Matthew 10 - The Sending of the Twelve
a. Twelve disciples chosen and commissioned.
1. (1-4) The twelve disciples are listed.
And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. Now 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 Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.
a. The main feature of this list is its diversity. Jesus chose His disciples from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences. About all they had in common was the fact that none of them were from privileged or backgrounds of high status.
i. This is in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 1:26-29: For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.
b. He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease: Jesus did not only call the twelve. He also gave them power to do what He has called them to do. The same principle holds true today: whom God calls, God equips.
c. These twelve (excepting Judas, of course), have an important place in God’s plan of redemption, including some particular role in the future judgement (Matthew 19:28), and in the founding of the church (Ephesians 2:20). The Bible promises that their work will be remembered through eternity (Revelation 21:14).
2. (5-6) Where they are to go: unto Israel only.
These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
a. Do not go into the way of the Gentiles: This is the pattern of the gospel - it is for the Jew first and also for the Greek (Romans 1:16). Later, the gospel would go to both the Samaritans and the Gentiles, but it had to begin with the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
b. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel: God’s intention was to reach the whole world, but beginning with Israel. There was certainly enough work to do among the lost sheep of the house of Israel to keep the twelve busy until God directly commanded them to expand their ministry.
3. (7-8a) What they are to do: go out preaching and healing.
"And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons."
a. As you go, preach, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." In this sense, the disciples will essentially serve as "advance men" for Jesus, representing His work and ministry over a much broader area than Jesus could just by Himself.
b. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers: The disciples both had a message to preach and a power to display. In this, they are truly followers of their Master.
4. (8b-15) How they were to provide for themselves.
"Freely you have received, freely give. Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food. Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!"
a. Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts: They should expect God to meet their needs, without taking undue concern for their own needs. But they should expect that God would normally meet their needs through the inspired hospitality of others.
b. Those who do receive these disciples can expect to be blessed (let your peace come upon it); but those cities who refuse them can expect to be treated as Gentiles cities (shake off the dust from your feet), and as such, are in grave danger of judgment.
c. Even though the twelve can expect their needs to be met through the people they minister to, they should never require their needs to be met as "payment." The foundational principle is freely you have received, freely give.
b. Jesus prepares the disciples for persecution.
1. (16-18) Persecution will come.
"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles."
a. I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves: Jesus freely, and honestly, admits His disciples will face persecution, and because they are to have no armies behind them, He sends them as sheep in the midst of wolves.
b. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves: Despite their vulnerable position, Jesus’ followers are not to defend themselves with worldly forms of power. They are to remain harmless as doves, though wise as serpents.
c. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up: Jesus also warns them that men will persecute them out of both civic (councils) and religious (synagogues) motivation.
d. For My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles: Because they are being persecuted for Jesus sake, they can be a testimony to both religious and civic persecutors.
2. (19-20) When Jesus’ disciples are brought before rulers, God will defend and speak for them.
"But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you."
a. Do not worry about how or what you should speak: Jesus’ disciples can have a perfect trust in God at that time, knowing that He will speak through them, even if they are unprepared.
b. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak: This isn’t a justification of poor preparation in teaching and preaching God’s Word, but it is a promise of strength and guidance for the persecuted who have an opportunity to testify of Jesus.
3. (21-23) The extent of persecution: even among families, and from city to city.
"Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes."
a. Now brother will deliver up brother to death: Jesus knew that in some cases the gospel would divide family members, and that some of the most bitter persecution would take place among families.
b. And cause them to be put to death: Here also, Jesus plainly says that persecution would sometime result in death. Though most Christians have endured persecution in economic or social arenas, though the centuries, literally millions have given their lives for Jesus.
c. But he who endures to the end will be saved: A commitment to endure to the end is required for those who will weather the storms of persecution. We who have face little real persecution have little understanding of just how difficult it is to endure under it.
d. You will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes: This is one of the hardest to understand statements of Jesus in Matthew. Could Jesus really mean that He would return to this earth before the disciples would make it through all the cities of Israel? If so, this would make Jesus’ plainly wrong. Instead, it is better to see His "coming" in this passage as His coming in judgment upon Judea in 70 a.d. which did happen before the gospel came to every city in Israel.
i. This is the fulfillment of the day of judgment warned of in Matthew 10:15. In many ways, the judgment poured out by God upon Judea through the Roman armies in 70 a.d. was worse than the judgment that came upon Sodom and Gommorrah.
4. (24-25) Why Jesus’ disciples must expect persecution.
"A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!"
a. A disciple is not above his teacher: Simply put, the disciples should not expect to be treated any better than Jesus was treated. If they called Jesus Himself Satan (Beelzebub), how much worse should the disciples of Jesus expect!
5. (26-31) Even in the midst of persecution, Jesus’ disciples should not fear, but be bold in their proclamation of the gospel.
"Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."
a. Therefore do not fear them: Jesus’ disciples can have confidence that the truth will prevail, so they should go out and preach it with boldness, despite the danger of persecution.
i. If persecution, or the threat of persecution, makes us draw back from speaking and preaching God’s word, in some measure, Satan has won a victory.
b. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell: God is the one to fear, not the men who persecute the followers of Jesus. The worst they can do is destroy your body, but shrinking back from God’s call can have eternal consequences.
c. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows: But Jesus’ disciples don’t need to be afraid, because God really does care for them, even down to the most minute detail. If God cares for the sparrows, and numbers the very hairs of our head, then He will also take care for our lives.
6. (32-39) The attitude Jesus’ disciples must be equipped with.
"Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it."
a. Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven: The disciple must confess Jesus publicly. If we will not be public about our allegiance to Him, we cannot expect Him to be public about His allegiance to us.
i. Everyone Jesus called, He called publicly. There is really no such thing as a "secret" Christian; this is a contradiction in terms - an oxymoron.
ii. If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence among your family and friends to convict you of being a follower of Jesus Christ?
b. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: The disciple must love and follow Jesus supremely. Our devotion to Jesus must come above even our own household.
i. We should expect that normally, following Jesus makes us better husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, sons, daughters and so forth. Yet there are times when the presence of Jesus divides rather than unifies.
ii. The greatest danger of idolatry comes not from what is bad, but from what is good - like love in family relationships. The greatest danger to the best comes from second best.
c. Take his cross and follow after me: The disciple must follow Jesus even to the place of taking his cross. When a person took a cross in Jesus’ day, it was for one reason: to die, because the cross didn’t negotiate, didn’t compromise, didn’t deal. There was no looking back when you took up your cross, and your only hope was in resurrection life.
i. Your "cross" isn’t really your particular trial or trouble. The cross means one thing: death - death to self, but resurrection life unto God.
d. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it: The disciple lives in a paradox. He can only find life by losing it, and he can only live by dying. Resurrection life can only come after we have taken up our cross to follow Jesus.
7. (40-42) The reward due to those who, in contrast to the persecutors, receive the disciples of Jesus.
"He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward."
a. He who receives you receives Me: The good done to Jesus’ disciples is as if it were good done to Jesus Himself, because they are His representatives, carrying on His ministry.
b. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward: We can share in the reward of God’s servants by supporting them in their work. Even seemingly insignificant works of kindness (a cup of cold water) performed for God’s people are meaningful in God’s eyes.
i. What could seem more insignificant than giving a person a cup of cold water? In a short time, they will be thirsty again. Yet, even such a small gesture will always be remembered and rewarded by God.
©2000 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission.