About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

Home Page

This Section - Chapter 10

Previous Section - Chapter 9

Next Section - Chapter 11

ch. 10:1-12  

Jesus Sends Out The Twelve (ch. 10:1 - 42)


In verse 1 we see Jesus calling His “twelve disciples’ to Himself.  The word “disciple” is used in a number of ways throughout the gospels.  It’s used for any casual follower of Jesus.  It’s also used to more serious followers, of which their were many.  Then it is used for the “Twelve” men as it’s used here.


Jesus called these twelve men and gave them special authority to cast demons out of people and to heal every sickness.  We need to understand the difference between the word “power” and the word “authority”.  Power means strength and might. Authority means having control over, or being in charge of.  These are two different things altogether.


One may have the power to cast out demons, but he also needs the authority or else the demons will not respond.  Jesus had both the power, that is, the ability to cast out demons, and the authority, because He has the final word over them even though they are rebelling against Him. 


The disciples received authority at this point to cast out demons and to heal.  The text doesn’t say, but they had to have received the power as well.  


In verses 2 to 4 Matthew lists the names of the twelve special disciples.  There were a wide range of different types of people that Jesus chose. Peter was said to be an unlearned man.  Matthew the tax collector would have been well educated.  Then there was Judas Iscariot, who we knew to be a thief even when Jesus called him.


In verse 5 we see that Jesus “sent these men out”. You might say that this was a test run for the future.  Jesus gave them specific instructions.  The first thing that Jesus tells them to do is not to go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans.  Gentiles were non Jews. Samaritan were half Jews and half Gentiles. The reason for this most likely is that there is a principle found in Scripture that says, “to the Jew first and then to the Gentiles”.  Jesus would send them to the Gentiles later on.  This time though, it was to the Jews.


It might also be interesting to note that the gospel is the same to both Jew and Gentile but it is presented differently.


In verse 6 Jesus says, “go rather to the lost sheep of Israel ”.  Jesus views Israel as lost here.  He doesn’t necessarily view the Gentiles as lost although they are in one sense of the word.  But the Jews were lost because they were once found, that is to say, they were part of God’s special family but they wandered away and now they’re lost.  The Gentiles were never part of God’s family and so they couldn’t leave and get lost.


The message that these twelve men were to preach was that “the Kingdom of heaven is near”.  We note that Matthew uses the term “ Kingdom of Heaven ” while the other gospel writers use the term “Kingdom of God ”.   They’re both the same. 


This Kingdom is near because the King is near, and that’s Jesus.  It’s also near because the Kingdom of God came to dwell in men in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit was given to the believers.  The Kingdom will come in its fullness at the end of this present age.


In verse 8 Jesus tells these men to go cast out demons, cleanse the lepers, heal the sick and raise the dead.  These would demonstrate to the Jews that the Kingdom of God has come down from Heaven. 


Then Jesus says, “freely you have received, freely give”.  Jesus freely gave them the power and the authority to heal so he wanted them to do these things freely to those needing healing.  Our salvation is priceless.  It’s too expensive to put a monetary value on, so Jesus gives it to us for free if we give Him our lives.  And this then is the principle we work on.  Because we’ve freely receive His salvation, we freely give it to others.  We give it in the same way we received it, and we shouldn’t add anything to it, although history shows that we have.


In verse 9 and 10 Jesus tells these men not to take extra money, sandals, tunics or anything because a worker is worthy of being paid.  What Jesus was saying here is that those to whom these men heal and cast demons out of will help them with their needs.  It’s only right for them to do that.  We should note though that the things these people will help the Twelve out with aren’t extra things.  They’re the things Jesus just mentioned.  They are the necessities of life. In one real sense of the word Jesus was asking these men to trust Him once they leave. 


In verse 11 Jesus tells the Twelve that when they enter a town search out “a worthy” person and stay with them.  The Greek word translated as “worthy” means “a weight”.  This word when referring to people suggests not that the person is heavy, but that he is weighty in good deeds.   He is a respectable and caring person, and he will care for you.  It’s clear that this person would accept the message these men would share with him.


One thing that Jesus is pointing out here is that the preacher of the gospel can receive some support from those who accept his message.  There’s no question about that.  The question arises when the roll of the preacher gets blown out of proportion and he becomes more than a preacher.  Many modern day preachers or pastors are not the servants Jesus would have them be.


In verse 12 Jesus tells the Twelve that after they enter a home “give it your greeting”.  This would obviously be the gracious thing to do.  You come to a home as a humble servant and not the all-powerful man of God that you really are.


