Good morning. I hope this finds you trusting the Lord and treasuring Christ above all things! Let’s live for the glory of God, today! This will be a brief devotional on the Foundations reading for today, Matthew 10.
So, this little devotional needs a quick explanation of chapter divisions. Certainly, they were not original to the text. They were added later to aid us in our reading. Sometimes they can hinder our reading by making a chapter break when it might should have been elsewhere. So, just be aware of that and let the text tell you where the breaks are. And it’s hard to know sometimes. So, let’s read carefully and let the intent of the Author and authors guide us.
With that said, I’m sure you are already anticipating what I’m about to say. Yes, I think the most natural place for chapter 10 in Matthew’s Gospel seems to be at 9:35. Certainly, there are times when the story transition overlaps. But each little story is connected to the previous one. They are not simply chronological.
So, let me quote the part I would like to comment on:
(Matt. 9:35-10:1) And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.
First, let’s take note that Jesus met both spiritual needs and physical needs. He is the perfect pastor and deacon (overseer and servant). Both should be cared for and to neglect either would be unloving and dangerous. And, they are interconnected in ways we probably do not understand. I can simply say this, our spiritual health affects our physical health and vice versa.
We see Jesus teaching and proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom AND healing every disease and every affliction. Teaching is an essential element of making disciples. You could track this theme throughout the Gospels and see this is the means by which the Kingdom of God advances. That’s strange isn’t it? Most kingdoms advance by might. One kingdom defeats other kingdoms and gains more power and control. The Kingdom of God advances by teaching and proclaiming the gospel of Christ.
However, there is a need for gaining access to the ears of people. Genuine love for the whole person is very important. It seems to be easy to love one or the other–soul or body. Sometimes, we have loved our neighbor by only helping them with their physical needs. They are usually easier and less confrontational. Our conscience seems to be quieted when we meet physical needs and thus we avoid the spiritual need.
So, how does Jesus see people? I started to say “world” instead of people. I think the focus is on the people. They matter. He sees them: distressed and dispirited, harassed and helpless, bewildered and dejected, and confused and scattered. Matthew describes how Jesus sees the peoples as sheep without a shepherd.
The second word in each of the pairs above is ῥίπτω “rhipto” which means: to throw, cast, spec. to throw off, toss. I searched the use of that word and the first hit was in Genesis. This reference really helped expand what was already stated. Here’s the text: (Gen. 21:14-15) So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes.
Of course this text is in reference to the story of Abraham sending Hagar and Ishmael away. When the water runs out, Hagar puts her baby under the bushes to die. In other words, this baby that has been put off is helpless without his momma and water. He cannot live.
If the scene in Matthew was described as sheep without a shepherd, then we could add this image to it by saying the people are babies without parents. How might you think Jesus would respond to this? It says he was moved with compassion for them. It’s not the same word used in 9:13 where it was said that Jesus desired compassion, not sacrifice but it’s most certainly what is going on.
Sin is destroying the people. They need the healing of the gospel in their souls. They need healing in their body which is a result of sin. Some of them will experience both from Jesus. But sin is the issue. How would you have felt about Jesus when he did this? (Matt. 9:2) And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”
Jesus, do you not care about this man’s paralysis? Paralysis is not this man’s greatest need. Being forgiven of his sins is his greatest need. But Jesus also heals him while validating his authority to forgive sins. He does both but forgiveness is the most important thing.
So, what does Jesus’s compassion for these sheep without a shepherd…babies without parents cause him to do? This might surprise you. Instead of taking on this task alone, his response is this: (Matt. 9:37-10:1) *Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” *And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.
He instructed his disciples to pray for more laborers and he gave his laborers authority to cast out unclean spirits and to heal every disease and every affliction. In other words, he was making more of himself. He was leaving himself in others to do the things he had been doing.
He had more to do. In fact, if he didn’t complete the mission of the cross then all of this was for nothing. If atonement was not made for sins then healing them was only a temporary fix. So, he was planning to accomplish his mission but he also was planning for his departure. His mission was redemption and making disciples. That’s how Jesus responded to the people who were helpless and lost.
This is the world we live in. How will you respond to the brokenness of this world? Try to fix it yourself? What happens when you are gone? Where will the next generation be if we do not make disciples of Jesus?
(Jdg. 2:10) And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel.
The cycle of Judges!
Here’s the answer…this is how this Gospel ends: (Matt. 28:18-1:1) And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”