Monday Reverb – 19June2023

WELCOME . . . and THANKS for joining




  1. mutual respect … each of us is on a journey … at different stages
  2. flexi-time … We’re here for a Bible study, not a Bible reading … so it’s not always easy to end after 90 minutes
  3. Help us minimize distractions … Please mute your microphone until you are going to speak


Part ONE

G.C.I  Calling   . . . Listening to hear from our Home Office



  • Title:  Calling 911
  • Presenter:  Greg Williams, GCI President
  • Text:  Psalm 116:1-2

Have you ever had to call 9-1-1?  I hope not, but if you have, it was probably because you were in a serious situation that needed an immediate response.  That’s why we call 9-1-1 here in the US.  It’s the one number we know will be answered immediately and we will get a quick response to our needs.  Could you imagine calling 9-1-1 and getting a recording or being put on hold?  Hopefully, that will never happen to you.  When an emergency occurs, there is a bit of peace knowing we can depend on someone answering us when we dial 9-1-1.

For those who have grown to know the Lord, 9-1-1 is likely the second call we make because our first cry for help is to the Lord himself.  Like so many other believers, we have learned that the Lord is even more reliable than 9-1-1He is always there to answer our call for help.  Experience teaches us we can always turn to the Lord with our troubles, great or small because he has proven to be faithful to hear our call time and time again.  Here is the beginning of a Psalm that expresses this trust:

I love the LORD, for he heard my voiceHe heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. 
Psalm 116:1-2 (ESV)

If you are watching this video, you probably don’t need to call 9-1-1.  But I’m guessing many of you are facing troubles and trials.  I encourage you to follow the wisdom of the one who wrote this psalm.  Know and be confident in the truth that whatever troubles you are facing, either now or later, you can call on the LordEven when it seems he hasn’t answered, or answers in a way different than you desired, you can be sure you are not getting a recording or being put on hold.  He hears you and always responds with the right answer at the right time.

I’m Greg Williams, Speaking of Life.


Like Master, Like Disciple

Matthew 9:35-10:8 ESV

Today we continue our early steps into the season of Ordinary Time.  You may recall this season was kicked off with Trinity Sunday where we looked at the end of Matthew’s Gospel where he commissions the disciples to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).  Last week the lectionary track for the Gospels continued in Matthew with a selection from chapter 9 that begins with Jesus calling a tax collector to be a disciple, who, according to early church tradition, also happens to be the author of the Gospel that we are following.  That calling is met with some scorn by the Pharisees, which prompts Jesus to say, “For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners” (Matthew 9:13).  That is followed by a beautiful story of Jesus healing a woman who had been suffering for twelve years as well as raising a little girl back to life who had died at only twelve years of age.

Today, as we continue in Matthew, we will see a theme emerging – discipleship.  And more precisely, what it means to follow Jesus.  This is an appropriate theme to begin our season of Ordinary Time.  This season is a time where we unpack all that we have learned about Jesus during the first half of the Christian calendar, to live it out in our lives.  Or in other words, we look to live in alignment with who Jesus is, and who we are as those who belong to him.  The passage we have today will help us further along that journey, as we see once again a little more of who Jesus is, and what that means for those who are his disciples.

Let’s see how Matthew chooses to begin this section:


And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. (Matthew 9:35 ESV)

Matthew begins with Jesus and what he did in his ministry.  We must remember who Jesus is as the second person of the Trinity if we are going to gain the significance of what Matthew tells us about Jesus’ activity.  In short, when we grasp that Jesus is God’s Son, we come to see that Jesus is God on earth, or as the name Emmanuel means, “God with us.”  That means that when we read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ activity on earth, we are not just reading stories about a man with a mission.  We are being given a revelation of who God is in his very being.

When it comes to God, who is pure without any misalignment between his actions and his being, we can know that what God does flows out of who God isWe can’t say this of any other human being.  We are sinful creatures, meaning that there is much distortion and brokenness between what we think, say, and do.  Not so with God.  He never says or does anything that is out of line with his being.  Therefore, James can refer to God as “the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).  We can trust that all we see in Jesus, in his words and actions, are perfectly consistent with the character and heart of God.  In light of that truth, when we have a written account of Jesus’ activity, we are given a great gift from above that reveals to us who God is.  And that is exactly what Matthew gives us before he records Jesus’ instructions to his disciples.

