Day Fourteen: Thursday, June 25th, 2020
Bible Lesson: Matthew 10:1-42
Reflection from Pastor Wayne Eberly:
“I am sending you”
Reading Matthew 10 for the umpteenth time, it occurred to me for the umpteenth time there is much in this particular chapter I do not understand. I’m curious how you will respond to this chapter. Jesus says words that sound very different from the comforting words of the beatitudes. Jesus says words about family relationships that seem to contradict his words about loving others. Jesus says words that seem to be the opposite of blessing those who are peacemakers. There is much in this particular chapter I do not understand.
Then it occurred to me why there is much in this chapter I do not understand. My life is so drastically different from those first disciples. At 19 years of age I heard the call of Jesus to be a pastor and I was eventually sent out as a pastor. But my call and sending looked nothing like the call and sending of those first disciples.
- I was raised in a church, surrounded and supported by an established community of believers who nurtured me, cared for me, challenged me, encouraged me, and supported me in tangible ways every step of my journey.
- I was sent to serve churches that had buildings, budgets, and boards. There was an infrastructure in place with policies and procedures.
- I was called into a denomination that had the benefit of 200 plus years of a rich history, a network that covered not only our entire nation but one that connected me to workers all around the world.
- I had a salary, a steady flow of income.
- I had access to a seminary, to libraries, to professors, to mentors, to fellow staff members, to local clergy groups, and to colleagues who helped me work through whatever challenges would arise.
In short, my call and sending was nothing like those first disciples, those first ones who were sent. They went into uncharted territory. They went with a small and fledgling support system. They had no experience in church planting or establishing and forming a community. And they went into a world that was in many ways hostile to the message and to the messengers. These first disciples faced opposition, hardship, personal struggles, imprisonment, and even persecution.
Reading Matthew 10 for the umpteenth time has encouraged me to do two things. Without understanding everything in this passage, these are the two things I will do as I read this chapter today.
- Try to understand what these words might have meant for those first disciples as Jesus sent them out on a mission of unparalleled risk and a mission that had yet to contain any infrastructure or support system.
- Try to understand what these words might have to say to me, to us, as we seek to continue carrying the word of our Lord Jesus into our particular world, at our particular time, in our particular place(s) of ministry.
To these I will add a third.
3. I will give thanks for the support system that surrounds me. I will give thanks for those who went ahead of me. I will give thanks for the ones who trained and equipped, who comforted and supported, who blessed and encouraged me. And I will give thanks for the people I serve alongside, for the congregation and individuals who are my brothers and sisters in faith.
“The intent of verses 7-8 is summarized in the two imperatives ‘preach’ and ‘heal’. As in the ministry of Jesus, the disciples’ proclamation of the good news of the kingdom must be corroborated by signs of the kingdom. Although the miracles they are empowered to effect are not insignificant, the emphasis clearly lies less on producing spectacular displays of supernatural power than on manifesting concern for God’s hurting people. The message about the coming of God’s rule must be rendered believable through concrete demonstrations of God’s caring. The modern church understands this principle and tires to be faithful to it. Mission boards send out not only evangelists but medical personnel, educators, agricultural missionaries, and others who will communicate the living gospel through visible acts of compassion. Likewise churches reach out to their neighborhoods in effective evangelism when concern for souls is accompanied by genuine concern for bodily existence…There must be no divorce between ‘preach’ and ‘heal.’” (Douglas Ware, Matthew, p. 112)