Jesus’ Style of Mission
David gave this talk at Woodside Church (Bedford) in 2009, at their first meeting of the year. Click here to download it.
We as a church are on a mission – know that because Jesus said to his church at the beginning “As the Father sent me, I am sending you”. How that is worked out in any one year will vary but I want to talk about Jesus style of mission as illustrated in one story from the Bible.
TELL THE STORY
A story had got around and reached the ears of the Pharisees, the religious leaders. John the Baptist, baptising but now this new teacher, Jesus, was baptising more – Jesus not wanting rivalry etc decided to leave Judea and go to Galilee in North of Israel.
He decided to go through Samaria – most Jews wouldn’t do this – “go round” – because Samaritans considered unclean. Explain why. History of retaliation. Greeks used Samaria as base to control Palestine. Jews destroyed Samaritan temple on Gerizim. Samaritans defiled temple area in Jerusalem.
Jesus was thirsty – sat on the/by the well that Jacob had used. Explain well top shaped like a donut – still today 18-20” thick. Small hole for lowering bucket – kept well clean and safe. Tired and thirsty, had no bucket, needy and dependant on whoever came.
A woman came along: Normally there would have been a crowd of women early morning and early evening – it's midday here, which suggests that there's something wrong or despised about this woman.
Jesus asks her for a drink, and she replies, "How can you, a Jew, ask to drink out of the same bucket as a Samaritan?". He moves it on to “living water” – a word used to contrast to still water (pool or well). She makes a political point – "greater than Jacob who gave us the well". A Jew would normally reply that he didn’t give you the well. Jesus totally avoided this – not interested in disputes over historic right to land – but to the more important. Now, not just living water – but something that meets our deepest need for ever. The woman (curious) thinks of her own needs – as many do today at first. What will this do for me? Will it help my depression, will I get wealthier?
Jesus had a “word of knowledge” – Go and call your husband – handled it sensitively, also telling her from the start, this message is not just for your needs, it is so that the water in you will help others. What she says, "I have no husband" is true, but is also a lie. Jesus then shares his “word of knowledge” about her having had five husbands.
She avoided the thrust of this by a theological question – Where should we worship? People do that today – are Catholics or Protestants right? Time for answering one genuine question – Jesus does so but not directly. Jesus shares with this woman a profound truth. He de-zionises worship – not a question of where – not Jerusalem or Gerizim. Very radical. Not Rome or Canterbury. Not Mecca or the Ganges. The Father is looking for worshippers everywhere.
The woman knows that the Messiah is coming – the Samaritans recognised a Messiah (a prophet like Moses) was coming. Jesus declares that is is he, who is speaking to her – he's the “I am”. The Disciples returned – shocked – but daren’t say “what do you want?”. The woman has got the point, beyond the disciples, that this is for everybody and it leads her to share her testimony: Personally, that he told her everything she had done, and about Jesus, the Messiah.
It is another harvest field says Jesus to his disciples, what the prophets talked about.
True mission means becoming vulnerable
- Not only serve (important) but be served – true humility. Jesus needed something from this woman!
- True “incarnational” mission is:
- A baby dependant on everybody (as Jesus came into the world).
- A man needing a drink.
- Become so involved in the world so that our pride is dealt with. It is hard to ask – my own experience in practical things and technology shows me this!
- The Disciples first mission called for them to take no purse – so that they were dependant on those they went to
Use of the supernatural
- Open the doors
- Demonstrates who God is.
- Word of knowledge – prophetic, evangelism.
- Can be healing, prayer for jobs
- Drink out of the same cups.
- Eat the food.
- Don’t think our national/cultural way is superior.
- Don’t give impression of superiority. Not just, I can look after you, I have got my life together or got money – but we can talk as equals.
- Avoid political prejudice – when preaching the gospel.
- Avoid “popular perceptions” of what we believe – such as worship at Jerusalem.
We need to adopt Jesus style of mission this year and every year.