Jesus’ calling was remarkably consistent during His ministry.
I might be tempted to think that since He is the living embodiment of God, He would be super complex, but that’s not what we see. I didn’t mention Matthew’s overview of Jesus ministry in Mt 9 Pt 1 or in Part 2, but Mt 9:35 sums up His whole 3 year ministry prior to the cross. In this chapter, He begins to involve His disciples in His work and again His message is simple and direct. Today we’ll talk about these three primary instructions that He gives His disciples before sending them out to represent Him to the people.
It’s interesting to note that Matthew shows us in the end of Ch.9, Jesus doing these things and here in in Ch.10, Jesus is sending off the disciples to do what He had shown them and what He was teaching them to do. We’ve spoken before about knowing vs. doing. The western Church has a very broken model of discipleship where the Body comes to church on Sunday (or maybe twice a week) and listens to someone else talk about the spiritual life. This is an intellectual exercise that does not usually empower the congregants to live the Gospel. Jesus taught His disciples by first showing them (doing), and then pushing them out into the world to be what they had seen Him be (do). This was not head knowledge He was teaching, but knowledge through action
Jesus was sent to the Jews. This might surprise most people…Gentile (all Non-Jews) and Jew alike, but He was the promised Messiah to God’s chosen people. He was the fulfillment of the Law and the prophets that they had been studying and following for centuries.
“Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Mt 10:5-6)
As a matter of fact, he avoided non-Jews as best He could because He was not called to minister to them during His lifetime. There are those few with faith who begged His grace, and then He granted it, but He was mainly dedicated to the task of bring the Kingdom of Heaven to the Jew who had had this promise made to them since Abraham. God’s plan was to offer His Kingdom and with it the choice between eternal life and eternal judgment, first to the Jew and then to the Gentile. (Rom. 2) The Jews will all come to know their Messiah at the end times as has already begun to happen, but they had to be blinded for a time so that his grace could come to the rest of the world (Rom. 9-11).
However, the early Church was entirely Jewish. This was who Jesus lived out His ministry for; it was only after His death that the Church began reaching out to the rest of the world.
Jesus’ primary message was the Kingdom of Heaven, which is very different from what many Christians think of Christianity to be ….
“As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” (Mt 10:7-8)
He was speaking about the advancing government and reality of God’s Kingdom into this earthly realm. He was sent to reinstitute what had been lost in the time of Adam and Eve. The reality that each person could live a life in perfect harmony with God, knowing His love and being His steward of that which each has been given to manage. There is no sickness, death, or possession in Heaven and Jesus’ charge to His disciples (and to us) was to advance this Kingdom reality until the fullness of the righteous come to be fulfilled. His charge was not to thank God that after you die you’ll go to Heaven and now they could relax and enjoy the good life.
“Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.” (Mt 10:9-10)
Finally, Jesus was teaching His disciples to be totally dependent on Him. He was stripping the world from them which they were used to depending on, so that they would have to completely rely on God to show them the way. He would be the one to open doors for them, and when these doors opened, He would then show them who and how to minister. This dependence on God is how one enters His Kingdom.
On one hand we are blessed to live in a country where we can have everything, but I know that I allow this to be mostly a hindrance to me as I allow the things of this world to distract me from God and what He is trying to show me. Does this world ever get in the way of you having the full life that God wants for you? Have you found ways to break through this fog and grab hold of what’s real? We’d all love to hear about them.
I hope you’ll share this blog with someone you care about.