Summary: How’s the nerves? Jesus was sending his disciples out into the world to bring the good news. "The kingdom of heaven is near!" Resources were limited but Jesus had a plan!
Mentoring 5 “Go!”
Before Easter we were looking at a series on mentoring and we had discussed all sorts of stuff about apprentices, walking along side newer people to the faith, helping people to grow in the faith and the like.
In the gospels we get read an account of Jesus sending out the disciples to do his work.
It should be remembered that the disciples had been with Jesus awhile that they had been taught by him. They were learned in his way of doing ministry and it was time for them to be off doing the thing that Jesus had trained them for. Now I don’t know about you but this I reckon would be a bit of a nervous old time. Let’s read the account! Matthew 10:1-10.
Now Jesus sent the twelve disciples out and we know them by name, it is thought that most of these men were young with only Jesus and Peter having to pay the temple tax which was paid by men over twenty. So here they are, they have been following their Rabbi Jesus and it’s time for them to go and carry out the Rabbi’s work without him. So he sends them out with the following instructions, “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.”
Now there seems to be a bit of concern about this. Here’s Jesus telling the disciples that they are to ignore the gentiles (that’s non Jewish bods like us) and the Samaritans who were mixed blood people of Jewish decent and just to talk and work with Jewish people. Sounds a bit on the nose, a little exclusive you could even say a bit racist. What is this about?
Well let’s have a think about why Jesus would say this, we see him revealing who he is to a Samaritan woman in John 4: 4-42. If we read verse 40 we see that he got on alright with the Samaritans. “So when the Samaritans came to him they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days.” We also see him healing the daughter of a gentile woman in Matthew 15:28. Jesus also tells his disciples later to “go and make disciples of all nations.” He also has some reasonable dealings with Roman people as well. So we can now that Jesus isn’t exclusive, he isn’t about just being there for Jewish people.
So Jesus isn’t a racist, that’s good news!
So why would he tell his disciples to only go and tell the Jewish people the good news?
Well William Barclay came up with three reasons, and while one doesn’t relate to mentoring they are worth looking at and thinking about.
a) The Jews had in God’s scheme a very special place. In the justice of God they had been given the first offer of the gospel. It is true that many rejected Jesus, but the whole of history was designed to give them the opportunity to accept.
b) The twelve disciples were not equipped to preach to the Gentiles, they didn’t have the right background, knowledge or technique. Paul was to start this ministry, and some of the disciples as well followed a ministry to the gentiles later in life. This command was only for a season, here and now they were restricted to preaching to the people of Israel. Go to the Israelites.
c) The greatest reason was this wise commander knows that he must limit his objectives, directing his attack at one point. The smaller his forces the more limited his immediate objective should be.1 To target the Israelites with Jesus message.
The disciples; these young students of the master were probably chaffing at the bit, keen as mustard, steamed up, jumping out of their skin’s, primed and ready for action, ready to get on with a bit of ministry – ready to preach but within that probably not too aware of their limitations and having seen Jesus success with Gentile and Samaritan people, keen to take the good news about the kingdom of heaven to them. In this passage of scripture we see Jesus just telling them to Taihoa ((Maori), wait/delay) hold on boys, “go just to the lost sheep of Israel.”
And what an awesome message he sent them out with! “Preach ‘the kingdom of Heaven is near’, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”
I find it interesting that Jesus commanded them to do all that; as today in the church we have a tendency give out food parcels and budgeting advice and if we feel lead then to ‘preach’ “the kingdom of heaven is near”. Amazing what they did in Jesus name.