Hello and welcome to Wednesday’s podcast, thank you so much for joining me today. My name is Sam and I’ve recently joined the team here at STC. I first moved to Sheffield in 2016 and was a student here for 3 wonderful years. I then moved to London for while before coming back up North this September. It’s a real joy to bring you an encouragement from the Bible today, so wherever and whenever you’re listening, I pray that this passage and my words bring hope and life to your day. We’re going to be looking together at chapter 10 of Matthew’s gospel, focusing on verses 7-10. It reads:
As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts – no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep.
This is the word of Lord. Thanks be to God.
So at this point in Matthew’s gospel, we’ve seen Jesus doing all sorts of Jesus-y things. He’s healing the lepers, he’s driving out demons, he’s teaching people the ways of life in all its fullness. And as I’m sure you can imagine, he’s started to develop quite the posse. People followed him around to watch and to learn.
This passage sees Jesus giving authority to the people who had been following him – his disciples. He gives to them the power to do everything that they’ve just spent all that time watching him do. Next, Jesus sends them out with a kit list that doesn’t exactly sound like you’re off on a five star spa retreat. He says forget about your Monzo card, leave your change of flip flops at home, and don’t even think about the walking stick.
But he leaves the disciples with this task, announce that the Kingdom of Heaven is near and do what he had been doing. God would provide all that they would need. And off they go.
During the summer of 2017, at the end of my first year at uni, 3 friends and I took part in something called Escape and Pray. It was a 72 hour mission trip and the whole premise is based around this passage in Matthew 10. We were to put Jesus’ instructions given to his first disciples into practice 2,000 years later. The idea was to travel to a city in Europe, with no money, no plans, nowhere to stay. Just some friends and a God who provides. We didn’t even get told where we were going, just to show up to Manchester Airport at 7am on a certain day. We then opened an envelope containing 4 tickets to Zagreb in Croatia. To help you imagine the scene, think Top Gear challenge, just more Jesus Christ and less Jeremy Clarkson.
Our mission for the trip was to connect with other believers, to pray for people and to trust that the Lord would feed us and provide places to stay. To cut a really long story short, he did.
I have so many stories of God’s faithfulness and kindness from that trip, but the biggest take away was how time and time again, how God provided.
After returning from Croatia, I remember beginning to reflect on what had been some of the best moments of my life. But, I also began to feel a tension. A tension between what had happened over the weekend and what was my everyday life. A tension between the 3 days I’d spent totally reliant on God’s provision and the other 7,000 regular days I had under my belt. I wonder if you’ve ever felt like this?
I found myself returning to this passage in Matthew 10 and asking questions like, ‘Do I need to give up on uni? Should I sell everything I have and live out of a backpack?’
In that moment I felt the Lord reminding me that his desire is for us is to trust him in the ordinary, everyday – not just in the exciting moments. He reminded me that everything we have is because of his provision. The porridge for breakfast, the car for the school run, the roof over your head.
I wonder if you need reminding of this today? I certainly do. You see, he is just as faithful in the season that feels dry and monotonous as he is in the season when life seems to be at its best. If, like me, you need reminding of this truth, we’re in good company.
There’s this beautiful moment at the end of Luke’s gospel just before Jesus is arrested and led to Calvary.
It’s now a couple of years down the line from when Jesus first commissioned the disciples. A lot had happened since then. Unsure of what’s to come, confused by the events of the past couple of days and seemingly so exhausted that they can’t even stay awake to keep watch. Jesus reminds them of their calling. He reminds them of his promise. He reminds them of his faithfulness.
This is in Luke 22 and he asks his disciples, ’“When I sent you without a purse, a bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered.’ They lacked nothing. The Lord provided all that they needed. Food, clothes, places to stay, people to meet. He had it all covered. It is true when the disciples are first called, it is true when Jesus is led away to be crucified. He is faithful, he is good, he will provide.
In this moment where it must have felt like the disciples’ whole worlds were falling around them, Jesus reminds them of their calling and reminds them of who has got their back.
I’m sure you’ve heard it time and time again, but these are crazy times that we find ourselves in. I wonder if you’re actually quite enjoying this season of life – maybe it’s more time with the family, a slower pace.
I also wonder if you can relate to the disciples in this moment, in the garden of Gethsemane as well. Everything is changing, life is seemingly never going to be the same, confusion, grief, anguish.
The disciples were unaware of what was to come. They hadn’t read the end of the book. It hadn’t even been written yet. But in that moment, Jesus reaffirms his call on their lives, reminds them of their purpose and reminds them of his faithfulness. In the excitement when the Lord calls us for the first time, just like the disciples, to the moments when everything seems to be lost. He’s done it before, he will do it again. He’s provided before, he will provide again.
Father, thank you for this passage of scripture. Thank you that your Kingdom is here, Lord help us to usher it in. Thank you that time and time again you provide and we are sorry for when we forget that truth. Help us to trust you more. In Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.
BIBLE READING: Matthew 10:1-20
Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and illness.
These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Heal those who are ill, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
‘Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts – no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
‘I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.‘