This one verse gives us three things worth considering as revelations of who God is toward us.

First, we see that Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages.  We can see in this description that God is a God on the go.  He is not a static God carved in stone sitting on a throne.  He is active and takes the initiative to bring us into relationship with himself.  This is good news seen in the work of Christ.  God takes the initiative to come to us.  We do not have to find him, he finds us.  This echoes the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 5:8: “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Jesus did not first conduct a survey of the surrounding cities to see which ones were worthy of a visit.  He went to “all the cities and villages.” God’s love is greater than our sin.

Also, this sounds very similar to Jesus’ Great Commission to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”  Jesus does not commission us as disciples to do something he is not doing.  As disciples, we can follow him into “all the cities and villages” and participate in what he is doing in them, without any limiting requirements of those we are sent to.  We are not left to go out on our own.

Second, Jesus was teaching and preaching the gospel of the kingdom.  This shows us that God comes to us with good news.  And that good news is of his kingdom that he shares with us.  The God revealed in Jesus Christ is a God who shares.  He is not stingy, holding back the best for himself.  Rather, he aims to give all things to us, his very best.  And we see that God is a speaking God.  He comes to us, not to smite us into submission, but to teach and proclaim.  He speaks to us personally.  And his words are not words of condemnation, but words of healing and restoration.  We could rightly say that God’s words aim to woo us back to him.

Third, Jesus backs up his words of teaching and proclamation with acts of healing.  We are told that he heals “every disease and every affliction.”  This reveals a God who does not settle for a little improvement in our afflicted state.  He aims to cure all that afflicts us.  The God revealed in Jesus Christ is not a part-time healer.  He aims for a complete restoration.

Also, it is important to note the order of Jesus’ ministry being carried out.  He begins with words.  This is his primary ministry as he is the Word of God.  The actions of healing only confirm the words that he speaks.  The proclamation of the kingdom entails the good news of the complete healing and restoration that comes by way of God’s redemption of his lost children.  When Jesus heals, he is giving a physical witness, although partial, to what can be expected in full in the kingdom of GodThe order of Jesus’ ministry is important for disciples to understand if they are going to go and do likewise.  The words of teaching and proclamation are primary.  The deeds are secondary and serve to confirm the words.   The words and deeds must be aligned if they are to serve as a faithful witness to God’s kingdom.

That’s a lot of revelation about God in one little verse.  Jesus’ actions are packed with significance.  Let’s see what more may be revealed in the next verse:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  (Matthew 9:36 ESV)

The first thing that we see about God is that he sees us.  Do you ever feel like you are lost in a crowd, and no one sees you?  I think we all feel this way often.  We may feel overlooked and misunderstood.  But we are told here that Jesus “saw the crowds.”  And he didn’t just see a mass of indistinguishable people.  He saw beyond the numbers and into the depth of their sorrow and suffering.  As Matthew describes it, “they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”  The crowd did not become a hindrance to Jesus seeing their need and situation.  Often crowds become hindrances to knowing.  We can group people into “crowds,” or aggregates, in an attempt to gain some kind of understanding of them.  But this approach only gives us a depersonalized understanding.  It does not, and cannot, grasp the individual need or specific situation of the one in the crowd.  This is not the kind of God revealed in Jesus seeing the crowds.  In fact, we are told explicitly that Jesus was seeing through the eyes of his “compassion for them.”  If you ever feel alone in a crowd, this story tells us that God sees you, and he has compassion for your very need.

Matthew begins this section by telling us what Jesus is doing, and in doing that he has shown us first who God is.  It is only after this that he moves to tell us the implications of what this means for those who are called to follow him.  The primary impulse of ministry is God’s activity first, which we then participate in.

