Study Guide: A Giant Jesus

Sunday October 21, 2007 | Annie Perdue-Olson

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Like Jesus' first disciples, we will be constantly confronted by anti-Kingdom values – in our case things like individualism, independence, and self-sufficiency. But Jesus' alternative Kingdom vision is very straightforward. As we reach out to the world around us, we're simply called to depend upon God and his community, enter into authentic relationships, act like Jesus, and then explain why.

Extended Summary:

In this passage, Jesus offers his disciples instructions on how to do “Jesus-style” Kingdom ministry. He begins by pairing them up in order to send them out “two by two.” Here we see that Jesus does not send his disciples out to do ministry as isolated individuals. Rather, he sends them out as “mini-communities.” Jesus’ pattern of doing “ministry-in-community” challenges our culture’s patterns of “rugged individualism” and “lone ranger Christianity.” It is only as we come together in Kingdom community that we can function as the “body of Christ” – as Jesus’ heart, hands and feet – in this world. In Kingdom community we literally become “a giant Jesus” to the world around us!

Next, Jesus instructs his disciples not to take with them “a purse of bag or sandals.” In other words, they are not to set out into ministry as self-sufficient individuals. Rather, they are to depend upon God. They are to lead others to trust in God by demonstrating what trust in God really looks like. Jesus also tells them to embrace the hospitality of those to whom they are sent. In the ancient world, sitting down at a table and eating together with someone was a huge social statement – it was a way of saying to each other that “we are equals and we are in relationship.” They are to grow the Kingdom community by entering into authentic, intimate relationships with the people to whom they are sent.

Jesus then instructs them to “heal the sick.” Jesus’ disciples are to build authentic relationships with people in order to then serve them and meet their needs. Finally, Jesus tells them that, after they have served and ministered to the people, they are to tell them about “the Kingdom of God.” In other words, they are to, first, love and serve people – “earning the right to be heard” by demonstrating the reality of the Kingdom before speaking about it. And then, second, they are to tell about and explain they beautiful Kingdom that the people have just experienced. “Show, and then say.” “Walk, and then talk.”

In our culture today, the church is often known for breeding “lone ranger Christians,” not God-dependent communities. It is often known for judging and excluding others, not dining with and serving others. It is often known for what it says, not what it does. Through this passage, Jesus calls us out of our individualistic, self-sufficient cultural patterns, and into a radical new Kingdom community where we are set free to trust God and serve others – and in doing so find the true meaning of the beautiful life!

Reflection Questions:

  1. In what ways do you see “lone ranger Christianity” going on in the church today? In what ways do you see it going on in your own Christian life?
  2. What things would have to change for the church – and in your own life – in order to begin functioning more like a true “Kingdom community” and less like “lone rangers”?
  3. Annie’s sermon addressed the widely shared values in our culture of “self-sufficiency” and “independence.” In what ways could you personally relate to Annie’s struggles in these areas? What “security blankets” are you currently holding onto that prevent you from genuinely experiencing dependence upon God and your Christian community?
  4. In our culture, the value of “Perfectionism” often keeps people from doing things because they feel too unworthy or insignificant to take a risk and step out. Over the last few weeks, the Gospel of Luke has shown us that Jesus can do amazing Kingdom ministry through a group of disciples who were far from perfect. They weren’t perfect – they were just willing to follow Jesus’ calling to love and serve others. In what ways might God be calling you to trust him by stepping out and touching the lives of others for the sake of the Kingdom?