Lesson 54: The Mission of the Twelve

Matthew 9:27--10:4, Mark 6:7-13, Luke 9:1-6

A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Lesson # 54. There's a few verses in Matt. ch. 9 that are not recorded in Mark or Luke. I would like for us to cover that before we get into the main thrust of this lesson. So, let's read, Matt. 9:27-34. Beginning in Matt. 9:27, are you ready? Let's read. "And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David have mercy on us. And when he was come into the house the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able? to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it. But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his; fame in all that country. As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marveled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel. But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils."
You might notice first of all that Matthew connects this up to the healing of Jairus1 daughter in v.27 by these words, "when Jesus departed thence..." Therefore, I assume this is an appropriated place to cover these verses. V.28 said these two blind men followed Jesus into the house. Apparently that does not mean the house of Jairus since v.27 said that Jesus departed. But, when they came to Jesus with the help of others no doubt; these two blind men said: "Thou Son of David, have mercy on us." This apparently implies they had prior information about Jesus and understood that Jesus was the messiah when they made reference to Jesus as the Son of David. It's interesting that Jesus asked them if they believed He could heal them, That was another test of their faith. Notice v.30, "their eyes were opened." Just like that [snap!]. And then Jesus asked their cooperation in not spreading it around. You see, they were having a crowd control problem there in Capernaum. It was not like Gadara. But, like so many other cases, they did not honor Jesus' request very well. Then v.32 says "as they went out", i.e. as the two men, once blind—now seeing—, left that house, another man was brought in—a man that was dumb, i.e. he could not speak, his inability to speak was associated with a demon; similar to the Gadarene man. You should notice, there is never a stated connection between sin and demon possession. Demon possession is never spoken of as a reproach, only a misfortune. But, Prov. 14:34 says, "Sin is a reproach to any people." V.33 indicates that when Jesus cast the devil out of this man, he could THEN speak. This again amazed the common people of Israel who said, "It was never so seen in Israel." They recognized the works of Jesus was different than anything they (or their ancestors) had ever seen or known. But, the Pharisees scoffed (v,34). The Pharisees were offended in Jesus and made the same slanderous remark that we covered before, "He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils" which Jesus classified! as blasphemy in Matt. 12-31.
O.K. let's take a moment for a brief review. Everywhere Jesus went he was healing the sick and doing great miracles in Galilee. But, all of this was interspersed into what we have called an apostle-training seminar. Many disciples supported this scholastic effort financially; we learned this in Luke 8:3. Jesus changed his teaching style to accommodate and facilitate this accomplishment. That's when he began to teach almost exclusively in Parables. Many of his parables began, "The kingdom of heaven is likened unto..." And Jesus encouraged the apostles and disciples to learn to communicate well, develop their own illustration in teaching. They were to illustrate with things both new and old (Matt. 13:52). The twelve followed Jesus across Galilee and observed Jesus' teaching for several month, no doubt. I would assume we're now talking about in the latter half of AD 31. Now, let's read Matthew's description of this in Matt. 9:35. Are you ready? Let's read one verse! Matt, 9:35. "And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people." O.K. where did Jesus go? Into all cities and villages! That's Galilee, of course. What did he do? Teaching, preaching and healing! Do you see those words? What did Jesus teach and preach? "the gospel of the kingdom." You see, Jesus never ceased and never tired of telling about the coming kingdom which both he and the great prophet John the Baptist said was at hand. And notice in v.35, that in conjunction with this effort Jesus healed "every sickness and every disease among the people." Jesus was having a great impact that extended even beyond the borders of Galilee. Yet, it seems that most of the Jews were in a state of quandary and bewilderment. They recognized, "It was never so seen in Israel." (v.33). Some mocked and opposed Jesus' efforts (v.34). The common concept of the coming kingdom as they had been taught the O.T. did not fit the teachings of Jesus. Their mental image of the coming messiah was a tall and powerful political ruler like king Saul, David or Solomon. Their biggest desire was political independence and release from the Roman yoke. Their theory of the messiah would not allow for an humble, lowly carpenter from Nazareth. Yet, his miracles of healing, raising the dead and power over nature supported his claim. Some were quick to become disciples and to follow Jesus. But, the vast majority went their way unconcerned, smug, and vacillating with uncertainty. Their ambitions were selfish and conceited. Sound familiar? Yet, in all of this Jesus could see their lost and undone condition, and Jesus was moved with compassion. They needed to be taught and settled in faith for their own best interest. Their need was so great, and yet they didn't recognize their own spiritual state. Here's Matthew's description of this, v.36-37-38. Lets, read the rest of the chapter. Ready? "But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into the harvest." O.K. the Jews in general reminded Jesus of a flock of sheep without a shepherd, faint and scattered about. But, in another sense they were like a crop ready to be harvested; if they would only be taught and awake from their dark spiritual state. Notice in v.37, Jesus was addressing this statement to his disciples.