Now Matthew records what Jesus says directly to the disciples, which is also intended for us as his disciples today:

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38 ESV)

Again, let’s take note of the order of what Jesus says to the disciples.  This is the first thing he wants to convey to them, and he sets up what should serve as our primary ministry.  Jesus starts by letting them know the situation.  Basically, those who are in need are ripe to hear the gospel.  But there is a labor shortage.  If we were to guess what Jesus was going to say to them as a solution to this problem,  I suspect we would come up with something very different than what Jesus tells us. I would imagine we would guess that Jesus would tell us we need more laborers.  Perhaps we would imagine Jesus giving a call-to-action speech, full of emotional appeal and affirmative “you can do its.”  Maybe he would follow that up with some strategic program amounting to an all-out blitz of recruitment.  That is, after all, how we so often react to dire predicaments.  Pull up our bootstraps and get busy.  However, did you notice what Jesus says to do?  His solution is “therefore pray…”  I hope we don’t overlook that and dismiss it with a “Well yeah, we pray but what we really need is to address the situation.”

Jesus begins here. Pray.  That is the primary emphasis of how we are to address the mission of the churchPrayer.  And not just a passive, obligatory nod to prayer, but earnest prayer to the Lord of the harvest.  In other words, we live in complete trust of the one who oversees the mission in the world.  It is not our mission; it belongs to the Lord.  On that basis, we pray knowing that that is the most powerful and effective thing we can do in light of who God is.

Prayer is not just a pious thing we do to appear righteous.  It is a real participation in what God is already doing.  And did you notice what it is that we pray for?  It seems like the prayer should be for more laborers.  But that is not what Jesus is concerned with; he wants us to pray that the laborers be sent out.  That’s an interesting detail is it not.  Why wouldn’t we just pray for more laborers?  For Jesus, what is more important than the number of laborers, is that those laborers are followers of ChristJust as Jesus “went throughout all the cities and villages,” disciples are to grow to be more and more like Christ, imitating him by going out into all the world.  In other words, Jesus is more concerned about growing the faith of those who are present disciples.  More disciples will be added in God’s good time, but what is the point of having more disciples if the ones you have are not following the Lord.

The emphasis Jesus has placed in this prayer is on the laborers, not the results of the labor.  Our God is not looking for workers to get a job done that he is not willing to do. God is far more interested in us growing up to be more like his Son Jesus.  And that is exactly what we see in this passage, is it not?   The disciples are being called to look just like JesusTheir mission will look just like Jesus’ mission in the way Matthew records it.  This starts emerging in the next verse.

And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. (Matthew 10:1 ESV)

Do you see the parallel to what Jesus has empowered his twelve disciples to do?   It sounds very much like what Jesus was doing at the beginning of this section.  In fact, “heal every disease and every affliction” is the exact wording describing Jesus’ mission.  To be a disciple is to participate in the very ministry and mission that Jesus is doing.

Now, here is a trick questionWhen you read this verse, what would you say the disciples are primarily called to?   We may miss the obvious and think their primary calling is to cast out that which afflicts and heal people from those afflictions.  But that is not what the text says.  They are given authority to do these things, but their calling is to Jesus: “And he called to him his twelve disciples.”  That is our primary calling.  We are called to the Lord.  We follow him wherever he leads, receiving the authority he gives and exercising that authority for his good purposes.  But disciples, by definition, are those who follow the one who has called them to himself.  Again, we see that Jesus is more concerned about our relationship with him as we participate with him in his ministry and mission.  He is aiming to grow our faith in him and grow us up to be more like himself in his relationship with the Father.

The next verse perfectly follows this personal focus Jesus has for his disciples:

The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. (Matthew 10:2-4 ESV)

If Jesus was more interested in the task at hand, why would Matthew include in this section the personal name of each of the twelve disciples – not only their names, but some distinguishing attributes of their identity?  Matthew, who walked with Jesus, did not see this addition as out of place or out of step in a section dealing with Jesus’ mission.  For Matthew, this is the exact place to list and identify the twelve disciples.  In this section, it serves as the connecting hinge between Jesus’ mission and the sending of the disciples into that mission.  God is more concerned about you and I growing up into the Lord, than he is about the results of our missional involvement.

One final thought on the listing of the disciples.  Matthew included a few details that would further emphasize that the mission does not depend on us.  He begins the list with Peter who denied Jesus and ends it with Judas “who betrayed him.”  That is a bookend that does not present a polished resume for the group. Not only that but he includes himself with the title “the tax collector” and Simon with the title “the Zealot.” One worked for the Romans, the other fought against them. Why would these two be chosen to work together? Perhaps Matthew’s structure of naming the twelve disciples in pairs gives us the answer. As we are called to the Lord as his disciples, we are also called to one another as brothers and sisters. Reconciliation and fellowship is implied in discipleship.

From here Matthew is now ready to shift this section from Jesus’ ministry to his instructions to the disciples.

These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. (Matthew 10:5-8 ESV)

Jesus is now going to instruct the disciples on exactly how they are to go about the ministry he is sending them on.  Matthew 10:5-8 contain the beginning of those instructions that entail a description of the apostle’s work.  You can also read further to hear Jesus’ instructions regarding other matters that they will need to contend with in ministry – economic concerns and matters of hospitality as well as how to handle the opposition that will come from proclaiming the gospel.  We will not explore those issues today.  Rather, the main point to see in this section is the dynamic of Jesus being the one who is instructing them.  To be a disciple is to follow the Lord’s instructions.  Notice that the first thing they are told is the boundaries of their ministry.  They are only to go “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  If you remember, this boundary changes and is expanded to “all nations” by the end of Matthew’s Gospel.  Following Jesus in ministry means we must listen to him as we goHis instructions to us may change.  What he has us doing one day may have to change on another.  This fits the nature of being a disciple of a living Lord.  He is present with us, and we are in a real, dynamic and personal relationship with himWe should not expect any static, predictable, or cookie-cutter approach to ministry.  The Lord may have a few surprises along the journey.  After all, he is more interested in us coming to know him than he is in the task we may be asked to do along the way.

But we can also expect some consistency in the ministry he shares with usThe disciples are instructed to continue to do what Jesus himself had been doing.  Namely, proclaiming that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” while doing deeds that point to that proclamation.  Jesus lists several such deeds – “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons.”  We are not to read these too literally, but rather we see in them all in the context of healing that the kingdom reign of Christ brings.  In ways big and small, we can witness to this kingdom primarily with our words that proclaim Jesus’ words to us, along with deeds, great and small, that confirm the words.

Our section today ends with “You received without paying; give without pay.”  This final instruction can point us to how all ministry must be carried out: by God’s graceThe ministry and mission Jesus gives us is a gift.  We receive it freely, meaning we do not earn it on our own merits.  It is a gift to be received.  Likewise, the proclamation to others must not be twisted into a message that turns the gospel of grace from a gift to be received into a task to be achieved.  Ministry is not a means of exacting some kind of “payment” for the gospel.  It is grace all the way through.  As we participate in Jesus’ ministry, coming to him daily, listening to his instructions, and receiving his grace, we will grow to know him and his Father better by the Spirit.   In so doing, we grow more and more to look like Jesus.


Part TWO

GOING DEEPER   . . . seeking to hear from the Holy Spirit


The theme this week is God’s response to human need.

  • In Psalm 116:1-2,12-19, we read a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s response to human need.
  • In Genesis 18:1-15 and Genesis 21:1-7, we read about the responses of Abraham and Sarah to God fulfilling his promise of a son.
  • In Romans 5:1-8 expresses confidence and trust in the God who provides justification, peace, and grace through Jesus Christ.
  • In Matthew 9:35-10:8, we read of Jesus’ proclamation of the Gospel while healing out of his compassion for the crowd and of His commission to the disciples to do the same.


Psalm 116:3-11
  1. Psalm 116:3 Lit. cords
  2. Psalm 116:3 distresses
  3. Psalm 116:3 Lit. found me

Then they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?”  

So he said, “Here, in the tent.”  

10 And He said, “I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.” (Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him.) 

11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and [b]Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. 12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”  

13 And the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”  

15 But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid.  

And He said, “No, but you did laugh!”  

      1. Genesis 18:1 Heb. Alon Mamre
      2. Genesis 18:11 Lit. the manner of women had ceased to be with Sarah

And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him — whom Sarah bore to him — Isaac[a]  Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 

Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.  And Sarah said, “God has [b]made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.”  She also said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children?  For I have borne him a son in his old age.”  

