1+12+70=42: (The Math of the Kingdom) From Fellowship to Partnership

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ which was written by the apostle Matthew. More specifically, todays passage is found in chapters ten through twelve of this New Testament book. “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith He unto His disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the LORD of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:36-38). WHEN HE SAW THE MULTITUDES! HE WAS MOVED WITH COMPASSION! THEY FAINTED! THEY WERE SCATTERED ABROAD! THEY WERE AS SHEEP HAVING NO SHEPHERD! THE HARVEST TRULY IS PLENTEOUS! THE LABOURERS ARE FEW! PRAY THEREFORE THE LORD OF HARVEST, THAT HE WILL SEND FORTH LABOURERS INTO HIS HARVEST! “And when He had called unto Him His twelve disciples, HE gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him” (Matthew 10:1-4). PRAY FOR LABOURERS! PRAY THE LORD SENDS LABOURERS! ENTER: THE LABOURERS! YOU ARE THE LABOURERS! YOU HAVE BEEN INVITED INTO THE WORK! YOU HAVE BEEN INVITED INTO THE HARVEST! YOU HAVE BEEN INVITED TO PARTNER WITH THE SON OF GOD IN THE WORK OF THE KINGDOM! IT IS SOMETIMES EASIER TO PRAY THE LORD SENDS SOMEONE ELSE WHEN THE LORD DESIRES TO SEND YOU! IT IS SOMETIMES EASIER TO PRAY THE LORD RAISES UP SOMEONE ELSE WHEN THE LORD DESIRES TO RAISE YOU UP! “HERE I AM LORD, SEND ME!” WE SPEAK TO NATIONS! THE WORK IS BIGGER THAN JUST ONE PERSON—EVEN IF THAT PERSON IS THE SON OF GOD! THE WORK MUST CONTINUE—EVEN AFTER MY DEPARTURE! YOU HAVE BEEN CALLED TO CONTINUE AND CARRY OUT THE WORK I BEGAN! I BEGAN THE WORK HERE ON THE EARTH AND YOU HAVE BEEN CALLED TO CONTINUE IT!

            ”These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city” (Matthew 10:5-15). PREACH, SAYING, THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND! HEAL THE SICK! CLEANSE THE LEPERS! RAISE THE DEAD! CAST OUT DEVILS! FREELY YE HAVE RECEIVED, FREELY GIVE! HOLD NOTHING BACK! GIVE EVERYTHING! YOU HAVE NOT BEEN CALLED TO HOLD ANYTHING BACK BUT TO FREELY GIVE OF YOURSELF AND WHAT YOU HAVE RECEIVED! WHY ARE YOU HOLDING BACK? WHY ARE YOU HOLDING OUT?       

            ”Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household” (Matthew 10:16-25).

            “Fear them not therefore: For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one them shall not fall on the ground without Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:26-33).

            “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:34-39).

            “He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward” (Matthew 10:40-42).

            When you come to this particular section of Scripture you will find perhaps one of the most captivating and challenging chapters around discipleship in the entire New Testament. There is not a doubt in my mind that the words we find within the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew is not one that presents any who wish to follow and walk with Jesus with a powerful gut check concerning their commitment and devotion unto Jesus as both Christ and Lord. I would dare say that when you read the words found within this chapter you will be confronted with the call to discipleship, and are brought face to face with the fact that discipleship is about more than simply healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, raising the dead, and casting out devils and unclean spirits. It is true that when you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find Jesus calling His twelve disciples unto Himself and then commissioning them to go forth into the harvest as His laborers, however, there is so much more to discipleship than that which concerns ministry. There is a tendency to read this particular chapter and focus solely on Jesus’ sending out of the twelve disciples to engage themselves in ministry among the lost sheep of Israel, however, I am absolutely and completely convinced that to read this chapter and focus solely on the disciples being sent out as ambassadors and ministers of the gospel and of the kingdom is sorely and severely miss the point. I am absolutely convinced that you cannot read the words which are found in this particular chapter without also considering the words found in chapters five through seven, for what we find in chapters five through seven is the righteousness of the kingdom, as well as the attitudes of the kingdom. The fifth, sixth and seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew are some of the most powerful chapters concerning and surrounding discipleship, for within Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount we find Him calling the disciples to a righteousness that exceeds that of the Pharisees and the scribes—a righteousness that goes beyond simply what we have heard written in the Law and taught by tradition, and a righteousness that goes beyond what we have observed, watched and seen the religious community do in our midst.

