"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Matthew 10:1-15 -- Instructing the Twelve

Although I took some time to read and post notes from the Qur'an recently, I'm still going through Matthew as well, and this chapter has a number of things to point out. I may only get to a bit of it this evening. We'll see.

Remember chapter 9 concluded with Jesus going through towns and villages "teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness." Chapter 10 continues with Jesus sending his twelve disciples out to the children of Israel. He gave them "authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness." Some observations I made.

1. In Jesus' close circle of twelve, he has both a tax collector - one who would have worked with the Romans in financially oppressing his own people - and a zealot - one who would be for overthrowing the occupiers. How much ya want to bet those two had some lively discussions? :)

2. Jesus did not want the twelve to go to the Gentiles at this time. His first priority was ministering among the "lost sheep of Israel."

3. The message to preach was simply, "The kingdom of heaven is near."

4. They were instructed to "heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons."

5. Jesus states, "Freely you have received, freely give." What a wonderful principle for all of us to follow! The disciples had been given this wonderful authority - can you imagine being able to heal those you know who are suffering from cancer or diabetes or Alzheimer's or any number of problems? Can you imagine being able to raise the dead for some grieving family? Driving out demons and restoring hope and sanity to people? Although we cannot do these amazing things, we have been given much so we should seek to meet the needs of others. We are blessed to bless others and truly it is "more blessed to give than to receive."

6. Jesus didn't want them to take extra clothes or money saying the "worker is worth his keep." Perhaps this was a lesson on trusting God to provide for their needs.

7. The disciples were instructed to search for "worthy person" and stay at his house. Give a greeting and if the household is deserving "let your peace rest on it." I wonder what made a person "worthy" and a house "deserving" of the disciples' peace.

8. Jesus took this message seriously because he stated, " 14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. 15I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town."

More bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah?! Whoa! In the book I read by Bart Ehrman, he stated Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher with that "kingdom of heaven is near" stuff. Speaking of which, what do you think that means? And back in chapter 9 Jesus was preaching the "good news of the kingdom." Why is it good news? What makes it so good?

My Quest Study Bible notes this about shaking the dust off feet.

"Jews returning to Israel from a foreign land would shake the dust from their sandals and clothing to avoid defiling the land they considered holy. The disciples were delivering a similar warning to the people of Israel. If they rejected the message of Christ, they would face the same judgment as unbelieving foreigners."

Any thoughts on these verses or my notes? I'd love if you have anything to add!

6 comments:

Amber said...

1. Once I was old enough to appreciate that the Apostles and everyone else in the Bible were real people, who had to have had arguments and differences and friendships just like everyone I knew, I understood them a lot better. I've long imagined that there were one or two outright shouting matches between some of Jesus' followers at one point or another.

5. 'Jesus states, "Freely you have received, freely give." What a wonderful principle for all of us to follow!'

A wonderful ideal for all of us, yes. It's a call to charity. But I've always imagined that this was a particular instruction for those who find themselves blessed with certain abilities. People who can heal by the laying on of hands, those who can exorcise demons, etc. that they should never seek to profit from these gifts. It's an easy way for the rest of us to tell those who are simply out to make money from those who (at least believe) are doing it because they have a calling from God.


7. 'The disciples were instructed to search for "worthy person" and stay at his house. Give a greeting and if the household is deserving "let your peace rest on it." I wonder what made a person "worthy" and a house "deserving" of the disciples' peace.'

From a practical standpoint, I would think that anyone who was willing to listen to them and to take them in as guests would be 'worthy'. They weren't exactly going out to preach to the choir, here, so if they found a household that was open to the Gospel, I'd guess they'd be worthy. :)

8. 'More bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah?!'

Perhaps because in Sodom and Gomorrah, they were not rejecting the Gospel. No doubt they were doing evil, and were destroyed for their sins, but how much worse would it be for them to be in those sins, have an Apostle come and preach the truth to them, and *still* reject the truth?

'In the book I read by Bart Ehrman, he stated Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher with that "kingdom of heaven is near" stuff.'

While I do enjoy Ehrman, he does need to be read with a grain of salt or two. :)

'Speaking of which, what do you think that means?'

I, personally, think that it's meant to remind us that the kingdom of God is always just one heartbeat away. None of us knows when or how we're going to die. We could be called before God any moment.

Durriyyah said...

Jesus largely preaches a message of peace, love, and acceptance, so when he tells one something as severe as 'More bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah', it deserves the utmost attention. Yes, reading the Gospels can give us warm fuzzy feelings, but there's a reality and a warning behind it.

Question: Jesus gave power to the disciples to use miracles, as he did. Using the text of the Bible as evidence, how is this different than the power Jesus is given by God, the Father?

sanil said...

6. I've heard a couple different explanations for this. One is that it sets a precedent for workers in the church to be paid for that work. The apostles shouldn't have to do a second job to provide for their own needs, the people they are bringing God's message to should provide for them so that they are able to devote all their time to this work.

The second is that Jesus was either a member of the Cynic movement or influenced by it, or that the writer or an early storyteller who related these events was influenced by it and included Cynic ideals. Apparently, Cynics also traveled with very little and did not even have homes, because they emphasized minimalist living and a rejection of physical comforts in favor of enriching the mind/soul by living naturally.

And, of course, the explanation you give. :) I would say it's probably a mixture of all three, and that there's something to be learned by considering each...and maybe any other explanation someone might have.

Susanne said...

Amber, you wrote:

"I've long imagined that there were one or two outright shouting matches between some of Jesus' followers at one point or another. "



So true! Remember the other disciples getting a bit disgruntled at - I think - James and John for their wish to be on Jesus' right and left sides in the coming kingdom? It's sometimes neat to imagine the Bible characters as real people with real life issues and discussions. :)

" that they should never seek to profit from these gifts. It's an easy way for the rest of us to tell those who are simply out to make money from those who (at least believe) are doing it because they have a calling from God."

Excellent point! I'm so glad you said that. I'd not thought of it and it's worth noting for sure!

I agree with you on worthiness...thanks for pointing that out! And awesome what you wrote concerning the point about S&G, too! So true!

LOL @ what you said about B. Ehrman - true. ;) I only pointed it out for the sake of disclosure...hehehe. I like what you said about the kingdom of God being near and how it's only a heartbeat away!

Thanks for such a detailed comment! I enjoyed it very much!

(And just how many times can I end a sentence with an exclamation point? Reread this comment to see. Ha! I mean... Ha.)

:)

Susanne said...

Durriyyah, thank you for your comment!

"Yes, reading the Gospels can give us warm fuzzy feelings, but there's a reality and a warning behind it"

FOR SURE!! This is why we seek to share the message of Jesus with others. It's not a matter of merely being tolerant of whatever people do. If we truly believe God has a set standard yet we just OK people doing whatever and not warn them, we are quite negligent, in my opinion.

"Question: Jesus gave power to the disciples to use miracles, as he did. Using the text of the Bible as evidence, how is this different than the power Jesus is given by God, the Father? "

Hmmm, I suppose it's the same or similar. Jesus said often he did the will of his Father who sent him as if they were working as one. Good question. If I think of something more, I'll get back to you on it. I'm glad you left it for me to ponder. :)

Susanne said...

Sanil, I really enjoyed those explanations. You are right that there is something to be learned from all three suggestions. Great comment! Thank you so much for taking time to share those things. :)