summer bannerr3

 


 

  After Pentecost for the web

Sermon of June 18th

   Time After Pentecost   

Matthew 9:35- 10:23

 
Let us pray. Speak to us Lord, speak to us.
For we are listening. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen. 
 

  

Theme:     Jesus’ compassion empowers the disciples to journey on
Doctrine:   Mission / Disciples
Image:       Journey / what are needed on our mission journey
P+ Need:   We need to know that Jesus send not the angles but his disciples on Mission
Mission:     We are sent to proclaim the good news of God’s kingdom and take care of the needy.

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Starting from this Sunday, we enter into the season of ordinary, and we will focus on the theme of discipleship. The passage we are given this morning is the early stage of Jesus’ mission journey. Through preaching and teaching, he makes clear God’s instruction. And through serving the needs of the people he reminds people of God’s merciful grace. Jesus’ actions become the embodiment of God’s kingdom (Sovereign power) and presence among humankind. It is the essence of Jesus’ mission and his disciples are called to carry it on.

If you read the passage carefully, the mission task is mentioned three time in a very precise way. Therefore, as Jesus’ disciples, his church, do we still need to search or discover what God wants us to do? Or it is just an excuse for us not to commit. Therefore, instead of asking what our mission is, maybe our question should be what stops us from committing?

Today’s scriptures tell us that when Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them. Do we have compassion for others? As we see that it is his compassion that compels him to take action. When Jesus saw them, he understood their challenge and felt their pain.

What Jesus continued to say struck me: The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  Jesus does not consider these people as being something negative, but positive - harvest. They are treasures in Jesus’ eyes. What’s more, we can feel the sense of urgency. Jesus doesn’t want to lose any of them. It sounds like Jesus is doing some self-talk here. “What should I do?” Oh, I know, “ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

I don’t believe that his disciples saw this coming. They assumed that as followers, they did not need to do the “real” job. The “real” job belongs to Jesus - They never expected that proclaiming the good news, teaching God’s word, or turning people’s lives around would be their ‘duty. Since they had not prepared, they were not ready, and they knew that.

When we look at the names of the disciples, we know their qualities. They are not perfect, but we need to remember that they are hand-picked by Jesus and now he has decided to give them authority and send them to the field. If you were one of them, how would you have felt? I suppose a combination of nervousness and excitement.  

Jesus does not just entrust them with the task, but also gives instructions. Jesus precisely tells them where they should go. Not to all nations, but only to the lost sheep the house of Israel. Start the ministry at the local level on a small scale, begin in your home.

Look around and listen; pay attention to what is going on not with your heads, but your hearts: with compassion. When you see the need, take care of it. And in the meantime, proclaim the good news of the arrival of God’s kingdom. Again, the outline of the mission has no abstraction. I don’t think you need a PHD to understand the mission.

Now please pay attention to the details about how the disciples should partake in this mission. 

First of all, Jesus says, “you received without payment; give without payment.” I like the translation from NIV better, “Freely you have received, freely give.” Based on the context of the text, I believe that it is not about payment or money but about authority. Disciples need to bear in mind that the authority or power that they have received is meant to be used for the sake of the kingdom, not held back for self-serving purpose. It is important for Jesus’ disciples to remember who is the boss.

Then Jesus instructs the disciples not to prepare anything for themselves but to trust that the Lord of the Harvest will provide their needs, for the laborers deserve their food (basic need). It is important for us to trust that our boss is faithful and just.

Last but not least, it is important for us to bear in mind that we are not the judge. The disciples are sent to pass on peace and to share the good news. We are not above others, nor better than others, Martin Luther is right when he said, “We are all mere beggars telling other beggars where to find bread.”

Understanding about who God is and who we are prepares the disciples to hear the nature of this mission. It is not an easy mission. In fact, it is very dangerous because the disciples are sent like sheep into the midst of wolves. If sheep bite, the wolves kill. It is a prediction, but also not a prediction, for we know that sometimes God’s servants have lost their lives in mission.  Therefore, when God calls, not too often, we hear people sing, “Here I am Lord.”

