The Ministry of the Kingdom & the Mark of Discipleship

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus as it was written and recorded the apostle Matthew. More specifically today’s passage is found in the tenth chapter of this New Testament book. “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. These twelve Jesus sent forth and commanded them, saying” (Matthew 10:1-5).

 

            “Go not into the way 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. A nd 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 10:6-15).

 

            “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 governoers 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 yet 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 disciples 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? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hi, 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 of them shall not fall on the ground without your 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 10:16-33).

 

            “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 followerth 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 portion of Scripture you will find a powerful shift and transition taking place within the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. As you come to the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Matthew you will find the account of the ordaining and appointing of the twelve disciples. If there is one thing that makes this passage of Scripture so incredibly unique when you take the time to think about and consider it’s how thus far within this gospel there have only been three different accounts of Jesus choosing His disciples. In the fourth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find the account of Jesus walking by the Sea of Galilee and coming upon two sets of brothers—each performing their own tasks in relation to the sea. The apostle Matthew writes and records how Jesus would first come to Andrew and his brother Simon upon the sea of Galilee casting their nets into the sea. Upon seeing these two brothers Jesus would call and invite them to follow Him. What makes the words which the Lord Jesus spoke unto them so incredibly unique and powerful when you think about and consider it is when you discover the tremendous truth that Jesus didn’t merely invite them to follow Him but also gave them a promise concerning what following Him would be like. Oh it was true they had spent a portion of their life as fishermen and that was undoubtedly how they made their living, however, the Lord Jesus was calling and inviting them into something entirely new which they had never experienced before.

 

 

            Within the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find the Lord Jesus Christ coming across the brothers Andrew and Simon casting their nets into the sea for they were fisherman. What Jesus calls and invites them to do was not merely leave their nets behind and follow Him but also take up new nets and seek a different type of fish. If there is one thing I can’t help but think about when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s that Jesus merely invited these brothers to follow Him and promised them that he would make them fishers of men. There was absolutely no mention of leaving and forsaking their nets nor was there any mention of that which they would have to leave behind. It is truly astonishing when thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and how the Lord Jesus Christ simply gave them the command to follow Him and their decision to do so would enable them to be fishers of men. Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely incredible and wonderful this truly is for one of Jesus’ first acts after returning to Galilee from the wilderness in the power of the Spirit after being tempted of the devil was calling disciples unto Himself. As Jesus began His public ministry of demonstrating and manifesting the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the earth He would call and invite certain of His disciples to walk with and follow Him. What’s more is that not only did Jesus call and invite these men to walk with and follow Him but He also called and invited them to partake in fellowship with Him.

 

            Perhaps one of the most profound truths surrounding the calling and invitation of the Lord Jesus given unto the disciples to follow Him is that by doing so He was not only inviting them into a place of following Him but also fellowshipping with Him. When Simon and Andrew made the decision to forsake and leave their nets they also made the conscious and deliberate decision to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus wherever He went. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for when we think and speaking about the establishment of the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the earth we must needs recognize that directly linked and associated with the establishment of the kingdom was the call and invitation to follow Him. In fact this would not merely be something Jesus would speak unto Simon and his brother Andrew for He would also give the same command and invitation to James and his brother John while they were mending their nets together with their father Zebedee. This call to follow Him was the same command that was given unto Matthew when Jesus passed by and saw him sitting at the receipt of custom. Scripture doesn’t really provide any details regarding the calling of the other seven disciples to follow the Lord Jesus and I can’t help but wonder what it was like when the Lord Jesus came upon them and issued the invitation to follow Him. Oh we must needs recognize the tremendous truth that surrounds the Lord Jesus calling and inviting these men to follow Him for that invitation not only centered upon them walking together with Him but also fellowshipping together with Him.

