daily biblical sermons

The mission of the Church is to make disciples of people of every culture, nation, and religion for their eternal salvation
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Thursday, 14th Week of the Year, July 09, 2020
Hosea 11:1-4, 8-9, Psalm 79, Matthew 10:7-15

Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted




“And preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without pay, give without pay. Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it, and stay with him until you depart … And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town” (Matthew 10:7-11, 14-15).



The mission of the Church, given to her by the risen Jesus is to preach the gospel to the whole creation, to all nations and peoples to make disciples of them, baptize them, and teach them all that Christ has taught his apostles. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).



Even though the kingdom had not yet fully come until after Jesus’ death and resurrection, nonetheless Jesus sent out his apostles and other disciples to preach the kingdom of God, to announce that the kingdom is now very near to them and is about to arrive. Even though the apostles themselves did not yet understand what the kingdom was all about, nonetheless they were sent out by Jesus to preach the arrival of the kingdom in order that people would be prepared and ready for it once Christ had died and risen for our salvation.



It was very important for Jesus that the Jews, to whom his apostles and other disciples would preach, accept this message and put their faith in it, for “if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town” (Matthew 10:14-15).



One’s eternal salvation depended on whether or not he accepted the disciples’ preaching of the kingdom of God. Those that rejected the preaching of Jesus and his disciples would be punished more severely on the day of judgment than even the perverted cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Eternal salvation depends on accepting the preaching of the gospel.



Christian mission is therefore a matter of salvation. The purpose of Christian mission is to bring the message of salvation that comes from God in Jesus Christ to all peoples of every culture, language, and religion. The goal of mission is that these people accept the preaching of the gospel with faith and so experience the justification and ultimate salvation that God wishes to give to the human race through the death and resurrection of his only Son.



Those that receive the message with faith receive the Son and are justified, and if they remain faithful to the end, they will ultimately be saved. Those that reject the gospel reject Christ, those that reject Christ reject the Father, and those that reject the Father reject salvation. So it is urgent that missionary preachers be sent to the ends of the earth, to every tribe and culture, people and religion, that they might have the opportunity to hear and believe in Jesus Christ for their eternal salvation.



At this preliminary stage, the missionary disciples of Jesus are to travel very light, but they are invested with extraordinary powers to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, [and] cast out demons” (Matthew 10:8). Such miraculous powers became rare indeed after the apostolic generation died out, but they were necessary in the beginning as visible verifications that Jesus and his disciples were sent by God with a saving message.



Such charitable work of healing and casting out evil spirits also greatly pleased the people, for those who had incurable diseases or loved ones with incurable diseases suddenly saw themselves or their relatives miraculously and instantaneously healed. Such people would naturally be attracted to Jesus and his disciples and their message. Therefore they were given these powers to get the Church started.



Jesus’ missionary disciples were not to demand payment for their cures or teaching. “You received without pay, give without pay” (Matthew 10:8). Nor were they to bring money with them. “Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the laborer deserves his food” (Matthew 10:9-10). So how are these disciples to live without food? The people themselves are supposed to give them hospitality in exchange for the marvelous gifts that the apostles were bringing them.



So they were to look for a worthy person in each village and stay with him and not move from house to house looking for better lodging. Also it would be very cumbersome to be carrying around extra clothing, baggage, suitcases, extra shoes, etc. They would not be nearly as mobile if they had to drag all of this baggage around with them. Jesus simply wanted them to go as they were, empty-handed, and preach the arrival of the kingdom. Goodhearted people who appreciated their message and their healings would see that they had nothing to eat and would invite them into their homes and feed them.



God has provided the world with a means of salvation in his only Son through his death on the cross in reparation for our sins, whereby he suffered our death penalty for our sins for us so that when we put our trusting faith in him, God considers our death sentence already served for us by Christ and so declares us ungodly sinners righteous (justifies us) and reckons to us his own righteousness so that we now shine with the righteousness of God himself that comes to us through faith. It does not come from our own good works in keeping God’s moral law, but rather from the work of Christ on the cross in vicariously suffering our death sentence for our sins for us.



The Scriptures make it very clear that it is of the greatest importance that this message be preached to and heard by as many people as possible in every culture of the world. This is God’s method of salvation. To be saved we must call upon the name of the Lord Jesus with faith, “For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved’” (Romans 10:13 NRSV).



But how can they call on the name of the Lord if they do not know his name, and if they have never heard of Jesus? They need to know that the Lord’s name is Jesus, and they need to know how he saved us by his death on the cross, and they need to put their faith in him to be saved, as St. Paul says, “But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15 NRSV).



So faith in Jesus Christ and calling upon him with faith saves us, but you can’t call upon him unless you have heard about him and heard the gospel about him. Therefore Christian missionaries are essential in God’s plan of salvation for the world. For if you believe in the gospel and call upon Jesus with faith, you will be justified and saved, as St. Paul says, “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved” (Romans 10:9-10 NRSV).



Jesus Christ is the only Savior. There is no other Savior. Therefore Christian mission is essential and urgent, for God wants no one to be deprived of the salvation that he offers the world in his Son, for “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).



Jesus clearly said, “No one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him” (John 3:36). But to believe in the Son we must know his name and know what he did for us, and his name is Jesus, and he died on the cross to atone for our sins.



Eternal life is in the Son. “God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life” (1 John 5:11-12). Faith in the Son is necessary for salvation. “He who believes in him [the Son] is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18).



World mission is therefore urgently needed. It is a mistake to say that we should never try to convert anyone to Christianity. To try to convert people to Christ is the whole purpose of Christian mission. Missionaries don’t go out and preach the gospel just to exercise their vocal cords or to practice their eloquence or to have something to do, any more than a farmer sows seed to exercise his arm. He sows seed hoping for a harvest to provide food for himself and his family. Likewise the missionary troubles himself to leave his home, country, and culture, learn a new language, live with a very different people, and spend himself preaching to them, not just to have something to do, but to make disciples of all nations so that those that accept the gospel might be saved, for “he who believes and is baptized will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).

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