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handshake October 12 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: John 5:16-47; Mark 6:6b-11; Matthew 9:35-10:42; Luke 9:1-5

Expanding our Influence

Do we want to expand our influence to the next generation? If we do, then we will quickly realize that we can't (and shouldn't try) to do it all on our own. We can only expand our influence through other people. This is true in families, churches, business, and other organizations. Let's look how Jesus began to pass the torch so that his influence might grow and expand.

What caused the need for expansion in Jesus' ministry? First, Jesus was limited in his influence, humanly speaking (he only showed his glorious power when God, his Father, wanted him to). Jesus healed many, many people and would go on doing so, but there were many remaining to be reached. Second, Jesus was being stymied in his influence. The religious leaders constantly criticized his efforts and sometimes forced him to take his message elsewhere. In truth, they were jealous of him. Third, Jesus wanted his Father's work to continue. Jesus would be leaving soon. He needed to pass on the torch so that the message of eternal life and his teachings would continue.

How did Jesus pass the torch? Jesus had many followers and disciples, but he chose certain disciples, called Apostles, to be with him. For at least a full year before they were sent out, they were beside him every day watching what he did, hearing his teaching, seeing his passion, and finally participating in the ministry with him. One of the twelve, Judas Iscariot, was unfortunately, a traitor. From the twelve Jesus chose three, Simon Peter, James, and John to be his closest friends. Simon was given the name Peter, which meant a stone or chip off of a much larger rock. James and John, nicknamed Sons of Thunder, were brothers. These three were passionate men to whom Jesus entrusted with the early leadership of the group and the church, which came later. Jesus spent particular time with these three. Here is a lesson for leaders of organizations: we must choose new leadership carefully and develop them before entrusting them with great responsibilities. Furthermore, if they will step into prominent positions within the organization, we should choose leaders who will seek to fulfill our mission and who share our passion.

Before delegating responsibilities, Jesus gave the apostles authority and power to do the job for which he was committing to them. Do we do this in our families and organizations, or do we just give authority and power in name only? We should give authority to our chosen leaders, and we should assign responsibilities and trust our leaders to complete them. They may not do everything exactly as we want them to do (we should allow for personal personalities and methods), but if we have spent significant time with them sharing with them our vision and our passion and how to do the work, we can expect their leadership to follow in the same direction. Luke 6:40 says, A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher, (NIV).

After giving authority and power (including healing power) to the twelve apostles, Jesus gave them detailed instructions as to whom they were to minister to, what they were to do, where they were to go, how they were to act when opposition came, what to expect, and how to measure success. Today's leaders would do well to follow his example.

What were the instructions given to the apostles? First, at this time they were to minister to only the lost sheep of Israel (unbelieving Israelites; see Matthew 10:6 and Isaiah 53:6). Their ministry was targeted to a certain people because the promises of salvation were promised to God's covenanted people, the Jews. Upon the Jews rejection of Jesus' salvation, God would later graciously extend his invitation of salvation to all non-Jews (Isaiah 49:5-6 ; Luke 2:30-32 ; John 1:9-12 ; Acts 13:46-47 ; Romans 9 ). Praise the LORD! Have you been saved? Jesus offers forgiveness, peace and spiritual life (more...)

Here is what the apostles were to do: “As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, and cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give,” (Matthew 10:7-8, NIV)

Where they were to go: Towns and villages in Israel, but not in Samaria (Matthew 10:5-6). They were to find some hospitable Israelites and stay with them while ministering to people (verse 11).

What to expect and how to act: They were to expect opposition and persecution like their Lord Jesus had experienced. When they faced opposition they were to trust God that his Spirit would help them during the days and hours of persecution. The Spirit would also help them know how to answer their opposition. If stymied in one area they were to go to another. They were to keep on ministering to people. They were not to be afraid. (Matthew 10:17-36).

How the apostles were to measure success: They were to measure success, not by numbers but by quality. The questions they would need to answer were: Did they become fully committed disciples, like the apostles, and did they receive the apostles as they would Jesus? Spiritual leaders need to produce quality disciples. Are the individuals that you disciple following Jesus? Are they fully committed to him? Are they reproducing?

The apostles who were sent out were held accountable. Jesus' twelve disciples reported back to him all that they had done and taught (Mark 6:30). We, as his present day disciples, have also been given responsibilities. We have been given a great commission to reach our neighbors and our world with the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20) and to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). As disciples of Christ we will also give an account of what we do and say (Hebrews 4:13). What will be our report?

The early results of the twelve disciples were great; the gospel was being preached, people were being healed, and demons were being cast out. We have no current day apostles, but the message still goes forth from Christians. Some faithful Christians, concerned about our souls, came and shared the gospel with us. Now, if we are genuine believers, we are disciples of Christ. We must learn of his teachings and his passion and share the glorious life saving message of the gospel. That is how we pass the torch and expand Christ's influence to the next generations.

Lessons to live by:

  • The growth and expansion of any organization cannot be done alone. We need to train responsible leaders, giving them all the help they need to become effective and competent and to fulfill the mission of the organization.
  • If we want growth and expansion of the gospel, we must be ministers of the gospel and train others to be ministers as well.
  • Who are we disciplining? To whom will we pass the torch?

Today's Bible Memory Verse: Luke 6:40 A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. (NIV)

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