Continuing my series on the secrets of the kingdom. I believe the secrets of the kingdom of God have been given to us (Matthew 13:11). This kingdom message is the reason Jesus came (Luke 4:43). So I'm examining different passages related to this kingdom message.
Matt 10 is all about the instructions Jesus gives His disciples as he sends them out to preach for the first time on their own. They had been following Jesus as he preached about the good news of the kingdom of God. They have watched Jesus heal the sick and defeat evil that had a grip on many people. Now it is their turn to go out an do the same.
Matt 10:1 (NIV)
Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness....
Matt 10:5 - 15 (NIV)
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.Parallel passage in Luke 9:1-6 (NIV)
“Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.
A couple of thoughts:
- To be a disciple meant learning the ways of your rabbi, and following their lead. The disciples of Jesus here are given the task of going out and doing what Jesus had been doing. Preaching about the kingdom of God, healing the sick, and freeing people from the bondage of evil.
- Are we disciples of Jesus today? Should we also be about the same tasks?
- The message was "the kingdom of God has come near." I think this is closer to "the reign or rule of God is here" than "believe in Jesus so you can go to heaven when you die."
- The actions were healing the sick, and freeing people from the bondage of evil. Proof that the reign of God was present.
- (I may not be the right person to point this out. But it's in this passage, so here are my thoughts. You are welcome to take it or leave it, or share your thoughts.) Freely they received, freely they gave. No talk of passing a plate or collecting tithes and offerings. In the context here, the phrase "the worker is worth his keep" does not imply earning a wage for the work they did. It seems God would find people to provide food and shelter for these men as they traveled from town to town. This passage (nor any NT passage that I've found) says nothing about paying a wage to someone hired to stay in a community and preach every week.
Challenge to myself: What would it look like if I was living like a disciple of Jesus today? How can I share with others that Jesus wants to reign in their lives now and into eternity. How can I bring God's power into their present situations to heal them from the powers of darkness that so often rule.