Matthew 10-11
(Getting the Right People on the Bus)
October 5th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me."

- Matthew 10:40 (NIV)

Summary of Chapters

Today's chapters record an important phase in Jesus’ ministry on earth. In chapter 10, Jesus commissions his team, sending them out with specific assignments regarding territory and protocols for visits to each town. He also warns them of the danger of this mission.

    “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.

    - Matthew 10:16-20 (NIV)

Jesus warns that they will be hated and persecuted, so they should leave a town when in danger. Nevertheless, he said that the Disciples should be assured that regardless of what happens to their body their soul shall be saved, and that is the more important thing.

In chapter 11, Jesus explains the role of John the Baptist and warns those who don't listen to the message he was proclaiming. Jesus responded to questions from disciples of John the Baptist regarding his identity. He then explains the role of John to the crowd following him and describes the way in which the Baptist fulfills the prophetic scriptures. As part of this, he quotes a phrase from the book of Malachi that we read just a few days ago:

    “‘He is the prophet that Malachi announced when he wrote, ‘I’m sending my prophet ahead of you, to make the road smooth for you.’ "

    - Matthew 11:10b, Malachi 3:1 (MSG)

Then, Matthew records Jesus asking if the people are listening: "Are you listening to me? Really listening (Mat 11:15 - MSG)? If they really were listening to the Prophets, and if they had heard the voice of God on the day that Jesus was baptized, then they would recognize John and the Messiah of whom he speaks. Jesus follows this point by issuing a woe on the cities that had not listened to him - much like the woes declared by some of the prophets. But for those who do listen and see what is before them, there is an offer of rest.

    “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

    - Matthew 11:29-30 (KJV)

Reflection and Application

Reflect for a moment on the themes covered so far in this book: First, Matthew established the credibility of Jesus, and then gave an account of Jesus reviewing the fine points of the law in his Sermon on the Mount. He follows that account with stories that demonstrated Jesus' compassion with a ministry of healing. Having clearly established himself as the Son of God (at least for those who were listening) it was time for Jesus to configure the team that would carry on his ministry after he leaves the earth. Thus, his next step was to pick the right people for the job.

In the best-selling business book, Good to Great, Jim Collins concludes that the most important first step for a successful company is to “get the right people on the bus.” He is referring to the senior management team and other key personnel and came to this conclusion based on exhaustive research of successful companies. Collins explained that the right people are those who will carry out the original vision but would have the appropriate levels of creativity and knowledge to determine the best course of actions based on the situations they would encounter.

Jesus didn’t need a research project to come to this conclusion, but we can see that Collins respects the same principle and explains it in terms to which the modern business person can relate. In the case of Jesus, he picked the diverse team that he knew had a passion for his work and collectively had the necessary skills to inaugurate the early church. Most of this team would remain with him for the remainder of his ministry on earth and after his Ascension into heaven.

To the human eye, the appointed Disciples might not have resembled an all-star ministry team. Instead, they may have been perceived as a dysfunctional rag-tag team that included an impetuous fishermen (Peter), a conspirator with the enemy (Matthew), a fierce patriot opposed to the Roman occupation (Simon the Zealot), and other assorted people that had more differences than similarities. They were not as polished and learned as the scribes and Pharisees, but they had a heart for Jesus and they trusted him. Moreover, it was their short-comings and humility that allowed Jesus to work through them. Anyone who humbly follows Jesus as a servant will feel the gentle guidance of his yoke, as Jesus carries the heavier burden and allows us to walk alongside him.

Jesus instructions to the Disciples included a requirement that seems out of line with the Christian mission: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel (Matt 10:5-6 - NIV).” Rest assured that this was a temporary constraint instituted for several reasons. One reason was that the people of Israel deserved to hear the message first and the Disciples, who were fellow Jews, were more prepared to relate to them. By contrast, they were not yet ready to take the message to alien nations because they had limited familiarity with those people (1).

John the Baptist was among the first to recognize Jesus for whom he was, but was having doubts. John had been thrown in prison and was waiting for Jesus to make a political or military move against the occupying Romans in the fashion of his forefathers such as David, who had battled with the Philistines. These doubts led him to send his men to Jesus to ask “are you the one? (Matt 11:2 - NIV)” And if he was the one, when was he going to get on with the battle? But what John and his Disciples did not yet understand was that Jesus arrived for a different battle - a spiritual war that would not be won by a military conquest, but by the sacrifice of the suffering servant described in Isaiah.

The Rev. Ed Danks explained that many of us experience similar types of doubts when our lives don’t work out the way we expected. We may have setbacks in our careers or lose close family and friends to illness and then ask how God could let these things happen. Danks provided some context by quoting the author Henry Drummond to explain the difference between doubt (I can’t believe) versus unbelief (I won’t believe). Danks suggests that if we have doubts then the problem may be that our own plans for life were wrong. In that case, he encourages us to bring our doubts to God. In conclusion, Danks advised us with the following thought:

    When we are plagued by doubts as to the adequacy of God in Jesus Christ, instead of wondering if we should “look for another,” let us listen deep within us for that quiet response to our doubts – and let us allow Him to place His hand upon us in a new and fresh way. That touch can be yours here and now this morning. That belief is deeper than all my doubts! (2)

Let's get on the bus with Jesus and his Disciples, listen for his call to us and allow him to touch our hearts.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What situations have you experienced in which you decided to "shake the dust off your feet" and leave a town or place?
    2. What doubts have you pondered?
    3. What do you do to develop quiet time for listening for God?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father, we know you have given us the Law, the Prophets and your Son out of your love for us. Help us to listen, believe, and obey.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Business leaders building a new team


    (1) Barclay, William, The Gospel of Matthew, Volumes 1 and 2, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville KY 2001, p420
    (2) Danks, The Reverend Edward R., “How Jesus Deals with Our Doubts” (Matthew 11:2-6), August 13, 1995, The Noroton Pulpit, Sermons from the Noroton Presbyterian Church, Darien, CT

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Matthew 12-13 (Lord of the Sabbath)

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