 

            The more I think about and consider the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the truly awesome and wonderful truth surrounding the invitation given unto these men to follow Him—something that would inevitably and ultimately mean forsaking everything they had known. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading the accounts of Jesus calling the disciples to walk with and follow Him it’s that His invitation was one to forsake that which they had known, an invitation to follow Him wherever He went, an invitation to walk with Him, as well as an invitation to fellowship together with Him. As we continue thinking about and considering this awesome and incredible truth we must needs recognize and understand the truly awesome and powerful truth surrounding the invitation the Lord Jesus did in fact give unto the disciples to walk with and follow Him in this life—something that was not to be taken or treated lightly. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely incredible truth surrounding the invitation the Lord Jesus gave for in establishing the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the earth the Lord Jesus deliberately and intentionally invited men to walk with and follow Him. Although Jesus was indeed both the Messiah and the Christ He would not walk alone and would have those ordained and appointed by the living God walking with and following Him.

 

            I sit here today thinking about the establishment of the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the earth and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the awesome and wonderful truth surrounding the invitation the Lord Jesus gave to men to walk with and follow Him. When He came upon Andrew and his brother Simon casting their nets into the sea we find Jesus inviting them to follow Him—and not only inviting them to follow Him but also to follow Him that He might show them how to be fishers of men. Oh there is something truly astonishing and powerful about this when you take the time to think about it for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the invitation that was given unto these men to forsake everything they knew that they might walk with and follow Him. We know that Andrew and his brother Simon were fishermen as well as James and his brother John who were the sons of Zebedee. We know that Matthew was a tax collector when the Lord Jesus called and invited him to walk with and follow Him, however, we don’t know anything about the other seven disciples whom Jesus called and invited to walk with and follow Him. We don’t know where Jesus found Bartholomew, or Judas, or Simon the Canaanite, of Philip or Thomas or the others. We don’t know what they trades or occupations were when the Lord Jesus came upon them and called and invited them to walk with and follow Him. In fact we don’t even learn or discover their names until we come to the tenth chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. It is in the tenth chapter of this gospel we find the apostle Matthew writing how when Jesus 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. Immediately after this we find the apostle Matthew providing us with the names of the twelve disciples whom Jesus ordained as apostles—Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew the publican, James the son of Alphaeus, Lebbaeus whose surname was Thaddaeus, Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot who also betrayed Him.

 

            If there is one thing I can’t help but think about and consider when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s that the invitation the Lord Jesus gave unto these men was not merely an invitation to follow Him that they might have fellowship with Him but it was also an invitation that they might have fellowship with each other. It would be very easy to think about and consider the fact that when Jesus called and invited these men to walk with and follow Him that He called them simply and solely to fellowship with Him. The truth of the matter, however, is that this simply is not the case. There is a great need for us to recognize that the call and invitation Jesus gave unto these men to walk with and follow Him not only spoke to their having fellowship together with Him but also that they might have fellowship together with others. We must needs acknowledge and understand the tremendous truth surrounding the invitation the Lord Jesus gave unto His disciples to walk with and follow Him for walking with and following Him would include fellowship on two different fronts and in two different realms. There would on the one hand be fellowship together with the Lord Jesus as the eternal and only begotten Son of the living God while on the other hand there would be fellowship together with each other. I have previously written and continue to believe that when the Lord Jesus calls and invites us to walk with and follow Him He not only invites us to walk with and fellowship together with Him but He also calls and invites us to walk with and fellowship together with each other. I firmly believe that any decision we make to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus is centered upon the absolutely incredible truth of having fellowship with the Son, fellowship with the Spirit, fellowship with God the Father and fellowship with each other.

 

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular truth for if we do so we fail to truly understand the significance and importance of what walking with and following the Lord Jesus truly means. There is something we as the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ must needs recognize and understand and that is how walking with and following the Lord Jesus means we have fellowship—not only with the Lord Jesus Himself but also with His other disciples. No man would walk with and follow the Lord Jesus alone but would walk with and follow Him together with others. There would not be a single disciple who would walk with the Lord Jesus and would walk with and follow Him alone without there being others who walked side by side together with them in fellowship. It’s almost as if their fellowship with Christ would automatically and intrinsically mean they would walk with and fellowship with each other. We have a great need to recognize and understand this incredible truth and how it paints a truly wonderful picture for us as those who profess allegiance to the Lord Jesus as His disciples. When we make the decision to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus our fellowship is not only with Him but it is also with the Father. Moreover our fellowship is not only with the Father and the Son but it is with the Spirit. As Jesus prepared to depart from this world and return unto His Father who was in heaven He would introduce an entirely new fellowship they would have—one that would indeed be with Himself and the Father but one that would take on an entirely new and different level. When the Lord Jesus ascended unto the right hand of the Father He would send the promise of the person and presence of the Holy Spirit whom they would not only know but would also have fellowship with.

