One of the common misconceptions around discipleship is that ‘maturity’ comes first and only then comes the opportunity for ministry. This is not the pattern that we see with Jesus and the disciples. Instead, the two things happen side by side. As well as receiving teaching from Jesus and enjoying the fellowship of his presence, the disciples were given opportunities to step out at an early stage. They were called to go and do the things that Jesus himself was doing: preaching the gospel and healing the sick.
Bible Text: Luke 10:1-11
In this passage, we see Jesus commissioning 72 others into the same ministry that he himself had been doing. This follows on from the sending out of the 12 in the previous chapter, and both prefigure his post-resurrection commission to go into all the world. The idea is that being a disciple of Jesus involves doing the same things that Jesus did.
The Need Is Great: There is always a need for more workers, as there are so many places that need to be reached with the gospel. Jesus recognised this need in sending the 72 out, and also in telling them to pray for more labourers. Part of the reason why Jesus raises up disciples after him is to share with him in the vital mission of reaching the world with the gospel.
Don’t Expect It to Be Easy: Jesus anticipates that the disciples will face opposition as they step out. Some of the time this might come in the form of ‘wolves’. At other times it may simply be rejection and finding nobody who will receive you. Where there is a welcome, this should be received, but if not then move on and try again somewhere else. Success and ease were never promised.
Bring the Kingdom: At the heart of what the disciples of Jesus are called to do is bringing the Kingdom of God where they go. They do this through their words (‘The Kingdom of God has come near to you’) and also through their actions (‘heal the sick’). Being a disciple means getting involved in the mission of God and using the gifts he has given you to bring the Kingdom of God wherever you are.