Preached @ Anchor Community Church on November 30th 2014
“As faith without works is dead, so also is prayer without mission.”
We are continuing to plow through the Gospel of Matthew, and here we come to a transition in themes. As we have stated a few times, Matthew lumps his material thematically, not necessarily sequentially. He has just come of a long set of narrative bracketed by the same words in Matthew 4:23 and Matthew 9:35. Now he is switching gears to show how Jesus passed on His authority and mission to His disciples.
Big Picture: The Church’s Mission is a demonstration of God’s Purpose and Glory!
We also see that Jesus was motivated by “Compassion” for His people (See Matthew 9:36). This is no different for the mission of His church. We ought to be motivated by His love for us, His compassion for us, and thus our love and compassion for others.
Matthew also is using the metaphor of a “Sheep with no shepherd,” because it brings forth the imagery of the shepherd/messiah of the Old Testament (See Ezekiel 34:23-24, 31 cf. 37:24). Israel was promised that they would have a King who would shepherd them, and that there is one coming in the authority of David that would be their king and shepherd over them, “forever.” Matthew also uses this imagery in Matthew 2:6, which is quoting Micah 5:2; a prophecy of the coming Messiah/Shepherd! Jesus is the “Good Shepherd (See John 10),” whose compassion for broken humanity is a motivating factor for His mission on earth. Love and compassion should also be the motivating factor for the Church, His people.
The question in this transitional verse then is who are the workers? Technically every disciple of Jesus Christ is a worker who represents God as a missionary (See 1 Peter 2:9); however, God does choose and call out men and women to serve Him in a different capacity as leaders of His mission, and gives to them gifts, qualifications and expectations to lead with compassion and humility. The church as a whole is called to “Go,” but sometimes an individual(s) are called to literally pick up and move as Abraham was.
Today we are looking at 5 Aspects of the Mission of the Church, and its relationship to Jesus’ mission here on earth:
From the Head…
The Church’s Mission Is An Extension of God’s Mission (Matthew 10:1)
The Church is called too, to care for those that are cast out and downtrodden. Casting our “Unclean spirits” is a reminder of Jesus’ working with spiritual forces of evil, that we too are called to fight against. The Church is also called to the brokenness that evil wreaks on people. Disease, affliction, hurt are all part of the human condition, and the church is called to stand in the gap and help relieve the brokenness, also motivated by the compassion Jesus was.
What is the “Authority?” The word for authority is exousia, and it has the idea of power/authority. Does the mission of God demand that the message come with such power and miracles as some believe? Well first, God can still do what He wills according to His purposes and timing. There are no doubt that God continues to do miracles and give dreams and visions to draw men/women to Himself, but there are at least 3 caveats in this thinking:
- Most of these type of wonders were accomplished through the Apostles (See 2 Corinthians 12:12)
- Not every incident of conversion came with supernatural happenings, and as a matter of fact many of God’s people died with no resurrections, etc. (See Hebrews 11:36-39).
- There are no “Magic Bullets” of Evangelism. The NT does not give us the “How To” of evangelism at all, just the command to go and proclaim His Kingdom!
The fact is, the gospel is about God and His purposes for His glory. There are times He heals through “Ordinary” measures (ie. Medical Care), and times He has used supernatural miracles to heal. He most often does so to demonstrate His power and authority when the timing calls for it. He’s in charge of it, not the Church, yet He has given the Apostles that authority to be His spokesmen in very harsh environs for His glory! The church’s authority is a derived authority, that comes from God, and is according to His will, not ours!
The Church’s Mission Is Headed By Those Who Are Called (Matthew 10:1, 2-4)
Note that the disciples are “Called.” This list is not a bunch of perfect men, they are actually a bunch of ordinary men, and some extraordinarily bad or hated. God calls and pursues His people for His purposes, and does not look at “Conditions” that humanity must meet to be called. He uses ordinary, sinful humanity to accomplish His purposes. It seems as simple as that. God uses ordinary people, so He can show off His extraordinary power/authority.
