October 7 I Friday
“These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.’” —Matthew 10:5-6
Jesus took the time to discern in prayer who He called His twelve disciples. Then, Jesus equipped the twelve with His authority to do the work of mission. But we will also notice a few other things that Jesus gave them as part of their calling, He gave them the parameters and the purpose for this trip. For us, once we sense God’s calling to go, discerning who He is leading us to and what we are going to do when we get there is equally important.
Jesus told the twelve disciples, “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel” (Matthew 10:5-6). Jesus actually sent the disciples back to their own people group, to their own tribe, to their own community. While there is going to come a time in the Book of Acts when the disciples would go to the Gentiles and to the Samaritans, this was not the trip.
Now, who are the “lost sheep of Israel”? They are those who regularly go to synagogue and observe the religious rites, but are not experiencing the fullness that God has for them. Although life during New Testament time was very religious, these people were lost. They were harassed by endless rules upon rules and helpless to find any real meaning or purpose or transformation in their experience. Jesus said this of His own culture: “These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me” (Matthew 15:8-9).
Jesus sent the twelve with this message: “The kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 10:7). To those who were beaten down, to those who were desperately trying to reach heaven, they were to tell them that heaven has come down to them. To a group of people who were harassed and helpless, to the lost people of Israel who were oppressed by a foreign occupation, they were to tell them that their God has come to their aid; He is near and He will freely give to them what they are unable to attain on their own. Jesus sent the twelve out with the good news and empowered them to display good deeds that brought healing and freedom from oppression.
As we consider our evangelistic efforts of the message that we are sharing with the world around us, does our evangelism do the same? Does it help someone who is struggling to understand that heaven has come near and that it was to liberate and set the oppressed free? Jesus sent His disciples out with this message, and to this day, Jesus continues to raise up members of His body to carry out this purpose.
Prayer: Precious Jesus, may I be a vessel to carry Your message of salvation to the world, boldly proclaiming that heaven has come near and You have set us free from the oppression of sin. Thank You, Jesus.