The pattern and practice of ministry in Matthew 9 to 10 video discussion

After the detours in Luke-Acts and John for the series of feasts around Ascension, Pentecost, and Trinity, the lectionary finally brings us back to the Gospel according to Matthew for the Second Sunday of Trinity in Year A! The reading set, Matt 9.35–10.8, is slightly odd, in that it bridges from one section of Matthew, chapters 8 and 9, where he collects together a series of actions and sayings of Jesus, and into his second collection of Jesus’ teaching (the second of five) in Matt 10, this time on mission.

Join James and Ian as they discussion a whole range of fascinating issues in this passage, and draw out the implications for our reading and preaching.

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13 thoughts on “The pattern and practice of ministry in Matthew 9 to 10 video discussion”

  1. I have been very excited by your conversation today. Not least that Jesus appointed people to work in pairs. Is it possible that if we took this seriously we would be on a path to recovery from the present problems associated with safeguarding?

    When I was Vicar in Bramcote , with the support of the diocesan bishop, appointed pairs of lay people to be area leader in effect local pastors & carers. My successor who insisted that he was the minister succeeded is making them all redundant . AS you make clear Jesus authorised people to carry on his ministry.

    Since the early church most denominations have imposed the Roman model of leadership with single bishops in some sort “apostolic succession.” Jesus’s ministry (Luke 10) involved disciples (70 or was it 72?) being sent out in pairs. I presume the number difference arose because Numbers 11 had a problem caused by Eldad & Medad who got left out at the “ordination” causing Joshua to complain to Moses that they were not authorised to prophesy. To which Moses makes reply in verse 29. I see Moses response eventually fulfilled in the events at Pentecost. (Acts 2)

    NOW secondly I would like your comments about the present conservative evangelical reaction to the LBGTQ movement, with their quoting verses from the OT concerning sexual morality. My own doubts started to arise with the Festival of Light. Years ago I tried to support theeir ideas with considerable opposition from young people. What the festival was saying was actually putting this generation off becoming Christians. Were we right to emphasise OT morality?

    In the benefice in which I now minister a former rector took the traditional stance, & in so doing alienated many families with his theology. This resulted in some leaving the churches, assuming that Jesus taught the same. I can no longer accept the traditional emphasis on same sex relationships. In effect this emphasis condemns some people to a life of loveless loneliness.

    Even St Paul who in places supports the traditional laws was prepared to adapt his approach for the sake of the Gospel. He allowed Timothy to be circumcised so that his ministry would be acceptable to the Jews. (Acts 16) He was prepared to adapt his own approaches so that he could communicate the gospel more effectively. (I Cor 9).

    Jesus thought that people were more important that laws in the way that he treated them. Zacchaeus was a nasty piece of work, but his life was changed as a result of meeting Jesus. (Luke 19)
    The woman at the well who had 5 husbands, but as a result of the way Jesus treated her, she left her water pot and told her friends to “come & see”.
    The woman caught in adultery was told “Go & sin no more” (John 8)

    Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but fulfilled it in himself, but he did inaugurate a new covenant which we are now called to share. (2Cor 3 5. & John 1 17). Jesus disciples now have the gift of the Spirit which should enable us to live and demonstrate Jesus and his message.

    The coming of Jesus changes the way we understand God. True religion is not now mainly a matter of laws but of grace. As William Temple said “God is like Jesus & in him is no unChristlikeness at all.
    And Tom Wright writes something similar “The God we now serve is the God whose middle name is Jesus: the God in Other words , whose very character is grace, generous love”

    It is a matter of what people hear what we are saying. For years people have heard rules & regulations from the church. But that is not the basis of our gospel. We are now “accepted in the Beloved” Love & grace are more appropriate than rules & laws when it comes to communicating Christ & his Gospel

    • Great to hear from you Jimmy! Yes, ministry in pairs, and more generally ministry in the plural is essential.

      On the sexuality question, it is not ‘conservative evangelicals’ who are contending for marriage as between one man and one woman, but simply Anglicans. This is the doctrine of the C of E as expressed in Canon B30 ‘according to the teaching of our Lord.’