The Church’s Mission Is A Demonstration of Kingdom Values (Matthew 10:5-8a)
There are two statements Jesus makes here that are of interest. First, he instructs the disciples to, “Go to the house of Israel,” and no one else, especially those hated Samaritans. This seems odd and even at odds with the gospel itself, and the unfolding of this gospel, as Jesus not only highly commends the gentiles, but He particularly does so to the Samaritans. The gospel’s goal appears to be clearly a blessing to the nations.” Then why did Jesus give this order?? I’m not sure anyone has a definitive answer, but there are a couple of thoughts that probably play into this odd request. First, although it is clear that God’s plan is to bless the nations (See Genesis 12:1-3), He chose to do that through His people, the Jews; so it may be a statement fulfilling their order in salvation history (See too Romans 1:16). Most likely, since Matthew is writing for a Jewish audience, it is to show off his theme, that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the savior of Israel. Jesus doesn’t tell them to “Go” to the nations until He has left, and the Holy Spirit has come (Matthew 28:19 cf. Acts 1:8).
Secondly, He instructs the disciples to proclaim, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” What does that mean? Well it means a lot more than you should “Accept Jesus into your heart!” It’s not about you! The gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven is about God and what He is doing, and will do to remedy the pain and brokenness of humanity. Sickness, disease, evil, etc. will not exist, and the church’s mission is to proclaim God’s good news by continuing what He started: “Heal the sick.” “Raise the dead.” “Cleanse lepers,” and “Cast out demons.” The disciples were called to continue the mission that Jesus started, and the church is to continue the mission by proclaiming and living the ethics of a new kingdom (See the Sermon on the Mount; Matthew 5-7). How can we love our enemies? How are we supposed to treat the poor? What ought our marriages/family to look like? These are questions to be answered by Kingdom ethics, and not our own ideals or opinions.
The Church’s Mission Is A Demonstration of God’s Grace (Matthew 10:8b-10)
The church’s mission is not only a demonstration of Kingdom values, but it also a demonstration of the motivation behind the values; God’s grace. The apostles were called to give graciously since Jesus said, “You received without paying, give without pay.” This is huge, and it is huge for us as the church following up their mission, with God’s ongoing mission through His church. We are motivated to do, because of what or who we are in Christ, and what He has done for us. It is His grace and love and mercy that “Ought” to motivate us to work, not PAY!
At first, this was confusing to me, since Jesus tells them this, and to take nothing along the journey (see vv. 9-10), but then he says, “for the laborer deserves his food.” So don’t take any pay, and also take nothing because, the laborer “Deserves” pay?? Then it hit me, Jesus is balancing off a sticky issue in the church; should a “minister/Pastor” be paid for their work? Paul seems to think so (See 1 Corinthians 9; 1 Timothy 5), but how does this square with Jesus’ words? Jesus is making the case that there is no demand to do the Lord’s work. That ought to be motivated by the fact that all of us received without paying, but on the other side of the coin, is the desire of those blessed to take care of the needs of God’s workers out of the same grace and gratefulness. The difference between demanding and receiving is grace, and it’s a humbling thing. Trusting Jesus for your sustenance as a “Vocation,” is very humbling. Prayerfully any minister of the gospel that is called to the ministry in a full time manner, he/she does so trusting God, and humbly submitting to those they minister to for their support. This balances the church’s generosity with the minister’s humility. It is hard to trust in people’s generosity and giving spirit for your sustenance, but that ultimate trust is in God that you are called, and He will provide!
The Church’s Mission Does Not Always Show Results (Matthew 10:11-15)
When a person rejects the messenger, they are rejecting the message, not necessarily the person. The message of the gospel is, and will always be offensive, but it doesn’t negate the fact that rejecting Jesus removes God’s peace from that person. It is also important to understand that we are all at odds with God (See Romans 5:8-10), and in need of a peace treaty, and it is we who are God’s enemies. It is His gospel that promises to re-right injustice, stop disease and death, and to create peace between Him and His creation, but it is us who fully reject Him in the name of pluralism, and subsequently Jesus is saying that this rejection has its consequences, and that consequence is righteous, loving and just!
…to the Heart
We are “Called” by God, to be a blessing to others as a continuation of God’s plan to bless the nations with the gospel. We are all called to demonstrate the Grace we have been given, so His name could be made famous, and the people could receive the joy of the gospel in their own selves.
Questions To Ponder
- Why did Jesus pick this bunch? Especially a “tax Collector?
- What does Jesus’s choice say about Him, and God’s grace?
- What would you do if Jesus directly asked you to go on the same mission?
- What if He has?
- Why do you think He asked them to not take too much with them?
- What is a man/woman of Peace?
For Further Reading
A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Craig S. Keener
The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, Michael J. Wilkins
The Gospel According to Matthew, Leon Morris
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament 1A, ed. Manlio Simonetti
Sermon On the Mount; Sinclair Ferguson