June 13, 1999

Matthew 9:35-10:8

Jesus went to every town and village. He taught in their meeting places and preached the good news about God's kingdom. Jesus also healed every kind of disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he felt sorry for them. They were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, "A large crop is in the fields, but there are only a few workers. Ask the Lord in charge of the harvest to send out workers to bring it in."

Jesus called together his twelve disciples. He gave them the power to force out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and sickness. The first of the twelve apostles was Simon, better known as Peter. His brother Andrew was an apostle, and so were James and John, the two sons of Zebedee. Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew the tax collector, James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus were also apostles. The others were Simon, known as the Eager One, and Judas Iscariot, who later betrayed Jesus.

Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions:

"Stay away from the Gentiles and don't go to any Samaritan town. Go only to the people of Israel, because they are like a flock of lost sheep. As you go, announce that the kingdom of heaven will soon be here. Heal the sick, raise the dead to life, heal people who have leprosy, and force out demons. You received without paying, now give without being paid. [CEV]


1. The good news (how do you define it?) stands over against confusion and helplessness. Now, clarity and activity, in and of themselves, are not the good news, but they are one of the signs of it. Two other signs of authentic good news are that it goes out to the people where they are, not requiring folks to first fit a given mold, and that it is connected with healing. Good news does not let barriers keep it from going forth. It may not be positively responded to, but it does go forth.

2. What a motley crew these disciples are. Fisherfolk, political activists, doubters, tax collectors and other sinners such as betrayers. Yet all, the good, bad, and ugly, are send forth to heal, resurrect, and exorcise. The disciples have received all this and are to pass it on. The blue-collar worker did, the zealot did, the tax collector it, the betrayer did, the doubter did, the younger-sibling did, the non-descript did. What is keeping you from passing these gifts on? Do you need a clear call saying do so. In the words of that old song, "Well, darling, I'm telling you go!"

3. This business of GOD's grace is pretty remarkable for its economic policy. "You received GOD's grace without paying." "Wow!" You might say "I bought low, just imagine my profit. I've got a corner on Grace, something everyone needs." But just when we want to stop listening, Jesus keeps on going, "Now, give without being paid." And we go, "Ohhhhh. Yah, the servant thing."
     Actually, we know we are in touch with good news when that last comes out of our lips as, "O! Yeah! The servant thing!" This takes away the confusion and sets our priorities straight. We can go to work with a light heart and be attractive to others to come work by our side. We find here our prayer answered through our own lives.

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