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Forest Hills Baptist Church

Sent Out By Jesus

Introduction

Nobody likes to be rejected. We want people to love us, accept us, and think highly of us. Yet, as followers of Christ, often times those closest to us will reject us. Our friends and family, our home town, will try to discredit and disparage the work of God in our lives. They harden their hearts against God’s grace in our lives, thus they despise us. If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you know that your family and friends can begin to look at you as strange. Those who watched you grow up in your rebellious teenage and college years, now stare at you in perplexity as they witness your faith in Jesus Christ. They think, “I remember who you used to be.” And thus, your past defines you; they think they know who you really are.

However, we shouldn’t really be surprised that we are often rejected for following Jesus, after all, Jesus himself was! Jesus had difficulty reaching his own family and his home town. In Luke 4, we are told of an early event in Jesus ministry in his hometown of Nazareth. One day on the Sabbath at the synagogue, Jesus stood up and read from Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then Jesus told his hometown, those who had watched him from his childhood, “Today this Scriptures has been fulfilled in your hearing.” At Jesus inconceivable claim to be the messiah, they drove him out of town and sought to throw him off the cliff. The people of Nazareth were ready to kill their home grown boy, Jesus.

We’ve also seen in the Gospel of Mark, the skepticism of Jesus’ immediate family. In Mark 3 we saw them trying to pull Jesus away from the crowd, thinking he was crazy and out of his mind.

Such rejection from his home town and his own family no doubt wounded Jesus. Today in our passage we will see Jesus attempt once more to reach his family and neighbors in Nazareth. Yet, tragically he will be rejected again. We will also see that Jesus commissions his disciples to go to reach the people of Israel, a sort of great commission scrimmage. Today, we will learn that we follow in the pattern of Jesus, as we are sent by Christ into the world, we must expect rejection, but with great faith, we expect God’s kingdom to spread! Or, to put it more simply, expect rejection, but go in faith!

So there are two main truths you need to know this morning.

1. Expect Rejection, Particularly from Those Closest To You (Mark 6:1-6)

Jesus went into Nazareth, and brought his disciples with them. Jesus, trying to follow social convention in order to best reach his town, goes into the synagogue and begins teaching. At first, the people are astonished at his teaching. Jesus taught with such skill and authority, unlike anything people had ever heard. But, this astonishment quickly gave way to skepticism. Perhaps the rumors of the scribes were in the back of their mind, that Jesus was demon possessed, and it is by the powers of darkness that he teaches with such authority. After all, this is Jesus. “Where is this guy getting all of this wisdom and by what power is he doing all these mighty works? We know this guy, we watched him grow up!” You see, they people of Nazareth watched Jesus as a child, learning to read and talk. He was an ordinary guy, there was nothing special about him!

Here, we see how Jesus’ deity was imperceptibly veiled by his humanity. Jesus didn’t walk around with a golden glow around his head like our artwork. He was an ordinary guy, an ordinary kid. To the people of Nazareth, they couldn’t fathom that Jesus was the Messiah, let alone God! They had watched him grow up.

Plus, Jesus was just a carpenter. He was the town handyman! He had received no formal rabbinical training, and yet he teaches with such wisdom? What could explain that? And, Jesus was the son of Mary. Now, this statement was a derogatory one, and indicates that rumors swirled about Jesus’ origins. Typically in Jewish culture, whenever your referenced the child of someone, you would reference the father, even after the father’s death. So it ought to have been, “this is Joseph’s son” but they reference his mother, reflecting that they thought Jesus was born illegitimacy. To the people of Nazareth, though they are amazed at Jesus’ teaching, they could not believe in him. To them Jesus was the bastard child of Mary who was the uneducated town handyman. Jesus’ humble upbringing and family discredited him. He could not be from God, therefore they took offense at Jesus.

Here we receive the foreshadow of Jesus’ ultimate rejection by the Jewish people. Though he was their Messiah, they would reject him and crucify him. Jesus tells his home town, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.”

Like Jesus, we too can experience rejection, particularly from those closest to us and even within our home town. Those who watch us grow up often will not listen to what we have to say and will not show us honor. To some extent, I’ve experienced this myself in my own ministry. I first started serving on staff at a church in Charleston, SC when I was eighteen years old. I was a young college student, and they watched me grow up over those two and a half years. They watched me grow as a teacher of the word. They watched me get engaged, and then get married. They watched me move into adulthood, independence, and pastoral ministry. And although that church was incredibly charitable and encouraging to me, I always had the sneaky suspicion that they did not talk me all that seriously.

