Scripture reading – Matthew 10
Though accompanied by His disciples, Jesus had ministered to great crowds as a solitary figure. With multitudes coming, Jesus needed fellow laborers who would assist in teaching and preaching the “Good News” (9:36-38). Moved with love and compassion, Jesus declared to His disciples: “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few” (9:37). With that declaration, He challenged them to Pray (9:38), Go (10:1-6), and Preach (10:7, 27). (note – This is the first of two devotionals for today.)
Matthew 10 marks a fundamental shift in Christ’s public ministry. The Twelve whom He had called to be disciples(lit. students, pupils, learners), Jesus now commissioned to be apostles (lit. one sent out). In Mark 3 we read Jesus “ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, 15 And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils” (Mark 3:13-15). Among the Twelve named (10:2-4) was one whom Matthew identified as “Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him” (10:4). The future of the Gospel ministry and the Church would rest upon the Twelve, less the traitor Judas Iscariot.
The disciples, now apostles, were commissioned to “Go” (10:5-7), and given two directives. 1) They were told where not to go, “Go not into the way [road; path; lifestyle] of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not” (10:5). 2) The second, they were told where (or rather to whom) to go: “Go rather to the lost [dying; bound for destruction] sheep of the house of Israel [Twelve Tribes; lineage of Jacob]” (10:6).
We find in Matthew 10:7-15, the message of the apostles: “And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (10:7); the ministry of the apostles, for they were to “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils” (10:8a). In manner, the apostles were to be selfless, humble, and faithful: “freely ye have received, freely give. 9Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, 10Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat” (10:8b-10).
The apostles were to be discriminating of where they stayed, and to whom they ministered (10:11-14). Should a city or town reject their message, they were instructed to deem it “not worthy…[and] depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet” (10:13b-14).
Closing thought – Bear in mind the principle, “unto whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48). The apostles were told the judgment of God would fall heavier upon those who heard the Gospel and rejected it, than when the wrath of God fell upon “the land of Sodom and Gomorrah” (10:15).
A sobering truth: The weight and degree of God’s judgment will be greater on those who have heard the Truth and rejected it, than it upon those who have little or no knowledge of God’s Word.
Hebrews 10:26a, 29a, 30a – 26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins…29Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God…30For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord.”
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