The Mission of the Twelve (Matthew Sermon 37 of 151)
October 13, 2002 | Andrew Davis
Take your Bibles and open to Matthew chapter 10. We'll be looking now at the commands that Jesus gave, the marching orders, one could say, to the twelve as he sends them out on mission. You've heard before, and it's a common proverb, that a 1000-mile journey begins with the smallest step. We have in the instructions that Jesus gives here in Matthew 10, the beginning of an incredible march, the advance of the Gospel from Jerusalem through Judea and Samaria, to the ends of the earth. This is the first indication we get, the clear indication that Jesus is going to entrust to His people to the ministry of reconciliation. He gives to his twelve apostles that ministry.
That 2000-year advance has been irresistible, it's been fruitful, it's advanced, it's been sweet as individual hearts have been conquered by the Gospel message to the salvation of their own souls, and it continues even to this present day. As a matter of fact, I believe that it's accelerating as we reach the end of the age. I don't have any idea, I'm not standing here to say that we are the final generation, but I do perceive a great acceleration of the Gospel in our time.
We know that World War II, for example, was a terrible tragedy, we know that many millions of people were killed, but yet through it all, the sovereign hand of God overruled it for good. I'm thinking right now specifically of the island of Irian Jaya [Papua New Guinea]. Before World War II, many Americans had never heard of it, didn't know anyone even lived there. But because our soldiers were sent there, and soldiers from other lands were sent to fight there, all of a sudden after the war was over, there came a thought, "Why can't we who have gone as soldiers of our respective nations, go as soldiers of the cross and bring the Gospel to Papua New Guinea? So the Gospel went. We have the story, for example, of Don Richardson recorded for us in Peace Child of how the Gospel was taken there. All of this, in fulfillment of the prophecies from the Old Testament, and then the specific commands that Jesus gave in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, Isaiah 42:1-4, Jesus is spoken of there when God the Father speaks of His Son and says, "Here is my servant whom I have chosen, my chosen one in whom I delight. I'll put my Spirit on Him and He will proclaim justice to the nations." In Isaiah 42:4 it says, "In His law the islands will put their trust."
Well, could it be that Papua New Guinea (Irian Jaya) and some of these other islands that are now hearing the Gospel for the first time were in Isaiah's mind or in God's mind when Isaiah wrote that prophecy? We have here in seed form in Matthew 10, the entire advance of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and it's an exciting, thrilling chapter. We're going to look today at the scope of that mission, we're going to look at the strategy of the mission, we're going to look at the supplies of the mission, and we're going to look at the support of the mission. We're going to try to learn what God would have for us to learn. For us, we have to understand that the mission has not changed. It has been passed on from generation to generation. The twelve apostles are dead, they've gone on to be with the Lord, and they passed on this ministry to their disciples. Their disciples are dead, they've gone on to be with the Lord, and so it has passed on eventually to us. We are responsible for this generation; we're responsible to evangelize the people in this age. This is our time and this is our opportunity to pass it on to the next generation, if the Lord tarries.
The Scope of the Messenger’s Mission
We see in verses 5and 6 the scope of the mission that He gives to His apostles at that time. It says, "These twelve, Jesus sent out with the following instructions: Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans; go rather to the lost sheep of Israel." I want to connect this to the context that we've been noticing here in chapter 10 of Matthew, and the instructions given at the very end of Matthew chapter 9, in which Jesus saw that the people were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus says, "I'm going to send you out to the lost sheep of Israel." There's a direct connection between the two. He sends them out in fulfillment of the compassion and the love that He has for them. He sees that they're harassed, He sees that they're helpless, they're like sheep without a shepherd, and they need the ministry of the Gospel. The first thing He tells them there in Matthew 9 is that they should ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest field. Then He prepares and sends out these twelve to go as laborers into the harvest field.
The scope of the mission here is to Jews only. It says," These twelve, Jesus sent out with the following instructions: Do not go among the Gentiles, or enter any town of the Samaritans; go rather to the lost sheep of Israel." This is the initial phase of the advance of the Gospel, the advance of the Kingdom of God, and it is to the Jews first. This was Jesus' self-conscious mission in the days of His incarnation. He was not sent, at that time, to minister to the Gentiles. He's going to show that later on in Matthew 15, to a Canaanite woman, who comes to Jesus looking for healing for her demon-possessed daughter. He doesn't speak a word to her, though this Canaanite woman, this Gentile woman, follows and intercedes and begs, He does not answer a word. The disciples come up and say with a disparaging attitude, I believe, "Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us." And Jesus says at that time, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." Jesus, in the days of His incarnation, was sent specifically to the Jews. He sends the apostles out also specifically to the Jews. The apostle Paul, when he went out on his missionary journey, would go first, always, to the Jews. He would go to the synagogues, and he would speak first to the Jews. In Acts 13:45-46, it says when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying. Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly, "We had to speak the Word of God to you first." Do you hear that? That's what he says strategically. Paul, in every town, wherever he would go, he would go first to the Jews. "We had to speak the Word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles."
Paul articulated this very principle in Romans 1:16, in which he says, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and then to the Gentile." He sends the twelve out first to the Jews, to the lost sheep of Israel. But you should not misunderstand; Jesus always had the Samaritans and the ends of the earth in mind. He had the Samaritans and the ends of the earth in His mind even at this point. We know that Jesus ministered to the Samaritans. Even though He said, "Do not go to any town of the Samaritans," He ministered to the Samaritans. In John chapter 4, it said that He had to go through Samaria. A very interesting expression in John 4, "He had to go there." Why did He have to go there? Because there was a woman waiting for Him by the well, and He was going to speak to the Samaritan woman, and He was going to bring her into the Kingdom of God and not only her, but her whole village. When they hear her witness and testify to Jesus' power, she says, "Come and see a man who told me everything that I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?" The whole town comes out, and at some point they listen to Jesus, they hear His words, they believe, and the entire community believes in Jesus Christ. They say to the woman, "It's no longer because of what you said, but because of what we have heard from this man that we believe that Jesus is the Messiah." Jesus clearly, even in the days of His time on earth, have the Samaritans in mind. The Samaritans were a kind of a mixed group of people; they were of Jewish ancestry, but they had intermingled with the Gentiles and had married with those that were still in the land. They were despised by the Jews, but they were clearly a stepping stone, eventually, to ministry, to the Gentiles and to the whole world.
Not only did Jesus have the Samaritans in mind, He really had the uttermost parts of the earth in mind as well. Christ was always thinking about us, He was always thinking about the Gentiles. And so, "To the Jew first", was just a stepping stone, through Samaria, eventually to the uttermost parts of the earth. God speaks to His Son in Isaiah 49:6, saying, “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob, and bring back those of Israel that I have kept." Just stop right there. "It's too small for you just to be a Savior for the Jews, that's not enough, I've got a bigger purpose for you." This is the Father speaking to His own Son. "It's too small a thing for you just to be the Savior of the Jews. I will also make you," He says, "A light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the Earth," including Irian Jaya, I might add. To the ends of the earth, the salvation is going to come. And so this was prophesied at His birth by Simeon, that godly Jewish man who's waiting for the Messiah, and it had been spoken to him and promised internally by the spirit that he would not die before he saw the Lord's Messiah, before he saw the Christ. The baby comes, and the Spirit testifies, "This is the one." Simeon goes and takes that little baby, Jesus, into his arms, and he prophesies over him, praying and saying, "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace for my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light of revelation for the Gentiles, and for glory to your people, Israel." Simeon saw it too; Jesus was too big for just one nation. He's Savior for all the ends of the earth, for every tribe, and language, and people, and nation.
Jesus knew that even in the instructions He gives here to His twelve. He says in Matthew 10:18, "On my account, you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles." In Matthew 10, Jesus is thinking about the Gentiles, but there's a process, there is a procedure to how He's going about it, but for now He's sending them out only to the lost sheep of Israel. This very thing Jesus prophesies later on in Matthew 24:14. He says, "This Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come." In the great commission Jesus says, "All authority in Heaven and earth has been given to me, therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I'm with you always, even to the very end of the age." Jesus is thinking about the Gentiles, but at this point He narrows the scope of the ministry. The disciples are not permitted to go and speak to the Samaritans. Just an editorial comment; I think they weren't ready to talk to the Samaritans. I think they were still prejudiced against the Samaritans. I think they still wanted fire from Heaven to come down and destroy this Samaritan village. They went into town to buy food and never once opened their mouth and witnessed to the Samaritans. It wasn't time yet for the apostles to go. In Acts 8, they would go, but not yet.
The time had come just for a narrowing of the scope of the ministry. Jesus says, "I want to send you to the lost sheep of Israel." Here, I think about Isaiah 53:6, in which the prophet says, "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him, on Christ, the iniquity of us all." Jesus is truly the shepherd who gathers back the lost sinners, not only from Israel but from every tribe, and language, and people, and nation. Every single one of us is burdened by sin. You've come in this day, and you've already committed sins today. It's not that I know you personally, I just knowing human nature and the Scripture. You've committed enough sin since today to send you to eternity in Hell, and yet the grace of God flows through the blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and there is no other Savior. Jesus is going to send them out with this message to the lost sheep of Israel, that there is a shepherd who will gather them back in, there is a sacrifice, a lamb of God, who will die in their place for their sins, if they'll only believe. We see in the scope of the mission, I think an important strategic principle; we are not called to go to every single nation on the face of the earth. I mean “we” being each of us individually. We can pray all over the world, we can have a worldwide global focus in our prayer, but we have our own scope of ministry, we have our own field assigned to us. There is a scope to what God calls us, calls each group of people, each local church to do. We see the scope of the twelve's ministry right from the start.
The Strategy of the Messenger’s Mission
Secondly, we see the strategy of the mission, and the strategy is simple, it's going to be the preaching, the proving, or the demonstrating of the Kingdom. Matthew 10: 7-8 says, "As you go, preach this message: The Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, and drive out demons." We see the preaching and the proving or the demonstrating. First the preaching, the apostolic task was centrally the proclamation of the message. They were called upon to preach the message. What was the message? The Kingdom of Heaven is near. The center of their proclamation was the Kingdom, the Sovereign God who rules over all things. We've been saying all along that the Gospel of Matthew is written to convince us that Jesus is the King of the Kingdom of Heaven. He is the One who rules over Heaven and earth. Therefore He has called, He has sent to call, all of us to a full obedience to His sovereign rule, a glad obedience. Therefore, I believe that the Kingdom of Heaven is wherever Jesus is gladly obeyed by the power of the Spirit, from an internal transformed heart — that's the Kingdom of Heaven. The message is that the Kingdom of Heaven is near, it's very near you. The Word of God that we are proclaiming, it's very near you, it's in your mouth and in your hearts, the word of faith that we are confessing. “If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your hearts that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” That Kingdom is near, it's very close to us, if you will, simply reach out and take it.
Later, after the death and resurrection of Christ, the Kingdom would come even more alive in vivid color. The historical events had already happened, Jesus' blood had been poured out on the cross. Jesus' tomb had been emptied on the third day. The crucifixion and the resurrection now would be the center of their preaching, the apostolic preaching of the cross, and they would proclaim the cross and the empty tomb to the ends of the earth. But at this point, they're just told to proclaim this message, "The Kingdom of Heaven is near." But not only were they called to proclaim, they were also called to prove or to demonstrate Kingdom power by doing miracles. "Heal the sick," He says, "Raise the dead. Cleanse those who have leprosy, and drive out demons."
I was talking to my children recently, and they said, "It would have been really exciting to be Jesus." I said, "Why is that?" Because they could do all these great... “He could do all these great miracles. Everywhere He goes, He gets to heal people, raise the dead and all that." I said, "So you think Jesus had kind of an easy life?" Well, they thought maybe He did. I said, "Do you realize that in every place where He was healing, there was immediate opposition, people standing in his face wanting to kill him?" Yet there must have been for Jesus, a special joy in freeing from bondage those who were so bound. For example, on a Sabbath, He heals a Jewish woman who's been bound over and kept in chains through her physical infirmity for many years. Even though He's opposed at that moment, there's a delight in freeing her from her bondage. The disciples, when they came back from this mission trip couldn't get over that the demons were subject to them in Jesus' name. They were so thrilled. They said, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name." Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, rejoice not that the demons are subject to you in my name, but rather that your names are written in the book of life in Heaven."
So you think, "Why, I'd like to do a miracle. My Evangelistic ministry would just take off if I could just do a miracle." Imagine if you're involved in workplace evangelism, and you just go and try to witness, and you find out that somebody's got some kind of infirmity. If you could just heal them, everybody would listen to your message. I’ve thought that myself. Actually, it's not far wrong from why Jesus gave the apostles authority to heal. Everywhere they went, they were demonstrating the power of the Kingdom, and huge crowds would gather as a result. It says in Acts 5:15-16, people used to bring the sick on the streets and lay them on beds and mats, so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed. Peter's shadow just falling on people as he passed by. I believe that was the point, the point was to demonstrate the Kingdom, to give a context for the proclamation of the Gospel in order that people might hear it. It says in Acts 8:6, when the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. I think that's the point; the miracles give a context, a platform for the proclamation of the Gospel. So, it's the proclamation, but it's also the proving of the Kingdom. It also demonstrates God's compassion and His love. He would have us healed, He would have us freed from all effects of sin, just not yet.
It says in Revelation chapter 21, "There'll be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain." What's the next part? "For the old order of things has passed away." It hasn’t passed away yet folks. We're still under the time of death, and mourning, and crying, and pain. It's not going to be a river of miracles, it's not true what the “health and wealth” people tell you, that if you're not healed, it's because of a lack of faith on your part. I say rather, it's because that the old order of things is still here, but someday, it's going to be past. The miracles were given as a kind of a first fruits of what that would be like, to be free from all death and mourning, and crying and pain.
The Supplies of the Messenger’s Mission
We see the mission of the apostles. First, the scope, to the Jew only at that point. And then the strategy, the proclamation and the proving or demonstrating of the Kingdom. Next, we see the supplies for the mission in verses 8-10, traveling light and depending on God. I like this better, "traveling light and trusting in God”. You can use the word "depending". Either way, we're called to travel light and to trust in God. The twelve were sent out. In verses 8-10, "Freely you've received," it says, "freely give. Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts. Take no bag for the journey or extra tunic or sandals or a staff, for a worker is worth his keep." They were to travel free, they were not to be encumbered by the weight that we encumber ourselves with. They were to be, first of all, free from greed. In verse 8, it says, "Freely you have received, freely give." Do you realize how much money they could have charged for this healing ministry? Do you realize how much money people will pay to be healed? They'll pay almost anything. Greed can drive a whole healing system. And they could have commanded probably any price. But Jesus said, "Don't you dare do it, because I am giving you this healing power freely. Freely you have received, freely give. Not only have I given you healing power freely, I've given you everything freely. The grace of the Gospel is free of charge. I have forgiven your sins freely. I'm going to give you Heaven and an inheritance with me freely. I'm going to give you the indwelling Holy Spirit freely. I'm going to give you membership in a local church where there's other believers freely. I'm going to give you every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms freely. Freely you have received, freely give." That's why He says, "Don't charge anything for what you're doing." Healings were to be done free of charge.
They were also to be free, not just from greed, but from material anxiety. In verse 9 Jesus says , "Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts." Those are the three kinds of metals that were stamped into coins. The gold, the most valuable, the silver of intermediate value, the copper of the lowest value. He said, "Don't take along anything, not even any copper coins." Later He's going to say, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? You won't even be able to buy two sparrows with the money you carry with you. Travel light, travel free, travel free from material anxieties." What does this mean? First of all, Jesus lived this way. In Matthew chapter 8, one man wanted to come and follow Jesus, and Jesus said, "Foxes have holes, birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has no place to lay His head." Jesus traveled and ministered in the same way. He wanted them to be free from material anxiety. If they were carrying huge bags of gold, or silver, or copper, perhaps they would be robbed on the way. When you have possessions like this, you're always anxious on how to protect them, how to keep them safe from harm. It's something that you're carrying with you. He said, "I want you to be free from that burden, so please carry no money, travel light." In verse 10 He says, "Take no bag for the journey or extra tunic or sandals or a staff, for the worker's worth his keep." Don't carry along bunches of stuff. Don't carry all this equipment
I was reading about the Queen Mary, a luxury liner that was fit to carry 1,957 people in comfort and luxury across the ocean. It sailed on its maiden voyage May 27, 1936. But once World War II started and America got involved, the Queen Mary was converted to a troopship. As it was converted to a troopship, the number of passengers it could carry went from 1,957 to, at one point, over 15,000. 15,000 soldiers were carried across the Atlantic Ocean on the Queen Mary. You may say, "Well, I would think if I owned a luxury line like that, I would want to try to make as much money as I could and I'd try to get 15,000 people on board before the war." Would they have come? No way, because they're coming with baggage, they're coming with 50 or more boxes or satchels of all the things that they would need. They would need state rooms and big room. Luxury liners, right? There's no time for luxury when it's wartime. They stripped everything out that was not essential, and they put in bed after bed after bed. You had barely enough room to get your body in , and you could touch the rack right above you. There was just enough room for a certain number of people to sleep at a time, and they had to sleep in shifts. Everything had been stripped down. This is what they call "war time austerity". It seems to me that the Gospel calls us to similar wartime austerity, and it's a call that is so often unheeded. To go from being able to carry 2,000 approximately paying passengers to 15,000, means that everything that's not necessary was stripped out. “Take no bag for the journey, no extra tunic, no sandals, no staff.”
There was a time, I remember, when we were going overseas as missionaries. We had a yard sale. We stripped ourselves of everything. We were totally liquid at that point. We had money in our belts, that's true, but we didn't have much else. I noticed at one point- I'm always in the habit of patting my pants to be sure that my wallet is there and my keys as well - my wallet was there, but my keys weren't there. And then I realized, "Wait a minute, I don't have any keys. I have no keys. We sold both our cars, we've moved out of our home, we have no keys left." And that became kind of a symbol to me of traveling light. I will say this, we did have four big Rubbermaid Action Packers filled with all kinds of stuff, and that was a challenge to get through Narita Airport in Japan. We didn't travel as light as these men did, but we were stripped down, we had almost nothing, except our clothing and the basic necessities. The key principle here is that ministry is to be supplied or supported by those who benefit. "The worker is worth his keep." You don't need to carry along all this baggage, because as you're doing the work of the ministry, the worker is worth his keep. This is a very, very important principle.
In Matthew 10: 40-42 He's going to talk about a cup of cold water. It says, "He who receives you, receives me, and he who receives me, receives the one who sent me. Anyone who receives a prophet, because He is a prophet, will receive a prophet's reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man, because he is a righteous man, will receive a righteous man's reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones, because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." These verses are so frequently taken out of context -verse 42, especially, the cup of cold water. Clearly, Jesus is talking here about support for those that are going out to preach the Gospel. Anybody who receives or takes care of those world traveling messengers will receive a reward, just as they will. The worker is worth his keep means, you don't need to carry all this stuff, because out there, there are going to be people who will benefit from your ministry and they will materially support you as you do it.
The same principle is taught by Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:7-14. He says, "Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn't law say the same thing? For it is written in the Law of Moses, 'Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.'" He goes on from there to make it very plain what he's talking about. He says, "Don't you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar get their share from what is offered on the altar?" 1 Corinthians 9:14, "In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the Gospel should receive their living from the Gospel." This is the principle, those who receive the spiritual benefit of the ministry should materially support those who give the ministry. It's taught over and over in many places, and that's what Jesus means when He says, "The worker is worth his keep." They are to go depending or trusting in God. They are basically to put into practice what Jesus taught earlier when He said, "Do not worry about your life, what you'll eat or drink, or about your body, what you'll wear. The pagans run after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His Kingdom, and His righteousness, and all of these things will be added to you as well." They're to go out without a tether. It's like, you're out in the space shuttle and you're supposed to go out and there's no line, just going out and trusting in God to provide for your needs. What kind of faith does that take?
Support for the Messenger’s Mission
We've looked already at the scope, and the strategy, and the supplies of the ministry. We see the support for the mission in verses 11-15, “Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it. If it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your word, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment than for that town." We see here the problem of lodging, where are they going to stay? There were individual inns. You remember that Joseph and Mary were turned out from the inn. There was a place you could go from time to time and pay for lodging, but these were few and far between, so there was going to be a problem of lodging. We know that hospitality is taught many places in the Bible. Abraham and Sarah entertained three strangers one day, not realizing that they were angels. Lot entertained the exact same angels who had come to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. It says in Hebrews 13:2, "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." In the New Testament, we have a command which I love, "Offer hospitality without grumbling." Does that verse not tell you how little human nature has changed in 2,000 years? Offer hospitality without grumbling. Why? Because taking somebody into your home messes up your routine. It's a burden in one sense, if you look at it the wrong way. Peter said, "Don't look at it the wrong way, but offer hospitality without grumbling." 3 John 5-6 says, "Dear friend, you are faithful in what you're doing for the brothers even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God."
