How bold is your prayer life? I know mine sure isn’t very bold, nor is it consistent. Prayer not only moves the heart of God, but it brings us into alignment with what God is doing and wants to do even with/through us. Weak praying produces weak faith and reserved following of God.
The Passage: Matthew 9:35-10:15, Mark 6:6
- What do you notice about Jesus command in Matt 9:37-38 and his commission in Matt 10:1?
- When you pray, how do you expect God to answer?
- Who did Jesus send his disciples to? (Matt 10:5) Why is that significant? How is this “commission” different than Matt 28:19?
- Why did Jesus tell them to go out without taking any provisions? (Matt 10:8-10) (The Chosen Season 3, episode 2 and 3 portrayed this well)
What was God doing? Why did He have this written down?
Jesus had 2 great lessons for the disciples in this story.
- Those who pray for laborers should also be willing to become laborers, and those who pray for the harvest can also at times reap the harvest.
- They were not to be concerned about the necessities of life. They must trust God to provide for them as they went out to minister (Mt. 10:9-10). One coat was sufficient because God would meet their minimal needs.
When Hudson Taylor went to China, he prayed that God would provide twenty-four missionaries, two for each of the eleven provinces, and two for the country boarding the north, each with millions of souls and no missionary. God did it. But there was no society to send them out. He had indeed learned to trust God for his own support, but he dared not take upon himself the responsibility of the twenty-four. He feared they might not have sufficient faith. This caused him severe conflict, and he became very ill under it, until at last he saw that God could just as easily care for the twenty-four as for himself. Then he assumed this responsibility in glad faith. And so God led him, through many severe trials of faith, to trust Him fully. These twenty-four increased in course of time to one thousand missionaries who relied wholly on God for support.” (22 Prayeful Life – Murray)
As I ask these questions of myself, I encourage you to ask them too.
- What can I learn from this? What is God saying to me and my life from this passage?
- I continue to be challenged in my prayer life. Jesus’ disciples observed his prayer life and saw something different in him then in the Pharisees, so much so that they asked Jesus to teach them to pray. (Luke 11:1) As the disciples prayed, God moved in their hearts and they became the answer to those prayers!
- What do I need become more aware of?
- Are there things God wants me to pray for that He also wants me to be the answer for?
- While this commission is not God’s Great Commission, so we can’t apply everything from Jesus’ instructions here, we can apply the principle of dependence, and not holding on to all the things I think I need. Financial security is something I find myself holding on to. Instead of just trusting him, I am anxious and I get worried when funds are low.
- How does God want me to engage with this? What does He want me to do because of what He is saying here?
Pray! Pray for laborers. Pray for God to use my life as His instrument. Pray for dependence and freedom from worry.
The Power; Implement and Integrate
The power to change is in the implementation and integration of what God is saying to us. We can talk all we want, make lots of plans, but until we do something about it, and develop habits that integrate those truths, we will never change. What is the one thing I need to do as a result of this study today?
- Continue to develop a habit of more concentrated, intentional time of prayer, every day.
- Acknowledge my need to depend on Him as often as I remember.
Verse by Verse Commentary
Mark 6:6 And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.
Leaving Nazareth, Jesus was amazed at their unbelief. He had done so many amazing and incredible things, but because of their lack of faith, He was not able to display His power to those in His home town.
As He leaves there, He goes on a tour of Galilee.
Matt 9:35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.
Throughout the cities and villages, He teaches about this “new” kingdom. The nation has rejected Him, therefore the Messianic Kingdom is no longer on the table. Jesus is no longer focused on proclaiming and offering the Messianic Kingdom to them as a nation, He is focused on the individuals who are in the “old” system. Desiring to help them see and understand the truth, even though their leaders have rejected Him.
Matt 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
The “old” system harassed the people. The Pharisees and their 600 laws and countless sub laws designed to keep build a fence around God’s laws left the people feeling helpless. And indeed they were helpless to produce righteousness in themselves!
Jesus also calls says they were like sheep without a shepherd. The people of Israel did have “shepherds.” But their shepherds were the Pharisees, and the Pharisees were the very ones who had rejected Jesus. They were not leading the people toward Jesus, but away from Him.
Matt 9:37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Within the Jewish nation there were still many who were following, or wanted to follow Christ. They were tired of being harassed and helpless. They needed a loving, caring, gracious shepherd who cares for the sheep when something happens. Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful…” “There are many within our boarders who still want to know an understand the truth. But, the laborers are few.”
The reality when Jesus said these words was that there was literally no laborers. There was no one who understood this “new” kingdom that Jesus was beginning to build. But, Jesus told his disciples to pray for laborers! Even though there were none at the time, Jesus told them to pray for God to send them.
