Since God is love, when is there a time when His Law must be broken to show mercy to someone suffering, it is permissible.
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The manual begins by, reminding us that In, the previous lesson “Words of Jesus’ healing miracles was spreading quickly. Multitudes followed Him, hoping for relief from their sicknesses. But when the Savior looked upon the multitudes, He saw more than their physical ailments. Filled with compassion, He saw sheep having no shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). ‘The harvest truly is plenteous,’ He observed, ‘but the labourers are few’ (Matthew 9:37). So, He called twelve Apostles, ‘gave them power,’ and sent them to teach and minister ‘to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 10:1, 6).”
Let’s examine this idea a little further.
In Matthew 10:1-2 it refers to these men as both disciples and apostles – two terms emphasizing different aspects of the calling of the 12.
These 12 disciples had been with Jesus for some time before they were called to be sent forth. Up to this time, they sat at His feet, and had received His words; they learned of His doctrines and had seen His miracles – all in training and preparation to enter, into service. He called them together and as Apostles He “gave them power” and a commission to preach the Gospel.
The manual tells the instructor: “To illustrate the fact that every priesthood holder can trace his authority back to the moment when Jesus ordained His Apostles, invite a priesthood holder to share his line of authority.” The manual shows a drawing of Jesus laying His hands on the Apostles, supposedly ordaining them to the priesthood and to their office. I want to be very clear – this is a misrepresentation. I want to define the “laying on of hands” and “ordination.” There was no laying on of hands upon Aaron and his sons to ordain them to the Levitcal priesthood. There is also, no record of Christ laying hands on His apostles to ordain them. In John 15:16 Jesus said, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you…” The term “ordained” in Hebrew and Greek means “to appoint”. Jesus ordained or appointed the twelve apostles. When the Lord directly authorizes someone to do something, the laying on of hands was never practiced. Through His complete authority, the Lord’s command is all that is needed to authorize us to do whatever He wills. He authorized His apostles, not through a priesthood system, but by and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph Smith claims that Peter, James and John appeared to him to restore the Melchizedek priesthood. But, as I pointed out, those ancient apostles themselves never held a Melchizedek priesthood. No mortal man could meet the qualifications of the Melchizedek priesthood, except our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 7:26). It wasn’t a priesthood to be handed down to mortal men.
The word apostle, in the Greek “Apostolos” literally means “One that is sent.” Now, it would not be improper, using the Greek, to call my friend Seth an apostle if I sent him to get me a drink of water. This is what the word means, “One that is sent.” This being the case, there are countless apostles talked about in scripture. Even Jesus is called an apostle. Why? Because he was sent by the Father to reconcile the world. Using my example of Seth being an apostle – does that make him an apostle in the same definition as one of Jesus’ twelve? No, not in the least. But in the modern Christian church – or body of Christ – we believe in apostles because we believe in people being “sent” to share the Good News with the world.
The BIG question then – Do Christians believe in THE Twelve Apostles? Absolutely. We believe in the ones Jesus called to be His special witnesses.
The number “12” is a significant number. It is used throughout the Old Testament.
Do we believe in more than twelve apostles? If we look at the number of men called to be actual apostles of the Lord, we read of 14. But I reject the notion that all 14 were truly His apostles. Let me explain myself: Of the twelve Jesus called initially, one was named Judas Iscariot. And though he was called, he was not one sent out into the world to share the Good News. So, that leaves eleven. Once Jesus died, resurrected, and ascended into heaven – there was a gap. The apostle Peter was told by the Lord to go to Jerusalem and wait. But, in the interim, before the Holy Spirit fell on the day of Pentecost, Peter decided to call another man to fill the vacancy left by Judas. They cast lots on who it would be, and the lot fell on Mathias as the 13th apostle to replace Judas. But I strongly suggest Matthias was called by the will of Men – led by an impetus Peter – but like Judas, was not truly chosen. We hear nothing about Mathias as an apostle from the moment he is called by these men who cast lots to choose him instead of waiting on the Holy Spirit. Remember, the Church is the Lord’s. He leads and guides it. So, who did the Lord call to be a special witness of the Good News to replace Judas Iscariot, if it wasn’t Mathias? It was of course, Apostle Paul.
