DUNCAN/Go and preach

DUNCAN/Go and preach


Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew 10:5-15.  In this text, Christ gives explicit instructions to His disciples about this specific mission on which He is about to send them.  We see four things from this text.  First, the Messiah has come in search of His lost sheep.  Second, the Messiah’s ministers go forth to bring good news.  Third, the Messiah’s ministers must learn to trust in Him.  And fourth, the Messiah’s minister’s message is of eternal significance.  

I. The Messiah Has Come In Search of His Lost Sheep! 

In verses 5-6, the Lord Jesus describes the people that He is sending His disciples to.  We read, “These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them, ‘Do not go in the way of the Gentiles and do not enter any city of the Samaritans, but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’”  The gospel of the kingdom, the Lord Jesus says, must first be brought to Israel.  Why?  The promises of God had been given in the Old Testament to Abraham and His descendants.  God had made His covenant of grace and His promises to Abraham to the descendants of Abraham and so the Lord Jesus Christ sends His disciples to Israel because of the special place that Israel has in God’s plan.  Christ has a particular love and concern for the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  For their Father’s sake, because of the covenant which God has made with Abraham and because of that special role that Israel plays in the plan of God the Lord Jesus sends His disciples to the Jews first. 

We know from the gospels, especially Luke, that there were many godly people in Israel who were waiting for the Messiah to come.  What better place to send the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ in order to make the foundation for the Christian Church, which will break across national and ethnic lines, which will go to the ends of the earth.  What better place to build a core group of followers of the Lord Jesus Christ than those who already embraced the Word of God in the Old Testament and who already embraced the promises that the Messiah was coming.

II. The Messiah’s Ministers Go Forth to Bring Good News.

In verses 7-8 we see the proclamation that the disciples were to preach.  And there we see the power that Christ entrusted to them as they made that proclamation.  The proclamation that they were to preach is the gospel of the kingdom.  These ministers of the Messiah were to go out and preach the good news of the kingdom of God.  And Jesus gives the shorthand of it in verse 7: “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”  The message of the kingdom of heaven is the message that, in accordance with Scripture and the prophecy of the Old Testament, the Messiah is here to establish God’s reign in the hearts and lives of His people.  

Notice as well in verse 8 that Jesus explicitly expresses to His disciples that as they have been given their miraculous powers freely; they haven’t paid for them, they haven’t earned them.  They’ve been equipped with them by Christ Himself.  They are also to freely give to others. They are not to take advantage of those powers to build up themselves.  The ministry of the gospel is not to get.  It is to give.  Isn’t that a mandate for the whole of the Christian life? 

III. The Messiah’s Ministers Must Learn to Trust in Him. 

In verses 9-10 we see the providence of God.  Jesus says, “Do not acquire gold or silver or copper coins for your money belts.”  The disciples are not to prepare in that way for this particular mission.  They are not to take a bag for their journey or even two coats or sandals or a staff.  The disciples are told to travel light, and that forces them to trust in God’s provision, and it forces them to trust in Jesus’ promise that God would provide.  They learn a great lesson in that. 

First of all, they learn a great lesson about the urgency of the mission that Christ is sending them on.  It’s so important that they go, that they are sent out, that they cannot take time to be concerned with their own provision.  We are also taught in this passage about trusting in Christ’s provision.  We are to trust in His provision in the work of ministry.  The more the Lord has given you, the more tempting it is to trust in what He has given you as that which is necessary for ministry.  Christ’s ministry is carried out only in His power.  And the more we have, the more we need to purpose ourselves to trust in His provision for that ministry, because it does not matter what we bring to the table.  Our resources mean nothing in the work of the kingdom.  His resources mean everything, and we must learn to trust in Him just like those disciples that He sent out here in Matthew 10.       

IV. The Messiah’s Minister’s Message Is of Eternal Significance. 

In verses 11-15 we see the procedure that Jesus gives to the disciples to follow.  And there He makes it clear that the message they are going to take to Israel is of eternal significance.  Jesus says, “And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city.  As you enter the house, give it your greeting.  If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace.  Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet.  Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.”

The disciples are called upon to display in this mission an extraordinary balance of generosity and discernment.  They are to be generous in the sense that everywhere they go, if they are received, they are to pronounce their blessing on that place.  They are to pronounce the peace of God upon those who receive them into their homes.  But they are also to be discerning because those who reject their message are to be rejected. 

We must recognize the gravity of the message that Christ entrusted the disciples.  It divides the world into those who accept Him and those who reject Him.  There are those who accept it and those who reject it, and there is no in between.  Embrace Christ and rest in Him as the provision for your sins and as your only Savior, and by grace find all the blessings of the promises of God.

The Rev. Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III is Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary.  He can be reached at 601-923-1600 or by email at jhyde@rts.edu.

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