“Jesus called them one by one…” Aren’t we grateful for the songs that help us memorize important lists? Disciples are followers of Jesus. Apostles were disciples called by Jesus to represent him with special authority at the beginning of the Gospel Age. This was an inspired office that had no mechanism for succession. It is likely that John was the last living apostle, living well into the 10th decade of the 1st century A.D.
The Apostles were given authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal. They were sent to preach that the kingdom of heaven had drawn near. This “Limited Commission” was an effort to reach the wayward people of Israel. The Jewish nation already believed in God. The mission would better prepare the Israelites for the reign of God’s Son, Jesus. God intended to use the Jewish people to launch his message of salvation into the world (Rom. 1:16-17). The “Great Commission” would later reach out to everyone in the world (Matt. 28:19-20). The Apostles were told that they should travel lightly, accepting physical sustenance from the people they taught.
On this mission, the Apostles would be welcomed by some and rejected by others. Shaking the dust from their feet signified that effort had been made and that responsibility for being lost rested on the disobedient. This was a solemn warning. The Apostles were sheep among wolves and needed to be both shrewd and innocent. They would do no harm and do all the good they possibly could. Some would accuse and seek to prosecute them. The Spirit of God would guide their response to such men.
God’s message sorts out mankind. Within a household some would turn against relatives who believed in Jesus. Persecution would come; they would be pursued and punished for doing good (1 Pet. 4:16). Since Jesus was rejected by many, his followers may expect the same. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28). God’s protection is given, yet some will lose their lives in his cause (Rev. 2:10). Let us confess him and follow him so that he will confess us before the Father.
Verse 34 sounds contradictory at first glance. Jesus is the Prince of peace, but the Truth elicits various responses. Some resent the truth so vehemently that they react with violence. This would be true even within families. Jesus demands our love and our loyalty. Faith in him must trump any other causes. Jesus must take first place in our lives. In the end, those who lose their lives for the Lord will find eternal life.
No deed done for the Lord will go unnoticed by him. Are we spreading love and kindness? Are we doing good and giving credit to Jesus?
My comments are not an inspired commentary, but rather a few words to draw attention to the background, context, and dynamic situation of Matthew’s gospel. May God bless your reading of His Word. T.C.