In Matthew 12, Jesus said something that has always mystified me. After healing a whole bunch of people he “ordered them not to make him known.” (12:13) This wasn’t the first time he told people to keep his ministry on the down-low, and every time I read this particular instruction (which almost no one ever obeyed, by the way) I wonder why on earth Jesus gave it. But in this instance, Matthew explained:
“This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah.” (Verse 17)
Jesus, it seems, was God’s chosen method in his mission to “proclaim justice to the Gentiles” (Verse 18). What’s implied is that if the mission advanced too quickly, it would jeopardize his intent of getting the gospel to the outsiders, the Gentiles. And so, in order to keep from upsetting the Jewish leaders and thus getting to the crucifixion too early, Jesus proclaimed justice stealthily… for now.
What I get from all of this is not necessarily Jesus’ patience; it’s the singularity of his intention. Jesus’ intent is to get the gospel from where it is to where it isn’t. He is restless until it happens. It’s as if the gospel itself—by its very nature—is restless. The gospel has restless leg syndrome.
And so I have to ask myself: Do I have restless leg syndrome? Am I restless until the gospel gets out? Does the gospel animate my life outward? Am I anxious to tell others about the most important and life-giving and life-changing encounter that has ever happened to me? Do I share in Jesus' intent to get the gospel from where it is to where it isn't?
Not enough. I'm finally admitting to myself that my calendar is a good gauge of my intentionality. If I must do a thing, or if I don't want forget to do a thing, I write it on my calendar. I have several people with whom I desire to share the gospel, but their names are not on my calendar. Hmmm. Maybe I don't really intend to share the gospel with them at all. Maybe I'm not serious about sharing the gospel until I block off a chunk of time with their name on it and call or email (or message or tweet) and invite them to get together. Everything else is pure chance.
Lord, give me restless legs for the gospel. Grant me the privilege of taking the gospel from where it is to where, for now, it is not.