Matthew 9:35 – 10:1-8
9:35Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."
10: 1Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. 2These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.
5These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7As you go, proclaim the good news, "The kingdom of heaven has come near.' 8Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment."
Where We Are
We're halfway through the church's year of grace that began during calendar year 2016 on the First Sunday of Advent. Two weeks ago we celebrated the fiftieth day of Easter with the festival of Pentecost that commemorates the gift of the Holy Spirit given to the world. The next six months will be the Season of the Church acting in Jesus' name, a Time of the Spirit of Life and of Resurrection that we receive in baptism, a "green and growing season" that reflects the liturgical color green our vestments and paraments feature. Or more accurately, the current liturgical color of green mirrors the focus of this season.
Last Sunday we celebrated the Holy Trinity with Trinity Sunday. Although the bible doesn't refer to a three-in-one / one-in-three trinity or a triune God, both OT and NT strongly reveal God as triune.
Last week I mentioned during this season we'll be doing some theology of the Third Article of the Creed; both the Nicene Creed from the year 325 that probably first articulated the doctrine or teaching of the trinity, and the Apostles' Creed from about a century later outline Trinitarian theology. First article of the creed would be theology of creation; second article of the creed would be theology of redemption or salvation. Third article would be sanctification, divinization, or theosis as the Eastern churches express it.
I also suggested we'd look at some Third Spaces and Fourth Spaces theology as we develop Acts of the 21st Century Apostles in Southern California:
• First spaces: family, friends, close by neighbors, local schools, nearby workplacesIn the Revised Common Lectionary that suggests our scripture readings, this is Year A, the year of the gospel account the community gathered around Matthew the tax collector brought us.
• Second spaces: a little more geographically and socially distant communities, college, university (maybe a larger high school), larger workplaces; more choices about self-revelation
• Third spaces: moving out of our comfort zones, stretching boundaries: affinity groups, clubs, different cultures
• Fourth spaces: cyberspace! with a lot of choices about what we reveal, opportunities to try on new styles and identities
Briefly Reviewing Matthew
Matthew's gospel begins with Jesus' name Emmanuel – "God with us" – and concludes with Jesus' promise to be with us always.
Matthew's community specifically addressed Greek-speaking Jews in Antioch (then in Syria) that's geographically present-day Turkey.
With a strong Jewish-Hebrew emphasis, among other specialties Matthew presents Jesus as the new Moses and the new King David; with the flight into (and then back out of) Egypt we have a new Exodus; five large discourses in the gospel may parallel the Pentateuch, the Five Books of Moses and provide a new Torah. Before the resurrection Matthew refers to Israelites; post-resurrection, to Jews.
Matthew is the only one of the four canonical gospels that uses our word related to church, ecclesia. The ecclesia or called-out assembly was the Roman city council, the New England town meeting...
This gospel account also brings us an interesting juxtaposition because it refers to Jesus' ministry in Galilee of the Gentiles – Matthew 4:15 – and tells us gentiles will hope in Jesus' name – Matthew 12:21. Matthew uniquely brings us the visit to the baby Jesus by the Zoroastrian magi, who were both religious and ethnic outsiders. Matthew brings Jesus' Great Commission of bringing the gospel to all the nations that we heard last week.
Notice how Jesus (1)summons or calls his disciples; then he gives them (2)authority; then he (3)sends them out. In the power of the HS, we're also sent people, or apostles.
And then Jesus instructs the disciples to proclaim the gospel, the good news of the reign of life over death—the kingdom/ reign/ realm of heaven has come near; to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons. Recently we revisited John's gospel and Jesus' promise we'd do greater works than he did. That was on Maundy Thursday evening, shortly in the wake of Jesus raising Lazarus from death. In those Johannine passages, Jesus also told us to obey the commandments, and to love in the same way he loves us. He promised us the gift of the Holy Spirit (Advocate, Paraclete called-alongside, Counselor, Comforter —I like the concept of comforter or a quilt wrapped all around us) that would enable us to do all those amazing things, and to act in his name.
Proclamation of the Good News, the reality of resurrection, healing, etc. all evidence the presence of the reign of heaven. In the next chapter, Matthew 11:2-5, from prison John the Baptist (Jesus' cousin, who down by the riverside announced Jesus' soon to be arrival in our midst) asks his cohorts to ask Jesus if he's the real thing, or if we needed to look for someone else? Jesus advised them, "Go tell John what you hear and see (full sensory experiences): dead are raised to life; blind see; deaf hear; lame walk; poor receive good news." Those events have been going down? That means heaven among us, God's rule in our midst!