Specific instructions--Where to go? What to say and do?
What to take and what to leave at home? How to find lodging?
How to handle rejection?
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These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying, "Do
not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the
Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
As you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'
Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.
Freely you have received, freely give. Provide neither gold nor
silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey,
nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of
his food.

"Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy,
and stay there till you go out. When you go into a household,
greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it.
But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. Whoever will
not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that
house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say
to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah
in the day of judgment than for that city!"

[{Mark 6:12-13} So they went out and preached that people should
repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many
who were sick, and healed them.]

                                                          Matthew 10:5-15 NKJV, condensed



5-8Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge:
"Don't begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And
don't try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost,
confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom
is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables.
Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.

9-10"Don't think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start.
You don't need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment, and all you need
to keep that going is three meals a day. Travel light.

11"When you enter a town or village, don't insist on staying in a luxury inn.
Get a modest place with some modest people, and be content there until
you leave.

12-15"When you knock on a door, be courteous in your greeting. If they
welcome you, be gentle in your conversation. If they don't welcome you,
quietly withdraw. Don't make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your
way. You can be sure that on Judgment Day they'll be mighty sorry--but it's
no concern of yours now.

                                                     --Matthew 10:5-15, The Message Bible


 

                       Live Generously and Trust God

Ministry is not about money or clothes or making prior reservations. It's not
about make-up or how smooth and cool we look, nor the comforts of home
and good service along the way. Actually, it's not about us at all. Ministry is
giving as freely as we have received from God. It's about faith and trusting
the One who sent us into his field of golden grain at harvest time.

I wanted you to read the New King James Version and The Message back
to back. The former is a translation; the latter is a paraphrase. Some of
you prefer a precise translation of the Biblical text. But these instructions
of Jesus to his disciples are so tied to the culture and religious traditions of
that time period, we could get lost in the maze of explanatory jargon and
miss the point of what Jesus was saying.

For example, we tend to forget Jesus was not "a Christian"! He was
Jewish, as were his disciples and most of the people in the crowds who
came to hear him and experience his miracles. When Jesus sent his
disciples out on their first outreach mission, they went to their own people
in the towns and villages of Galilee. It wasn't until the post resurrection
appearances that Jesus commissioned his disciples to go to "the ends
of the earth," and to all people. Then another decade and a half passed
before Christianity began to emerge as a separate theology.

The Message doesn't bother with any of that. A paraphrase gives you only 
a sense of what Jesus said, as it attempts to guess at how these directives 
would sound if Jesus were saying them to us today. So if you are more 
interested in what Jesus meant than the exact words he used to express 
it, you are likely to prefer reading the passage from this currently popular 
paraphrase. Whichever we choose, God has something to say and we 
need to open our ears and prepare our hearts and minds to receive.

The disciples had watched and learned for many months; now Jesus
called them, two by two, from the bleachers and onto the playing field.
Here's the game plan:
  Go to Jews--your own kind.
  Proclaim the message of the kingdom, available here and now.
  Minister health to the sick, restore the outcasts, bring life to the dead.
  Remove unclean spirits wherever you find them.
  Freely and in abundance you have received, so give freely and in abundance.
  Travel light; don't take money, food or clothing.
  Find a suitable family and stay in their home for the duration of your visit.
  If a town rejects you, leave their dust behind as you depart; God won't be
            happy with them on judgment day.
  Now, get started; I will make you able as you go.

Wow! How would you like an assignment like that? When you enter a
village, ask the native folks to help you find a hospitable family. Can you
imagine, Jesus told 12 men to ask for help! And don't take an overnight bag.
Don't even carry any money. The disciples appeared very vulnerable,
defenseless, may even have evoked sympathy and pity. In some towns
they were not welcomed, and we can understand why.

They would be dependent on the kindness of others for all their needs.
Or to put it another way, the disciples had to depend upon God to supply
whatever they needed. Those new believers would learn immediately
the joy of sharing whatever they had with God's messengers. Which is
a good thing. Disciples and those to whom they are sent--all receive
from each other, all become givers.

The kingdom of heaven is at hand, within our very midst. It's all about
faith--the faith to receive, the faith to give; the faith to be humbled, the faith
to partner with God in highest heaven. The disciples carried nothing with
them yet believed they could live generously! They were human like us,
yet believed they could work some miracles on behalf of Jesus!

No different than us, they possessed the power but they had to get out
there and use it or it did no one any good. So they went, traveling light,
giving freely, trusting God and telling everyone the kingdom of heaven is
within our reach.

 

Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further
study or reflection.

 

Icebreaker: How good are you at following instructions?
                   Relate a memorable experience you had with following directions.

 

Do you think you could you live by faith for your room and board?
            Maybe some of you have.   If so, share the story.

 

Read over this passage again from the translation and the paraphrase.
            What are the main differences that you notice?
            Which one gives you a better understanding of what Jesus said?

 

The commands of Jesus in this passage were for one specific situation.
What can we take from these verses that applies to our time and culture?
            Make a list of all the phrases which you think can be universally
                        applied to any discipleship endeavor.
            What did you include and what did you eliminate?

 

"God loves and cares for you."--Miracles brought that message home
to people in such a dramatic way they could not miss it.
            How do we convey the same message?

 

The disciples took nothing with them, yet Jesus told them to be generous!
            How can we be generous without money?
What have you received without paying for it, which Jesus wants you to
            share without being paid?

 

Why do you think Jesus deliberately sent his disciples out without money
and provisions?

 

"The kingdom of heaven is at hand!" Is that still the message of the Church?
Explain why it should, or should not, be the main message we preach today?

 

The twelve disciples were empowered to work miracles.
            What has God made you able to do?
            Or what is God making you able to do as you go forth in life's journey?
How can we know what God's instructions are for us as we share our faith?

 

Every job has aspects about it which we do not like.
            What don't you like about being a disciple of Jesus?
            What do you like?

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