A Message Both Old and New
We are blessed to proclaim the good news of eternal life.
One of the greatest influencers ever to walk the earth was not peddling merchandise to customers for a monetary profit. This teacher was preaching the gospel message concerning the Kingdom on earth. It was the Lord Jesus Christ!
In Matthew 10, Jesus sent his apostles to do the work of preaching. What equipment did they have? No pencils, clipboards, or laptops. What Jesus gave them was the power to cast out unclean spirits; he gave them the power to heal the sick and cure people of their diseases.
How do organizations today convince their potential customers that the product being sold will benefit them? Some big corporations pay large sums to advertise their products on television or in magazines, they debate strategies to create awareness.
In a hospital setting, for example, the sales rep would demonstrate how their product can be useful to the medical staff. From working in the emergency room, I know the pitch for new products is often that they would be beneficial for both the staff and the patient since one of the goals of hospitals is patient safety. How would they get people interested in what they have to offer?
The apostles had a specific charge, and that was to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (v. 6). Their main message was “the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (v. 7). This message needed to be heard. By Jesus telling the apostles to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, he was indeed fulfilling his parable by being the good shepherd searching for the lost sheep of Israel. He includes all of Israel in this, and this seems to be the last call to repentance of the people of God, after having had generation after generation of prophets urging them to repent and turn back to him.
As we read the instructions to the disciples, there is something to consider.
So they were to leave all food, money, and extra clothing behind. Jesus told them that “the worker is worth his keep.” But who were they working for, and who would provide the wages? Is Jesus reminding them that if they work for their heavenly Father, they will be looked after by Him? Remember the Sermon on the Mount?
This saying could be an exhortation for us, too, if we are trying to do God’s will in our lives. He will indeed take care of all the necessary things for us. The prophet Elisha was given lodging as he was on his journey, and food was provided for the Apostle Paul during his missionary work. It requires us to trust that God will provide. Jesus reminds his apostles their mission was to “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt 6:33).
The message of Jeremiah is closely related to what Jesus was telling the multitudes. It was a call for people to repent and turn back to God. His people persecuted Jeremiah for his bold proclamation of the unwelcome truth about the impending captivity. Jeremiah, quite like Jesus, never lost compassion for the people but kept warning them and praying they would be spared of the impending judgment. This message is exactly what Jesus told the apostles to preach about.
Jeremiah described aspects of Jerusalem’s impending destruction. It would be a natural reaction to flee from the obvious doom coming to the city. Jeremiah masterfully used this disaster to appeal to the children of Benjamin to escape from Jerusalem.
Tekoa is mentioned here, a town about 10 miles south of Jerusalem. It was not the town itself that Jeremiah was concerned about, but probably the meaning of the word Tekoa. It meant “place of setting up a tent.” The message was that it was urgent to flee Jerusalem and set up tents in another place, a place out of danger from the invaders.
The advice here is a real challenge to many of us, isn’t it? Most of us want to progress, not relapse. But the people in Jeremiah’s time said they would not walk in the good way. They did not want progress. They were insensitive to sin. We want to press on to new things, not fall back into the old. But do we feel that what has already been understood before us cannot be nearly or equally as important as what has yet to be revealed? We will discover a certain similarity to the idea of the old versus the new. It was the parable of cloth and bottles.
When we stop and consider this momentarily, we soon realize that what Jesus taught in the four gospels was wholly based on the Old Testament. He drew his teachings from the principles laid down years before. What Jesus did was renew the principles by coming back to the basics. Presented in a new, fresh, and vibrant way, he demonstrated how to live these principles himself.
We are trying to proclaim the Truth to anyone who will listen. We are preachers of the gospel, but there is more to it than just speaking. When we are involved in any gospel proclamation, we must demonstrate our acceptance of Christ’s teachings in how we live.
Our responsibility is to share this good news of the Kingdom, and when we teach our families, it should be in a way that is not supercritical of every denomination. People will not want to listen to us when we use that method of preaching. We do not even have to go out to preach; we can do it online, and preaching reaches non-Christadelphians and those in the Truth. It can be spiritually uplifting to read a Bible verse or provide a summary.
We are to be ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor 5:20). We are blessed to proclaim the good news of eternal life. It is a message that is ancient, as well as one that is relevant today. We cannot keep it to ourselves. Jesus commanded the disciples to preach to people about the Kingdom because it is nearer than thought, and we all must be ready.
Brooklyn Ecclesia, NY
- All Scriptural citations are taken from the New International Version.