In verse 13 Jesus says that if “the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it”.  A deserving home would be a worthy home as stated in verse 11.  This home would respect both the messenger and message.  It appears that you really can’t tell if a person is worthy unless you enter his home.  And this is the test with any person, including Christians.  A person may appear very Christian-like when you meet him on the street.  But you get to see who he really is in his home.  How he treats his family, how he looks after his possessions, and his normal behaviour are evident within the confines of his home.


If the household is deserving then the peace of these men should rest on the house.  Disciples of Jesus should be peace lovers, and people should see and experience the peace that you have.  Peace should flow out of Christians in such a way the people actually sense this peace and be influenced by it.  These men would bring this sense of peace into the deserving house so they can experience the peace and be drawn to Jesus. 


Yet Jesus goes on to say that if the house is not deserving then “let your peace return to you”.  I don’t believe what Jesus is saying here is idiomatic or is a figure of speech.  I believe real peace that a Christian should have is something that he can exhibit to others and actually give to others.   If people don’t want this peace, you simply take it back.  I’ve often heard people over the years come into our home and tell me that they sense a peace as they enter the house.  This is what Jesus is talking about.  Jesus gives us peace and it is this peace that others can participate in as they meet us.


In verse 14 Jesus says that if anyone does not receive you or your message, leave that house or town and shake the dust off your feet.  This was an actual practice in those days that symbolized that people did not receive the one shaking the dust off their feet.  The idea is simply, “you didn’t receive me, and now I have no obligation to you, and will not be held accountable for you”.


Jesus makes an interesting statement in verse 15.  He says if a household or a town doesn’t receive you, they will be judged much more harshly than Sodom and Gomorrah were in Old Testament days, and we know how upset God was with them. 


The reason why these towns that reject the Twelve will be judged more severely is because they are not just disobeying God’s rules as Sodom and Gomorrah did, but they are rejecting the gospel of Jesus.  They’re rejecting God’s fix for the Sodom and Gomorrah problem.  This says  a lot concerning the people, cities and nations today who have rejected Jesus.  They will be judge much more severely on the Day of the Lord than Sodom and Gomorrah .


In verse 16 Jesus says that He’s sending these Twelve men out as “sheep among wolves”.  Now that’s not too encouraging.  Christians are often seen as sheep in the Bible.  Sheep follow their master.  Sheep look like nice cute little animals while wolves are the fierce prey that kills the innocent sheep.  The wolves in this case is the Jewish leadership, which should be the shepherd of the sheep but aren’t.  By Jesus saying this He is preparing the Twelve for severe opposition.


Because these men are going out as sheep in the midst of wolf territory, Jesus tells them to be “shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves”.  The KJV uses the word “wise” instead of the word “shrewd: as the NIV.  The Greek word means prudent, sensible, practically wise.  Jesus is telling these men to have their wits about them because they will have many traps along the way to encounter.   They are to be as shrewd as snakes.  The devil is pictured as a snake in the Bible.  The Twelve were thus encouraged to look out for themselves just as the devil looks out for himself, but unlike the devil they are to be innocent.  Their motives for being shrewd is different than the devil’s.  They are shrewd for defensive purposes only, not for offensive purposes as is the devil’s motivation.


So there’s nothing wrong for the Christian to be calculative, shrewd, or watching out for their backs. The only thing is that this shrewdness needs to be balanced with humility and gentleness, along with a loving heart.


Verse 17 continues on in this vein.  Jesus tells the Twelve “to be on guard against men” who will hand them over to the local councils.  Although Jesus is sending these men out with great power and authority they will come in conflict with the Jewish leadership just as Jesus Himself has.  Not everyone will appreciate the good things they do because they will be a threat to the establishment.  This is always the case, even in today’s world.


Jesus goes as far to say that these men will “be flogged”.  That means, they will be beaten for His name sake.  Along with the glory of doing miracles will be the persecution from the enemy. 


In verse 18 Jesus tells these men that on account of Him they will be brought before Gentile kings to give account of themselves.  This did not happen on this particular trial run, but it did happen later on after Jesus ascended into Heaven.  Men like Peter found themselves before the governors of the Gentile world, and it was not by invitation, but by being arrested as criminals. Jesus is not just warning these men of what will happen on their first missionary trip that’s a trial run, but He’s forewarning them of future events.


