbelievable, they were going to be "proclaiming the kingdom of God", which sounded a lot like preaching, and "performing healing", which sounded insane. It was one thing for Jesus to be healing people. It was another thing entirely for this group of fishermen, tax collectors, and zealots to be healing the sick. They could not envision themselves doing what Jesus said. They could not envision it at all. 

What is truly amazing is that they went. Scripture tells us that "departing, they began going". There is nothing in these verses about their fears or their excuses. There is no whining or complaining. All we see is simple obedience. Jesus said go, and so they went.

How could they do this? The answer is simple. They obeyed Him because they were accustomed to obeying Him. These young men had left everything to follow Him, and that is exactly what they had done. They had walked with Him, talked with Him, eaten with Him, traveled with Him, ministered with Him. Every waking moment had been spent with Him. When He said to do something, they did it. Because they were accustomed to obedience, when Jesus said to make this new journey, they obeyed. Just like they always did. 

Obedience in big things does not come suddenly. It is the result of a series of obedience in smaller things, in simple commands. Could Peter have stepped off his fishing boat to go on an evangelistic, healing journey that first day of discipleship? Of course not. That kind of obedience came as a result of a process of maturity. It took time. 

There is much to learn from this passage, but the first thing to learn is that which the disciples learned. Obedience in the little things precedes obedience in big things. Luke recorded Jesus' words on this subject. 

"He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much... (Luke 16:10 NASB)

How faithful are we in those "little things"? Do we try to obey all of the commands of Jesus, or pick and choose those which we prefer?  It is in a lifestyle of complete obedience in little things that God prepares us for an opportunity to be faithful in big things. Pray today that we, and our loved ones, would be faithful in all things, both great and small. 
Link to last night's post: