Friday, August 21, 2015

Jesus Commissions the Twelve: Responsiblity to bring the Message and to Care for the Messanger

I doubt Jesus looked like this. Just a picture.
Don’t take any money in your money belts – no gold, silver, or even copper coins. Don’t carry a traveller’s bag with a change of clothes and sandals or even a walking stick. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve to be fed. Whenever you enter a city or village, search for a worthy person and stay in his home until you leave town. When you enter the home, give it your blessing. If it turns out to be a worthy home, let your blessing stand; if it is not, take back the blessing. If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave. I tell you the truth, the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah will be better off than such a town on the judgment day” (Matthew 10:9-15, NLT).

Jesus commissioned the twelve (read Matthew 10:1-8). These instructions were given to them. It seem, at first, to be contrary to normal travel plans (I’m thinking of our last Timor Leste medical mission trip. We brought lots of medical stuffs and our bags are heavy), but they simply reveal the urgency of the task and its temporary nature. This was a training mission only; the apostles were to leave immediately and travel light, taking along only minimal supplies. Instead of being sent out as an isolated individuals, Jesus sent them in pairs (Mark 6:7). Each pair of disciples would enter a city or village and stay in the home of a “worthy person.” What does it mean by “worthy person”? “Worthy person,” based on the context, is someone who are eager to “welcome” and “listen” to their message.

The disciples’ dependence on others had four good effects: 1) It showed that the Messiah had not come to offer wealth to his followers; 2) It forced the disciples to rely on God’s power and not on their own provision; 3) It involved the villages, making them more eager to hear the message; and 4) it built long-term relationships. As we do mission, let us take notes of these four dependence effects of Jesus’ command to his disciples.

Jesus also had harsh words concerning those who would reject them and their message. Shaking the dust from their feet would demonstrate to the people that the disciples had nothing further to say and would leave the people to answer to God. Jesus was clearly stating that the listeners were responsible for what they did with the Gospel. As long as the disciples had faithfully and carefully presented the message, they were not to blame if the townspeople rejected it. Likewise, we have the responsibility, but we are not responsible when others reject Christ’s message of salvation.

Think about this: These days, with instant communication, modern transportation, and other high-tech resources, we can be tempted to maintain our independence or to rely on impersonal ministry methods. But God created us to live in relationship and to do his work with others. This training assignment implies that we have clear responsibility to care for those who minister among us, especially those who visit from out of town or those who are not normally among us. What can you do to relate more personally to those who minister in your community? Also this training shows that we are very much responsible to bring the message of the Kingdom of God to the town, village, campus or community that we are in right now. Besides ministering the message through social media (like what I do with my Blog and Facebook now) are you building a long-term and personal relationship with the people you’re ministering now? One more lesson: There is no “lone ranger” in the work of God. Find your partner.

I have to rethinking my own ministry now. Pray.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Jesus commended Mary for having Good Priorities (Bible Study is the One Supreme Necessity)

Let’s consider the lives of Mary and Martha of Bethany. Mary is a great biblical example of a person whose desire was to be taught by Jesus: Every time she appears in the Bible, she’s kneeling before Lord Jesus. In John (chapter) 11, she’s at Jesus’ feet in sorrow. In John 12, she’s at Jesus’ feet in adoration. In Luke 10, she’s at Jesus’ feet to learn truth. Mary, the worshiper, wants her soul fed by Jesus – her sister, Martha, the worker, wants to feed Jesus.

Mary and Martha had welcomed Jesus into their home. With good intentions, Martha took steps to prepare a meal for the honoured guest. Mary is now introduced into the story: “And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard his word” (Luke 10:39). Martha was in the kitchen cooking food, and Mary was in the living room, learning from Jesus. Martha, annoyed that Mary wasn’t helping with the work, interrupted the Lord, saying, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me” (Luke 10:40). She was giving a command to Jesus – that’s dangerous.

Jesus, in His divine wisdom, analysed the situation and told Martha she was filled with unnecessary anxiety that had harmfully affected her priorities. The things she worried about really weren’t important. “One thing is needed,” Jesus told Martha, “and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).

Jesus commended Mary for having good priorities, namely, learning the Word of God. Bible expositor G. Campbell Morgan calls this “the one supreme necessity.” Mary’s experience was that of being taught by the incarnate Christ. Each of us can experience the blessing of being taught by the risen Christ – by the power of his Holy Spirit, through the study of God’s amazing Word. Come, God’s people, let us study the Bible, apply it, teach it and live the Word together.

Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and
Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory,
Both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
2 Peter 3:18
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