The First Twelve..

New Testament Journey Day 42: Matthew 10:1-15. Jesus sends out the Twelve.

“Jesus called his twelve disciples together and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness. Here are the names of the twelve apostles: First Simon (also called Peter) – Then Andrew (Peter’s brother) – James (Son of Zebedee) – John (James’ brother) – Philip – Bartholomew – Thomas – Matthew (the tax collector) – James (Son of Alphaeus) – Thaddaeus – Simon (the zealot) – Jus Iscariot (who later betrayed him). Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: “Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but only to the people of Israel – God’s lost sheep. Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!

Don’t take any money in your money belts – no gold, silver or even copper coins. Don’t carry a travelers bag with a change of clothes and sandals or even a walking stick. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work, deserve to be fed.

Whenever you enter a city or a village, search for a worthy person and stay in his home until you leave town. When you enter the home, give it your blessing. If it turns out to be a wroth home, let your blessing stand; if it is no, take back the blessing. If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave. I tell you the truth, the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah will be better off than such a town on judgement day.” – Matthew 10:1-15

Jesus “called” his 12 disciples. He didn’t draft them, force them or ask them to volunteer; he chose them to serve him in a special way. Christ calls us today. He doesn’t twist our arms and make us do something he doesn’t want us to do. We can choose to join him, or remain behind. When Christ calls you to follow him, how do you respond?

Jesus called people from all walks of life – fishermen, political activists, tax collectors. He called COMMON people and UNCOMMON leaders; rich and poor; educated and uneducated. Today, many people think only certain people are fit to follow Christ, but this was not the attitude of the Master himself. God can use anyone, no matter how insignificant he or she appears. When you feel small and useless, remember that. God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary work!

Why didn’t Jesus send the disciples to the Gentiles or the Samaritans? A Gentile is anyone who is not a Jew. The Samaritans were a race that resulted from intermarriage between the Jews and the Gentiles after the Old Testament captives. Jesus asked his disciples to go only to the Jews because he came first to the Jews (Romans 1:16). God chose them to tell the rest of the world about him. Jewish disciples and apostles preached the Good News of the risen Christ all around the Roman Empire, and soon Gentiles were pouring into the church. The Bible clearly teaches that God’s message of salvation is for ALL people!

The Jews were waiting for the Messiah to usher in his Kingdom. They hoped for a political and military kingdom that would free them from Roman rule and bring back the days of glory under David and King Solomon. But Jesus was talking about a spiritual Kingdom. The Good News Today is that the Kingdom is STILL NEAR. Jesus, the Messiah, has already begun his Kingdom on earth in the hearts of his followers. One day the Kingdom will be fully realized. Then evil will be destroyed and all people will leave in peace with one another.

Jesus gave the disciples a principle to guide their actions as they ministered to others: “Give as freely as you have received.” Because God showered us with his blessings, we should give generously to others of our time, love and possessions.

The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire from heaven because of their wickedness. Those who reject the Good News when they hear it will be no worse off than the wicked people of these destroyed cities, who never heard the Good News at all. You’ve heard the Good News – every day you are one day closer to it being the last time you’ve heard it or had a chance to accept Jesus. If that’s you, I encourage you to make your decision to follow him today!

**Excerpts taken from the Life Application Study Bible

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