The Twelve Apostles
10 Then Jesus[a] summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. 2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;[b] 4 Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.
The Mission of the Twelve
5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’[c] 8 Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers,[d] cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. 9 Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
They walked with Jesus for three years.
They walked with Him, they lived with Him.
They heard His incomparable parables.
They listened to every sermon He ever preached.
They saw with their own eyes each one of His wonderful miracles.
They saw the blind receive their sight, the lame throw away their crutches.
They saw withered limbs become straight and strong.
They even saw the dead raised to newness of life.
All these things they saw and heard.
Yet these things did not change these men.
For during the last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry, they were quarreling among themselves.
James and John wanted the chief places in the cabinet of the Kingdom.
They were jealous of each other.
They were not very brave.
When Jesus was arrested they all ran away.
After He died, they scattered and went underground.
They met behind closed doors.
No, they were not very brave.
They did not have much faith.
Thomas refused to believe that the Master had risen from the dead until he had proof.
He even stipulated what that proof had to be.
Of course these three years did something to them and in them,
The fuel had been laid on the fire, but it was not lit.
The seed had been sown, but it had not germinated.
All the possibilities of change in them had been created, but the changes had not yet happened.
What did change these wayward disciples?
Not the crucifixion
Not the resurrection
But the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost…
On that day…
Cowardice gave place to courage
Unbelief became a flaming faith and conviction that nothing on earth could shake
Jealousy was swallowed up in brotherly love
Self-interest was killed and became a ministry to others
Fear was banished, and they were afraid of no man…no threat, no danger.
The above is a direct quote from Peter Marshall’s, Mr. Jones Meet the Master p. 42 -44
I quote it because Matthew’s gospel intends us to be disciples. Further, we claim the name in our larger church affiliation. We are the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). We are Disciples. So it is a good thing to contemplate—who is a disciple?
We are the disbelieving and the fearful; we are the quarrelsome and the jealous; we are the ones who run away, afraid we might be caught near the one who had been arrested for bringing a new faith to a lost people…a faith that realigned loyalties and gave hope back to people.
A disciple is one whose faith has been ignited who can then ignite in others a faith that was lost. An ignited faith compels us to act.
On this Father’s Day, consider the compulsion can be likened to a father who hears a baby’s cry and despite the tired in his bones, and the work of the next day, jumps out of bed to scoop the baby up and after taking care of the physical needs, walks with them, sings to them, until the baby, feeling safe in her Father’s arms, can sleep once again.
Discipleship is like that. Despite our jealous or fearful natures or all we have to do just to live the next day, we can’t help but leave our slumber because we hear the human cry of those who do not have their physical needs met and those who are lost and unable to find their way home.
What it takes to be a disciple…oh my goodness. Jesus’ commission is so outlandish it easily could become a comedy skit on Saturday Night Live. And, it certainly isn’t the advice a good father would give his child.
Can any of you hear your Dad saying to you on graduation day, “son, daughter, go into the world and take no money.” Then, your father calls you close, puts his arm around you, and gives you a code: “They will pay you and give you what you need as long as you say to them: ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is Near.’”
Jesus is not raising children; he is calling disciples. Disciples don’t go expecting they will be able to provide for their own needs. They have to trust, as long as they do the labor, God will provide.
What is the labor?
The labor is to cure the sick and raise the dead and cleanse the lepers and cast out the demons.
Get beyond the impossibility of the demand for a moment, and take a look at the kind of people we are supposed to hang out with…people who are sick, dead, limbs falling off from leprosy, and people filled with demons. Hey, if they have one, they will let you stay on their couch.
A regular food pantry patron came in, always red faced but denies he is an alcoholic, “I have one beer in the morning.” This day he spoke about an injured dog he saw on the side of the road. He sat there with that dog for hours. Then he called Animal Control and waited for them to come and get him. Tears welled up in his eyes as he told this long story.
