Last month–a few days before Easter Sunday, I spent quite a bit of time reading through the sections of the four Gospels that describe the arrest, trial, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and then reflecting on how radical and monumental what took place actually was.
But this year in particular, I was rocked by something more than just the magnitude of what love and obedience looked like for Jesus.
I was also amazed by something He did on two occasions as He contemplated what that love and obedience would require of Him.
I saw them because I’m convinced that the bible is the written self-revelation of the Missionary God and Jesus is the supreme validation of that fact–He was the ultimate missionary.
And since He was, then it makes sense to me that His life and ministry must have provided truths, principles, and practices that should be followed by the small percentage of His disciples that He also calls to follow in His footsteps as missionaries.
Before I share the two texts that contain the important self-care lesson missionaries should emulate, it’s important to remember these three facts that were already a reality prior to what’s recorded in the texts I want to zero in on.
RECEIVING CARE WAS ALREADY A REALITY FOR JESUS
FIRST–Jesus had already been the receiver of encouragement and various levels of care from those the mission required Him to detach from–the Father and the Holy Spirit.
SECOND–He had also received spiritual strengthening from the obedient angels He also said good-bye too, along with practical assistance in a variety of ways from those that He came to live among, serve, and teach–He accepted reciprocity from those He blessed.
THIRD–He had already been demonstrating self-care through rising early in the morning on a regular basis to spend time alone with the Father in prayer prior to the day’s happenings.
Put as simply as possible, His senders expressed their care for Him, those He was sent to also expressed care for Him, and He took the initiative to care for Himself.
Here are the two texts that I believe reveal another facet of self-care that Jesus practiced:
John 12:27,28 and Matt 26:37-46
TRANSPARENCY IS AN EXPRESSION OF SELF-CARE
And these are the self-care principles that I see:
1–In the John text, He took the initiative to be transparent and express a portion of His inner struggles with a small group of those He came to reach who had chosen to enter into a meaningful and trust-filled relationship with Him.
2–Later, as Matthew records, at the most crucial and crushing moment of His life and ministry, He took His three-person inner circle away from the others that composed His core team, and He once again unveiled His inner struggle with them.
3–But He also invited them to participate in helping Him during this crushing moment through watchfulness and prayer–knowing that they would be of almost no real help for Him.
Why would He do that?
Because it was important and valuable for Him to bear His heart and share His load with them, and essential for them to hear Him do so.
Although I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand it, if Jesus, the Ultimate Missionary, thought it was essential for His spiritual and emotional health to be wisely transparent with a few of those He came to reach, then it must be doubly important for those He sends as missionaries to follow the example He set.
And one final thought.
The tethers of relational connection that deepen when a missionary does what Jesus modeled produces a level of unity between them that I’m convinced will accomplish what Jesus said in John 17:21 and 23, the world being able to believe and know that Jesus was sent by His Father.
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