A Sermon by Rev. Radito Pelobello
Parish Pastor at St. John Lutheran Church
Calaca, Batangas, South Luzon District
Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus be with you all. Amen!
I remember during our seminary graduation day ceremony many years ago, when we received our diploma, we were also given the charge: to preach the Word; to be urgent in season and out of season; to convince; rebuke and exhort people; to be unfailing in patience and teaching; always steady; endure suffering; do the work of an evangelist; fulfilling our ministry. Finally the Dean of the seminary would say to us graduates: “Go then, as servants of the Lord, shepherding these people and calling them to Christ through the proclamation of the Word and administration of the Sacraments; train God’s people in the different ministries of the Church; supervise them; lead them; serve them; be an example to them. May the Lord guide and empower you in His’ service.”
When we are in actual ministry, we were left alone to do the job that God had entrusted to us. And to figure out among ourselves what the ministry is like in the areas where we were assigned.
But of course, we were not alone, God was there and there were also the people whom God had given to us – the local congregations whom we will serve and whom we will teach and train to do the ministry themselves, because ministry after all, is not only the job of the pastor, but of God’s people as well.
Today, our text is about the proclamation of the Word. It is about Jesus sending out his disciples to the lost sheep of Israel. They were to preach the message, to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy and to drive out demons.
In other words, like Jesus, they were to teach, to preach and to heal.
Their mission was urgent, as they were not allowed to take money bag among themselves, to take extra sandals or tunic or staff along with them.
They are to travel light. They were not to stop along the way to visit and exchange customary lengthy greetings.
That reminds us of this pandemic. People whom we meet and even acquaintances and friends, were not allowed shaking hands or extending long greetings especially in the market places when you buy goods.
We as a Church, also have an urgent task – a task which we cannot do without. We were called by God to be witnesses of His love; of His Word that brings salvation to all men.
Mission is not a secondary task of the Church. It is our priority. All of us have been called by God to proclaim the Gospel to all the people. That’s why we are called the salt and light of the earth and the light of the world – to proclaim the Word of forgiveness from God and reconciliation with men.
Here in our text, the disciples had a mission. And they are to tell about the Word of God. And they have to have compassion to the people. We may ask why?
In v.36 of our text, it says that the people were like sheep without a shepherd. Here Jesus discovered the true condition of the people. They were harassed, helpless and they were spiritually malnourished.
The same situation today, my brothers and sisters in Christ – there are many people who are helpless; who are depressed; who are placed in a difficult situation.
People who are nearing death; people who have lost their lives because of the pandemic; people who have lost their loved ones; people who do not know if they will still have food tomorrow after being given an “ayuda” or support from the government.
And what do we do as a people of God?
People need help and direction in their lives. They need Christ in their lives.
We as people of God need not to relax and just watch the people in their sufferings. We are to go and tell. We are to show our concern to the needy by word and deed.
We need to share the love of God through His Son Jesus Christ so that they may have life. That they may have hope and that they may be saved… and have eternal life with them, through faith in the crucified, risen and ascended Savior.
Our Lord put a great premium on mission and the proclamation of the Word of God.
Jesus said in v.37 to His disciples,
“the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore to send out workers into his harvest field.”
We may remember that Jesus not only sent out the 12 disciples but he also sent the 70 disciples and their job descriptions are the same as that of the disciples of Jesus.
With the same urgency and with the same charge; and their central message to the people is: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” It is also our message today – that through our preaching and teaching, people may come to their senses and repent of their sins and turn to God.
Jesus stresses the necessity of mission and also the danger accompanied by it.
Yes, there will be opposition from the people. There are people who do not want the word of peace. When we give love, they might exchange it for hate. Jesus said in our text,
“Be on your guard against men. They will hand you over to the local council and flog you in the synagogue.”
But the comfort He gave to His disciples – nothing will harm them. Not even the enemy but the Holy Spirit will be with them.
Sometimes we forget about this when we are doing mission or proclamation of the Word. We tend to be afraid; we tend to be hesitant and not sure of ourselves.
But sometimes these oppositions serve God’s purpose also. Like Joseph of old who said, “you intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish his purpose.” Opposition or persecutions sometimes serve a good purpose. It moves us not to give up. It makes us more brave and bold in the proclamation of the Word.
