10 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. 2 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. 5 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. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. 9 “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. 11 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. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. 16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. 24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!
When I first read this passage I focussed on all the wrong things.
I focussed on “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons” and it sounded so hard; but I should have focused on “Give as freely as you have received!”. They just had to speak the authority they had just been given.
I focussed on “Don’t take any money … Don’t carry a traveler’s bag with a change of clothes”, and that sounded harder, but I should have focused on “Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality”. He was telling them to expect and be open to receiving all they needed.
I focussed on “If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message” which sounded like bad things were coming and I missed that “When you enter the home, give it your blessing” came first. He is telling them to look for good things in people, to expect welcome first.
I focussed on “you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues” and this sounded awful, but I should have focused on “But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me”. Attempts at evil will be confounded and turned into good.
I focussed on “When you are arrested” (that’s got to be bad!) but I should have focused on “don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time”. God was with them every step and doing the hard bits.
Jesus is realistic and honest about the opposition they (and we) may receive, but he is positive and optimistic. And I should be too.
Father, give me your eyes to see all that I have, the opportunities, the good (even if through the distraction of opposition) and to give as freely as I have received.
Written by David Cornell