In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.
Read Matthew 10: 1-20
When Jesus called his disciples to follow him, he also gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. It’s amazing to consider the responsibility assigned to the twelve men he chose to be his closest companions. The fact that he empowered them to act in his behalf, giving them full power to do as he would do if he were in their sandals, dramatically displays his generously outstretched arms of love.
As he sent them out to serve in his name, he offered them some very specific instructions. They were to go to the lost sheep of Israel, with an intentionality that defined them as emissaries of Jesus. As they traveled along their assigned pathway of service, they were given a specific message: preach the Kingdom of heaven is near. The Kingdom was Jesus’ favorite topic; he spoke of this more than any other issue. His desire was for his disciples to embrace and embody the richness of Christ’s Kingdom.
The disciples’ ministry was to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the leper, and drive out demons. They were set apart to perform miraculous healing in Jesus’ name, so that God would receive all the glory, honor and praise. They were not to be entrapped by anything that would hinder their mission, message or ministry. Instead, they were to travel light: no gold, silver or copper in their belts; no bag or extra tunic, sandals or staff for them to carry.
The entirety of Matthew chapter ten is filled with instructions. “Freely they have received, so freely they are to give” was their lived refrain. “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me” (Matthew 10: 40). The disciples would be receivable to others, not because of who they were as remarkable human beings, as a reflection of the God who sent them out in his name.
Each of us as 21st Century disciples follow the same instruction manual as the 1st Century disciples. The specifics may be edited per generation, but the overarching and guiding principles are cross-generational. We are to travel light. We are to find others who will bless and send us from place to place, as companions who share our faith community and mission. We have a message to proclaim and a ministry to perform…empowered by the Spirit, all for the glory of God, and all for the fulfillment of Christ’s Kingdom here on earth. What Kingdom building activity is God calling you to this day? And, more abundantly in this season of your life in Christ?
Behold the King who offers clear instruction to all who follow him; believe in this great God who will make his way clear for you too; belong to the company of disciples who walk with him each new day; and become a faithful disciple who delights to follow Jesus into both familiar and uncharted terrain.