            The words found in the tenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew begin with Jesus calling unto Himself the twelve disciples, however, before we delve into the reality of Jesus calling unto Himself His twelve disciples we must turn and direct our attention back to the final verses of the ninth chapter. If and when you read the words found in the final verses of the ninth chapter you will again find Jesus among the multitudes with the notable exception that this time we actually read of Jesus’ heart in the midst of and toward the multitudes. As you begin reading with and from the thirty-sixth verse of the ninth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find Jesus looking upon the multitudes which He saw and beheld as He went about all the cities and villages, teaching in the synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. It is in the thirty-fifth verse we read of Jesus teaching, preaching, and healing the sick, and up until this point it has been Jesus alone who has taught the people, it has been Jesus alone who has preached unto the people, and it has been Jesus alone who has healed the sick. It was Jesus alone who had engaged Himself in the work, and when we come to the final verses of the ninth chapter we read of Jesus looking at the multitudes and being moved with compassion on them because they fainted and were scattered abroad as sheep having no shepherd. It’s truly something worth noting and considering how Jesus saw the multitudes and how they fainted, and were scattered abroad, and were as sheep having no shepherd considering the awesome reality that He had been manifested among them in their midst. Up to this point we have read in the fourth chapter, as well as in the ninth chapter how Jesus had healed the sick, cast out devils, and healed the lepers, and how He had taught in the synagogues and preached the gospel concerning the kingdom. Even with everything Jesus had done up to this point we still read within this gospel how Jesus saw the multitudes as being like sheep without a shepherd, and how they fainted. What’s more, is that we find and read Jesus emphatically declaring unto those who were present with Him that the harvest was truly plenteous, but the labourers were few. Considering this reality that the labourers were few Jesus instructed all those before Him that they pray therefore before and unto the LORD of the harvest that He would send forth labourers into his harvest.

            This reality and concept of Jesus speaking to the multitudes, as well as unto His disciples that the harvest was plenteous but the labourers were few is something that warrants a strong and powerful consideration, for Jesus would then go on to instruct them to pray therefore unto the LORD of the harvest that He would send forth labourers into that harvest. What I find as truly something worth noting and pointing out is that immediately after Jesus instructed all those which were present to pray unto the LORD of the harvest that He would send forth labourers into the harvest we find Jesus calling unto Himself His twelve disciples and gave them power against unclean spirits to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. I am absolutely and completely convinced that we cannot truly understand the words which are found in the tenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew without understanding the words Jesus spoke concerning the harvest being plenteous, concerning the labourers being few, and then instructing those present to pray unto the LORD of the harvest that He would send forth labourers into the harvest. Immediately following the instruction to pray that the LORD would send forth labourers into the harvest we find Jesus not only calling unto Himself His twelve disciples, but we also find Him sending them out. Essentially that which we find in the opening verses of the tenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew is Jesus Himself sending out the first labourers into the harvest—those who would have power against unclean spirits to cast them out, and those who would be given power to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. We read the words found in the opening verses of the tenth chapter and while it was true Jesus instructed those which were present to pray unto the LORD of the harvest that He would send forth labourers into the harvest Jesus already answered—or Jesus already began answering—that prayer. In the final verses of the ninth chapter we find Jesus calling for prayer that the LORD would send forth labourers into the harvest, while in the tenth chapter we essentially find Jesus answering that prayer—perhaps even answering that prayer before it was prayed by any one who heard His words.

            I sit here this evening thinking about and considering the words which are found in the ninth and tenth chapters and I can’t help but think about the fact that more often than not it is easy to pray unto the LORD that He would send labourers into the harvest—and even praying unto the LORD that He would send others into the harvest all the while ignoring that which He has called us to do. It is very easy to pray unto the LORD of the harvest that He send someone else into the harvest, and that He raise someone else up in the midst of the work, and we completely neglect and ignore the fact that what Jesus might very well be doing is using us to answer His own prayer. Would it shock and surprise you that Jesus might very well be using, and Jesus might very well be wanting to use you to not only answer His prayer, but also to answer the prayers of others? Would it come as a shock and surprise to you to consider the awesome and incredible reality that Jesus desires to use you to answer and fulfill the prayers of others that He might send forth labourers into the harvest? It would be incredibly easy for us to think that someone else is the answer to the prayer for labourers in the harvest, and yet all the while we neglect and fail to realize that we ourselves might very well be the answer to the labourer that is needed in the harvest. Jesus called for others to pray unto the LORD of the harvest that He send forth labourers into the harvest, and in the very next chapter—perhaps even on that very same occasion—we find Jesus answering that prayer for labourers in the midst of the harvest. There is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus wanted to use the disciples—not only to partner in the work which the Father had called and instructed Him to complete, but also to fulfill and answer the prayers others would pray concerning labourers being sent into the harvest. Perhaps the single greatest example and narrative concerning what this would look like is found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. It is within this chapter we find the apostle Paul seeking to journey into a specific region and into a specific place and his being forbidden by the Holy Ghost from going unto those places he desired. This would not merely happen once, but would happen twice, as the apostle Paul would be forbidden by the Holy Ghost from journeying into Asia. What’s more, is that not only was the apostle forbidden from going into Asia, but that very same night he would have a dream of a man from Macedonia crying out for him to come unto Europe and minister unto them. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse:

            “Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, name Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek. And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily. Now when they had gone throughout Phyrgia and the region of Galaita, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endevoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the LORD had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; and from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days” (Acts 16:1-12).

