Mission Direction for the Twelve: Matthew 10:5 – 15

My mission direction today differs from this first one given to the twelve disciples, but important lessons remain applicable to my walk as a disciple.

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 and seeking 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. When things in my life go well, why would I seek something better?

This becomes the point where most people stop whether they sit inside or outside a church building. A disciple must always push forward toward God’s best. God’s best may look nothing like success in the world. I cannot measure God’s best by the metrics of this world. While in the midst of it I may recognize it, or I may discover it afterwards. I find God’s best by trusting him to lead me toward it not by setting a goal to find it.

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.

Move Toward Some but Away from Others

Paul charges Timothy, in 2 Timothy 3:2 -5, “For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, savage, opposed to what is good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, loving pleasure rather than loving God. They will maintain the outward appearance of religion but will have repudiated its power. So avoid people like these.” These are religious people as they have an outward appearance of religion. I must avoid these sorts of people and dust my feet off when they reveal their true natures.

Sadly, many calling themselves Christian remain interested primarily in themselves, not in laying down their rights to self, picking up the cross, and following Christ. I must move on to those who desire a relationship with their creator. I have already wasted too much time on Facebook and Twitter with those who want to bicker and promote their “special knowledge.” God forgive me for this. Forgive me for wasting time on people convinced and secure that their lives need only a little more money, a little more pleasure, winning a few more arguments, or a little more fame.

Questions about Mission Direction:

  1. What is my mission direction in the circumstances I find myself in today? Have I prayed for insight? Have I asked, “speak Lord?”
  2. If someone were to observe my preparation, would they say I’m over prepared or under prepared? Why?
  3. How does this reflect my faith?
  4. When did I last dust off my feet?
  5. How much time did I spend this week with pseudo believers described in 2 Timothy 3:2-5? Do I recognize an opportunity I missed as a result? How do I feel about myself after these engagements, about my relationship with God? How can I best begin to dust off my feet and move on?

Passages for Meditation:

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. Mat 10:14

They will maintain the outward appearance of religion but will have repudiated its power. So avoid people like these. 2 Tim 3:5


Lord I confess I spend too much time thinking about my mission direction and planning out all the details. Help me to focus on taking direction from you. Give me wisdom as to what I need to take for the journey and how to prepare. Help me to see when I am being bogged down and used by those not genuinely interested in becoming better disciples. Show me when I need to dust my feet, and open my ears to hearing your whisper that the time has come to move on. Help me not to be influenced in decision to dust off my feet by personal taste, prejudice, or judgement but by a sense from the Sprit that this person or organization does not seek you but has some agenda other than becoming your disciple. Give me wisdom and keep deceivers far from me.

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