Prepared for the Challenge
It should not surprise us that Jesus knew exactly what His commissioned disciples would encounter, during His time with them and also all through their apostleship later. God, in a human body, did not need to guess or remember how things were last time. He is ahead of every game and on top of every situation - before it happens. But we will do well to be amazed that Jesus, who demonstrated that He knew what was ahead during His time on earth, is the same God who sees us. Such amazement should keep us from complacency in our relationship with Him.
Having sent two disciples ahead of Him to a village with clear instructions to bring back an unridden animal, the trainee apostles obeyed (Mark 11:1-3). So much of their time with Jesus was filled with events they could not have predicted and orders leading to circumstances they could not imagine (Mark 6:35-44). Their role was not to be creative to make things better for Jesus (Mark 9:5-7) but to trust that He knew what He was doing and simply obey what He said (Mark 14:37-38).
Jesus anticipated the challenges His disciples would face, but He also provided answers (Mark 11:3). Later, anticipating the severe persecution of the church, He promised that the Holy Spirit would instruct them: "Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit." (Mark 13:11). He did not expect them to be so bright and sharp witted that they would be able to deal with cynical and intimidating questions all by themselves: in the same way that the Lord Jesus gave the words to say, so the Holy Spirit would continue to do the same.
Many of our fears, as we consider our responsibility to witness to the grace of Christ and share the gospel message, are fuelled as we anticipate rejection and doubt our ability to answer difficult questions. Don't worry! The Holy Spirit will instruct you. Read the Book He inspired and listen to His inner promptings, which are always consistent with the Bible. All who belong to Jesus should be ready to be used by the Lord - in unfamiliar circumstances, with unexpected people, when they are unprepared, at an inconvenient time (1 Peter 3:15) – and yet He knows the end from the beginning and will not fail any who will listen to His call and be prepared to obey. If you want to be used by Jesus, He has promised that you are not on your own (Matthew 28:19-20; John 14:18).
© Dr Paul Adams