On this journey, Jesus deliberately makes his apostles dependent on the hospitality of the children of Israel by instructing them not to take provisions. The apostles might expect they are launching a victory tour, but they will learn first-hand how the children of Israel will reject the Messiah.
This second discourse in Matthew’s gospel contains the instructions Jesus gave before sending the Twelve to minister on his behalf. This journey represents an important first step in Jesus passing his ministry to the apostles. He sent them into Jewish territory and gave them the authority to heal and teach as he has been doing.
8“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. 9Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 10no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. 11And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12As you enter the house, greet it. 13And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14And 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. 15Truly, 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.” – Matthew 10:8-15
- Jesus tells them not to make payment a precondition for their ministry. However, they can receive support and hospitality.
- Since they can’t charge for the ministry, they probably expect to pack enough provisions to provide for themselves. But Jesus tells them not to bring such provisions.
- Jesus deliberately puts the Twelve in a situation where they must be dependent on the hospitality of the people in the towns they visit.
- They are to stay in homes where their message is appreciated. If the town rejects them and their message, they are to leave with a symbolic, public action of shaking the dust off their feet (Luke 9:4-5; Luke 10:11).
- The account of Sodom and Gomorrah is in Genesis 18-19. These cities and their destruction are frequently alluded to in Scripture (Dt 29:23; Dt 32:32; Isa 1:9-10; Isa 3:9; Isa 13:19; Jer 23:14; Lam 4:6; Eze 16:46-56; Zep 2:9; Mat 10:15; Matt 11:24; Luk 10:12; Luk 17:29; Rom 9:29; 2Pet 2:6; Jud 1:7).
- Sodom and Gomorrah became the poster children for willful, sinful rejection of God.
- Because their livelihood will be dependent on hospitality, the Twelve will know immediately who rejects and who accepts them.
- This sending is not a model for all missionaries in all times (Luke 22:35-36), but a unique situation for this first training journey.
- The apostles probably expect this trip will be a victory tour, but instead they will face persecution and rejection.
16“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19When 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. 20For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23When 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.” – Matthew 10:16-23
- Matthew 10:16 is unique to Matthew. Mark & Luke include the rest of this section in the Olivet Discourse. Matthew collected the instructions Jesus gave on various occasions into one discourse.
- On the one hand, the disciples need understanding and perception (wise as serpents), but they are not to cross the line into vengeance, lying, cheating, etc (innocent as doves).
- The Apostle Paul is a good example of this shrewd integrity (Acts 21). Paul remained truthful, but also strategic in each dangerous situation he faced.
- Matthew 10:17-20 describes what the apostles faced after Jesus left as recorded in Acts.
- Jesus is not telling all Christian teachers everywhere to make no preparations before they teach. He is promising the apostles when they are in the extraordinary situation of being arrested and brought before kings that God will make sure they know what to say.
- Family ties will be broken by the split between those who love Jesus and those who hate him.
- Their own personal salvation depends on continuing to follow and trust Jesus, even in the face of hostility and persecution.
- Jesus treats his disciples the way that God treats all of His people. God is quite willing to take His people through hardships and trials so that we can learn to trust Him.
Please listen to the podcast for more detail and explanation.
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