Sunday, March 10, 2019

Come Follow Me - Matthew 10-12; Mark 2; Luke 7; 11

Come Follow Me - Matthew 10-12; Mark 2; Luke 7; 11

The Twelve are Ordained
In discussing Matthew 10, 19th century Bible scholar Matthew Henry noted:

This chapter is an ordination sermon, which our Lord Jesus preached, when he advanced his twelve disciples to the degree and dignity of apostles. In the close of the foregoing chapter, he had stirred up them and others to pray that God would send forth labourers, and here we have an immediate answer to that prayer: while they are yet speaking he hears and performs. What we pray for, according to Christ’s direction, shall be given,

 In chapter 9, Jesus implored them to pray for laborers/missionaries to share the gospel. Immediately, the Lord now is preparing the way by setting apart his 12 apostles. They have been told to follow Jesus, and would be "fishers of men," and now will have the authority to do so. Jesus teaches them their role as apostle: preaching the gospel, healing the sick, and preparing a people for the coming of Christ.

Previously, there was no established process to develop an organization of prophets. The Old Testament mentions a school of prophets, but rarely do we see how a prophet is called, especially to replace the previous one (Moses-Joshua and Elijah-Elisha are the main examples). Usually, we just see that a prophet is called of God, and he proclaims himself as such. Now, Jesus is establishing an organization that will plant the seed for his message to go throughout the world, and not just stay in Israel. Without a quorum of 12 apostles, there would have been no mission to the Gentiles, and the mission of Jesus would soon have failed after his crucifixion, as there would have been no witnesses to tell the tale of Christ's triumphant mission and resurrection.

Is It Easier to Heal or Forgive?

In the story of the palsied man who is let down through the roof to Jesus, we find an interesting teaching moment by Jesus. Instead of just healing the man, he first states that he forgives the palsied man of his sins. When the Pharisees murmur about blasphemy (for who can forgive sins, except God?), Jesus then responds with a question.  Which is easier: forgiving or healing?

Our first thought, and that probably of the Pharisees, was that forgiveness was easier. And in some ways it probably is easier. Forgiveness only requires an emotional effort towards empathy. Healing requires faith and the power of God. However, in today's world, we find that mankind can now do an amazing amount of healing through technology and nutrition. Yet, it becomes harder and harder for us to forgive those around us, those who offend us (intentionally or not). We are eager to condemn others and hold onto grudges for decades, instead of seeking to forgive, as Jesus so freely offers to all of us.

Would it be more important to us to be healed of a long term illness, or to receive forgiveness of God and those around us? Yet, we will jump at medical miracles to heal us of aches, pains, and rejuvenate our skin through plastic surgery. Meanwhile, we move much slower in forgiving others, even though Jesus proclaimed in teaching the Lord's prayer that we must forgive others, so that God will forgive us our trespasses.

Healing is a miracle. Forgiveness from God is an even greater miracle.

The Disciples of John the Baptist

John is imprisoned. His disciples understand that he may not have long to live. John sends them to Jesus with a question to ask, not for himself, but for his disciples to hear: Art thou the Messiah?  They needed to be weaned off John and onto Jesus, who was the Promised Savior. They did not need to look any further for a Messiah. Jesus' answer was clear, he was doing the works that were foretold the Messiah would do: healing the sick and afflicted, and proclaiming the gospel.

Humans tend to connect to their leaders, seeing them as saviors. This can include modern politicians, philosophers, singers, actors, and even modern day prophets. Listening to and considering what they have to offer is a good thing. But when it comes to true discipleship, we must ensure we are not following John the Baptist, while Jesus is available. We do not want to love a dead prophet so much, that when the Lord speaks something new through his living prophet, we stick with the old discipleship of dead prophet worship. Whether John the Baptist lived or died, discipleship to his being a prophet should have been overshadowed by discipleship to the Messiah.  John understood this, which is why he frequently sent his disciples to join Jesus.  Because of John's devotion to leading people to Christ, Jesus could not say enough good things about him. He was definitely among the greatest of prophets, who allowed himself to diminish so that Christ's role as Messiah could increase in the faith and lives of all Israel.


Matthew Henry:

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