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Matthew 9:35-10:42; Mark 6:7-13; Luke 9:1-6 Listen
In these passages, we see the following events in Jesus' ministry:
Jesus calls for an evangelism campaign (Matthew 9:35-38)
|35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;
38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
In Matthew 9, Jesus has been ministering around the Sea of Galilee; he is still in that area. The actual effort is recorded in all three synoptic Gospels (see next section), but the basis for the campaign is only recorded by Matthew in these four verses. The people came in great numbers to Jesus, but afterward verse 36 says of the people, "they fainted, and were scattered abroad." Both "fainted" and "scattered" are perfect passive participles in their Greek form. Literally, that means that after hearing Jesus, they were caused to be faint (they were bullied) and they were caused to be scattered. Within a corrupt religious system as existed during that era, where do the people get spiritual nourishment after their encounter with Jesus. The Jewish leadership cared nothing for the people; the people were just pawns who contributed to their power base. This environment is the basis for the evangelistic effort that follows.
|1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;
4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
9 Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,
10 Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.
11 And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.
12 And when ye come into an house, salute it.
13 And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.
14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.
|7 And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;
8 And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse:
9 But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats.
10 And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place.
11 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.
12 And they went out, and preached that men should repent.
13 And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.
|1 Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.
2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.
3 And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.
4 And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart.
5 And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.
6 And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where.
From the verses leading up to these passages, we know that Jesus is still based at this time around the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. It is from this region that Jesus sends forth his twelve Apostles to minister.
Here's why this is important. As we have commented regarding other passages in the Gospels, Jesus came to offer to the Jews the fulfillment of the Messianic promises of the Old Testament prophets. These promises consisted of the Kingdom of Israel restored to the earth, sovereign and worldwide. This Kingdom would have as its head the Messiah himself, and it would last forever. However, it had also been prophesied by Isaiah and Daniel that the Jews would reject the Messiah this time around and that he would be crucified (Isaiah 53, see notes; Daniel 9:27, see notes). Nonetheless, it was necessary that the ministry of Jesus and his Apostles make available to the Jews this Kingdom on earth.
Only Matthew takes this occasion to name the twelve Apostles:
We also find a listing of the twelve in two parallel passages, Mark 3:13-19 and Luke 6:12-16 (see notes).
Look at the marching orders found in Matthew 10:8, "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give." Is this mandate for all Believers throughout all generations, or was this a special unction given to them by Jesus for this particular evangelistic effort? Mark and Luke seem to shed light on this. Mark simply says, "and gave them power over unclean spirits" while Luke reports, "and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases." In other words, here's the question: Are we leaving something out of our evangelistic message today if we don't fulfill Matthew 10:8 when we evangelize? The answer is contextually simple. Nobody assumes that we have been committed to the criteria of Matthew 10:5-7 (see above), the three verses that precede verse 8. Therefore, if we acknowledge that these criteria are specifically for this campaign, then it would be contextually dishonest to insist that verse 8 should be treated any differently. Context - it's very important!
One more thing: A vow of poverty is a key component in this campaign - specifically stated in all three accounts as part of the mission. You don't typically see the people who proclaim that verse 8 applies to all evangelism in all ages embracing this vow-of-poverty lifestyle. Notice Matthew 10:14-15 and Mark 6:11...and what if they are not well received? Can you say, "Sodom and Gomorrah?" (For details on Sodom and Gomorrah, click here to read the notes on Genesis 19.)
Notice how much insight regarding this mission is gained when all three passages are studied together. When either the account of Mark or Luke is taken without the support of the other two, certain important details are missing. One cannot really grasp the mission without considering the details given in all three accounts. However, Mark's account does seem to differ from that of Matthew and Luke on one point…to carry or not carry a staff. Mark says "yes" to a walking staff. Matthew and Luke say "no" to "staffs" (KJV: staves). The Greek word there is ῥάβδος (rhabdos). It's a general word for a rod that might have had several uses back then. Nearly everyone carried a walking staff for long journeys. Matthew and Luke both use the plural. It would appear that Mark is saying that Jesus commanded the only kind of staff that should accompany them is a walking staff. No other kind of staff that might be used as a tool for one's trade was to be carried. Thus, the usage of the plural "staffs" (KJV: staves) by Matthew and Luke should be understood in this context.
|16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my names sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.
