Tuesday, January 14, 2014

THE MASTER'S PLAN (Matthew Chapter 10)

Jesus saw the crowds and had compassion for them, “because they were-as they still are--harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).  Recognizing the scarcity of hands for such a plentiful harvest, He asked His disciples to pray that the Lord of the Harvest might send laborers (Matthew 9:37-38).

The answer to these prayers were the disciples themselves.  Jesus called them (Matthew 10:1).  He sent them out with His instructions (Matthew 10:5; 11:1).  Much in this chapter has specific relevance to the Apostles—they were to proclaim a message of the kingdom (Matthew 10:7); they were to go only to the “lost sheep of Israel” (Matthew 10:6); and they were to go doing good in miraculous ways (even raising the dead; Matthew 10:8).  Portions of the chapter look forward to a future time, but the passage still has relevance to us.

It is striking to note the means through which God chose to do the work He intended to do.  Jesus chose and called ordinary men to do the work of ministry (Matthew 10:2-4).  Jesus did not recruit and call men from the powerful, well-connected, or even well-educated.  He deliberately chose ordinary men—fishermen, a tax-collector, a zealot, and others.  These men were merely human and would demonstrate their limitations on countless occasions as disciples, but once Spirit-filled, after Christ’s resurrection, God would use them (all but Judas) and others like them to “(turn) the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).  God’s plan remains the same.  He still chooses and privileges mere ordinary people like us to do the work of His ministry.  “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even the things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

The chapter is full of warnings regarding difficulties associated with ministry.  These same difficulties exist in this day and are experienced in varying degrees by Christ’s followers around the world.  He sent them out as “sheep in the midst of wolves” (Matthew 10:16).  He Himself, the Lamb of God, ministered amidst wolves.  These “wolves” relentlessly worked and conspired against Him, seeking His demise.  His followers should expect to experience the same kind of abuse (Matthew 10:24-25; Cf. Philippians 1:29; 1 Timothy 3:12).  So it is important that they be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).

“Have no fear of them,” He said (Matthew 10:26).  Contend for the truth—“say it in the light…proclaim it on the housetops” (Matthew 10:26-27; Jude 3).  The truth will prevail (Matthew 10:26; Cf. 2 Timothy 2:9).  Have no fear—“even the hairs of your head are all numbered” by Him (Matthew 10:30).  The Master’s Plan?  Ordinary men facing extraordinary opposition made victorious through the Master and HIs power and love (Cf. Romans 8:31-39)!

And ‘tho this world with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim, We tremble not at him—His rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure: One little word shall fell him.

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