The Mission: His Eye Is On The Sparrow

Jesus continued preparing his students to go out as his witnesses (79):

If they say I am controlled by Satan, they will say worse things about you.  But don’t be afraid of people who say such things. Their evil deeds do not escape God’s notice; they will be judged by God.

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Your job is to continue spreading my message, everywhere you go.  Don’t be concerned about those who can only destroy your body; rather give your highest respect & honor to God, who has power to condemn both your body and your soul to hell.

Sparrows seem insignificant, yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without God’s consent. In the same way, God is aware of everything that you’re going through; he’s even aware of every hair on your head!  You are more important to God than many sparrows.

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If you declare publicly that you belong to me, I will do the same for you before God in heaven. But if you reject me publicly, I will reject you before God in heaven.

 

(79) Matthew 10:25-33

The Mission: Like Teacher, Like Student

Jesus continued teaching his students, preparing them to be sent out as his witnesses (78):

Be aware that men will arrest you & take you to court, and they will even beat you in the synagogues.

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You will be brought to trial before rulers & kings.  But these will become opportunities to tell God’s good news to both Jews and non-Jews!

When they bring you to trial, don’t worry about what to say or how to say it; when the time comes, the Spirit of God will give you the right words to say.

Because of your testimony, everyone will be convicted about their rebellion against me.  People will hate this so much that some of your own family members will hand you over to be put to death. But in the midst of all this hatred & persecution, whoever stands with me to the end will be saved.

When they persecute you in one town, move on to another one. There will always be plenty of towns that need your witness, even until I return!

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No student is greater than his teacher; no slave is greater than his master.

It is enough simply to become like me, in your love for God.

 

(78)Matthew 10:17-24

The Mission: Serpents & Doves

Then Jesus called his twelve chosen witnesses together and gave them authority to expel evil spirits and to heal every disease & every sickness.  These twelve men would be sent out in pairs by Jesus, with the following instructions (77):

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Go to the lost sheep of the people of Israel. Tell them that God’s kingdom is open to them right now!  Restore health to the sick, even those with leprosy; restore life to the dead; and expel evil spirits.

You have been freely given God’s kingdom, so freely give God’s kingdom to others.

Don’t carry any money; don’t carry an extra shirt or shoes or a walking stick. Trust God to provide what you need for your work.

When you come to a town, find people who welcome you, and stay with them until you leave that town. Bring peace to every house in which you stay; if the people in that house welcome you, let your peace remain with them; but if they don’t welcome you, then keep your peace.

If any home or town will not welcome you or listen to you, then leave that place. On the day of judgment, God will show more mercy to the evil people of Sodom and Gomorrah, than to the people of that town.

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I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. You must be careful as serpents, and carefree as doves.

 

(77) Matthew 10:1 & 10:5-16, Mark 6:7-11, Luke 9:1-5

Compassion In Action

When Jesus left that place, two blind men started following him (76). “Have mercy on us, son of David!” they shouted. When they were alone, Jesus asked the two blind men, “Do you believe that I can heal you?” “Yes,” they both answered.

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So Jesus touched their eyes, saying, “Let it happen, then, just as you believe.” And immediately their sight was restored!

Jesus said to them, “Don’t tell this to anyone else.” But they left & spread the news about Jesus all over that part of the country.

Then some people brought to Jesus a man who couldn’t talk because he had an evil spirit. But as soon as Jesus expelled the evil spirit, the man started talking!

Everyone was amazed. “We have never seen anything like this in Israel!” they exclaimed.  But some of the Pharisees still claimed: “It is Satan who gives him the power to drive out evil spirits.”

Jesus went around visiting many towns and villages. He taught in the synagogues, preached the good news about the kingdom of God, and healed people of every kind of disease and sickness.

As Jesus saw the crowds which flocked to him, his heart was filled with compassion for them, because they were worried and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

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So Jesus planted this idea in the minds & hearts of his students: “A great harvest of people is ready, but there are few workers to gather it in. Pray that God will send out workers to gather in the harvest.”

 

(76) Matthew 9:27-38

Health For The Sick, Life For The Dead

Jesus went back across to the other side of the lake, where a large crowd met him (75).

Jairus, an official of the local synagogue, arrived.  When he saw Jesus, he bowed down at his feet & pleaded with him: “My little 12-year-old daughter is very sick. Please come & place your hands on her, so that she will get well & live!”  Jesus immediately started off with Jairus.

