Matthew 10:1–15: Sending Out the Twelve
In the last section, Jesus was moved with compassion on the crowds, whom he saw as harassed and helpless sheep without a shepherd (Matt. 9:36). Having recognized the need for more laborers to bring in the plentiful harvest (Matt. 9:37–38), Jesus now begins to call and send out the Twelve who will extend his ministry as they exercise his own authority, in his name. By this, Jesus is not merely recruiting volunteers who would be willing to help him in some weak kind of sense. Rather, Jesus sends ministers to administer the authority of his kingdom.
1. What does the opening section (vv. 1–4) tell us about the Twelve? What do we learn from Jesus’ giving them his “authority” (v. 1a)? What kind of work will they do with that authority (v. 1b)? What significance is there from calling these disciples the “twelve apostles” (v. 2)? How many of these disciples have we met so far? How much do we know about the others? What does this tell us about the notoriety of this ragtag band?
2. Why do you think Jesus forbids his disciples from going on “the way of the Gentiles” or into “the town of the Samaritans” (v. 5)? Does Jesus intend this prohibition forever (see Matt. 28:18–20; Acts 1:8)? What does Jesus mean by “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (v. 6)? What is “the kingdom of heaven” (v. 7a)? What does it mean that this kingdom is “at hand” (v. 7b)? How does the healing ministry of the disciples support their preaching (v. 8)?
3. Why did Jesus forbid the disciples from taking along with them money, clothes, etc. (v. 9–10a)? How do we make sense of this prohibition, when Jesus also tells them that “the laborer deserves his food” (v. 10b)? How does Jesus intend to feed and shelter his disciples on their journey (vv. 11)? What kind of judgment are the disciples to execute as they go (vv. 12–14)? What are the potential consequences for those who are not worthy (v. 15)?
4. What does it mean for Jesus to administer his authority through ministers? What is a “minister”? How do ministers relate to a king in the context of a kingdom? What does this tell us about the nature of the ordained ministry of the church? How does the work of ordained preachers administer Jesus’ authority today? Still, are ministers the only members of the body of Christ in the church (see Rom. 12:3–8; 1 Cor. 12)? How should the whole body work together?