Talking About Jesus / Luke 9:1-9 NIV
Intro - Happy 4th of July! Today we celebrate USA’s independence and our freedoms. We focus on two of our freedoms - our freedom of religion and our freedom of speech. Did you know that both are specifically listed in the first amendment to our Constitution? Consider that the early American fathers, when thinking about the best way to improve our basic Constitution - thought first of our freedom to practice our religion and to be able to speak freely about it! Thousands of Christians over the centuries have died because they did not have the right to do what we take for granted!
This was also something that was a priority to Jesus. We come to the beginning of chapters 9 and 10, where Jesus sent out the twelve (9) and then the 72 (10). He gave some very specific instructions. The first one is to get the conversation started!
Exercising Our Freedom Of Religion & Speech - Sharing The Gospel:
#1 - Conversation Starter: not enough __________________ .
When it comes to introducing other people to the Christian faith, we often think it will be a long journey from heathen to Christian. Not so!
“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest field.” Luke 10:2 NIV
People are really just waiting to hear from you about Jesus. Not everyone, but many are right now ready to become a Christ-follower. Ready to be harvested! We need only get the conversation started and ask if they would like to become a Christ-follower too.
APPLIED TRUTH: Telling the story of Jesus is not __________ .
If we are living the kind of Christian life we should be living, our very lifestyle should communicate that there is something very attractive to having Jesus as our Lord and Savior. That He is our friend. That He loves us and cares for us. That no matter what crisis comes our way, we know we have Him in our corner on our side.
What we need to do is to simply put words to the effect. The effect is a life of love and joy despite the natural sorrows that come our way. But why? Why are we this way? We must never assume that people will know it is Jesus. Others may assume it’s because we’re basically good people or that we’re church goers or that maybe we are religious in some way.
The important thing for us to share in conversations is the one name that seems most difficult to name - Jesus. People will easily accept “God,” but Jesus is an entirely different matter. What Jesus told His followers 2000 years ago (and us today) is that there are not enough people naming His name - but that there are scores of people around us every day just waiting to hear His Name and to name His Name for themselves!
#2 - Multiplication Effect: __________ to share the good news.
It may be not be a matter of “selling Jesus,” but there are some definite instructions that Jesus gives to his followers. Notice 1st verse in 9 and 10
“When Jesus had called the Twelve together… After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others.” Luke 9:1 and 10:1 NIV
Before we get into the topic of what to understand about following Jesus (which we will go into great depth for the rest of July), let’s take a helicopter view of what’s happening in these two chapters (9 and 10). At the beginning of chapter 9, Jesus sends out the twelve. He trains them for their mission and they celebrate together when they return. Between that return and the next evangelism mission at the beginning of chapter 10 Jesus continues to train. By the beginning of chapter 10, how many does he send out this time? 72! So we learn another important truth…
APPLIED TRUTH: Telling the story of Jesus is not a matter of ______ .
It is a matter of multiplication. Not only is it important that we train others to talk about their lives with Christ to others, it is equally important that we train others to train others to talk about their lives with Christ! Parents, you can do this with your children. Ministry leaders - you can do this with those in your ministry.
Why? Because the kingdom of Christ grows with a multiplication effect, not an additional effect. It’s not a matter of one leading one leading another one, who leads yet another one. It IS a matter of leading one to Christ and then training him or her to also lead others to Christ. So one person may lead 10 people to Christ and each of them are trained to lead another 10 (up to a hundred), who each in turn are trained. Do you see the difference? That’s why we move from 12 to 72 in the span of a chapter. And why the Roman empire became a Christian empire in only 3 centuries.
Why DON’T we tell other people about Jesus in our lives. It’s NOT because we are too polite and so don’t talk about religion. And its NOT because we are afraid we won’t live up to what and who we talk about and are afraid of being a hypocrite - though these are the reasons we often give. The real reason is fear of rejection! What does Jesus tell us about this?
#3 - Rejection: Don’t take it _______________ .
“If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” Luke 9:5 NIV
This is really a combination of our first point and this one. Jesus is saying that there are so many people who really DO want to hear about a life of following Jesus that when you come to someone who doesn’t want to hear about it, JUST SKIP IT. “Shake the dust off your feet.” Disengage so thoroughly that not even the other person’s dust will stick to you! Don’t sweat it. It’s not about you. It’s not YOU they are rejecting. It’s Jesus. People have been rejecting Jesus since the beginning of time.
ACCEPT that REJECT is just a part of the PROSPECT. You REJECT that PROSPECT and look for another more likely to ACCEPT!
APPLIED TRUTH: Telling the story of Jesus is also __________ .
Here’s another reason why we sometimes take rejection so personally. We cannot tell the story of Jesus without making it a personal story. For each of us, Jesus’ story becomes our story. We don’t have to know all the verses in the Bible or become a theologian to be able to tell what Jesus has done for us.
We may feel like we are weak somehow and that we need the “crutch” of Jesus in our lives. Let’s get over ourselves! Because here is the truth. We are weak! We are sinners. We have blown it. We cannot do this life alone. We were never designed to do it alone. We need Jesus. We need to get over ourselves and our pride. Let Jesus shine through.
Here’s the truth - the person you are talking to knows this about you… and them!
Finally we come to our last lesson on the 4th of July weekend - the lesson about misinformation. No matter how well we tell our story and the story of Jesus, people are bound to get it wrong!
#4 - Misinformation: the conversation is not always __________ .
We have this strange part of the story that comes from Herod - the king who killed John the Baptist. He hears all about the wonderful things going on when the Twelve go out. He wonders what is going on. He wonders why? He wonders who?
“John raised? Elijah appeared? Who then is this I hear such things about?” Luke 9:7-9 NIV
This is the kind of thing that can actually drive us crazy. Not everyone is going to get our story right. By the time the story has been told through multiple people, somehow the accuracy of the story has changed. Have you ever played the game of Telephone? One person whispers a sentence to one person, who whispers to another and so on around the circle. The last person to hear it and say it out loud will usually not be very close to the way it started out.Here’s the thing…
APPLIED TRUTH: Telling the story of Jesus generates ________.
It’s the conversations about Jesus that Jesus wants. He wants you to be a conversation starter. You don’t have to worry about how you “sell” Christianity. You don’t have to worry about whether someone “buys in” to what you are saying. You don’t have to worry about rejection. You don’t have to worry about whether they have heard you right and have told your story right. You just have to worry about one thing.
START THE CONVERSATION!
If we take Jesus at His word that the fields are ripe for harvest, you will be amazed at how many people will respond to you favorably. How many will say, “I’ve been waiting all my life for someone to start this conversation with me!”