Mission Under the Care of the Father

Please read Mathew 10: 1-16 and 40-42, and then pray; Almighty God, our loving Father, thank you that we live under the shadow of your wing. Speak to us as we consider what the challenge of mission to the world entails, and how you will faithfully care for us as we go in the name of Jesus your Son.

Today we dive into what is perhaps the greatest chapter of the bible concerning the monumental task of mission. Everything contained in Matthew 10 speaks to us about mission as we are confronted by the explicit teaching of the Lord Jesus on this key subject. His disciples, the twelve (v 1-4), are being sent out for the first time, in the name of Jesus, and with the authority of Jesus (v 1). They are to be His ambassadors, representatives of His Kingdom! Jesus therefore outlines some key principles of mission which directly applied to those 12 men, but which still have significant bearing on the Church’s approach to mission today. Missionaries throughout the centuries have lent heavily on this chapter of the bible and this specific teaching of our Lord – and what must be stressed is that the teaching contains relevant material for all disciples – even the least of all God’s “little ones” who embrace discipleship and mission under the caring wing of the Father. (v 42)

David Livingstone the great and courageous missionary wrote; “God has only one Son and he was a missionary.” Therefore, let us observe what the greatest of all missionaries – Jesus – has to say to all disciples who venture forth in his name and with His blessing and authority.

I want to concentrate on the final verses of this chapter today (v 40-42) and particularly consider with you, the care of the heavenly Father, for those who live and breathe mission. However, it is important just to mention the other key principles at work here. They are easy enough to detect and lift out of the chapter for our learning and practice of mission. We can do this by asking a simple series of questions;

  • Who is being sent on mission? The answer to this is that initially it is the 12 (v 1-5), but we know later that 12 became 72, (Luke 10:1) and now it includes every disciple who lives for the glory of Jesus and for the extension of God’s great Kingdom; all those who seek to win the lost, the least and the lonely.
  • Where are they going? Initially the 12 are going to the lost sheep of Israel (6), but after the death, resurrection, ascension of Jesus – disciples will be going to all nations. Jesus is Lord of all – and all will hear about the good news of Jesus. (Matthew 28: 18-20, Acts 1:8)
  • What are they going to do? Primarily preach the Kingdom, heal the sick, and demonstrate the authority of Jesus over all evil. (10: 1, 8)
  • What are they to take with them? What do they need? The answer to that is – as little as possible. Disciples are to travel light. The main thing that disciples should grasp is that they must trust in the provision and care of their heavenly Father. We must do the same. This is God’s Kingdom mission! Therefore, God will provide for His own mission to the world. God will provide money, accommodation, shelter, food, human and spiritual support.
  • What will they encounter? They will encounter opposition and rejection and even fierce persecution and resistance. Some will welcome them and receive the good news. Some will open-up their hearts and their homes – but there will be much hardship, resistance, and rejection. But in this way, they will be following in their Master’s footsteps. (24-25) However, missionaries will always experience and encounter the loving provision of their Father. As Paul wrote to the Philippians; And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Philippians 4:19-20)

This now brings us back to Matthew 10: 40-42 which is our focus today. Please read this text once more. It is crucial.

I cannot begin to describe just how much joy the promises and assurances of this text bring to my heart. This wonderful revelation assures us that God will provide for all those committed to mission. This includes Christchurch! Disciples will lack no good thing. The Lord is their Shepherd. But not only will disciples lack nothing, those who provide them with hospitality, food, rest, hiding, welcome, cups of water (or tea), will also receive great blessings and rewards from the Father. All this comes under the providential love, faithfulness, care, and mercy of Almighty God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

As the mission expands, as the gospel is taken further afield, missionaries will need accommodation, resting places, bases from which to work. God will provide them by preparing the hearts and homes of certain chosen individuals. The people and places of peace and welcome will have been prepared by the Spirit of God. (12-13) And these people and places will be greatly blessed and rewarded by God because they have made such vital contributions to the progress and fulfilment of Jesus’s mission to the world.

When an individual or a family (like Cornelius in Acts 10/11) receives a disciple into their home – they are, says Jesus, not only receiving and welcoming the disciple, they are at the same time, (perhaps unknowingly) receiving and welcoming the Son of God and the Father who sent him. (40) This is crucial teaching and delightfully encouraging. Some of those homes and the people who live in them may not truly understand who they are letting in, nor what they are letting themselves in for. They are letting in the Kingdom – the Kingdom of the Son and the Father. So to conclude – and this is the very important aspect of this teaching – God the Father will not only provide for his servants on mission, He will also richly bless and reward those who welcome these servants with kind, warm and generous hospitality.