 

            As I sit here today thinking about the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew I can’t help but think about it in terms of the second and fourth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts. It is in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we find the Lord Jesus calling unto Himself twelve disciples as He 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 there is a strong and powerful link that is found between the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle Matthew as well as the second and fourth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts for what we find is a powerful fellowship together with the Lord Jesus Christ—and not only with the Lord Jesus Christ but also with the Holy Spirit and with each other. I am absolutely convinced that before we can truly understand the words which are found in the tenth chapter of this gospel narrative we must needs recognize and understand the words which are found in chapters thirteen through sixteen of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John. Moreover I am also convinced we must needs recognize and consider the words which are found in the second and fourth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts concerning the fellowship of the body of Christ which was established on the day of Pentecost. I am absolutely convinced that walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ is not only about fellowship together with Him but also with the Father and the Spirit. Furthermore I am convinced that walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ is about fellowship together with our fellow brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.

 

            Having said and written this I would like to call and invite you to consider the following words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John concerning fellowship one with another—and not only fellowship one with another but also fellowship together with the Father and the Son through the person of the Holy Spirit. I am absolutely and completely convinced if we want to truly understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture we must needs understand the wonderful and powerful truth surrounding the call to walking with and following the Lord Jesus and how doing so invites and brings us into the place where we are willing to not only walk with and fellowship together with the Father, the Son and the Spirit but also fellowship together with each other. With this in mind I invite you to consider if you will the following words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John beginning within the thirteenth chapter:

 

            “So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye saw well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scriptures may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me” (John 13:12-20).

 

            “Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:31-35).

 

            “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:15-21).

 

            “Jesus answered and said unto him, if a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and will make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father which sent . These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you, Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is grater than I” (John 14:23-28).

 

            “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because. Ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the world that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:11-27).

            “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father” (John 16:12-16).

 

            I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize the words which are found in these chapters for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely incredible and tremendous reality surrounding what walking with and following the Lord Jesus truly means. There is a great need for us as the saints of God and as the people of God to be those who learn and acknowledge that our walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ not only invites us to walk with and follow Him in fellowship but also walk with and fellowship with those who have been invited into the same place. If there is one thing the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew calls and draws our attention to it’s that these twelve men were called and invited by the Lord Jesus into a place of walking with and following Him. It is in this place of walking with and following the Lord Jesus where we not only have fellowship together with the Son but through our fellowship with the Son we also have fellowship together with the Spirit and with the Father. As if this weren’t enough we must also acknowledge and understand that our walking with and following the Lord Jesus means that we walk with and have fellowship one with another. No man has ever and no man will ever be invited to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus alone and by themselves. If not even the disciples who would be ordained as apostles were chosen to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus alone then we dare not and must not think and/or even believe that we can somehow buck the system and be those who can walk with and fellowship outside of and apart from walking and fellowshipping together with those who have been called to fellowship with Him.

 

            It is with this being said I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the second and fourth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts. The words which we find in the New Testament book of Acts calls and invites us into a place where we recognize and understand that we have indeed been called into a place of fellowship together with those who have made the decision to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus. It would be very easy for us to think and somehow believe the lie and the false delusion that we have been called to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus alone and completely and utterly miss the point that we have been called into the place where we walk with and have fellowship with each other. This is what the apostle John would write about in the first epistle written unto the saints which were at Ephesus for he desired that they know and understand that walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ would indeed mean that they would have fellowship together with His disciples and the saints of God. Having said this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the following words which are found in the second and fourth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts beginning with the forty-first verse of the second chapter:

 

            “Then they that glady received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:41-47).

            “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:32-37).

 

            The words and language we find in this passage of Scripture calls and invites us into the place where we recognize and understand that we have indeed been brought into a place in and ordained by the Spirit of fellowship and community one with another. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for when Jesus called His disciples unto Himself to walk with and follow Him—not only did He call and invite them to walk with and follow Him but He also called and invited them to engage in fellowship and ministry with each other. The more I think about the narrative of the disciples as presented within the four gospels the more I am brought face to face with the truly awesome and astonishing truth surrounding the disciples being called to walk with and fellowship with each other as well as to engage in the ministry and work of the kingdom together. If and as you read the words which are found in this passage as well as others you will find the Lord Jesus calling and ordaining the twelve disciples and apostles and sending them out two by two. WHEN TWELVE BECOMES SIX! Although there would be twelve disciples who would walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ they would not walk with and follow Him alone and even when they went out and engaged themselves in the ministry of the kingdom they did not go alone. Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely incredible it is to consider how these twelve disciples were called unto the Lord Jesus as apostles and were sent out two by two to engage in the work of the ministry of the kingdom. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for neither fellowship nor ministry took place in a vacuum. Oh we would like to think that both walking with and following the Lord Jesus would indeed mean both take place in a vacuum and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply is not the case.

 

 

            If you begin reading the words which are found in the tenth chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find the Lord Jesus calling unto Himself His twelve disciples and giving them power against unclean spirits to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Although it is not mentioned within this passage we must needs recognize that when the Lord Jesus sent out His twelve disciples He sent them out two by two thus making the group of twelve disciples into smaller groups of two disciples each. When the disciples went forth into the region of Judaea and Galilee they would not do so isolated and alone but would always go out partnered together with someone. This is something we have a great and present need to recognize and understand for when we think about the work of the ministry we must not only think about it as a partnership together with the Lord Jesus Christ but we must also think about it as partnership together with each other. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand concerning the work of the ministry of the kingdom it’s that it is not only a partnership together with the Lord Jesus and an invitation to enter into the work together with Him but also to enter into the work together with those who have made the decision to walk with Him. What’s more is that in order to understand the words which are found in the tenth chapter we must needs consider the final words which Jesus spoke in the ninth chapter. It’s in the ninth chapter of this gospel narrative we are brought face to face with Jesus speaking of the harvest—and not only the harvest but the harvest being plenteous but the laborers being few. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the final verses of the ninth chapter:

 

            “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 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 9:35-38).

 

            I have to admit I absolutely love the words which are found in the final verses of the ninth chapter for they present us with two distinct realities. On the one hand we find Jesus going about through all the cities and villages teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. Immediately following this, however, we find Jesus seeing the multitudes and was moved with compassion on them because they fainted and were scattered abroad as sheep having no shepherd. Upon Jesus’ being moved with compassion over the sight of the multitudes who fainted and were scattered abroad Jesus would proceed to speak with His disciples about the harvest—and not only about the harvest but how the laborers were few. What’s more is the Lord Jesus would also go on to describe and declare unto the disciples how they ought to pray therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest. What is so incredibly unique about this passage of Scripture is that it begins with Jesus teaching in the synagogues, it continues with Jesus preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every sickness and every disease and yet how there appears to be a work that is much greater than even He could do Himself. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there is something to be said about the Lord Jesus teaching, preaching and healing and then speaking of the harvest being plenteous yet the laborers being few. Oh we have a great need to pay close attention to these words for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely incredible truth surrounding the harvest that was present in the earth, the work which the Lord Jesus was Himself doing and yet how the work still required laborers which would be sent forth into the harvest.

