Missio Dei: The Missional Jesus
Drawn from Genesis 3:8-15 and Luke 4:14-30.
Last month I focused our attention on the Missional God and the genesis of mission. Now in this second month, I turn our attention to the Missional Jesus who embodies or represents the mission. So, it is my hope and prayer that by the time you get to the end you will recommit yourself to God as he calls you to testify to God’s Kingdom and plan of salvation where you live, sharing this Good News with your neighbors, and connecting people to Jesus wherever you go!
Follow me, Jesus said. Follow me. And I will make you fishers of people. Real people. From every tribe, every nation, every tongue. Real people. Black, red, yellow, and white. Real People.
But also, hear this. Jesus said repentance from sin is involved if you're going to join him on God’s Kingdom mission. This means that we all must change, repenting and receiving God’s forgiveness, through the power of God’s Holy Spirit! We cannot stay the same, there must be room for the reign and the rule of God in our lives so he might fashion us into his likeness. This is the only way we can follow him and fish for real people!
So, following the Missional Jesus and taking all his words and actions into account, we see that Jesus viewed himself as the fulfillment of the Old Testament. All of those who were sent before him; the characters, the stories, all of it points to him.
He is God and the Kingdom of God embodied. Everything converges in the person of Jesus Christ, the Missional God who came down to be with us. This is why Jesus is described in John 1 as "the Word" of God becoming flesh and dwelling among us.
And Jesus will say “Follow me,” and do these things because he believed that he himself was sent by God for this very purpose. Yes, Abraham was sent. Moses was sent. Joseph was sent. Isaiah was sent. Many were sent before him, sent to further the promise that God would redeem and bless all the peoples of the world, but none of them were uniquely sent like Jesus, the only begotten Son of God.
So, we must recognize that this is where the Good News begins. It begins by recognizing that the Missional God has sent his Son, the Missional Jesus, to fulfill the promise. Nobody else could do it. God must come down and do what we could not do for ourselves.
So, let’s look at our two Scripture references and see how this plays itself out.
First, from Genesis 3:8-15 (ESV)...Our Missional God says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
There are two Messianic prophecies in this verse. The first Messianic prophecy is, “he will bruise your head.” The Hebrew word for “bruise” can also mean “crush!” So, we understand, that he, the Missional Jesus, will crush the serpent’s head. The second Messianic Prophecy is, “you shall bruise his heel.” So, we understand, that he, the serpent, who is Satan, will crush the Missional Jesus’ heel. The contrast here is a fatal blow to the serpent’s head in contrast to just an injured heel.
This passage points to the promise of the Missional God to send the Missional Jesus. The crushing of the serpent’s head was a picture of Jesus’ triumph over sin and Satan at the cross. The crushing of the Messiah’s heel was a picture of the wounding and death of Jesus on the cross! The contrast here is death on the cross, a temporary setback in contrast to Christ’s resurrection from the dead, the final victory!
Second, from Luke:
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:16-21 ESV)
This is the central text when it comes to Jesus’ identity and mission as he describes for us what he has come to do. Again, we have another Messianic prophecy. This one proclaimed by Isaiah and there in the synagogue in Nazareth, the Missional Jesus tells everyone, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” The Missional Jesus is telling everyone, this is the mission of God, and I’m bringing it. Jesus is saying, “God has sent me. I’m the Messiah. I’m bringing the Kingdom. And this is what it looks like. And everyone is just thrilled about that, right? Uh, no, not really!
You'll recall that those hearing his words in this Luke 4 passage, quickly go from being his admirers to being a mob. They wanted to throw Jesus off a cliff.
That's not the God they want. They want a god they can control. Give us the god who blesses us only and dashes the heads of our enemies against the rocks. Give us the god who rules with force and might. That's the good news we want. Tell us what we want to hear. Comfort us in our complacency and be the god of our self-righteousness.
