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THE MASTER’S MEN
Intro: One of the most amazing features of the Gospels, and of the ministry of the Lord Jesus, is the men He chose to be His disciples. If you and I were putting together a ministry team, these are probably not the kind of people we would choose to represent us. Consider these men for just a moment.
Several were fishermen. One was a former tax collector for Rome. A couple of them were quick tempered. One of them was a revolutionary. One was a traitor and not a true believer at all. All were very common men.
These men lacked spiritual understanding. They lacked humility. They lacked faith. They lacked commitment. They lacked power. These men were always getting into trouble; missing the point or Christ’s teachings; lashing out at people who were different; saying the wrong thing; walking away from their commitment to Jesus; among other failures and problems.
In spite of their weaknesses, the Lord used these men to turn the world upside down for His glory. If He can use them, surely He can use us too! That gives me hope today!
Jesus called these men to follow Him a good while earlier, Mark 3:13-19. For some time now they have been following Jesus from place to place. They have been listening to Him teach and watching Him perform miracles. Since He called them, they have been in seminary. Jesus has been training them so that He could send them out with the message of the Gospel. The passage before us today gives us the details of our Lord’s commissioning of His disciples for their first missionary outreach.
This passage has something to teach those who are servants of the Lord. It has something to say to those who desire to serve the Lord in these days. I want to preach on The Master’s Men today and I would like for us to see that just as Jesus had a mission for the original twelve disciples, He still has a mission for us.
Let’s examine their commission and their work. In doing so, we can learn more about how the Lord expects us to serve Him in these days. I want to share some observations from this text and preach about The Master’s Men.
(Ill. Jesus calls His men to Him and sends them out on a preaching mission. He sent them out two by two and gave them power over demons. Let’s consider their mission.)
A. They were sent out “two by two. Matthew 10:2-4 give us some idea of how these men may have been paired up. (Ill. How would you have liked to have been Judas Iscariot’s partner?) There are a couple of reasons Jesus sent them out this way.
· It fulfilled the requirements of the Law for every testimony to be established by the words of at least two witnesses – Deut. 17:6; 19:15; Num. 35:30.
· It provided the men with companionship, encouragement and for someone to pray for them.
· This was the method used by John the Baptist when he sent out his followers, Luke 7:18-19.
· This has been the method followed by Christians since the days of Jesus. The early church employed this method, Acts 13:2-3; 15:39-41; 19:22.
· It is still the best method today. When two people go out to share the Gospel together, they can encourage one another, pray for one another and help one another stand in this evil day. When you go out to tell this world about Jesus take a fellow believer with you, it will make the job easier.
B. We are told that Jesus gave them “power. This particular word refers to inherent power. It has the idea of someone possessing the right to do a thing and having the power to carry it out. Jesus gave them His power when He sent them out. In a literal sense, they were an extension of Him as they ministered around the country. Jesus literally multiplied Himself when He sent His disciples out with His power.
In John 14:12 Jesus made a startling statement. He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. The only reason we are able to see Him do this is because He gives us His power to serve Him in the world today.
When Jesus saves a soul, He gives them the power to carry His message to the world, Acts 1:8. We may feel inadequate for the task, but His power rests in us and on us. We may be weak in our words and we may feel that our testimony lacks power, but Jesus has promised to give us His power. And His power is more than enough to get the job done! Therefore, we can go into this world and share the Gospel, knowing that He has called us and empowered us to do just that!
II. v. 8-11 THE MANDATE OF THE TWELVE
Ill. As part of His commissioning, Jesus gave His men some very specific commands. Looking at what He told them has something to say to us about our own service to the Lord.
A. v.8-9 They were told to take nothing with them for their journey. They could take a walking stick, the shoes on their feet and the clothes on their backs. They were not to take a scrip, which was a travelers bag. Nor were they to take any money or food.
There are a couple of thoughts here that need to be considered.
· There is the idea here is that they were to go as they were, without making any special preparations for their travels. They were to undertake this assignment with their full faith in the Lord and in His ability to take care of them.
(Ill. That is still God’s plan for His people. We are saved by faith and the Lord expects us to live by faith! He wants us to walk in complete dependence on Him and on His power to supply our needs, Matt. 6:25-34; Phil. 4:19. If the Lord sends us out in His service, we can trust Him to take care of us. I have seen Him do that countless times in my own life and ministry!