    1. Genesis 21:3 Lit. Laughter
    2. Genesis 21:6 Lit. made laughter for me

Therefore, having been justified by faith, [a]we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces [b]perseverance; and perseverance, [c]character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.   

For when we were still without strength, [d]in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  

      1. Romans 5:1 Some ancient mss. let us have  
      2. Romans 5:3 endurance  
      3. Romans 5:4 approved character  
      4. Romans 5:6 at the right time  

35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease [a]among the people. 36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were [b]weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”  

10 And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and [c]Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the [d]Cananite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.   

These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven [e]is at hand.’ Heal the sick, [f]cleanse the lepers, [g]raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

      1. Matthew 9:35 NU omits among the people  
      2. Matthew 9:36 NU, M harassed  
      3. Matthew 10:3 NU omits Lebbaeus, whose surname was  
      4. Matthew 10:4 NU Cananaean  
      5. Matthew 10:7 has drawn near  
      6. Matthew 10:8 NU raise the dead, cleanse the lepers  
      7. Matthew 10:8 M omits raise the dead   
From Barclay’s Commentary on  Matthew 

Matt. 10:1-4  

Methodically, and yet with a certain drama, Matthew unfolds his story of Jesus. In the story of the Baptism Matthew shows us Jesus accepting his task. In the story of the Temptations Matthew shows us Jesus deciding on the method which he will use to embark upon his task. In the Sermon on the Mount we listen to Jesus’ words of wisdom. In Matt. 8 we look on Jesus’ deeds of power. In Matt. 9 we see the growing opposition gathering itself against Jesus. And now we see Jesus choosing his men.

If a leader is about to embark upon any great undertaking, the first thing that he must do is to choose his staff. On them the present effect and the future success of his work both depend. Here Jesus is choosing his staff, his right-hand men, his helpers in the days of his flesh, and those who would carry on his work when he left this earth and returned to his glory.

There are two facts about men which are bound to strike us at once.

(i) They were very ordinary men.  They had no wealth; they had no academic background; they had no social position. They were chosen from the common people, men who did the ordinary things, men who had no special education, men who had no social advantages.

It has been said that Jesus is looking, not so much for extraordinary men, as for ordinary men who can do ordinary things extraordinarily well. Jesus sees in every man, not only what that man is, but also what he can make him. Jesus chose these men, not only for what they were, but also for what they were capable of becoming under his influence and in his power.

No man need ever think that he has nothing to offer Jesus, for Jesus can take what the most ordinary man can offer and use it for greatness.

(ii) They were the most extraordinary mixture.  There was, for instance, Matthew, the tax-gatherer. All men would regard Matthew as a quisling, as one who had sold himself into the hands of his country’s masters for gain, the very reverse of a patriot and a lover of his country. And with Matthew there was Simon the Cananaean. Luke (Lk.6:16) calls him Simon Zelotes, which means Simon the Zealot.

Josephus (Antiquities, 8. 1. 6.) describes these Zealots; he calls them the fourth party of the Jews; the other three parties were the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes. He says that they had “an inviolable attachment to liberty,” and that they said that “God is to be their ruler and Lord.” They were prepared to face any kind of death for their country, and did not shrink to see their loved ones die in the struggle for freedom. They refused to give to any earthly man the name and the title of king. They had an immovable resolution which would undergo any pain. They were prepared to go the length of secret murder and stealthy assassination to seek to rid their country of foreign rule. They were the patriots par excellence among the Jews, the most nationalist of all the nationalists.

The plain fact is that if Simon the Zealot had met Matthew the tax-gatherer anywhere else than in the company of Jesus, he would have stuck a dagger in him. Here is the tremendous truth that men who hate each other can learn to love each other when they both love Jesus Christ. Too often religion has been a means of dividing men. It was meant to be–and in the presence of the living Jesus it was–a means of bringing together men who without Christ were sundered from each other.

