Monday, January 21, 2019

Devotional: The “First” Commission, Matthew 10:1-15

Chapter 10 ends this section (9:9-10:42), with Jesus’ call to kingdom service. It is a first commission which, in a way, serves as a preview of the “great commission” (28:18-19); Matthew’s conclusion and call to action for the church. Here, Jesus sends out the 12 disciples, as his agents, to announce the coming of the kingdom to the nation of Israel. Both Matthew and Mark tailor their presentation of Jesus' instructions to their own audience showing that we can apply the principles contained in these instructions to our situations as we announce the kingdom today. First, Jesus calls his agents to live simply, trust God to supply their needs, and devote their resources to kingdom work. They should expect opposition and persecution even from those closest to them, that could be lethal, but they should fear God alone and be willing to give their lives for the kingdom. Jesus assures the disciples that the rewards for this commitment and sacrifice are eternal and worth it. There is even great reward for those Christians who provide support and resources for those who are on the front lines.

There are five principles in 10:1-15 from Jesus’ instructions that we can apply to our kingdom service today…
  1. Jesus is the one who authorizes ministry and sends out his representatives. (10:1-4) This means that he defines the mission and the roles each person plays in fulfilling the task. The disciples were supposed to model their ministry on what they had already seen Jesus doing and according to the way Jesus taught them. If they did this, they would be ministering with Jesus’ authority and power, and not their own. Jesus would validate their ministries with the same signs and miracles he was doing. The main purpose of miracles, then, is verification of the message and this has been repeated throughout history when the good news about Jesus enters a new region, or as is currently being seen in the Muslim world, when the gospel is reclaiming territory that has been lost for many years.
  2. Jesus calls us to begin the task where we are. (10:5-6) Jesus is beginning this new phase in his kingdom plan with 12 Jewish men, so they would begin with a mission to Israel. These average guys, with Jesus power would become the foundation of Jesus’ new worldwide community, but he would begin with what they knew: Israel. In the church today there is a lot of interest in “mission trips.” But no one should be sent out somewhere else unless they are already doing it “here,” where they are now.
  3. The message Jesus calls us to proclaim is God’s kingdom. (10:7) For the disciples the message was that the kingdom was there in the person of the king, sickness, evil and death were being overcome and sins were being forgiven. This was available to all if they would trust and follow Jesus. We proclaim a similar gospel message, “Jesus is LORD” (Romans 10:9), he has risen and conquered death and sin and calls us to trust and follow him. Like the first disciples we must proclaim this message with out words, our actions and our lifestyles.We invite others to follow along with us as we follow Jesus.
  4. Jesus’ disciples are to live simply so that they can devote their resources to his mission (10:7-10). Ministry should never be about making money. We can do this because God promises to take care of those who devote their lives to God’s mission. One of the main tasks of the church is to be the means of this provision. “The laborer deserves his food” but the New Testament is full of warnings about using ministry to get rich. We must exercise wisdom in our giving to ministries to avoid giving to hucksters who use Jesus to build up their bank accounts, but support generously dedicated servants who devote their resources to God’s mission. All Christians are called to make regular evaluation of their finances to make sure that God’s mission is prioritized in their budget.
  5. The responsibility for the response to the message belongs to the audience and to God. (10:11-15). The responsibility of the disciple is to accurately bring the message of “peace” wherever they go. If the message is received and supported, the disciple has become the means of blessing to their neighbor. The one who rejects or opposes the message brings down God’s judgment on him/herself. They are responsible for their own loss of blessing.
From the beginning of creation God made us to be his representatives. Through Jesus, God has made us the messengers of his kingdom. God calls us to take what we know and have experienced in Jesus to our neighbors and to the world. He promises to take our efforts and empower them as his efforts. What a privilege it is to take God’s peace and blessing to those who need it. It is our greatest blessing and most important responsibility.

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