Yesterday, we saw from Matthew 9 how we need to SEE THE NEED, we need to SHOW THE CARE, and we need to BEG THE LORD. Today, we see in Matthew 10:1-6 that we need to RECEIVE THE AUTHORITY.
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. These 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; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, 'The kingdom of heaven has come near.'"
We read that Jesus “called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.”
The only way to receive authority, the only manner by which we can receive the power and the voice of the Author, is to spend time with him. We must spend concentrated time with Jesus, just as the first disciples did, if we are going to speak and act with his authority.
If we spend time with Jesus then we will not need to worry about what to say while we are in the midst of the mission. “But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:19-20).
While we were on vacation in California several years ago, our family spent one day at Disneyland. It’s exciting when you are at Disneyland to go on all the rides. Each of the boys went along on the rides with us because it was what we were doing together as a family. It was exciting. But then when we got to the top of the first drop on the log flume, I know our son Jonathan wondered what he had got himself into.
That’s what the disciples must have been feeling as Jesus spoke these words. “Arrest, Jesus? What are you talking about? This is more than we bargained for!”
But once you are engaged in Jesus’ mission there is no getting out of it. Just like once you are on the log flume you’ve got to handle the drops.
Thankfully, Jesus gives us a promise to help us handle our fears when it comes to evangelism and mission. And there are fears. Most people’s number one fear is the fear of speaking in public. And what is evangelism but a speaking in public, whether one on one or to a group? No wonder so few Christians take it on.
But Jesus gives us a promise. If we have spent time with him, once we are in the midst of the mission, once we are in the middle of the ride, we don’t need to worry about how we are going to handle it. We don’t need to worry about what to say. The Holy Spirit will give us the words. All we have to do is get on the ride. He’ll take care of the rest.
A number of years ago I traveled to the Baltic Republic of Latvia and trained a group of young people in street evangelism. I hadn’t done much street evangelism myself, but they didn’t know that. I will always remember the day we walked into the market place in one of the Latvian towns. Masses of people were swarming around. How could we get their attention? My heart was thumping in my chest, but I didn’t let my companions know that. I noticed a truck in the middle of the marketplace. It was as if the Lord said to me, “Get up on top of the truck and speak for me.”
I’m sure I questioned, “Are you sure that’s what you want me to do Lord?”
“Yes, I’m sure.”
My translator asked the truck driver for permission to stand on top of his massive truck. And I started shouting out the good news of Christ. I imagine many people drew near just to see and hear who this crazy man was, shouting in a foreign language from the top of a truck in the marketplace.
But by the grace of God it worked. People came to Christ that day. We invited people to come to church that night. Many of them came. Many gave their lives to Christ.
The Lord may not be calling you to preach from the top of a truck in Latvia. But certainly he is calling each of us to love at least one other person to Jesus. And the really good news is that Jesus will empower you to do just that. He will empower you to love the unlovable and to speak a word for him in season.
See, care, pray, receive. And the final word Jesus gives us regarding mission is GO! Jesus told his first disciples: “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Sending his disciples to reach the Jews was preparatory to reaching the world. By the end of Matthew’s Gospel that commission is expanded: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore GO and make disciples of ALL nations . . .” (Matthew 28:18-19). That is Jesus’ commission to us. Actually, the verb is: “going”. “As you are going make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Jesus assumes we are going places every day. We are going to work. We are going to the store. We are going to school. We are going all sorts of places. As we are going about our everyday lives Jesus wants us to make disciples.
Who is to go? All of us are to go. Luke tells us that Jesus sent the disciples out two by two for mutual encouragement and support. Evangelism is the work of the whole church serving together. Jesus’ first disciples were not all evangelists by temperament, but they were all sent to do the work of evangelism, each using their own unique gifts. Regarding ten of the Twelve, we don’t know if they ever preached a sermon. But they all went out on mission. They were all witnesses.
Andrew, for one, connected with people through friendship. He was the one who knew about the little boy with five loaves and two fish. Andrew was the one who brought that boy to Jesus. And Jesus used that boy’s little lunch to feed a multitude.
You may feel like your gift is small and insignificant. Place it in the Master’s hands and it won’t be anymore. He will use your seemingly unimportant gift to feed thousands. What gift do you have to place in the service of mission, of evangelism?
One of my wife’s gifts is hospitality. We have seen people come to faith in Christ as a result of her befriending people and welcoming them into our home. Becky would never claim to be an evangelist, but she has done the work of evangelism as she has gone about her everyday life and work.
Little becomes much as you place it in the Master’s hands and go for him.