My mission direction today differs from this first one given to the twelve disciples, but important lessons remain applicable.
Matthew 10:5-15 A New Mission Direction
Jesus sent out these twelve, instructing them as follows: “Do not go to Gentile regions and do not enter any Samaritan town. Go instead to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near!’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. Do not take gold, silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for the journey, or an extra tunic, or sandals or staff, for the worker deserves his provisions. Whenever you enter a town or village, find out who is worthy there and stay with them until you leave.
As you enter the house, give it greetings. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come on it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not welcome you or listen to your message, shake the dust off your feet as you leave that house or that town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for the region of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town! Read in Net Bible.
Mission Direction for the Twelve
Go to those first who know the scriptures, who expect a Messiah, my chosen people. With scriptures and teaching in the synagogue, God prepared a remnant among the children of Israel to accept and expect a Messiah. Scattered among the jaded, prosperous, worldly and cynical lost sheep living to get by, remained a remnant of believers hoping for something better. The mission direction for the twelve? Go find these people.
Jerome comments, “This passage is not contrary to the command given later:”Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The former command was given before the resurrection and the latter after the resurrection. It was necessary to announce Christ’s first coming to the Jews,”
A New Message, A New Mission Directive
Jesus sent them to proclaim, “the kingdom of heaven is near!” Sending them out as simply as possible would cause Jews to reflect upon what kind of kingdom they proclaimed. Many expected an earthly kingdom, defeat of Rome, and military victory. They expected an earthly kingdom. Clearly unarmed poorly equipped messengers did not bring news of victorious conquest. Chrysostom said, The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 32.4 “They do not repeat what Moses said or the prophets before them. Rather, they spoke of new and strange things. Moses and the prophets spoke of temporal promises of an earthly land. The apostles proclaimed the kingdom of heaven and all that this implies.”
A Difficult Time for a New Mission Directive
When things are falling apart, it is natural to look for alternatives. At this time in history the kingdoms of the earth were flourishing. “But then it was very difficult, because the disciples were sent to preach the unseen kingdom of heaven at the very time when everyone far and wide could see the kingdoms of earth flourishing,” Gregory the Great, Forty Gospel Homilies 4.2.
Credible Evidence for Those Willing to Respond to Mission Directive
Rough, unschooled, ordinary men healed lepers, cast out demons, and cured the sick. For those willing to look beyond the probable and earthly, the apostles offered the best over the good. For those suffering and disenfranchised by society, they offered hope. Those with little to lose or gain in this world listened to their words. While the educated and secure probably rejected them.
By traveling and living with simplicity, they would likely find compassionate and hospital people in the towns and villages they visited. Their simplicity prevented distraction from their message. Their mission direction of simplicity also prevented any possibility of envy. By their lives, they demonstrated a trust in God. Most adults know of at least one experience with an inhospitable town and a closed mind to a new message often accompanies such a place. They were instructed not to waste time with such places and people.
Mission Direction for Me
My mission direction? Make disciples of the world. Like the twelve I must seek the remnant and find them among those that welcome me. I must not waste my life that God gives me on those that clearly lack interest. I must remember that prayer transforms circumstances and hearts while debate usually builds walls higher and calcifies hearts. Occasionally, I also must shake the dust off my feet. If I stubbornly refuse my Lord’s mission direction and keep fighting with the same closed minds, Satan’s army will bog me down for months, years, even decades with their worldly minions and heretics, so that I do not move onto to those needing and seeking discipleship.
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