Matthew 9:35 -10:1

Today’s lesson
follows Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) and Matthew’s narration of a
variety of Jesus’ miracle healings.  Here in Matthew, Jesus addresses the mission
for disciples.

There are two things I want emphasize.  First,

Jesus felt compassion
for the crowds because they appeared as “sheep without a shepherd.” 

Jesus’ discernment
was, of course, extraordinary.  Jesus had a sixth sense about hurting people
who needed what God could provide.  Perhaps, Jesus possessed a special spiritual
discernment, but He no doubt had an uncanny ability to know people’s hearts. 
Discernment is a rare spiritual gift, but a select few do have it.  Some uncommon
persons can sense when someone is troubled – even before they speak.  I have
heard people declare of their favorite pastors: “They knew what troubled me
even before I said a word.”


Jesus granted
his disciples authority

Jesus sanctioned
them to do ministry in His name.  Jesus exhorted them to cast out unclean spirits
and to cure every disease.  Conceivably, Jesus empowered His disciples to become
part of his ministry.  After all, no one person can do everything.  Jesus, as
a person of wisdom, knew that the Kingdom of God offers an immense task.  Jesus
thereby commissioned others not only to follow Him but to join in the ministry
of God’s redeeming love.  Jesus here followed an Old Testament precedent.  In
Exodus 18, Moses’ father-in-law noticed Moses’ leadership burden and the necessity
of others aiding Moses.  An old maxim puts it: “Many hands lighten the load.” 
We are each called to be in ministry to others.  “But how,” we are prone to

We all spend ample time and energy training ourselves and our churches
to take care of those in crisis – where and when should we be ready and how
do we know a crisis when we see one?  Let me share a story.

“In the spring of the year, the time when preachers go out to golf” (2
Sam. 11:1), some preacher friends and I decided to go out to golf.  We rarely
had the opportunity for fellowship, so we decided to play golf.

None of us was any good at golf.  However, we wanted to catch up on our
lives and let our hair down a bit.  On a golf course few people expect many
preachers, thus we were just regular guys-and we were happy to be together and
alone!!!  We were alone, that is, until about the third hole, when Jim joined
us.  Jim was a much better golfer than we were, but evidently wanted some company. 
We confessed that we were preachers and were soon on our best behavior-no complaints
about parishioners, budgets, and the work of ministry.  We did not really mind
the tag-along-except for Rev. Joe who was disappointed by the turn of events. 
Joe began to play badly as Jim hit one spectacular shot after another.  Joe
was on a slow boil.  He kept saying under his breath, “We have one afternoon
to ourselves and then ‘knuckle-head’ shows up.  Why can’t we ever do anything
by ourselves?”

Finally, on the 16th hole, I noticed Jim had a nice suntan
and had said little.  So I asked him if he had a job.  He reluctantly told us
that the doctors had diagnosed him with a rare inoperable brain tumor.  The
doctors told him to make the best of the next six months because that was about
all the time he had left.  We asked about his family.  Didn’t he want to spend
time with them?  Jim confessed that his wife said she couldn’t “just watch him
die,” so she and their children moved to California with her parents.  Jim then
said that he came to the golf course daily and tried to be with people.  In
fact, Jim had never played golf until the doctors gave him his bad news.  Suddenly
our day of fun turned to an opportunity to do ministry.

I really felt sorry for Joe because usually he is the most compassionate
person I know.  It did show us, however, that we need not look far to find someone
in need of community and the word of hope that Jesus provides.  When God tells
us to take authority, and we take it, we will surely find a use for it immediately. 
As Christians we do not need to look for people in crisis.  They are already
all around us.  May we give God thanks for helping us with a task that is much
bigger than we are!


Sermon brief provided by: David N. Mosser, Pastor of First United
Methodist Church in Arlington, TX.

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