When Hudson Taylor went to China, he prayed that God would provide twenty-four missionaries, two for each of the eleven provinces, and two for the country to the north, each with millions of souls and no missionary. God did it. But there was no society to send them out. He had indeed learned to trust God for his own support, but he dared not take upon himself the responsibility of the twenty-four. He feared they might not have sufficient faith. This caused him severe conflict, and he became very ill under it, until at last he saw that God could just as easily care for the twenty-four as for himself. Then he assumed this responsibility in glad faith. And so God led him, through many severe trials of faith, to trust Him fully. These twenty-four increased in course of time to one thousand missionaries who relied wholly on God for support.” (22 Prayeful Life – Murray)
Fruchenbaum notes, “Jesus was teaching the principle that those who pray for laborers should also be willing to become laborers, and those who pray for the harvest can also at times reap the harvest.11 Arnold Fruchenbaum. (n.d.). Yeshua, The Life of the Messiah.
As the disciples prayed together with Jesus, God began to move in their hearts, and give them a burden for those they were praying for.
Matt 10:1-4 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. 2The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
The Jews needed signs to authenticate the message. Jesus had done many signs to authenticate His offer of Messiah, but the leaders had rejected His offer. But, now He was focused on those who were still searching. Jesus still had compassion on them. They were “sheep without a shepherd.”
I am not sure the disciples completely understood that they were now mobilized for a new kingdom, and no longer proclaiming the message of the Messianic Kingdom. But, Jesus gave them authority that would authenticate their message. Then He sent them out in pairs. As He sent them out, He gave them the following instructions.
Matt 10:5-15 These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
Jesus gave His disciples a very specific commission. He said, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” This was not the “Great commission,” found later at the end of the gospels and in the book of Acts. This was a very specific commission given only to the discples. Therefore we need to be careful in our interpretation of this passage, not to apply everything Jesus said to them to the commission He gives all of us later. Jesus was sending the disciples out to try and help those who were still searching for truth among the Jews. Jesus was very clear. This message sis ONLY for the lost sheep of Israel. (Matt 10:6)
Jesus told them to proclaim, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” They were no longer proclaiming the Messianic Kingdom. That offer was no longer available. This is a new kingdom, the kingdom Jesus was describing in Matthew 13.
Matthew 10:8-10 8Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. 9Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 10no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food.
Jesus had delegated some of His power to the disciples. He instructed them to use what they had been given for the purpose of authenticating their message to those in Israel who were believing in Jesus.
Jesus reminded them that they received this power without paying for it, so they should freely give it to others. They were not to receive any compensation.
They were not to be concerned about the necessities of life. They must trust God to provide for them as they went out to minister (Mt. 10:9-10). One coat was sufficient because God would meet their minimal needs.
Fruchenbaum notes, “This was not intended as a principle for all believers for all time, but rather for the apostles for a limited period of time. At the end of His public ministry, Yeshua told them to take the very things He had just told them not to take, illustrating that certain things were true only while the Messiah was physically present on earth. Things would change when He ascended into heaven, and it is important to distinguish between His presence and His absence from earth.” Arnold Fruchenbaum. (n.d.). Yeshua, The Life of the Messiah.
Matthew 10:11-15 11And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12As you enter the house, greet it. 13And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
Jesus instructed His disciples to go throughout Israel, from town to town, seeking individuals who were still believing in the Messiah. Jesus calls them “worthy.” The ones who were still worthy to receive His message because they had not rejected Him. When they found someone who was still believing, they were to enter their home and stay with them.
When they entered the home, they were to “greet it,” and if those in the home were “worthy,” or believing, they were to “let your peace come upon it.” This refers to the giving of a blessing. The Jewish tradition had many such prayers or “blessings.” This particular one is called, Birkat HaBayit. Here’s an example of what this blessing may have been;
“May your home be the place a sanctuary of everlasting peace where tranquility resides and joy dwells. In the shadow of all this, the voice of the Torah will rise. In your home; in this corner we will find the Shechinah – the Divine presence of God.”
But if while they are there, they can see that this family is “not worthy, “ and therefore not believing in Jesus, and they don’t receive or listen to their words, they were to “shake off the dust from their feet as they leave the house.” This is another symbolic act declaring that home to be unworthy of Jesus.
Note that while the blessing was on the individual, the judgment moved to the national element and, in this case, focused on the city: It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sedom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city (Mt. 10:15). Judgment will be against that city. The phrase more tolerable indicates that there will be degrees of punishment in the final judgment.11 Arnold Fruchenbaum. (n.d.). Yeshua, The Life of the Messiah.