Part 1 of the “God’s People” series
April 3, 2016 | text: Matthew 10:5-8, 28:16-20
Throughout scripture there are people called by God and sent on various missions. Some like Isaiah stood up and said “Here I am, send me.” Moses had the opposite response. After making several objections at the burning bush he finally said “Please send someone else.” We all know what happened to Jonah when he went the other way as fast as he could go. He eventually ended up where God sent him in the first place.
The Christian believer, individually, and the church as the body of Christ, collectively, is part of an interesting line of succession. We are not distantly removed from the narrative of the Bible. The Old Testament prophets who spoke for God and the priests that drew near to him on behalf of the people were symbols and pictures of what God would do in the New Testament, through Christ and those that received him. Their story is part of our story.
Jesus was sent. Advent and Christmastide were closely followed by Lent and Easter this year. We have taught and preached on little else since the end of November. I am willing to take for granted that we understand Jesus was sent by the Father on very specific mission without turning to those scripture references. While I would never recommend summarizing the life and ministry of Jesus in a single verse it could be done by reading John 6:38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” Jesus was sent from heaven to earth, and all that he said and did was according to the Father’s will. This is the primary, foundational truth of the Christian faith.
Jesus sent out “the twelve.” It has only been a few weeks since we looked at Jesus’ words in Matthew 10, but we focused primarily on “Whoever receives you receives me…” On this occasion the disciples were sent out among the tribes of Israel. During his earthly ministry, despite numerous interactions with Gentiles, Jesus was a Jewish messiah. By all accounts he lived as a practicing Jew. He had sharp words for the scribes and the Pharisees of his day but he was daily to be found in the Temple or the synagogues reading from the Torah and teaching as a rabbi would have done. He observed Passover as well as the other feasts and fasts of orthodox Judaism. This was part of God’s plan; he came to the chosen people of God and we know from John 1 that “his own received him not.” When Jesus sent out the 12 in Matt. 10 he instructed them to go to the house of Israel. Jesus was sent and now he was sending them. Jesus had authority and he gave the Apostles authority. Look further into Matthew 10 at verses 24-25. The disciple is to be like his teacher. Hold onto to that thought.
The Great Commission: In 28:16 there are 11, not 12. Perhaps another sermon for another day could be that there is always the possibility of a Judas among the believers. The 12 had been sent out the first time to the houses of Israel. Now the 11 are sent out to all the nations. That is our calling. Each and every believer has been drawn to Christ by the Holy Spirit; baptized into his death and resurrection; then sent to share the Good News with everyone that will receive it. The church is not just to evangelize or to record baptisms; the call is to make disciples. Disciples are students. Disciples are followers. Disciples are like the little children that sat at Jesus feet, listening to his stories about what God and the Kingdom are like. We see the disciples portrayed in The Last Supper, sitting at the table with Jesus, hearing his stories, asking him questions, and conversing among themselves. We are first invited to the table. Then we sent out among the highways and hedges of the entire world to compel others to come in. It is enough to be like the teacher. We are not working for Jesus; we are called to do the work of Jesus.