We need to understand that Jesus never forces anyone to journey with him and share in his mission. Even though many have said yes, they did not travel far. Many followers stop at the cross, watch it from a far. They don’t understand; since they don’t see what Jesus sees, they have no compassion for what’s going on around them. My question is how can we see or feel as Jesus if we are not abiding in him and He in us?

The problem for us today as a congregation is that maybe having merely heard this message will not immediately pay off the $10,000 deficit in our church account. People do not see how serving the community can increase membership, and income. Bills need to be paid. I know. I was the treasurer at my home church before I went to the seminary. As your pastor, I wish I could come up an answer to ease your worry. As God’s servant, I wish I could have a solution to help those who consider themselves dying churches. But I don’t; and so far, I don’t see one from the scriptures. So, I wonder, is it possible this is not God’s concern because if we have God as our boss, our Father in heaven, why on earth do we think we need to worry? Why not just pay attention to what we call you to do?  Has not our Lord said that, “If you believe, you will see God’s glory”? So, do you believe?

Therefore, Christian fellows: in times of hardship and uncertainly, remember this:
Worry is your enemy: in time of trouble, instead of paying attention to the voices that delude us from trusting God, please spend your energy on what you are called to do. Worry stirs up frustration and distrust. Like falling into a spiral, the more we worry, the deeper we are in.

In times of hardship and uncertainly, also remember this:
Endurance is your salvation: Our call is not about making sure everything goes well: bank account in the black, pews are filled, and trouble free. Our call, is no matter what, that we stand firm on the faith that we have inherited from our Lord Jesus and be faithful. For how long? The Lord says, “to the end, and you will be saved.

What’s more, in times of hardship and uncertainly, remember this:
Not everyone is called to be a martyr. However, if God calls us to be martyrs, he surely will equip our capacity. God will not give us more than we can bear. The point is that we need to learn to choose our battles. Don’t waste our time on unnecessary struggles, conflicts, or worries. If you want a teacher on this, I know one and his name is Nehemiah. And you can find him in the bible.

Often I am told not to assume that all church goers are Jesus’ disciples. People who said that do not mean to disrespect Christians. They just tell the truth. Many are following Jesus, and it may be all that they want – to get some good things from Jesus. Jesus is not naïve, he knows that. Therefore, to those who follow him for whatever reason, he says, “If you wish to be my disciples, you need to know that the cost is high.”  If you pay attention, you know that three times at least every year, he repeats that invitation: “if you want to be my disciples…” Is this what you want? To be Jesus’ disciples.

After Jesus was resurrected, He revealed himself to his imperfect disciples. And to the one who denied him three times, he asked. “Do you love me more than these?” Three times Peter said, “Yes. You know that I love you.” but he adds more words in his last reply. “Lord you know all things.” Learned through a hard lesson, now Peter knows that he doesn’t need to hide or to pretend, for the Lord know all things.

Jesus knows that we are not perfect, he knows that we have limited power, he even knows our faith is little. But these things do not carry power to stop our Lord to love and send us, he knows that it may take time, but we will learn if we trust him, pay attention to him, and refuse to give up.

Look out to the world with compassion and have faith in God. We are not commissioned to worry but to proclaim the good news and take care of the needy. And remember this: the Lord of the harvest will take care of his labours. Instead of focusing on what we do not have, count our blessings and put our whole selves at God’s disposal. For God deserves more than 10% of what we have. We are beggars, but God never is. 

My dear friends, if you have said yes to Jesus and wanted to be his disciples, Honor Him by trusting and obeying. If we do, we will save both ourselves and the people around us.

  

 

©2017, Pastor Mei Sum Lai, MDiv. Please do not reproduce this article in whole or in part, in any form, without obtaining the written permission of the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Updated: June 24th, 2017