Jesus’ ministry and the church takes work and workers. This is one of the take aways from our reading in Matthew 9:35-10:23 today. At this point in Jesus’ career, Jesus is doing what Jesus does. He preaches, teaches, and heals. He shares a vision of God’s kingdom that includes tax collectors and others typically kicked out of holy places. He eats meals with people he shouldn’t. Jesus is being Jesus. And Jesus, in our verses today, compels his followers to do the same.
The apostles’ mission is an outgrowth of Jesus’ own ministry. Jesus visits new places and tells his followers to do the same. Jesus tells his followers to share God’s message of love and hope using the same words he uses. Jesus’ followers are called to cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and cast out demons. And Jesus’ followers are told to provide this physical and spiritual care for free. A follower of Jesus doesn’t act only to benefit themselves. They are told to give freely and abundantly because that’s what Jesus does too. In the words of Colin Yuckman of Duke Divinity School, “To be sent by Jesus is, in some sense, to be sent as Jesus.” Jesus is training his followers on how they can be his disciples. When people encounter us, they are encountering and experiencing Jesus Christ and we need to act accordingly.
This encounter with Jesus Christ is an unexpected mission God invites us to share. It’s also a mission that is not easy to do. An invitation to follow Jesus is an invitation to live a different way. An invitation to live in God’s kingdom means we need to realize the hard truths about the brokenness of the world around us. An invitation to live as Jesus is an invitation to recognize the ways we push ourselves and others away from God. Jesus decides that people like us can, through the help of the Holy Spirit, show others Jesus Christ. This seems like a daunting task. It can make us feel afraid. But, like we heard last week, we don’t do this job alone because Jesus is with us to the end of the age.
Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings for the week. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for 2nd Sunday After Pentecost, 6/18/2017.