We may ask why Jesus chose twelve special apostles. The reason is very likely because there were twelve tribes; just as in the old dispensation there had been twelve tribes of Israel, so in the new dispensation there are twelve apostles of the new Israel. The New Testament itself does not tell us very much about these men. As Plummer has it: “In the New Testament it is the work, and not the workers, that is glorified.” But, although we do not know much about them, the New Testament is very conscious of their greatness in the Church, for the Revelation tells us that the twelve foundation stones of the Holy City are inscribed with their names (Rev.21:14). These men, simple men with no great background, men from many differing spheres of belief, were the very foundation stones on which the Church was built. It is on the stuff of common men and women that the Church of Christ is founded.


Matt. 10:1-4 (continued)

When we put together the three accounts of the calling of the Twelve (Matt. 10:1-4; Mk.3:13-19; Lk.6:13-16) certain illuminating facts emerge.

(i) He chose them.  Lk.6:13 says that Jesus called his disciples, and chose from them twelve. It is as if Jesus’ eyes moved over the crowds who followed him, and the smaller band who stayed with him when the crowds had departed, and as if all the time he was searching for the men to whom he could commit his work. As it has been said, “God is always looking for hands to use.” God is always saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” (Isa.6:8).

There are many tasks in the Kingdom, the task of him who must go out and the task of him who must stay at home, the task of him who must use his hands and the task of him who must use his mind, the task which will fasten the eyes of all upon the doer and the task which no one will ewer see. And always Jesus’ eyes are searching the crowds for those who will do his work.

(ii) He called them. Jesus does not compel a man to do his work; he offers him work to do. Jesus does not coerce; he invites. Jesus does not make conscripts; he seeks volunteers. As it has been put, a man is free to be faithful and free to be faithless. But to every man there comes the summons which he can accept or refuse.

(iii) He appointed them. The King James Version has it that he ordained them (Mk.3:14). The word which is translated ordain is the simple Greek word poiein (GSN4160), which means to make or to do; but which is often technically used for appointing a man to some office. Jesus was like a king appointing his men to be his ministers; he was like a general allocating their tasks to his commanders. It was not a case of drifting unconsciously into the service of Jesus Christ; it was a case of definitely being appointed to it. A man might well be proud, if he is appointed to some earthly office by some earthly king; how much more shall he be proud when he is appointed by the King of kings?

(iv) These men were appointed from amongst the disciples. The word disciple means a learner. The men whom Christ needs and desires are the men who are willing to learn. The shut mind cannot serve him. The servant of Christ must be willing to learn more every day. Each day he must be a step nearer Jesus and a little nearer God.

(v) The reasons why these men were chosen are equally significant. They were chosen to be with him (Mk.3:14). If they were to do his work in the world, they must live in his presence, before they went out to the world; they must go from the presence of Jesus into the presence of men.

It is told that on one occasion Alexander Whyte preached a most powerful and a most moving sermon. After the service a friend said to him: “You preached today as if you had come straight from the presence of Jesus Christ.” Whyte answered: “Perhaps I did.”

No work of Christ can ever be done except by him who comes from the presence of Christ. Sometimes in the complexity of the activities of the modern Church we are so busy with committees and courts and administration and making the wheels go round that we are in danger of forgetting that none of these things matters, if it is carried on by men who have not been with Christ before they have been with men.

(vi) They were called to be apostles (Mk.3:14; Lk.6:13). The word apostle literally means one who is sent out; it is the word for an envoy or an ambassador. The Christian is Jesus Christ’s ambassador to men. He goes forth from the presence of Christ, bearing with him the word and the beauty of his Master.

(vii) They were called to be the heralds of Christ. In Matt. 10:7 they are bidden to preach. The word is kerussein (GSN2784), which comes from the noun kerux (GSN2783), which means a herald. The Christian is the herald Christ. That is why he must begin in the presence of Christ. The Christian is not meant to bring to men his own opinions; he brings a message of divine certainties from Jesus Christ–and he cannot bring that message unless first in the presence he has received it.