            THERE STOOD A MAN OF MACEDONIA, AND PRAYED HIM, SAYING, COME OVER INTO MACEDONIA, AND HELP US! I am convinced that the words we find in the book of Acts are a powerful example of what we find in the ninth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, for what we find within it is Paul being forbidden by the Holy Ghost from going into a certain region while a vision would come to him in the night. It would be in that vision which came to him during the night Paul would see a man who would pray to them that they would come unto them and help them. I can’t help but see a strong and striking similarity between what is found in the final verses of the ninth chapter of the gospel written by Matthew, as well as the opening verses of the tenth chapter, for in the final verses of the ninth chapter we find Jesus speaking of praying unto the LORD of the harvest that He send forth labourers into that harvest, and in the tenth chapter we actually find Jesus answering that prayer Himself. What we must realize and recognize is that although Jesus would begin answering that prayer that the LORD would send labourers into the harvest field, it was a prayer that would continue to be answered throughout the years. Perhaps one of the greatest truths and realities surrounding the words found in the ninth and tenth chapters is that the work which was given unto Jesus was so much bigger than Himself—even though He was the Son of God and was both eternal and divine. We know that Jesus healed the sick, cleansed the lepers, cast out devils, and would preach the gospel concerning the kingdom of heaven, and would teach in the synagogues, however, Jesus would now invite the disciples to partner together in the work for which He had been called and sent. How truly incredible it is to think about the fact that Jesus would up to this point carry out the work of healing the sick, preaching the gospel concerning the kingdom, cleanse the lepers, teach in the synagogues, and cast out the devils, and the time had now come for the disciples to partner together with the work. The words which we find within the tenth chapter can not only be viewed and seen as Jesus beginning to answer the very prayer He had just encouraged men to pray, but it was also an invitation given unto the disciples to partner together with Him in the work.

            For us to understand the words which are presented before us in the tenth chapter we must recognize Jesus’ calling the disciples unto Himself and giving them power as an awesome and powerful answer to the prayer that the LORD would send forth labourers into the harvest. The words found in the tenth chapter of the gospel of Matthew is both an answer to prayer, as well as an invitation to ministry, as Jesus would not only invite the disciples to walk with Him, and to follow Him, but to know do what He did. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that up to this point these disciples of Jesus had merely walked with Him where He walked, followed Him where He went, and observed as He did what He did in accordance to the will of the Father. Now the time had come for the disciples to no longer and no more be spectators and bystanders in the work of the kingdom, but to actually join and participate in the work which Jesus Himself had been sent. It is necessary that we recognize and understand this, for there are many of us who would seek to simply walk with and follow Jesus and yet never enter into that place where we partner together with Him in the work of the ministry. There are countless men and women in churches throughout this nation—perhaps even across the globe—who are perfectly content to walk with and follow Jesus, and who have absolutely no desire to participate and partner together in the work which Jesus Himself engaged in while He was on the earth. Such individuals are content with fellowship with Jesus without every actively engaging in partnership with the eternal Son. FELLOWSHIP VERSUS PARTNERSHIP! PARTNERSHIP VERSUS FELLOWSHIP! That which we find in this passage of Scripture is Jesus inviting the disciples to move beyond simply fellowship with Him and actually participating and partnering together with Him in the ministry the Father had ordained and appointed for Him. Please do not quickly dismiss and lose sight of this, for there is not a doubt in my mind that there are countless men and women who would much rather walk with and follow Jesus and enjoy fellowship with Him than actually enter into and engage in partnership with the eternal Son of God.

            IT’S TIME TO MOVE BEYOND SIMPLY FELLOWSHIP TO PARTNERSHIP! WHAT GOOD IS FELLOWSHIP WITHOUT PARTNERSHIP! FELLOWSHIP IS THE BASIS OF PARTNERSHIP! I sit here considering these words which Jesus spoke unto His disciples, and I can’t help but be drawn into the awesome and incredible reality that Jesus was now inviting the disciples to step up to the plate so to speak and prepare themselves for what was before and in front of them. They had up to this point spent a considerable amount of time walking with and following Jesus, and now Jesus was calling them forward—essentially calling them to come out of the shadows and step into the light—and to do more than just walk with Him where He walked, but to do what He did. Stop and think about this reality within your own life, and consider whether or not you are one who is content walking with and following Jesus and have absolutely no desire to partner together with Jesus. Oh it is true you have walked with Jesus, and it is true you have followed Jesus, yet you have reserved yourself, and you have kept yourself back from stepping forward and stepping into that which the LORD has called and invited you to do. What I so love and appreciate about the words found in this passage is that when Jesus called the disciples forward there was no room for second guessing, nor was their any room for shrinking back. Jesus called the disciples unto Himself that He might send them forth into the harvest, and send them forth into the midst of the fields that they might enter into the same work which He Himself had been engaged in. What we must realize is that not only did Jesus invite the disciples to partner together in the work for which He had been called and sent, but Jesus also invited them to do the very same things He Himself had done. What’s more than this is the awesome truth that Jesus knows precisely when we are ready, and He knows when that time comes for us to enter into the harvest, and to partner together with Him in the ministry. I am sure one or more of the disciples might have personally felt that they weren’t ready, and yet Jesus proceeded to call them forth to partner with Him in the ministry.

