Sunday, June 7, 2020

Proper 6 - Series A

Proper 6 - Series A

(14 June 2020)
Exodus 19:2–8
Romans 5:6–15
Matthew 9:35—10:8 (9–20)

Collect for Proper 6 – Almighty, eternal God, in the Word of Your apostles and prophets You have proclaimed to us Your saving will. Grant us faith to believe Your promises that we may receive eternal salvation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

The holy Triune God “shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners,” ungodly and at enmity with Him, “Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The incarnate Son has justified us by His blood and reconciled us to His God and Father (Romans 5:9–10). Whereas sin and death originated with Adam, forgiveness and life abound for all his children “through the one man Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:12–17). As the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, so does He bring us to Himself by the Gospel and make of us “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6) by our Baptism into Christ. For “all that the Lord has spoken” (Exodus 19:8), Christ has done for us. As He has gone up to God by His cross and resurrection, so does He bring us to the Father in Himself (Exodus 19:3–4). Nor does He leave us “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36), but He sends men with authority “to heal every disease and every affliction” by His forgiveness of sins (Matthew 10:1). In their proclamation, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:7).

Rev. Dr. Daniel J. Brege

The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. (Matthew 10:22)

We confess in the Nicene Creed, “I believe in one holy Christian and apostolic Church.”  What is this “apostolic church”, and why was it necessary for Saint Matthew to give the list of the apostles?  Realize first that the word apostle identifies someone who is sent to both speak for and represent the sender.  Thus Jesus is called apostle in Hebrews 3:1: “…consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him…”  It is quite clear from the Gospels that Jesus’ sender is God the Father.  As apostle, Jesus speaks for and represents God the Father.  It is true that the Son of God and God the Father have eternal intimacy.  However Jesus, as a man, is uniquely recognized as God’s apostle.  To see and hear the incarnate Son of God is to see and hear God the Father (e.g. Jn. 14).  The Jews had a Hebrew word that communicated the meaning of apostle.[1]  The word in English is “shaliach”.  When a shaliach spoke it was understood that it was the equivalent of the sender speaking.  Thus when Jesus spoke, His words were those of God the Father.  When a shaliach rendered a decision relative to his office as shaliach, it was recognized as the decision of the sender.  Thus all decisions made by the man Jesus, were decisions recognized as decisions from God the Father.

Consider now the apostles listed in our text.  This is no small matter to identify these men as holders of the awesomely authoritative office of apostle.  When they spoke or wrote, Jesus was speaking.  When they acted or when they rendered decisions (e.g. the Church Council in Acts 15), it was Jesus acting and rendering decisions.  It is no wonder that such a big deal is made for the replacement for the apostle Judas (Acts 1), as well as for the authenticity of Paul’s apostleship. Paul must repeatedly insist and prove that he is truly an Apostle (e.g. 2 Cor 11:5ff; 12:11; Gal 1:1).

The apostolic writings of the New Testament are often misunderstood because Christians fail to realize that frequently “we” in such writings is referring to the apostles and not to Christians generally. Consider 1 John 1:1-3a: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have gazed upon and touched with our own hands—this is the Word of life. And this is the life that was revealed; we have seen it and testified to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us.”  The “we” and the “us” are the Apostles, and it is their authority as apostles—and indeed fellowship with them—that we as Christians must seek.

When the apostles performed miracles or when their very presence created instances of the miraculous, this was simply a verification of the fact that they were officially apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, and such miracles verified their word as Christ’s word.  And what was the heart of the apostolic word?  It is the crucifixion of Jesus and all that relates to it—of course including His resurrection.  The Apostle Paul summarized succinctly:  We preach Christ crucified (1 Cor 1:23).  Though today’s pastors are not apostles, yet they continue the apostolic proclamation:  They must preach Christ crucified, the heart of the apostolic words, actions and writings.

