Summary: Sending Out The Twelve (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email:


(1). The Messengers (vs 1-4)

(2). The Assignment (vs 5-6)

(3). The Directives (vs 7-15)



Hold up a can of Coke.

The inventor:

• Coca-Cola is one product that has far outgrown its humble beginnings.

• It was invented by Dr. John Pemberton, a pharmacist in his back yard.

• It was sold as a brain tonic.

• You purchased it not in a bottle or a can but in a three-legged brass kettle.

• The very first Coca-Cola went on sale at Jacobs Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia. USA.

The visionary:

• While Robert Woodruff was the president of Coke from 1923 to 1955,

• He had a conviction that everyone should have the opportunity to taste Coke.

• After little more than 100 years, surveys show that:

• 97% of the world has heard of Coca-Cola.

• 72% of the world has seen a can of Coca-Cola.

• 51% of the world has tasted Coca-Cola.

• All due to the fact that the company made a commitment years ago;

• That everyone on the planet would have a taste of their soft drink

• The motto of Coca-Cola, posted in the company's headquarters, said:


• TRANSITION: The sad reality is that Robert Woodruff and the Coca-Cola company;

• Have been more committed to giving every person in the world a drink of Coke;

• Than the Church has been to giving each person in the world a drink of the water of life!

• This passage this morning;

• Should challenge and encourage us all once again;

• About our responsibility to go and share the good news of Jesus Christ!


• Verse 1a:

• “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him”

• Please notice that these are specific instructions to specific people;

• These instructions were given to the twelve disciples/apostles only.

• We know from other references in the gospels that Jesus had many followers.

• i.e. In Luke chapter 10 Jesus sends out 72 disciples on an evangelistic mission.

• i.e. We know to that Jesus also had female disciples (Luke chapter 8 verses 1-3)

But the 12 disciples were different because they were hand-picked by Jesus!

• Many others would choose to follow Jesus;

• But with these 12 Jesus went and found them.

• Interestingly, not one of the chosen 12 disciples was a scholar or rabbi.

• They had no extraordinary skills.

• Neither religious, nor refined, they were ordinary people, just like you and me.

• But Jesus chose them for a purpose;

• Through these 12 men the gospel would spread across the face of the earth;

• And continue spread and develop throughout the centuries to follow.

• So Jesus selected and used a bunch of ordinary men;

• To carry out his exceptional plan


• In verse 2 Matthew describes these disciples by another name.

• He now calls them ‘apostles’ - “These are the names of the twelve apostles”

• Before their sending out the twelve had been mere disciples,

• A disciple is ‘one who learns’.

• But now they are given another name ‘apostle’.

• The word apostle means "one who is sent."

• It seems like this event for the twelve was a kind of graduation,

• When they stepped up from being students to teachers.

• From those who merely watched, to those who would now practice.

Question: Who were the twelve disciples?

Answer: Found in verses 2-4:

“These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.”

The names of the 12 disciples are listed 4 times in the gospels:

• Matthew chapter 10 verses 2-4;

• Mark chapter 3 verses 16-19;

• Luke chapter 6 verses 14-16;

• Acts chapter 1 verses 13;

Three things to note from the list:

• (1st). In every list Simon Peter is always listed first;

• And was clearly the natural leader among the disciples.

• (2nd). Judas Iscariot is always listed last;

• No prizes for guessing why.

• (3rd). Concerning three of the disciples:

• James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddeaus, and Simon the Zealot;

• All we know about them except their names!

• I find that encouraging;

• That these nobodies to us are and were somebodies to Jesus!

• Their calling to be a disciple, one of the twelve was deliberate;

• And as important to Jesus as the other disciples.

• Jesus called them and they responded!

• We don’t know their particular personalities or ministries;

• But we do know that with these twelve men Jesus would turn the world upside down!

Jesus took twelve men to be his closest followers:

• It would appear that Jesus deliberately chose opposites in personality and temperaments;

• And extreme opposites at that!

• The men he chose had no special qualifications at all.

• They were not wealthy; they had no special social position;

• They had no special education; they were not trained theologians;

• They were not high-ranking churchmen;

• They were in every sense twelve ordinary men.


• In a Peanuts cartoon Lucy demanded that Linus change TV channels,

• Threatening him with her fist if he didn’t.

• Linus. “What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?”

• Lucy replies; “These five fingers…….

…Individually they’re nothing but when I curl them together like this into a single unit,

They form a weapon that is terrible to behold.”

• Linus replies:

• “Which channel do you want?”

• Then turning away, he looks at his fingers and says;

• “Why can’t you guys get organized like that?”

• God wants us his people to be united, in harmony with each other:

• That they might impact this world for Jesus!


“These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.”

The instructions of Jesus to these disciples are not the instructions for the Church today.

