June 16, 2017

Why Were The Workers Few? (Proper 11)

This is a strange statement coming from Jesus in a country where religion was supposed to be central in everyone’s life. Something is terribly wrong. Something needs fixing. This is important to us now as we live in a similar time. We too are supposed to be Christians in a Christian Church - yet many people are sensing that something is very wrong. Do we to have lots of religion but little real Faith? We need to ask the same question as Jesus - why are the church workers few?”.

1. The workers are few because we have lost our mission
In Jesus time most people went to the synagogues and Temple - but for many, it was only an outward form. Their country was occupied by Roman soldiers. They were harassed and confused. They felt defeated. Instead of giving them hope, their ancient faith had not helped them against the Romans.
  • It was a time like our own, when many people feel our own church is drifting without real spiritual direction or leadership.
  • We feel like the people in the Gospel who were “...harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd...” (Matthew 9.36).
 2. Jesus had a clear mission of radical new teaching and healing

His teaching was new and with authority. He taught that God was doing a new thing. He gave people hope. People did not have to remain helpless victims of religious politicians. They did not have to fear the Pharisees and the Law.
·         God was making a new Covenant of freedom and hope.
·         Each person could choose to accept Jesus as their personal saviour.
·         Each person could have the hope of personal forgiveness and a right-relationship with God.
·         This was a free gift. God Himself would provide a sacrifice to pay for their sins.
·         They no longer had to fear death and judgement.
·         God would give them the gifts of the Holy Spirit as a sign of their inclusion in the new Covenant.
·         There was a lot to teach. Many new and courageous teachers would be needed.

  3. Jesus mission was to preach this radical message with power
He needed men and women who would fearlessly proclaim the good news, even in the face of strong opposition. Jesus and most of the Apostles suffered terrible beatings and death as a direct consequence of their new radical teaching.
  • This is in sharp contrast to the cowardly behaviour of many modern church leaders who avoid controversy at all costs
  • Evangelical clergy in Vancouver failed to support a Franklin Graham crusade for fear of offending the gay community.
  • We need to find, as they say in the Marines "a few good men"
  • These workers need serious Bible teaching so they get to really know, love and trust in Jesus personally
  • They need an experience of the Holy Spirit as a sign of Jesus anointing and support in preaching and healing
4. He gave Disciples “...authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease...” (Mt. 10.1)
This is not taught in seminary, yet it was a key part of Jesus mission. The casting out of evil spirits and healings were concrete proof of His authority to teach and preach. This is always dangerous work as Satan sometimes counterfeits miraculous powers and deceives people into church conflicts. But it is a place where we must go if we are to re-capture Jesus authentic and exciting mission for the Church.
  • How can we preach with authority and give people hope if we cannot demonstrate authority over evil spirits and sickness?
 Our Mission is fearless Bible teaching and powerful healing
People need hope for the future. Our leadership was sidetracked into social justice and lost its Biblical and spiritual focus in the 1960's. Now there are two generations of Biblically and spiritually untaught people.
  • Key to helping these people may be suffering.
  • Suffering is how God got my attention.
  • Suffering produces perseverance - read Bible, come to Jesus
  • Perseverance produces character - discovered healing
  • Character produces hope - developed faith and spiritual life
  • We can be the ones who have had the Biblical teaching and experiences of supernatural healing to help those in need.
  • Mission of the Church is to teach us and prepare us for this ministry of powerful teaching and healing

Jesus is challenging us to seek out, train and support courageous workers

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