Today: [Matthew 10] The Warfare of Our Calling: In Matthew 10 Jesus sends out the 12 to preach among the Jews. They are warned that their families will resist them, and that the way will not always be smooth. Nonetheless they are to go, ministering without discrimination among their kinsmen with power to heal every disease and sickness, and to cast out devils. In this early commissioning we find many lessons for those of us that seek to fulfill their calling today.
[Mat 10:1-42 KJV] 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. 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.
While we have in Matthew an account of the first few disciples, in verse 1 of chapter Matthew 10 we now see listed the names of all twelve. Jesus has gathered them together to send them out in the itinerant fashion that He has ministered throughout Galilee. He begins by giving them power of unclean spirits, and power to heal all manner of sickness and disease. The word power used here gives us important insight into the nature in which Jesus expected His disciples to proceed. It is the word “exousia” which means “privilege” as contrasted with the “dunamis” which would imply generated, or raw power. In this we understand that the actual delivering power originates in God, but we are simply those chosen and privileged to represent God’s delivering power to those that are suffering. An example of this type of power could be that of a driver’s license. A driver’s licenses gives you privileges to operate a vehicle and to travel at speeds you do not have the raw power to do on your own. The raw power is in the engine, you are just the person behind the wheel. Likewise, it is foolish when we pray for the sick to try to summon up power through emotional demonstrations, or mental gymnastics. The power is in the drive train, we are simply the person who has been given privileges to direct the power at our disposal. So, it is with healing and deliverance.
When Jesus sends the 12 out in verse 5, He instructs them to preach only to the Jews and not to go to the Gentiles or to the Samaritans. This is interesting, because Jesus felt it was necessary to restrict them in this way because they apparently had picked up on the larger implications of the availability of the gospel, after Jesus healed the centurion’s servant in Matthew 8:5. The message they were to preach was specified also. They were not given leave to preach whatever they wanted to. They were to preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, followed by healing the sick, cleansing of the lepers and casting out devils.
With these two initial instructions, Jesus further tells the 12 not to be discriminate in who they ministered to among the Jews. The KJV translation says “freely you have received, freely give…” The Greek word used for “freely” here if you consult your lexicon, means “undeservedly”. Many have taken this phrase and used it to insist that Christian ministers are wrong to take any compensation for their ministrations. This cannot be and is plainly not so when you read the very next sentence where Jesus said the “workman is worthy of his meat…” The word meat there is where we get the word “trophy” and by implication means wages. Jesus is not schizophrenic. He isn’t insisting them to work in poverty without compensation in one breath and then telling them they deserve to get paid in the next. The only reason this is a question is not because Jesus isn’t being clear, but because of religious attitudes about money and denigration of Christian leaders.
When the disciples entered into homes on their way, Jesus tells them to let their peace come upon that home. If they are not received, they are to shake the dust off their feet. We need to learn from this. Today, if someone doesn’t receive us, we take that as a cue to begin arguing and entering into controversy. Jesus is literally saying instead to just shake it off and move on. The dust is representative of the flesh. Your feet are that which you walk with. What Jesus is saying is, when someone rejects you, do not allow their fleshly actions to affect your walk. Shake it off and move on in your ministry. To fail to do so means you will always be ministering out of woundedness and offence.
In verses 16-20 the 12 are warned they will be delivered up to the councils of their opposers, therefore they are to be “wise as serpents” yet “harmless as doves”. What does this mean? Serpents lurk in hiding, tasting, or testing the air with their tongues before they strike. It speaks of discerning what is going on around us, not to do harm but to bring the love of God and the wisdom of God into the situation around us. Christians are not to be naïve. You are going to be judged but authorities both legitimate and illegitimate. Any time someone disagrees with you are they are going to seek out agreement for the accusations they have leveled against your character. When two people agree in opposition against you that is a council. It might be a church council, formally convened, or simply two people gossiping on the phone. Sooner or later the news will reach you, because part of what drives critical people demands that you know that they are criticizing you. Do not give in to this fleshly process. Just keep walking in love, without conspiring how you are going to put them in their place. Just know that whatever response is necessary if any response at all, Jesus will tell you what to say at the time it is necessary to say it. Otherwise just keep quiet and move on.
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 name’s 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 man’s 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 prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s 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 verse 21 we see Jesus preparing the 12 disciples for upheaval in their family lives. Religious mentalities insist that the church is built on the foundation of the family. They seek to build their churches into family hubs of domestic activity and entertainment, but they obviously haven’t read the words of Jesus, informing His followers that following after Christ will inevitably bring difficulty in family relations. Many people stop right here, because family unity and agreement is more important to them than gospel truth or commissioning. They don’t want to be hated and they don’t want to know the pain of betrayal. There have been times in our life that my wife and I have stood alone without one single friend or family member rallying to our cause. To this day there are family members and even children who haven’t spoken to us or allowed us to see our grandchildren for 10 years. It is very painful, but the choice is clear: do we put Jesus first, or do we simper and fawn over our children and relatives, dancing to their tune, allowing them to set the agenda for our lives, or continuing on following the Lord as best we know how? Jesus expected these things would happen and therefore instructs and prepares us how to respond, always in love, but maintaining the priorities of your faith and your calling.
In verse 26 Jesus declares that in the midst of the turmoil that often accompanies responding to your call, that nothing that is covered will go unexposed. What this means is, that the truth always outlives the lie. We are not to fear consequences. When others rise up against us, and the specter of loss of relationship, loss of life looms threateningly over us we are to remember that not one sparrow falls to the ground without the Father’s notice. The very hairs of our head are numbered, and anything that befalls you is taken notice of by the throne of heaven. In that light we are to be diligent to profess Him boldly and without timidity, let we ourselves be denied at the judgment seat because we chose family and friends, over the mandates of the call of God on our lives.
To reiterate, in verse 34 Jesus restates as though the 12 were not really listening, that He did not come to bring peace but a sword. The sword is not a literal cutting implement, but rather the sword is the word of God. There is nothing as divisive as the word of God among men. They read it and extract from it what they will, and then unfortunately handle it unrighteously, turning upon one another rather than examining their own hearts in repentance. For this reason there is variance between parents and children, between siblings, between in-laws, and yet by implication even between spouses. Unfortunately, many times the greatest enemies you will ever face share the same roof, eat the same meals and sleep in the same bed that you do. We are to be prepared to love God more, even if it costs these relationships that are so dear to us. In so doing we will find life that others will lose because they refuse to set kingdom priorities at the expense of family relations.
Finally, after Jesus instructs those that are sent, He commends them to whom they are to minister. If you receive a prophet in the name of a prophet, you will receive a prophet’s reward. The office of the prophet is the only one of the 5 ministries of Eph. 4:11-12 that Jesus explicitly and by name advocates that you support them financially and reward them for their labors. In giving and materially supporting the ministry, whatever it may be the promise is that you will share in whatever reward accrues to them for their service because you helped make it possible by your liberality.
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