      Yes, there are important OT texts on this—but Jesus specifically reaffirms this OT teaching in his answer to a question about marriage in Matt 19, and Jesus similarly reaffirms this in Romans and 1 Cor.

      That is why is this has been the consensus view of the church catholic at all times, in all places, and in every branch of the Christian Church until very recently.

      And it is churches which uphold this teaching which are the ones that are attracting and retaining young people. All churches which have moved away from the clear and consistent teaching of Jesus on this have *all* divided and declined, and failed to reach the young

      You might be interested in my Grove booklet on this:

      • On Sunday, I had occasion to be walking down Jesus Lane in Cambridge, when I came across the ‘painted church’ or All Saints. The building is devoid of any worship activities and is billed as one of the ‘finest examples of Victorian Gothic architecture’ and is now used as an Arts centre.

        Presumably it was filled with worshippers at one time and a thriving witness. Right next door is Westcott House, one the the CoE’s principal training colleges which had a large Pride flag draped down its front facade. I did wonder whether those studying at the Theological College ever reflect why they are doing so next to a defunct church building and community.

        • Back in the day (late 70’s, I think) the parish of All Saints was combined with that of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, known to all as ‘The Round Church’ – a bastion of evangelicalism, where I worshipped. For a term, the 11am Morning Service, which was the principal service for students, was held in All Saints. It was terrible. Like many catholic revival churches of the late 19th century, it is a tall, long, narrow, dark barn. If you were not near the front, the ‘action’ was a long way away. The experiment did not last, and the service returned to the Round Church which was much better, despite the actually round bit being more pillars than space!

          Admittedly, the Round Church is now no longer used for services, but is open to visitors. The congregation(s) moved to St Andrew the Great when that church ceased to be viable.

          The centre of Cambridge still has quite a few anglican churches in its mediaeval centre, bequeathed by a more distant past than All Saints.

          (And, of course, Cambridge bred the Protestant martyrs, while Oxford burnt them.)

      • Thanks Ian for your response to my comments, & to the others who also responded. You have helped to clarify (& correct!) my thinking.

        What really concerns me is what those inside, as well as outside the churches actually think the gospel message is “be good, keep the rules & you will be rewarded with a place in heaven.” If we put our emphasis on rules & laws it can appear (even to those in church ) that our salvation is earned by being good. We often use the phrase “justification by faith”,which can imply that faith is a sort of work by which we earn salvation. It would be better if we used the whole phrase “justification by grace through faith.” What we really need to emphasise is not what WE DO but what CHRIST HAS ALREADY DONE on our behalf.

        Somehow or another we must make this clear. That is not best done in our present circumstances by getting over-excited about morals. The emphasis by some on sexual morality draws too much attention to behaviour. Jesus, although he upheld the law, did not normally bring it up when facing individuals, & the result was that some became disciples & their lives were changed Being good arises out of our relationship with our Lord . I think Paul was implying something similar in II Cor 4 which is a key epistle for ministry today.

        • Yes, I entirely agree that there is a real danger of moralism. But in the C of E today, the greater danger is universalism—and, interestingly, I cannot remember meeting a single person arguing for full acceptance of same-sex marriage in the Church who is not also universalist. This highlights the reality that the debate about sexuality is only the tip of the iceberg; what lies under the waterline is a whole host of core doctrines.

          I also agree with you that we should talk of ‘justification by grace through faith’, which is truer to Paul’s own language.

          But I disagree with your prioritisation of ‘What Christ has done’ against ‘What we must do.’ Everywhere and always in the NT (and in the OT for that matters) we read to the effect ‘This is what God has done. Therefore…’ The great example of this is Rom 12.1—and here of course Paul agrees completely with James; faith without a changed life is not saving faith at all, or rather, it is not faith which has truly received the life-changing grace of God.

          I would like not to be focussing on sexual morality, and 90% of my posts do not mention it. But those wanted changing are campaigning vigorously on this, and their misleading teaching—which is seriously leading people astray—needs to be countered, as we must contend for the truth in every age.

