Jesus delegates His authority…
“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere.”
— Ronald Reagan
Whereas Jesus demonstrated his authority in the previous chapters, he now delegates that same authority to His disciples so that they may carry out His ministry to the world.
In this second of Matthew’s five discourses, Jesus instructs, prepares, empowers, and encourages the twelve disciples for the immediate and distant future.
Go with Confidence
by Stuart K. Weber
Toward the end of my tour of duty in Vietnam, I was given a special assignment by our commanding officer.
The Green Berets were viewed with suspicion by certain career Army senior officers.
In particular, General Abrams (the commanding general of all U.S. military forces in Vietnam) had little regard for Special Forces (Green Berets).
He kept a close eye on the Fifth Special Forces Group of which I was a member.
So close, in fact, that he required the group (headquartered far to the north of the general’s location) to establish a second headquarters within shouting distance.
Just two months before I was scheduled to rotate home to the States, some special circumstances developed that required a change of command at this second location.
The group commander called me to his office and informed me that I was being named the new commanding officer there.
He stated that he had selected me because he had observed “a sense of integrity” in me.
He told me that, given my familiarity with him and how he operated, I would be his personal representative there.
He indicated he would expect me to act precisely as I anticipated he would do in my circumstances, and that the reputation of the group would be in my hands.
I was to be alert to any action that would embarrass the group or its commander.
His appointment was humbling and terrifying.
I would do my best. His confidence made it easier for me. And that is the way it is for the disciples in Matthew.
Jesus’ orders to them are humbling and terrifying.
Still, they are orders and the men will do their best.
At the end of Matthew 9, Jesus told his disciples to pray that the “Lord of the harvest” would send out workers into his fields.
Here in chapter 10, He called His disciples into His office, so to speak, and informed them that they were His personal representatives.
He gave them authority. They were to act in His name and speak His message.
Just as soldiers or any other public officials have authority derived from a higher authority (the law), kingdom servants, as the King’s personal representatives on earth, have authority delegated from the highest authority of all.
We will see in this passage how the King intended His disciples to use such power.
Read Matthew 10
(Note for the purpose of our study today, we will only be looking at the first 15 verses of chapter 10)
The King trains His disciples to carry out His ministry, giving them specific guidelines, realistic expectations of persecution, a clarified challenge, and hopeful reassurances.
This chapter is the second of Jesus’ five major addresses in Matthew (5-7; 10; 13; 18; 24-25).
The first four verses provide the setting for the discourse, and Jesus’ remarks actually begin in 10:5.
In Matthew 5-9, Jesus demonstrated His authority, first through His teaching (chs. 5-7), then through His actions (miracles; chs. 8-9).
Now He will delegate this same authority to do exactly the same kinds of ministry (preaching, healing, casting out demons; 10:1,7-8) that He had been doing (4:23; 9:35).
Jesus judged that the disciples were ready, for they had been with Him long enough, observing His ministry and hearing His teachings, and probably participating in the ministry to a limited extent.
Now it was time for their training to move to a new level. Because Matthew is arranged thematically rather than chronologically, we should not assume that everything recorded before Matthew 10 had actually happened when Jesus gave this discourse.
Then again, these stories are likely representative of a much larger number of such events, and there are certainly hundreds of other untold stories that the disciples had witnessed before the discourse of Matthew 10.
Twelve Disciples Called (10:1–4)
10:1 In the last verse of chapter 9, the Lord instructed His disciples to pray for more laborers.
To make that request sincerely, believers must be willing to go themselves.
So here we find the Lord calling His twelve disciples.
He had previously chosen them, but now He calls them to a special evangelistic mission to the nation of Israel.
With the call went authority to cast out unclean spirits and to heal all kinds of diseases.
The uniqueness of Jesus is seen here.
Other men had performed miracles, but no other man ever conferred the power on others.
10:2–4 The twelve apostles were:
1. Simon, who is called Peter. Impetuous, generous-hearted, affectionate man that he was, he was a born leader.
2. Andrew, his brother. He was introduced to Jesus by John the Baptist (John 1:36, 40), then brought his brother Peter to Him. He made it his business thereafter to bring men to Jesus.
3. James, the son of Zebedee, who was later killed by Herod (Acts 12:2)—the first of the twelve to die as a martyr.
4. John, his brother. Also a son of Zebedee, he was the disciple whom Jesus loved. We are indebted to him for the Fourth Gospel, three Epistles, and Revelation.
5. Philip. A citizen of Bethsaida, he brought Nathanael to Jesus. He is not to be confused with Philip the Evangelist, in the book of Acts.
6. Bartholomew. Believed to be the same as Nathanael, the Israelite in whom Jesus found no guile (John 1:47).
7. Thomas, also called Didymus, meaning “twin.” Commonly known as “Doubting Thomas,” his doubts gave way to a magnificent confession of Christ (John 20:28).
8. Matthew. The former tax collector who wrote this Gospel.
9. James, the son of Alphaeus. Little else is definitely known about him.
10. Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus. He is also known as Judas the son of James (Luke 6:16). His only recorded utterance is found in John 14:22.
11. Simon, the Canaanite, whom Luke calls the Zealot (6:15).
12. Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of our Lord.
All of the disciples were probably in their twenties at this time. Taken from varied walks of life and probably young men of average ability, their true greatness lay in their association with Jesus.
10:5, 6 The remainder of the chapter contains Jesus’ instructions concerning a special preaching tour to the house of Israel.
