A Spirituality of Mission

JESUS: Witness, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:Jesus said to the eleven, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you – that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.”  Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:44-48)   Reflection:The Lukan Jesus commissions his disciples as witnesses to his suffering, death, and resurrection.  A witness is one who testifies to what he [...]

JESUS: Proclaim, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:Jesus said to the eleven, “Go into all the world and proclaim the goodness to the whole creation.  The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:15-18)   Reflection: Mark’s gospel will have three endings forever.  The original ending is 16:8.  However, at some point in transmission, another author added two additional sentences to 16:8, which are [...]

JESUS: Go!, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  And Jesus came and said to them, “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.  And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:16, 18a, 19-20)   Reflection: At the end of Matthew’s gospel only eleven disciples are left.  Judas, the betrayer, went off and hanged himself.  So, the eleven disciples meet Jesus on a mountain, one of the Matthean Jesus’s favorite places to say anything important.  This Moses look-a-like commissions [...]

JESUS: New, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:I, John, saw a new Heaven and a new Earth; for the first Heaven and the first Earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, I am making all things new.  Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.” (Revelation 21:1, 3a, 5a, 7)   Reflection: Once all is left behind, newness is experienced.  However, a person cannot have the new until the old is abandoned.  The first Heaven and the first Earth must pass away.  The chaos of the sea must be replaced by a new order.  God is the God of this new order, and those who have left all behind are his children.  They have conquered their fear and been [...]

JESUS: Knocking On The Door, by Mark G. Boyer

    Scripture:The Son of Man said to John of Patmos, “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation: ‘I know your works; you are neither cold not hot.  I wish that you were either cold or hot.  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  Listen!  I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.'” (Revelation 3:14-16, 20)   Reflection:In the book of Revelation, John of Patmos receives a revelation from the Son of Man, who tells him to write seven letters, each to a specific [...]

JESUS: Patience, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord.  The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.  You also must be patient.  Strengthen your  hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.  As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  Indeed we call blessed those who showed endurance.  You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. (James 5:7-8, 10-11)   Reflection: One who leaves all behind in order to follow Jesus must cultivate patience as part of his or her spirituality of mission.  [...]

JESUS: Speaking Words Of God, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:Another person said to Jesus, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.”  Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:61-62)     Reflection: The author of Luke’s gospel presents the same two examples of itinerancy as does the author of Matthew’s gospel (see above and Matthew 8:18-22 and Luke 9:57-60).  Both do this because both writers use material found in Q (referring to quelle, the German word for “source” and indicating material found only in Matthew’s gospel and Luke’s gospel).  In Luke’s version of the second person’s request to bury [...]

JESUS: No Pillow, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture: A scribe then approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”  And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”  Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”  But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:18-22)   Reflection: Throughout the gospels, Jesus is portrayed as an itinerant preacher.  Itinerancy characterizes Jesus’s mission and that of his followers.  Using two sayings he found in Q (referring to quelle, the German word for “source” and indicating material found [...]

JESUS: Word Doers, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture: Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.  For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. (James 1:22-24)   Reflection: Listening and believing, one aspect of a spirituality of mission, includes acting on – in the word of the letter of James, “doing” – the word.  The letter of James addresses Jewish Christians in the late first century CE.  James, in contrast to Paul’s position on works, advocates the practice or living of the word heard.  From James’s point of view, if a person hears the word and doesn’t [...]

JESUS: Two-Edged Sword, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)     Reflection: A  two-edged sword is one that is sharpened on both edges.  The person wielding a two-edged sword cuts another in two ways in opposite directions, leaving a huge wide-open wound.  This is why the author of Hebrews declares that God’s word is sharper than any two-edged sword.  The words God speaks are alive; they achieve the purpose for which God speaks them.  In the book of Genesis, God speaks the word, “light,” and light appears.  God speaks the word, [...]

JESUS: Speaking Words Of God, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:The one who comes from Heaven is above all.  He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony.  Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true.  He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. (John 3:31c-34)   Reflection: Several times in John’s gospel the narrator of the events gets carried away and inserts his own reflections on an event.  After narrating the account about Jesus and John baptizing and John declaring Jesus to be greater than John, the writer records a reflection about the one – Jesus – who comes from the world above (where God lives) to the Earth (where people live) to testify to what he has [...]

JESUS: Zechariah And Mary, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:The angel said to Zechariah, “I am Gabriel.  I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.  Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. (Luke 1:19, 13)     Reflection: The author of Luke’s gospel likes to narrate a story about a man and balance it with a story about a woman.  He begins this literary technique with the twin appearances of the angel Gabriel to a man named Zechariah and, six months later, to a woman named Mary.  Zechariah hears the word of God as Gabriel delivers it to him, but he does not believe that he and his aged wife, Elizabeth, can conceive a child.  So, because he did not believe Gabriel’s [...]

JESUS: Hear!, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:Jesus said to those who were around him along with the twelve, “And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:10, 20)     Reflection: Once a person is called, he or she must hear the word of God.  As the Markan Jesus puts it, Let anyone with ears to hear, listen!  After telling the parable of the sower, Jesus interprets it, explaining that the sower “sows the word,” and those who hear the word produce amazingly.  In fact, the kingdom of God grows day by day in the lives of those who hear, according to the Markan Jesus. There is an aspect of trust that is involved in hearing.  Just like no one [...]

JESUS: Called By Lot, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:Peter said to the believers, “One of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us – one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.”  So they proposed two, Joseph, called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.  Then they prayed.  And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:21-24, 26)   Reflection:The Acts of the Apostles is the companion volume to Luke’s gospel.  In other words, Luke’s gospel is the first volume of a two-volume work, and the Acts of the Apostles is [...]

JESUS: Tax Collector, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them.  As he was walking along, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.”  And he got up and followed him. (Mark 2:13-14)     Reflection: Besides the call narratives of Peter and Andrew and James and John, there is the call of of Levi, a very short story about a tax collector invited to follow Jesus.  The author of Matthew’s gospel alters the story he found in Mark’s gospel by omitting the detail of Jesus walking by the sea, changing the name of the tax collector from Levi to Matthew, and omitting his father’s name.  The author of Luke’s [...]

JESUS: Amazing Catch, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:Jesus got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore.  Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.  When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let dowm your nets for a catch.”  When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break.  All who were with Simon were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.  Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” (Luke 5:3-4, 6, 9-10)   Reflection: The author of Luke’s gospel [...]

JESUS: Brothers, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:As Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea – for they were fishermen.  And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.”  Immediately they left their nets and followed him.  As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James, son of Zebedee, and his brother, John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them.  Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-22)   Reflection: The above passage from Matthew’s gospel looks familiar because the author of Matthew’s gospel used Mark’s gospel as a source [...]

JESUS: Immediately, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture: As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea – for they were fishermen.  And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”  And immediately they left their nets and followed him.  As he went a little farther, he saw James, son of Zebedee, and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets.  Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. (Mark 1:16-20)   Reflection: When Jesus calls his first disciples, they immediately respond.  Simon and Andrew immediately leave their nets and follow him.  James and John immediately leave their father and [...]