Summary: In Matthew 10, we have Jesus’ sermon commissioning the disciples for his mission in the world, sending them out to minister in His name. The word “apostle” and “sent” are the same in Greek. That means every Christian is a missionary, one who is sent-out i
James Emery White tells the story a college history professor who was a Christian. The professor would go down to a local nursing home and visit with the elderly men and women there on a weekly basis. Though some were lovingly visited every day by their families – having been sent there because they needed care that couldn’t be provided in a home environment – for many it was a place where they had been dumped so that their children wouldn’t have to bother with them. They were sad, and they were lonely. One day, after this professor had made his weekly home visit to those elderly people, a student stopped him and told him how wonderful it was that he had the love and gift for “that sort of thing.” The professor was taken aback at the compliment. “A love for it? A gift for it? Do you think I enjoy smelling urine, stepping over bedpans, or talking with someone who drifts off into senile daydreams in the middle of a sentence? Enjoy it? You’ve got to be kidding!” The student asked, “Then why do you go out there every week?” “Because,” the professor answered, “that is where Christ would be, and that is what Christ would do. And I am a follower of Christ and He has sent me.”
In Matthew 10, we have Jesus’ sermon commissioning the disciples for his mission in the world, sending them out to minister in His name. The word “apostle” and “sent” are the same in Greek. That means every Christian is a missionary, one who is sent-out into the world. Jesus’ intent was never that we would cloister ourselves in the fortresses of our sanctuary, but that we would go out proclaiming the Good News into every segment of society and minister to the needs of others. “As you go, proclaim this message, ‘Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, and cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” Matthew 10:7 Let’s take a closer look at this message today beginning first with the word, “repent.” The message of repentance has always been at the heart of the gospel and to miss that would be to miss the first and most important step to life in Jesus’ name. Mark 6:7-12 reads: “And they went out, and preached that men should repent.” Luke 24:47 says, “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” And 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is…. patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Without question the key to the gospel message is the need and the priority of repenting. The Greek word for repent is “metanoia.” From that, we get the word metamorphosis, which describes what happens when a caterpillar changes to butterfly. It means to be changed from one state into another.
But it’s not just about calling others to repentance, we need to repent as well. It’s about us being changed by the Good News and the power of the Holy Spirit so that God may more fully work through us. Doug Tegner tells the story of attending a one-day leadership retreat called to deal with his church’s current crisis. Redwood Chapel was founded in 1962 and has since hosted the Bay Area Sunday School convention (BASS), had strong music programs, planted vibrant churches in other communities, had dynamic youth ministries, a strong missions program, and an exemplary educational program for more than 50 years. They were the second church in the nation to have its own cable TV station and broadcast services. But after experiencing two difficult pastorates, the church was reeling from the loss of nearly half of their church family, losing more than 500 people between 2000 and 2006. Their ministry had been significantly diminished. They spent the morning recounting the significant events in the church’s history. But they also listed many downers and hurtful situations: occasional moral failures among church leadership, decades-old conflicts that continued to fester, messy tensions between elders and staff. What they saw were recurring negative patterns which had become obvious and systemic. And most importantly that day, they called them what they were: sin. By the end of the leadership retreat, they named four sins that had ebbed and flowed through the church over the decades: (1) Arrogance, boastfulness, and pride, (2) Avoiding difficult issues; (3) Gossip, and (4) Gracelessness. The report was brought to the congregation by the consultants and then given the next steps to be taken in healing and rebuilding the church, including a Solemn Assembly for congregational confession, repentance, forgiveness, prayer, and open conversation. At that service they named their sins. It was only then that the church could move forward. And then he writes, “As a congregation, we are still repenting…. At times we have to confront such (sinful) behavior, much of which has persisted for years without being addressed honestly and directly….. We are learning to live humbly, truthfully, and graciously with each other. But repentance is not a one-time event; it needs continual attention.”