Why couldn’t it have been all fourteen of these men who we call apostles? In the Book of Revelation 21:14, we read a description of heaven, “And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” Notice, there are not 14 foundations undergirding the foundations in heaven – nor a hundred and fourteen– but twelve with the names of those Apostles of the Lamb inscribed upon those pillars.
Paul will write in Ephesians 2:19-20 “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” This foundation was laid permanently, once and forever. It was not to be repaired, replaced, or rebuilt. No where in the New Testament does it say there would be other prophets and apostles, who would be a part of the same foundation. When Jesus died in 34 AD., nobody took His place as the cornerstone. Those twelve apostles who Jesus called to be His special witnesses testified that they saw the resurrected Lord (1 Corinthians 9:1; Acts 1:21-22), and they paid for that witness with their lives (1 Corinthians 4:9). Those were the qualifications of a true Apostle. Religious organizations today, claim to have a continuous revolving door of living apostles and prophets but none of them have seen the resurrected Jesus, and none of them died for their witness of Christ. Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 3:10-11 “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise materbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Christ is the Rock, the cornerstone. Apostles and prophets weren’t offices that were supposed to be continued. When the apostle James was martyred in the beginnings of the early Church, the other apostles didn’t gather to call another to take his place. They weren’t supposed to! The foundation had been laid and it was permanent. James sealed his portion of the foundation with his life. The Old Testament were the writings of the Prophets, and the New Testament were the writings of the Apostles. Their teachings and instructions became the Word of God that we have as the foundation of our faith. I just want to leave one final thought on this matter: The New Testament warns about those who would claim to be apostles. Paul taught in 2 Corinthians 11:13 “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.”
Matthew 10: 2-4 lists the names of those original twelve apostles. The listing of the apostles as a group appears four times in the New Testament: once in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts.
Matthew 10:5-6 “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Don’t go anywhere except to the Jews. The full time for preaching the gospel to the Gentiles would come, following the day of Pentecost. But, remember Jesus had regarded the Jews as wandering and lost, like sheep straying without a shepherd. They had been chosen people of God; they had long looked for the Messiah; and it was proper that the gospel should be offered to them first – and then to the rest of us.
Matthew 10:7 “And as ye go, preach, saying the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Meaning – “the gospel of Jesus Christ is available to you now.”
Matthew 10:9-10 Jesus tells them not to take money with them, or extra clothes, or food. Just go as they are. The Lord is training His disciples to put all their trust in Him that, their needs will be met as they serve Him. To live by faith.
Matthew 10:19 “But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.” This is not advice from Jesus to us today to not prepare ourselves. We have the complete Word of God to read and study and understand. In our spiritual preparation, we should become familiar with the Bible’s teachings and doctrines. But for these simple fishermen, there was no way they could prepare themselves intellectually for what they would say when brought before councils, and kings, and governors. They were special witnesses – in the cause of Christ – and Jesus tells them go forward and not worry. God would give them what they should say at the very hour they should say it. Matthew 10:20 “For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” These Apostles did not have the written word – we do. Remember what it, say’s in 2nd Timothy 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
In these next verses I’m going to read, the Savior tells the Twelve that, on some occasions, the gospel will divide and separate people from others, even loved ones sometimes. Matthew 10:34 “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” Jesus certainly wasn’t saying that the OBJECT of His coming was to bring discord and contention. He apparently means to say that such would be one of the results of His coming. Matthew 10:35-36 “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” I think we have all experienced this to some degree or another. The key in relationships with family – and others – is to learn how the good news ought to be shared and presented – and how it shouldn’t. Matthew 10:37 “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” The point Jesus is making here is NOT that we are to reject, or not love our family, or to fail to love and serve and care for them. The point is they ought to never become the priority in our lives. Does the Church or the family or career take precedence over your relationship with Jesus? Family can only go so far in terms of love and support but cannot offer salvation. If family are worth more to you than Him, then ys, “You are not worthy of Me because you have not come to see My value.” He has more value than family or anything else for that matter. To love Him first and foremost will not only proffer salvation, but all other things – like family, community, etc. – are enhanced by His blessed influence.
