The Scriptorium

The Right Credentials

Jesus didn't train workers like we do. Too bad for us. Matthew 10.1-4

Matthew 10: The First Sending (1)

Pray Psalm 40.11-13.
Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O LORD;
Let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me.
For innumerable evils have surrounded me;
My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up;
They are more than the hairs of my head;
Therefore my heart fails me.
Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me;
O LORD, make haste to help me!

Sing Psalm 40.11-13.
(Dix: For the Beauty of the Earth)
Keep Your mercy not from me; let Your love and truth prevail.
Evil and iniquity make my trembling heart to fail.
Lord, be pleased to rescue me! Let my shelter with You be.

Read and meditate on Matthew 10.1-4.

1. What qualified these men for the mission Jesus assigned them?

2. What did Jesus call them to do?

Immediately following His instruction to pray for laborers to be thrust forth into the harvest, Jesus gathered His disciples for their first mission.

Who were these men? And what qualified them for the mission Jesus gave them?

First, these were ordinary men – not a scholar or professional among them. They were fishermen, tax collectors, and who knows what else. Everyday men. They had no training for ministry. Their only real qualifications were (1) they had left everything to follow Jesus; (2) they had spent much time getting to know Him; (3) they sat at His feet to be instructed in the ways of the Kingdom; (4) they had observed His many good works; (5) they had publicly identified with Him; and (6) they had received authority from Him for their appointed work.

But wait…what about a Master of Divinity degree? Or some basic competency in Greek and Hebrew? Shouldn’t they have had to pass some test, write a paper, or otherwise satisfy a set of trials?

They were just about to do all that, but in real time and real life, not in some classroom, scrawling memorized details into a blue book.

OK, yes, I’m a bit skeptical of the way we train people for the work of ministry, and of the people we determine to be qualified for such work. For the lifetime of this nation we have been preparing people for the ministry using a classroom model, teaching them how to pass tests and write papers, but not paying too much attention to what characterized the disciples at this point. The result is that the Church has drifted from its ancient moorings, and is having less and less Kingdom influence in a culture and society that becomes increasingly secular, narcissistic, and hostile to God each year. In the evangelical world today, we have more seminaries, training more students, in more different degree programs, for more types of ministry, than at any previous time in the history of the Christian movement. Yet our impact for the Kingdom of God decreases daily. When do we stop to reevaluate what we’re doing?

OK, got that off my chest.

The disciples are being sent to do essentially what they’ve seen Jesus doing – preaching, teaching, and rolling back the effects of sin. Luke tells us He sent them out in pairs. That’s a good strategy, as each man would be able to support his co-laborer with prayer and encouragement, and bringing to remembrance the grace and mercy of Jesus.. Jesus gave them power for this mission. The Greek is ἐξουσία, exousia, and translates better authority. They were to invoke His Name in their work, and His Name would give them success in all things (cf. Lk. 10.17).

We have said that we must pay careful attention to the words and works of Jesus. Sending His disciples into the harvest as laborers for the Kingdom is also a work of Jesus, and one that reaches to every one of us as His followers.

1. Why did Jesus send His disciples out? How could He have been so confident in them?

2. What were they being sent to do? How does that relate to Jesus’ sending us into our Personal Mission Field?

3. Do you have a prayer partner or ministry partner to help and encourage you in your work for the Lord? Why is it a good idea to have one?

What kind of people were these? Fishermen and publicans. Indeed, four of them were lowly fishermen and two were publicans—Matthew and James—and one was even a traitor. These “he sent!”
John Chrysostom (344-407), The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 32.3

Thank You, Lord, for sending me into my Personal Mission Field. Help me as I go today so that…

Pray Psalm 40.1-10.
As you wait on the Lord this morning, think about the day ahead. How will you show the Lord that you trust Him? Ask Him to help you delight to do His will, and to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom at every opportunity.

Sing Psalm 40.1-10.
Psalm 40.1-10 (Dix: For the Beauty of the Earth)
I waited patiently for God; He inclined and heard my cry,
lifted me up above the sod, set me on a Rock on high!
New songs in my mouth He gave; may He through me many save.

Blessed are all who trust in You, turning both from lies and pride.
Countless wonders, Lord, You do, and Your thoughts with us abide.
Lord, Your worth who can declare? None with You can e’er compare.

Off’rings You do not require – open now my ears, O Lord!
What from me do You desire? Firm delight to do Your Word.
Take my life in ev’ry part; write Your Law upon my heart.

Lord, Your truth will I proclaim to Your people gathered ‘round,
nor will I my lips restrain – let Your precious ways resound!
Of Your saving grace and Word I would speak, most loving Lord.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore