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Knocking on Doors

February 4 2024

Book: Luke

Scripture: Luke 9:1-6

This morning we will begin Luke chapter 9 and I have to tell you, growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness, this was probably the most important paragraph in the Bible. This and the parallel passages in Matthew 10 and Mark 6. This is why they knock on your doors, and I did it almost every Saturday for years.

And I have to be honest with you, it’s why I’ve gotten back into the practice of knocking on people’s doors. This is the first time in the Gospel of Luke that Jesus tells his disciples to do something practical. And as we read Luke – if you sat down and read it one setting – you’d be eager to know what the ministry of the disciples would look like.

He told them they would be fishing for men in chapter 5. He named the twelve in chapter 6. He taught them what compassion looks like in chapter 7. He told them they would be casting seed in chapter 8 and that they shouldn’t be afraid to go anywhere or do anything for the sake of the Gospel. And now, finally, in chapter 9 Jesus gives his disciples clear instructions. He sends them out on a mission trip – not to the ends of the earth, not yet – but to their own neighbors.

1 And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases,

2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.

The big idea is that Jesus is multiplying Himself, right? He’s sending them to do all the things that He demonstrated for them. And of course, that’s what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

We learn from Jesus and then we go and share what we have learned. We have our marching orders. “Go and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to DO all that I have commanded you.”

Jesus continues to multiply himself, which is why Christianity began with these 12 men but has resulted in billions of disciples. But notice the specifics.

3 And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.

Get dressed and go, with nothing but the clothes on your back. In other words, trust God to provide. That feels incredibly radical to us, but this was a hospitality culture. People were used to the idea of receiving and caring for rabbis and their disciples. Nevertheless, they are trusting God to provide and that’s an important part of the mission – then and now.

4 And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart.

Again, trusting that God would provide through the hospitality of their neighbors.

5 And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.”

Shaking the dust off your feet is like saying “I wash my hands of this.” Jesus is saying, don’t take it personally if you get rejected. Their fate is in God’s hands. You did what you could, now move on.

Remember from the parable of the Sower, God’s kingdom is God’s work. He uses us to cast seeds, but it is His work to produce fruit. Do not be discouraged if the seed doesn’t take root.

6 And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

Healing has been mentioned three times, so I should say something about it. There’s a lot of confusion today in the church about healing ministry because there are some pastors who claim to be performing healing miracles with little or no evidence to show for it.

This is probably a longer conversation if anyone wants to have it, but we are told clearly how the church should deal with sickness. James 5:14 –

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

We do have authority, as His disciples, to ask God for healing. I pray with people who are sick or injured all the time. I ask God for healing. I believe He can do it. And sometimes He does. But Jesus didn’t actually heal every sick person He met. And that’s up to Him, not me. It’s not magic. It’s the grace of God. If you have more questions about that, come see me.

Now, let’s think carefully about what Jesus teaches his disciples to do in this passage. You might be tempted to say that this was a special project for the apostles. But in the very next chapter, Jesus will send out 72 with even more detailed instructions!

Clearly, Jesus intends for His church to be doing something like this. Knocking on doors… talking and praying with people about the kingdom of God…

We should also remember that there wasn’t anything special about these men. They were not professional ministers. They were fishermen and tax collectors.

But Jesus told them to do something, and He provided what they needed to do it. And they did it. They went out and knocked on doors and proclaimed the kingdom of God to their neighbors.

And I think it is important to see that the power here was in the message and not the messenger. There’s no way these guys were gifted public speakers yet. Jesus didn’t send out 12 Billy Graham’s or 12 Charles Spurgeon’s. The power was in the message and not the messenger.

If a person you’ve never seen before runs into this room right now and says, “There is a bomb in this building and everyone needs to get out now!” What are you going to do? You will run out as fast as you can. Will it matter to you what the person looks like that told us? Not really. It doesn’t matter if a police officer or a clown brings that message. If he says there’s a bomb I’m out. Why? Because that’s a message that gets people moving and it doesn’t matter who says it.

The same is true with the Gospel. The power is in the message. We are jars of clay, Paul says, carrying the light of truth. We are not the light. We bear witness to it. God was able to take a group of 12 average to below-average men and build his church because the power was not in them but in the Gospel. We go in and with the Holy Spirit!

So, what does that mean for you? It means that whatever your opinion of yourself may be, it doesn’t really matter. God can use anyone for His purposes and very often He chooses to use the most unlikely people.

He delights in showing mercy to people who don’t deserve it. He majors in producing beautiful, righteous people from the rejects of society. He created the universe out of nothing, and He has not stopped doing things like that.

So, you may feel worthless and useless, but God says to you in Christ that you are His precious son or daughter, and He wants you on His team. You are actually more useful to God if you feel empty because there is more for Him to fill. People whose hands are full cannot receive grace.

If you’re doubting this… if you are doubting that God can use anyone, remember the names of these twelve disciples. They are listed back in Luke 6. One of them was named Judas. You know… Judas? The guy who betrayed Jesus for money?

At this point, no one knows that Judas is a false brother except Jesus. But what do we learn from this? We learn that Jesus can even use unconverted people to accomplish His will.

Judas did not obey Jesus from a humble heart. We have no idea why Judas stuck around at all, but he did. He was not a believer. And yet, he was with the twelve on this mission and we have no reason to believe that he failed to carry it out. He was out there healing people and preaching the kingdom from a heart that didn’t believe it.

That is both amazing and scary.

It is amazing because God can still save people through the ministry of bad men. Paul says the same thing explicitly in Corinthians. It really is about the power of the message and not the messenger. So, before I should ever think of myself as great or worthy or gifted, I need to be reminded that there’s nothing special about me. God is the one with the power to change lives. John 15 – Jesus says, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”

And it is scary because there will be people who will be in and around the church their whole lives and appear to be with us and appear to be doing good work and seem like they get it, but they don’t. And so, this is an opportunity to search our hearts. Why are we following Jesus? Is it because we love Jesus, or because we are trying to use Him or get something from Him?

The last thing I want to say, very simply, is that I think it is time for God’s church to return to this kind of ministry. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are out there doing it as instruments of Satan because they have the wrong message. They are not sharing the Gospel.

WE have the Gospel of the Kingdom, and we have clear instructions. I’m going to take this more seriously as your pastor. I’m going to do more of it because I believe Jesus can change people’s lives. I want to see God’s kingdom come in Horn Lake as it is in heaven. And you can come with me.

I’m not handing out Gospel tracts or trying to get into religious debates with people. All I do is ask if I can pray for them and if the Spirit provides an opportunity to share the good news or meet a need of some kind, then I do my best with the opportunity. And I’m trusting God with the results.