Jesus has chosen his Twelve and is sending them out on a gospel trip. It will be their first practice mission before they eventually become full-time missionaries to the world.
“These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Matthew 10 v5-6)
- The opportune time is set within a context that is temporary.
God came to the nation who were preserving the Scriptures and trying to keep to the traditions of the Torah. Jesus goes first to Israel.
What the disciples had to learn was that this was a temporary context. Post-resurrection Jesus sends them to the world (Matthew 28:28; Acts 1:8) but we can see clearly how this was embedded into their missionary mind-set. Paul had a heart for the world but he believed, ‘first to the Jew then the Gentile’ (Romans 1:16). It took persecution to move the Church into mission to Samaria (Acts 8); it took a vision from heaven for Peter to truly see the Gentiles and then persuade the other apostles (Acts 10-11); it took the Holy Spirit intervention for Paul and Barnabas to be sent.
I sat with some leaders of a church which in its history had a move of God which saw many come to faith and the church building was filled to capacity. Their biggest challenge now is that they have members who for many years are wasting their life on the dreams of the past not realising that there are times when the opportune time is set within a context that is temporary. They are misunderstanding the past opportunity and they are in danger of missing a new one for their life now. Learn from the past, draw out its principles, but don’t live there for some contexts are temporary.
- Your opportunity can be given to someone else.
Do you ever wonder what would have happened if the Jews had grabbed that baton? They didn’t and so now the disciples go not only to Israel but to the whole world.
I know of a man who used to be an elder of a church. The Church was 1 mile outside of the town in a place where it was completely non-residential. The Pastor wanted to move the Church into the town to be where the population was. This elder refused and made sure the desire of the Pastor was thwarted. The disappointed Pastor moved on and God gave him the same opportunity but in a different place where the elders supported him and he moved the church into the centre of that town.
In the course of time the elder abandoned his wife and family and moved away to start life with another woman. Today his son is the Pastor of that church and has moved the people into the town and they have a newly built building.
- The restricted opportunity could be for your benefit.
Going to the Jews was far easier for these Jewish disciples than going to the Gentiles. They needed no cross-cultural preparation or understanding. The Church would discover the importance of these things.
Preparation is everything. These disciples at the time were so unpredictable in that they could react violently if the gospel was rejected wanting to call fire down from heaven (Luke 9). Far better to practice in the safety of ‘home’ first.
Some people look at the baton and want a different one.
There is a huge difference between a Pastor turning down an opportunity of leading a Church because there isn’t many members or little salary and a Pastor accepting it based on the fact that taking that baton right now gives him or her the benefit of seeing what God can do. One has stopped running before they start and the other is a person who keeps moving.
Know the time of the baton for you and when it comes from God make sure you grab it.