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Ready or not, a new season and a new school year is upon us. It’s good for us to review Christ Church’s mission which is “All of Christ, for all of Life, for all of Moscow.” Our mission of course is nothing short of the Great Commission that Christ gave to his Church––the evangelization and discipleship of the nations. That mission is our mission. And here we are in Moscow, Idaho attempting a small part of that Great Commission. In our sermon passage in Matthew 9 and 10, Jesus sends out his disciples on a pre-Great Commission. The way Jesus instructs and prepares his disciples exemplifies how his disciples will advance the Great Commission and how we advance Christ’s mission in Moscow. Jesus has 1) compassion on the crowd 2) calls and equips the disciples 3) commissions them to proclaim the gospel.
Compassion for the Crowd (Mt. 9:35-38)
So let’s begin by looking at Jesus’ motivation which is his compassion for the crowd. Jesus is on mission and we should take note of what he is doing––teaching in Jewish synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of his kingdom, and healing every disease and every affliction. This ministry of course draws a crowd. How does Jesus respond?
“When he saw the crowd, Jesus had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (vs. 36). What happens to a sheep without a shepherd in the wilderness? Freedom…for a time. But soon they will be hungry and thirsty and tired of following themselves or another sheep. A sheep without out a shepherd is soon a dead sheep, and so Jesus has compassion for the life of these people. We all begin in the crowd as those who are helpless and harassed. We were among those wandering sheep without a shepherd. We were the diseased and afflicted of mind and soul. Our lives stank! Have you received the compassion of Jesus?
Jesus filled with compassion says to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” The harvest is the souls of men, and it is abundant. Imagine the abundance of the wheat fields on the Palouse, countless grains of wheat. Jesus looked to the present crowd of hundreds, maybe of thousands. That would represent only a handful of wheat. But Jesus lifts his eyes to the nation of Israel, to the Roman Empire, and to all the nations through the centuries and says the harvest is plentiful. So Jesus turns to his disciples and instructs, “Therefore, pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send forth laborers into his harvest.” Apparently, some of the disciples prayed and they were the answer to their prayer!
Disciples Called and Equipped with Authority (10:1-4)
“And Jesus called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction” (Mat. 10:1). Jesus has both compassion and authority. He has the authority to heal and caste out and save, and he has the compassion to want to. He Jesus calls his disciples and equips them with authority. Those he has compassion on, he calls and equips and now commissions them.
Commissioned to the Work (10:5-8)
“These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons” (Mat. 10:5-8). How capable would these disciples to do one let alone all of these tasks? Touch and heal that guy whose nose if rotting off. Go into the funeral home and raise the corpse. Command the demon to scram. Preach the kingdom. But, Jesus gave them authority and so they are equipped. Augustine rightly prayed, “Lord, command what you will and grant what you command!”
How fearful and wonderful this must have been. What a blessing for the disciples to participate in this restoration of life through Jesus. Imagine the joy of the family whose mom’s been healed, the astonishment for the friend who’s been released from demon’s hold, the celebration after twisted limbs and broken backs are made right. The disciples were sent out with the advanced proclamation that Jesus makes all things new! Jesus accomplished this mission through the cross and resurrection.
Jesus has again shown compassion to a crowd and again called his disciples in order to send them out on a mission. All authority is in his hand. Christ commands again his disciples to go. But unlike in Matthew 10 where Jesus says “Go nowhere among the Gentiles,” Christ’s command is now “Go everywhere!” Go to the Gentiles and the Samaritans and the Corinthians and the Romans and the Moscowvites and the Chinese and the Saudis. Go to all nations and declare Jesus as King and his kingdom is now here. The harvest is abundant and so is his abundant compassion.
May our church be devoted to “All of Christ, for all of Life, for all of Moscow!”