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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Apostle

I learned some cool stuff about the word apostle today.

An apostle is "One sent forth" as in sending a messenger, special envoy or ambassador on your behalf. You could say an apostle is one sent on behalf of someone greater.

In the Bible, Jesus was sent by the Father as an apostle (among other things; see Hebrews 3:1) as the messenger and the message. (Do a study of the words "Sent" and "Send" just in the book of John for tons of examples) I had never picked that up before. Jesus an apostle. Go figure.

Jesus then sent his disciples, calling them apostles (see Mark 6:30), to testify to the Kingdom of God, initially, and later (after the resurrection) to testify to what Jesus Christ did on the cross and beyond.

Initially, the word apostle was a more official word (used rarely in classical Greek) to designate the twelve disciples. Peter outlines the criteria in selecting a replacement for the traitorous Judas Iscariot in Acts 1:22. This helps us see how they decided who qualified. Basically, a man who had been with Jesus from the beginning (at or shortly after his baptism) through his resurrection.

But later it was used more broadly to include people like Paul, Timothy, Epaphroditus, Andronicus, Junias, Barnabus and Silas. There are even a couple of unnamed referenced.

So, let's take a step back and see what we have. The Father sent the Son to carry out a mission. That mission was to display the glory of God while teaching the Kingdom of God was at hand. It included living the perfect life and dying on the cross as our atoning sacrifice. His mission was to disciple others to carry on his work and then to die so that they would be empowered to carry it out.

So part two was as Jesus discipled his followers, he sent them on his behalf. He gave them their mission at least 7 times in scripture.

Two pre-resurrection Prophesies: Matt. 24:14, Mark 13:10.

Five post-resurrection commands: Matt. 28:19-20, Mark 16:15-16, Luke 24:46-47, John 20:21, and Acts 1:8

The resurrected Jesus said to his disciples, "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." (John 20:21)

It is clear that if we say we are following Jesus, then we are saying that we are carrying out the mission he left us to carry out. But are we?

Are we being Jesus wherever we go? Are we living the compassionate life that compelled Jesus to stop what he was doing and talk to a child or heal a leper? Are we carrying out the same mission that opposed injustice and gave grace to the poor and mercy to the broken-hearted. Are we living purposefully so that we don't waste away our days? Are we passionate like Christ who's passion and love for his Father compelled him to radical obedience that culminated with a cruel and torturous death on a cross? Not so much, I think.

I don't have to look far to draw this conclusion. The mirror answers me with brutal honesty. God's word as a mirror does even better. (See James 22-25)

What will we do in response to this? Will we remain apathetic? Or will we return to the Vine for abundant life, power and joy. (John 15:1-8)

"Father, we repent of our apathy and lack of pursuit of you. We spend more time pursuing what you can do for us than just pursuing you. You are more than enough for us. Help us believe that. Cleanse us from our sin. Fill us with your mighty Spirit that we may walk in confidence and passion for the mission you've commanded us to fulfill. May we embrace and flesh-out the mission and passion of Christ and let us begin right now. In Jesus' name I pray, amen."