CHAPTER XXIII
THE RESTRICTED COMMISSION

ACCORDING TO THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW
(Matthew 9:35-11:1)


35 Then Jesus began going about all their cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every
type of disease and every ailment. 26 And when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion toward them, because they were distressed and scattered, like sheep not having a shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, The harvest is great, but the laborers are few. 38 Pray, therefore, the Lord of the harvest that He send forth laborers into His harvest.

10 Then He called His twelve disciples and gave to them authority over unclean spirits, so that they could cast them out, and heal every sickness and every ailment.

2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: the first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James, the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother; 3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the taxcollector; James, the son of Alphseus, and Thaddseus; 4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him.

5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, charging them, saying, Do not go into a way of the Gentiles, and do not enter into a city of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as you go, preach, saying that the kingdom of heaven has come near. 8 Keep on healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing the lepers, casting out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. 9 Do not accept any gold, silver, or copper money for your purses, 10 nor a bag for the way, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staff; for worthy is the worker of his food. 11 Into whatever city or village you enter, seek diligently who in it is worthy, and there stay until you go forth. 12 When you enter a house, salute it; 13 and, if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but, if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And whoever does not receive you, nor hear your words, as you go forth out of the house or that city, shake off the dust from your feet. 15 In solemn truth I am telling you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.

16 Behold, I am sending you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be, therefore, wise as serpents and harmless as the doves. 17 And beware of men; for they will deliver you up to the courts; and they will scourge you in their synagogues; 18 and you will be brought before governors and kings because of me, for a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 Whenever they deliver you up, do not begin to worry about how or what you will speak, for it will be given to you in that hour what you will say, 20 for you are not the ones speaking, but the Spirit of your Father will be the one speaking in you. 21 And brother will deliver up brother to death; and father, child; and children will rise up against parents and will put them to death. 22 And you will be hated by all on account of my name, but the one enduring to the end, this one shall be saved. 23 And whenever they persecute you in this city, flee unto the other, for in solemn truth I am telling you, you will not complete
covering the cities of Israel until the Son of man comes.

24 The disciple is not above his teacher, nor the servant above his lord. 25 It is sufficient for the disciple that he be as his teacher, and the servant as his master. If they call the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more those of his household! 26 Do not begin to be afraid of them, for nothing has been covered which will not be uncovered, and secret which will not be made known. 27 What I am telling you in the darkness, speak in the light, and what you hear in the ear, proclaim upon the housetops. 28 And stop fearing those who can kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them will not fall to the ground without your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head have all been numbered. 31 Now stop fearing, therefore; you are of greater value than many sparrows. 32 Every one, therefore, who will acknowledge Me before men, I shall acknowledge him before My Father who is in heaven; 33 and whoever denies Me in the presence of men, I will also deny him in the presence of My Father who is in heaven.

34 Do not begin to think that I came to bring peace upon the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and daughter against her mother, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 And enemies of the man will be the members of his household. 37 The one who loves father or mother above Me is not worthy of Me, and the one loving son or daughter above Me is not worthy of Me, 38 and whoever does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. 39 The one who finds his life will lose it, and the one losing his life on account of Me will find it.

40 The one who receives you receives Me, and the one who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. 41 The one receiving a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward. The one receiving a righteous man in the name of a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward. 42 Whoever gives to drink to one of the least of My disciples a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, in solemn truth I am telling you he will not lose his reward.

11 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished charging his twelve disciples, He went from there to teach and to preach in their cities.



Matthew 9:35-38 furnishes the background of the message of chapter 10. Here one finds that the masses of Israel at that time were distressed and scattered like sheep. This sight stirred the heart of Jesus to the very depths with pity. This condition was doubtless the result of a failure on the part of the leadership of the nation. Those who are put in positions of authority have a responsibility toward the masses to lead them in the ways of the Lord. The Prophet Ezekiel in his day condemned the unfaithful shepherds of the people for dereliction of duty (Ezekiel, chapter 34).


I. THE CHOOSING AND THE TRAINING OF THE TWELVE
(Matthew 10:1-4)

After a night of prayer Jesus selected from His group of disciples twelve whom He chose to be His special representatives in carrying forward His world-wide work after His departure. He remained here upon earth for three and a fraction years, selecting, teaching, and training those who were to carry on His work to the uttermost parts of the earth.


II. THE RESTRICTED COMMISSION
(Matthew 10:5-15)

Jesus had made two tours of Galilee prior to this time. In Matthew 10:5-15 are found instructions as to how the twelve on this last tour of Galilee should deport themselves as they went only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. It was important that they should observe all instructions and restrictions literally. Israel had the priority in the benefits to be derived from this special ministry.


III. THE WIDENING OF THE COMMISSION
(Matthew 10:16-20)

Close attention to the text shows that the vision of verses 5-15 blends almost imperceptibly into an enlarged one shown in verses 16-20. In this latter section we see that Jesus was no longer concerned with Israel alone, but was looking beyond the confines of the Chosen People to the nations of earth.


IV. THE CONTRACTION OF THE COMMISSION
(Matthew 10:21-23)

By the time we come to verse 21, we see that Jesus lowered His eyes and ceased to look out upon the nations of the world, but restricted His remarks and instructions to the land and the people of Israel of the end time, the end of the Christian Dispensation. This fact is seen in verses 21-23.

This passage assumes the existence of the State of Israel in the end time: "... You shall not complete covering the cities of Israel, until the Son of man comes" (Matt. 10:23). The Lord Jesus, therefore, saw the situation existing in the land of Israel today, with its rapidly growing civilization and culture.

Zephaniah the Prophet saw the re-establishment and rehabilitation of Israel in the land of the fathers as it has been developing and as it is continuing to do so (Zeph. 2:1-3). The return of Israel to his land is a mass movement without parallel. The spirit of those backing the movement is unique in the history of mankind. The sacrifices made by the Jewish people in this bold venture of faith is entirely unknown among the Gentiles. The advances in every field of human activity are amazing. The difficulties encountered and overcome reveal an indomitable spirit of sacrifice, service, and devotion to an ideal. Underlying this whole movement—if not in the consciousness of the average Israeli citizen, at least in his subconscious mind—is the scriptural hope that Israel will be re-established in the land of the fathers. This hope is the dominating force of the whole movement. The Gentile nations that are acquainted with the actual facts in the Holy Land stand amazed and overwhelmed at the grandeur of the magnificence of the project—a modern miracle.

Foreseeing Israel dwelling in his towns and villages of the present day, Jesus foretold that the messengers of the cross will not have gone over all the cities of Israel before He returns personally and bodily—at the end of the Tribulation. When He returns, He will establish Israel as the head of the nations, and Israel will then become the channel of blessing to the whole world.


V. DISCIPLES NOT TO FEAR ENEMIES

According to Matthew 10:28, Jesus urges His disciples to "stop fearing those who can kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna." Compare this verse with Luke 12:1-12.


VI. THE PRICE OF DISCIPLESHIP AND REWARDS

According to Matthew 10:34-42, the Lord Jesus shows that men and women must pay the price of being His disciples. The call of God is always one to separation from all that is worldly and sinful to a life of consecration, devotion, and service (see, for example, Genesis 12:1 ff. and, also, Luke 14:25-35).