“I Didn’t Do This Alone!”
Matthew 10:1-4; 11:1
Sunday, June 3, 2018
St. Timothy’s United Methodist Church
Matthew 10:1-4 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
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.
Matthew 11:1 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
11 Now when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities.
Seldom do we do things alone or by ourselves. Now, there are a few private things that we do by ourselves, but those excluded a great deal of what we do as human beings is done in conjunction with and surrounded by other people.
Even more so in the life of the church or the faith community. What we do as Christians is surrounded by the fact we have people who are like us, support us, and promise to be with us through thick and thin. Our baptismal ritual tells us that we are going to help raise infants in the faith, we are to nurture, teach and lead adults that are in the faith, and to lead those who do not know the loving and saving grace of Jesus Christ to a sound relationship with God.
A whole lot of community involvement when it comes to being the church! There always has been. The scripture we are examining this morning is paramount to that understanding. You see, contrary to some of our “inbred” beliefs and teachings we have received over the years of Christian education, “Jesus did not do what he did, alone!” He had a community of believers that he commanded, surrounded himself with, and most importantly taught what to do in order to make disciples! I believe that one of the greatest problems of American Protestantism is the misunderstanding that Jesus has done it all and we can “coast along” living in the shadow of our Savior.
The Gospel lesson(s) this morning turn this idea around. They tell that in order for the Gospel to be lived out, communicated and brought forth, it takes a community to get that done! If we take a strong look at all of the Gospels we see in Luke that Jesus started with 70 or 72 disciples, then progressively moves to the final 12 even the one that was to betray him. Now, taking into consideration that Luke was writing to Jewish converts, the numbers 70 or 72 symbolize “completeness” and “totality” in order to convey what Jesus was bringing into the community was absolutely necessary! It was the way in which the Gospel writers stressed the need for ALL to be involved and help spread the news of Jesus Christ. We have a unique combination and situation that requires us to bring the message of Jesus to the community together!
In the oddity of the gospel, we as the community of faith have the task to bring to everyone the saving message of Jesus. What if Christianity was solely based on what Jesus did and that alone? What would have happened after the resurrection if those encountered would have run the other way? Not gone in the direction that the risen Christ sent them? What if they had stayed the course in their own way and never reached out to those who did not know of Jesus or those who were suffering in poverty, hunger, addiction, and oppression? What happens when we just live in our own little Jesus world? The reality, Jesus stays in our own little world! I’m pretty sure that is contrary to the gospel.
I believe we have worked hard over the past three and a half years to get Jesus out of own little world here at St. Timothy’s. In the weeks and months ahead you will have even greater opportunity to get Jesus out of this little world and into the world that Jesus so desperately desires. I’m reminded of a quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer when he talked about the community of faith, “We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions.” Opportunities for mission and outreach will increase, the community of faith will grow, and most importantly you will lead the way in exhibiting the love of Jesus to all whom you encounter.
As we begin the final weeks of transition, it is my prayer, my desire, and my goal to help prepare you as a strong community of faith to move forward with excitement, determination, and conviction to bring Jesus into the world in only the way St. Timothy’s can do!
So, as we move forward into more discussion this afternoon and in the days and weeks ahead, I pray that we enter into this time of communion and community eucharist (thanksgiving) to nourish ourselves as we move forward into the Kingdom of God.
AMEN & AMEN