Matt. 10:5-8a   

Here we have the beginning of the King’s commission to his messengers. The word which is used in the Greek for Jesus commanding his men, or giving them orders is interesting and illuminating. It is the word paragellein. This word in Greek has four special usages. (i) It is the regular word of military command; Jesus was like a general sending his commanders out on a campaign, and briefing them before they went. (ii) It is the word used of calling one’s friends to one’s help. Jesus was like a man with a great ideal summoning his friends to make that ideal come true. (iii) It is the word which is used of a teacher giving rules and precepts to his students. Jesus was like a teacher sending his students out into the world, equipped with his teaching and his message. (iv) It is the word which is regularly used for an imperial command. Jesus was like a king despatching his ambassadors into the world to carry out his orders and to speak for him.

This passage begins with what everyone must find a very difficult instruction. It begins by forbidding the twelve to go to the Gentiles or to the Samaritans. There are many who find it very difficult to believe that Jesus ever said this at all, This apparent exclusiveness is very unlike him; and it has been suggested that this saying was put into his mouth by those who in the later days wished to keep the gospel for the Jews, the very men who bitterly opposed Paul, when he wished to take the gospel to the Gentiles.

But there are certain things to be remembered. This saying is so uncharacteristic of Jesus that no one could have invented it; he must have said it, and so there must be some explanation.

We can be quite certain it was not a permanent command. Within the gospel itself we see Jesus talking graciously and intimately to a woman of Samaria and revealing himself (Jn.4:4-42); we see him telling one of his immortal stories to her (Lk.10:30); we see him healing the daughter of Syro-Phoenician woman (Matt. 15:28); and Matthew himself tells us of Jesus’ final commission of his men to go out into all the world and to bring all nations into the gospel (Matt. 28:19-20). What then is the explanation?

The twelve were forbidden to go to the Gentiles; that meant that they could not go north into Syria, nor could they even go east into the Decapolis, which was largely a Gentile region. They could not go south into Samaria for that was forbidden. The effect of this order was in actual fact to limit the first journeys of the twelve to Galilee. There were three good reasons for that.

(i) The Jews had in God’s scheme of things a very special place; in the justice of God they had to be given the first offer of the gospel. It is true that they rejected it, but the whole of history was designed to give them the first opportunity to accept.

(ii) The twelve were not equipped to preach to the Gentiles. They had neither the background, nor the knowledge nor the technique. Before the gospel could be effectively brought to the Gentiles a man with Paul’s life and background had to emerge. A message has little chance of success, if the messenger is ill-equipped to deliver it. If a preacher or teacher is wise, he will realize his limitations, and will see clearly what he is fitted and what he is not fitted to do.

(iii) But the great reason for this command is simply this–any wise commander knows that he must limit his objectives.  He must direct his attack at one chosen point. If he diffuses his forces here, there and everywhere, he dissipates his strength and invites failure. The smaller his forces the more limited his immediate objective must be. To attempt to attack on too broad a front is simply to court disaster. Jesus knew that, and his aim was to concentrate his attack on Galilee, for Galilee, as we have seen, was the most open of all parts of Palestine to a new gospel and a new message (compare on Matt. 4:12-17). This command of Jesus was a temporary command. He was the wise commander who refused to diffuse and dissipate his forces; he skilfully concentrated his attack on one limited objective in order to achieve an ultimate and universal victory.


Matt. 10:5-8a (continued)

The King’s messengers had words to speak and deeds to do.

(i) They had to announce the imminence of the Kingdom. As we have seen (compare on Matt. 6:10-11) the Kingdom of God is a society on earth, where God’s will is as perfectly done as it is in heaven. Of all persons who ever lived in the world Jesus was, and is, the only person who ever perfectly did, and obeyed, and fulfilled, God’s will. Therefore in him the Kingdom had come. It is as if the messengers of the King were to say, “Look! You have dreamed of the Kingdom, and you have longed for the Kingdom. Here in the life of Jesus is the Kingdom. Look at him, and see what being in the Kingdom means.” In Jesus the Kingdom of God had come to men.

(ii) But the task of the twelve was not confined to speaking words; it involved doing deeds. They had to heal the sick, to raise the dead, to cleanse the lepers, to cast out demons. All these injunctions are to be taken in a double sense. They are to be taken physically, because Jesus Christ came to bring health and healing to the bodies of men. But they are also to be taken spiritually. They describe the change wrought by Jesus Christ in the souls of men.

