I’ve been thinking about the various preachers I’ve heard through my years as a Christian. I’ve worked closely with some, in my years as a student and as part of the pastoral team in 5 churches. Others I’ve heard at conferences, conventions, chapel services and other preaching venues as well as the various online options so readily available.
I’ve been reflecting on their impact on my life, not just their sermons, but how they’ve conducted themselves before and after they’ve stepped down from the pulpit. The ones who have left the strongest impact are those who have reflected much of the character of Christ. Unofficially, each one has said to me, and to others who’ve watched them, ‘Follow me as I follow Christ!’ Noone follows perfectly, but serious leaders remember that what they are called to do in ministry, flows out of who they are in Christ, what they’ve learned from him.
Years ago, Dr. Robert Brackstone, who taught Homiletics for years at Central Baptist Seminary, and left a significant ministry impact at Emmanuel Baptist Church, Chatham chose as a key text for our Advanced course in preaching, Mark 2:14 “…And he appointed twelve so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach.”
I won’t tackle in this post the possible reasons why he didn’t include ‘have authority to cast out demons.’ But, let’s consider the ‘being with him’ and the ‘sending out to preach.’ The order is significant!
Jesus was establishing the foundation for the church which he was building (Ephesians 2:20). From his company of disciples or followers he chose twelve. As I noted in my other blog (Live Life! International) yesterday, some followers (disciples) are leaders, but all leaders are followers. You can’t lead anyone to Christ, unless you are being led by Christ.
Jesus invited 12 men to take on additional responsibility. They were not self-appointed, nor did the appointment rest on the group as a whole. They were appointed by Jesus Christ directly! Church governance is not the topic of this post, but again this passage provides a greater context for this topic.
Why did he appoint them?
a) to be with Him – What a privilege! What a responsibility! For the next few years they would use all of their senses as they became firsthand witnesses of God’s glory, shining through the life of the Son of God. As they ‘prepped’ their sermons, they began by ‘being with Him,’ an example any God-honouring preacher must follow.
b) to be sent out to preach – Jesus was a preacher, as was John the Baptist. Those who followed Him, at least some of them, were called to preach, to proclaim good news. When they spoke, they had His authority behind them. Some of their sermons would be written down, at least in part (read portions of Acts). These same sermons and the letters many of them penned have been studied by multitudes the world over, as the gospel impact has expanded. As they deepened their ministry, God would broaden it. From the city of Jerusalem to the ends of the earth, they would ‘bear witness’ to Jesus Christ, His power, His salvation, His work, as the Spirit of God empowered them.
May this of us who follow in their footsteps not neglect not only the MESSAGE of our Lord, but the METHODS he followed. May I urge each of you who are reading this, to pray for those God has blessed you with as proclaimer so far truth. Pray that their own walk with Christ would grow stronger and that Christ’s authority would be evident in their preaching.