Jesus has finished phase one of His disciples on the job training, has personally bestowed His authority on each one of them, and is now ready to deliver to them their full job description. This is a lengthy and thorough description, so it is going to take us a while to get through it all. I want to take the time to read it fully, just like you would read your own new job description. You have to know where you are going to be working, what you will be doing, what tools you will need to bring to work with you, the kinds of customers you will be serving and how to treat them, what you can expect management to do for you, the “Mission Statement” of the company and what your compensation for service will be. All these Jesus addresses with His disciples before He sends them out. We are going to take the first three parts today: their location for service, their role, and what supplies they need to provide.
Jesus has been taking the disciples on a tour of “their department” while He has been ministering. Matthew reported in chapter 9 verse 35 that they had gone throughout all the cities and villages. These were the same places the disciples would now visit as they personally shared Jesus’ message. They were only to go to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (verse 6). We have not heard stories yet of Jesus visiting any of the Gentile or Samaritan cities. I’m curious if the city near where we got “deviled ham” was Israeli or Gentile. The city was still in Galilee but they were raising pigs. A BIG no-no for the strict Jew. Jesus didn’t go into the city either, so does that count as visiting outside the house of Israel?
The disciples are given their role requirements next. In their new role they are to proclaim, wherever they go, that “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (verse 8). They are also to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers and cast out demons. Each of these tasks they have observed Jesus doing directly. They saw how He did it so they have examples to draw from as they do these same works. They are to take NO money for these services. Their employer will be providing them with compensation at a later time, which will also be addressed at a later time.
As for the supplies the disciples are to bring with them, Jesus strictly tells them that they are to bring NOTHING. No extra money for souvenirs or meals. No extra uniform. Not even an extra pair of shoes to change into. Everything they need will be provided for them. Their role classification was servant. And as a servant, their meals and personal needs would be provided by those they entered into service for. Jesus let them know that each town they would visit, that there would be a home where needs for food, lodging, and laundry facilities would be provided for them. They were to look for those places when they arrived at each new town. Jesus also let them know that some of these “places of provision” would be more welcoming, or worthy, than others. In the homes where they were genuinely welcomed, they were to relax and enjoy the company therein. Be at peace there. In the homes where they were grudgingly accepted, they were to accept the supplies but be on guard while there.
Jesus prepared them for the eventuality that not every town would welcome them with open arms. Jesus made sure that His disciples knew that any town that didn’t welcome them, would then have to answer to Him and God. The disciples were to make a physical statement by shaking the dust from their feet. This would be a clear statement against the people in the town on judgement day.
Jesus, I’m sure Your disciples were excited to be going out in You name. They probably were a bit nervous too. I know I am every time I start a new job. I worry if I really have enough training to do a good job. I worry if I will mess something up or make a fool of myself. I expect these men and I are a lot alike in that respect. You took the time to give them detailed instructions and even assure them, from the beginning, that You had their back.
When You have a job for us to do You do the same. We often refer to it as You “opening doors” for us. You have done that for me many times. Thank You for Your preparations in advance of my placements. Simple things, like the Christian friends You provided me and my family with in lands when we were far away from family, to complex arrangements, like guiding me to the right clinical placements. You have everything in control, even when I can’t see it yet. Thank You for Your training, Your equipping and Your explanations. Only when I have ALL the pieces can I truly begin the work You set before me. Remind me again, each time I try to jump in and start on my own, how much easier and better it will be, for me and those You intend for me to serve, if I will just sit still until You finish my preparations. You are worth waiting for, even though that is one of the hardest things for me to do. I’m willing to learn.