Sending Out the Twelve – 2

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See full series: the-teachings-of-jesus-2020-21

Sending Out the Twelve – 2

Sermon by  Thomas Thornhill Jr

Passage: Matthew 10:11-23


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Teachings of Jesus (57)


We continue to examine the teachings of Jesus, our theme for 2020-21.  Last week we began an examination of what is called the “limited commission”.  This is Matthew’s detailed account of Jesus sending out the apostles, I believe, to strengthen their faith and prepare them for their work when Jesus was no longer with them.  He has given them miraculous powers over demons and sickness and admonished them to freely use these gifts as they begin to teach.  There our many great lessons in Matthew 10 that are applicable to us as we think about our responsibility to reach the lost.  This is our focus as we go through this text of Jesus in 3 parts.  Last week we noticed, 1) This mission was exclusive to “The lost sheep of Israel” in which we noted that as we start trying to teach others, we begin with those familiar to us; 2) They were to “go” and it was expected.  So are we, in some capacity, to be sharing our faith, whether by example or teaching; 3) They were to freely share their “gifts”, so are we.  The best tool we have to open doors to teaching is our example and caring actions toward others; 4) They were to provide neither silver or gold as they went – this work was about trusting God and realizing that He can provide.  He did!  And we must trust God as well so that He can provide for us.   That brings us to today’s lesson.