We can see that these men would not appear before Gentile kings because of a friendly invitation in verse 19.  Jesus says in this verse that they will be arrested.  They were not arrested on this first trip that they were gong on.  They actually came back quite excited about their success.


In verses 20 and 21 Jesus encourages these men not worry about what they should say once they are arrested, because the Holy Spirit will speak through them at that time.  Now this clearly speaks of future events because these men did not receive the Holy Spirit into their lives until the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. 


Notice that Jesus doesn’t say the Holy Spirit will speak through them.  He says “the Spirit of your Father” will speak through them.  In the New Testament we will notice that the Holy Spirit is also referred to as the “Spirit of Jesus”, as well as the “Spirit of the Father” as seen here.  The Holy Spirit may well be a distinct person in the Godhead, but He is both the Spirit of Jesus and the Father. 


Notice also that Jesus says, “your” Father.  He’s not just Jesus’ Father but He is Father to all true believers.


Verse 21 speaks of the conflict that will come into families because of Jesus.  Non-Christian children will actually kill their Christian parents.  The gospel will bring peace to the individual, but it doesn’t necessarily bring peace to a family or any other relationship we have.


Yet in verse 22 we see that it gets worse.  Jesus says that “all men” will hate these men He’s sending out.  They won’t hate them on this trip, but eventually there will be more men that hates the followers of Jesus than will love them. These are serious warnings Jesus is speaking about.  Life for the followers of Jesus in the first generation church was not an easy life. Many suffered unto death because of their trust in Jesus.   It is clear to me that these words are also spoken to those Christians living at the end of this age who will suffer in like fashion. 


Jesus continues by saying, “he who stands firm to the end will be saved”.  This verse makes it clear that there is the possibility of losing your salvation if you don’t stand firm to the end.  This standing firm means continually trusting in Jesus to the very end of the trials.  If you give up your trust, you give up your salvation. It’s as simple as that.


In verse 23 Jesus tells these men that when they are persecuted in one place “flee” to another.  They aren’t to be martyrs, at least not yet.  I believe there’s a point to be made here. We aren’t to go looking for persecution, but it if comes our way and can’t flee from it, we accept it.  


The last part of verse 23 is a difficult verse because Jesus tells these men that they “will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes”.


Jesus could not have been speaking to these men here concerning the present trip that they were about to take.  All along in the last few verses it’s obvious that Jesus is speaking prophetically of future events, and He certainly is here.  The words “Son of Man coming” always refers to Jesus’ second coming at the end of this age, and He didn’t come before these men finished this first trip.  That’s clear.  They came back to report all that happened to Jesus.  Jesus never left them in order to come back. 


Jesus has to be speaking of the end of the age when a great throng of Jewish people will be spreading the news about Jesus to the Jewish nation.  This might well be the 144,000 spoken about in the Book of Revelation. You might also connect this to Paul’s discourse on the fate of the Jews in Romans 9 through 11 when he says that all Israel will be saved.  During the end time revival of Israel , Jesus will return to this earth.


What I’ve just said is my present understanding of this verse.  There’s lots of controversy over what Jesus meant by His words.  Some say that the Twelve would not have a chance to visit all the cities in Israel before Jesus would meet up with them.  Yet to me the wording doesn’t fit this idea.  The return of the Son of Man throughout the New Testament refers to Jesus’ second  coming.  Some suggest Jesus is speaking of the transfiguration. That make no sense to me.  Others suggest He’s talking about the coming of the Spirit, but if Jesus had of meant that, I doubt if He would have spoken of the coming of the Son of Man.  He would have spoken about the coming of the Spirit.


In verses 24 and 25 Jesus says that the servant is not greater than his master, nor is a student greater than his teacher.  If the head of a household is called Beelzebub, which is another name for the devil, so all in the house will be tarred with the same brush. 


Simply speaking Jesus is saying that His followers are going to suffer the same fate as He is going to suffer.  It’s only to be expected. A student or a servant are associated with the one over them and in due course the opposition that comes to the one over them will come to them.  That’s simple logic. Jesus is continuing to warn these men of hard days ahead.


So in verse 26 Jesus tells the Twelve not to be afraid.  On their missionary trip they will encounter things and people who would bring fear to their hearts.  Yet in this context it’s clear to me that Jesus is speaking prophetically to Christians at the end of this age. Like the Twelve who will experience fear, Christians at the end of this age will have lots to fear, and maybe more to fear than these Twelve. 


In verses 26 and 27 Jesus says that there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed.  Anything said or done in secret will be shouted from the roof tops. It’s my thinking that this will take place at the end of this age when Jesus judges the thoughts and intents of the heart and not only our actions.  I also believe the context tells us that the secrets that will be revealed and shouted from the roof tops are those that belong to sinners, or the ones doing the persecution of Christians.  The sins of Christians are covered by the blood of Jesus.  Those sins will not be seen or acknowledge on the great day of our Lord.  We’ll will simply walk into the presence of God and receive out rewards for our good works.


Yet for the sinner, their sin will be judged and shout abroad, and according to their sins they will be punished accordingly.  There are degrees of rewards in Heaven for the Christian, and there are degrees of punishment in the Lake of Fire for non-Christians. 


In verse 28 Jesus says not to be afraid of those who can kill the body but not the soul.  The one who can kill or destroy both the soul and body in hell is God.  He’s the one all men should fear.  These men were killed by men, but their soul’s live on.  This tells us that we are more than a shell of a body.  Our bodies are merely temporary houses to dwell in while on earth. 


The word hell here actually refers to the Lake of Fire where the ungodly will be continually in the process of being destroyed, but never really being destroyed.  This is the judgment of God’s wrath. 


Verse 29 is interesting to me.  Jesus says, “are not two sparrows sold for a penny”?  The question implies that two sparrows aren’t worth much in the commerce of men, yet this does not seem to be the case with God the Father.  Jesus goes on to say that not one of these sparrows fall to the ground, meaning to their death, outside the will of your Father God.  First of all notice that God is the Father of the Twelve who Jesus is speaking to.


Also note that the falling of one sparrow is part of the will of God.  There might well be a couple of ways of looking at this.  One possible way is more Deistic.  Deists believe that God created the world, set it in motion and has stepped back from His creation and let it evolve as it wishes.  I’m not a Deist.  Deists would interpret these words to mean that God’s will was to step back and let nature evolve, meaning sparrows die, and their death is His will because His will is to allow creation to run its course as it wishes. 


Yet the other way of looking at this which is very specific and not Deistic is that God is actively involved in the death of every sparrow.  I tend to believe this.  If God is who we claim Him to be, such involvement is not difficult for Him. 


I think in context this second option is closer to the meaning to what Jesus is saying.  This context is seen in verses 30 and 31 where Jesus says that every hair of our heads are numbered, and for those of us who are getting older, this number changes moment by moment.  This tells me how detailed God is.  This is extremely detailed.  So some of us who are more detailed than others can take comfort knowing that God is more detailed then us.


The context  continues when Jesus tells the Twelve, and us, not to be afraid because we are more important than many sparrows.  The point here is that if God is so involved in the life of a sparrow that is way less important than us, He’ll be involved in our lives.  And even to be more specific, Jesus is speaking about our death here in context.  He’s speaking of the sparrows death and those who are enemies to the gospel who will kill the Twelve.  So our death is determined by the specific will of God.  God doesn’t only know when we die, but plans when and how we die.


In verse 32 Jesus says that whoever “acknowledges” Him before men, He will acknowledge before His Father.  I see this acknowledgment on Jesus part as on the Day of Judgment.  He will tell His Father that this one and that one has acknowledged me in their life time and so God should acknowledge them as well, and so He will.


Yet in verse 33 Jesus says that whoever “disowns” me before men now will be disowned by me, and I take this to be on the Day of Judgment as well. 


Notice the word “acknowledge” in verse 32 and the word “disown” in verse 33.  We need to put these two words together in their context to get a good understanding of what Jesus is saying here.  Verse 32 often strikes fear into the heart’s of unknowledgeable Christians who feel if they don’t tell someone or acknowledge to someone that they are Christians will burn in hell.  Jesus is not saying that if you mess up by not acknowledging Him to others you’ll lose your salvation.  This word “acknowledge” is associated with the word “disown”.  “Disown” means that if you “disown”, or reject Jesus, or forsake your trust in Him, then He will disown you at the Day of Judgment. 


To disown someone or something means that you owned someone or something in the first place, and that means in this context that one can lose his salvation.  That’s clear to me, but losing one’s salvation is based on the sin of disowning, or not believing.  It’s not based on one individual sin.


So the Christian should not fear because of this verse.  Jesus is not saying you’ll lose your salvation if you fail to witness about Him. He’s saying you will lose your salvation if you disown or stop giving your life to Him.



