A while back, in my younger days, I was applying for the position of tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles football team. I didn’t have much football background, but I figured with a lot of hard work I could at least earn a spot on the bench.
After talking at length with my uncle, (who happens to be the Eagles head coach) Andy Reid, he recommended that I start at a little lower level to gain some experience. I was sure he would recommend me to the Eagles Farm team.
He wrote two notes on sheets of Eagles letterhead, sealed them in an envelope and instructed me to go down the hall two doors on the left and hand the envelope to the receptionist. I sprinted down the hall showing off my fantastic speed and ran into the office, passing the envelope to the receptionist.
She opened the letter and said, “Our director will be right with you Mister Hoot.” I felt elated! Imagine me being assigned a director to guide my path. She put the second note back in the envelope and handed it back to me.
A short while later a big burly guy entered the room, probably an ex-NFL player I didn’t recognize, and beckoned for me to follow him as he handed me another envelope. Exiting from the office, I noticed the sign on the door read SECURITY. I must have missed that in my rush into the room.
As he ushered me out the front door and suggested that I never enter through the Eagles doors again, I had a feeling that dear Uncle Andy probably thought even the farm league would be too difficult for me.
I opened the envelope and it read:
I recommend you spend a few years with a team that may challenge your abilities and you might be able to grow.
I went to the address written at the bottom of the note and went into the recruiting office of a Pop Warner Football Team where I was asked if I would help the kids by picking up debris from the field before their games.
See, Uncle Andy knew it would be an extremely difficult task for be to even attend a farm team. He sent me to where I would have a better chance of success. Hopefully, I can grow into a farm team after I learn to beat these 13-year-olds.
Let us see how Jesus handled His farm team.
Matthew 10:5-16 (NIV)
5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans.
6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.
7 As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’
8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
9 Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts;
10 take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.
11 “Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave.
12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting.
13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.
14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.
15 I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
16 I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.
For the next few minutes, let me be your Uncle Fred and show you how the spiritual farm team works.
Unlike the relationship between myself and Uncle Andy, Jesus’ disciples were ready to go out into the world to share the Good News of Jesus. While they didn’t need the amount of training I would need, they were ready for Jesus’ Farm Team.
Jesus told him to stay away from the Gentiles and Samaritans and start their work with the Jews. You see, Jesus considered the Jews, who are the descendants of Abraham, as lost sheep who strayed from their shepherd.
They would also be easier to accept the Good News about Jesus, since the Jews were already waiting for the Messiah. God promised a Savior and the prophets told of a Messiah to come.
Jesus gave very specific instructions:
- Preach the message ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’
- Perform miracles such as healing, raising the dead, curing leprosy and driving out demons. Be very generous in performing these miracles as they were generously given to the apostles.
- Do not take any money or extra clothes with you.
They were to continue to announce what John the Baptist foretold of – the Messiah was here. They were to announce to all the Jews that their Savior and the Kingdom of Heaven on earth was here.
In performing the miracles they showed signs to the Jews that they had the authority from God through Jesus to make this announcement. Remember the Jews also knew that complete healings, especially of those the blind, deformed and lame since birth were only possible by God.
They were not to take any money or extra clothes with them. They were showing that no one could buy salvation. This way, they also could not be accused of “selling God”.
They would have to work to provide for themselves. Remember, Jesus said “The worker is worth his keep.”
Jesus also told them to find a person in the town worthy enough to receive the Good News and house the apostles. If the person was worthy to accept the news, they would offer their place as a home base where they could return to each day until it was time to move on to the next town.
In exchange for the housing, they would bestow their blessings upon their host and their house.
The Apostles were also told of what would become of the people and towns that were not receptive to the teachings of Jesus. Those towns and individuals would suffer a worse fate than Sodom and Gomorrah.
You know from the story of Sodom and Gomorrah that those towns disobeyed God and they were totally annihilated and burned to a crisp.
Jesus warns His Apostles to be as shrewd as snakes. Remember Adam and Eve? That snake was clever enough to cause mankind to be forever thrown out of the Garden of Eden.
Jesus also warns them to remain as innocent as doves. There was great danger of being corrupted and influenced by evil when you are surrounded by corrupt and evil people.
When football players are going out on to the field, their coach tells them to be careful out there. They can easily get hurt or even ruin their careers.
So Jesus sends out his farm team to minister to the Jews. Much later on, after Jesus is crucified and resurrected by God, Jesus will determine that his team has enough experience for the major league and is ready to teach the whole world. At that time, Jesus also gives the Apostles another protection and miraculous gift: the Holy Spirit.
Now, I did not tell this just to teach you about what Jesus told the apostles. I tell this to you to motivate you and call you to action.
Like I’ve said before, the Bible is our operating manual. That means we study the Bible and learn from the Words of God and Jesus to actively go out and spread The Word.
If you are new to spreading the Word, do just like follow the words of Jesus and go to those you know the best. The Apostles were Jews and the Jews were the easiest group to teach the Word to.
The Gentiles were considered unclean and much more difficult to persuade to accept Jesus as the Son of God. And the Samaritans were just a group of people who were the result of inter-marriage between the Jews and Gentiles while the Jews were held in captivity.
Remember, you are on Jesus’ farm team. Your friends, acquaintances, fellow workers and those around you and in your community are all ripe for receiving the word. You know them the best and can minister to them more easily than a stranger can..
Also remember that, with practice, you can eventually advance into the major leagues and minister to those outside your community and eventually, with enough practice, the world.
You can teach, both by your actions and by spreading the Word, so listen to Jesus calling you to start.
Go out there with and spread the Good News! And like Jesus tells us, “Be careful out there!”