Then he turned the page. It is always in the last 2 minutes you hear what really is going on. He says, “Well, you won’t be seeing me around for awhile. I have to turn myself in—got a warrant—something about a DUI from a long way back.”
Who do you think we meet as we open the doors at 1115 E. Market St.?
Who do you think is here today?
Before a disciple can ignite a lost faith, a disciple’s faith must be ignited.
Who do you think you are?
Aren’t you one who was so stuck you might have been dead for all the life you were feeling inside?
Aren’t you the one who feels physical manifestations of disease you can’t stop?
Aren’t you the one who battled demons—those voices inside that tear at you, try to take you down?
Aren’t you one who has felt so jealous about what you didn’t have you couldn’t see what you did have?
Disciples need a word from disciples. What we are called to do goes so outside of family or societal norms—no Dad, nor boss, nor school can teach you to go out into the world expecting to heal the sick, raise the dead, cure the leper, and cast out demons. Disciples do.
Because something inside ignites us to get up and get moving
Something inside call us to proclaim and reveal the Kingdom of Heaven is near
Because we fall in love with the people who are sick and lame and demon filled.
We hear the human cry, and rise up until we can bring a soul some rest.
That’s what disciples do.
I like to tell the story about the man who saw the light in the window.
I was a seminarian at the time—studied during the week, worked for church on the weekends. I spent my Sundays at a church in Rhode Island, a 2 hour drive from my seminary. I was greener than bananas just picked from the tree on their way to another land. Each Sunday, I’d stay planning for the youth group that would arrive in the evening—planning lessons or activities or outings. One long winter afternoon, it was turning dark when a man knocked on the church door.
First I thought…should I answer? I don’t know who is out there. I’m a single woman. Alone. And, I had things to do.
But something compelled me to get up and answer the door…perhaps it was the Jesus hanging on the wall.
When I opened the door, I saw a man. I imagine he looked scraggly, unkempt. But truly I don’t remember his exact appearance. His words caught me by surprise.
He told me that he had seen the light in the church window. That light called to him. He hadn’t been inside a church for years. But that light, it was like a candle in the dark, it told him to come.
Now, it must have been the sun going down that sparked it because the sanctuary lights were off that night—or maybe a vision. There certainly were no candles.
He was sure he saw a light, a candle light. And that light in the church window was a sign. It was a sign that he, a drunk, needed to knock on the door.
Well, I knew very little, but I knew two important things. The first was not a rule memorized but something that compelled me to silence, something in my heart knew: You do not mess with someone’s vision of God that has led them to do a good thing. And, I knew, with my mind, that AA was meeting that night.
So I brought him around to their meeting, territory I had never before entered. As you know AA keeps their own company, so I didn’t have much to do with them before or after. But AA will always be a hero group to me. For on that day, when I introduced the man to them, someone came to him and stood right by his side as others welcomed him into the group. They believed, these broken men who meet regularly to keep themselves sober, they believed that, if he was willing, they could make him well.
I don’t know the end of the story. God granted me to know the beginning. I got to see the moment when someone was shown God’s light and believed that he could be well. And that is enough.
You who have walked with Jesus for awhile, you know very well how the light shines that leads you into places you would never have thought to go…Trinidad and Tobego and to Indian Reservations; to prisons and to addicts; to the dying and the lost; you go…because you see the light…you act because you are compelled by the Holy Spirit to believe that something you do, maybe even something you decide to do today, can bring faith back to a lost sheep.
Do something, disciples, do something for someone today…that brings back life. You don’t have to force it…the Holy Spirit will compel you to act…just don’t resist it and don’t let someone quench it. Allow the fire to light your fire.
You are a Disciple of Christ
You have been given power to heal the sick
You are a Disciple of Christ
You have been given power to cure the leper
You are a Disciple of Christ
You have been given the power to raise the dead
You are a Disciple of Christ
You have been given the power to cast out demons.
Do what Disciples do…find those who feel they are lost or that they have lost—go find the lost sheep of Israel—go and walk with them, and hold them, until they are awake! Go, and ignite their faith!