  2. Jimmy Hamilton-Brown
    June 12, 2023 at 4:39 pm
    Hi Jimmy your piece covers a lot of ground but I take your main point, Grace. Grace, who can fathom this awsome reality. God never forgets to be gracious. However it is said of the Logos in
    St. John, That Jesus was full of Grace and TRUTH. And was a Light which is symbolic of truth.
    There is the rub, to some He was very Gracious to others it was for the Truth that He was crucified because they said He made himself equal with God. From the start He was at war.
    As was St. Paul who counseled Timothy to fight the Good fight
    Heb 10:32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions.
    We cannot be pacifists in the Kingdom of God.
    This is always my contention that the church, and the Cof E in particular focuses predominantly on Grace and the simple “stories of Jesus” and rarely mentions the teachings of Jesus.
    For the former there is a form of gentleness which lives quite quietly nor turns communities “upside down.”
    The latter engages the principalities and powers and the “weapons of our warfare are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds not passive but seeing stronghold falling which is a great joy and wonder to behold.

  3. Alan – You may well be right that the central point of Jimmy’s contribution is grace, but when he asserts that ” love and grace are more appopriate than ‘rules and laws’
    when it comes to communicating Christ and his gospel” then among other things it requires a more robust understanding and application of the meaning of ‘law’. When quoting with approbation Matt 5:17, perhaps he should have given due consideration to the next verse: “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest matter, not the least stroke of the pen, will by any means disappear from *the Law* until everything is accomplished.” [NIV].
    At the very least, this surely means that ‘the law’ signifies something much profounder than a superficial association with ‘rules’!
    For example: The 10 Commandments begins (a) with the assertion that The God of Israel is their ‘Lord God who (b) “brought them out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”. Compare this with Exodus 15: 13 :”In your unfailing [NIV] steadfast i.e. *covenant* love you will lead the people you have redeemed” Redemption! At the very heart ot the meaning of God’ s love; at the very heart of Christ’s love! The “law” in ths context is meant to be Israel’s response of belief and obedience to God’s redeeming love.
    Secondly: yes! Jesus is the very foundation of the new covenant. But that covenant did not simply float down from heaven. ” This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel — declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts. And I will be their God and they shall be my people.” Jeremiah 31: 33 -ESV].
    Law thus understood is an integral component of God’s grace .Moreover a careful analysis of the NT occasionally highlights the awesome (and yes aweful ) demands of the “gospel of love”. Or are we in reality following the Walter Brueggemann line of what he calls ‘biblicism ” ; ‘a dangerous threat to the faith of the church , because it allows into our thinking, claims that are contradictory to *the news of the Gospel* .’ Perhaps Alan’s declamation ought to contain a divine health warning : “I take your main point – “brace, brace!

    • Thanks Colin.
      While I understand the reason for a focussed response by Ian to Jimmy, I’d have hoped it would have contained something along the lines of your comment.
      Yours is a needful short reminder of the continuity and discontinuity of the covenants, grace and law and grace and law (and law is the exercise of God’s covenant making, covenant keeping grace in the Biblical history, theology of Redemption). It seems that there is much continued confusion and misunderstanding.
      It is also linked to questions of salvation and sanctification.
      Thanks again.

  4. Colin McCormack
    June 13, 2023 at 1:10 pm
    Entirely agree guys. Without declaring the Law, Grace makes no sense. The law was given for Israel’s well being, it is primeraly a law of love. The same God who gave the Law also gave Jesus (John 3:16). His grace was demonstrated through the Law by providing the sacrificial system to cover sin. Jesus was born “under the law” (Galatians 4:4) and became the final sacrifice to bring the Law to fulfillment and establish the New Covenant . Now, everyone who comes to God through Christ is declared righteous . Paul clarified what Jesus had taught: the Law shows us what God wants (holiness), and grace gives us the desire and power to be holy. Rather than trust in the Law to save us, we trust in Christ. We are freed from the Law’s bondage by His once-for-all sacrifice



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