Posted on Thu, Jun 22, 2017
June 18, 2017
2nd Sunday after Pentecost
Gospel Text: Matthew 9:35-10:8 “Lifted to Serve”
The Harvest Is Great, the Laborers Few
35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’
The Twelve Apostles
Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. 2These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.
The Mission of the Twelve
5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” 8Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.
Have you ever noticed that some of the students of really great teachers oftentimes closely resemble their teachers? Sometimes we can hear the influence of the teacher in the student. Of course, the goal of the teacher or mentor is that the abilities of the student will someday surpass the abilities of the teacher or mentor.
Watching Nainoa Thompson bringing the Hokulea into the Ala War boat harbor, made me wonder what some of his teachers, navigator Mau Piailug, thought of his skills in guiding the Hokulea around the world just like the great navigators of the past. I think the ancestors were watching and guiding the Hokulea and Hikianalia all through their amazing 150 ports of call and in between.
Nainoa Thompson also had many other great mentors through his life like Herb Kane and Yosoi Kawano to guide him.
It takes courage to take on an apprentice, or make a covenant to be a mentor to someone… Think of Yoda and Luke Skywalker! Yoda required some convincing.
Jesus had his 12 disciples, or apprentices, or students if you like. But the reason Jesus CALLED them, was so that one day, they could “walk in the discipline” of Jesus, and to continue the work of Jesus in the world.
Jesus has called together a very interesting bunch to be his disciples. Some of them would never have thought they would be working together unless Jesus hadn't called each of them. If Matthew the tax collector and Simon the Zealot hadn't been called be Jesus to follow Him, and they met on the street, Simon would have probably killed Matthew for being a tax-collector for the Romans, therefore a traitor to Israel. But because of Jesus’ calling, now they were on the same team, learning and working for the same purpose, to “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons,” JUST LIKE THIER TEACHER, JESUS.
Here is a brief description of each disciple and their fate:
We have no idea why Jesus chose any of these men… but Jesus did call them, and they followed. Some were extreme nationalists that truly believed that Jesus was going to restore Israel as a Global power even more powerful than the Israel under King David, these were Thaddeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot.
But more than wondering about the credentials of each of the twelve, the reason for them being chosen at all was because Jesus had compassion on the people of Israel. They were oppressed by the Roman Army, they were forced to pay harsh taxes causing corruption and disharmony even among the local people of Israel. There was corruption by the Roman authority, but even more important there was blatant corruption, greed and fear within the religious leaders of the temple in Jerusalem.
Jesus was full of compassion for God’s people, and therefore the disciples were chosen.
There wasn't concern if each of the disciple showed ‘enough faith’ or not when they were chosen, their future faithfulness was in God’s hands. Just like when a baby is baptized, we don't give any test of expectation for the family or parents of the baptized. We trust the Holy Spirit and that the Church is faithful in carrying out its responsibilities in nurturing, caring, educating, mentoring and equipping its youth as they grow up, ACCORDING TO THE BAPTISMAL SERVICE written in the hymnal.
The words in the order of the Sacrament of Baptism mean something, and whether or not the church responds to the promises made, they can determine the future road a young person may choose to travel.
But the responsibilities of the disciples are very clear, as Jesus has been ‘going to all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness,’ Jesus instructs the disciples to do the same thing He is doing by saying, “go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” 8Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.”
Go and do as Jesus has been doing! Be Jesus in the world! Can you imagine what they must have thought when Jesus commanded them to “8Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons!”
Well, guess what, as a church, we are Christ’s Body in this world, and Jesus’ commission to His disciples is our commission as well. We may think Jesus’ commissioning is too much “for us.” It is! It is for ‘us.’ But not too much for us when we are empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit. When Jesus breathed on the disciples and they received the Holy Spirit, everything changed. Even Peter could preach with grace and authority. And when Moses was finally going to come down from Mount Sinai with the Commandments, even Moses wondered what he would say to encourage the Israelites. God comforted him by reminding Moses, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples.”
Ministry isn't about what we do or don't do. Ministry is about opening your heart to allow God to do God’s work THROUGH you. Having faith, not fear, and letting Jesus speak, heal, comfort, serve, proclaim justice and mercy and most importantly, love one another as you have first been loved. The disciples and the church is afraid when we think ministry is all about us and doing things on our own schedule with our own resources. Ministry is much bigger than that, it starts with believing in that amazing grace of God and letting God do things through you that you never imagined before.
God holds us up on eagles wings and brings us to God’s-Self so that through our faith, we can be a treasure and gift for the sake of God’s world. Amen.
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