TEAMING UP WITH JESUS
MATTHEW 10: 1-15
1 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and illness.
2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” 8 Heal those who are ill, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
9 ‘Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts – 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
One of the things I enjoy doing is having an idea and then getting a team together to do the idea. Some years ago a few of us had this idea of running a weekend – a retreat for teenagers – and I loved getting the location organised, the speaker for weekend, the band, the catering team. I was in my element! Or as one of the more perceptive members of the team says: you have the idea and then delegate it to someone else to do! Outrageous….but possibly true!
One of the things I do remember saying was that I wanted the best speaker, the best band, the best location etc. But how would Jesus have done it? Who would he have chosen? What people type? So let’s have a look at some of the principles we can pick up from this passage in Matthew 10.
2. Who does God call?
Now Jesus (in verse 1) calls his 12 disciple to him and gives them authority to carry out his work. Now notice the order of this. He has called his disciples – then he gives them the authority. This is really important to notice. He calls – then equips. Will, one of Moorlands students said recently: “God doesn’t call the equipped – he equips the called.”
The danger is that we see that there are people who are very able and gifted and we think – wouldn’t it be great if they were a Christian? Or we think that those in certain positions in the church are the gifted ones who God needs. No, no, no. God isn’t after certain giftings – evidenced by the list of disciples:
Peter suffered from foot in mouth disease: he spoke or acted first and thought later. James and John were nicknamed “Sons of Thunder” by Jesus (not as I heard once someone say because they had digestive problems – but because of their temperament!). Thomas was the type of guy no one wants on their team – always questioning everything – not even a glass half full person – more like – there is no glass (unless I have it in my hands!). Matthew collaborated with the Romans to collect taxes whilst Simon the Zealot was probably trying to bring the Romans down!
A specialist in team building would look at Jesus’s team – and shake their head sadly. It’s a right motley crew.
But this is the upside down way that God works. And the church today will reflect that. What we will see is a right mish-mash of people from all sorts of backgrounds with all sorts of abilities, strengths and weaknesses. But this is irrelevant when it comes to the call of God. Because there is one thing they have in common: the call of God. If you are a Christian; you have been called by God.
God’s call trumps everything. Paul says in 1 Timothy 2: 4 that he (God) wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. Do you feel you have nothing to offer? Great – God is calling you. Are you at your lowest ebb? God’s calling you. Are you struggling financially? God is calling you. Are you comfortably well off? God is calling you. Are you ill? God is calling you. Are you struggling with temptation? God is calling you.
So maybe – we need to stop and listen that in the mess of life, in the same way as Jesus called this motley crew of disciples – God is calling you.
3. The qualifications we don’t need
Later in the passage Jesus tells the disciples not to take money or extra clothing (verses 9 and 10). What this means is not that we shouldn’t work or pack an extra thick jumper when we are going on holiday in the UK – but simply rely on him rather than ourselves.
The one thing therefore that we don’t need is pride. When we consider the word pride – from a biblical perspective – what that means is our desire to be independent of God, self-sufficient; in other words pride means we DON’T rely on God. We were reflecting in our Home Group just this week – why is it that when stuff happens in life our first response is to deal with it ourselves. And only when we cannot deal with it and exhausted every other avenue, do we wearily trudge towards the Lord. Is that your experience? Why do we do this? It is our pride. Our desire to do things our way; in our time; in our strength.
Therefore, the question is: How then are we to deal with our pride – this desire to do things our way, independent of God?
We need to understand that we are in a battle – and that there is our “old self” and also our “new self”. Our old self is ruled by our passions and desires; our new self is ruled by the Holy Spirit. But the old self will not lay down and be gone! Paul writes in Romans 7 about the battle of the old self rearing its head; those old weaknesses. But he also says this in Galatians 2: 20: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And in Galatians 5: 24 – those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh (the old nature).
Notice that these verses are in the past tense. I HAVE been crucified with Christ. Those who belong to Christ HAVE crucified the flesh. It has happened. But sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. One of the reasons for this this is when we read these verses (I have been crucified with Christ or the flesh has been crucified) there is a difference between someone being the legal owner of the promise a house and someone being the legal owner of the promise and enjoying it.
My Gran’s house down in Polzeath is jointly owned by my brother, sister and myself. So although I am the legal owner of the house, we don’t stay there when we go down to Polzeath but Rachel (my sister) does. She stays down in the house and lives in the property and experiences and enjoys it.
In the same way – don’t just read the promise of Jesus (of which you are “an owner”) but take the promise of Jesus, trust what he says and live in the promise. I have been crucified with Christ, I no longer live but Christ lives in me.
4. The qualifications we do need
So what do we need when we are called? Now we might say here – “well – its okay for the disciples – they had Jesus telling what to do. We don’t have that.”
But you do. Jesus promised you the Holy Spirit (see John 14: 16 for example). The Holy Spirit is precisely like Jesus and He will guide you in all truth (John 16: 13). So now the called are being equipped with the Holy Spirit!
When Jesus was baptised, John gave this this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him” (John 1: 32). The imagery of a dove is fascinating because a dove only nests in a clean place. I take that as meaning that we need to be a clean place. We need to be a people that go back to the Lord, seeking forgiveness for our sinfulness, knowing and trusting that God will forgive us as he promised (1 John 1: 9) – to then be that clean place so we can be filled entirely with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5: 18).
Mike Pilavachi was being interviewed by J John recently and he was talking about why he decided to stop doing the annual Soul Survivor festivals where thousands would come and hear the gospel. He said that they had listened to the Lord and sensed that 2019 would be the last year for Soul Survivor. Mike said that if they had done another year – i.e. 2020 it would have been cancelled because of Covid and more than likely gone bankrupt. He said that people now say – you must have had a word from the Lord that Covid would come…you must be so prophetic! And Mike simply said: “No – we had no idea – but God was very clear – we didn’t understand it but we just did what he said.”
J John then said: God guides our steps but he also guides our stops.
5. So don’t ignore the call of Jesus today. You are not excluded. But come to him as a child of God – because as a Christian, that is what you are. Maybe take time out today – and each day to be quiet with the Lord, seek his forgiveness, be filled with the Holy Spirit (and keep being filled) so that you will be equipped and then be aware of the whispers of the Spirit and be obedient to His call.
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
Category: Sermons , Services , The Bridge