Almighty God and Loving Father, your greatness demands my praise and your love demands my devotion. I gladly give them to you today.
Read Matthew 10:5–15
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,[a] 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.
- Matthew 10:8 The Greek word traditionally translated leprosy was used for various diseases affecting the skin.
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.
Can you think of a time when you were puzzled by God’s guidance but with hindsight came to see the wisdom of the Lord’s plans? Give thanks.
Today’s reading begins with an instruction that may make us feel uncomfortable. Jesus tells his disciples not to pursue their mission among the Gentiles and Samaritans. Did Jesus only care about the Jews, then? No, for he did heal and teach the few Gentiles he met on his travels: he conversed with the Samaritan woman at a well, for instance,1 and cast out a legion of demons from a man in Gentile Decapolis.2 Later, at his ascension, he called his followers to ‘make disciples of all nations.’3
Jesus, then, was not prejudiced against Gentiles but simply had a clear mission strategy: to go to the Jews first and then the Gentiles. He was building a team from nothing, and his disciples needed time with him to grow in their understanding of their faith rather than be dispersed far and wide. Moreover, this was before they had witnessed Jesus’ death and resurrection or received the Spirit’s empowering at Pentecost, so at this point they lacked the courage, knowledge and ability for such wide-scale mission.
Jesus was, then, guided by God in his mission strategy and clearly communicated that strategy to his disciples, but helping people to follow God’s guidance can be challenging, as is often illustrated at church meetings when Christians pull in different directions. How important it is, then, to pray through our ideas before we advocate them, so we can sift out those that simply reflect our own thoughts rather than God’s. Leaders bear a particular responsibility to encourage their churches to seek God’s guidance and to speak out when they feel their flock are drifting away from the Lord’s priorities and timings. What challenges does this bring leaders and how can congregations support them in this?
Pray for your church to know God’s guidance in its mission and for everyone to follow that divine direction rather than pushing for their own ideas and preferences.
Holy God, as witnessing opportunities cross my path today, enable me to grasp them and effectively witness for you.
1 John 4:7–26 2 Mark 5:1–20 3 Matt 28:19
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2023 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.