Read: Matthew 10:9-15
Jesus after commissioning the 12 to proclaim the kingdom in Israel, he gives them some specific instructions on how to do it: go into a town and find a person who welcomes them and stay there, and “peace” shall fall upon that house. Jesus tells them not to take anything along, rather to find their way entirely based upon the generosity of those who hosted them. This method insured that the disciples wouldn’t trust in anything other than the providence of God as they went about preaching the gospel. And Jesus says that sometimes they wouldn’t be accepted – in this case they would go to the next town, but before leaving they would shake the dust from their feet as sign of judgment on the that.
This principle of going into a town and finding a “person of peace” was certainly practiced by the early missionaries and apostles as they went about proclaiming the gospel.
- Acts 10 tells the story of Peter going to the house of Cornelius who was a Roman centurion who heard the gospel and believed it. He and his entire household were baptized.
- Acts 16:11-15, 40 tells of Paul and Silas going into Philippi and preaching the gospel to Lydia who was converted. Her whole household came to faith.
- Acts 16:22-24 tells the story of the Philippian jailer who too was converted, he and his entire household because of the gospel.
On all of these cases, there was a single person of influence in a community who was found to be open to the gospel and then received it. As a result, numerous others came to known Christ. In the cases in Acts 16, a church grew out of these conversions, to whom Paul later wrote the letter of Philippians to.
There is, however, one occasion in Acts 13:13-52 where no person of peace is found. Granted, there were some people who believed the gospel and were saved, nevertheless because there was great hostility toward Paul and company, they left shaking the dust from their feet in as a pronouncement of judgement on that town.
The person of peace principle still holds as cornerstone in most any disciple-making strategy. Missionaries all over the world use the model that Jesus gave as a way of extending the gospel into villages, towns, college campuses, cities, communities, and even places of work. Missionaries will find a person of peace in these settings and partner with that individual to help establish a lasting presence in which churches can be started and disciples can be made of all those who will hear the gospel. Applying this principle in one’s own disciple making context will help spread the gospel to places it would not otherwise go and create a lasting presence so that the effort multiplies.
Lord, help me to find a person of peace in my context!
Read: Matthew 10:1-8: Disciple Making
Jesus’ discipleship model was not unlike that which is used today in many fields of study. As when a person begins to study a field, he or she starts with the basic and exercises basic skills in a laboratory environment. As skills grow, so do the task to the point where one is ready to start exercising skills outside the laboratory, but still in a controlled setting under the tutelage of a master. Jesus Matthew 10 is doing just this: he’s sending the disciples out on a mission to do the things that they had seen him doing all through the book of Matthew – teaching (Matthew 5, 6, and 7) and performing signs and wonders to show authority authenticate the message (Matthew 8,9). But here in Matthew Jesus puts parameters on it: he tells them not to go to the nations or into Samaria, rather to go to the people of Israel and do the work among their own, as all the disciples were Jews.
Also of note, this is the only place in the book if Matthew that the disciples are actually called “apostles”. The word literally means “sent one”, which is precisely what Jesus is doing here in the text. The command that Jesus gives them to “go” is the same command given in Matthew 28:19 in the Great Commission. In sending them out, Jesus is appointing them to be apostles to preach the good news of the Kingdom of God.
The command that Jesus gives here and in Matthew 28:18-20 are all about the process of making disciples. The command being carried out here in Matthew and also in the book of Acts reflects a similar discipleship model – a more mature believer will teach and train up new believers and then at some point commission them to do the same thing: go and make disciples. It has been passed on from generation to generation up into the present. Paul expressed this principle to one of his own disciples, Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2 where he commands Timothy to teach what he was taught to those who can teach it to others. There are at least 5 generations implied here: Paul’s teachers, Paul, Timothy, Timothy’s students, and Timothy’s student’s students.
Every believer today does well to be both a disciple and a disciple maker. Having another to teach one’s self and also having some one to teach will help bring everyone to spiritual maturity and also propagate the gospel to the next generation. God wants his gospel to go out and he’s given the means to do it!
Lord, help me to be a disciple and make disciples too!
Read: John 15:18-25
Being a follower of Jesus associates one with Jesus. Jesus is telling them that they can reasonably expect to be treated in the same manner he was treated while he was on earth. First, Jesus spends most of the time talking about the world hating them because of him. Jesus was persecuted during his ministry so much so that he had multiple death threats on his life. The reality of persecution is realized during the first few chapters of Acts when Stephen is stoned. Paul says it can be expected with great certainty (2 Timothy 2:13). When it does come, one should not be surprised, but rather pray for those who do persecute you (Matthew 5:44), escape it if possible (Matthew 10:23), and rejoice and be glad because of the reward that awaits believers in heaven (Matthew 5:10-12). Second, Jesus also talks about some obeying his teachings, and so they could reasonably expect others out of the world to obey his teachings. Even in light of persecution, there will be some who will believe in the name of Jesus. The Great Commission commands the disciples to go and make disciples of all nations “teaching” them to “obey” what Jesus had commanded them (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus promises to build his church (Matthew 16:18) and disciples do this just as Jesus did and hand commanded them: by teaching others what they had been taught who will teach it to others (2 Timothy 2:2). This generational propagation of the gospel is something that disciples could expect too.
Jesus says this was to fulfill what was written in the Law from Psalm 69:4. Psalm 69 speaks of a man who has been falsely accused of any number of things, but in the end, the things were just that: false accusations. The psalm continues with a plea of repentance and humility, a plea for deliverance and justice, and ultimately a praise for the the triumph of God throughout the entire earth!
When Christians do the work of God, it is always a win-win situation whether one is winning converts or whether one is building up rewards in heaven because of persecution. One need not worry about the growth, rather one need worry only about teaching others to obey what Jesus has commanded. When some do believe, there will be great joy and when one is persecuted there will be great joy too! In the end, God will be exalted in all the earth too.
Lord, I know some will and some will not obey. In any case, help me to obey you!