Matthew 10:16-33 Friday 11 October 2013


The mission briefing for the twelve continues on from yesterday's passage. It is full of realismabout the difficulty of the task of proclaiming light amongst thosewho prefer darkness, but it is also full of hope - a hope which isrooted in God's judgement - for the apostles are urged not to fearthose who oppose them, but instead to fear God who has power overthe soul and not just the body (verse 28); they are to rememberthat one day they will stand in judgement and that they can onlyexpect the loyalty of Jesus then if they have been loyal now(verses 32-33); they are to believe that although people may seemto get away with dark deeds now, these shall be brought to light inthe end (verse 26).

These instructions to the twelve raise questions for disciplestoday about what should motivate our engagement in God's mission.The references to future judgement may suggest to some thatChristians should evangelise in order to save our own souls. Therecan also be a sense that unless we are attracting persecution weare not living up to the standard that is set here. However, if ourprime concern is to broadcast Jesus in order to secure our ownsalvation or to attract persecution in order to bolster our ownidentity as proper Christians, we may succeed in getting others tojoin our cause, but will we have made genuine disciples of Jesus,who came not to be served but to serve? (Matthew 20:28)

For Matthew's Gospel the purpose of Jesus' references tojudgement are to encourage the first apostles that howeverdifficult the task of proclaiming and enacting the kingdom (verse16) and however great are the powers that do not want to bechallenged (verse 17), there is another unseen dimension of lifewhich is, in the end, more real and more enduring (verse 22). Thisdimension is, in essence, love: the love that seeks to releasepeople into the truth of themselves (verse 26); the love that notesthe death even of every sparrow (verse 29); the love which is themotivation of the master himself (verses 24-25).

To Ponder

  • God's mission is often recognised by the Churchesas having five marks:

(1) proclaiming the good news of thekingdom

(2) teaching, baptizing andnurturing new believers

(3) responding to human need byloving service

(4) seeking to transform unjuststructures of society

(5) striving to safeguard theintegrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of theearth.

What do you find difficult aboutengaging in God's mission in today's world?

  • What helps you to be rooted in God's reality and God's valuesin the face of these difficulties?
  • The notion of God's judgement can be uncomfortable. Why do youthink Christians continue to believe it is important?
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