This wonderful principle is illustrated so many times in the Scriptures, and some of the following stories are amongst the most miraculous and encouraging in the whole of Holy Writ. I do not have time to go into detail, but it is now important that you read the following texts and see this great principle in action again and again.

  • Read 1 Kings 17: 7-24 and the story of the mighty prophet Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. Notice the hospitality and then as the story proceeds – the rewards.
  • Read 2 Kings 4: 8-37 and the story of Elisha and the Shunammite woman and her son.
  • Read Luke 10: 38-42 – this time, the way this works in the life of Jesus and the opening-up of the home of Martha – and then what subsequently happens to her brother Lazarus (John 11)
  • Read Acts 16: 9-15 and 16:40, and see the example of Lydia opening her heart and home to the gospel’s servants, namely Paul and Silas.
  • Finally read Acts 28: 1-10 – the story of Paul being shipwrecked on Malta, their kindness of the islanders to him, and his subsequent healing ministry to them.

This then is how the mission which began in Matthew 10 by the 12 disciples/apostles was to spread around the entire globe. God would provide those much-needed places of welcome. Miracles of provision will abound and many, many people and families will be richly blessed and rewarded as they taste and see the Kingdom of God.

Read the stories of some of the great missionaries and you will see this principle at work again and again – how God opened homes and hearts to receive his people and at the same time Kingdom blessings such as salvation, healing and even resurrection! Read the stories of William Carey (India), David Livingstone (Africa), Hudson Taylor (China), David Brainerd (N American Indians), Jackie Pullinger (The Walled City in Hong Kong). All these individuals and thousands of others testify to the outworking of God’s care for them whilst engaged in His glorious Kingdom mission.

Below is the example of Viv Grigg who wrote the book “Companion to the poor – Christ in the urban slums.” Viv was called to work in the slums of Manila – within the notorious and needy Tatalon. But where would he begin the work? Who would welcome him? Who would be the first to welcome and accommodate this strange servant of the Lord?

Aling Nena had been one of the original squatters in Tatalon. 20 years ago she lived right on the banks of the river. As time went on, the first squatters rented out rooms in their homes to newer squatters. This provided a reasonable income. Those in the upper quarters of a house usually rented rooms from the owners downstairs. Aling Nena was one of a clan, and extended family of about 40 who lived in several houses in one area. She was also the chief gambler of a gambling den operating in the area.

Aling Nena was deeply honoured to have a foreigner and a “man of God” stay in her house. But she did not fully realise the implication of what she had done, for as Jesus describes, “he who receives you, receives me …. he who receives a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever gives a cup of cold water because he is my disciples, truly, I say to you, he shall receive his reward. She was the first in the community to believe……through Aling Nena many gamblers heard of the cross of Jesus Christ, and several in her extended family believed.” (my emphasis)

Can you understand the blessing of this amazing principle within mission? Can you see the care of the Father for his servants – be they evangelists, missionaries, prophets, doctors, teachers, nurses, even the lowliest disciple who works in the humblest of ways for Christ and his Kingdom.

My own personal exploits in Cuba bear this out. The beautiful family that received me into their home and cared for me, went on to be very richly rewarded with a brand-new Church building. Their first Church was destroyed by a hurricane, and I was given the vision by the Lord to rebuild it! They welcomed me as Christ’s ambassador, and they were rewarded with a new fantastic Church for their impoverished and needy community. Blessings abound where Jesus reigns! As Christchurch steps out into mission, God will step in will all the provisions we need. This is His way!

Another missionary, the great Hudson Taylor wrote;

Depend on it. God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply. He is too wise a God to frustrate his purposes for lack of funds; and he can just as easily supply them ahead of time as afterwards, as he prefers doing so.

Listen again to the word of the Lord concerning His mission to the world;

He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent.

Even one simple cup of cold water given to a thirsty disciple on mission for Jesus will not go unnoticed in the courts of heaven. Our God reigns!

And now unto God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, be all glory, honour, and praise. Amen!

Revd Peter Clarkson (2.7.23)