Summary: Jesus sends the Twelve on the Limited Commission to Israel and teaches us valuable lessons about our accountability.
MORE TOLERABLE FOR SODOM AND GOMORRAH
1. Matthew 10:1-15 (NKJV) And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. 2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him. 5 These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. 6 "But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 "And as you go, preach, saying, ’The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. 9 "Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, 10 "nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food. 11 "Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. 12 "And when you go into a household, greet it. 13 "If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 "And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. 15 "Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!
A. Meaning of apostle -- one sent as a representative. Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:20 (NKJV) Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. There may be a sense in which all faithful Christians are Christ’s ambassadors, Paul’s use of the first person pronoun suggests that he is saying that he and the other apostles are ambassadors for Christ in a sense that is not true for all disciples.
B. Significance of the number twelve . . . twelve is an important symbolic number in the Bible.
1. The Old Testament featured the twelve sons of Jacob as the foundations for the twelve tribes of Israel [Genesis 49:28].
2. The twelve apostles were part of the foundation of the New Testament kingdom.
a. Ephesians 2:19-21 (NKJV) Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,
b. Revelation 21:14 (NKJV) Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
C. Jesus gave them power -- apostles were empowered to perform miracles before the baptism of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.
II. LIMITED COMMISSION
A. Specific prohibition --
1. Do not go into the way of the Gentiles
2. Do not enter a city of the Samaritans
3. Rather, go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Jesus had seen the multitudes and had compassion on them because they were "like sheep having no shepherd" [Matthew 9:36].
4. These restrictions were lifted when Jesus gave the apostles the "great commission" before He ascended to heaven. Now, the command is to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature [Mark 16:15].
B. Sent to preach the good news of the kingdom
1. John the Baptist had preached that the kingdom of heaven was at hand [Matthew 3:2].
2. Jesus had preached that the kingdom of heaven was at hand [Matthew 4:17].
3. Now the apostles are commissioned to preach the same message [Matthew 10:7].
4. The kingdom was near when these events took place. It happened within the lifetime of Jesus’ hearers [Mark 9:1 (NKJV) And He said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power."] This prophecy was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost seven weeks after the resurrection of Christ [Acts 2:1-4].
A. The apostles were forbidden to make provisions for their needs. This was not a universal commandment [cf. Luke 22:35-36 (NKJV) And He said to them, "When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?" So they said, "Nothing." 36 Then He said to them, "But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.]