Thursday 10 October 2013

Bible Book:

Matthew 10:1-15 Thursday 10 October 2013


This passage begins the second discourse of Matthew's Gospel,the first being the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7). The first was addressedto the crowds, this, second, is addressed to the twelve. In verse 1the twelve are named as disciples (learners); in verse 2, for thefirst time, they are called apostles (those who are sent).

 Discipleship is a word which applies to all Christians. Weare all called to follow Jesus and learn from him. Simultaneously,however, these disciples are also sent out to make the kingdom ofGod known in word and deed. Although in some Christian traditionsthe word 'apostle' is restricted to these twelve, or those anointedin the succession of bishops since St Peter, all disciples need tobe both followers of Jesus, and to be sent out by him in witnessand service.

Here, the apostles are told explicitly only to go only to thelost sheep of Israel (verse 6). This is a more restricted view ofJesus' vocation than appears elsewhere in Matthew's Gospel (eg Matthew 28:19) though in chapter 15, a Syro-Phoenician woman persuadesJesus that although his original sense of vocation is "to the lostsheep of the house of Israel" others might have a claim on hisministry also.

Like their master, the apostles are sent to be shepherds to thehouse of Israel. Unlike the failed shepherds who slaughtered thesheep and fed themselves (Ezekiel 34), the apostles are only to beclothed in what they need and are to rely on the hospitality theyreceive. Their mission is to not to be one of exploitation anddeath, but one of liberation and life.

Also, the apostles are to be pastoral (shepherd-like), but notin a watered down sense of being nice and failing to challengeevil. Jesus has already made reference to the need for harvesters(Matthew 9:38) and harvesting involvesseparating wheat from chaff. So, those who are not people of peace,and who will not welcome the coming Kingdom or its representativesbring a judgement upon themselves (verse 15) as serious as thatbrought upon Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19) for their abuse of theirguests.

To Ponder

  • If all disciples (followers of Jesus) are also apostles (sentout in witness and service), to whom do you think you are yousent?
  • This passage implies that there will be opposition to the God'smission of liberation and life. To be on the receiving end ofhostility can be very uncomfortable - how helpful is Jesus' adviceto "let your peace return to you and to shake off the dust fromyour feet" (v. 14)?
  • The conditions under which the apostles must serve are the mostdemanding recorded in the Gospels. Why do you think Jesus wantedthem to be dependent on the hospitality they received?

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