JESUS AGAIN TOURS GALILEE
HE SENDS THE APOSTLES OUT TO PREACH
Jesus has been preaching intensively for some two years. Is it now time to let up and take it easy? On the contrary, Jesus expands his preaching activity by setting out “on a tour of all the cities and villages [of Galilee], teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the Kingdom and curing every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity.” (Matthew 9:35) What he sees convinces him of the need to expand the preaching work. But how will he accomplish this?
As he travels, Jesus sees people in need of spiritual healing and comfort. They are like sheep without a shepherd, skinned and thrown about. He feels pity for them and tells his disciples: “Yes, the harvest is great, but the workers are few. Therefore, beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.”
Jesus knows what will help. He summons the 12 apostles and divides them into pairs, making six teams of preachers. He then gives them clear instructions: “Do not go off into the road of the nations, and do not enter any Samaritan city; but instead, go continually to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, preach, saying: ‘The Kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’”
The Kingdom they are to preach about is the one Jesus spoke of in the model prayer. ‘The Kingdom has drawn near’ in the sense that God’s designated King, Jesus Christ, is present. What, though, will prove that his disciples truly represent this Kingdom government? Jesus empowers them to cure the sick and even raise the dead, all of this at no charge. How, then, will the apostles care for their own needs, such as their daily food?
Jesus tells his disciples not to make their own material preparations for this preaching tour. They are not to get gold, silver, or copper for their purses. They do not even need a food pouch for the trip nor extra undergarments or sandals. Why not? Jesus assures them: “The worker deserves his food.” (Matthew 10:10) The people they find who appreciate their message will help care for the disciples’ basic needs. Jesus says: “Wherever you enter into a home, stay there until you leave that place.”
Jesus also gives instructions on how to approach householders with the Kingdom message, saying: “When you enter the house, greet the household. If the house is deserving, let the peace you wish it come upon it; but if it is not deserving, let the peace from you return upon you. Wherever anyone does not receive you or listen to your words, on going out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet.”
It could even be that an entire city or village rejects their message. What does that mean for such a place? Jesus reveals that severe adverse judgment will result. He explains: “Truly I say to you, it will be more endurable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on Judgment Day than for that city.”