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Mission Possible, Part 1

In the past couple of posts we have examined the beginning of Jesus’ second major discourse in the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew constructs his Gospel on five pillars, five blocks of Jesus’ teaching, mirroring the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Torah. By the way he constructs his Gospel, Matthew shows us Jesus as the new Moses. And in this second block of teaching in Matthew 10 Jesus is focusing on the topic of mission. In the last two posts I talked about how we must see the need, show the care, beg the Lord, receive the authority and go for Jesus.

Today we must ask: how are we to go? Jesus answers that question in Matthew 10:7-42. I believe Jesus gives us at least 8 lessons about our "mission possible" in these verses, 8 lessons about how we are to “go” for him. First, we must go expecting God to work miracles.

Jesus told his first disciples, “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”

The kingdom of heaven is near in the person of Jesus Christ. Wherever he is, miracles happen. Jesus doesn’t call on us to give what we do not have. He calls on us to give away what we have received. And we have received power from him, power that will point people to him. We just need to dare to use that power.

William Carey, the founder of modern-day missions often said, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” But do we expect God to work miracles today?

If all we are doing is preaching then we are not carrying out Jesus’ full commission. Jesus calls us to preach and heal and raise the dead and cleanse lepers and drive out demons by his power.

Secondly, we need to go expecting to be poor but also to have enough resources supplied by the Lord to get the job done. Jesus said, “Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.”

Can you imagine missionaries functioning this way today? Most missionaries today spend a year or two raising financial support before they go on to the mission field. I am not saying that is necessarily wrong, but that is not what Jesus instructed his first disciples to do. Basically he said, “Go and trust me to provide for your needs along the way.”

When the Lord made it clear to our family that he wanted us to go and serve him in Ireland in 2004 we didn’t know where all the resources were going to come from. We didn’t even know how long he wanted us to be there. We just asked the Lord to close every door he didn’t want us to go through and open the one door he did want us to enter. That’s how we ended up going to Ireland to serve with Doug and Merrie Gresham in their house ministry. We went on a one-way ticket, not knowing when or even if the Lord would want us to return to the United States. It was scary, but also exciting to see how the Lord provided for us. And then when it was time for us to return to the United States it was amazing to see how the Lord arranged for the plane tickets and the exact place where he wanted us to live, as well as providing a car for us to drive and everything we needed to serve him.

Most servants of the Lord, serving him in mission, are not wealthy people, but they have a Father who owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Would you dare to attempt something so great for God that it is bound to fail unless he is in it? Would you dare to offer yourself to go on some sort of mission, not knowing how God might provide to make it happen? There are hundreds of Christian organizations that could use your service in some sort of short term mission, either in the US or overseas. Why not look into it and see what the Lord might have you do and how he might expand your horizons?

Thirdly, we need to go looking for the “person of peace”, that one person who may be receptive to the message and the messenger.

Jesus instructed his disciples, “Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”

I believe Jesus wants us to be looking around us, searching for the “person of peace” or “worthy person” he has placed near us. What do I mean by that? I mean that there are unbelievers who are open to the message and there are unbelievers who are closed to the message of the Gospel. The Lord doesn’t want us to waste time trying to tell the good news of Jesus to people who are going to be offended by it and oppose us. He wants us to move in where there is an open door to share the Gospel.

For example, there was a young woman named Jennifer whom Becky and I met when we were living in San Diego. From the first time I met Jennifer she was asking me questions about what I did for work and where my church was located. Jennifer was not a believer in Christ when we first met but when I asked her if she would be interested in studying the Gospel of John with Becky and me she jumped at the chance.

Jennifer was an example of a person of peace. Eventually, Jennifer gave her life to Christ one weekend when she was house-sitting for us.

Becky and I have known other people, in the many places where we have lived, who would never have been open to that kind of approach. But while these people were not open to the message, they were open to us as messengers. So we built relationships. When we lived in South Carolina and again in Pennsylvania, in both situations Becky built friendships with neighbors who eventually gave their lives to Christ as a result of Becky’s relational witness.

We need to be on the lookout for the persons of peace all around us who are open to the Gospel message. And even where people are not open to the message, if they are open to us as messengers we can love them to Jesus by the power of God.

Tomorrow we will look at more of Jesus' message about our mission.


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