In sending His disciples out on mission, He took time to prepare the 12 for what they would face in terms of rejection and hatred of the world, but He also took time to make sure His disciples knew of the consequences of their mission. In Matthew 10:34-42, Jesus told them that they would have to know that families would be divided over the gospel, also that their loyalty to Him would have to be greater than that of their families, and even though they would suffer privations in His service, there would be much reward awaiting them.
When Jesus sent out the 12 on mission, he wanted them to face up to reality – on the one hand they would know the hatred and rejection of the world, but on the other hand, they also needed to know some unseen realities working in their favour. Matthew 10:29-33 speaks of these realities. One was the Father’s care for them – something far greater than they would ever realise – and another was the eternal benefits of being faithful and loyal to Jesus in the present, no matter what the cost or danger.
In sending out the 12 disciples on mission, Matthew 10:24-38 records some more of the instructions Jesus gave to his men. While they had grand but false expectations of all going well and them receiving a ‘right royal’ reception, Jesus sought to put reality in place for them. They would not rise higher in status than He, their Teacher and Master, yet, in turn, they should not fear man and what man could do top them, but live with a greater and deeper fear of God.
When Jesus sent out the twelve on mission in Matthew 10:16-23, it was like he was sending them out to war – not that they were going out to kill, maim or fight – but that he sent them into enemy territory and needed to prepars them for what they would face. Rejection. Persecution. Death. The text is a wake up call to God’s people today… reminding us that the world’s hatred of the gospel and the Saviour will be passed down to us.
There’s so much in the Old Testament about the coming of the Messiah, Jesus, and the prophecy in Isaiah 9:1-7 is a great place to look. The text not only tells us about Jesus’ first coming as a baby, but also points toward His eternal rule as King, ultimately found in His second coming as Lord. Best of all the text relates so well to this crazy, best of times/worst of times world…!
The Christmas hymn ‘Joy to the world’ is well known and loved. But did you know that it comes from Isaac Watts’ paraphrase of Psalm 98? Maybe you wouldn’t think that a Psalm like Psalm 98 has much to do with Christmas? Watts certainly thought so. In fact he saw in it much more than Jesus’ first coming (as a baby), but also his second coming (as King).
Chapters 8 and 9 of Matthew’s Gospel records so many of Jesus’ miracles that gave proof to who He is and was – the Messiah, the Son of God. But added to this, chapter 10 also tells us that He was the ‘Lord of the harvest’ who had come to find the lost sheep of the house of Israel. So, in Matthew 10:1-15, we find Jesus doing that by preparing his disciples to be sent out in His service. They would find it hard, as the rest of the chapter outlines, but in these verses, their task is fairly and squarely laid before them – and those who follow Him as disciples today!
God spreads a banquet for all peoples yet the self-righteous are unwilling to enter the kingdom. They give weak excuses to justify their unbelief and despised the sinners who came readily. Sinners who know they need a saviour enter the kingdom instead of those who rejected the invitation. Jesus tells a parable in Luke 14:15-24 that shows our need – are we willing to accept the invitation and welcome others into God’s kingdom?
In the next of the series of miracles performed by Jesus as recorded in Matthew 9:18-38, Jesus goes ‘one better’ than before…not only healing a blind man, delivering a demon possessed man, healing a woman suffering from a long term illness and raising a dead girl. However, the point of all these events is not for the sake of information but that we too might believe in Him. These verses also remind us why we should put faith in Him. It is because of the depth of His compassion for people – something that led Him all the way to the cross.
The text of Matthew 9:9-17 related a number of important events, beginning with the call that came from Jesus to Matthew (the writer of the gospel) to follow Him. This tax collector had no hesitation in leaving his old life behind to follow Jesus, and one of the immediate consequences of his decision to do that was seen in the meal hosted in his home at which many other ‘tax collectors and sinners’ were present. This prompted questions from the Pharisees and even from John’s disciples which Jesus was able to answer and put his grace and his coming into perspective.