By God, For God and About God! :: by Sean Gooding

Matthew Chapter 10:5-15  (continued)

“These twelve Jesus sent out, and commanded them, saying, Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper for your purses, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor shoes, nor even staffs. For the workman is worthy of his keep. In whatever city or town you enter, inquire in it who is worthy. And live there until you leave.  When you come into a house, greet it.

If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. Whoever will not receive you, nor hear your words, when you depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. 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 town.”

Two weeks ago we began our look at the calling of the apostles and their ministry as Jesus prepared them for His departure. This is a very important lesson for us to learn as leaders. We must prepare the next generation to lead the cause. We will not be here forever.

We get old and/or we die and cannot continue on. Thus we must have people equipped to take the reins when we go.  Jesus knew this and He had just about three years to get these guys ready to take over, to lead and to succeed. Sadly as we go to a lot of our associational meetings and camps we see that there are fewer and fewer youths, there are lots of grey haired people but not a lot of youths. We must seek the Lord’s help in changing this.

In today’s passage we will look at some of the instructions that Jesus gave these 12 men as they went out on their own for the first time.  Let us see what we can learn today and apply to our local ministries here.

God Directs Us to Where We Are to Go, Verses 5-6

For our work to be successful, as far as God is concerned, we must go where He tells us to go.  One cannot simply set up shop wherever you wish.  God is the one who decided where we go.  In this case Jesus told the Apostles to only go the ‘lost sheep of Israel’. They were not permitted to share the message with the Gentiles.  This may seem callous to you but you are missing the point.  This was not about sharing the gospel as much as it was about obedience.

Later in Acts 10 God would send Peter to talk to Gentiles; He needed to know that His commands would be obeyed.  In Acts 16: 7-10 we see that God prohibits Paul from preaching in one town and directs him to Macedonia.  This kind of obedience is very important, the gospel belongs to God.  It is His salvation and He sends it to where He wants.  We are His servants and not the other way around.

Often we find ourselves in a situation where God tells us very plainly to speak to someone about the gospel. Or He takes us a certain way to put us in the right place to talk to someone; we see that in Acts 8 with Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. My family and I had that happen just recently on a trip.  We ended up in the middle of a city, driving far off the highway to a place we certainly would not have gone on our own and the Lord led us to share the gospel with a lady at the restaurant.

God’s Message Is the Only One, Verse 7

The kingdom of heaven is still “at hand.” Jesus is coming again and soon. This should still be our message. In the midst of preaching the message the Apostle also healed the sick and cleansed the lepers, raised the dead and cast out demons.  But their message was that the kingdom is at hand. It is close.

What are you and I preaching today? Are we filling the ears of the listeners with “sweet nothings” about being better people or about getting more comfortable here? Or are we warning the people we see that judgment is coming soon, and that they need to be ready. We/they need to live each day as if it were the last and that there will be an account to be given as to how we lived out our lives for the Lord.

How did we serve and love our neighbors? How did we glorify the Lord in our lives? How did we build on the foundation of Jesus Christ? Did we live as ‘resident aliens’ here or did we take on the traits of the world? Were we idolaters? On and on we can go.  The idea is we are preparing people to meet the Lord Jesus! These men did, they went out warning people to be ready for the Kingdom of heaven.

God Supplied Their Needs, Verses 9-11

God sent them and He would sustain them.  This is true even today.  God supplies the needs of His workers.  He simply must as a good God and Father. There are many missionaries around the world today that can use a lot more help than they are getting, I can understand that.

But if God has called them to a field, they will have everything that they need to be able to get the job done.  God gives them the ability to learn languages, learn customs and become so that their new field is their home even more so than their homeland. Do the work and God will supply.

These men where just on short term trips for now, but later many of them would venture into foreign lands far from Israel.  They would have to trust God in ways that they probably could not understand right now, but this was the foundation of that future ministry.  This was the foundation of that trust; absolute dependence on God.

God Guards Their Minds, Verses 12-15

You cannot determine the outcome of the mission work.  It is our job to offer the message but how the people will respond is in their hands, hence “free will.” Simply do the job, preach the word, serve the people and let God worry about the outcome. Success in this is simply measured by obedience not numbers.

There were times in Jesus’ ministry when He had large crowds and more often times when it was just Him and a few people.  There can be no doubt about Jesus’ obedience, thus we should be more concerned that we are doing all we can to obey. Peter saw 3000 come to Jesus in one sermon and Noah only had his family of 8, who listened. Both men just did the job at hand.

God will be the final judge if we have done our jobs faithfully then be satisfied the ones who reject the love and compassion the Lord Jesus Christ will suffer a cruel ending. They will have wished that they had listened, but it will be too late.