The second half of today’s scripture is a fascinating look inside the mind of King Herod, the puppet ruler of the land of Israel, who had more of an allegiance to Rome than to Israel. Herod is a wishy washy ruler that could easily see Jesus if he so desired (“he tried to see him” Luke 9:9), but either out of guilt, or fear of the changes it might mean for his life if he truly examined the teachings of Jesus, Herod is open ended about Jesus. Herod is the King of Israel in name only, in truth he is the King of Wimps! Herod is “perplexed” about Jesus it says in Luke 9:7. If you are perplexed Herod, then get the answer! It’s time to make a decision! But I am convinced the King of Wimps doesn’t want to know truth, he wants to remain confused so he doesn’t have to deal with Jesus in his heart.
Tons of people handle Jesus just like Herod: “Perplexed.” Our journey through chapter 9 of Luke is a challenge for you to not take the wimpy way out, but examine what you believe about Jesus and then shape your life according to your answer. Our world needs committed Christian who will boldly point to Jesus Christ with their life. There are many wimps who choose to remain “perplexed” so they don’t have to make changes and live differently, adopt different priorities.
Jesus sends his disciples on a mission. Faith has hands and feet. Following Jesus is simpler than you imagine. No need to be perplexed. One person called Jesus a Master of simplicity. When I was in school sometimes professors would have a student teacher speak. I usually did not enjoy those lectures because the student teacher would too often try to impress us with big words and lofty thoughts. The best teachers were simple and straightforward. I do my best to be simple. (I know what you’re thinking, I’m a guy so it’s not hard to be simple.) My great desire is not to impress you, but rather to communicate something that makes sense. Or make it easier for you to see something of Christ. Jesus is the Master of simplicity. That’s what we all need!
Jesus sends his disciples out on a mission. In Luke 9:1-6 Jesus gives His disciples simple instructions for ministry. When you embrace Jesus as Lord, the mission he gives you will be more simple than you imagine/doable.
Five ways Jesus says to serve simply as followers of Jesus:
1. A simple authority ~ JESUS CHRIST. READ Luke 9:1a. Jesus sends them with “power and authority.” The person who lives under the authority of Jesus is confident, purposeful, deliberate. Living with Christ as the authority, you will be driven to his Word, you’ll fall on your knees, and you’ll listen for the Spirit. May everyone else be an advisor of faith, the preacher is not your ultimate authority, but anything I say must be weighed against scripture and the Spirit. May your watchword be: I Follow Christ.
2. A simple destination ~ OUT. READ Luke 9:2a “and he sent them out.” I get so bored with myself! I have discovered life is so much more fun if I care about others! I am blessed beyond measure when I get to hear other people’s stories. OUT. Faith has hands and feet. Faith cares about others so much that you go to where they are. Out means not only me as an individual but us as a church body, us as fellow Christians. To go out. That’s the simple life Jesus calls us to: get outside ourselves and be available to others, share with others the story of what Christ is doing in your life!
3. A simple purpose ~ READ Luke 9:1-2. Drive out demons, preach, and heal diseases.
“I can’t do that” you say. Exactly. But Christ can. It’s in the authority of Christ that I do these things, not my strength. Jesus instructs them to do what they had seen Him doing. Jesus sends his followers to help hurting people and to proclaim the good news.
That’s our ministry as well. I am not a miracle worker, but I am a prayer, and when given the opportunity I pray for people and see Jesus change lives. It’s humbling when people say, “you prayed and something happened.”
As a follower of Christ, the purpose is to make a difference to others in the name of Christ ~ testify of Christ, pray for healing, cast out demons. If I go out into Sumas with the idea of convincing more people to become members of this church, my priorities are wrong. That is a secondary thing. I must want what’s best for people, and that is to know the truth, get rid of demons and to be healed. Surely that includes emotional needs, relational needs… and if God uses me to make a difference to others, then that is mission accomplished. Everyday when you get up, pray for the Lord to use you to make a difference to others, to bring the truth of God, to heal of disease and confusion. It’s simple.