[1] See Theol. Dictionary of the NT, vol. 1, 41

The Harvest Is Plentiful, the Laborers Few

35 Καὶ περιῆγεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὰς πόλεις πάσας καὶ τὰς κώμας, διδάσκων ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς αὐτῶν καὶ κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας καὶ θεραπεύων πᾶσαν νόσον καὶ πᾶσαν μαλακίαν.

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.

See Matthew 4:23 a parallel passage

A summation of Jesus' ministry 

Healing and the Gospel proclamation go hand in hand.

When we are ill, Christ’s healing reveals His glory. When we are dead, Christ’s raising us, like Lazarus, all for the glory of God. In the resurrection, the glory of God’s power is manifest. This offers hope to the afflicted, for they are assured of the Lord’s help.

36 Ἰδὼν δὲ τοὺς ὄχλους ἐσπλαγχνίσθη περὶ αὐτῶν ὅτι ἦσαν ἐσκυλμένοι καὶ ἐρριμμένοι ὡσεὶ πρόβατα μὴ ἔχοντα ποιμένα.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 

ἐσπλαγχνίσθη  - He was "moved in his gut" for them 

An indication on the shepherds of Jesus' day

He will fulfill His promise

What matters is He is there

37 τότε λέγει τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ· Ὁ μὲν θερισμὸς πολύς, οἱ δὲ ἐργάται ὀλίγοι·

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;

This has been a challenge for each generation yet now even more so. 

38 δεήθητε οὖν τοῦ κυρίου τοῦ θερισμοῦ ὅπως ἐκβάλῃ ἐργάτας εἰς τὸν θερισμὸν αὐτοῦ.

therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

The Twelve Apostles

1 Καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος τοὺς δώδεκα μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν πνευμάτων ἀκαθάρτων ὥστε ἐκβάλλειν αὐτὰ καὶ θεραπεύειν πᾶσαν νόσον καὶ πᾶσαν μαλακίαν.

And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.

-Jesus gives authority  an extension  of His office - the authority of the call

-Their ministry is His authority

2 τῶν δὲ δώδεκα ἀποστόλων τὰ ὀνόματά ἐστιν ταῦτα· πρῶτος Σίμων ὁ λεγόμενος Πέτρος καὶ Ἀνδρέας ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ, Ἰάκωβος ὁ τοῦ Ζεβεδαίου καὶ Ἰωάννης ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ,

The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;

3 Φίλιππος καὶ Βαρθολομαῖος, Θωμᾶς καὶ Μαθθαῖος ὁ τελώνης, Ἰάκωβος ὁ τοῦ Ἁλφαίου καὶ Θαδδαῖος,

Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;[a]

Some manuscripts Lebbaeus, or Lebbaeus called Thaddaeus

4 Σίμων ὁ Καναναῖος καὶ Ἰούδας ὁ Ἰσκαριώτης ὁ καὶ παραδοὺς αὐτόν.

Simon the Zealot,[b] and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

ὁ Καναναῖος meaning zealot

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles

5 Τούτους τοὺς δώδεκα ἀπέστειλεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς παραγγείλας αὐτοῖς λέγων· Εἰς ὁδὸν ἐθνῶν μὴ ἀπέλθητε καὶ εἰς πόλιν Σαμαριτῶν μὴ εἰσέλθητε·

These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans,

6 πορεύεσθε δὲ μᾶλλον πρὸς τὰ πρόβατα τὰ ἀπολωλότα οἴκου Ἰσραήλ.

 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 

7 πορευόμενοι δὲ κηρύσσετε λέγοντες ὅτι Ἤγγικεν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.

And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’[c]

ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν - The kingdom of heaven has come near 

8 ἀσθενοῦντας θεραπεύετε, νεκροὺς ἐγείρετε, λεπροὺς καθαρίζετε, δαιμόνια ἐκβάλλετε· δωρεὰν ἐλάβετε, δωρεὰν δότε.

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers,[d] cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.

Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13 

The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software

ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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