224: June 18, 2017
The lectionary is weird, and this hasn’t come up since 2008
Verse 9-23 option
Compare list of 12 to list found in Acts 2
Sermon on the mount ended after chapter 7.
Chapters 8 and 9 details many stories of Jesus healing
Cleanses a leper (8:1)
Centurion's servant (8:5)
Many people at Peter’s house (8:14)
The Gadarene demoniac (8:28)
Paralytic on a mat (9:1)
Daughter of the Synagogue leader (9:18)
Woman bleeding for 12 years (9:19)
Two blind men (9:27)
A mute demoniac (9:32)
In between the healings, there is some teaching, the calming of the sea, and the calling of Matthew.
First disciples came in chap 4: Fishermen brothers Simon and Andrew, and the sons of Zebedee. Now lists 12.
“One gets the distinct impression that the commissioning process in the text is really aimed at the readers of Matthew’s story more than the original disciples.” (Charles Cousar, Texts for Preaching, Year A, p. 368).
A reminder for the early community that they must continue to do the work of Jesus - sort of a prologue to the Great Commission.
Motivated by compassion
“The crowds” are nobodies. They are the peasant class, brutally suppressed by taxes, barely able to carve out an existence.
“Like sheep without a shepherd” is a distinctly political assertion. The shepherd:
Is the one to whom the people belong.
Is given duty to care for people
Is not suppose to harass people, but help them
Is symbolic of “King.”
In other words, “The people had no King at all.”
“Lord of the harvest” is the alternative King.
Instead of the king who harasses, Jesus is the King of plenty. He is the King who provides.
Problem: There are so many people that need help, no one person can do it. Commissions the 12 to help.
“"'Compassion,' from the Greek splagchnizomai, means 'to be moved as to one's bowels.' Since to the ancients the bowels were the seat of love and compassion, this belly-driven response is directed not only toward the crowds, but also toward their absentee shepherds - those who, through obstinacy or incompetence [or abuse], have managed to lose them."” (Northwest UMC Weekly Stewardship Reflection)
Cast out Demons
“Jesus' ministry and that of his disciples entail the exorcism of demons, an issue that will pose a stumbling block for many congregations. One path is simply to skip over this detail, as modern congregations find it either baffling or irrelevant. Another path is to explain it away, boiling down healing and exorcism to a common denominator: people got better. It once was commonplace to say that ancient persons frequently attributed the inexplicable to the demonic realm, particularly mental illnesses and neurological disorders. We should think more deeply. Even those of us who cannot get our imaginations around real demons tormenting poor individuals can relate to what it means to be bound by a power one feels powerless to resist. Such demons need not be found only in "those" people, but they reside whenever evil has us firmly in its grip. Many (all?) people find themselves bound by behaviors, patterns, or structures they cannot escape, often cursing themselves when they repeat the same behavior time and again. When we imagine the realm of exorcism, let us imagine liberation, freedom from powers that constrain us and prevent us from living full human lives.” (Greg Carey, Working Preacher)
Only the “Lost sheep of Israel”
The people with no real King.
Had already healed the slave of the Centurion.
15:21-28 is the exchange with a Canaanite woman. Jesus tells her, “I have come for the lost sheep of Israel.”
She responds with “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table”
Jesus’ ministry is ultimately universal - as it culminates in the Great Commission, but has an expanding life.
(9-23) Further instructions about depending on hospitality
Mention of Sodom and Gomorrah in context of not aiding this poor band of travelers.
Ezekiel 16:48-49 “This is the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were proud, had plenty to eat, and enjoyed peace and prosperity; but she didn’t help the poor and the needy.”
This becomes a scary thought, especially when I look in my fridge full of food and despair, “I have nothing to eat.”
The disciples are taught to depend on hospitality. Those who depend on hospitality are more likely to show it to others.
Warning against accumulating wealth in the name of the Gospel is one that can still be heeded.
Again, this is an easy warning to give to others, but more difficult to hear for myself, who is paid a comfortable wage as clergy.
Jesus send the disciples out to do the work that he had been doing. They watched him do his thing, and so now they should go and do the same. If you look at the structure of the first few chapters of Matthew, you see the large section of teaching in chapters 5-7, then the large section of healings in chapters 8-9. Then Jesus gathers with the 12 and tells them to go and teach and heal. He says “Go and make this announcement: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases, and throw out demons.” In other words: Announce, then do. Teach, then heal. Say, then show. Any church that is doing one and not the other is missing the boat.
Social Justice without sharing the good news of the Kingdom of God is half a gospel.
Simply telling people to repent and believe in Jesus is an empty attempt at getting followers without doing any good
Plenty of organizations and churches are good at one, and not the other..
There are no details instructions. There is no how-to manual. The only way to know how to do the work of Jesus is to walk with him first. A faith journey is a learning process. There is no short-cut or step-by-step process to follow to find and make disciples. It’s all about on-the-job training.
We are jumping right into Romans which is a very different letter for Paul
Check out the Pulpit Fiction Academy with Beverly Gaventa on Romans
At the very least read Romans 1-4
Paul has already laid out his argument for justification by faith (Romans 1-4)
All sin- all fall short of the glory of God
It is only through the gift of faith in God’s grace that we are redeemed
Chapter 5 begins with the fruits or results of being justified by faith:
Peace with God in the present
Hope for God in the future
Now but not yet eschatological dynamic to faith: peace in the present and hope for the future
Peace in the present
Faith in God through Jesus Christ justifies us with the assurance that we do not need to earn our way into the Kingdom
Don’t put your faith in riches, or self-image, or sex, or power, or religiosity - put your faith in God.
You can never earn your way into the Kingdom, only accept the grace of God as revealed in Jesus Christ
Hope for the future
The Kingdom of God is not a dream but a reality that we live into - when we are at peace with God (through faith) we can begin to live into the Kingdom (think Sermon the Mount).
Converse if we are not at peace - then living into the Kingdom is impossible - we cannot bless the poor if we feel we do not have enough, we cannot love our enemy if we are focused on how to dominate them, we cannot love our neighbor if we continue to judge them.
Peace in the present brings hope for the future. Afterall, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of things yet unseen” (Heb. 11:1)
Boasting in sufferings?
This is difficult - used to justify the suffering of others. Note Paul writes, “we boast” not you boast. Paul is also suffering, not trying to justify the sufferings of others.
Other side of 4:2 where boasting is negative (you cannot boast due to your lineage or religiosity- those mean nothing in the realm of God) If you are going to boast, boast of your suffering through faithfulness.
Boasting is only acceptable when it illuminated the love and grace of God (not how awesome you are, but how awesome God is)
Being at peace with God does not mean a life free from suffering - in fact there is great likelihood that faith will bring you into suffering, but faith gives us a different perspective on suffering (cf. Matthew 5:10-12)
Reminder that Christ (the best of us) also suffered and died for us (even though we suck)
We boast in suffering because we know suffering and death do not have the final word.
Good News! Get off the treadmill of what you should do, or need to do in order to earn God’s favor- God loves you and there is nothing you can do about it! But you can respond to it: with endurance, character, and hope.
In what ways are you enduring and helping others endure? In what ways are you building up character in yourself and others? In what ways are you being a beacon of hope?
Grace - how often do we preach on exactly what is “Grace” and why is grace so important? Don’t assume people know.
THANK YOU FOR LISTENING AND GET IN TOUCH:
Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com,@pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”,"Real Ride"and“Summertime”) and Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”).