            TRANSITIONING FROM FELLOWSHIP TO PARTNERSHIP! I cannot escape this reality of Jesus moving the disciples from fellowship to partnership—particularly and especially because there are many of us who think that fellowship alone is enough. There are many of us who think that fellowship alone is enough within this life, and that we can simply walk through this life enjoying fellowship with the living and eternal God, with His Christ, and with the eternal Spirit. The truth of the matter is that although Adam was created to enjoy unbroken and unhindered fellowship and relationship with the eternal God who would walk and talk and talk with him in the cool of the day, he was placed in the garden to work and to fulfill that for which he had been created. We cannot ignore, nor can we escape the fact that Adam was indeed created to have fellowship with the living God, however, the book of Genesis reveals how Adam was placed in the garden to both dress and keep it. Moreover, we find that it would be in the garden the LORD would bring the animals unto Adam to see what He would name them. RESPONSIBILITY IN THE GARDEN! RESPONSBILITY BEYOND FELLOWSHIP! FELLOWSHIP IS THE FOUNDATION OF RESPONSIBILITY! The more I consider these awesome truths the more I am brought face to face with the fact that relationship and fellowship is the basis for partnership with Jesus. Jesus spoke of praying unto the LORD of the harvest that He send forth labourers into the harvest, and then immediately following that Jesus would call the disciples to the front of the line so to speak, and send them out into the midst of the harvest to do the very same work which He Himself had done. Pause for a moment and think about what that would have been like for the disciples as they would have spent some time walking with and following Jesus as He alone taught in the synagogues, as He alone preached the gospel concerning the kingdom, and as He alone healed the sick, cast out devils, and cleansed the lepers. Now the disciples themselves were being invited to carry out the very same thing Jesus Himself had been sent to the earth to fulfill, complete and carry out.

            What we find in the tenth chapter of this gospel narrative is Jesus using the disciples to answer the prayer for labourers to enter into the harvest, and to partner together in the work that was so much greater than Him. Jesus Himself would essentially show the disciples—later apostles—what the work would look like, and how the work was to be done, and now we find Jesus calling the disciples forth to engage themselves in and carry out the same work which He Himself had carried out. It would be Jesus Himself who would determine the disciples were now ready to join together with Him in the ministry upon the earth, and He would send them forth to carry out and fulfill the very same assignment and mission He had been sent to do. Oh I firmly believe that when Jesus was healing the sick, when Jesus was casting out the devils, and when Jesus was cleansing the lepers He was indeed fulfilling that which the eternal Father had instructed Him to do, but He was also showing the disciples how it was done, and what needed to be done for the time when they themselves would need to walk in those same footsteps and carry out those same assignments. Jesus Christ would indeed call and invite the disciples to enter into the ministry for which He Himself had been called and sent, and Jesus would invite the disciples to partner together with Him in that ministry which needed to be done in the earth. Jesus would Himself only be upon the earth for three and a half years before He would be crucified, buried in the grave, raised from death to life, and ascended unto the Father in heaven. Upon His ascension the disciples who would later become apostles would carry out and continue the work for which Jesus Himself had been sent. What so amazes me is when you think about and consider the incredible truth that while Jesus was still present among them He would invite them to partner together with Him in the work of the ministry. It would be while Jesus was still active and present among them in the earth that He would invite the disciples to partner together in the work which He had began, as He would continue carrying out and fulfilling that which the Father had called and sent Him.

            WHEN ONE BECOMES THIRTEEN! Perhaps one of the greatest truths we must realize and recognize concerning Jesus the Christ is that while He was upon the earth He could only be in one place at one time. While Jesus was upon the earth healing would primarily take place where Jesus was, for more often than not the crowds and multitudes with gather themselves together unto Him. There were certain times when things would be done apart from Jesus as was the case when there were those who cast out devils and James and John the sons of Zebedee asked Jesus to command and instruct them to stop. If the gospels reveal anything to us—not only in the calling and sending out of the twelve disciples, as well as seventy others whom Jesus would send—it’s that the work which Jesus carried out and completed in the earth was confined to one single place at one single time. By calling the twelve disciples unto Himself—and later calling unto Himself the seventy and sending them out—Jesus would increase the work of the ministry beyond simply where He would and could be. Now with the disciples partnering together in the work of the ministry which Jesus Himself had been called and sent the work of the ministry of the kingdom could take place in at least seven different places at a time. Scripture points to and reveals the fact that when Jesus sent out the disciples, and when He sent out the seventy, He sent them out in twos, thus indicating that the work of the ministry of the kingdom would and could take place in more places than simply where He was. Stop and think about what it could have been like when the disciples and the seventy were carrying out and fulfilling the ministry which Jesus Himself would carry out, and how the seventy whom Jesus sent out would be in thirty-five places at once, as they would be sent out two by two. Now think about it in terms of the disciples and how the disciples were sent out in twos as well, thus indicating that they would and could be in six different places at one time. If the seventy were in a combined total of thirty-five places, while the disciples were in a combine total of six places, and if Jesus was in one place, that would mean the work of the kingdom would and could take place in forty-two different places at one time. No longer would the work of the kingdom take place in one single place at one single time, but now the work of the kingdom could take place in multiple places at one time.