Now, we are not to be foolish with our resources! Just because the Lord will meet our needs does not imply that we are to give away everything we have. We should give when the Lord tells us to, but we are also commanded to be good stewards of that which we have been given by the Lord, Pro. 21:20; 27:12. If we squander everything the Lord gives us, we might have to do without when the hard times come. Sometimes, the Lord allows us to save during the days of prosperity so that we will have resources during the days of adversity!
There are two timeless principles that we do not want to miss here: 1. Always be a wise steward of the wealth God blesses you with. 2. Always trust the Lord to take care of you.)
· There is also the idea here of urgency. Jesus wants them to go now! The fields were white unto the harvest and it was time to go.
(Ill. There is still an urgency that comes with the Gospel message. The time to tell the world is today. The time to go is right now. If the Lord has it on your heart to tell an individual about Him, the time to do that is today, John 9:4)
· They were told to take only one coat. In that day it was usually just the rich who could afford two coats. Jesus was sending them out as common men among common men. They were not to put on airs and come across as though they were better than the people they encountered.
(Ill. There is a lesson in that for the Lord’s people. Sometimes we act like we are better than the lost world around us. We look down our self-righteous noses at others and talk about how much better we are than they are. In truth, the only thing that separates us from the most wicked of sinners is the pure grace of God! If it were not for His grace in our lives, we would be as bad, or worse, than they are! Shame on us for thinking that we are better than anybody! Shame on us for sticking our religious noses up into the air, parading around before a lost world, acting like we are something special! There was a time when we were just like them. Apart from the blood of Jesus and the grace of God, we still would be!)
B. v. 10 They were accept the hospitality of the local people and they were to abide in whatever house they were invited into. They were not to seek out better accommodations. They were not to look for more comfortable lodging. They were to take what they were given and they were to be happy with it.
(Ill. The English church of the 18th and 19th Centuries was rocked by scandal. The pastors were notorious for seeking their comfort above the needs and welfare of their churches. They were more famous for their knowledge of hunting dogs and for the wines in their wine cellars that they were for preaching the Word of God or ministering to the needs of His people.
The same could be said about many preachers in our day. They live like kings while their people struggle to support their lifestyles. The television preachers of our era, with their opulent homes, air-conditioned doghouses, and limousines have left a bad taste in the mouth of this generation.
The Christian life is not about being comfortable. There are time when serving the Lord is anything but comfortable. Our duty is to take whatever He gives us with a heart of gratitude and learn to be content with the things He provides, Heb. 13:5; 1 Tim. 6:6-12.
Preachers, if you pastor a church, there may be times when you will have to get by on very little. If you serve a church where the people are small minded about the things of God, they will do their best to see to it that you have to live by faith. Thank God for people who know the Pastor and his family have needs too! Regardless of the pay package, we preachers should not look to the church as the source of our resources. We should look to the hand of the Lord and trust Him to meet our needs!
As for the rest of the church, if you are serving Him, you can trust Him to take care of you, That is His promise and He will stand by it, Psa. 37:25.)
C. v. 11 When the disciples entered a village and they and their message was rejected, they were to leave that village and shake the dust off their sandals. The Jews often did this when they were returning from a journey to a pagan land. Before they crossed back into Israel, they would shake the dust off their clothes and off their shoes. It represented a total disassociation from the pagans and the pollution of their land.
In this case, Jesus told His man to do this as a sign that those who rejected the Gospel would face a harsh judgment someday. In fact, their punishment would exceed the judgment that fell on ancient Sodom and Gomorrah. Why? All Sodom and Gomorrah had was the testimony of a wayward believer named Lot. These villages had the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ! They would face a harsh judgment for rejecting His offer of salvation.
The primary message of the disciples was a message of hope and salvation. However, those who rejected the offer of salvation were given a message of judgment and damnation.
(Ill. The message of the church is also a message of hope and salvation. We are to point the way to Jesus Christ, extending His free offer of salvation to all who will believe it. We are to point the way to Heaven, but we must never neglect to warn sinners about the fiery judgment of Hell.
No one likes that message in our day. We are ridiculed for preaching that there is a literal place called Hell where lost souls suffer for eternity. Let the world kick against that message! Let lost people accuse us of being out of step with this modern world. Let them mock our pleas for them to turn from their sins and come to Jesus. Let them say what they will, but the truth still stands!
