Lesson

Kingdom Come: Postures For Our Time and Place (Matthew 9:35-10:25)

Bible Passage: Matthew 9:35-10:25

The  earthly ministry of Jesus is the story of a small band of men and women making a big impact on the towns and villages of Israel. Wherever they went, they were in the majority and they taught a message that was often at odds with the prevailing wisdom of the day. The situation Christians in the West find ourselves in today is not too different than the situation of the early disciples. Just like them, we are a minority in our culture, and the message of the kingdom still pushes against the prevailing wisdom of the world.

If we want to reach our world like the early disciples saw, then we can follow the example of the postures that Jesus taught his disciples in this passage.

(1) – Posture to the Crowd: Compassionate (9:36)
During this stage of Jesus’ ministry, he was travelling to the different towns and villages in Israel, preaching the kingdom and healing. Word had evidently started to spread about him, as he saw crowds had gathered around him. There are many people in need of the good news of the kingdom and the healing power of Jesus, and they were drawn to him.

In a similar situation, many would see the helpless people as an annoyance to get rid of, or a distraction from the ‘real work’ of ministry. But Jesus looked at them with compassion, and realised they were like helpless sheep in need of a shepherd.

As we engage in the world around us, we will meet needy people. As apprentices to Jesus, there is a call to respond in our hearts with the same compassion Jesus showed the crowds before him, and to respond with patient mercy.

(2) – Posture to the World: Sent (10:5,16)
When Jesus pointed out the harvest to his disciples, he instructed them to pray that the Lord would send workers into the harvest field. And then he sends them! Going into the world as missionaries is not something for other people, but Jesus sends all of us. It is good to pray that people will be raised up for the needs, but we should be ready for God to make us the answer to our own prayers!

In the context of this passage, it is the twelve who are sent out, but later on he instructs them to pass on everything he taught them to subsequent disciples (Matt. 28:20), so the commission is for all of us. The precise details of how they are sent will be the focus of the next sermon, but the headlines are found in verses 8 and 9. We are sent both to proclaim the good news of the kingdom and to heal the sick. Kingdom words and kingdom deeds go hand in hand!

(3) – Posture to Jesus: Student (10:24)
Jesus prepares his followers with a sober assessment of what they can expect as they go. The context is suffering, and Jesus highlights how his own suffering, persecution and opposition that he has endured in the places that he has gone.

As apprentices to Jesus we take the place of students to the master. We should not expect that as we go out in his name and for his purposes that we will be treated better than he was. Jesus warns us to be ready for opposition, but when it comes we can look to him and know that we are following in the footsteps of the master, and can lean on the Holy Spirit to give us the words to say in such moments (see verse 20).

Potential applications:

  • The passage challenges how we view the needy around us. Do we look on them with the compassion that Jesus calls us to?
  • Like the twelve, we have been sent out on Jesus’ mission. Are we actively sharing the good news of the kingdom with our words, and bringing the kingdom through our actions?
  • What are our expectations when it comes to opposition? Do we think that following Jesus will be a trouble-free path, or are we ready to face opposition just as our master did?