1 Summoning his twelve disciples, he gave them authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out and to heal every disease and sickness. 2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: 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 tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. 5 Jesus sent out these twelve after giving them instructions: “Don’t take the road that leads to the Gentiles, and don’t enter any Samaritan town. 6 Instead, go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you received, freely give. 9 Don’t acquire gold, silver, or copper for your money-belts. 10 Don’t take a traveling bag for the road, or an extra shirt, sandals, or a staff, for the worker is worthy of his food. 11 When you enter any town or village, find out who is worthy, and stay there until you leave. 12 Greet a household when you enter it, 13 and if the household is worthy, let your peace be on it; but if it is unworthy, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone does not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
In the tenth chapter of Matthew we see the beginnings of the very first short-term Christian mission trip. The language can be a bit confusing in today’s culture and even abrasive to our modern sensibilities. But make no mistake. Jesus sent those twelve men 2,000 years ago in the same way He sends us today. At its core, the mission was simple: go and tell. The extraordinary part is who was sent, who sent them, and the message they were sent to preach.
- The Men:
We see in the very first verse that Jesus called together His twelve disciples for this mission. These were twelve very ordinary people gathered from various walks of life and all ends of the social spectrum, and they give us so much hope. How often am I confronted with my own shortcomings? How often do I wrestle with the reality that I do not have the capacity to complete the task laid before me? Each time I remember the disciples—these ordinary, broken men Jesus handpicked out of the thousands that followed Him—I am reminded how God uses the ordinary to accomplish His extraordinary mission.
- The Master:
In this passage, we see very specific instructions Jesus gave the disciples for this particular mission. Some are mere issues of logistics, some are unusual, and some are downright astonishing. The thing to remember is that they are instructions from the Master. Jesus was sending these men, which means it was His mission. In our churches, in our ministries, and in our lives, we have a tendency to take ownership of the mission Jesus has given us. We come up with endless plans and strategies based on our strengths and weaknesses. We must always be aware of the reality that it is Jesus’ mission we are living out. His instructions, not ours. His capacity, not ours. His work, not ours.
- The Message:
Jesus was very clear about the message to be preached by the disciples: the Kingdom of heaven has come near. As we carry the message of the gospel to our friends and family and neighbors and to the whole world, we often lose sight of the message itself. Politics and cultural disputes can leak into the pure gospel, corrupting it and making it something it’s not. Jesus’ message for His mission is clear and simple: the Kingdom is near.
A few chapters further into Matthew, we see Jesus give His disciples the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). His instructions were not exclusive to the eleven men in that room; rather, they are the call to each person who professes to be a follower of Christ. Each of us is called to make disciples that make disciples. As we do, may we always be reminded that this mission is not dependent on our capacity. We are sent by the Master Himself, and His message is simple and beautiful: the Kingdom of heaven is near and open to all through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Are you willing to join God in His work?
- What is Jesus telling you to do?