  1. Worthy and unworthy households (11-15)
    1. Jesus gives further instructions as they enter a town. Inquire who is worthy and to stay there.  Grant your peace to that home, but if they are unworthy – remove your peace and move on. Harsh judgment awaits those who reject them.
    2. Likely, the idea of worthiness was associated with accepting the gospel. But it could have reference to one of good character.
      1. As they taught, it would become quickly evident who was interested in truth and who was hostile to it. Stay with those who are receptive to truth.
      2. You do NOT want to stay or associate with those who are determined to destroy the faith or YOUR faith. NOR do you want to imply that those who reject the gospel are ok – they are NOT!  Cf. 2 John 9-11.  Presenting the message is difficult enough without deliberately putting yourself in “the lion’s den”.
      3. If they are worthy let your peace come upon them – peace was an important greeting to the Jews. The Hebrew “Shalom” was not just a greeting, but also a blessing.  A calling upon God to bless and grant peace someone. Do not lose that in this passage.
      4. If they were not worthy – that is, they declared themselves unworthy by rejecting the message – let your peace return to you. Jesus even said, “Shake the dust off your feet” – this was a symbolic act that Jews understood.  When traveling, as they returned home, leaving “heathen” territory, they would literally shake the dust off their feet to imply, “I am through with that place”.   It was also a visible act that when witnessed made it clear they had rejected the message being taught.  Therefore, they “judged themselves unworthy” (cf. Acts 13:46).
      5. The warning, “It will be more tolerable for Sodom… – indicates that God will NOT take lightly the rejection of His gospel OR those who proclaim that message. Such ought to be a source of comfort to us.
    3. This DOES present a message of being selective. With experience, judgment typically becomes better and more acute.  You can more quickly determine who is receptive and whether to move on or not.  Recall the message of Jesus about judging in Matthew 7:6 – do not cast your pearl before swine.   John7:24 calls for us to “judge with righteous judgment rather than appearance.  BUT we do have to make judgment.    IF people are interested, teach.  But if not, move on.
    4. Another lesson: Do not take rejection personally. One of the hindrances to sharing the gospel with others is fear of rejection.  It is a legitimate concern, but we CANNOT let that keep us from doing what we ought to be doing.
      1. Jesus would emphasize this often. In fact, as we continue to examine this message, we see Jesus dealing with that concept more than once (next week).
      2. He noted that if one rejected them, they were also rejecting Jesus – Luke 10:16, John 13:20, etc. Paul would also note this in 1 Thessalonians 4:8, Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.
      3. NOW, rejection can be discouraging, especially after you have put forth great effort, OR it is a loved one, but we CANNOT let that keep us from moving on.
      4. The apostles in our text were told to “move on” and go to the next town (vs. 23).
      5. Let God be the judge – He will right the wrongs. He will take vengeance – Romans 12:18-21, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-8, etc.
  2. I send out as sheep in the midst of wolves (16-25) – Be prepared!
    1. In this section Jesus is warning of coming persecutions. Jesus notes that there are wolves out there.
      1. The concept of wolves was often associated with false teachers – Matthew 7:15, Acts 20:29.
      2. We are obviously like sheep before our Lord
        1. Jesus is the true shepherd as noted in John 10:11, 14
        2. Sheep follow and are vulnerable without someone watching over them. We follow our Lord and trust Him to lead us to safety (cf. Psalm 23)
        3. John 10:12 warns of the hireling who flees when the wolf comes – an enemy of the sheep seeking to devour them.
      3. Clearly, this world is hostile territory – the point Jesus is making. And the apostles and His disciples understood this as they dealt with the corrupt Jewish leaders.
    2. Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves
      1. A warning to be alert, but also to be diplomatic. Jesus was warning His apostles to not be careless or let their guards down.   And also, as they taught, they needed to be as harmless as possible.
      2. As we seek to teach others, we too need to keep this in mind as well.
        1. We need to be alert – 1 Peter 5:8, Romans 13:11-13, etc.
        2. We need to avoid harshness when possible – 2 Timothy 2:24-25. Our demeanor has much to do with how others will react to us.
    3. Prepare for persecutions (17-19) – they would be brought before councils and even scourged.
      1. Likely, here Jesus was preparing them for their later work (not necessarily this trip, though it was possible). He is letting them know they will have what they need to defend the truth they taught.
      2. BUT, He also is telling them they will be delivered up.
      3. As we teach and preach, if we are proclaiming the “whole counsel of God”, we are going to face rejection, and at times it will be absolute hostility. 2 Timothy 3:12 tells us that living godly WILL lead to persecution.
      4. We are living in times where the gospel is less and less appreciated, and our enemy, which often includes or is enable by our governing authorities, is becoming increasingly hostile to the Bible’s high moral standard. Will we preach it anyway?
    4. Prepare to preach – let your message be that of the Spirit (preach the gospel) (20-21)
      1. We know the apostles did not have the same resources we have. In some ways, they had more – direct communication with God Himself through His spirit (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:7-16). But they did not have the New Testament in its completed form.
      2. We do not have the miracles or divine guidance like the apostles, but we DO have the completed word of God – 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:3, etc.
      3. Are we prepared to share this with others?
        1. Will we actually try and teach others – 1 Peter 3:15
        2. But also, will we PREPARE? Hebrews 5:12
        3. How many are fearful to try and teach others because they do not know enough (or so they think)? And while that may be true, we cannot wonder but to ask, HOW LONG is that a valid excuse?
    5. Prepare for betrayal (21) –
      1. Even within families is possible betrayal is possible. This truly is tragic, but it is a reality.   Here Jesus warned that as they taught, they would see some sad results and people would turn on each other.  Religion does that.
      2. As we stand for the truth, we must be prepared to stand for truth, ESPECIALLY when it comes at the cost of those we love. And this is a hard thing to do! While true faith can and ought to bring us together, how often does it divide us instead?  Jesus will emphasize this later in this message (34-38).
      3. We cannot let the fear of rejection – either our message or the one being taught facing rejection, keep us from telling them the truth. We may find someone whose obedience comes at a cost.  In such cases, we must be prepared to stand with them and help them (cf. Mark 10:29-30), but we cannot ignore the truth because the consequence is unpleasant to them or us.  (E.g. – are we courageous enough to let someone know that if they are to obey the gospel they must change their relationship – and it might involve their family?)  Later in this chapter Jesus will declare who we should REALLY fear (Matthew 10:28).
    6. Prepare to be hated by all for His sake (22)
      1. Jesus is letting the apostles know that their message was going to be presented in hostile environments. Among the Jews, they would be despised because of how so many hated Jesus; Later, among Gentiles, they would hated for condemning their immorality and their idols.
      2. The “all” here is proverbial and usually not everyone (it BETTER NOT BE! Hopefully, you will have a network of brothers and sisters in Christ who will stand with you in our troubles)  It describes the society in which they worked.   This is equally true today for us.    Be prepared for THE MAJORITY to reject you.  Matthew 22:14 notes that many are called, but few are chosen.  Philippians 2:15 notes how we are shining as lights “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.”
    7. Prepare to persevere (22)–
      1. But he who endures to the end will be saved. This is an encouragement to His apostles to not give up.  Keep going.  Whatever they faced in this life would be rewarded after this life – Paul, at the close of his life knew this – 2 Timothy 1:12, Philippians 3:8.   Revelation 12:11 will speak of those who “did not love their lives to the death.”.  And hence in Revelation 14:13 he would speak of how blessed are those who die in the Lord.
      2. Don’t quit – he who endures to the end will be saved (22).  Continually scripture challenges us to endure.  Galatians 6:9, let us not grow weary…; Hebrews 10:38-39, Luke 9:62, etc.
        This includes when we become discouraged or disappointed that others (and especially someone we deeply care about and have invested much time in rejects the truth).
    8. Prepare to move on (23)
      1. Jesus gives instructions and notes that when they were persecuted in a city, leave and go to another one. He notes that they will not have gone throughout all the cities before the Lord  came (likely in judgment).
      2. This is sometimes a tough lesson, but like all others, one we need to remember. Understanding that not all will be receptive to the truth (most will not, INCLUDING many to whom you are close).  At some point, we need to move on and try to teach someone else.  You CANNOT force the gospel on anyone!  And if for some reasons someone responds because of such force, are they truly converted?

These are some more lessons for us to give consideration to as we learn from Jesus and His disciples how to reach others.   Next week we will conclude our lesson based upon this text.  Meanwhile, let me encourage you to consider these points as you prepare to go into all the world around you and share His message with others.  Can you be counted upon to help?  Think about it!