Destiny 2/3: Doing what Jesus did
Bijgewerkt: 25 nov 2019
We are called to continue the ministry of Jesus, exercising power and authority over sickness and demonic powers. Yet, this doesn't seem to be part of our daily reality. What does it mean to be a sent-one and how can we continue the ministry of God's Kingdom today?
Has someone ever told you something that made you think: “aahhh, you’re just saying that…” Perhaps you got a big compliment from a coach: “you are the best player on my team” or your spouse told you: “you mean the world to me”. Sometimes, we dismiss the words of someone because we just cannot believe they actually mean it. We think they just exaggerate for effect or want to say something that makes us feel good.
I wonder if we do the same with some of the things that Jesus says… Take this statement for example: “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. (John 14:12)
Nah, Jesus… you’re just saying that to make us feel better. That can’t be true.
Honestly, you know what this makes me feel like? This feels like, if I’m on holiday and run into Lionel Messi on the beach. While the kids are playing, we are playing around with a ball, and while walking back he tells me: you know, Koen, I think you could play for Barcelona. My answer would be: “Ahhhh, Leo…. You’re just saying that to make me feel good”
Don’t Jesus words fall into the same category of ridiculous statements?
We’re happy to see Jesus as the ultimate example of how to live. We take His teaching on how to live very seriously and believe that we can grow in holiness and that we look more like Jesus. Yet, believing that we’ll be able to do the things that Jesus did feels so far away from us. It feels completely out of line or even proud to AMEN these words of Jesus. It’s uncomfortable. Risky.
The founder of the Vineyard movement, John Wimber, became a Christian after a wild life in rock & roll music. Just a few weeks into his Christian journey he went up to the pastor of the Quaker church he was part of and asked: “when are we going to do the stuff”? The pastor was completely caught off guard and said “what stuff?” “You know! The stuff! Healing people, driving out demons, etc. The stuff that Jesus did!” No, said the pastor, we don’t do that stuff anymore, that belonged to the apostolic age.
John Wimber was very displeased with this answer and couldn’t match this theology with what he read in the Bible. He complained to the pastor: “you know I gave up drugs for this, right? At least when I worked for the devil, I got to do his stuff!”
God is still supernaturally at work on this planet, and He is doing so through His people!
From the beginning of the Vineyard movement, signs and wonders have accompanied firm Bible teaching. If the Bible is true – and we believe that it is, and if Jesus is indeed Lord – and we believe that He is, then this has to affect the way that we live deeply.
So, even when Jesus says something crazy like: anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, we have to take it seriously. That’s what we are going to do today.
Continuing Jesus’ ministry
What Jesus said in John 14 is not an isolated statement at all. It falls into the whole picture of the ministry of Jesus. Through the ministry of Jesus, the Kingdom of God was breaking in on the earth. Jesus taught about it and demonstrated it and took people along with Him that He trained to do the same things. To His disciples He would model a naturally supernatural life with the intent to carry over His ministry to them when He would ascend to heaven. This is how the Gospel of Mark ends:
Mark 16: 15-20
And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”
When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.
It’s because of passages like this that John Wimber just couldn’t believe that Christians weren’t supposed to be doing the things that Jesus did anymore. I agree with him. Christians today are called to continue to spread the Kingdom of God by preaching the Gospel, accompanied with miraculous signs. The miraculous signs demonstrate what the rule and reign of God looks like and give a foretaste of the fulfilment of that is like.
God is still supernaturally at work on this planet, and He is doing so through His people! You and me!
Power & Authority
How does this work then? Because by ourselves, we cannot do this.
At some point, after watching Jesus for a while and listening to His teaching, Jesus sends His disciples out on internship.
Luke 9:1-2, 6
One day Jesus called together his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases. Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
(…) So they began their circuit of the villages, preaching the Good News and healing the sick.
Jesus sends His disciples out giving them power and authority to do the things that He did. These are very important words to investigate.
Power is the ability or the capacity to do something.
Without power, your phone doesn’t work. Without power, an engine doesn’t run. Without strength in your muscles, you cannot do anything. When it comes to healing the sick, we do not have power to do so. The interesting things is: nor did Jesus!