Many people were going along with Jesus & his students, and they were being crowded from every side.  In the crowd, there was one woman who had suffered terribly from severe bleeding for 12 years.  During that time she had been treated by many doctors, for which she had spent all her money, but instead of getting better, she got worse all the time.

The sick woman had heard about Jesus, so she came in the crowd behind him, thinking: “If I just touch his clothes, I know I will be made well.” Finally, when she was able to touch his cloak, her bleeding stopped at once, and she felt that she was healed of her trouble.

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At that same moment Jesus knew that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” His students answered, “You see how the people are crowding you.  How could we possibly figure out who touched you?” But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it.

The woman realized what had happened to her, so she came to Jesus.  Trembling with fear, she knelt at his feet, and told him the whole truth. Jesus said to her, “My daughter, your faith in God has made you well. Go in peace, and remain healed of your trouble.”

While Jesus was saying this, some messengers came from Jairus’ house and told him, “Your daughter has died. Why bother the teacher any longer?” Jesus ignored the messengers and told Jairus, “Don’t worry; just trust God.”

Jesus didn’t let anyone else go on with him & Jairus — except Peter, James & John. When they arrived at Jairus’ house, Jesus found confusion, loud crying & wailing. He went in and said to them, “Why all this confusion? Why are you crying? The child is not dead — she is only sleeping.” The mourners were offended at this & started making fun of Jesus.

Taking only the child’s father & mother, plus his three students, Jesus went into the room where the child was lying. He took the girl by the hand and said, “Little girl, get up!”

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The girl sat up at once, got out of bed & started walking around!

Her parents (and Jesus’ three students) were completely amazed.

But Jesus told them not to tell anyone else about this miracle.  Instead, he just said, “Give the girl something to eat.”

 

(75) Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5:21-43, Luke 8:40-56

Evil Spirits

Jesus & his students arrived safely on the other side of Lake Galilee, in the territory known variously as Gerasa, Gergasa or Gadara (74).

As soon as Jesus got out of the boat, he was met by a man with an evil spirit in him.  This man lived among the burial tombs near the town. Day and night he wandered among the tombs & through the surrounding hills, screaming loudly & cutting himself with stones.  Many times his feet and his hands had been chained, but every time he had broken the chains; he was simply too strong for anyone to control him.

When this man saw Jesus from a distance, he ran to him & fell on his knees before him.  Jesus knew instantly that the man was under the control of an evil spirit.  Jesus commanded, “Evil spirit, come out of this man!”  Then the evil spirit in the man screamed, “Jesus, Son of the Most High God! What do you want with me? For God’s sake, I beg you, don’t punish me!” So Jesus asked him, “What is your name!” The answer — “My name is Legion” – indicated there were actually many evil spirits tormenting the poor man.

Legion

The evil spirits pleaded with Jesus not to destroy them, but to send them into a large herd of pigs that was feeding on the hillside nearby. Jesus let the evil spirits enter the pigs. Then the whole herd — about two thousand pigs in all — rushed down the side of the hill into the lake, where they were drowned.

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The pig-herders ran away and spread the news in the town & among the farms. People from the town went out to see for themselves what had happened.  When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who used to have the legion of evil spirits in him. He was sitting still next to Jesus, fully clothed & in his right mind!

The pig-herders again told the townspeople what had happened to the man with the evil spirits, and what had happened to the pigs.  The townspeople were afraid of the great power that Jesus had displayed, and so they asked Jesus to leave their territory.

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man from whom the evil spirits had been expelled begged him, “Let me go with you!” But Jesus told him, “Go back home to your family and tell them how much God has done for you & how kind he has been to you.” So the man left & went all through the surrounding towns, telling what Jesus had done for him. And all who heard it were amazed!

 

(74) Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-39

Power!

That evening, Jesus said to his students, “Let’s go across to the other side of the lake.” So they left the crowd, got in a boat & started off (73).

Suddenly a strong wind blew up, and the waves began to spill over into the boat & to fill it with water. Jesus was in the back of the boat, asleep with his head on a pillow. His students woke him up and pleaded, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re about to die?!”

So Jesus stood up and commanded the wind & the waves, “Peace. Be still.”

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Immediately, the wind died down, and the waters were calmed!

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Then Jesus said to his students, “Why are you so afraid? Where is your faith?”

But now his students feared the power that Jesus had displayed, more than they had feared the power of the storm!

They said to one another, “How is it that even the wind and the waves obey him?”

 

(73) Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41, Luke 8:22-25