• The instructions for the Church today and for every Christian;

• Is Matthew chapter 28 verse 19: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations”.

• Note: The word translated as ‘Nations’ in the Bible:

• Never means a political country i.e. England, France, Germany etc.

• It refers to "People Groups" to "Ethnic groups".

• A group of people who are distinct, i.e. by their language, location, religion or culture.

• i.e. Kurds in Iraq. i.e. Navajo in America. i.e. Dalits in India.

• i.e. Pit-Jan-Jara of Australia. i.e. Yao in Africa. i.e. Dai in China.

• i.e. Buryat in Siberia. i.e. Dayak in Borneo. i.e. Jahanka in Mali.

• There are about 230 countries in our world.

• Within those countries you will find about 11,234 people groups.

• India alone has 4,635 people groups.

• When the Bible speaks of all nations it means not just the country;

• But to each of these individual people groups.

• Question: How are we the Church doing?

• Answer: is heart-breaking – not very well!

• 7 Billion people in our world;

• 6,900+ unreached people groups;

• That is 4 billion people who have yet to hear the name of Jesus.


“What a rebuke to the Church of Jesus Christ,

2000 yrs after he came to us - we are still failing to go for him!”

• Now that is the calling of the Church and for each Christian.

• In this passage notice the mission field is specific.

“These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.”

• On this occasion their commission is to their fellow Jews only,

• They are sent out to the people of Israel.

On this occasion which was not a permanent command but a temporal one;

• Jesus places geographical restrictions on the disciples.

• Do not go to the Gentiles meant they could not go north into Syria;

• Nor could they go east into Decapolis which was largely a Gentile region.

• They could not go south into Samaria because that too was forbidden.

• If you look at the geographical restrictions Jesus places on them;

• Then he is really limiting them to Galilee

Three reasons why Jesus restricted them:

• (1st). The message of the gospel has always been to the Jew first and then the Gentile.

• It is never either or but first to the Jew and then the Gentile.

• (2nd). At this point in time;

• The twelve Jewish disciples were not equipped to preach to Gentiles.

• They did not have the background, nor the knowledge, nor the technique.

• A message has little chance of success, if the messenger is ill-equipped to deliver it!

• (3rd). This was to be a concentrated attack.

• With only twelve men moving out on a manoeuvre, Jesus the wise commander knows;

• That he must limit his objectives. He must direct his attack at one chosen point.

• To spread his troops to far apart is inviting disaster;

• So like a wise military commander;

• He skilfully concentrates his attack on one limited objective in order to win a victory.

Note: The assignment was for everyone (vs 5).

“These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions”.

• Notice that Jesus entrusted the job of sharing the gospel to his disciples

• They were responsible for taking the message of Jesus to others.

• This is often how God works in his world.

• He works in and through people to deliver his good news.

Quote: It was the A Carmelite Nun Teresa of Avila (1515–1582) who wrote the poem:

“Christ has no body but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks

Compassion on this world,

Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,

Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,

Yours are the eyes, you are his body.

Christ has no body now but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks

compassion on this world.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

Question: Did you notice - everyone had a job to do? (verse 5)

• He sent out all 12 of the disciples!

• He did not send out 6 while the other 6 stayed home and prayed!

• Jesus has a mission for every Christian

• While it is true that some of us are teachers, some are pastors, some are evangelists,

• Some are encouragers, some are supporters, some are….etc.

• Let me remind you that every Christian is a witness!

• We are all called to get involved and do something!


• When the Titanic was sinking there were three other ships in the region.

• The nearest was the ‘Sampson’ whose crew was involved in illegal hunting.

• Not wanting to get caught, they turned away from those who needed rescuing.

• The next ship was the ‘Californian’;

• Whose crew were so afraid of sharing the Titanic's fate they proceeded very cautiously.

• Perhaps they were annoyed because they had tried to warn the Titanic.

• And been ignored.

• The third ship was the ‘Carpathia’ which came as quickly as possible.

• They risked their own lives and were able to rescue more than 700 people.

• TRANSITION: You and I are Plan A to reach a lost world;

• Remember that there is no Plan B. If we do not ‘Go’ they will not hear!

(3). THE DIRECTIVES (vs 7-15)

• These disciples, these apostles had words to speak;

• And deeds to do.

• Their ministry was twofold both words & actions.

Note: The Message (vs 7).

“As you go, proclaim this message: “The kingdom of heaven has come near.””

• They preached the same message that John the Baptist preached;

• i.e. Matthew chapter 3 verse 2: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’

• They preached the same message that Jesus himself preached;

• i.e. Matthew chapter 4 verse 17: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’

Quote: Gordon MacDonald:

• "Repentance is not basically a religious word.