For those of you who have been born and raised in the same town, I’m sure you’ve experienced this more than I have. Those who changed your diapers as a babe, have a hard time respecting you now as a man or woman of God. Those who watched your wild and sinful living before you came to Christ, doubt your testimony of God’s grace and power in your life. Those who are older, look down on you because they still see you as that kid who doesn’t know anything. Here is the principle we must remember from the life of Christ: expect rejection, particularly from those closest to you.

But, there is another danger that I must warn us of from this text, and that is the danger of familiarity. As the saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt. We can be so familiar with Jesus, that we actually cease to be amazed by him. This is a grave danger for this Bible Belt southern culture. Many in our city have grown up in the church, went to Sunday school as a child, and yet have become so familiar with Jesus that he is ordinary and mundane. Through their familiarity with the Christian faith, they actually reject Jesus in the process. Like the Nazarenes, we can be so familiar with Jesus that he seems dull. We can become desensitized from these great truths that we talk about so regularly. Words like incarnation, atonement, redemption, grace, resurrection—these are glorious ideas that should never cease to captivate our imaginations! Yet, tragically we can become so overburdened by the routine of faith and familiarity with Jesus that he no longer dazzles us with his glory. When that happens, our faith drys up.

So in Jesus’ ministry to his home town we see the danger of familiarity, but also that as disciples of Jesus we can expect the same rejection, particularly for those closest to us. Nevertheless, Jesus calls us too to go and reach the world for Christ, and that leads us into the second point this morning.

2. Obey the Great Commission with Great Confidence (Mark 6:7-13)

Back in Mark 3, we saw that Jesus carefully selected twelve men to serve as his closest companions and disciples. Jesus poured himself into these men, who would go on to be the apostles, establishing the church after Jesus ascension into heaven. Throughout Jesus earthly ministry he is carefully instructing these men, preparing them for their eventual commission at the end of Matthew, to go and make disciples of all nations. As Jesus prepares to extend his ministry beyond the boundaries of Galilee, he gives his disciples a practice run at the Great Commission. He sends them out on a missionary scrimmage, so to speak.

You see, followers of Jesus are not meant to sit on the hands or twiddle their thumbs. To be a disciple of Jesus means you make disciples of Jesus. Disciple making isn’t an optional task for the Christian life, but it is what the title means! To be a Christian and not make disciples is like a quarterback who doesn’t throw a football. Its nonsensical. So though not all of us are called to travel over seas to make disciples as foreign missionaries, all of us are called to go across the street to our neighbors. You are Christ’s ambassador to your neighborhood, school, and workplace. At the gym, at the coffee shop, at the grocery store, at the restaurant—you are there representing Christ! Being a disciples means we do the work of evangelism, we share the Gospel with others, and when someone repents and puts their faith in Christ, we walk life along with them, teaching them to obey all that Jesus has instructed us.

At Forest Hills, we want such disciple making to be ingrained into our church’s culture. That’s why our mission statement says what it says. If your new here, our mission statement is to treasure Christ, equip believers, and send disciples for the glory of God. This statement is our strategy to help mobilize you to ministry. You first come to treasure the Lord Jesus Christ. The church body gathers for worship, exalting king Jesus. If your not a Christian, we pray that in our worship services you would hear the Gospel clearly, and respond in saving faith to Jesus, and join us in our desire to treasure Christ with our lives. However, we not only treasure Christ in worship, we seek to equip believers. We want to teach you the word through Sunday school, and surround you with other brothers and sister in Christ through community groups, so that you might grow in maturity to Christ. However, we equip you for a purpose, to be a sent disciple. We want to train you to go out and make disciples, sharing the Gospel with others, and teaching new believers what it means to follow Jesus. So what then is our church’s strategy for reaching our city with the Gospel? It’s you! We don’t expect non-Christian people to come to us. We don’t plan on trying to attract them with shiny facilities or programs. We want to follow Jesus plan, train and equip believers of Jesus in order send out disciples into our community and world who make disciples.

This is a very different vision of church than maybe your used to, and its not necessarily the strategy that other church’s use, but we’re convinced its the biblical one, that’s the most faithful in building up the church of Christ over the long haul. So, we treasure Christ, equip believers, and send disciples for the glory of God. The strategy for reaching the city of Wilson is you! We equip one another with the Word, so that all of us can go, being sent to reach our city with the Gospel. We must obey Christ’s Great Commission, and understand that its call is upon every follower of Christ.

As Jesus sends his disciples out on a Great Commission scrimmage, he gives them a few instructions, and I want to share four tips to help you as you are go about this upcoming week, and the weeks to come.

First, Be Sent with Christ’s Authority

We go with Christ’s authority. Jesus gives his disciples authority over the unclean spirits, so that we can achieve or task. Similarly, in the Great Commission, Jesus tells us, “All Authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, therefore go.” And, Jesus concludes with that sweet promise, “behold I am with you always even unto the very end of the age.” We go with the presence and authority of Christ, as his representative and ambassadors.

