Perhaps some of the most overlooked wisdom of Jesus’ model of ministry is His insistence on multiplication. We tend to think in terms of “addition”. Jesus is always thinking in terms of “multiplication.”
We have been considering several important leadership principles reflected in Mark 3:1-4.
We will conclude this series by reflecting on verse 14:
“And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach…”
God told Adam and Eve, and Noah, and others, to, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth…”
To “be fruitful” means to reproduce. God’s desire is that we have offspring and that we expand the influence of His kingdom and blessings in the earth.
Using an illustration of a human family, a husband and wife come together and begin a family. They have their first baby and add on a small room for the little one. Later they have another child and add on another room. Their house gets bigger and bigger as they continue to “bear fruit”. This is growth by addition. However, at some point either the biology fails or the funding fails…and the baby pipeline is closed down!
Keeping with the metaphor, good families prepare and train their children to one day step out in faith and obedience and start their own families. This is when the math changes gears: from addition to multiplication.
If parents do not prepare their children to one day, “leave and cleave”, the growth of the family stops. But good parents know that it is God’s design for their children to be sent out to start their own families. So rather than getting bigger and bigger in one house, we have a vision to multiply the one house into several new houses/families.
The Jesus model of ministry is to spend a small number years in intentional training and preparation with His disciples, for the express purpose of releasing and sending them out to do in other locations what they have learned to do by His example.
And one of the ways that Jesus insured that this model was embraced was by getting out of the way!
“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7)
It is almost certain that if the disciples were allowed to vote on it, they would have unanimously decided to keep the arrangement just like it presently was, “Jesus, you stay here with us and keep leading us. We love the way things are right now.” Of course, Jesus had a destiny to meet with our sin and God’s wrath on the Cross. Which would bring us into a relational oneness with the Father and His purposes that was impossible before the redemption Jesus provided.
And this substitutionary death and resurrection in an incredibly prophetic way speaks to the subject of multiplication!
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)
Jesus understood His mission to be one that would involve personal sacrifice so that multiplication of a great family could happen.
If seed is only harvested and collected in bigger and bigger barns, the most you can ever accomplish is addition. And pretty soon even the addition will stop. Because seed must be sown if new harvests are to be grown.
When the seed is drawn from the barn or the sack, and scattered across the field, then the principle of death and resurrection and the fruitfulness of multiplication takes over. The fruit of one plant now reproduces and multiplies itself in many plants in many other fields.
Would you say that your vision for life and ministry has been more about growth by “addition”, or growth by “multiplication”?