Last week, we introduced a new series on our blog: Jesus, the Missionary. Today, we’re sharing the first two key lessons we can learn from Jesus’ example. 

Jesus had limits and knew what they were.

What was that? Jesus had limits to His ability? We sometimes think of Jesus as some kind of superman who confronted every challenge with super-human powers—reading minds, deflecting temptation, forcing conviction on stony hearts, and causing demons to retreat en masse. 

However, the Scriptures present Jesus, the God-man, as, though perfect and sinless in every way, still limited by His own decision to take on the fragilities and fatigue of human flesh and the limitations of this world of space and time. Still, we do not see Jesus as anxious, frustrated, frantic, or burned out in attempting to accomplish His work and mission. Everything was in balance in His life. He did that which was in front of Him. He confronted the unbelief and wickedness that confronted Him. He responded to the faith of the man or woman in His immediate presence. Literally, in his itinerant ministry that only covered a relatively small portion of the earth’s geography, He took one step at a time, and, in doing so, did one thing at a time. 

The complete divinity of Jesus incarnated in His complete humanity will remain a mystery to us as long as we are limited by minds of flesh as well, but we can see from the Scriptures that Jesus chose not to violate the limitations of His humanity while He was on this earth. He knew those limits and operated within them. Missionaries must also recognize our limits and operate within them. “In our weakness, He is strong.”

Jesus prioritized His work.

As I wrote earlier, I have often wondered how Jesus was not constantly overwhelmed by the need He knew was around Him. Missionaries who have walked into throngs of humanity in the metropolitan areas of this world and contemplated the lostness they see have experienced this sense of overwhelming need. 

Clearly, one missionary and even one incarnate Savior, cannot speak to every person about the love of Christ in the mass of humanity in one place, much less in all the world. When Jesus was on the earth, he prioritized His work. He stated that He had come to “seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10), but that He had also come to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 15:24) first. 

Jesus left places unvisited, needs unmet, and works undone (from a human perspective) throughout His ministry. There were places Jesus did not go. There were people to whom He “opened not his mouth.” Jesus did not go to the power brokers and the movers and shakers of His day. Jesus sought out the humble, the needy, the desperate, because that is where He usually found faith. If a city rejected Him, He did not return. If a people did not respond to His message, He allowed them to perish in their unbelief. Jesus did not need a positive response from everyone to gauge the success of His ministry. 

Above all, His priority was the daily will and plan of God for His life. We’ll share more about that later. Missionaries cannot do everything. God’s wisdom requires prioritizing our work according to His plan and being content to do so.

Be sure to join us next week as we continue to explore Jesus’ example for us.

Anthony Steele

Anthony Steele serves as Training Facilitator for Latin America with Reaching & Teaching International Ministries. He is a graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div. 1988, D.Miss. 2016) He is married to Beverly and has two children and four grandchildren.

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