COMMODIFYING THE GOSPEL
Lord, keep our focus on You and Your kingdom.
Read MATTHEW 9:35—10:16
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Jesus Sends Out the Twelve
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.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Jesus said to his disciples, “Freely ye have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8b, AV).
Matthew records no verbal reply from Jesus to the Pharisees’ charge of blasphemy. His unspoken answer is to continue “proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and illness” (35). This bridging statement places the disciples’ ministry in continuity with that of Jesus: Jesus resumes his preaching and healing; Jesus sees the suffering people who need healing and direction; Jesus sends the disciples to continue this task, proclaiming the same message and performing the same healings.
For the disciples’ field training, Jesus issues strict rules. Their initial mission is to Israel. Although Matthew has already recorded Jesus healing Gentiles, only after his resurrection does the Great Commission extend to all nations (Matt. 28:18–20). Matthew wants to stress how radical discipleship really is. The prohibitions on money, bag, sandals and staff are not a mere injunction to travel light, nor a call to asceticism. Jesus has already pointed out how little he owns and how little comfort he enjoys on his itinerant ministry (Matt. 8:20). For him and his disciples today, these are prophetic signs similar to the symbolic actions performed by the prophets of old.
They should not profit from their mission. Some translations mask Jesus’ severity along these lines. They have received without charge, so now they must give without pay (8). They should not ask for compensation but merely food (10; Greek trophe, “nourishment”). Churches today need to take note of this. Popular TV preachers often amass considerable wealth but, even in more modest denominations like mine, synods heatedly discuss clergy conditions—not just basic salaries but rooms, carpets, furnishings, heating, cooling and the rest. Yes, church workers do deserve their “keep” (10), but they have no moral right to luxurious lifestyles.
“Unlike so many, wedo not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God” (2 Cor. 2:17).
Lord, help us to withstand the allurementof wealth and status as we continue to pursue the expansion of the Kingdom of God.