We are called into mission. Any doubt about that?
It’s evident from passages such as Matthew 28:18-20: “Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”
The passage shows us the intrinsic connection between who Jesus is (the one with ‘All authority in heaven and on earth,“) and we, the followers, who are to “go and make disciples.” And it’s a causal connection. That is to say, since He has authority, He has the right to command our obedience.
And also, since He has authority, we go in that authority. We go in the name of our Master to do the things that He did. Mark’s parallel is explicit: ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation… And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on people who are ill, and they will get well.’”
And Luke’s way of describing this business of “Going with Authority” is to write the whole book of Acts. Its full title is “The Acts of the Apostles” but it is rather “The Acts of the Holy Spirit.” It is the Holy Spirit who empowers us for mission.
The early chapters of Luke’s Gospel (Luke 3,4) show how this works. To put it in its simplest terms: we do the things that Jesus did by being filled with the Spirit as He was.
Jesus is the archetypal Spirit-filled Man
The narrative shows him growing up in favour with God and man, listening to the preaching of John the Baptist, and responding: “When all the people were being baptised, Jesus was baptised too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’” (Luke 3:21-22)
Luke shows Jesus pioneering the route for us. He is one of “the people” and his obedience in the matter of baptism (It’s funny how even that simple act is a sticking point for some) is marked by an “opening of heaven,” and a prophetic declaration of favour.
God speaks over us and we are defined by what He says!
Immediately, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.” (Luke 4: 1-2)
In the Temptations, The devil speaks and Jesus refutes it based on what God says
The narrative shows the overcoming of temptations to body, soul and spirit being overcome by the Word of God spoken by someone “full of the Holy Spirit.”
The passage following describes Jesus going into the synagogue and reading from the prophet Isaiah. Here’s the passage:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Luke 4: 18-19)
This ancient prophecy was predicated of “The Anointed One,” which in Hebrew is Ha Mashiach (Messiah) and in Greek is Ho Christos (Christ). It describes both words and deeds. The Anointed One is summoned to both “proclaim freedom” and “to set the oppressed free.” How can he do it? Because “The Spirit of the Lord is on [him].”
This is demonstrated as the chapter continues:
“They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority. In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, ‘Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!’ ‘Be quiet!’ Jesus said sternly. ‘Come out of him!’ … Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.
At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of illness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, ‘You are the Son of God!’ But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.” (Luke 4: 32-41)
Words with authority!
How long will you define yourself by what you feel about yourself? Define yourself by what God says about you! If you are in Christ, then you have the rights of a son!
The Kingdom is come wherever Jesus is. And we are called to pray “Let your Kingdom come!” It’s a declaration of the authority of God over all signs of oppression: the demonised, the diseased, the destroyed.
You are in Christ and called to do the things that He did.