In this series of posts, I will look at what Jesus did and said and says to us today about being missional. “Missional,” if you recall, is a global term for what God is doing in this world and how the follower of Jesus is summoned to participate in that great redemptive work of God. And, if you go back to my posts on gospel, you will see that being missional is to participate in a holistic gospel.
This series could be a lengthy series, so bear with me as I try to walk through Jesus’ own “missional discourse” in Matthew 9:35-11:1.
The first consideration is this: all missional work is shaped by the missional work of Jesus himself.
Matthew 9:35 says that Jesus went around all the cities and villages doing three things: (1) teaching in their synagogues, (2) preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and (3) healing all diseases and sicknesses.
A nearly identical verse can be found in Matthew 4:23: he went around all of the Galilee (1) teaching in their synagogues, (2) preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and (3) healing all diseases and sicknesses.
These two verses are a literary device of beginning a section and ending a section with similar wording so the reader will know both how to read a section and know its boundaries.
Here’s the potent implication: If this is the general summary of Jesus’ ministry (4:23 and 9:35), then the specifics of that ministry can be found in between those verses.
Thus: teaching/preaching is found in the Sermon on the Mount and healing is found in Matt 8–9, which contains 10 separable miracle/healing stories about Jesus. Matthew 5-9 is an introduction to the missional work of Jesus.
And this leads us back to Matthew 9:36-11:1. Jesus only sends out the Twelve after he has “incarnated” his own missional work, after he has “performed” the gospel itself in his own way for his own people, and after he has “exemplified” what he means by kingdom missional work.
Our missional work is not ours; our missional work is Jesus’ missional work that we simply are priviliged to extend into our world.