This is not to be confused with the later sending of the seventy (Luke 10:1) or with the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19, 20).
This was a temporary mission with the specific purpose of announcing that the kingdom of heaven was near.
While some of the principles are of lasting value for God’s people in all ages, the fact that some were later revoked by the Lord Jesus proves they were not intended to be permanent (see Luke 22:35, 36).
New King James Version
Supplies for the Road
35 And He said to them, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?”
So they said, “Nothing.”
36 Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.
First the route is given. They were not to go to the Gentiles or to the Samaritans, a mixed race detested by the Jews.
Their ministry was limited at this time to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
10:7 The message was the proclamation that the kingdom of heaven was at hand.
If Israel refused, there would be no excuse because an official announcement was to be made exclusively to them.
The kingdom had drawn near in the Person of the King.
Israel must decide whether to accept or reject Him.
10:8 The disciples were given credentials to confirm their message.
They were to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons.
The Jews demanded signs (1 Cor. 1:22) so God graciously condescended to give them signs.
As to remuneration, the Lord’s representatives were to make no charge for their services.
They had received their blessings without cost and were to dispense them on the same basis.
10:9, 10 They would not be required to make advance provision for the journey.
After all, they were Israelites preaching to Israelites, and it was a recognized principle among the Jews that the laborer deserves his food.
So it would not be necessary for them to take gold, silver, copper, food bag, two tunics, sandals, or staffs.
Probably the meaning is extra sandals or an extra staff; if they already had a staff, they were permitted to take it (Mark 6:8).
The idea is that their needs would be supplied on a day by day basis.
10:11 What arrangements were they to make for housing?
When they entered a city, they were to look for a worthy host—one who would receive them as disciples of the Lord and who would be open to their message.
Once they found such a host, they were to stay with him as long as they were in the city, rather than moving if they found more favorable living conditions.
10:12–14 If a household received them, the disciples were to greet the family, showing courtesy and gratitude in accepting such hospitality.
If, on the other hand, a house refused to host the Lord’s messengers, they were not obligated to pray for God’s peace on it, that is, they would not pronounce a benediction on the family.
Not only so, they were to dramatize God’s displeasure by shaking the dust off their feet.
In rejecting Christ’s disciples, a family was rejecting Him.
And also those who reject the Good News when they hear it will be worse off than the wicked people of these destroyed cities, who never heard the Good News at all.
10:15 He warned that such rejection would bring severer punishment in the day of judgment than the perversion of Sodom and Gomorrah.
This proves that there will be degrees of punishment in hell; otherwise how could it be more tolerable for some than for others?
Max Lucado’s Life Lessons…
The Jews viewed suffering as God’s punishment. The disciples could not understand Jesus’ message that they would suffer for being obedient.
Although believers will be persecuted, they can trust that God has a plan for all difficult circumstances.
Could you use some courage?
Are you backing down more than you are standing up?
If so, let the Master lead you up the mountain again.
Let Him remind you why you should “fear not.”
Listen to the time Jesus scattered the butterflies out of the stomachs of His nervous disciples and see if His words help you.
We need to remember that the disciples were common men given a compelling task.
Before they were the stained-glassed saints in the windows of cathedrals, they were somebody’s next-door-neighbors trying to make a living and raise a family.
They weren’t cut from theological cloth or raised on supernatural milk.
But they were an ounce more devoted than they were afraid and, as a result, did some extraordinary things. . . . Earthly fears are no fears at all.
All the mystery is revealed. The final destination is guaranteed.
Answer the big question of eternity, and the little questions of life fall into perspective.
(From The Applause of Heaven by Max Lucado)
Jesus promised hard times, but He also promised comfort.
Are you experiencing opposition for being a Christian but neglecting to accept His comfort?
Look forward to the day when you will no longer be persecuted but will be rewarded for persevering. Let the reality of that reward encourage you.
Daily Verse and Comment
New King James Version
11 “Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out.
12 And when you go into a household, greet it.
13 If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.
14 And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.
15 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!
This section’s main subject is how a minister should approach preaching the gospel.
But notice, when we distill His words down, Jesus is saying that, for a minister, preaching the gospel is non-negotiable.
In the vernacular, He says to His ministry,
“If you go into a town, and you find worthy people to stay with, preach the gospel to them.
If they accept it, great. Stay there and preach for as long as you need to.
If they reject it, great.
Pick up your belongings, dust off your pants, and go to the next town.
As a minister of God, you are not preaching for the sake of numbers, or to receive praise from the people, or to make money, or whatever. Preach the gospel. Period.”
The minister’s job is to preach the gospel.
If the people accept it – wonderful. If they do not accept it – well, they will get their reward.
The ministry does not have to waste its time in places where the gospel will not be accepted.
God does not want His ministers to throw pearls before swine, as it were.
He wants them to find those who accept the truth, who want to believe the truth, who are willing to support the truth, who want to help in getting the truth out.
And if none are to be found in a particular place, they are to move on.
Evidently, God has not called anyone there.
But the truth remains the same. The message must be preached, and it must not be changed.
Jesus is pretty hard-nosed about this.
A minister of God is not driven by numbers, nor by contributions.
He should not be driven by anything designed to make him look “good” because he should not be in it for his own glory.
He is in the ministry because he desires to preach the gospel and glorify God.
That is what his Master has told him to do, and he is a man, a servant, under authority.
— Richard T. Ritenbaugh
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