            We must understand that when Jesus took on the form of human flesh and dwelt among us He could only be in a single place at one time, and He would and could never go beyond where He was. This would force Jesus to be present right where He was, and to be present in that moment in which He found Himself. When Jesus called the twelve unto Himself, and when Jesus called the seventy unto Himself, and when He sent them out two by two the work of the ministry of the kingdom would and could take place in forty-one different places at a single time. Stop and think about that for a moment, as while it was Jesus the work of the ministry of the kingdom would and could only take place in a single place at a single time, and now the work of the ministry could take place in many places, and in multiple places at a single time. This would in all reality be a prophetic picture, sign and portent of what was to come, as Jesus would now introduce the ministry of the kingdom into various places at the same time. When Jesus called the disciples unto Himself and invited them to partner together with Him in the ministry—that which He was doing was inviting the disciples to partner together with Him in the ministry, and to fulfill and carry out that ministry in more places beyond where Jesus was able to be at any given moment in time. Notice that when Martha saw Jesus after Lazarus her brother had died she declared unto Him that had He been there her brother would not have died. Please don’t miss this, for when Jesus chose to remain and abide where He was for two more days, he could only be in that place at that time. Jesus would and could not be in multiple places at the same time, and would and could only fulfill, accomplish and carry out what was right before Him in the midst of the earth.

            PARTNERSHIP BEYOND FELLOWSHIP! THE EXPANSION OF THE WORK OF THE KINGDOM! As Jesus would call the disciples—and later the seventy—unto himself, and as He would send them out into the harvest He would introduce the work of the ministry of the kingdom into places where He perhaps could not be, and perhaps even places where He had not been. I can’t help but wonder if Jesus did not send the disciples into places He Himself had not touched, and places He Himself had not been. Is it possible that Jesus sent the disciples into those places where He had not yet been, and perhaps would not journey into and unto during His three and a half years of public ministry upon the earth. What an awesome and wonderful concept it is to think about how Jesus would and could only be in a single place at any given time, and with the partnership of the disciples and apostles in the work of the ministry the work of the ministry of the kingdom could be present in multiple places at one time. Although Jesus Himself could not be in multiple places at a single time—through the partnership of the disciples with the work of the ministry the work which He carried out could be present and manifested in more than one place. What a truly spectacular thought it is to consider how the work of the ministry could be present in at least six different places at one time with the disciples alone being sent out two by two. Once you factor in the additional seventy the work of the ministry would and could take place in an additional thirty-five places at a single time. Please pay close and careful attention to this truth, for Jesus was doing more than simply inviting men to partner together with Him, but He was actually increasing and spreading the kingdom of heaven within and throughout the regions of Judaea, Galilee and Jerusalem. With the disciples and the seventy going out two by two the work of the ministry could take place in many places at one time, and thus the kingdom would and could be established within the earth at the same time. This reality is what we see and what we find in the establishment of the early Church and how churches and congregations of believers and followers of Jesus would and could be present in multiple places at a single time. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus’ sending out of the twelve, as well as His sending out of the seventy was a precursor and powerful picture of the churches which would themselves be established in the midst of Europe and Asia. No longer would the Church be confined to an upper room in the city of Jerusalem, but now the Church could be in multiple places at multiple times, and the work and ministry of the kingdom could be manifested in numerous places at a single time.

