This article was adapted from a presentation that was first given as part of the Unreached Internship Training Programme in September 2022. The Unreached Network Internship is open to those from 16-116 and can be completed part time alongside your normal role. Visit www.unreached.network/internship for details.
The Mission of Jesus: A Journey of Incarceration, Relationships, Inefficiency, Cost, Humility, and Worth
Jesus’ life provides us with a wealth of lessons about the mission that he came to fulfil. In this article, we will explore the key aspects of Jesus’ mission and how they can inform and inspire us as we seek to follow in his footsteps.
One of the most profound truths about Jesus’ mission is that it was incarnate. As John 1:14 says, “The word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Jesus left the majesty of heaven to come to earth and live among us as a human being. He fully embraced our humanity and lived as one of us for thirty years before he began his public ministry. This act of incarnation allowed Jesus to truly understand and empathize with our struggles and temptations.
For those of us who seek to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, this means embracing the call to cross-cultural mission. It means being willing to leave the comfort of our homes and familiar surroundings to go and dwell among those who do not yet know the love of Jesus. In doing so, we can better understand the people we are called to reach and show them the love of God in a tangible way.
Jesus’ mission was also marked by deep and personal relationships. He called his disciples by name and spent time with them in their homes and communities. He shared meals with them, listened to their concerns, and walked alongside them as they grew in their faith.
This relational approach to mission is something that is often lacking in our individualistic cultures. However, it is a key component of the gospel message and something that we are called to embody as followers of Jesus. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 2:8, “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”
It’s Seemingly Inefficient
Jesus spent thirty years in preparation for his three years of public ministry. This may seem like an inefficient use of time, but it was actually a critical part of his mission. During this time, Jesus was able to gain a deep understanding of the people and the culture in which he would minister. He knew their questions and their hearts, which allowed him to speak into their lives in a way that was relevant and transformative.
For us, this may mean taking time to learn about the culture and the people we are called to reach. It may mean investing time in building relationships and gaining a deeper understanding of their needs and struggles. This may seem inefficient, but it is a crucial part of effectively sharing the love of Jesus with those around us.
Jesus’ mission was also marked by a deep sense of humility. Philippians 2:6-8 says, “who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!”
For us, this means laying aside our pride and our preferences and approaching those we are called to reach with a humble heart. It means being willing to ask questions, to learn from others, and to become a servant to those in need.
Jesus’ mission was also incredibly costly. He gave his life as a ransom for many and endured opposition from those who opposed the gospel message. For us, this may mean facing persecution and opposition as we share the love of Jesus
It’s Worth it!
Mission work, just like the life of Jesus, may seem inefficient, humbling, costly, and difficult, but in the end, it is worth it. The author of Hebrews encourages us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who endured opposition from sinners and the shame of the cross for the joy that was set before him. He endured all of this for the sake of spreading the gospel and showing us the way to the Father.
Jesus himself reminds us that those who leave home and loved ones for the sake of the gospel will receive a hundred times as much in this life and in the life to come. The reward of participating in mission work is not only the opportunity to bring others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, but it is also the joy and fulfilment that comes from living a life that is fully devoted to God and his purposes.
In conclusion, we can learn a lot about mission work from the life of Jesus. It is incarnate, relational, seemingly inefficient, humbling, costly, but in the end, so very worth it. Let us be encouraged to follow Jesus’s example and throw off everything that hinders us, running with perseverance the race marked out for us.