One of the most frustrating things in the workplace, is when your supervisor delegates a task to you, but you do not have the authority to do it. They give you a big project to get done, but you don’t have the decision making power in the organization to do it. Not so with Jesus. Jesus gives us a big task, but he also gives us his authority to do it. We go in the authority, power, and name of our Lord Jesus Christ! Therefore, have confidence in your evangelistic efforts!

Second, Be Sent with Christian Community

We go with others. Jesus didn’t send his disciples out on a solo mission. Rather, Jesus instructs us to go in pairs, two by two. This is for our own encouragement. Whether you are a missionary oversees, a church planter in a new city, or a church member sharing the Gospel in a neighborhood, don’t go alone! We need Christian community of support, encouragement, and accountability. This is one of the reasons we are so passionate about Community Groups at Forest Hills. If you aren’t in one, you are missing out on an incredible gift from God. Other people in our lives can encourage us in our missions efforts. It’s been encouraging to hear of Community Groups that are doing missions together, being intentional in reaching their neighbors for Christ. In fact, I want you community groups tonight, to begin talking about how you can leverage your community together to reach new people for Christ. Now that we are about nine months into community groups, its easy for them to start turning inward, little cliques of community. That is never what community groups ought to be. So tonight, I want you to brainstorm together, how can we reach people for Christ together? How can we be sent with Christian community?

Third, Be Sent with Total Dependence on Christ

Jesus tells the disciples to go with no provisions—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts. Why are they traveling around the region without basic provisions? The answer is simple. God wants us to go with total dependence on Christ. In this, we go in faith, trusting that God will provide our every need. As the disciples preach Jesus’ message of repentance, their needs are met by those who believe. The enter into the house and stay there, but only as long till they depart to the next place! They are not traveling for comfort, and they aren’t embarking on missionary tourism!

Our material possessions and busy lifestyles can often distract us from Christ’s mission. Our love of comfort impedes our evangelistic efforts. We go with total dependence upon Christ as our provision and hope. As we call other people to faith, we go in faith, trusting that Jesus will meet all our needs.

Fourth, Be Sent with Real Expectations

Even as we go, like Jesus we too will be rejected. Jesus gives us a very real portrait of the hard heartedness of humanity. Even though we go together in the authority of Christ, in utter dependence upon Christ, still, people will reject Christ, and therefore reject us. Jesus tells his disciples that if a town does not receive them or listen to them, they are told to dust the feet off their sandals and move on to the next town. This is done as a testimony against them. It was Jewish practice, that while in gentile lands, while leaving they kicked the dust off their feet, as a sign of purity from the pollution of those lands. However, it is also a symbol of judgement, as those who reject the Lord. The disciples are to do the same thing, not in some sort of angry frustration, but in mournful hope. A rejected disciples does not take personal offense, but rather he pities those whose hearts are to hard to receive the good news.

We often will be rejected as we go, and we must have realistic expectations. Rejection will come. If people rejected Jesus ministry, surely people will reject our ministries. However, we must never lost faith and we must maintain great confidence. Even while rejected, we keep our heads up in optimism, knowing that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. We keep on going, proclaiming Christ, knowing that the Spirit of God can soften the hardest of hearts! The kingdom of God has arrived and Jesus, is coming now, and will come in completion at the end of the age. Therefore, we do not lose heart. We do not give into discouragement, because Christ himself has established his kingdom by his life, death, and resurrection. We go in the authority and power of Christ, calling sinners to repentance and faith, trusting that God himself will do his work.

Final Thoughts

On a sermon on missions and evangelism, it would be a shame if I did not invite any sinner here this morning to the Jesus. By his authority, I call you to repent of your sin, turn to Jesus in faith, and receive forgiveness for your sins. There is good news today: Christ has paid the penalty for your sin, and eagerly longs to give you his righteousness today. This Jesus is God, the king of kings, the savior of humanity, the only hope for your soul! Trust in him this morning, believe in this Gospel, and bend your knee to the authority of Christ in faith. If you have questions about how you can become a Christian, come find me after the service, or better yet, talk to a Christian sitting near by you. After all, they too are Christians, sent by Jesus, and they too can share with you the Gospel and lead you to the Lord!

To those who are members here, remember that we are equipping you to be sent. Expect rejection, after all Jesus was rejected, but nevertheless obey the Great Commission with great confidence! As you are equipped by the ministry of this church, including this sermon, I pray that you will go and be sent as a disciples of Jesus. Go with the authority of Christ. Go with the community of Christ. Go in total dependence on Christ. Have realistic expectations, you will at times be rejected, but go with great confidence knowing that God will bring glory to his name and draw men and women to himself through your evangelistic efforts!

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