will remember that chapters and verses were added to the New Testament many
years after it was written. While they form a convenient and useful frame of
reference, we must remember that Christ and the Apostles did not think in terms
of superscript numbers.
was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and
proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and
every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because
they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He
*said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful,
but the workers are few. "Therefore beseech
the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest."
(Mat 9:35-38 NASB)
sometimes miss the point: Jesus taught in their synagogues. He is attempting
to reach the people through the religious structures of the day. We should
recognize that He did not come to set aside the Old Testament, but complete
it. Just what, then, was He doing?
was teaching. Much of the New Testament, specifically the letters,
carries that teaching, along with the Gospels. Note, please, that this is
first – the position of prominence in the writing of that time. It should
be the most common activity in the church. Its lack can be seen clearly.
was proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom. The evangelical nature
of His message is clear. Things are about to change; the kingdom of God is at hand; be ready to welcome the changes.
was healing. We no longer have this power – which the Apostles
clearly had and has not been long absent from the church. Indeed, the
Pentecostal section of the church still says they do it.
phrase in this translation says “felt compassion.” It is an unusual Greek
word, signifying a very deep emotion, deep to the point of being distressful.
It is the picture of one who loves deeply, grieved at the sight of His loved
are distressed. The word can also be translated “harassed.” It’s
a picture of those who were greatly burdened with religious formalism.
The religious leaders of the day were fond of providing continuous
improvement (as we might say in business today) to the Law of Moses. Thus
the average man found himself enmeshed in details – the perpetual
are dispirited. The word in the Greek means something that is cast
out or flung away. It is as if the religion of the day examined them, found
them wanting and vigorously threw them onto the scrap heap. There seems
to be neither joy nor hope for them.
us, the situation would indeed seem dismal. But not to our Lord. He saw with
the eyes of the Spirit – He saw a harvest. These people were ready to hear the
Good News; they’d lived with the bad news long enough. Let us see this harvest
through the eyes of Christ:
in ancient Judea, limiting Himself to the House of Israel, there is an
abundance to be done – if we will just look at it and see it.
are to pray not for superhuman strength and endurance, nor miraculous gift
– but for more workers. The worker is not the center of the church;
are to pray – which means we are casting the load upon our Father.
This tells us that we are not to presume upon Him, but rather ask humbly
for some more help. That implies, does it not, that we have accepted the
common result of this is well known: if you will cast the care and
burden upon Him, acknowledging that He alone deserves the glory, he will
amplify you with more workers – and more success.
summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to
cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.
Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called
Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his
brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James
the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the
one who betrayed Him. These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: "Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. "And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of
heaven is at hand.' "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out
demons. Freely you received, freely give. "Do
not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the
worker is worthy of his support. "And
whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at
his house until you leave that city.
"As you enter the house, give it your greeting. "If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if
it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. "Whoever does not
receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city,
shake the dust off your feet. "Truly I say
to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for
(Mat 10:1-15 NASB)
set the example for his disciples, Christ now sends them out. Before they go,
He gives them their marching orders. First, they are to work miracles on
behalf of the people. Second, they are to preach the Good News.
you note, please, that only the Christ could give such a command? It is a
present proof of authority that the Apostles on this expedition performed
miracles at the command of Christ. Perhaps our inability to do this
today comes from our lack of obedience to His commands.
we see, the Pharisees are quick to condemn these miracles of healing. The
accusation is that Christ is in league with the Devil. Many of us, when faced
with accusation, wrap our cloak of righteousness about us and pull back. We
argue that if they’re going to be ungrateful about it, we can just take our
did not. As Chrysostom remarked, “He that ceases to do good because of
accusation shows that his good has been done because of men.” Kindly
understand that whatever you do for Christ will be a basis for accusation (ask
me about my brother-in-law in that regard). So accusation is a test: do you
do your good works for Christ, or for the praise of men? When someone accuses
you of false motive, how do you react?
you will react as Christ did, by continuing to do what is right despite the
accusation, you are doing God’s work for God’s reward. He will reward you with
greater love for others (including your accusers) and a greater joy within.
Sometimes he has a few other surprises, as well.
does, however, lay out a methodology for his disciples. They are not to go in
whatever style they can afford; rather in the style he prescribes.
are not to view this as either a source of or requirement for money. God
will provide as they go. So they are not to take a bag with them (this
was the tool of the wandering pagan priest, begging coins for his
goddess). Instead, they are to rely on simple hospitality.
are not to seek any improvements in their physical comforts; rather, they
are to be content with what they have. Is it conceivable that the wanting
for more could be evil?
do not take this lightly; your actions here will be binding in heaven. If
they receive you, well and good. If not, Sodom and Gomorrah will have it
better on the judgment day.
shouldn’t need to point this out, but none of this mandates against paying the
preacher a decent salary. Paul makes this point, in passing, in 1 Corinthians
"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be
shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. "But beware of men, for they will hand you over to
courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and
you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony
to them and to the Gentiles. "But when they
hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be
given you in that hour what you are to say. "For
it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children
will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. "You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is
the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. "But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to
the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities
of Israel until the Son of Man comes.
(Mat 10:16-23 NASB)
is clear that much of this is prophetic for the spread of the church; as such,
we will deal with it in the present tense.)
is the Christian to be shrewd and innocent at the same time? It’s simple:
persecution is coming, you need to be prepared.
enemies of Christ will use the criminal justice system of the day to
persecute the Christian (just ask abortion protestors). To deal with
this, be innocent. Factually innocent. It doesn’t mean you won’t be
convicted; but it helps with the odds.
will examine you in public forum. Be shrewd in your replies, knowing the
traps of the enemy. But also be innocent; it is a great defense against
the subtle wiles of Satan.
will need to do much with little – so you’d best be a shrewd manager of
– trials and troubles
people rank death as the second greatest fear in life, right after the terror
of public speaking. Don’t worry about it; your words will be given to you.
You wouldn’t be up there speaking if it weren’t for Him; He will take care of
course, one of the most distressing aspects of this is not the public side, but
the family side. It is clear that as times grow worse the name of Christ will
split families – with betrayal as the result. It has happened many times
before; there is no reason we should be exempt. But just who is the most
important person in your life?
it comes down to this: we will be hated for the sake of the Name of Christ.
That hatred, that persecution is our glory.
is a great comfort in this passage. Not all of us are cut out to be martyrs.
Not all of us are able to spend ten years in prison for speaking out against
abortion. My son practices Kung-Fu; I practice Run-Fu, the ancient art of
achieving inner peace and harmony by getting my rear end out of the way as fast
as I can waddle.
comforting, then, to hear the command to flee. Our Lord knows our courage, or
the lack of it. He takes the persecution of the enemy and uses it to spread
is one last side note: the cities of Israel prophecy. Some hold this
fulfilled at the Resurrection; others hold that this is the prophecy of the
conversion of the Jews in the holy land. Perhaps it means both. But of this
you can be sure: your sacrifices for the Name will not go unrewarded. At His
return, many will share in His glory.