According to gospel accounts, Jesus dispatched his disciples to go to those who needed him––to the poor, the sick, the lonely––to anyone who would talk to them, not just to “the lost." The disciples took no provisions and no money. They were to rely on God to provide whatever they needed through the kindness of strangers. Their duty was to see what people needed and to do what they could to help them. Their instructions were to tell the people they helped that it was Jesus who helped them. (Luke 10)
After that, we don’t know what happened, except that we do know they came back rejoicing, telling Jesus,“Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name." Perhaps the disciples had the full range of experiences expected in such an adventure. They were undoubtedly vulnerable to those who might take advantage of them. I’d like to know how they approached the people they met.
I have not done this in any deliberate way. If I helped anyone, I let them thank me. If anyone paid me for my service, I accepted their pay and felt good about earning it. Only in recent times (years, not decades) have I thought to defer thanks and pay to Jesus or to explain that Jesus sent me.
I’m sorry to say that many good opportunities to glorify God have been lost. Someone may have thought that what I did was godly or “Christian," but I didn’t consciously do anything like the disciples did when Jesus sent them out. It never occurred to me that I have the same work now as those disciples had when Jesus commissioned them, but I do!
The disciples Jesus led had only a few years of experience with the Messiah, but he knew that was enough to prepare them. They had been with him and watched his interaction with people everywhere, including the same people they were sent out to meet––like Pharisees, beggars, tax collectors, and girls of the night. Probably they met quite a few Roman soldiers. Maybe they encountered robbers as well as respectable merchants and farmers. I imagine they saw many children. If they needed a drink, they probably met slaves and women at the well.
Everywhere I’ve been, Jesus has been with me, but I have not always introduced him to the people I met. I have known him for a lifetime, but I’m sure that many people who knew me were never introduced to Jesus by me. Perhaps a few recognized that I was a disciple, but they are not the ones to whom Jesus is a stranger. It’s those who don’t know him and can’t recognize Jesus in me or anyone else that need an introduction.
The idea of being Jesus around those who need him has been a cop-out for me and I've used many excuses for not formally introducing him. If I’m no more than a nice guy or a good man, I’m no different from the world’s ideal. I should be much more. I should be serving the needs of others with the attitude of a brotherly disciple, a priest. I should be a Samaritan watching for the unfortunate ones lying wounded in the ditch and anxious to help and comfort others when they need me, and I should practice my introductions:
“Let us help you, my friend.” And when they say “us?" I’ll say, “yes, Jesus and me."
Editor's Note: We're never going to be perfect at introducing Jesus to others, are we? If we look around us to see who God has put in our lives, we can begin by spending time with them and asking God to work through us. Pressure off. If you would like to discuss ways you might talk to others about Jesus, Scott Morris, (author of this post) or any North Central staff member or Elder would be happy to share their experiences with you. To get contact information, email