During his earthly ministry Jesus was driven by an almost fanatical commitment to reach those who were lost. He pursued those who were broken, reached out to those who were hurting and transformed those who were willing. Instead of hanging out at the temple with the other rabbis Jesus hung out in the streets with tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners. According to Jesus’ own words his driving cause was to “seek and save what was lost” Luke 19:10.
Not only did he spend his three and a half years of earthly ministry on a gritty search and rescue mission for lost souls, he also invited twelve young disciples to join him in his holy quest. Before Jesus ascended into heaven he called them to finish what he had started by taking the good news of the gospel to the ends of the earth. The disciples died trying to complete the mission that Jesus had left for them.
The same fanatical focus that drove Jesus, his disciples and the early church should drive our ministry efforts as well. But, more often than not, youth leaders are not engaging their young followers with THE Cause that drove Jesus. Many youth leaders have been distracted from the original call of Christ to reach the lost by making disciples who make disciples. As a result youth ministry in the typical church is failing to gain ground on the kingdom of darkness and is succumbing to a model that is, at best, ineffective.
To regain our kingdom edge and ministry effectiveness we need to, in the words of my friend Derwin Gray, “marinate” on Luke 19:10 for a bit, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
This short verse tells us in graphic terms who Jesus truly was and why he really came. In this verse Jesus calls himself “the Son of Man.” That may sound harmless enough but it was inflammatory at the least and considered to be blasphemous by most people who were listening to them that day. Because that term “Son of Man” refers back to Daniel 7:9-14. Check out the words of the prophet concerning the true identity of the Son of Man,
“As I looked, ‘thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened….In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”
Jesus was claiming to be that same Son of Man in the book of Daniel and the crowds knew it. He was claiming to be the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He was calling Himself the one who received total dominion over the entire universe from the Ancient of Days. But, even though Jesus held the highest heavenly title, he had a very earthy goal “to seek and to save what was lost.” I’m sure that, as the ruler of the universe, Jesus had other important things to do, but saving souls was his highest priority.
How does this tie in to you, me and youth ministry? Well, we may think that we are too busy and that we have too much to do as youth leaders to worry about evangelism. Or we may think that we have gotten to the point in ministry where we shouldn’t have to stoop to get our hands dirty doing the gritty work of evangelizing. But if the Son of God, the Supreme One of the universe, had as the highest goal of His earthly ministry to seek and to save what was lost, then how much more should we. If you’re too busy then cut something else out. If you think you’re too important then think again. If Jesus made this his number one priority then it must be our highest priority as well! If we claim to be Christ followers then we must follow Him on His biggest mission.
You want to be like Jesus? You want your teenagers to be like Jesus? We are nothing like Jesus if we aren’t on a constant search and rescue mission for the lost and calling our teenagers to do the same.
What drove Jesus was a full on search and rescue mission to save lost sinners. This singular cause drove everything about the ministry of Christ when He walked the earth.
It drove the perspective He had of the lost (Matthew 9:36.) His heart broke for them because they “were harrassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus was so driven by his compassion for the lost that he calls His disciples to pray that the Lord would send out rescuers into the world to save as many as possible.
It drove the process He used for discipleship. We get a glimpse of this dangerous process in Matthew 10:1-7 when he deployed His freshly appointed disciples to go an an evangelism campaign throughout the towns of Israel. In the rest of this chapter Jesus told them to expect persecution, problems and pushback. But, as a result of all of it they would grow deeper in their surrender to Him and their dependency on the Holy Spirit.
It drove the plans He made for ministry. Acts 1:8 busts out the strategic plan Jesus left for His disciples to follow…to start in Jerusalem and then take the gospel to the ends of the earth.
If we really want to be like Jesus then what drove him should drive us and all of our ministry efforts. The question is whether or not we willing to pay the price to follow after Jesus. The answer to this question will drive our ministry efforts toward THE Cause of Christ or to something else. Before you answer read Luke 19:10 once again…
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”