(a) They were to heal the sick. The word used for sick is very suggestive. It is a part of the Greek verb asthenein (GSN0770), the primary meaning of which is to be weak; asthenes (GSN0772) is the standard Greek adjective for weak. When Christ comes to a man, he strengthens the weak will, he buttresses the weak resistance, he nerves the feeble arm for fight, he confirms the weak resolution. Jesus Christ fills our human weakness with his divine power.

(b) They were to raise the dead. A man can be dead in sin. His will to resist can be broken; his vision of the good can be darkened until it does not exist; he may be helplessly and hopelessly in the grip of his sins, blind to goodness and deaf to God. When Jesus Christ comes into a man’s life, he resurrects him to goodness, he revitalizes the goodness within us which our sinning has killed.

(c) They were to cleanse the lepers. As we have seen, the leper was regarded as polluted. Leviticus says of him, “He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease; he is unclean; he shall dwell alone in a habitation outside the camp” (Lev.13:46). 2Kgs.7:3-4 shows us the lepers who only in the day of deadly famine dared to enter into the city. 2Kgs.15:5 tells us how Azariah the king was smitten with leprosy, and to the day of his death he had to live in a lazar house, separated from all men. It is interesting to note that even in Persia this pollution of the leper was believed in. Herodotus (1: 138) tells us that, “if a man in Persia has the leprosy he is not snowed to enter into a city or to have any dealings with any other Persians; he must, they say, have sinned against the sun.”

So, then, the twelve were to bring cleansing to the polluted. A man can stain his life with sin; he can pollute his mind, his heart, his body with the consequences of his sin. His words, his actions, his influence can become so befouled that they are an unclean influence on all with whom he comes into contact. Jesus Christ can cleanse the soul that has stained itself with sin; he can bring to men the divine antiseptic against sin; he cleanses human sin with the divine purity.

(d) They were to cast out demons. A demon-possessed man was a man in the grip of an evil power; he was no longer master of himself and of his actions; the evil power within had him in its mastery. A man can be mastered by evil; he can be dominated by evil habits; evil can have a mesmeric fascination for him. Jesus comes not only to cancel sin, but to break the power of cancelled sin. Jesus Christ brings to men enslaved by sin the liberating power of God.


Matt. 10:8b-10   

This is a passage in which every sentence and every phrase would ring an answering bell in the mind of the Jews who heard it. In it Jesus was giving to his men the instructions which the Rabbis at their best gave to their students and disciples.

“Freely you have received,” says Jesus, “freely give.” A Rabbi was bound by law to give his teaching freely and for nothing; the Rabbi was absolutely forbidden to take money for teaching the Law which Moses had freely received from God. In only one case could a Rabbi accept payment. He might accept payment for teaching a child, for to teach a child is the parent’s task, and no one else should be expected to spend time and labour doing what is the parent’s own duty to do; but higher teaching had to be given without money and without price.

In the Mishnah the Law lays it down that, if a man takes payment for acting as a judge, his judgments are invalid; that, if he takes payment for giving evidence as a witness, his witness is void. Rabbi Zadok said, “Make not the Law a crown wherewith to aggrandize thyself, nor a spade wherewith to dig.” Hillel said, “He who makes a worldly use of the crown of the Law shall waste away. Hence thou mayest infer that whosoever desires a profit for himself from the words of the Law is helping on his own destruction.” It was laid down: “As God taught Moses gratis–so do thou.”

There is a story of Rabbi Tarphon. At the end of the fig harvest he was walking in a garden; and he ate some of the figs which had been left behind. The watchmen came upon him and beat him. He told them who he was, and because he was a famous Rabbi they let him go. All his life he regretted that he had used his status as a Rabbi to help himself. “Yet all his days did he grieve, for he said, `Woe is me, for I have used the crown of the Law for my own profit!'”

When Jesus told his disciples that they had freely received and must freely give, he was telling them what the teachers of his own people had been telling their students for many a day. If a man possesses a precious secret it is surely his duty, not to hug it to himself until he is paid for it, but willingly to pass it on. It is a privilege to share with others the riches God has given us.  





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