Jesus Sending Forth the 12 Disciples
Matthew 10:1 “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.”
What can we learn from Jesus sending forth the 12 disciples?
We see that the instructions that Jesus is giving to the 12 is to go to Israel only. “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5-6) At first reading it seems rather strange that they were told to go to the lost sheep of Israel only. Why not to the Samaritans and the Gentiles? Didn’t they need the good news preached to them as well? Yes, they needed the Gospel, but one thing that I see coming out here is focus instead of fragmentation.
It doesn’t mean that Christ is unconcerned about the Gentiles, because He is and we see this coming out later on in Matthew 10:18 where Jesus tells His disciples that they will be witnesses to the Gentiles. Matthew 12:17-21 tells us how He will eventually proclaim His gospel to all people. Matthew 24:14 states to “all the nations.”
Matthew 28:18-20 gives us the Great Commission: the mandate to go into every part of the world.
Revelation 7:9 gives us a view of the future, and so what do we find? From every tribe, family, peoples, nations and language in the world we find people worshipping the Lord.
Read more about focus vs. fragmentation in my book “Ministry of the 21st Century” chapter 2 by going to the teaching page of this website.
This is the goal that Jesus has in mind, but He had to focus on His purpose while here on the earth and not allow Satan to get Him off on tangents. I believe the temptations from the devil against Christ in the wilderness were to lure Him away from His purpose.
I believe that ultimately every temptation that comes our way is meant to side-track us from our focus, or to prevent God’s people from even seeing their purpose and setting their focus. I cannot think of a greater tragedy in the life of a child of God than to not have a focus, and go through life fragmented.
Mark 1:35-39: In this passage of Scripture we see Christ getting up early in the morning to meet with His Heavenly Father. His disciples were looking for Him and when they found Him in the solitary place they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you.” The answer that Christ gave, which I think is very significant is: “Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so that I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” (vs.38) Here we see Christ keeping a clear focus of His path. Christ knew what He was here for and he was not going to get off track.
Jesus told His disciples “to go” and to preach: “The kingdom of heaven is near.” I think the instructions that Jesus gave His disciples should be applied to us today. We are told ‘to go’ to where ‘they’ are and share His message; to go where the Lord sends us whether next door or across the sea. The Lord’s command to the church is to be centrifugal: to go out, but for Israel it was centripetal: to bring them in. Because of the place where Israel was located – at the Western end of the Mediterranean – any army that moved, or any movement of people, or any trading – they had to go ‘through’ Israel because of its connection to Africa, Europe and Asia without any body of water. When they came through Israel they could see what a nation under the ruler-ship of the God of Heaven was like. When the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon she was overwhelmed with what she saw.
They were to preach: “The Kingdom of Heaven is near.” What does this mean? We read in Luke 21:17 that the “Kingdom of God is within you.” Because the Kingdom of God is within me then no matter where I go I too can say: “The kingdom of heaven is near.”
This became a reality to me on my first mission trip to India. After being in India for about nine months the Lord was leading me to go home to get more prayer support in back of me. To do this I caught an American merchant ship in Calcutta that gave me a job to work my way back to the West Coast of America. God had placed me in a small area (the ship was a 10,000 ton 1949 Liberty ship) with about 40 of the most ungodly men on it that I had ever met.
After being on the ship for a period of time I began to notice a change in the attitude of some of the sailors towards me. They began to search me out, talk with me and wanted to know more about who I was and what I had been doing, which opened a door for me to present the Gospel. There was opposition as well, as several seamen would make rude remarks. What I came to realize was that the kingdom of God within me was invading the kingdom of darkness on that ship. Light always exposes what was hidden in the dark.
This is why those of us who have the Kingdom of God within us are ‘TO GO’ into the sphere that God has called us, and when we do we will find the spiritual battle taking place between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness.
What are we to do? Jesus told us in Matthew 6:33 “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Let the King: Lord Jesus Christ – rule in your life, instead of prime minister ‘self.’