 

            I absolutely love reading this passage of Scripture and considering how in the final verses of the ninth chapter we find Jesus speaking of the harvest being plenteous and the laborers being few. What’s more is we find the Lord Jesus instructing and inviting them to pray therefore the Lord of the harvest that he might send forth laborers into His harvest. That which we find following this is the Lord Jesus calling His disciples unto Himself and ordaining them as apostles in the midst of the earth. The apostle Matthew writes and records how the Lord Jesus would give them power against unclean spirits to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and disease. What’s more is the apostle Matthew would go on to record Jesus instructing them to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and as they went preaching, saying, The kingdom of heaven was at hand. Not only this but the Lord Jesus would instruct them to heal the sick, to cleanse the lepers, to raise the dead and to cast out devils. Pause for a moment and consider the tremendous weight and significance of what is found here for that which Jesus was doing was not only inviting them to be the answer to their own prayer for laborers but also to partner together with Him in the work of the ministry. Jesus not only gave them authority to do that which He Himself had done but he also commanded them to do as He had done. Scripture isn’t entirely clear at what point within the public ministry of the Lord Jesus this event took place, however, we can be sure the disciples had witnessed Jesus healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, casting out unclean spirits, and perhaps even raising the dead. Now what we find the Lord Jesus inviting His disciples to do is step into the very same thing He himself had done—the very same thing they had personally seen Him do.

 

            The words which we find here in this passage of Scripture not only describe Jesus inviting His disciples to partner together with Him in the work of the ministry but also afforded an opportunity for the work of the ministry of the kingdom to expand throughout the earth. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that while in the flesh Jesus could only be in one place at one time. It was indeed true that Jesus could heal the sick, cast out unclean spirits, cleanse the lepers and raise the dead, however, most of that—with the exception of the case of the Roman centurion—would take place in one place at one time. With the Lord Jesus ordaining and appointing His twelve disciples as apostles and ambassadors for Himself and for the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the earth he would essentially and effectively increase the magnitude and scope of the work. No longer would it be just the Lord Jesus who would Himself heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, cast out unclean spirits, raise the dead and preach the gospel of the kingdom but it would be His disciples who would also engage themselves in and partner together with the Lord Jesus in this ministry. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for think about how sending out the twelve disciples would actually increase the works which would and could be done within the earth. Imagine Jesus being in one place engaging in the work of the ministry of the kingdom while His disciples were sent out into the harvest two by two. The picture we have is essentially the work of the ministry of the kingdom taking place in the earth in seven different places as you would most certainly have six different locations where the apostles would be ministering and also that place where the Lord Jesus would Himself be engaged in ministry.

 

            I am sitting here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the fact that while it is indeed true the Lord Jesus called and invited His disciples to walk with and follow Him in fellowship He also called and invited them to partner together in the work of the ministry of the kingdom. On the one hand they would partner together with Him in the work of the ministry while on the other hand they would partner together with each other in the work of the ministry. Jesus would indeed call His twelve disciples unto Himself and would ordain and appoint them as laborers in the harvest and with this being said we must needs recognize that the work of the ministry would now increase exponentially in the earth. Remember the words which the Lord Jesus spoke unto His disciples when He declared “greater works than these” they would do because He went unto His Father which was in heaven. It is necessary we recognize and understand that Jesus wasn’t referring to nor was He suggesting that their works were going to be greater in scope and magnitude than the works which He did. Jesus didn’t make this statement in terms of quality of the works but rather the quantity of the works themselves. While Jesus was in the flesh He would be limited to one specific place at a time and yet when He would send out the twelve disciples in groups of two He would increase the work of the ministry six fold. Stop and consider that by sending out His disciples in groups of two He would multiply the work of the ministry six-fold—not only in terms of geographical locations but also in terms of the number and amount of works that would and could be done within the earth.

