Having been trained as disciples, the Twelve will now be sent out as apostles. 


 

When Jesus had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them
power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds
of sickness and disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles
are these:
        first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother;
        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 Cananite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.
These twelve Jesus sent out . . . .

                                                        Matthew 10:1-5a NKJV, condensed


                                 Partners With God and Each Other

Some of us have a real problem with Matthew 10. We like to think the
Bible is relevant to our own lives, that when Jesus spoke to his disciples,
he was also speaking to us. But that idea breaks down at several points
in this chapter, starting with the first verse. Power over every kind of
sickness and dark spirit--it goes a bit too far!

Humans don't do those things. And it's probably good we don't. Can you
imagine what would happen if a select number of people possessed
the ability of Jesus to cure diseases and exorcise demons! How many
times throughout history have we witnessed the corrupting influence of
power! In our day and age, such healing powers would surely be
accompanied by gold and glitz, notoriety and TV crews, arrogance
and an extravagant lifestyle.

But Jesus thoroughly understood human nature so he built in some
safeguards for his disciples. (You'll see what they are in the next passage)
So if you are tempted to envy the powers given to the Twelve, believe
me, Christ-like authority is accompanied by a strict set of guidelines.
So austere, you will not likely line up to volunteer!

Who were these men who were about to become more than is humanly
possible? The majority of the Twelve worked hard to earn their livelihood
from the Sea. One agitated for political justice and another had been
a tax collector. Two brothers were known as the "Sons of Thunder".
Approachable Andrew played the welcoming role. Philip attracted people
of other races and nationalities. Peter was always the first to speak and
landed in hot water several times for his impulsiveness. Thomas had
his doubts. All were Galileans except Judas Iscariot, the token outsider
and treasurer of the group. The Gospels provide no information on the
remaining disciples, the quiet ones.

Jesus' disciples are easy to relate to. Probably everyone reading this
can identify with at least one description in the previous paragraph. But
how are we to believe and understand that these ordinary individuals,
who had committed themselves to Jesus in discipleship, now become
possessors of the miraculous powers of their teacher, Jesus?

A disciple is a student, one who learns from someone else. John the
Baptist had disciples, so did the Pharisees. Usually a student sought
out the teacher, but Jesus reversed the dynamic and called people to
be his disciples. The word, apostle, means one who is sent. Although
Matthew used that word here, it wasn't until Jesus no longer walked
among them, that the disciples grew into that title and became
known as the Twelve apostles.

In the Old Testament, God's people thought of themselves as chosen.
In the Gospels, Jesus called the disciples to follow him. These concepts
place God in the role of initiator. But in order for the concept to be
complete, each believer must respond with a "Yes". Disciples are
called but it's the voluntary yes which completes and seals their calling.

You will notice when Matthew listed the names of the Twelve, he
grouped them into six pairs. Mark's Gospel specifically says Jesus
sent them out two by two. There are no loners in this group; they lived
and worked within the boundaries of a community which would
strengthen and inspire, correct and protect, keep each other on track
and in line with all they had heard from Jesus.

The disciples were called, empowered, named and blest with a partner.
Then Jesus sent them out, two by two, to speak health to the sick,
bring life to the dead, and break the bonds of demonic forces. As they
believed, so it would be. The caller, God, and the called, each disciple,
formed a remarkable partnership. The human with the divine--together
they did the mighty works of God.

It is an amazingly wonderful partnership that God calls us to. God
doesn't do it alone; we certainly can't do it alone. The steady, continuous,
enduring work of God in our world is accomplished when the chosen
agree to be God's people and the called say yes to God's initiatives.
As we believe, so it will happen. Who are these called and chosen ones?
Probably anyone who, as we have learned from Jesus, has ears and
is listening.

 

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

 

Icebreaker: When you hear about miracles happening today or watch them
                            on TV, how do you react to these stories and scenes?
                      What qualifies a miracle as good?     As suspect?

 

The focus of attention has switched in this chapter from the crowds to
the disciples.
            What's the differences between an observer and a disciple?

 

For you, is it a stretch to believe the disciples performed miracles?
            Are you among those who have no difficulty accepting whatever
                        the Gospel writers said?
            Do you disbelieve the reports of Jesus doing miracles, much less
                        his disciples doing the same?
            Is there some middle ground? Discuss your thoughts on this subject.

 

A disciple is a student, one who learns. An apostle is one who is sent forth
to represent Jesus.
            How do you see yourself in terms of being a disciple and/or an apostle?
            What is one way you try to be like Jesus?
            What does it mean to be an ambassador for Christ?

 

The disciples had made a serious commitment to Jesus. They left their
homes and families to travel around the countryside wherever Jesus went.
            What kind of commitment have you made to Jesus?
            Describe a time when you said "Yes" to God's claim on your life?
            Who is your partner in ministry?

 

When the twelve disciples "worked the harvest in God's field", they were
given power to cast out evil spirits and heal all kinds of sickness and disease.
            How is discipleship the same or different in today's world?
            What does it look like to "reap a harvest" for God in the 21st century?

 

When I read over Matthew 10, my determination to continue writing these
studies almost failed me. I literally stalled out for several days. On one of
those mornings I was sitting in my study with pen and paper in hand, and
I noticed an inch-long bug scurry along the wall across the room from me.
I ignored it; I was busy. But I could hear my mother scold me for not getting up
and attacking that bug. A few minutes later the bug surfaced again, this time
coming up beside my chair. So I got up and tried to catch it but it disappeared
so fast I couldn't find him anywhere. A third time he appeared. Now I was
ready and knew I must be quick. In an instant I caught him up and put him
outside. First time, I was in denial; second time, I was unprepared and
ignorant of bug behavior; third time, I was ready to take him out and I did.
Then I thought to myself,
            What does this experience say to me about discipleship?
            How would you answer that question!

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