Sheep without a Shepherd
Sermon preached by
The advantage of being Sven Goran Erikson is that you get to pick the England football team
The disadvantage of being Sven Goran Erikson is that you get to pick the England football team
So far he does not seem to be doing a bad job
But when it comes to the team that Jesus picked it would have probably raise more than a few eyebrows and got the tabloid press sub editors working over time
'Is He trying to make us CROSS'
- the Daily Polished Piece of Metal
'Local carpenter makes the wrong cut'
- the Galilee Gazette
'This lot will take a bit of assembling'
- Flat pack and woodworking special 'Hobbies pull out supplement'
in the Bethlehem Evening Star
'Strange appointments made in new health service
in the Temple Times
Because when you look at the team Jesus assembled for the task of preaching the message that the kingdom of heaven is near and healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing those who had leprosy, and driving out demons it was a very odd dysfunctional bunch to say the least.
Two sets of brothers (Simon-Peter and Andrew, and James and John) with all the sibling rivalry that they would bring.
James and John (and their mother) who were not exactly what you would call shy, retiring or unambitious.
There were two fishing business which up until now had probably been in competition with each other for the best fishing spots and customers, so there would be commercial rivalry.
But probably the biggest conflict would have come between Matthew and Simon the Zealot.
Matthew was a tax collector, a collaborator with the Roman occupying forces.
Simon was a Zealot (as was probably Judas) who hated the Romans and conspired to expel them from his nation. Under different circumstances, Simon might have tried to kill Matthew.
The Zealots were also called Iscarioth, because of the daggers they carried with them. They believed that they served God best by being armed and by killing the enemies of God - or at least their own enemies. The warlike attitude of the Zealots toward their Roman occupiers may have been one reason the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. These are the type of people whose spiritual descendants today are those people who engage in "holy wars," who believe that God wants them to kill people who don't share their way of worship and belief.
They were an unlikely lot, but Jesus chose them for a task, called them out for a job, and gave them the authority to carry it out.
And as apostles, called out for a task, they had benefits and responsibilities.
The benefits were the things they had freely received (without payment): God's care and protection and His love. The authority to carry out the task
The responsibilities were the things that they were to freely give (without payment): To be an apostle, one who is sent in the name and authority of another, in this case Jesus. To proclaim the good news. To start with where they were, healing, cleansing and releasing those around them.
Just as when Sven Goran Erikson picks a team and each member of the team is critical and all have responsibilities, so it would be for the disciples. And if they messed up there would be plenty of people there who would say, 'Well what do you expect from such a shambolic crowd' . 'We always said that team would never be able to play together'
But they amazing thing is that they did play together, they didn't fall out like some of the other teams at the world cup. They were obedient to Christ and got on with the job they had been asked to do, on the whole putting aside any petty rivalries and divisions for the greater unity of their bigger calling.
And if you look at us, we're an unlikely bunch too.
But as we enter into a relationship with Christ, as we are justified by faith, we are called into those same benefits of His grace and the same responsibilities of His cross.
We share freely, without payment, in the benefits of His love and acceptance. We are sheltered under the wings of His care and protection. Through grace we have a new life in Christ.
We also need to share freely, without payment, in His responsibilities. To put aside any divisions and rivalries. To preach the good news. To start in the situation where we find ourselves. And perhaps we won't necessarily heal the sick or raise the dead, we are called to make a difference in our society and community.
To affect the lives of those around us for the good.
To look out for the people who can't look out for themselves.
To be the shepherd of the shepherd-less.
Jesus and the disciples became inundated with the need they saw around them, there was no shortage of need! The harvest was plentiful but the workers were few.
The harvest still is plentiful as we look around our society today
What's our response to God's calling for us to take up our apostolic responsibilities, to respond to the love that has been 'poured into our hearts'?
Unlike the world cup teams or squads, no one is left out of the starting line up.