Part 4 in the Things Jesus Said series.
March 13, 2016 | text: Matthew 10
We have been reviewing some of the things Jesus said in preparation for the Passion week and celebrating Easter. For the past few weeks we have looked carefully at many of the lessons from the Sermon on the Mount. There’s a lot of good stuff in there. I have pined over what to do with this final sermon. Four weeks ago I thought about Jesus’ final words from the cross, such as when he prayed for those crucifying him or told one of the thieves he would be with him in paradise that very day. One of my favorite New Testament verses is when Jesus says “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” I preached that sermon in Kentucky but haven’t used it here; yet. A four part sermon series sounds like a lot but I have discovered when dealing with the words of Jesus it isn’t nearly enough.
We need a passage of scripture this is powerful and relevant for the church today, that inspires and motivates God’s people to act, and that shares the Gospel message. Please direct your attention to Matthew 10:40. “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.”
The disciples were on mission. They had already been called to follow Jesus and beginning at v. 5 are given a purpose and a task to perform. They are organized and sent out with specific instructions. “And as you go, preach, saying ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'” (v.7 NKJV) Jesus bringing the kingdom near is a recurring theme in Mark’s Gospel. Recall Jesus’ first sermon recorded in Mark 1: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel.” The earthly ministry of Jesus was the beginning of his bringing the kingdom. When he said the kingdom was at hand it was literally arm’s length from the people he was speaking to. We live in a state of flux, during a transitional time John Piper describes as already but not yet. Jesus has brought, is bringing and will bring the kingdom of God. Jesus is the point of contact between heaven and earth. The people who spoke to Jesus and physically touched him were at the event horizon and most chose not to enter the kingdom. If we understand who Jesus is as he relates to the kingdom then get this: Jesus brought the kingdom near and said to his disciples “Now you take the kingdom to Israel.” He made his mission their mission. We do not do work for Jesus; we do the work of Jesus.
Our mission is to carry the gospel to the nations. During his earthly ministry, Jesus primary focus was on the people of Israel. There are several occasions where Jesus interacts with Gentiles and ironically it seems that they have more faith than the Jews. Consider the centurion in Matthew 8. He told Jesus not to come to his house but to simply speak the words and she would be healed. Jesus marveled “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.” (Matt 8:10) That’s probably not as ironic as it appears at first glance. Jesus came to fulfill messianic prophecy. He came to the Jews as a Jewish messiah knowing he would be rejected. Read Isaiah 53. Jesus never refused anyone seeking to believe or asking for healing, and he spent some time in Gentile territory. It is often everybody but the Jews – the Samaritan woman at the well, the centurion we just looked at, the Syro-Phoenician woman, the Roman at the cross, not to mention demons and evil spirits – who most easily recognize Jesus. After his death, burial and resurrection Jesus sends his believers on a global mission:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:18-20)
Be wise as serpents but harmless as doves. Jesus knew what he was sending the disciples into. He came into the world knowing what would happen to him and warns his followers they will be persecuted as well. He compares them to sheep among wolves in v. 16 before telling them to be innocent as doves but wise as serpents. We will be offended are commanded not to offend. The Gospel is offensive but we need to make sure that’s what people are offended by and not us. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18) Jesus encourages his disciples in Matthew 10 that persecutions will come but the reward will be greater. And look again at v. 40. Jesus was sent by God the Father. Anyone that receives the Son receives the Father. When Jesus sent his followers into the world to do his work, he told them anyone that received them received him. We are now the followers and disciples sent into the world with his message. Remember, we don’t work for the Lord, we do the Lord’s work. We are the body of Christ. When people receive you they receive him that sent you, and the one that sent him.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10