But that's not who the Missional Jesus is, is it? His way isn't the way of the sword, but the way of the cross. Jesus reveals that God's mission is about laying his life down for the sake of redemption and mercy. And Jesus says, "Look, I've not come for the righteous (or those who think they are). I've come for the sinners, the lost, the broken; those who know they need deliverance. That's the sort of Messiah I am."
This is what the Missional Jesus has done. He has blessed us by not counting our sins against us. He forgives us. He picks us up every time we fail and fall, and he puts our feet back on solid ground. Why?
So, we can walk down our road of life, and share the Kingdom of God, the hope, and the Missional Jesus with others!
And now, a little more about how we are doing personally…
Updates From Israel
With Kristi and Bob returning to Israel last week, after Bob’s medical leave, we thought it would be a good time to provide for you some updates on Immanuel Lutheran Church and some of the people related to the mission and ministry of the Apple of His Eye’s work here in the Holy Land.
It truly is amazing to us to see how God continues to provide for His church and His people even in the most difficult of times. While we were gone, the church continues to see new faces even while others have gone. Covid continues to dictate how we can worship with mask mandates still in place but there is no mandate on the joy worshipping brings in a place like Immanuel Lutheran Church.
While concerts have had to be cancelled because of the problem of the gathering of many people inside a relatively small space, the ministry of Immanuel’s Open Church continues. It’s in this Open Church ministry where the greatest opportunities exist to share Jesus as Messiah with over 250 people on average every week who pass through the church to see its beautiful architecture, organ, and stained-glass windows. It’s through these windows on the north and south walls, where God’s Word is shared through the Bible stories of Jonah and the whale, Peter, and the stories from Acts 9-10 and his raising of Tabitha, his vision of the great sheet, and the calling from Cornelius to come to Caesarea which all happened in Joppa, a kilometer away from Immanuel Lutheran Church. It’s through these windows in the chancel area where God’s Word is shared announcing the birth of Christ in Bethlehem, God’s hand reaching down into the hearts of God’s people with the crown of thorns in the shape of the Star of David, and the New Jerusalem as described in Revelation, chapter 21. We are blessed to get to know people in this way and answer their questions about Christianity and Jesus the Messiah.
Finally, a few updates regarding a couple of our Israeli co-workers and a request for prayer for a young woman we have been discipling.
The Sadlovsky Family (Sahar, Maria, Thea, and Adiel)
We are thankful to Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, for accepting Sahar into the STM program that is carried out in Gothenburg, Sweden. Also, a shout of thanks to the three organizations that will support him in his theological education, Office of International Mission – LCMS, Mission Province of Sweden, and of course, the Apple of His Eye Mission Society. Sahar will take three courses per year in Sweden for three years. Would you please pray for this time for Sahar and his family and what we are praying for here in Israel, the planting of a new Lutheran Church led by Sahar.
If you remember, it was almost a year ago that Bob baptized Ben. Since then, Ben has begun leading the Young Adults group that meets on Thursday evenings. They are currently studying the 10 Commandments from Luther’s Small Catechism, utilizing Concordia Publishing House’s digital study. Ben is also assisting on Shabbat during worship and leads the Open Church on Thursdays for Hebrew speakers. Finally, Ben is working on translating Luther’s Small Catechism into Hebrew. No doubt, God has blessed Ben with the waters of Baptism and in return, Ben has been called to serve, sharing Jesus as Messiah with many others.
We have been witnessing to a young woman for approximately 10 months now. She considers herself an Agnostic but continues to keep the door open with us seeking to know more about God, Christianity, and Jesus the Messiah. It’s difficult for her because she comes from a religious Jewish family and there is always tremendous pressure to follow Judaism. However, she is struggling with answers to questions like, “Is there really a God?” and “why does the world exist?” and “what is my purpose in life?” While she isn’t a believer in Jesus just yet, we consider her willingness to keep the door open with us and meet us regularly to discuss these and other questions a true blessing. Please pray for L. N. Ask God to reveal Himself to her through the power of His Holy Spirit! Thank you!
Rev. Dr. Robert M. Roegner is an Apple of His Eye Bible Teacher to Israel