Springboarding off of the Apostle Paul’s life focus, clearly expressed in 1 Corinthians 2:2, Pastor Greg launched an “open-ended” message series on January 12th, 2020 – focusing on “Just Jesus.” He is walking us through the entire New Testament, pulling passages from the Old Testament for context, and keep us focused throughout the year on “Just Jesus.” This week Pastor G delivers part 44 of his “Just Jesus” series.
We’re covering Matthew 10:1-15 today. Pastor G talks about Jesus sending out the Twelve in pairs on their first missionary journey to share the Gospel. Jesus gives specific instructions that apply not only to the original disciples but also to us as well. Pastor Greg will take several weeks to break down those instructions in detail.
For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:2
Chapter nine of Matthew’s Gospel concluded like this:
Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore, plead with the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” ~ Matthew 9:35-38
Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every sickness. ~ Matthew 10:1
Clearly we see the connection to what we just read in chapter nine. Just as Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching and proclaiming the Gospel and healing every disease and every sickness, Jesus now shares that ministry and that miraculous ability with the Twelve. The harvest is plentiful, but up until now, there have not been enough workers in the harvest. Jesus is rectifying that by sending out the 12, increasing His own ministry by 1,200 percent. Later He sends out 70 disciples to do the same thing.
Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew; and James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who also betrayed Him. ~ Matthew 10:1-4
Mark tells us Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs. Matthew may possibly be listing each pair for us here.
These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them, saying, “Do not go on a road to Gentiles, and do not enter a city of Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. ~ Matthew 10:5-6
While Jesus later expands the message of the Gospel to the Gentiles as well, initially, the focus was on proclaiming it solely to the people of Israel, frequently referred to in Scripture as the lost sheep of God, the sheep without a Shepherd.
And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ ~ Matthew 10:7
This is a callback to John the Baptist.
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” ~ Matthew 3:2
Beginning in Matthew 4:17 Jesus too began to frequently preach …
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” ~ Matthew 4:17
So while this particular phrase is included, what is implied is Jesus is telling the disciples to go teach others EVERYTHING they have learned from Him so far.
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with leprosy, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. ~ Matthew 10:8
The same ministry of healing Jesus has been doing He now empowers the Twelve to do also.
Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, or a bag for your journey, or even two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is deserving of his support. ~ Matthew 10:9-10
He is sending them out on a leap of faith, trusting that if this is something God has called you to do, then trust that God will support you with the necessary finances. Do the work and God will take care of you.
And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city. As you enter the house, give it your greeting. ~ Matthew 10:11-12
Godly people doing God’s work should be supported by other godly people. What does this mean, who is worthy? How is someone seen as worthy in this context?
worthy, worthy of, deserving, comparable, or suitable.
In other words, don’t just lodge with the first willing house. Instead, take the time to wisely seek out someone who is godly, of good standing in the community. Find someone who has the type of character that they will be disposed to show hospitality and to treat you kindly and not cast you in a poor light in the community. Be careful with whom you link your reputation.
In Genesis 18 and 19 we see Abraham and Lot show profound hospitality to travelers. They generously welcome complete strangers into their homes unaware that their guests are actually God’s angels and not human beings. These are the type of hosts Jesus wants the disciples to find.
Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it” ~ Hebrews 13:1-2
An absence of hospitality indicated an absence of love for God and neighbor.
Saluting or paying respect to someone. It carries with it the idea of blessing them.
If the house is worthy, see that your blessing of peace comes upon it. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. And whoever does not receive you nor listen to your words, as you leave that house or city, shake the dust off your feet. ~ Matthew 10:13-14
There are times to continue blessing someone who is harming you and there are times to eventually just withdraw from the relationship and walk away to spend your time and energy on those who are willing to receive it. How do you know when to do that? The Holy Spirit will advise you on which situation is which.
While Jesus tells the Twelve to begin establishing these relationships with open hearts and open minds, expecting the best, He also advises the Twelve to be cautious. Don’t accept everything at face value. Make sure the people are worthy. Some people can seem to be, what Jesus refers to as worthy at first but, over time, they show themselves in a different light. Jesus is telling the twelve not to allow themselves to be mistreated or taken advantage of. Don’t waste your limited time and energy in places where people are not willing to listen. Sometimes God calls us to just move out and move on. Take your blessings with you and move on to somewhere else that is worthy of what you are offering from Jesus. Notice, He is NOT advocating revenge or causing harm to them. Judgment is ALWAYS God’s prerogative, not yours. Jesus is just advocating a withdrawal of your blessing NOT the offering of a curse.
Shake their dust off your feet as you leave? What does He mean by that? The initial practice was no doubt based on devout Jews, who, while traveling, when they re-entered the Holy Land, they would shake the dust of the pagan lands from their feet so as to not defile the holy land with the association. Tainted dust is how they saw it.
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” ~ Mark 6:11
Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment, than for that city. ~ Matthew 10:15
So I will pour out My wrath on them and consume them with My fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done… ~ Ezekiel 22:31
RECAPPING JESUS’ INITIAL INSTRUCTIONS TO THE TWELVE
- Be evangelists. Carry Jesus’ message and ministry to those who haven’t heard. Seek to be God connectors.
- Trust God to provide for your physical necessities as you do His work. “The worker is worthy of his wages.” He won’t set you up for failure.
- Seek out people who are “worthy” to receive your blessing and who will support your ministry at the same time. Remember, this is about people Jesus deems worthy not people you deem to be worthy of you. You are searching for godly people who will partner with you in the ministry God has called you to do.
- Give your blessings of time, energy, support, peace, etc. to those who receive you and your message of Jesus. Go the extra mile. Respect them. Don’t make demands of them. Be a blessing to them.
- If they prove themselves to be “unworthy” – a status only determined by the Holy Spirit – they don’t respect you or God, they don’t appreciate the blessings you have given to them, then take back your blessings so that you may give them to someone else. Walk away. Move out and move on. As a wakeup call to that person, that household, that business, that church, that town, let them see you shake their dust off of your feet as you leave. They are no longer your responsibility. It’s between them and God now. You aren’t there to intercede for them anymore.
- God decides where judgment lands not you and not me. Our calling involves warning people about judgment and helping them survive it with Jesus if they will repent. It’s not our place to curse anyone or pronounce judgment. We give them to God if they do not receive us.