The King Sends His Disciples Out
“And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”” (Matthew 10:1–42, ESV)
Jesus sends his disciples into the world to serve him and give evidence that the Kingdom of God was advancing. Jesus gave the disciples instructions and encouragement for their mission which describe the way these subjects were to serve their king. This section begins with the names of the twelve disciples to whom Jesus delegates authority and commissions to strike Satan’s kingdom as he is doing. These men are sent out, which in the original Greek is the verb that gives us the word apostle. Peter is listed first, and there are two sets of brothers included as well. Matthew identifies himself as the tax collector, and Judas is recognized as the one who betrayed Jesus. These apostles were ordinary people through whom Jesus would do extraordinary things.
These disciples are sent specifically to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Jesus has always been for the nations, but this reflects the unique purpose of God in the mission to the world because Israel is the light for the nations.
There was much to be accomplished in Israel before the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. After Pentecost, the Christian mission was commanded to extend among the Gentiles and the Samaritans. Their proclamation was to be, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." This teaching was to be accompanied and authenticated by miracles of healing, resurrection, and exorcism.
God was to be their portion and provision so they would not need silver or gold. They were not to take any excess baggage or staff. God would provide for them through the hospitality of those who received their message. The apostles were to bring peace where they were welcomed and withdraw from the places that they were not received. God would deal with those people in judgment.
Jesus dismisses any idea that being his servant would be easy. His people may be like sheep, but they are like sheep that move about among wolves and are persecuted. Their task would require a combination of wisdom and innocence. They would be persecuted and suffer at the hands of their own people and be placed before governors, kings, and Gentiles. There would be no safe place and no place to hide. Jesus encourages his disciples to be free from anxiety and know that when the trials and persecution came, they would not be alone. The Holy Spirit would speak through them. The gospel causes division, and even families would be estranged from one another. These men would be hated for Jesus' name sake. These apostles are to work and witness with a view to eternity because the one who endures to the end who will be saved.
Do Not Fear
Jesus encourages his disciples not to be afraid. God’s servants will be vindicated. They may be subjected to mistreatment and could be killed. However, Jesus encourages them to remember that God will bring everything at last to the light and that there is no ultimate danger for his people. God’s servants are supremely valuable to God and if God looks after his creatures to the extent that not one of them can fall to the ground unnoticed, how much more will he care for his servants? God knows the number of hairs on the heads of his servants. Jesus will acknowledge these servants before the Father, and they will enjoy eternity with the King.
Swords And Rewards
Jesus brings a sword of division in which kinsman will be severed in the interests of spiritual ties of loyalty to Jesus Christ. Jesus demands total loyalty. The way of Jesus is the way of death, but it is in losing one's life that they will ultimately find it. There is a close connection between the work of Jesus and that of his apostles. Jesus does not overlook deeds of kindness toward his apostles and whoever does acts of kindness will be regarded as if they carried it out toward Jesus himself.