4. A Simple attitude towards stuff. This is a lesson in trust. READ Luke 9:3. Great advise from a person who’d been on lots of trips: Pack what you think you’ll need and take half of it out of your suitcase... To go with the authority of Jesus is to believe he will provide! “Pack light” is a good summary of Luke 9:3. I had a friend in high school that wanted to climb Mt. Baker with my father and me ~ a brainiac type person. Rob received the standard instruction in what to take, only taking the essentials. When we stopped at the base camp for the night, Rob proceed to pull out of his back pack three books, a magazine and a radio. Surprise, he did not make it to the top!
Jesus told His disciples to pack light ~ he told them not to pack anything at all! (Later in Luke he sends them out on another assignment with instructions to take some specific items, so clearly in this scripture the larger lesson is what is important and not literally taking nothing when we go out.) This is The FROG lesson: Fully Rely On God. Jesus was training the twelve to trust Him for their daily needs. Jesus was teaching them to trust Him more than their own resources. Since the disciples were told to not take money, they would have to depend on Jesus’ Word that strangers would show hospitality. Since no food, they would must pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Don’t even take a staff ~ trust him for strength. Following Christ is simple: Be a FROG ~ Fully Rely on God.
5. A Simple response when the mission fails: Shake off the dust and move on!
READ Luke 9:4-5. Jesus told the disciples that if they were not accepted to “shake the dust off their garments as a testimony against them.” I don’t believe this is a “curse” or “punishment” directed toward that city. Jesus was teaching a spiritual principle. When you go out in the name of Jesus you face the possibility of rejection. Rather than feeling like a failure, the act of “shaking off the dust” is a symbolic way of saying, “I am going forward and leaving behind that which did not work out. I don’t want bitterness, rejection, to remain part of me.” Rather than feelings of failure or rehashing the past bogging Jesus’ followers down, He tells us to shake it off and move on!
Shaking the dust off applies to more than when we are rejected by the world, but also when we fail or make mistakes. Jesus wants us to focus on what is ahead for us. The next mission. The next leg of our faith journey.
I love the wisdom of evangelist Jay Strack in a book titled Shake off the Dust. Jay was physically and emotionally abused as a child. He got into drugs when he was 13. By the time he was 16, he was selling drugs to pay for his habit. He was arrested ~ a teenage addict and criminal. He met Jesus, but it took him a long time to shake off the dirt and dust of his troubled past. In his book, he writes, “As long as you remain a prisoner to your past, you will never know the freedom of the future. You can’t spend the rest of your life sitting in the ashes of devastation, crying over what went wrong. You don’t have to carry around the dirt of your past mistakes. Get up, shake off the dust, and go on.”
Some of you are carrying around a load of dust and dirt from your past. You have failed, and been hurt. There is a voice in your head that keeps telling you that you are a failure and you’ll never amount to anything else. Satan loves to whisper, “You’re no good, you’re a failure, you’re not worth it.”
To shake off the dust is more about the follower of Jesus than it is the village. To shake off means to not take the emotional baggage, the wishful thinking, the “if only’s” from the village that rejected you to the next. Like the person who has been divorced and is considering another marriage, how do you know when you are ready? When you can shake off the dust of the past, the scars, the wounds of yesterday, in order to fully give yourself to your new husband or wife.
From time to time on Facebook somebody will cancel one account and start over. I’ve often read that they wanted a fresh start to let go of the drama with many on their list, and start again with select old friend and new friends. That’s a form of shaking off the dust.
Prov. 24:16 says, “Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again...” You can’t do anything about the past mistakes but learn from them. Once you recognize something has gone wrong, Rise Again. I love the words of Paul in Phil. 3:13-14, “This one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal.” These are other ways of saying, Shake the dust off your feet and go on…
Who do you say Jesus is? Jesus wants heartfelt followers, not “perplexed” people like Herod, King of the wimps. To believe in Jesus is to put hands and feet on your faith. The first lesson from Luke 9 is that ministry for Jesus is simple:
- A simple authority: Jesus Christ.
- A simple destination: Out.
- A simple purpose: be available for God to use you in ways that will change lives
- A simple attitude: FROG ~ Fully Rely on God, not stuff.
- A simple response when the mission fails: shake the dust off your feet and go on.