Summary: Ever think that you could never be a missionary? Think again. Just as Jesus sent out His 12, He sends you out as an undercover operative in hostile territory to spread His love. Find out how and how to be prepared for your mission!
5 – 6 The Field of Operation: we have a specific field of operation and Jesus doesn’t send us out on the big stuff until training us on the small.
7 The Message: we are to say what Jesus said: the kingdom of God is at hand. The message is as different as each individual but the content is the same: God’s plan of salvation for fallen humanity. It’s communicated through words but just as powerfully through a redeemed character.
The Return (vs 8 – 10) We are not in a business venture – we should travel light with little preparation.
The Support Network (vs 11 – 13)
“Worthy” here means whoever is willing to support and follow. The disciples were to ask “peace” to the house (Luke 10:15). If the message of the gospel was received, then the blessing of eternal peace would indeed fall upon them. But if they rejected it, then the peace would not come, instead would come judgment.
The willing people of the towns became the support network for the disciples. No one acting as an ambassador for Christ can operate without one. For us, our support could well be our church home, our small fellowship group or trusted friends.
The Reaction (vs 14 – 15)
So what do we expect when we set foot on foreign soil of this age? The truth is not everyone will accept the truth. Some will—and isn’t that wonderful! But others will scoff and reject your life and your witness. We should expect it, but shouldn’t let it deter us.
The idea of shaking the dust off of your feet was very symbolic and meaningful. Jews would shake the dust off of their sandals when they left Gentile territory to signify their separateness from their ways. To shake off the dust from a Jewish town meant that there was now a new distinction—no longer Jew and Gentile, but disciple of Jesus and those who rejected Him. John 15:18-19 "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”
So next Jesus goes into a more detail about what to expect and how to act when acting as His ambassadors.
16 – 25
The Conduct (vs 16)
To those familiar with raising sheep this would seem ludicrous. Sheep are helpless against wolves. In fact, Jesus came like a helpless lamb and allowed the wolves to devour Him. By laying down His life He upended the plan of the enemy.
Jesus knows we are entering enemy territory where the enemy doesn’t play fair, so He gives His disciples two types of weapons—discernment and distinctiveness. A snake does not use its eyes as a primary sensory device but an infrared heat sensor which can “see” prey that eyes cannot detect. Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit as an aid to know where to go and where not, what to say and what not.
By the same token, He tells us to be innocent as doves. The word “innocent” means “unmixed.” Don’t get caught up in the values of the people you are sent to preach to. And also have integrity in the mission—it isn’t to promote us, but Jesus.
And remember, the reactions we get from can be from (1) the enemy we know, and (2) the enemy we don’t know:
The Result Part 1 Those you don’t know (vs 17 – 20)
The disciples could expect a fierce negative reaction from both political rulers as well as synagogue rulers (“courts” and “synagogues”). Flogging was done with a leather whip, sometimes even in the synagogue itself. Being an ambassador in enemy territory can have a steep price, but the result is a “witness.”
Here the Holy Spirit acts as defense attorney, providing what is needed as a defense. We may not experience this kind of persecution but we may certainly encounter those who stiffly oppose the gospel. “Do not be anxious” in those situations, Jesus says—I’ll speak through you.
It’s one thing to experience persecution from an expected source, but what about from someone you know and love?
The Result Part 2 Those you do know (vs 18 – 22)
It’s sad but true, that Jewish families would be torn apart for the gospel. Sometimes this sort of pain is worse than from outside of your circle. Jesus says the one who endures to the end will be saved. This doesn’t mean that if you become discouraged you will lose your salvation. It means that someone who is truly a disciple will not let anything deter them from their Savior—that Jesus really is first, even if that means you receive hate and rejection from your own family.
So what do you do?
The Next Steps (vs 23)
Jesus wants us to cling to Him no matter what, but if the cause is lost, don’t be foolhardy. The old saying goes “discretion is the better part of valor.” Know when it’s time to move on. It’s okay if no one listens or responds. The response by the Jews would be so against Jesus that the communication of the gospel to them won’t be complete until Jesus Himself returns. At that time Israel will turn to Jesus as their Messiah!