            I firmly believe that Jesus’ sending out of the twelve, and His sending out of the seventy was a powerful picture of what was to come, as it was a sign pointing to the establishment of the body of Christ in the midst of the earth. While Jesus Himself in the form of physical flesh could only be in one place at a single time—the body of Christ which was the church could be present in many places at the same time. Even the New Testament structure speaks to and lends to this reality as we find epistles which were written unto the churches in Rome, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Collasea, Thessalonica, and Corinth. Even the book of Acts lends to this reality as the apostle Paul would journey throughout Europe and Asia and would establish bodies and congregations of believers throughout the cities and regions He journeyed to. Eventually and ultimately the church would expand beyond Jerusalem, and while Jesus would initially instruct the disciples not to go unto the Gentiles, nor unto Samaria, He would in the Great Commission declare unto them that they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth. I am firmly convinced that all this began with Jesus’ calling unto Himself the twelve disciples, as Jesus would call unto Himself these twelve disciples, and would send them out two by two with power and authority to heal the sick, to cleanse the lepers, to cast out evil spirits, and to teach and preach the gospel concerning the kingdom. What we find in the sending out of the twelve is a powerful picture of Jesus initially inviting twelve disciples to partner together with Him in the ministry, which would eventually and ultimately lead to churches and congregations that would partner together with Him in the ministry. It is this reality which the apostle Paul would write about in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Corinthian saints—specifically the first epistle which was written unto the Corinthian saints. It would be in this particular epistle and chapter the apostle Paul would speak of the incredible significance and importance of the body of Christ—regardless of what part of the body that might be, and where that part of the body might be. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints:

            “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom: another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit: to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet by one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: and those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:1-27).

            ONE BODY, MANY MEMBERS! ONE BODY, MANY PARTS! I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but be absolutely captivated by the fact that the apostle Paul took the time when writing unto the Corinthian saints to write and speak of the unity and function of the body, and how although it is one body it is made up of many different parts and members. I am absolutely convinced that we cannot miss the significance in what is presented in this first epistle, for the apostle Paul sought to drive home the awesome truth that the body of Christ is indeed one singular, corporate and collective body that is made up of many members, and that no individual member is without need of any of the other members. What we see in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ written by the apostle Matthew is a powerful picture of Jesus beginning to establish His body in the midst of the earth—a body that would extend the work which He Himself engaged in while on this earth. I can’t help but be gripped with the fact that when Jesus sent forth the twelve disciples He sent them forth as a full extension of the work and ministry which He Himself had carried out and established in the midst of the earth. I still hold to the fact that up to this point the disciples walked with, followed, and enjoyed fellowship with Jesus the Christ, and now Jesus was bringing them into the place where their fellowship would also make room for their partnership with Him in the ministry among the sheep of Israel. It would be in the tenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we find and read Jesus extending the scope, the influence and the impact of the ministry beyond simply Himself, and inviting the disciples to participate in that extension. No longer would and no longer could the ministry of teaching in synagogues and preaching the kingdom be confined to one single place at one single time, but through the disciples going forth the message of the kingdom could be preached in at least six different places at one time. Pause and consider Jesus teaching and preaching in one single location and sending His disciples out two by two that they might not only partner together with Him, but also partner with each other to carry out and fulfill the work of the ministry of the kingdom. We know for certain that Jesus not only called the twelve unto Himself as one, but also that He sent them forth in twos as the gospel narrative written by John Mark describes this reality for us: “And He called unto Him twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; and commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: but be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats” (Mark 6:7-9).

            As you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find Jesus instructing the disciples to go not into the way of the Gentiles, nor go into any of the city of the Samaritans, but to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Wherever they went they were to preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand, and were to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out devils. Please do not miss the awesome and incredible significance of what is found within this passage, for what we see here is Jesus sending the disciples out into the land of the house of Israel to carry out and do exactly what He Himself had done. When Jesus sent the twelve disciples out He did not send them out to do anything that He Himself had not already done, nor anything that He was not already doing. Perhaps one of the greatest truths we must realize when reading these words is that Jesus never instructed, invited, nor commanded the disciples to do anything He Himself had not done and would not do. Jesus instructed the disciples to preach the gospel of the kingdom, to heal the sick, to cleanse the lepers, to raise the dead, and to cast out devils because that is exactly what He had done. If there is one thing we must realize and recognize concerning discipleship, walking with and following Jesus, it’s that at the very heart and core of it is doing exactly what Jesus Himself did. Discipleship at its truest and ultimate sense is doing exactly what Jesus Himself did, and after walking with and following Him, and as we walk with and follow Him we carry out the same mission and assignment He Himself did. I would dare say that you cannot truly call yourself a disciple of Jesus the Christ if you are not willing to do exactly as He did, and to speak exactly as He spoke. When Jesus sent the disciples out He did so sending them out into the land of the house of Israel doing the very same thing He had done, for their walking with and following Him prepared and made them ready to carry out and continue the work of the ministry of the kingdom of heaven.