I would like to put a question on you today at this point. How much of yourselves can you give for the sake of mission so that the Word of God may be proclaimed unhampered? Are you willing and loving witness to what God has done for you through His Son Jesus Christ?
Are you willing to take an extra mile so that the man in the street will know that God cares for the people through you?
But let us not go farther. Try to look at our congregations and situations. Jesus said to His disciples as they proclaim the Word of God.
“Freely you have received, freely give.”
These words of Jesus may be misunderstood in today’s context.
Yes, Jesus’ disciples should not accept payments for the work that they have done for Him… it is clearly stated in the text. They shall depend on the people whom they serve. Yes the gospel we preach is priceless. We cannot pay for it. It is freely given.
But how about the pastors and the church workers who are serving you in your own congregations? They need support from you especially this time of pandemic. Do we include them in our prayers? Do we care to lift up offering, pledges and love gifts for them and their families despite the present crisis? The scripture says in Luke 10:7
“For the workers deserves his wages.”
Now, I want to stress a very important point why we need to proclaim the Gospel to all the people and that is because – all are sinners.
This is clearly stated in our epistle reading in Romans 5 that all men have sinned. All men need to be confronted by the law. All men need to be aware that they will perish in their sins unless they repent of their sins and turn to the Savior.
I also remember during our seminary days when our homiletics professor asked us to write a sermon about law. It’s all about law and nothing else – a page or two of law sermon.
Someone has joked; “Sana sa simbahan, law na rin lagi and i-sermon kasi matitigas ang ulo ng mga miyembro.”
We were taught that the law should be preached especially to those who are secured in their sins. It should be preached harshly and with severity.
But of course we know that people also need the gospel. The good news that God has come to us, who came down from heaven to be our substitute. Who had live on earth and fulfill the law for us. Who, in His love for us, has given Himself on the cross to die for us. Our epistle said,
“While we were still sinners, Christ dies for us.”
He died to declare us righteous and our righteousness is not our own but of Him who was nailed to the cross.
This is the meaning of justification by faith. Declaring us having no sin and guiltless before God because of His Son Jesus. God no longer looks at our sins, but He looks at His Son who suffered for us.
My last question to you is: Can you proclaim the Gospel?
You cannot, if you depend on yourself. But if you depend on the power of the Holy Spirit, you will be able to speak for God. Of course you cannot speak if you don’t know what to say. You need to study the Word of God. You need to be trained.
One of my favorite hymns is “Hark The Voice of Jesus Crying”, here’s the lyrics:
Hark, the voice of Jesus crying,
“Who will go and work today?
Fields are white and harvests waiting;
Who will bear the sheaves away?”
Loud and long the Master calls us,
rich reward He offers free;
who will answer, gladly saying,
“Here am I, send me, send me”?
If you cannot cross the ocean,
and the distant lands explore,
you can find the lost around you,
you can help them at your door.
If you cannot give your thousands,
you can give the widow’s mite;
what you truly give for Jesus,
will be precious in His sight.
If you cannot be the watchman
standing high on Zion’s wall,
pointing out the path to heaven,
off’ring life and peace to all,
with your pray’rs and with your bounties
you can do what heav’n demands;
you can be like faithful Aaron
holding up the prophet’s hands.
Let none hear you idly saying,
“There is nothing I can do,”
while the lost of earth are dying,
and the Master calls for you:
take the task He gives you gladly;
let His work your pleasure be;
answer quickly when He calls you,
“Here am I, send me, send me.”
Oh what a beautiful message of God calling us to His service. It is an opportunity for us to offer ourselves in the proclamation of the Word – a privilege if you will.
God has called us in our different vocation, whatever that may be. But He also put us responsible to our neighbor, to our classmates, to our co-workers, to our friends and to people whom God will give us.
Share the Word, my brothers and sisters in Christ. Share Christ to others. Have something to say and do it with love.
Finally, there is a saying in the business world: all that it takes to lose a client is to do nothing or to say nothing or words to that effect. We might as well say that in the spiritual sense, all that it takes to lose a soul is to say nothing or to do nothing in the name of Christ.
Let us remember my brothers and sisters, God has given us a task – and this task that God has given us is urgent – hindi pwedeng ipagpabukas o ipagbale-wala.
Maybe the nearest person next to you is the one that God wants you to share His word with.
May the Lord of the harvest bless us this day. May He continue to empower us in His service and give us the courage and the strength we need through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May the pace of God which surpasses all understanding keeps your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.