• It comes from a culture where people were essentially nomadic;

• And lived in a world with no maps or street signs.

• It’s easy to get lost walking through the desert.

• You become aware that the country side is strange. You finally say to yourself,

• I’m going in the wrong direction. That’s the first act of repentance.

• The second act of repentance is to go in an alternate direction.

• It implies that you not only do this but you admit it to your companions.”

• Jesus, John the baptiser & the disciples all preached a message of repentance;

• And that message is still true today!

• If you are living, walking or acting wrong – stop it – turn around – and follow the King!

Note: Their actions (vs 8)

“Heal those who are ill, Heal those who are ill, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.”

• They disciples were given authority to do supernatural acts.

• Jesus was sending them into a spiritual battle;

• And therefore they need spiritual weapons to defeat the enemy.

• Quote: verses 1-2:

“Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and illness”


• Just as a policeman’s authority to defeat criminals;

• Is because authority has been delegated to him because of his position and job;

• If he resigns from the force he will be powerless to act in many situations.

• i.e. he cannot stop anyone for speeding.

• Yet if he remains in the force he has the authority to help defeat crime.

• You and I are given authority to make a difference to a broken world.

• The secret to knowing that authority & power is remain close to the master.

The gist of verses 8-10 is the disciples were expected to imitate their master;

• Four ministries are mentioned:

• ‘Heal the sick’, ‘cleanse leapers’, ‘cast out evil spirits’, and even ‘raise the dead’

• These four ministries paralleled the miracles of Jesus in chapters 8 and 9.

• The disciples were enabled to do what he was doing;

• So in a special, unique way they were to represent Jesus.

Note: Their Support (vs 9-10).

“‘Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts – 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep.”

• The way Jesus sent the disciples out was quite deliberate;

• He wanted to develop their faith, their trust, and their reliance in him!

• But these disciples were still spiritually young.

• They had only been with him for a short time.

• They very much had their ‘L’ plates on!


• If you want to become a good fisherman;

• Then you can only learn so much in the classroom;

• Sooner or later you need to go to the riverbank!

• For the disciples that meant going to the villages around them;

• Speaking and sharing the message of Jesus with those who crossed their paths.

The disciples were given detailed instructions to follow:

• The urgency of their mission required that they travel lightly.

• They were not to be weighed down by suitcases and possessions.

• ill: They were going on a rescue mission not a holiday.

• So they were to depend on God to provide food and shelter.

• They were going to learn that the God who calls is the God who provides!

• They are to look to him for food and shelter and not other people.

• Now often God provides through other people;

• In fact verse 11 is an illustration of that;

• But they must look first to God and not to others for their needs.

Note: They were to be content (vs 11-13);

“Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.”

• The disciples of Jesus are to be led by the Lord to people in spiritual need;

• When God leads them to a house,

• They must stay there and make friends with that person or family.

• They were to be servants of those they visited not pampered guests

Note: Their reactions (vs 14-15)

“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”

• In Palestine a greeting was offered to every home on entry

• And the disciples were to follow the same practice.

• Jesus did warn them in advance that they would not always be welcome;

• Some people would be hostile and reject them.

• To those people the disciples were to perform a physical sign:

• “Shake the dust off your feet”


• Jewish people knew what this meant;

• Religious Jews did this when they were leaving gentile territory.

• It was a symbol of disassociation.

• This was a graphic representation of being glad to get away from somewhere:

• Shaking the dust off meant one wished for no association with the place,

• Nothing of it to cling to one's person.

The disciples are the ambassadors of Jesus:

• Therefore people who do not welcome them or listen to them are actually rejecting Jesus.

• The gesture was to show the people that they were making a wrong choice.

• So to make them aware of the importance of the situation;

• The disciples performed a physical sign;

• Of shaking the dust off their feet,

Verse 15 are very strong and sobering words:

15 “Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.”

• In rejecting the messengers of Jesus they were rejecting Jesus himself;

• And they placed themselves under judgement.

• Remember these people were a privileged people;

• They were Jews, part of the chosen race.

• They had and read and learnt the Law of Moses;

• God had sent to them his messengers and yet they still refused to believe.

• So Jesus tells his disciples that a greater judgement will fall on them;

• Because they had greater privileges;

• They had greater opportunities to understand and believe!

In Conclusion:

• I said at the start of my talk that these instructions were to a specific group of people;

• The twelve disciples at a specific time;

• They were temporal guidelines and not permeant instructions.

• You and I will of course find spiritual principles we can apply;

• We need to be careful about literally taking these principles for ourselves.

• i.e. verse 1: To go on a mission trip and not take with you;

• A suitcase, clothing, shoes and other items based on that verse would be stupidity.

• The important thing is to latch on to the principle (that is God provides for our needs);

• And to see if it is applicable to your situation.