Jesus was a peaceful man, a real man of peace that would bring peace to the individual as He said in John 14, but we notice in verse 34 that His mission to earth was not to bring peace to the earth as some think.  Yes, part of His mission was to bring peace to individuals through reconciliation with God, but bringing peace to this sinful world was not part of His plans in His incarnation, when He came to earth.  That comes later.


So we can expect conflict. He says that He hasn’t come to bring peace but a sword.  A sword cuts, divides and kills.  Many Christians have not only been killed by the  sword but have seen the sword kill their relationships with both family and friend as seen in the last half of verse 36.


In verse 37 we see how important it is for us to love God over everything else in life, and that includes our family members.  We put Him first in all things.  This may seem harsh to some.  They read this and immediately put together a mental list in their minds.  First love God, then love my wife, then love my children, and down the line it goes.  Let me suggest what I feel is a better way of looking at this than merely making a list. 


We are to love the Lord foremost in everything that is associated  with our lives.  This means that if we really love Him we’ll do His will, which means that we will love our wife, our children and all else down the line.  Loving God is seen and demonstrated in how we love others.  It’s not that we have to make a choice between God and others.  We love God by loving others. We love the one who is in our presence at any given time.  We love the one who needs our love.  By so doing, we are loving God which takes away the harshness that comes by making the list.


That being said the context  really makes it clear concerning what Jesus meant.  In the last few verses Jesus has been talking about persecution that His followers would face, even to the extent that family members would kill them.  So when Jesus tells His followers to put God first in this context He’s saying that when you’re face with pressure between following God or giving into you family members to deny God, you follow Him no matter the consequences.  You don’t give into family members.  


Jesus continues in verse 38 by saying that if you don’t take up your cross and follow me then you are not worthy of me.  Jesus should be a very worthy person in our lives.  This means that we give our whole lives to Him when we first come to Him.  Taking up your cross means, not living for ourselves but for Jesus.  The cross is a symbol of death.  If you wear a cross around your neck it is saying that you have died to yourself to live for Jesus. I’m not sure people think of that in those terms.  They think of it in terms of the death of Jesus.  Yet as Jesus died for us, He wants us to die for Him every day.  This is what taking up your cross means.


Some denominations teach that you come to Jesus and make Him your Saviour at initial salvation and then farther down the road at some later date you make Jesus your Lord.  This is not New Testament thinking.  These words should show us clearly that when we first come to Jesus with the idea to follow Him, He has to be our Lord then and not later.


Verse 39 is just the opposite to what the world teaches.  The world teaches hedonism which means to simply live for yourself – enjoy all the pleasures you can find.  Jesus says that if you lose your life, forsake the worldly pleasures to follow Him, we’ll find real life.  Real life is not found in the things of the world but found in the things of God who created all there is. 


Jesus says that we should deny ourselves for His sake, not for anyone else’s sake.  If we deny ourselves for any other reason than for Jesus, we will not find true life.


Another thing to note here is that I believe this thinking implies that the present life in which we live is all about denying self to serve Jesus and others.  The next life is when we reap the reward of our self denial now.  Then we will be able to experience all of the Godly pleasures in great abundance.  The abundant life spoken of in John 10 is more futuristic than anything else.  We have abundance in the spiritual sense now, but in the next life we’ll have abundance in the natural sense as well.


Verse 40 says that he who receives you receives Jesus and he who receives Jesus receives God the Father. We note here that  after Jesus sends people out, we are in fact His representatives.  We can do all that He does as we represent Him.  This is what the term “in the name of Jesus means”.  In His name means that we go about representing Jesus and if this is the case we should represent Him in the way He wants to be represented, which has not always been the case throughout history. 


In verse 41 Jesus says that anyone who receives a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. This tells us that there are different rewards that will be handed out in the next life.  We are excepted into eternal life with Jesus based on trusting Him alone, but beyond that we are rewarded for the works we do, and each work has a different reward.  God being as detailed as He is has so many different kinds of rewards that we can’t count them.


Verse 42 tells us a bit more of the nature of these rewards and the nature of the work to be done.  Jesus says if we just give a cup of water to a child in His name, or as His representatives, we will be rewarded for that.  That’ s not hard to do.  We often think in terms of doing the spectacular for Jesus, but that’s not what Jesus is talking about here.


It is important to know though that the cup of water we give a child has to be done as a disciple of Jesus.  We don’t do it in the name of a church or a group.  We do it in the name of Jesus as His follower.  If we do it in any other name, we have no reward. 

Next Section - Chapter 11

Previous Section - Chapter 9

Home Page