            I previously wrote that while this particular portion of Scripture begins with discipleship and the ministry of the kingdom, and how what we find here in this chapter is so much more than simply ministry. If you truly take the time to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find that while it is true Jesus sent the twelve disciples out to partner together with Him in the same work of the ministry He fulfilled, carried out and accomplished, He would send them out freely giving of what they had received, and freely giving of themselves. Jesus instructed them not to provide for themselves gold, nor silver, nor brass in their purses, nor scrip for their journey, nor two coats, nor shoes, nor staves, and that they ought to freely give as they had received. It is this concept of freely giving as they had received that must be carefully considered, for when Jesus sent the disciples out—not only did He send them out to give unto others that which they had received of and from Him, but so also did Jesus instruct them to freely give of themselves and to hold nothing back. When the disciples were to go out in the midst of the land of the house of Israel they were to be vessels and conduits of everything they had received and everything they had been given within and during their time walking with and following Jesus. The disciples were to go forth as ambassadors of Jesus the Christ and to hold absolutely nothing back and to give everything they had received, and to give everything of themselves. GIVING EVERYTHING YOU HAVE RECEIVED, GIVING EVERY PART OF YOU! I would dare say that true ministry which is pleasing in the sight of the Father, and which truly partners together with Jesus the Christ is that which holds absolutely nothing back and gives everything we have received, and gives every part of ourselves unto others. We know that we ought not to withhold any part of us from the living God, and that we ought to present our bodies as living sacrifices holy and acceptable in the sight of the LORD our God which is our reasonable service. With that being said, we must also recognize that when it comes to working with and ministering to others we are not only to give of what we have received, but to freely give what we have received. Just as we received without conditions, so also must we give without any conditions, without limitations, without restrictions, and without hesitation or reservation.

            As you move even further into the words which are found within this particular narrative of Jesus’ sending forth the twelve you will find that although Jesus sent His disciples out to preach the gospel of the kingdom, to heal the sick, to cleanse the lepers, to raise the dead, and to cast out devils, He prepared them for something else—something most would not desire nor wish for. The further you dive into this particular chapter the more you will discover that when Jesus sent His disciples out into the midst of the land of Israel He did so preparing them to be rejected, preparing them to be despised, preparing them to be persecuted, and even preparing them to be hated. There is this underlying notion that the work and ministry of the kingdom is this glamorous and lavish work and lifestyle, and that it should be something that is peaceful, easy, restful, and without any conflict, chaos or struggle. Ask any of the original apostles, ask the apostle Paul, and ask those members of the early Church what walking with and following Jesus the Christ was truly like, and whether or not the work of the ministry of the kingdom was that of ease, comfort, convenience and pleasure. I guarantee you that many of the early Church—certainly all of the apostles—can and will tell you that the work of the ministry of the kingdom was exactly as Jesus described and outlined for them. There would not have been a single apostle of Christ who would not tell you that the work of the ministry of the kingdom was of such a nature that it was the breeding ground for persecution, the breeding ground for affliction, the breeding ground for opposition, and the breeding ground for being despised and rejected. Over the past couple of years I have been absolutely astounded with and by the reality that while Jesus instructed us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and even to love and pray for our enemies, and to make no distinction between our neighbours and our enemies, He also prepared us to be hated. Pause for a moment and think about that statement, for it has the ability to dramatically alter how you view and how you perceive the work of the ministry—and not only the work of the ministry of the kingdom, but also walking with and following Jesus the Christ.

            Within the first fifteen verses of the tenth chapter of this gospel narrative we find Jesus beginning to prepare His disciples for the reality that although they would go unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and although they would enter into houses as they went, there would be those houses they would enter where their words would not be received, and would not be heard. There would be those who would have absolutely no tolerance, no patience for, no desire, nor any interest in that which the disciples would preach among them in their midst. It was indeed true that Jesus prepared His disciples to preach the gospel of the kingdom, and to partner together in the work of healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, raising the dead, and casting out devils, however, Jesus would also prepare the disciples to enter into the world and to be despised and rejected by others. In the fifteenth verse of this chapter we find Jesus declaring unto the disciples that there would be those homes where their words would not be heard and would not be received, and then immediately after that we find Jesus not only declaring that He sent them forth as sheep in the midst of the wolves, but also declaring unto them that they ought to beware of men, for they would deliver them up to the councils, and would scourge them in their synagogues. Pause for a moment and consider the reality surrounding those words which were spoken by Jesus, for as if it wasn’t bad enough that the disciples would enter into homes and would not be received within those homes, nor the words which they spoke, they would also need to be prepared for the fact that men would deliver them up to the councils, would scourge them in the synagogues, and would deliver them up unto governors and kings for the sake of Christ. Moreover, as you continue to read these words you will find that brother would deliver up the brother to death, the father would deliver the child up to death, and how the children would rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. Now we are reading more than simply not being received, and beyond simply being scourged, persecuted, and delivered up into the hands of the councils, and be brought before kings and governors. What Jesus is now speaking about in the hearing of the disciples is something beyond merely being persecuted, for there would also be instances when death would be a direct result of walking with and following Him. Jesus made it very clear that although we were to go forth into the midst of the world as disciples and ambassadors for the work of the kingdom, we ought to prepare ourselves to be persecuted by those before and around us. It would be more than simply our words not being received, and our not being received in the homes and houses we enter, but it would also be about our being persecuted by others, and our being scourged in those places we have been called and sent.

