Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mt 9:35-38 What Good News

“Jesus went about all the ‘kingdom’, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness.” (v. 35)
...proclaiming the good news of the kingdom
“What’s that mean?”
Slide - ‘far field’
This week, I asked you to consider what is YOUR good news? Whether you’ve thought about it since you read the e-bulletin or only in the last few minutes, 
What is Your Good News? Or What is Good News to YOU?

What was Jesus’ good news?
Some of you have a seminary education - so hold off on the ‘pat’ answers you learned and let’s hear from others. 
What was Jesus’ good news?

Altho a little page flipping will give us the words, the real answer is harder to discern. (page #___ ch 10:7 in pew Bible) 

In just a few more verses, We will hear Jesus tell the disciples to “Go” “& as you go, proclaim this good news, The kingdom of heaven has come near.’
(what do we know about this?) Mt, Heaven=God, Near in JC, why good news? ((How far does God seem from you?))

Let’s gather some evidence for our definition of Good News.
Slide ‘good news clues’
What we observe from our reading and knowledge: Jesus’ good news included both these words of the nearness of God and the actions of ...healing and release/freedom.
We know what Jesus did.

He is almost always surrounded by crowds, unless he has intentionally gone off by himself. Here we are told Jesus’ thoughts and feelings about the people. He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
Jesus felt compassion.      

The reference to the psalms reminds us of Jesus’ familiarity with the scripture which I’m sure he memorized in their original language as part of his Hebrew studies. (We often read words from the psalms coming from Jesus. I suspect because they give voice to universal truths and feelings.) 

Sheep are not a familiar image for most of us, yet we have learned to be comforted by the words, ‘the Lord is my shepherd’.
Sheep/Shepherd images are used in many places in the old and new testaments. Most of the time, it is when God’s people are vulnerable. “When they are leaderless and subject to manipulation and attack.”
 I read, In Matthew’s gospel, crowds are described as sheep to indicate the “plight of the crowds. They are in danger of being misled by their leaders.”

Jesus feared that people would be misled by leadership.  

subtotal: Good news then encompasses what? 
Words, deeds, compassion, leadership

The other agricultural reference is of harvest, something we talk about at Thanksgiving when the celebration of bounty occurs. Do we have any farmers here? Who could tell us the other feelings that come with a field ripe for harvest?

Ripe fields and high stress go together. Sure there is joy at the bounty, but before the crop is safely in the barn or corn crib, there is a great urgency. Time is of the essence. The crop needs to be harvested because it is vulnerable to storm or insects. ‘Get all the laborers here now and let’s work round the clock until it is in.’
Therefore “harvest” is also used biblically to indicate the eschatological judgement - end of all time judgment. 
Jesus felt urgency and sensed that time was short.     

How is our list? What is GOOD NEWS? 
Is it descriptive of Jesus’? Could we say, Jesus is THE good news? And in Jesus we hear of God’s love, see actions of compassion, feel the urgency to be with him.

What did Jesus tell the disciples to do?
“Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
A worthy prayer. We can pray that prayer, can’t we?
But it’s time to turn the page.

Let’s see what Jesus said and did next:
...called 12 and gave authority
...sent the 12 out.

Is this a case of be careful what you pray for? 
Or you are the answer to your prayers?

I believe these short verses invite us into the thinking and mission of Jesus. This deep look a such a short transition between sections of Matthew takes us back 2 centuries AND forward into our future.

Two of my favorite commentators point out that [this mission] “is not voluntary ‘do-goodism’ but a [commissioned work]. The 12 are “chosen, authorized, and sent by God thru Christ” to offer words and deeds of Good News.
 And the 12 include common laborers, elite government workers, Israelie zealots, and Roman collaborators, along with 1 who will betray Jesus.
... Truly ALL are welcome here...

When we glimpse the ‘mind of Christ’ as our brethren forebearers would say, we can learn to understand the importance and urgency of this work that is mean for ALL who follow Jesus.

And we are given fuel for our labor by the inspiration of this table we visit. The bread and cup remind us of Jesus’ passion, how passionate he was for people. AND how urgently he felt their/OUR need.

Who is commissioned for this work?     YOU ARE; baptism is the commissioning of all ministers. 
Are we sent?
The next Chapter (10) of the disciples’ short mission is a preview for the great sending, aka the Great Commission, we heard on Unity Sunday. Go, Make Disciples, Baptize, Teach..
When we really understand both Jesus’ compassion AND his sense of urgency for people,
When we look at the crowds in our lives, people in danger of being misled (can you think of a few?),

When we hear the words of sending, “Go, Baptize, Teach, Make Disciples”
 And taste the elements of remembrance,

- Can you not feel the TAP on your shoulder
-- Hear the whisper or SHOUT in your ear
--- And know the ‘GO’ is meant for you?

 1 Charles Cousar Texts for Preaching Yr. A (Louis:WJK,1995)369
2. 2 Boring and Craddock People’s N T Commentary (Louis:WJK,2004)45
3 ibid Boring and Craddock, 45

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