Nothing’s working, right?

26 Apr 2020 by Ian Robinson in: Looking Out

We are a scattered church right now. Our organisational structure is gone for a while, so it begs the question: ’How did Jesus organise his followers to get his mission done?’ We know of Jesus’ ‘inner circle’ - Peter James and John. They were given the most dramatic revelations (e.g. the Transfiguration). Apart from their own benefit, we don’t know what ‘the three’ were for. ‘The twelve’ were only a symbol of Israel’s twelve tribes and there is little evidence for any purpose beyond a class room.

Jesus depended the most on the structure of working ‘two-by-two’ (Mark 6:6-7, Luke 10:1). After the two-by-two training run for the twelve (Matthew 10 with parallels), the ‘seventy’ (or 72) were similarly deployed across Galilee and Samaria (Luke 10:1,17). Later, a group of 120 believers (Acts 1:15) appear once. In Acts 7 the apostles invented deacons to serve the poor which freed up their main purpose, evangelism. Later, local eldership emerged under Paul’s apostleship.

A little bit invisible, the gospel writers report on Jesus’ support system, women (Acts 1:14, Matthew 27:55, Luke 8:2-3, 24:22). No women are named in the twelve, though they are first witnesses to the resurrection and the woman of Sychar is the first evangelist (John 4). Jesus was able to be confronted in public by women – his mother at the wedding at Cana (John 2:4), the Phoenician woman looking for crumbs (Matthew 15:27), and the woman who reaches the hem of his garment to demand a healing (Matthew 9:20). This counter-cultural way in which Jesus regarded women in leadership seems to have submerged within a century of the first Pentecost.

So, we can organise ourselves any way we need for as long as we need to get the mission happening. So long as you are not working alone, Jesus is happy with that.