Thursday, January 8, 2009

Matthew 10 - The disciples' mission

Jesus sent his twelve disciples out on a mission. They were entrusted with two duties. First, they were to proclaim that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Second, they were to cast out demons and heal every disease and affliction. In the rest of the chapter, Jesus taught his disciples what to do if and when they were opposed. It seems that Jesus anticipated opposition not so much to the acts of healing but to the proclamation:
  • the disciples could encounter people who would "not...listen to your words," v.14
  • the disciples would be "dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles," v.18

Three times, Jesus instructed the disciples to quell their fears:

  • "When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say," v.19
  • "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master...So have no fear of them," vv.24-26
  • "Fear not, therefore...So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven," vv.21-23.

Jesus said that he came not to bring peace to the earth but a sword. A house would be divided because of him. Clearly, it is not his healing that would divide a house but his call to loyalty and submission to his lordship - proclamation. He issues the following challenge:

"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" vv. 37-39.

It is proclamation that will get Christ's disciples into trouble more than anything. In the same way, it will be my preaching ministry that would carry the greatest risk of offence than anything that I can do in church. A few lessons:

  1. The offence must be wholly in the message and not me. This calls for careful exegesis, contextualisation and application (v.7)
  2. Once convinced that I have done my homework properly, I must harbour no fear or doubt about offending anyone (v.14-15).
  3. I must not and will not deny Christ and his word (vv.31-33).
  4. His truth must matter more than my life (v.28).
  5. I must entrust myself into the protection of God (v.39).

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