It was for the sake of the Name that they went out. John, in 3 John is talking about messengers of the Gospel who have gone out to preach, and these folks that John is writing to have taken the messengers in. They've accepted them in, they've put them up. They've provided for their needs. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. In verse 8, “We ought, therefore, to show hospitality to such men, so that we may work together for the truth." So you see, hospitality supports the ministry of the preaching of the Gospel. The standards and the search are listed in verse 11, "Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave." “Worthy” means righteous person, an upright person, somebody who keeps the commands of God, somebody who's welcoming to your message. What this shows me is kind of the human-ness of the messengers. Don't go and stay somewhere where the people hate you and hate your message. Rather, go in a place where after a day of preaching, after a day of proclaiming the Gospel, you have a place of refuge to be renewed and refreshed. Be renewed, therefore, and refreshed by staying at the home of a worthy person, search for a worthy person and stay at his house.
Luke adds more, saying in Luke 10:7-8, "Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you." Don't complain about the food as long as it's nourishing and healthy, eat it, whatever they set before you. I remember right before we went as missionaries to Japan, we had a prayer time together, and all the missionaries were crying and encouraging each other and praying, and some were concerned about an ailing parent, or something that they might never see again, etcetera. But I couldn't get out of my mind one thing in particular, and when my chance to share my prayer request came, I said, "We're going to Japan, where they eat fish, and I hate seafood. So pray for me that I might somehow be given grace to eat the seafood, and thank the people for it." I wasn't a month after we got there that we helped a Japanese man put his ceiling fan in, and he took us out to eat, and there was no McDonalds, no Kentucky Fried Chicken, we went out to Japanese food. And there before me was a plate of Sashimi, raw fish, staring me in the face. And I liked it, God gave me grace. It says in Luke 10, "Whatever they set before you, eat it," and implied, be thankful for it, be grateful for what you eat.
Jesus also says, "Do not move around." In Luke 10 again, "Do not move around from house to house. Don't try to find a better place, that's not the point. Find a worthy family or a place to stay and then just set up there and stay there as long as you're in that area. Let that be a place of refuge, a place of good fellowship, place of comfort for you." In 1 Timothy 6 it says, "If we have food and clothing, we'll be content with that. We're not looking for a luxury, we're not looking for the best place to stay, we're looking for a godly family that will support us and care for our ministry. If we have food and clothing, we'll be content with that.” "Now, as you enter the home," in verse 12 it says, "Give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it." This is somewhat of a Jewish ritual, but a sense of saying Shalom or peace to everyone in this house. If the home is deserving, the peace will stay there. There's a sense almost of Joseph's blessing. Everywhere Joseph[Old Testament] went, there was a blessing coming, whether it was Potiphar's house, or the blessing that came on the jailer. Eventually, all of Egypt under Pharaoh were blessed by Joseph. Everywhere that Joseph went there was a blessing. It seems in the same way, everywhere that these messengers of the Gospel go, there is a blessing coming to the house that will support them. He says, "Let your peace rest on that home if it's deserving." This is exactly the context of verse 40-42, "He who receives you, receives me, and he who receives me, receives the one who sent me." Anybody who takes you in, it's like they're receiving me, and anyone who receives me, it's like they're receiving the one who sent me, and that's God the Father. So they will never lose their reward.” This, I believe, is kind of in seed form, the eventual full understanding of the body of Christ. The body of Christ has varied ministries. Some are what we could call support ministries. They support the proclamation or the preaching of the message. I believe all of us are called to witness, no question about it, but some are specially called out with the gift of evangelism, or say, as missionaries. And the body is to support them materially. The body is to pray for them, to give them money or other resources that they need, to give them a place to stay when they need it.