            If you continue reading in this passage you will find Jesus declaring unto His disciples that they would be hated of all men for His name’s sake, but that those who endured to the end would be saved. Jesus would go on to also declare that when they were persecuted in one city, they were to flee into another. REJECTED IN HOUSES, PERSECUTED IN CITIES, HATED OF MEN! It is absolutely and completely necessary that we pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture, for although Jesus sent us forth to be vessels and conduits of love as we are to not only love our neighbor, but also love and pray for our enemies, but we are also to do so with the understanding that we might very well be hated in return. We know from the fifty-third chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah that Jesus the Christ was despised and rejected of men, and now we find in this passage of Scripture that it is more than simply Jesus being despised and rejected of men, but it is also about our being despised and rejected of men—and not only being despised and rejected of men, but also hated of all men for His name’s sake. Let me ask you a simple question—do these words somehow offend you? Do these words somehow shock you? Do these words catch you off guard and somehow cause you to think differently about walking with and following Jesus the Christ? There would be those who would like to preach and proclaim that walking with and following Jesus the Christ grants and somehow provides us with this life of ease and comfort, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply is not so. Those who would dare preach to you that walking with and following Jesus the Christ means the absence of conflict, the absence of suffering, the absence of affliction, the absence of persecution, and the absence of struggle are preaching and presenting unto you a false gospel—one that was not even preached by the apostle Paul, nor even preached by Jesus Christ Himself. Not even Jesus Christ Himself preached the message that walking with and following Him would lead to a life that was absent of conflict, struggle, suffering, and even persecution. In fact, Jesus the Christ would emphatically declare that walking with and following Him would be the exact and very opposite of that, and would be a life that might be characterized by being persecuted in cities, being scourged in synagogues, and being rejected in houses. PERSECUTED IN CITIES, SCOURGED IN SYNAGOGUES, & REJECTED IN HOUSES!

            There is absolutely no denying or doubting the words which Jesus spoke unto His disciples on this particular occasion, for He would emphatically teach and proclaim that discipleship—walking with and following Jesus—was about so much more than the demonstration and manifestation of the power of God before us in the earth. True discipleship is not merely about healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, raising the dead, casting out demons, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, but true discipleship is about faithful and patient endurance in the midst of the suffering, in the midst of the affliction, in the midst of the persecution, and in the midst of the opposition we face as a result of walking with and following Jesus the Christ. When preparing to send the disciples out two by two Jesus prepared them to be persecuted in the cities, scourged in the synagogues, and rejected in houses, as well as to be hated of all men for His name’s sake. We cannot and must not miss these words which were spoken by Jesus, for in the midst of it all He commanded and instructed two different things—namely, to love enemies and neighbors alike, and to patiently endure in the midst of it all and unto the end. True discipleship not only touches our ability to love our enemies as we would our neighbors, and not only patiently endure in the midst of the hardship, the trials, the affliction, the persecution and the suffering we face, but also knowing that Jesus never promised us a life of comfort and ease. It was Jesus Himself who emphatically declared and proclaimed that we need to prepare ourselves to be hated of all men for His name’s sake, thus indicating and suggesting that this walk with and following Him is beyond simply a life of comfort and ease, but is about faithfully and patiently enduring in the midst of everything we can and will face as a result. What’s more, is that within this passage you will also find Jesus instructing us to fear not those who will persecute, scourge, despise and reject us, and to instead fear the One who has the ability to destroy both the body and soul and cast them into hell. Jesus would go on to declare how those who willingly confess Him before men He would confess before His Father who was in heaven, but those who denied Him before men He would also deny before His Father who was in heaven. Furthermore, Jesus would describe and declare how He did not come to send peace on the earth, but a sword. When Jesus came, He came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother. Jesus would also go on to say that a man’s enemies would be those in his very household.

As I bring this writing to a close I feel it is absolutely necessary to draw and call your attention to the words found in verses thirty-seven through thirty-nine of this chapter, for the words we find within these verses brings us to the ultimate reality of true disciples and walking with and following Jesus. The words which we find within these three verses is a powerful culmination of everything Jesus had spoken thus far, and aptly demonstrates and reveals that true discipleship which pleases and glorifies the Father which is in heaven is one that loves even when it is persecuted and hated, and one that endures in the midst of suffering and affliction. True discipleship isn’t merely about what we accomplish for the Father in heaven, but about who we are in the sight of the Father. The words we find in verses thirty-seven through thirty-nine bring us face to face with that ultimate reality of discipleship—one that many find incredibly difficult to handle and bear within their lives. It is these words which we must carefully study and observe that we might fashion our entire lives around them, for walking with and following Jesus carries with it the tremendous burden of our being willing to completely and utterly give ourselves to the cause of the gospel and the kingdom, and to fully and completely give ourselves unto Jesus the Christ. It is with this in mind I present you with the words which are found in these three verses of the tenth chapter, as it is the words we find therein that bring us face to face with the ultimate and quintessential reality and manifestation of discipleship in the midst of the earth. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this passage of Scripture beginning to read with and from the thirty-seventh verse: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and follloweth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:37-39).

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