But with fruit, we’ve also seen barriers in the area of sustainability. It’s fairly simple for Pioneer Prophets, Preachers and Planters to step out Luke 10 style and start new Discovery Bible Studies and Communities…but a common pattern across Europe is that after 3 months-6 months these new groups tend to disintegrate. If the group meets in the house of a ‘christian’ then it might last longer (perhaps up to 2-3 years) and then can run out of steam…
In this article I’m going to focus in on two counter-intuitive passages from Luke 22 (Luke 22:8-14 and Luke 22:35-38) that progress the mission from Level 1 to Level 2 and apply this to our collective mission across Europe and beyond in the present day
‘The purse’ represents a common financial pot that Jesus set up for the travelling Pioneer Mission team he formed (of 12+ people) to ‘invade’ the regions of Israel with the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ mission was well organised and strategic like a military operation. In Luke 10 Jesus sends at least 35 teams of 2 out into at least 35 towns and villages he was about to go to. In the initial skirmish (short term mission) he sends these teams out instructing them not to take a purse/any money with you.
But by Luke 22:35-38 Jesus says, ‘before I told you not to take a purse, and you lacked nothing, but from now on take a purse’. We know that during this whole period of Pioneer Mission, Jesus himself actually organised his mission team of twelve-plus, financially with a collective (common) purse. Luke 8 tells us that a group of women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases contributed to this mission team from their own resources. One of these woman (Joanna) was actually the wife of King Herod’s business manager (akin to the chancellor of the exchequer). We know that Judas kept hold of the money bag (common purse) into which donations were collated for this itinerant mission work (John 13:29)
Progressing from the Pioneer stage of mission to the Development stage requires the establishing of sustainable financial infrastructure. Mission requires Mission Finance systems to sustain the work, so those who were tested by previously going out with nothing, and depending on the hospitality of others and the direction of the Holy Spirit to provide are now instructed to organise a purse for their work.
They are told, ‘now take your money AND a travelers bag’. The first trip (Luke 10) they weren’t to take any extra clothing, perhaps that indicated the shortness of the trip whereas a travelers bag indicates that the next stage of mission would be a little more long term
NOW, TAKE A SWORD
‘And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one!’ (Luke 22:36)
Doesn’t it strike you as an odd thing for Jesus to say. In the Luke 10 stage of mission, we are to search for a House of Peace and declare ‘Peace to this House’ and if a man of peace is there the peace will rest on that house. But here Jesus says ‘Buy a Sword’
The disciples reply, ‘Look, Lord, we have two swords among us’
To which Jesus replied, ‘That’s enough’ (Luke 22:38)
In light of considering the growth or progression of the mission to the next level, we might consider the progression of the message we are delivering to the people we are sent to and the tone in which the message is given. In the first instance (Luke 10), the message is ‘Peace to this household’ and ‘Repent for the Kingdom has Come’. But later, they are to take a sword. What could this mean?
Let’s consider these passages…
Jesus said, ‘I did not come to bring peace to the earth, but a sword’ (Matt 10:34). He said this when he was sending the 12 out in 2’s into Pioneer Mission. This sword represented a dividing line; ‘I’ve come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother […] your enemies will be right in your own household!’
Peter was one of Jesus’ disciples who took him at his word and actually took hold of a sword. When the authorities came to arrest Jesus, Peter brandished the sword and cut off the ear of one of the religious associates. At this, Jesus told him to put away his sword and healed the mans ear. However, it was Peter’s words on a later occasion that, as he preached publicly, ‘cut to the heart’ of a crowd of over 3000 men resulting in them crying out ‘what do we need to do to?’ This led to mass repentance as 3000 were baptised immediately and the first church was born.
Peter had learnt to wield the ‘sword of the spirit’ that cuts to the heart dividing soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:12-13). His words had authority and were backed by power
Do your words carry weight amongst the people and places you are are sent to?
The Apostles after the rise of Jesus, proclaimed in Jesus the resurrection of the dead and warned of the coming Judgment…
If you’ve been proclaiming ‘Peace’ to this house and city- perhaps it is now time to ‘take the sword’
The Sword and Purse together are said to represent Government and the legal courts
In the Middle Ages the sword was used in the rite of passage ceremonies that conferred knighthood; the tap on the shoulder (accolade) with the sword by the monarch is accepted to be the point at which the title is awarded. The passage in Luke 22 goes on to discuss the nature of leadership. Whilst the apostles argue over who the greatest is amongst them, Jesus let’s them know that they will govern, but not in the way the rulers of this world do so, they will be like servants who take the lowest rank. In the process of being developed as leaders, Satan will sift each of them like wheat resulting in one of them betraying Jesus, one will deny Jesus and all the rest will scatter when persecution comes.
However after the sifting process they will sit on thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel in the coming kingdom of Jesus Christ. They will form part of the new government (the government will be on Jesus’ shoulders) called the ekklesia (the church)
NOW, PREPARE A ROOM
Jesus sent Peter and John ahead and said, ‘Go and prepare the Passover meal, so we can eat it together’ ‘Where do you want us to prepare it?’ they asked him. He replied, ‘As soon as you enter Jerusalem, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. At the house he enters, say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. This is where you should prepare a meal. They went off to the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.’ (Luke 22:8-13)
A large room that is already set up!
Going beyond the organic to the organised requires a shift in mentality and methodology. Before Peter and John had been sent to search for a worthy house (Person of Peace) and stay there. Now they were to go to a place that had already been found (a large room) and prepare in advance for the arrival of a whole team of at least 12 men.
Moving ahead to the day of Pentecost when the first Church was born, Luke tells us that 120 of Jesus’ disciples were gathered together in an Upper Room (Acts 2:1). But where exactly was this upper room where they gathered? Although Luke doesn’t specify where the disciples were gathered in the Book of Acts, it is likely that Luke was referring to the same room mentioned in his previous letter (Luke 22) as he assumes his readers know which upper room he’s talking about and doesn’t give an explanation. They were ‘all’ together in this one place; Jesus’ 11 apostles plus Jesus’ mother, brothers and sisters and more…
What were they doing when they were gathered together?
They were praying together. (Acts 1:14) with the expectancy that direction would come from that
Previously they had eaten with Jesus the Lord’s Supper in this Upper Room (Luke 22:14-30)
They were waiting to receive the promised empowering of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses (Acts 1:8)
So there was an UP (prayer), IN (Lord’s Supper) and OUT (empowered as witnesses) dynamic to these gatherings
And when these 120 people were gathered together in the upper room, eating and praying together – God sent the Holy Spirit with fire, as Jesus promised would happen (Acts 1:4-5), and the church multiplied from one base of 120 to a multitude of churches meeting from house to house across an entire city…
So for the past 3 years we switched strategy and have been working across Britain and Europe to establish Mission Bases that are essentially Training Bases from which teams of 12 to 72 can be sent out into the field to plant churches into the surrounding region and leaders can be trained.