Life of Christ 61
Recently, we saw Jesus formally choose the twelve men from His group of disciples that would become the Apostles. Now we find Him issuing the Apostles with their marching orders, so to speak, and at the same time explaining to them what they could expect and how they were to conduct themselves (Luke 9.1-6, Matthew 10).
Jesus told them that they were to travel light, depending upon God to provide for them (Luke 9.3). It isn't the specifics of these instructions that I think are the point, but the larger underlying principle or philosophy. That principle says that while the preacher has to earn a living he is not to be preoccupied with money or material things.
I'm a preacher's kid. That came with a built in set of advantages and liabilities. I learned, at a very young age, that money, and the things that money could buy, just weren't very important to my dad. As a preacher now myself such things aren't supposed to be important to me either.
Jesus also told them that their message would not be widely accepted (Luke 9.5, Matthew 10.17-18, 22). When we convey to people the requirement that they must repent of their sin, place their faith in the unseen Christ, and adjust the entirety of their life to His we should expect it to be as unpopular in our day as it was in His. If you are looking for popularity active Christianity is the exact wrong religion for you. Once you understand and accept this it makes things so much easier. You develop a bit of a thick skin without developing a cynical heart. You understand that people are rejecting Christ, not you, and so you don't take it personally. You realize, ahead of time, that most of the time you won't be well received. You also learn to greatly rejoice when the gospel is accepted, not just for the blessing it conveys to that person, but because you understand how rare such acceptance is. Success, then, becomes less and less about the response and more and more about obedience to your Saviour, and faithfulness in carrying out that obedience.
The world rejected Jesus. It rejected the Apostles. It rejected the early Church. It rejected the maturing Church. And it has kept doing that all the way down to our lifetime, and it will keep doing that until Jesus returns (Matthew 10.24-25). Yes, He graciously brings times of revival and seasons of refreshing. Yes, there are brands snatched from the burning that bring us great joy. But, by and large, the message of the gospel and its commands will always be rejected.
At the same time, Jesus accompanied this somewhat grim message with the encouraging thought that God would always take care of His own (Matthew 10.28-31). I've watched God take care of my parents for 40 years. I've watched God take care of me and mine for almost twenty. Opposition, discouragement, frustration, lack, and attack come, yes, but God always provides just enough strength, encouragement, blessing, provision, and defense to cover it all.
He always has, and He always will.
If you would like to listen to the audio version of this blog you may find it here in our church website. Just press 'launch media player' and choose We Preach Christ 32, 'He Sent Them to Preach'.