Summary: Can you think of a time when you were given a task to accomplish and you weren’t given the specific do’s and don’ts of what and how? How did it make you feel? What kind of success did you have? Today we will learn just how true this statement is: “God nev
Can you think of a time when you were given a task to accomplish and you weren’t given the specific do’s and don’ts of what and how? How did it make you feel? What kind of success did you have? Today we will learn just how true this statement is: “God never asks us to do anything He hasn’t prepared us or equipped us for.”
We begin with this phrase: “These Twelve Jesus sent out after instructing [commanding] them, saying…(verse 5)” Notice that Jesus commands them first, before He sends them out. The word used here is paranggello, which is actually the word for “give a command or charge to.” Jesus wasn’t giving suggestions – He never does. We easily see Him as the friendly carpenter-turned-evangelist, traveling the countryside preaching the good news of the kingdom of God, healing all those in need, feeding thousands from a lunch for one, and being kind and gentle with all He meets.
It is much more difficult for us to see Him as God-in-the-flesh, as the King of kings and the Lord of lords, stepping into our sphere yet still commanding the forces of nature and human existence. We are told numerous times that to believe is to obey – and obey implies that someone has given commands. It is Jesus Christ who commands.
So, what is the charge that He gives the Twelve? He begins by telling them where they are not to go. They are not to go to the Gentiles, and they are not to go to the Samaritans. Of all of the things that Jesus could have begun His instructions with, why do you think he began with prohibitions?
Look at the order this passage has followed already. Verses 1-3, Jesus calls the Twelve to Himself and gives them power and authority they have seen but never known for themselves – the very same power and authority they have seen Jesus employ. They now have authority over the forces of darkness, over every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. How pumped do you think they were? How pumped would you be? What would you want to do right away?
Jesus tells them, essentially, “Don’t go running off to all these people around us who are not Jews, and don’t even go to the half-breed Samaritans. Instead, your ministry is to be to the Chosen people of God alone.”
Does that seem biased and prejudiced? Doesn’t that seem like He’s demanding partiality on their part, even though James will later tell us that showing favoritism is wrong and out-and-out sin (James 2:9)? Why the exclusiveness, do you think?
The command of Jesus to stay away from outsiders in the beginning was not because He was trying to exclude others – not in the least. After all, it was Jesus Himself who first preached to the Samaritans, beginning with the woman at the well and then all those who lived in the area (John 4:4-42). Jesus even healed the servants and children of Gentiles (Matthew 8:5-13 – centurion’s servant; Matthew 15:21-28 – Canaanite woman’s daughter). To top it all off, in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus commanded them to make disciples “of all nations”, and He told them in Acts 1:7-8, that they would be His witnesses “in Jerusalem, and in all of Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Look at the little phrase “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Who was it that had been awaiting the Messiah for their entire existence? Who was it that God had promised the Messiah to in the first place? It was the Children of Israel, of course. Jesus was well aware that, for the most part, the very people who had been chosen by God to receive the Messiah and the kingdom of God would reject both.
Yet, God in His perfect sense of honor and rightness was determined to give whoever of that people who would believe the first opportunity to do so.
Aside from that, at this point in time the disciples were absolutely unequipped and unprepared to preach to the Gentiles or the Samaritans. They were, for the most part, completely unfamiliar with both people groups and had nothing in common with them. They had everything in common with their fellow Israelites.
Jesus saw the children of Israel the same way a shepherd sees his sheep who have wandered off and are not only not being fed properly, but they are also in grave danger of being eaten by predators. As far as Jesus was concerned, it was already happening and it was time for those sheep who would return to the fold to be given the chance to do so.
As it was for the disciples in the beginning, so it is for us today. When we first become a child of God it is to our family, our friends, our neighbors and our coworkers that we go and tell the exciting news of what has happened to us. We get to “practice”, if you will, on those with whom we have relationships and with whom we are the most “safe” – the people who are most likely to at least listen to us without wanting our death right out of the gate.