Readings:  Numbers 13:1-3, 17-33 and Luke 18:1-17

Number 13: 1-2:
The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel…”

Luke 18:1, 17:
 And [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart…
  “…Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

“Are You a Spy or a Disciple?”

Today’s combination of readings from Numbers in the Old Testament and the Gospel of Luke in the New Testament challenges you with this question:  Are you a spy or a disciple?  

Moses was instructed to select men from each of the 12 tribes of Israel and have them travel to the Land of Canaan and ‘check out the land.’  What would they find there that would motivate the Children of Israel to keep focused on their journey to the land which God had promised Abraham?   As we read the report, the phrase “land flowing with milk and honey” comes first. There’s the physical evidence, a ‘souvenir’, if you will, which they brought back, the cluster of grapes so large and heavy that it required two men to carry it on a pole together.  

Caleb and Joshua were ready to advance.  Caleb said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.”  He would trust that since God promised it, they were going to take possession of this land.  So his was a good spy report and assessment.

But the other ten had their doubts.  “No way are we going to be able to overcome these people.  They’re huge!  We’re like grasshoppers in their sight.” They would not trust in God above all things.  Nor would they be ready to head back to the bondage in Egypt.

The twelve disciples were also given their instructions.  Jesus would commission them to “Go into all the world…”  That’s a much larger territory than the Land of Canaan, isn’t it?  12 spies into that land…no problem.  12 disciples into the whole world…now that’s a different story.  Jesus knew in advance just what they were going to think as they would begin their mission work with Him.

So Jesus tells them a parable so as not to lose heart while doing this important work.  Persistence in prayer for support was the key teaching. Jesus assured them that their heavenly Father would give them justice.  He would hear their prayers and answer them, including the prayers to give them strength and support to go into the world, much like those twelve spies, and bring back their report of success.

But even the disciples would have their challenges.  They would ‘rub elbows’ (rather than practice social distancing!) with others who would be self-righteous.  And as we hear in the next episode, some of that self-righteousness rubbed off on them as they would discourage the parents who were bringing their children to have Jesus bless them.  “Children don’t need this,” they thought, “only us adults.”  

But that’s not what Jesus would want.  “Let these little children come to Me!”  Let them learn to trust their heavenly Father as they would spy on the land and see His abundant blessings.”

Does Jesus tell you this same thing today?  Do you trust Jesus as a little child and then go about your vocation as a disciple AND spy?  Yes, you are both!  You are one sent to make disciples by teaching them all that Jesus taught, including not to lose heart in this COVID-19 world.  He teaches you how to be persistent in your prayers. 

He also sends you as a spy to ‘check out the land’ and see God’s abundant blessings of all that support you in your daily life.  Sure, things got a little scarce and people hoarded and ‘captured’ the rolls of toilet paper before you arrived at the store.  But have you run out?  No! Instead, you come with that large cluster of God’s blessings day after day—His mercy, grace, and truth—in His Holy Word! 

The true disciple and spy of Christ will find blessings in the ‘land flowing with milk and honey’ the land of God’s Holy Word.  And it’s more than just a souvenir from Canaan—it’s eternal life in heaven!  

Let us pray:  O Lord, almighty and everlasting God, You have commanded us to pray that we would not lose heart and that You promise to hear us.  Mercifully grant that Your Holy Spirit may direct and govern our hearts in all things, including being Christ’s disciples, and that we may persevere during this time with steadfast faith in the confession of Your name.  Continue to grant that steadfastness to those who work on the ‘front lines’ of providing medical assistance to those afflicted with the Coronavirus that they may not lose heart; for we pray this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Our Father…

The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.  Amen.  (Romans 15:13)