When reading through the gospels it is clear Jesus knew His mission.
Early in His ministry, His mother Mary told Him the wine was gone at the wedding. The People’s Bible book on John tells us His response, “My time has not yet come” literally means, “What common interest do we have in my activity here?”
Mary’s interest was in providing at a time when there was need. Jesus had just called His first disciples and started His ministry. His mission was to proclaim and explain the kingdom of God, reveal Himself as the Messiah, and reach as many people as possible with the truth of salvation before dying for our sins and going back to heaven. After Jesus fed the five thousand many wanted to make Jesus king so He could provide for their earthly needs (John 6:15). An earthly kingdom was not His mission. When Mary came to Him with the wine shortage He understood the danger of providing just because He could.
Yet, He changed the water to wine and John tells us why.
"What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him" (John 2:11).
It was the first time His disciples (the only ones other than the servants and Mary to see what happened) saw His power. That re-enforced that He was the long awaited Christ. That fit into His mission.
A few chapters after this incident we’re told Jesus left Judea and went to Galilee. John tells us, “[Jesus] had to go through Samaria” (4:4).
Do you know why Jesus had to go through Samaria? It was not because it was the only route from Judea to Galilee. In fact, there were three routes, and the other two, one to the east and the other to the west, were preferential to most Jews who wanted to stay out of Samaria. Jesus had to go through Samaria because He had a divine appointment with an outcast who would be instrumental in bringing her whole town to faith.
Not only did Jesus know what to do, He also knew how to stay out of things He wasn’t meant to be involved in. In Luke 12 when the man asked Jesus to make his brother share the inheritance with him, Jesus replied, “Who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” He then turned the topic to greed. Instead of choosing sides in an earthly matter, Jesus taught a spiritual truth.
And later when the crowd told Jesus about the Galileans who died at the hands of Pilate (Luke 13), Jesus turned from making a statement about the hot news story to warning the crowd and us to repent, because they, and we don’t know when our death will come.
Jesus wasn't sidetracked because He knew His mission. We need to have a mission and stick to it, too.
Several weeks back I was emotionally invested in a debate on Facebook. My husband listened to what was going on then gently said to me, "Stick to teaching Bible studies and encouraging women, Amber."
Teaching and encouraging. That's my mission. Whether parenting, working or scrolling through Facebook I need to remember that or I will deviate from it, and deviating means wasted time, and worse, turning people from God over fights that don't need to be fought.
Over the years I've had many missions. I've gone on fitness kicks, healthy eating sprees; I've had episodes of obsession with home decorating and organization. I am still invested in all those things to some degree but I don't want those to be my mission, because those things focus on the physical. Raising godly children, running a business with integrity, investing in my marriage and serving Christ are all parts of my life and godly goals, but I want my mission to encompass all of that.
My mission comes from two Bible passages. Jesus told us to “go and make disciples of all nations... teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20) and the writer of Hebrews tells us to “encourage one another daily” (3:13).
As I go through my day I hold my activities up to those expectations. That habit (a love for sweetened drinks at coffee shops) that takes so much of my money, does it get in the way of supporting my family, church, and missions? Don't stop. Drive by. That hobby (scrapbooking) that takes so much of my time…who benefits from it? The kids, yes, but I'm the one that makes things more elaborate than they need to be. Simplify, so you have more time to teach. The arguments and quarrels that steal my time, energy and emotions; what more could I be doing if I chose to avoid those? Use that time to pray for hurting souls and to be a godly and loving friend who encourages instead of being a critic. Rest is needed and good, but how many hours does entertainment rob from my day and week? Too many. Unless it's a movie night with the kids or time spent with my spouse use the time to do things that would benefit God’s kingdom.
I don't know your mission, but I know if you don't have one you may fall into what a writing friend calls "chasing many rabbits and catching none." If you've never thought of it before, start looking through Bible passages that cut to your core and embrace your distinct make-up. Maybe you are compassionate or hospitality is your thing. Pray and ask God what He would have you do with your life.
Once you have a mission, take it seriously so you can
"throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and… run with perseverance the race marked out for [you]" (Hebrews 12:1).
Amber Albee Swenson is a forgiven child of God, and that's what she writes and speaks about. She has written four books. "Bible Moms: Life Lessons from Mothers in the Bible" and "The Whisper Theory" are in print. "The Bread of Angels" and "Ladies of Legacy" are currently in publication, hopefully to be released at the end of the year.
1 Baumler, Gary. The People’s Bible John, (Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1997) 39.
2 The People’s Bible John, 60-61.