Moving Shop (Matthew 13:51-53)

Photo by meriç tuna on Unsplash

One of the greatest challenges leaders face is knowing when to move on. It  is one thing  when the group you are leading is asking you to go (!), but it is quite another when all is going well. This is especially difficult when what you are doing is fulfilling and the congregation (or coworkers) seem to appreciate how you are leading. But up until God gives you your final assignment (which only ends on death), there will come a time to conclude what you are doing in one setting and move to a new setting. 

As Matthew records it, Jesus has been teaching the crowd since leaving the local synagogue (Matt 12:15). He has taught the difference between Satan’s kingdom and God’s kingdom (Matt 12:25-29) and warned their leadership about making careless accusations (Matt 12:30-37). He gave them the prophetic word about the sign of Jonah (Matt 12:38-45) and taught about the way God sees His family (Matt 12:46-50). 

He’s now spent some period of time teaching a set of seven parables (Matt 13:1-50). 

Then Jesus asked, “Have you understood all these things?” Matthew writes down the response for us to ensure his readers see the successful conclusion of Christ’s teaching, “”Yes,” they replied.” With the concluding comment about how the application of what He taught is like bringing treasure out of a storeroom, Jesus moves on. “When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there.”

All Jesus did was to model what making disciples was supposed to look like. From the moment He began to preach (Matt 4:17), He began calling people into discipleship (Matt 4:18-20). All His teaching and demonstrations of power were toward this objective; To bring people to the kingdom of heaven as disciples of God Most High. When He reaches that objective, He moves on. This was how Jesus lived out His calling.

First Jesus did that with individuals, later with groups. When He finished teaching on the Sermon Mount (Matt 5-7), He came down and demonstrated God’s power (Matt 8:1-17) before seeing who was at least mature enough to follow Him (Matt 8:18-23). Later, Jesus again heals (Matt 9:1-8), calls to discipleship (Matt 9:9), teaches (Matt 9:10-17), demonstrates God’s power (Matt 9:18-34), teaches and heals (Matt 9:35-38) and then calls (Matt 10:1-4), finally resulting in sending out His first group of fully mature disciples (Matt 10:5-42). While they are out ministering, Jesus starts the cycle all over again – teaching (Matt 11:1-12:8) demonstrating power (Matt 12:9-24), teaching (Matt 12:25-49) and calling (Matt 12:50). From chapter 13:1 to v50, He is again teaching. With the call and conclusion of Matt 13:51-52, Jesus again moves on. 

Jesus recognized when the time had come for Him to move to another place when those He was leading affirmed that they understood His message

Jesus was a missionary, making disciples of God the Father. His role, like all our roles, had a set purpose. When that purpose was fulfilled, Jesus moved on. He did not change or adapt His purpose to suit the new occasion of working with those He had discipled, because to do that would be to change His calling, and Jesus recognized that calling comes from the Father, not from oneself. 

That is a powerful reminder to us that our calling determines the opportunity, not the other way around. 

Usually leaders overestimate rather than underestimate the value of their presence.

Terry Muck

APPLICATION: Thankfulness

God gives us seasons to partner in His work in a particular place with a particular group of people. Seasons change. Be thankful for what He has given you, and look forward to the next season.