Dig deeper into the message during the sermon, in your personal Bible study, or with your family or Community Group in application-driven discussion.
In Luke’s gospel we’re looking at the resources Christianity gives us to live in a very hard-to-live-in world. They’re often called “means of grace” because God typically works through various means in order to bring his life-changing grace to our lives. Today we’ll consider how living out our God-given mission grows us into his image.
1. Jesus calls us to apply our faith to our work (v. 4-11). Peter, a professional fisherman, was very skeptical when Jesus advised him on how to fish. But he complied—and pulled in a miraculous catch! When Peter realized what Jesus had done, he fell down and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Jesus responded: “Don’t be afraid; from now on, you’ll be fishing for people!” Jesus called these fishermen to follow him in discipleship, and astonishingly, “They left everything and followed him.” When a person really encounters Jesus they experience a disorienting identity crisis (Isaiah 6:5; Job 42:5–6). Why? Because no matter how good you are at something, when you encounter God—who’s obviously a lot better than you—it’s disorienting. But in response to Peter’s acknowledgment of this sin, Jesus graciously invited Peter to be his fishing partner! Note that Jesus doesn’t wall-off our faith from our vocational lives. Jesus brings the spiritual dimension to our work, and as a result, gives us a radical new identity that changes our attitudes on everything. Unlike Peter, Jesus doesn’t call most people to leave their occupations, but he always becomes our ultimate employer. Every aspect of your attitude toward your job changes: you become more ethical, profit and success aren’t nearly as crucial as they once were, you become a better employee. Now your goal is to please God in all that you do.
2. Jesus calls us to reach out to the marginalized of society (v. 12-15). In those days, when someone was stricken with leprosy there was a great deal of social stigma and isolation that went along with their disease. Lepers were sent away from society. On top of everything else, they felt spiritually cursed, cut off from God! The leper Jesus encountered didn’t demand to be healed; rather he said: “If you are willing …” In his request there is hope, humility, trust and respect. And notice what Jesus does: he doesn’t just heal him from a distance, he touched him. It’s quite probable that this man hasn’t been touched by another human for a long, long time. He was healed physically and emotionally, and brought back into community. Luke is constantly recording Jesus’ dealings with “social outcasts”—with lepers, tax collectors, prostitutes and the demon-possessed. Jesus was drawn to people on the margins of society, those considered “losers”. How do you view such people? Do you have compassion towards them? I’m not just talking about the homeless and poor, but also the socially awkward. Will you make time for them, help draw them into community, and point them to the Savior who can make them clean, both physically and spiritually? In cleansing the leper, Jesus is saying, “I don’t care how soiled and defiled you are, I don’t care what you’ve done. If I touch you, you become clean. Though your sins be as scarlet, they will be whiter than snow!” Jesus can do this because he is God (John 3:16; Hebrews 1:3), and he commissions us to reach out to others (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).
3. Jesus models for us the critical role prayer must play in carrying out our mission (v. 15-16). As Jesus’ popularity grew, so did the demands on his time and energy. How did he recharge? Through prayer. If Jesus, the powerful Son of God, felt the need to pray in order to fulfill his mission, how great must our need be? Jesus often slipped away to pray—do we? Jesus said, “Apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Our need for God is total, not partial. John Wesley said, “God does nothing but in response to prayer,” and then he backed up his conviction by spending two hours daily on his knees. For you, is prayer a nice thing, or a vital thing? Be honest. We are ambassadors for Christ; could prayerlessness explain our lack of fruitfulness? God has given us a mission in the world, and prayer is critical to our relationship with God and to the fulfillment of our mission Church, let’s make it a habit often to slip away to pray.
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- Jesus calls us to apply our faith to our work. Does anyone in your workplace, school, or neighborhood know that you follow Christ?
- Jesus calls us to reach out to the marginalized. To whom can you show compassion this week?
- Jesus models the importance of prayer. Visit tcc.org/prayer and select one of the opportunities found there.
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large, that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)