As we consider how to be obedient to the Great Commission of our Master, we must remember that there has never been a better example of a missionary, preacher, or disciple maker than Jesus Himself. There is nowhere better for us to go to learn what it looks like to be a faithful witness than in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. With that said, I want us to look at an overall broad stroke of Jesus’ ministry and I want us to consider how we can emulate that today. There are 4 major elements of Jesus ministry that stand out in the gospels.
Prayer clearly characterized Jesus’ ministry. Over and over again we see Jesus slipping away to be alone in order to pray. We see Him rising early in order to pray. We see Him staying up late, in order to pray. Prayer absolutely characterized the life and ministry of Jesus from start to finish. It is no wonder that He instructs us to pray as part of our missions strategy.
We are reminded of Matthew 9:35-38: “Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. 36 Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” In this text we see that Jesus preached the gospel, the good news, the optimistic hope filled gospel of the Kingdom. \What He saw however, was anything but optimistic and hopeful. He saw the crowds. They were distressed: literally battered, bruised, mangled, ripped apart, worn out, and exhausted. They were dispirited: literally dead or helpless. They were directionless. Like sheep without a shepherd, they had been left to the wolves. As He looked out at the crowds, He felt compassion for them. The word compassion means feeling with, feeling for, or sympathy. The word literally points us to the gut. In other words, Jesus so sympathized with the crowds that His stomach was in knots. As He looked out at the crowds He declared that the harvest was plentiful, but the laborers were few. The problem was not the readiness of the crowds, but the willingness of His followers to go labor among those crowds. What was His response to this troubling situation? He said in verse 38, “Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” There is an answer. Pray. Beseech. In other words, earnestly pray. Pray what? Pray that God would send out, literally squeeze out, fling out, send out workers into His harvest! How do we obey the Great Commission? We do just what Jesus did, and what Jesus commanded His followers to do. Pray, pray, pray, pray!