Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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Scripture Passage

      Matthew - Chapter 10 (Contemporary English Version)
    1. Jesus called together his twelve disciples. He gave them the power to force out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and sickness.
    2. The first of the twelve apostles was Simon, better known as Peter. His brother Andrew was an apostle, and so were James and John, the two sons of Zebedee.
    3. Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew the tax collector, James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus were also apostles.
    4. The others were Simon, known as the Eager One, and Judas Iscariot, who later betrayed Jesus.
    5. Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: Stay away from the Gentiles and don't go to any Samaritan town.
    6. Go only to the people of Israel, because they are like a flock of lost sheep.
    7. As you go, announce that the kingdom of heaven will soon be here.
    8. Heal the sick, raise the dead to life, heal people who have leprosy, and force out demons. You received without paying, now give without being paid.
    9. Don't take along any gold, silver, or copper coins.
    10. And don't carry a traveling bag or an extra shirt or sandals or a walking stick. Workers deserve their food.
    11. So when you go to a town or a village, find someone worthy enough to have you as their guest and stay with them until you leave.
    12. When you go to a home, give it your blessing of peace.
    13. If the home is deserving, let your blessing remain with them. But if the home isn't deserving, take back your blessing of peace.
    14. If someone won't welcome you or listen to your message, leave their home or town. And shake the dust from your feet at them.
    15. I promise you that the day of judgment will be easier for the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
    16. I am sending you like lambs into a pack of wolves. So be as wise as snakes and as innocent as doves.
    17. Watch out for people who will take you to court and have you beaten in their meeting places.
    18. Because of me, you will be dragged before rulers and kings to tell them and the Gentiles about your faith.
    19. But when someone arrests you, don't worry about what you will say or how you will say it. At that time you will be given the words to say.
    20. But you will not really be the one speaking. The Spirit from your Father will tell you what to say.
    21. Brothers and sisters will betray one another and have each other put to death. Parents will betray their own children, and children will turn against their parents and have them killed.
    22. Everyone will hate you because of me. But if you remain faithful until the end, you will be saved.
    23. When people mistreat you in one town, hurry to another one. I promise you that before you have gone to all the towns of Israel, the Son of Man will come.
    24. Disciples are not better than their teacher, and slaves are not better than their master.
    25. It is enough for disciples to be like their teacher and for slaves to be like their master. If people call the head of the family Satan, what will they say about the rest of the family?
    26. Don't be afraid of anyone! Everything that is hidden will be found out, and every secret will be known.
    27. Whatever I say to you in the dark, you must tell in the light. And you must announce from the housetops whatever I have whispered to you.
    28. Don't be afraid of people. They can kill you, but they cannot harm your soul. Instead, you should fear God who can destroy both your body and your soul in hell.
    29. Aren't two sparrows sold for only a penny? But your Father knows when any one of them falls to the ground.
    30. Even the hairs on your head are counted.
    31. So don't be afraid! You are worth much more than many sparrows.
    32. If you tell others that you belong to me, I will tell my Father in heaven that you are my followers.
    33. But if you reject me, I will tell my Father in heaven that you don't belong to me.
    34. Don't think that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came to bring trouble, not peace.
    35. I came to turn sons against their fathers, daughters against their mothers, and daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law.
    36. Your worst enemies will be in your own family.
    37. If you love your father or mother or even your sons and daughters more than me, you are not fit to be my disciples.
    38. And unless you are willing to take up your cross and come with me, you are not fit to be my disciples.
    39. If you try to save your life, you will lose it. But if you give it up for me, you will surely find it.
    40. Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me. And anyone who welcomes me also welcomes the one who sent me.
    41. Anyone who welcomes a prophet, just because that person is a prophet, will be given the same reward as a prophet. Anyone who welcomes a good person, just because that person is good, will be given the same reward as a good person.
    42. And anyone who gives one of my most humble followers a cup of cool water, just because that person is my follower, will surely be rewarded.

Matthew - Chapter 10

Entered: January 26, 2005

Entered: December 08, 2009
Chapter 9 concluded with Jesus' words of concern for the Jewish people who were "weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd." They had been burdened down with all kinds of religious legalism, none of which pointed them to God. Jesus told His disciples there was a huge harvest just waiting to be reaped but few workers for the task. He told them then to, "pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest." Then chapter 10 opens with the summoning of Jesus' 12 disciples, or apostles, and His preparation to send them out into the harvest.

The message the disciples were to preach as they went was the same message preached by John the Baptist and by Jesus, "The kingdom of heaven has come near." To validate their message they were given power to perform miracles: heal the sick, raise the dead, drive out demons, etc. Some today reverse the importance of these activities. They highlight the miracles and give only cursory attention to the message. Neither Jesus' purpose nor that of His disciples was to perform miracles. They were simply for validating the message. They were of temporary benefit. All who received Jesus' healing or that of His disciples are now dead, including those they raised from the dead. It was merely a delay of the inevitable. But the message and its benefits are eternal.

Jesus specifically instructed His disciples to go to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." They were God's covenant people and should have first opportunity to know of and accept the Messiah and receive His salvation. They were told not to take "the road leading to other nations, and don't enter any Samaritan town." Jesus also established a principle for those who serve Him in taking His message. They were not to charge for their message or their miracles, but they could expect to be given provisions from those they served, "for the worker is worthy of his food." The apostle Paul gave a similar message in one of his epistles. The disciples were not to labor indefinitely in trying to get the "lost sheep" of Israel to receive their message. If the message was not readily received they were to "shake the dust off your feet" and move on to another place.

Then Jesus prepared the disciples for the hazards of their assignment. They should not "assume that I came to bring peace on the earth." People have too much invested in their way of thinking and doing and are not necessarily pleased to be confronted with truth. The disciples could expect to be handed over to sanhedrins and to be flogged in their synagogues.  But they should not be afraid. They should not "fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."  Then Jesus gave a principle of life in verse 39, "Anyone finding his life will lose it, and anyone losing his life because of Me will find it." Jesus' most profound teachings go contrary to our way of thinking. Our natural inclination is to preserve our lives at any cost and to serve ourselves at any cost. But Jesus is saying that if we really want to find life we have to give it up and to follow Him. And, we should not allow anything to deter us from following Him, not family members and not our own desires for life. We assume in this that one must give up everything near and dear to follow Christ. This is true, though it doesn't mean we must live life without family and other things of value to us. It does mean that what we value will change and perspective will be brought into proper order. In return for following Christ He gives us a life that is so much better than what we could make for ourselves.