Then Jesus says something really, insightful to what He would be doing Himself in, the near future – and it serves as, yet another qualifier for being “worthy of Him.” Matthew 10:38 “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” As the cross is the symbol of death and execution, Jesus is saying “If people are not willing to give up their lives for Me, then they are not worthy of Me.” In becoming Christian, He asks us to die to self, for the old man or woman to be buried with Him, and the New man to rise with Him into New Life. This places all, of our ambitions and desires all, of our comfort, ease, wealth, fame, power, etc. behind Christ. He did not say, “You are worthy because you do a lot of good deeds, go to church every Sunday, were baptized, do temple work, etc.” Our worth to Him is all dependent on only one thing – that we put His sacrifice for our sins above all else. Ultimately, are we able to say sincerely, “Lord, you are worth more than anything that I have even my own life”? Jesus goes on with a statement that dovetails perfectly with taking up our cross, saying in Matthew 10:39 “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
Now Jesus has been teaching and training his apostles. In the meantime, John the Baptist had been thrown in prison. Remember, this is prior to the Holy Spirit. So as a prophet, John was subject to the fluctuations of great doubt and worry. Matthew 11:2 “Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples.” Maybe John wanted some confirmation that Jesus was really the Messiah – even after his great baptizing Jesus experience. Or maybe he just wanted to know what the Lord had been doing since Jesus began his ministry. Sitting in a dark, damp dungeon would be discouraging to anyone. John’s disciples approach Jesus Matthew 11:3 “And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” Jesus appealed to the fulfillment of prophesy about Him and proof of miracles. Matthew 11:4-5 “Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again these things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” There, John was sitting in prison. He had prepared the way for Jesus. And not only did it appear he was not getting out of prison – he didn’t get out. In fact, he was beheaded. Then Jesus declares to the people Matthew 11:11 “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is great than he.” Meaning – that John the Baptist was at the top of the list of those who would enter the kingdom of God. But the least in the Kingdom of Heaven would stand higher. Why? Not because John failed, but because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and that believers, walking by faith, will endure trials and tests without ever having seen Jesus and His miracles.
Next, Jesus looked over the masses of Jews who were groaning under the weight of the laws and traditions of the elders and said with great love and compassion, Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He saw that living under the Law was impossible and their burden was certainly heavy. He was speaking also to anyone carrying a burden of religion, a burden of guilt, the weight of sin. And then He tells them – and all the world who reads these words thereafter – that by coming to Him, and embracing the New Covenant – they would be freed from these burdensome obligations that religion has placed on their backs. Jesus is exhorting them and us to stop working, and striving, and laboring to please God and others. If we come to Him, He will give us rest. In the next lines He says Matthew 11:29-30 “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Jesus is saying, “try me.” “Try my way.” “Let me go before you and do the work for you”. And that is exactly what the Savior did for us on the cross. He kept the Law and commandments perfectly and paid for our sins. He declared “It is finished.” No more doing! It is done! Believe in Him who is the finisher of our faith. Trust in Him – this is His yoke – it’s easy – it is light. It is the Lord’s grace He offers to everyone.
Now we are in Matthew chapter 12 vs 1 “At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn to eat.” We can read similar accounts of this event in Mark 2:23-28 and Luke 6:1-5. The King James translated this as “corn” but, it was more likely barley or wheat. Matthew 12:2 “But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, they disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.” The religious rulers had issue with the disciple’s behavior. But Jesus takes the time to confront their accusations by referring them to a similar case, recorded in the Old Testament, which had to do with King David, who they held in high esteem. Here is the question – do the rules God makes stand merely because they are rules or is there ever a time or place to break them? Since God is love, when is there a time when His Law must be broken to show mercy to someone suffering, it is permissible. If King David broke the law in favor of mercy, and went un-condemned, shouldn’t Jesus and His disciples? So, what Jesus is teaching here is that God is a God of mercy and love and compassion, and rules are good, but when a human being is suffering, mercy always takes precedence over sacrifice. In Matthew 12:8 Jesus reminds us, “For the Son of Man is Lord even of the sabbath day.” And, then He heals a man with a withered hand.
I would love to spend more time on the, subject of Sabbath day, but we’ll need to save it hopefully for a future lesson.
The religious leaders had seen enough. Matthew 12:14 “Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.” The Jew’s in charge began to conspire on how they could put Jesus to death. He comes with love and compassion – they with hatred, contempt, and murder in their hearts.
And, that concludes our review of Matthew 10 through 12, Mark 2, and Luke 7 and 11.