Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Journey, part 11: Departing

Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. (Luke 9:6 NASB)

"Departing, they began going." It's an odd turn of phrase but it has an important truth hidden in those four words. Leaving Jesus, they immediately started on the journey. They weren't to take anything with them, and they likely had nothing with them for a journey anyway, so they just headed out in obedience. They didn't run by home first, make an announcement about their assignment, or try to fine-tune the plans. Jesus said to go, and they went. It was as simple as that. 

When you look at the entire sentence, it's really remarkable. Jesus had told them that He was sending them out to "proclaim the kingdom of God and perform healing".  The only things they were to carry were the power and authority He had given. When the twelve disciples left Jesus that day, they did exactly what He said in exactly the way He said it. They proclaimed the kingdom of God and they performed healing.  There is no indication in Luke that they had done either of these things independently before, but they did not hesitate. They gave it their best effort and did what Jesus had instructed them to do. 

It's amazing, this total and unwavering obedience that put them on the road doing the most unexpected things. When  Simon Peter was working all night for a big catch of fish, he likely never expected to be leading an evangelistic/healing crusade throughout the country. Those who knew him from his old life must have found it very surprising. 

What Peter had no way of knowing was that this little preaching trip was nothing in comparison to what Jesus had planned for later. On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up in front of everyone and preached with such power and conviction that three thousand people were moved by the Spirit to accept Christ on the spot. This powerful preaching is surprising until we remember that Peter had been in training for months. The journey on which the twelve departed was the "internship" that prepared them for the ministry they would have after Jesus returned to heaven. 

It is easy to look at the events in Acts 2 and understand the wisdom of the journey in Luke 9. From the perspective of the disciples starting out on their trip, none of the events in Acts were even possible. They were expecting an earthly kingdom and for Jesus to live for years. They had no idea of that for which He was preparing them, and yet, they went. 

What we need to understand is that Acts 2 and the incredible day of Pentecost would not have been possible without the simple obedience in the unlikely journey of Luke 9. The twelve did not see the big picture, but they went anyway. In that same way, we may be called to a walk of obedience that makes no sense to us at the time. We need to obey anyway. Somewhere down the road, the obedience of today will make a difference. What a shame it would be to miss the greater thing God had planned because we failed to obey in the lesser. 

Are you called by God to a journey that makes no sense to you? Go anyway. Is the task God has given you unlikely and one for which you feel unprepared? Try anyway. You never know what God will do tomorrow with the obedience of today. There may be a day of Pentecost awaiting the fruits of obedience, so obey. Don't fail to obey.