Updated: Aug 12, 2018
Jesus’ invites his closest friends into the most revelatory and important moments of his life. From the transfiguration (Matthew 17vv1-8) to Jesus’ private prayer life (Luke 11), Jesus consistently welcomes people to view his life up close. Most powerfully, Jesus invites his disciples to stand with him and pray as he approaches his darkest hour, praying in the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-46). In welcoming the disciples into his communion with the father, Jesus then directs the life of that fellowship outward to the world. In Luke 9, Jesus sends out disciples in pairs to partner with him in the work of bringing the kingdom. Jesus’ life displays the power of communion with God and communion with others to live out the mission of God.
In Matthew 8, a leper comes before Jesus with profound faith. He says to Jesus, “Lord, if you are willing you can make me clean.” Jesus responds to him, “I am willing.” Throughout his ministry, we see Jesus giving his life in abundance. In John 6, when the crowds have amassed in the wilderness with nothing to eat, Jesus does not just provide for them blessing some loaves of bread and fish, he provides for them so extravagantly that there is food to spare. Jesus’ life is a life of emptying, outpouring (Phil 2.6-11), trusting that though he spends everything he has on behalf of the world, that God is always able to return even more to him.
Perhaps the most “missional” statement in the scriptures is found in Jesus’ agonizing in Gethsemane. Jesus is staring down the specter of bearing the weight of the world’s sin, the physical and spiritual agony that will be at Golgotha. As he deals with the gravity of his own fear, he prays to the Father, displaying his anxiety about what is to come and yet resolving, “Not my will, but your will be done” (Matt. 26v39). Throughout Christ’s earthly life, we see that Jesus is God on the move, moving to the margins (John 1v46), seeking that which is lost (Luke 19v10), bringing full, holistic life to those in bondage emotionally, spiritually, and physically. In Acts 1, as Jesus commissions his disciples to engage the mission of the Kingdom, he gives them a promise: I will be with you always, even to the end of the age. To be on mission is ultimately not simply to do for God but to be with God.
Lesslie Newbigin writes: When Jesus sent out his disciples on his mission, he showed them his hands and his side. They will share in his mission as they share in his passion, as they follow him in challenging and unmasking the powers of evil. There is no other way to be with him. At the heart of mission is simply the desire to be with him and to give him the service of our lives. At the heart of mission is thanksgiving and praise.