The daughter of my former pastor in Philadelphia once said this, “I love the disciples. They were always messing up.” I think that if modern “wisdom” were to be followed, Jesus would not even have chosen the men He did to be His disciples. This is what Tim Hansel says about it, in his book, Eating Problems For Breakfast. To: Jesus, Son of Joseph Woodcrafter’s Carpenter Shop Nazareth 25922 From: Jordan Management Consultants Dear Sir: Thank you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men you have picked for managerial positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests; and we have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant. The profiles of all tests are included, and you will want to study each of them carefully. As part of our service, we make some general comments for your guidance, much as an auditor will include some general statements. This is given as a result of staff consultation, and comes without any additional fee. It is the staff opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capability. Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus definitely have radical leanings, and they both registered a high score on the manic-depressive scale. One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind, and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious, and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man. All of the other profiles are self-explanatory. We wish you every success in your new venture. Sincerely, Jordan Management Consultants. You see, the world doesn’t have the same priorities and mindset that Jesus has, and that He wants His people to have. The world would have chosen brilliant men with great SAT scores, great upward mobility, as the saying goes, and connections to lots of important people. But God chooses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.
Now, Jesus has just finished instructing his disciples to pray to the Lord of the harvest that the Lord would send workers out into the field. Now He sends harvesters out into the field. He sends His own disciples. There is a lesson in that. We are to pray for workers in the harvest field, and then we are to go out and work in God’s harvest field, wherever we are. As we will see, Jesus does not mean to limit His instructions to the disciples, but rather He wants us to learn from how He teaches His disciples, and how He shows them what to do.
First we see Jesus giving the disciples power to do miracles. Plainly, we are meant to see that what the disciples are doing is exactly what Jesus had been doing. He trains them to do it, so that they can go out and do it. Now, we do not have these kinds of powers today. Ephesians tells us that the disciples, the apostles, are the foundation of the house. We do not keep on building the foundation. The miraculous gifts were needed in the early church to jump-start the church. Now, God is fully capable even today of doing miracles. I am not putting God in a box. However, the command for the church today is to make disciples. It is very easy to get distracted by miracle stories from what is the true work of the church, which is to make disciples, as Jesus tells us in chapter 28. But for where the church was at that time, Jesus gave them miraculous powers.
Next follows a list of the twelve disciples. I am not going to comment too much on this, except to remind us that most of these men are very common, ordinary sorts of people. As the illustration above proves, they would not be people’s first choice for leadership material. In fact, they might choose someone like Judas Iscariot instead. That proves this point: God does not always choose the most likely person to do His work. Oftentimes, He chooses a much more broken vessel, so that the glory for salvation will belong to God, and not to man. But a second lesson is this: when God chooses such a broken vessel, He gives them what they need to accomplish their mission. So, it doesn’t matter if you are extraordinary or not: if God is planning on using you for His kingdom work, then He will give you the tools you need to do it. But then you might ask whether you are called to do His work. All Christians are called to do the work of God’s kingdom.
So, after Matthew gives us the names of the twelve disciples, he records for us Jesus’ instructions to the twelve. The first instruction seems a bit odd to us today. Why would Jesus not want the salvation message to go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans? Well, this is a particular mission at a particular time in the history of the church. This mission had one purpose, which was to go to the lost people of Israel, as Jesus says, to preach the message they needed to hear. There is time enough for the Gentiles and Samaritans after Christ’s resurrection and ascension, when He tells us to go into all the world to bring that same salvation message to everyone. But salvation starts at home, as it were. This is an important message for us. We need to take care of our own first. We cannot stop there, but we must start there. We must start with our own members who might possibly be lost sheep. We must reach out to them, and bring them back in to the fold.
The principles listed for us in verses 8-10 have to do with how and why we do the work of the kingdom. Whatever we have received, that is what we should give. Whatever talent you have, that is to be used. And we do not exercise our talents for monetary gain as our goal. This pertains particularly to ministers. I do not minister here for the purpose of making a living. My purpose is to expand the kingdom of God, and to give what I have received to the body of Christ. It is good for the congregation to take care of the pastor’s physical needs, so that he is not distracted by worldly concerns, but can rather focus his time and energy on the spiritual needs of the congregation. If I may say so, our two congregations succeed very well in doing this. I barely have any physical cares to worry about. I don’t worry about the parsonage, I don’t worry about having enough money in the bank account, so that we can eat. I don’t even worry about bills to pay. And this is good. I have no right to require of you any of these things, even if the Word of God directs congregations to support their minister. The worst imaginable situation arises when pastors become greedy for money, and the congregation becomes correspondingly stingy. The pastor should not grasp, and the congregation should freely and joyfully give. That is the balance of Biblical teaching on the subject. And again, I want to encourage you by saying that you are doing very well on this point. We feel well-loved and cared for.
The last principle that can be gleaned from these verses is that of our expectations for ministry. We should give our time and talents not expecting anything in return. If we receive hospitality, there is no reason to refuse it. However, that should not be the reason why we do it. We do it because God has freely given to us what we have. We should not worry about God’s provision for us in the midst of our ministry. Rather, we should trust God that if we are doing His work, then He will provide for us. That is fairly simple to understand, but oh so difficult to put into practice.