Master Class

Proclaim Sermons
Homily: Ordinary Time 11
June 18, 2023
Reproduced with Permission
Proclaim Sermons

Summary: Jesus, after teaching, proclaiming the Good News and curing "every disease and every sickness," called his disciples to that same ministry. We are called to that same ministry as well.

Throughout history, many people have learned their trade by being an apprentice to a master craftsman. Woodworking, building, painting, cooking, sculpting, plumbing, electrical work and so on - these are all skills where the apprentice learned from a master. It's a great system. The person who is learning is not "released" to do his or her work for the public until the teacher is satisfied that they have sufficiently learned and have demonstrated their expertise, so that, among other things, the master will not be embarrassed by the work of the apprentice. Sometimes this is a formal arrangement. Sometimes it is a parent or relative showing a young person how to do something and watching to make sure they do it right.

Quilting is often taught in "circles" where young people watch and "learn by doing" under the watchful eyes of their elders as they turn out magnificent pieces that are both beautiful and functional.

The one constant in this whole system is, of course, the necessity of the "master," the person who has superbly learned and demonstrated their skill. This idea quickly went beyond the master/apprentice model to the teacher/student model and enabled larger groups to learn as well.

One company has taken the master-teacher idea, set up their company, Masterclass, and put it online ( You can choose a class in one of 10 categories (including food, music, business, writing and wellness) and learn from current masters in that field. For $180 per year, you can access "180+ classes taught by the world's best on cooking, leadership, photography, writing and more," according to the Masterclass site.1

So, whether it is one-on-one, master-to-apprentice, or teacher-to-class, we have all learned from others. Our scripture today highlights the "craft" of teaching and healing that Jesus exhibited, and how he saw the need to teach his disciples (and to teach us) to reach a world that desperately needed what he had to offer. It also highlights Jesus' compassion and love for the people he came to save.

The scope of Jesus' work

The gospel writers sometimes go into detail about Jesus' life and work. But other times, they condense it to a few words. So, Matthew says, "Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness." Matthew could have doubled the size of his gospel by enlarging on just that one sentence!

Matthew explains why Jesus did all of this: "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Jesus' compassion compels him, the master teacher, to tell his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few ...." Did the disciples realize Jesus meant for them to be the laborers? We're not sure, but they were about to learn not only that they were to be among the first of his laborers, but also that their first assignment was about to start.

The mission of the Twelve

After Jesus called his disciples together, we see one of Matthew's short, summarizing statements that makes us want more detail: "[Jesus] gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness." How did Jesus do that? What, exactly, were they to do about the unclean spirits? How were they to cure people? Once again, Matthew could have added many chapters explaining these things. Instead, we are left with the "what" and not the "how."

One writer addressed this with a spot-on observation, "The point [of the lack of details] is simple: our search for instructions often detracts from the main thing. Where the realm of heaven is breaking out, we find healing and liberation. This is what we need to know."2 It seems that living by faith is a real thing!

After receiving authority to heal and cast out unclean spirits, Jesus sent them out with specific instructions. (Mark, likely speaking about the same event, tells us Jesus sent them out two by two.3) "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Perhaps Jesus wanted his Jewish disciples to go first where it would feel most natural to them. Language and customs would not be obstacles and they could get right to the task at hand.

"As you go, proclaim the good news ... cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons." Can you imagine the thoughts going through the disciples' minds? They had seen Jesus do these very things, but he, they knew by now, was someone special and unique. Could they even hope to do what he said for them to do?

They remembered, of course, that Jesus had just given them authority to do these things. So, with trembling hands and imperfect faith, they did as Jesus said. Luke is alone in giving a summary of the mission. "They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere."4

The disciples had no idea at this point how important that mission and training was going to be for them and for the early church. Life-changing and world-changing events were on the horizon, and, at this point, they only knew Jesus was preparing them for something important.

Our primary scripture passage today includes only the first eight verses of Matthew 10, but if you read on, you'll see that all of chapter 10 contains specific instructions for the disciples. We know this because Matthew says in the first verse of chapter 11, "Now when Jesus finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities."5

Sign me up for that Master Class!

Syllabus for the "Master Class"

On the first day of any class at many schools beyond the elementary levels, the teacher or professor will hand out the syllabus that outlines the basic elements of the course. It often includes the topics to be studied, the schedule, list of assignments and sometimes even list of tests or exams. The relative importance of each of these elements may be listed as well.

Jesus looked at the world around him and declared "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few," and then proceeded to give instructions (aka, the "syllabus") to the disciples about what they were to do. Jesus believed the people in the world around him were "ripe and ready for the gospel, ripe and ready for the kingdom, and ripe and ready for God to rule in their lives."6 That is certainly true in the 21st century as well. The need is all around us, the need for God to rule in everyone's life. The need is there; God is there; but the laborers are still few, relative to the need.

So, in the Master Class, Jesus laid out the topic to be studied: people in need of compassion and salvation; the schedule: now; the list of assignments: proclaim the gospel, cure the sick and cast out demons; the list of tests and exams: daily as opportunities present themselves.

Are you ready to sign up?

A life of outreach

How do we reach out with the gospel? There are lots of techniques or mechanisms to answer that: "Dinners for six," welcome centers at the church,- "relevant" services, "each one bring one," host a block party - and the list goes on. All of these can be, and have been, successful.

Ultimately, we don't have to have a program as much as a desire to live our lives open to God's leading. Through relationships with family members, neighbors, coworkers, casual acquaintances, chance encounters and other one-on-one connections, we can be open to talking about God in our life and what that has meant for us and could mean for others. It's not that we decide to go out and "do evangelism." Rather, as we live out our daily lives, we see opportunities at appropriate times to simply talk about how God is at work in us and the incredible gift that is to us.

Part of living "in Christ" is that our life, or the way we handle things life throws at us, may look different in us than it does in others. That difference can often bring up questions from others like, "I was ready to hit him, but you were able to stay calm. How could you do that?" or "My life is a wreck, and my kids are a hot mess. You face the same problems I do, but you seem to handle them better. How do you do that?"

Look for those opportunities to say a good word for Jesus. It will change the world!


COVID-19 and Proclaim Sermons: We are very aware of the innovations pastors are making to bring their preaching directly into homes. We want to help in every way we can. Please feel free to use Proclaim Sermons in any way you need to in your efforts. This includes copying it into emails, using it in video broadcasts or on your website ... frankly, please use it however you think will best serve your congregation.