Philippians 2:6-7 (NLT)
Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
The ministry of Jesus – all the healings, miracles, driving out demons – he did not do in His own power, but by the power of the Spirit. When Jesus did what He did, He wasn’t flexing His God muscles, but He was operating in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus modeled a life under the constant influence of the Holy Spirit to us. In the same way, the Spirit, who dwells in us too, wants to use us and empower us to do things that are supernatural.
Jesus modeled a life under the constant influence of the Holy Spirit.
Oxford dictionary defines authority as: ‘The power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience’.
Authority comes by position. Anyone can tell you where to park and where not to park, but only a policeman can give you a fine. The policeman is given the authority to enforce the law on people that don’t abide by it. Through roles that people have they can exercise authority in a certain domain.
You can have power to do something, but without authority, it is out of place. For example, a thief can break into a house and take things. He has power, but he doesn’t have authority. Yet, a debt collector has a law enforcement agency behind him and when you are deep in debt and don’t pay, he comes to take things from your house. He has authority to do so.
The authority of Jesus came from the Father. He had sent His son to the earth with this mission of the Kingdom of God.
John 5:19 (NLT)
“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.
Even the authority Jesus carried was delegated authority – until after His death and resurrection when He says that all authority in heaven and earth is given to me. In the same way, now that all authority in heaven and on earth is given to the Son, He is delegating it to us. We are put in a position by Jesus as children of God and as sent-ones to speak with authority to demonic spirits and to sickness.
In summary, we have received both power and authority to do the things that Jesus did. The power is the power of the Holy Spirit. The authority is the name of Jesus and His commissioning.
Doing the things Jesus did
1. Adopt the heart and attitude of Jesus
Any delegated authority is to be used within the boundaries set by the giver of the authority. Authority is never given to do whatever we want – but to do the will of Jesus – the giver of that authority - and in the way He used it.
We have to adopt the heart and attitude of Jesus in order function in this delegated authority. Here are some key words that may help you to understand how to function in the power and authority Jesus is giving to us.
Humility - operating in the gifts of the Spirit never elevates people, but only God.
Compassion - it was love and compassion that moved Jesus to reach out to people
Dependence - as Jesus, we only move when see the Spirit moving. When we do not see the Spirit moving, we do not move either.
Authenticity - when we don’t receive anything from the Spirit for a specific situation, we don’t act like we did and ‘fake it till you make it’. We just go with what we know about God from Scripture.
Risk - when the Spirit does prompt, we move! We take a leap of faith into the unknown.
2. Train your faith muscles regularly
Faith plays a very important role when functioning in the power of the Holy Spirit. Without faith, how will we expect the Spirit to be doing anything or to use us to do anything. Our faith is not always the deciding factor for something to happen, but it is definitely a limiting factor when it is absent.
Faith grows when we regularly train it by getting into situations where it is stretched.
Your muscles grow when you stretch them and use them to the point of breaking down. When the muscles heal after breaking down, they have grown stronger. This is how you train with weights to become stronger. Don’t you think that our faith muscles might grow in this way too?
Our faith is not always the deciding factor for something to happen, but it is definitely a limiting factor when it is absent.
Faith doesn’t grow by always playing it safe. Faith grows when you stretch it to the point of breaking down, realizing you are in way over your head.
Being forced to rely on the power and guidance of the Spirit alone, our faith and expectation will grow.
3. Understand that we operate in the now & not yet
When we operate in the gifts of the Spirit, exercising the power and the authority Jesus has sent us out with, we have to realize we still live in a world where the Kingdom of God is breaking through, but is not made complete yet.
Living in the now and the not yet means that we will always deal with the tension that comes with this mystery.
What does this mean? It means that the supernatural power of God is at work in us and through us now, but not always when and how we would want it.
The question is not if it is the will of God to heal the sick, set people free from demonic bondage or restore the brokenhearted. We know that it is. And we know that this will ultimately be fulfilled when Jesus comes again and the rule and reign of God is made complete. The question is if it is what the Holy Spirit is doing right now.
Living in the now and the not yet means that we will always deal with the tension that comes with this mystery. Why here and not there? Why her but not him? Yet, ultimately, what is important for us to know, is that we have a very clear assignment from Jesus to operate in this delegated power and authority and to expect Him to do even greater things than we could ask or imagine according to the power that is at work within us.