Ready or Not
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. Matthew 28:16
Jesus sends his disciples out to change the world, but there are two striking problems. One is that there are only eleven disciples. All through the gospel the number twelve reminds readers that the disciples have been chosen to be a picture of the redeemed, restarted twelve tribes of Israel. Twelve is the number of wholeness, completeness, readiness. Now they don’t have enough players.
But it’s not just that they have the wrong number. “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted” (Matthew 28: 17). They had a quantity problem; now they have a quality problem. They don’t have enough disciples, and the ones they do have don’t believe enough.
This is the group Jesus chooses to change the world. He doesn’t say, “First, let’s get enough numbers” or “First, let’s get enough faith.” He just says, “You go. We’ll work on the faith thing and the numbers thing while you’re doing the obedience thing. I’m sending you out. Ready or not … ”
Christian discipleship isn’t a democracy. Jesus didn’t ask his disciples if they wanted to go to Jerusalem. Nor did the disciples offer alternate meeting places to the mountain on which Jesus appeared to them. A disciple is a follower and a follower does just that-follow. The Holy Spirit doesn’t just give us the peace that passes understanding or comfort us in the midst of sorrow. The Holy Spirit leads us. Usually the Spirit leads us out of our comfort zones and along paths that others might consider foolish. Once we discern the Spirit’s guiding, though, our response of faith is to obey.
In the Bible, when God calls someone to do something, no one responds by saying, “I’m ready.” Instead we hear I’m too inarticulate, too weak, too old, too young, too sinful, too dangerous, too rich, too poor, too much baggage. And God says to us what he has always said, what Jesus said to his disciples: “Ready or not … ”
The truth is you don’t know what you can do until you actually do it. “Ready” comes faster if you’re already moving. If you wait to move until you’re fully ready, you’ll wait until you die. Jesus doesn’t say, “Go; you’re ready.” He says, “Go; I’ll go with you.”
Jesus takes his friends up a mountain. Not enough of them, and not enough faith, but it doesn’t matter. What matters isn’t whether they’re ready. What matters is that he’s ready and he tells us “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”