He says you'll never lose your reward. One is not more important than the other. The eyes should do not say to the foot, "I don't need you." The hand should not be jealous of the mouth, because it's not a mouth. But every part of the body has its role to play. The cup of cold water, even something that small, will not be forgotten. He speaks here of freedom for the rejected in verse 13 - 14. He said, "If the home is not deserving, let your peace return to you." Then He says, "If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your word, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town." What does it mean, "Let your peace return to you"? “Don't let it bother you, don't let it trouble you if the home is not deserving. Don't get ruffled in your spirit because they won't welcome you or accept you. They're the ones with the problem, and they're going to have a huge problem if they will not repent, so if any home does not welcome you, they won't listen to you, don't let it bother you, let your peace return to you. Walk in the peace that God gives, because you're out on mission from Him. Don't let it bother you when they don't welcome you, when they don't accept you.” Then He says, "If anyone does not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet as you leave that home or town." My missionary instructor, Christy Wilson, was a missionary in Afghanistan who did work there for 20 years. He was one of the most compassionate, loving men I've ever seen in my life. He helped to set up hospitals there, preached the Gospel, taught the people. His wife, Betty was a godly woman, and the two of them ministered together. They were evicted by the communists who were in the very government that the Russians invaded to support. When the communists took power, they evicted Christy Wilson and his wife Betty from Afghanistan. They did everything they could to stay, but they would not welcome them or listen to their words. At the airport right before they got on the plane, they took their shoes off and clapped them together and then put their shoes back on. They shook the dust off their feet and they moved on.
It's not a burden for the messenger when you're rejected, it really isn't. It really is a burden for the one who does the rejecting because judgment is coming. He said, "I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment than for that town." This is a terrible curse. The basic idea is that when a king sends out messengers, if the messengers are rejected and treated scornfully, then the wrath of the king may fall on that country or city that rejects them. He says it will be more bearable on the Day of Judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. It gives an indication, by the way, of a certain grading of punishments on Judgment Day. And this is a fearsome thing for America. The more you know of the Gospel, the more you know of the truth and reject it any way, the more judgment will come upon you on Judgment Day. The less you know the truth, the less you know the Gospel and reject it, the less judgement comes on you on Judgment Day. Isn't that what Jesus is saying here? It'd be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah because they had less proclamation of the truth than that home or town or village had. It's a fearsome thing. America is supersaturated with the proclamation of the Gospel. Evangelical churches in every community. There is television, print media and radio - a supersaturation with the Gospel, and yet still hearts reject. “It'll be more bearable on Sodom and Gomorrah on Judgment Day than for that town.” He says, "Listen, don't take revenge, don't be concerned about that, leave all of that to God, you shake the dust off your feet and move on."
What application can we take from this? First of all, look at missionary zeal. Let me ask you, what do you live for? Are you delighting in spreading the Gospel of God's glory? The twelve apostles are dead. So also are their successors. The Ministry has been passed on to us, the ministry of reconciliation. Are you living with missionary zeal for that same Gospel message that Jesus Christ gave to His twelve Apostles?
Second of all, missionary methods. The missionary methods are still the same, the preaching and the proving of the Kingdom. We are to display Christ's compassion. When we do an inner city ministry like tutoring, when we reach out in some way and try to show ministry to their physical bodies and their felt needs immediately. This is the proving of the Kingdom. We're not necessarily called on to do great miracles at this point, but we're called to prove the compassion. But nobody is going to be saved by our good deeds to them. They get saved by hearing the preached message, so we must proclaim the Gospel message that Jesus died on the cross, shed His blood, and was raised from the dead on the third day.
Thirdly, materialistic hindrances. Are you, are we, am I traveling light or are we accumulating? You know, you think about one of the wealthiest men in the Old Testament, Abraham. He owned a lot of stuff, didn't he? But he also lived in a tent. Do you know what that means? He could move around, right? Can you imagine moving around from place to place with the things you own? Can you imagine what that would be like? Once you set up in a place with a foundation, it's easy to begin accumulating. Americans have to especially be careful that we do not put mill stones around our necks and be unable to advance with the Gospel.
I want to speak especially to college students. One of the biggest dangerous is, you have a zeal for the Kingdom of God and for mission work but then you get out and start getting into debt bondage, whether mortgages or credit card payments or other things, and you cannot travel light for the Gospel. Don't do it. If God is calling you to mission service, keep yourself free and clear, travel light.
Finally, the missionary supply. How have you used your material benefits, your home, your money, your life, to support those who are specially called to go out as missionaries?