24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.
25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?
26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.
27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.
28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
36 And a mans foes shall be they of his own household.
37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophets reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous mans reward.
42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
In this passage Jesus continues his instructions to his Apostles. Mark and Luke do not report on these extended commissioning comments by Jesus. He makes some startling statements throughout this passage, but let's make sure we keep it in its proper context. Jesus is still giving instructions to his Apostles concerning their preaching the Kingdom message. Note particularly the reference to their "synagogues" in verse 17. He carefully and thoroughly warns them that their message will not be well received. We already know how this ends - the rejection of Jesus as Messiah and his subsequent crucifixion. However, it was prophesied that this Kingdom would be offered, and here it is being offered. That being the case, how do we render the warnings issued by Jesus in this passage? Are these warnings just for the Apostles as they are charged here, or are they to be universally applied to all Believers who proclaim the name of Jesus - then and now? Certainly we see that persecution was not restricted to just this era, but there's a certain urgency here with this particular commissioning.
Jesus refers to the accusation against him in verse 25 that had occurred in Mark 3:22 (see notes). It was there that Jesus was accused of performing miracles in the name of Beelzebub, regarded in that day as the chief demon aka Satan himself.
There is an intense discipleship call here. As we know in retrospect, the time was very limited at this point in the ministry of Jesus. When people take the discipleship call in this passage and universally apply it to all Believers today, they usually find that they have to massage the words a little bit to make them palatable to what we know to be true about priorities in one's Christian life. Look at Matthew 10:34, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." The Kingdom message was divisive, ultimately leading to the crucifixion. Now observe Matthew 10:35, "For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law." That verse can only be truly appreciated in light of the urgency of the hour and the Kingdom message. What Jesus was calling upon people to do during this time was to drop everything they were doing, disregard family ties and close personal relationships and prepare for the immediate fulfillment of the Kingdom reign as prophesied in the Old Testament. Think of it like this: If you knew that a hurricane was headed your way and would arrive at some point in the next few days, wouldn't there be urgent tasks to do that would overshadow family time, work, leisure activities, etc.? Certainly! That's the kind of urgency in these instructions from Jesus to his Apostles on this occasion. So, here Jesus is talking about drop-everything-else discipleship. Context is important here. Many Believers have understood these verses as a mandate to forsake family and friends to pursue the ministry. They lose sight of the special circumstances of the context. Now while there are certainly lessons to be learned from this passage, a strict adherence here by Believers today often leaves them with feelings of failure and inadequacy. Incidentally, this campaign by Jesus' Apostles ends in Matthew 14:13, Mark 6:30-32 and Luke 9:10 (see notes). In those verses they report back to Jesus the results of their evangelistic efforts under this mandate.
Now...here's a verse that is frequently abused by those who paint salvation as a conditional state rather than what it is, an unconditional covenant between God and the Believer. Notice verse 22, "And ye shall be hated of all men for my names sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." Before you try to make this verse apply to something that it does not, read the preceding verse (21) to see the saved-from-what detail - unquestionably, physical death ("put to death"). To whom does the guarantee of verse 22 apply? He's still addressing the twelve specifically regarding how to succeed in this evangelistic campaign. Here's what Jesus tells them: Don't back off this mission because of persecution and threat of death; keep on task and you will not be killed (i.e. "saved"). As a matter of fact, all of the twelve returned safe and sound after this road trip.
One more point of interest in this passage. Notice the love-'em and leave-'em aspect of the command to preach here. He tells them not to stick around (verse 23) after they have preached to a city. Don't continue to work the city; just move on. And when they go to a city, some will accept, and some will reject (verses 32-33). When you understand the context, these verses make sense, don't they? If missionaries today strictly adhered to this principle, many areas of the world would never be evangelized. One more time: CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT!