The Master chided the disciples for worrying over life's necessities. He called them "you of little faith" (Luke 12:28).
He instructed His disciples to set aside their anxieties about life's necessities. He told them not to worry over their material needs.
In the open-air setting of the Mount of Beatitudes, the Master could point to the birds as an example. Birds do not make bread. They do not sow and reap; they do not store food in granaries; "yet your heavenly Father feeds them" (Matt. 6:26b). He pointed to the wildflowers which, in the springtime, grow in abundance on the Mount of Beatitudes.
The flowers of the field do not spin wool or sew fabric, yet "Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these" (Luke 12:27). "How much more will he clothe you," Yeshua said. He argued from the light to the heavy: "If God feeds birds (and you are more valuable than birds) how much more so will he feed you? If God clothes the grass (and you are more valuable than grass) how much more so will he clothe you?" (see Luke 12).
Likewise, the Talmud says, "He who has bread in his basket today yet worries, 'What will I eat tomorrow?'—that is a man of little faith" (b.Sotah 48b).
The life of John the Immerser, who lived in the wilderness eating and wearing only what he found, illustrates Yeshua's teaching about God providing food, drink and clothing. John did not call his followers to take up his mode of life.
He did not tell soldiers or tax collectors to forsake their careers; he instructed them to stay in their professions but to conduct themselves honestly, sharing their possessions with the less fortunate. Neither did the Master intend for all His disciples to forsake their worldly occupations and renounce all possessions.
Remember that Yeshua Himself worked His father's trade as a carpenter. The disciples returned to fishing even after the resurrection. According to church legend, Thomas labored as a stonemason and architect, and John took a job as a furnace-stoker in Ephesus. Paul the apostle supported himself as a tent-maker, and he instructed the believers in Thessalonica, saying, "Learn to be calm, and to conduct your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, so that you may walk honestly toward those who are outsiders and that you may lack nothing" (1 Thess. 4:11-12).
Paul tells Timothy, "But if any do not care for their own, and especially for those of their own house, they have denied the faith and are worse than unbelievers."
Discipleship to Yeshua did not allow for an abdication of responsibility, but it did call for a renunciation of worry and anxiety.
Daniel Thomas Lancaster is a writer, teacher and the Director of Education at the Messianic ministry of First Fruits of Zion (ffoz.org), an international ministry with offices in Israel, Canada and the USA, bringing Messianic Jewish teaching to Christians and Jews. He is the author of several books about the Jewish roots of Christianity and the Jewishness of the New Testament, and he is the author of the Torah Club Bible study program (torahclub.org). He also serves as the teaching pastor at Beth Immanuel (bethimmanuel.org), a Messianic Jewish synagogue in Hudson, Wisconsin. Daniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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