Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; Simon the Cananaen, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bad for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the 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. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgement than for that town.”
There are two main things I notice about this passage. First, Jesus really asks a lot of the disciples when it comes to trusting God. They are told not to take money, no staff, not even a change of clothes! But Jesus says that God’s people will show their faith by providing for them. However, Jesus warns them, don’t expect anything from those you help, just as I don’t expect anything from you. How hard for the disciples! Don’t expect help, but trust God to send it to you.
The second major thing I notice is that Jesus doesn’t seem to necessarily trust the disciples. He tells them not to visit the gentiles, only the Jews, probably because He didn’t think they could treat the gentiles correctly. I mean, let’s face it, they have a lifetime of cultural teaching and prejudice working against them. He also tells them to leave a town if people don’t seem receptive. Again, I feel like He doesn’t think they can handle that situation. I can just picture the poor, clueless disciples trying to argue theology with someone smarter than they are, and doing more harm than good. It’s easy to picture because I’m pretty sure I’ve done that a time or two!
I don’t think that Jesus didn’t want these people ministered to, but that He wanted to take care of these more delicate situations Himself. Or maybe He wanted to give the Disciples an easy task to start so they could work up to the tricky stuff. But it’s easy to see how some of the early Jews could read this and think they were meant to exclude the gentiles, which many DID think. So glad Paul straightened them out!
Also, I love that Matthew the tax collector becomes one of the disciples. There’s hope for even the worst of us!