There is a Heaven to gain and Hell to shun. The only way into Heaven is through the Lord Jesus Christ, John 14:6. The only way to avoid Hell is through the Lord Jesus Christ, John 5:24. That is our testimony! It is a testimony of deliverance to those who receive it. It is a testimony of damnation to those who reject it!)
III. v. 12 THE MESSAGE OF THE TWELVE
(Ill. The message of the twelve was a simple, straightforward message. It was a message that could be understood by all who heard it.)
A. They preached that men should “repent. That word means to change one's mind for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one's past sins. It refers to a change of mind that leads to a change of action. It can literally mean be converted. When genuine repentance takes place the change in a persons life is radical and powerful!
Most of the time repentance is only preached in its negative sense. People are told that they need to stop doing certain things, and that is true. Repentance is far more that that!
Repentance has both a negative aspect and a positive aspect. Repentance looks backward, but it also looks forward. Repentance says, “I will stop doing the things I should not do and I will begin to do the things I should do. I will stop living a life of sin and I will start to live a life of holiness.
Repentance arises out of a heart that is sorry for the wrongs it is guilty of committing, 2 Cor. 7:10. That sorrow produces a desire to change the way the repenting sinner is living. That is genuine biblical repentance and it is something that we do not see a lot of in these days!
B. There are not many voices calling for repentance in these days. Most people do not like to be told that they are wrong and need to change their lives. I am here to tell you today that you will never have the blessings of God on your life until you repent of your sins! You will never have assurance of your salvation until you repent of your sins. In fact, if you refuse to repent of you sins, you are probably not saved to begin with!
One of the characteristics of the new birth is a changed life, 2 Cor. 5:17. If you can live in sin, without seeing the need to turn from it and repent, most likely you are not saved by the grace of God, 1 John 3:9.
C. Let me make it as plain as I can today: The message has not changed! The Lord still commands sinners to repent of their sins if they want to be saved from their sins, Acts 17:30. That truth applies to you. It applies to me. It applies to every person in the world. Repentance is an essential prerequisite for a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Have you experienced a time of genuine repentance in your life?
IV. v. 13 THE MINISTRY OF THE TWELVE
(Ill. The disciples went out in the power of the Savior and they saw Him move and work in power and glory. Their experience has something to say to us today.)
A. God will confirm His work in us and through in powerful ways. He will manifest His power as He confirms His message.
We will probably not see the same things these men saw. What the Lord did through them is what is known as sign gifts. That is, they were manifestations of His power designed to give validity to His message. In that day people did not have the complete Word of God. They needed proof of the message. God proved His message by working powerful clear miracles among the people.
B. In our day we will see the Lord confirm His Word by changing lives. When the Gospel is preached and shared in His power, He will use the Gospel message to draw people to Himself.
The greatest miracle the Lord can achieve is the salvation of a human soul. It so far outweighs healings and the casting out of demons that they are not even in the same category!
When Jesus saves a soul it eclipses even His power in creation. I thrill when I think of the Lord making everything out of nothing. But, to think that He could take a lost, hell bound sinner and make them into a child of God is marvelous beyond words! To consider that He would love the lost and reach out to them in grace is amazing. To think that He would die on the cross to redeem them from their sins is wonderful beyond belief! (Ill. Isa. 53:4-6) To think that He would save people who are trapped in their sins is a miracle the mind can hardly comprehend!
Conc: Our Savior is in the life-changing, soul-saving business! One of the most amazing truths I ever learned is that He desires us to have a part in His ministry. When we hear His call, accept His commission, walk in faith and share His message with a lost and dying world, we can expect Him to honor His Word, Isa. 55:11, and save the lost.
Here is the invitation today.
· If you are saved and sense the Lord calling you to share your faith, you need to come. If He is calling you to serve Him as a preacher of the Gospel or a missionary, you need to heed that call and go where He sends you. Surrender to Him today.
· If you are saved and you have been holding back out of fear of failure or that your needs would might not be met, let go of those fears today. Come before the Lord and commit to doing what He has called you to do.
· If you have never repented of your sins and trusted Jesus, and He is drawing you to Himself, you need to come today and be saved.
· If you have made a profession the past, but your life has never changed and you are still controlled by your sins, you need to come to Him today and get it settled once and for all. Follow Him in genuine repentance.
· If the Lord has spoken to you at any point on any level of your life, you need to obey Him right now!