 

            I cannot help but be brought face to face with the incredibly awesome and powerful truth surrounding the calling of the twelve disciples unto Jesus and the ordaining of them as apostles and ambassadors within the earth. By doing so Jesus would invite them to partner together with Him in the work of the ministry of the kingdom as well as invite them into a place where they would indeed partner together in the work of the ministry. There is something about the words which we find in this passage of Scripture that are absolutely astonishing for this would indeed be the first instance of “greater works than these” for it wouldn’t merely be the Lord Jesus who would engage Himself in the work of the ministry of the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the earth. By calling the twelve disciples unto Himself and sending them out into the earth as laborers into the harvest Jesus was inviting them to partner together with Him in the work of the ministry that the work might increase and abound in the earth. The harvest was truly plenteous and the need truly was great and as a direct result of this the Lord Jesus would invite his disciples into the place where they would enter into that place of partnering together with Himself as well as with each other What’s more is that when you read the New Testament gospel narrative of Luke—specifically the tenth chapter—you will find the Lord Jesus ordaining and appointing seventy others whom He would give power and authority to heal the sick, to raise the dead, to cleanse the lepers and the like. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it brings us face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that we have indeed been invited as the body of Christ to partner together with the Lord Jesus Christ and with his disciples and followers in the work of the ministry.

            With this in mind I invite you to 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 saints which were at Corinth concerning the ministry and unity of the body. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand concerning the body of Christ it’s that it must needs be characterized by unity, my community and by ministry. We dare not and must not speak of the body of Christ without recognizing that being the body of Christ means we have been called to a place of unity, a place of community and a place of ministry. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the twelfth chapter beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse:

 

            “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 very man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to 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” (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).

 

            “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” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14).

 

            As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the fact that Jesus’ calling the twelve unto Himself wasn’t merely about the work of the ministry of the kingdom but it was also about discipleship. It would be very easy to read the words found in this passage of Scripture and think of the fact that Jesus simply and solely called the disciples unto Himself to send them forth to engage in the work of the ministry. What we must needs understand is that this is so far beneath that which the Lord Jesus actually called and invited the disciples to. The more you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more you will be brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding the call and invitation to discipleship. Jesus didn’t merely call the twelve disciples unto Himself to send them forth as laborers into the harvest but He also called them into the place of discipleship. Upon reading the words which are found in this passage you will find Jesus preparing His disciples to go forth as laborers into the harvest and being hated for His name’s sake—and not only hated for His name’s sake but also not being received. Jesus prepared them for the message they preached not being accepted and received and even prepared them to be hated by men for His name’s sake—something we have a great need of recognizing and understanding. Not only this but Jesus would also prepare them to be persecuted in one city and their needing to flee into another city—a comment that would be further confirmed by His declaring unto them that a servant is not above their lor nor a disciple above his master. Jesus would instruct and command them to not fear those who merely had the power to destroy and kill the body but had no power over the soul and the spirit. Instead that which Jesus instructed them to do was to fear Him who was able to destroy both soul and body and hell which was the living and eternal God.

 

If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s that Jesus gave a strong and powerful word of warning concerning those who confessed Him before men versus those who denied Him before men. Jesus would emphatically declare that those who would confess Him before men would be confessed before the Father which is in heaven while those who denied Him before men would be denied before the Father in heaven. What’s more is the Lord Jesus would also go on to declare that He did not come to send peace upon the earth but a sword for He came to set a man at variance against his father, a daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. Not only this but the Lord Jesus would also declare that a man’s foes would be they of his own household. These words would be followed by some of the strongest words regarding discipleship in all of Scripture as Jesus would declare that those who loved father or mother more than Him was not worthy Him and those who love son or daughter more than Him were not worthy of Him. What’s more is the Lord Jesus would also go on to declare unto His disciples that those who do not take up their cross and follow Him were not worthy of Him and that those who found their life in this life would lose it while those who lost their life for His sake would find it. Oh how absolutely necessary and imperative it is to recognize that we have indeed been called to those who not only confess the Lord Jesus before men but also those who love nothing and no one else more than Him. Furthermore we must needs be those who are indeed willing to take up our cross and follow Him knowing that those who do so are indeed worthy of Him. Oh that we would be a group of disciples who are willing to lose their life for the sake of the Lord Jesus in this life that in losing our life we might find His—and not only find His but find our own life in the realm of eternity which is to come.

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