Alright, now be sure you get a firm grip on what's happening here. We're ready to turn the page, so-to-speak. At this precise moment, Jesus began another stage in his ministry. We might call it the practice-teaching-phase of that apostle-training program. Like any good training program; the first phase usually involves information, lecture, teaching, and understanding. We might call it the academic phase. But, then, phase two usually involves putting that information (and understanding) into practice or the training-phase, to be more precise. Training involves participation and supervised experience which cannot be acquired by sitting in the lecture hall and asking questions. So, the time had come, you see, to advance the apostles from the academic phase of their course, to the training phase of that apostle-training program. We don't know just how many months it had been since Jesus had chosen the twelve upon that mountain in Galilee that we read about in Luke 6:13. But my concept of time would be something like this: Jesus appointed the 12 apostles along about the time of the passcver in AD 31; either shortly before or shortly after. Then immediately Jesus began another tour over Galilee that we read about in Luke 8:1-2-3; that's when he began teaching primarily by parables; a duel sort of teaching program. Jesus taught the Jews in general in their synagogues and in their villages as Matt. 9:35 said; but, he was explaining an his parables and sermons in private to the apostles and other disciples as they went along, which WE'VE CALLED the academic phase of that apostle training program.

Now, we read Matt. 10:1-4 back at the time Jesus appointed the twelve. But, we're going to re-read those four verses again; because, Matthew sort of blends the two occasion into one. Let's read those four verses! Matt. 10:1-4. Are you ready? "And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Now the names of the twelve, apostles were these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip/ and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alpheus and Lebbeus, whose surname was Thaddeus; and Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him." Alright, Jesus had demonstrated his power and ability to heal in every village and every city on their tour. Matt. 9:35 said that. But, then on this occasion a great transition came about. Jesus endowed the apostles with similar powers. V.I said, "against unclean spirits...and to heal...all manner of sickness." How, did Jesus do that? Quite, frankly, I don't know. I'm sure it did NOT involve hypodermic needles or electrodes connected to a black box. It transcended all the laws of nature.. I would assume very similar to the way Jesus healed those two blind men back up in Matt. 9:29. This was not something NEW exactly, scripturally speaking. How did Moses lay his hands upon Joshua in Numbers 27:18 and impart to Joshua the powers that Moses possessed? Of course, this was the first example of such powers being imparted, in this way, since that 400 silent years between the O.T. and the N.T. So, in effect, Jesus equipped the twelve apostles named here In v.2-3-4 to do the same thing they had SEEN Jesus do in all those cities and village of the Jews that they had passed through on the tour they had just completed. Now, we haven't covered that yet; but, Jesus instructed them how to use these powers. But, before we look at that; let's look more closely at what is said about those miraculous powers the twelve apostles received. They received two kinds of powers according to v.1. (#1) was power over unclean spirits. (#2) was power to heal sickness and diseases. In other words these powers were more limited than the powers of Jesus. But, I would estimate the two powers as stated here; i.e. over unclean spirits and healing disease; must have covered more than 90% of the miracles that Jesus had done in their presence in the past. As stated here, these powers wouldn't cover calming a storm/ or turning water into wine, for example. But, after Jesus gave them these limited powers; he sent them out in pairs, two by two. What they had seen Jesus do; they were instructed to do. This is sometimes called the LIMITED COMMISSION. Because, first of all, the apostles were given limited power. Secondly, because, Jesus restricted their assignment by telling them WHERE to go, WHO to teach and WHAT to teach. Thirdly, this assignment was give to a limited few; i.e. the 12 apostles. So, although that phrase: LIMITED COMMISSION is not found in the Bible, it describes this apostle training mission very well. Now, more than 50 verses in Matthew, Mark and Luke outline Jesus' limited assignment to the apostles. After they were properly instructed; Jesus sent them out in six different directions. Not only was Jesus a master teacher; Jesus was a master at group organization and time management. While Jesus had been teaching the people; he was teaching the apostles. And while the apostles were in training; they were teaching the people. So, figuratively speaking, Jesus (the chief shepherd) was rounding up His sheep at the same time he was training others to assist in that mission. Luke covers this in about six verses. Mark uses seven verses. But, Matthew, who was one of the twelve, used more than 40 verses to outline that limited commission for us. So, we're going to proceed like this: we're going to read Luke's account first. It starts at the beginning of Luke ch. 9. So, you might be turning there. After we've read Luke; we'll read Mark. These two readings, with a little discussion, will conclude this lesson. Then we'll consider Matthew's more detailed account in our next lesson. Are you ready to read? Beginning in Luke 9:1, "Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece. And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart. And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them. And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where." Can you imagine the meeting that day when Jesus called the twelve together and made this announcement? They were FIRST given miraculous powers, v.1 and then sent to preach the kingdom of God (v.2). What did John the Baptist preach? "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," (Matt. 3:2). What did Jesus teach? "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matt. 4:17). What did Jesus instruct the apostles to teach? "The kingdom of God," Luke 9:2. Down in v.6, where we just read, that is described as, "preaching the gospel." What did the apostles know about preaching the gospel of the kingdom? Do you remember the parables? "The kingdom of heaven is likened unto..." The apostles didn't understand the kingdom to the inth degree. But, you see, they could teach what they understood. We don't have to understand every detail in the Bible to teach what we understand. But, I believe those apostles were VERY CAUTIOUS to teach ONLY what they understood. We should be very cautious to teach ONLY what the Bible plainly teaches. Did the apostle teach repentance? John the Baptist did! Jesus did! But what about the apostles? What we just read doesn't say anything about repentance! Now, let's read Mark's account. Mark 6:7 beginning. Please turn to that. Are you ready? Mark 6:7-13. Let's read! "And he called unto the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; and commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: but be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats. And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into a house, there abide till ye depart from that place. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city. And they went out, and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them." O.K., I guess you caught it in v.12; the apostles ALSO "preached that men should repent." So, have a good day!

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