7 Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. 8 These were his instructions: "Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them." 12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
Calvin abridged: Christ wanted them to travel through all of Judea in a few days, so he forbids them to carry luggage which would have slowed him down. But this is not a perpetual command for all of God’s ministers. They were to inquire of who were the godly and upright in each town to begin with them since they were in a hurry. Matthew speaks of giving a family a salutation of peace (shalom) to see if the family is open to hearing more. ‘if any place will not welcome you shake the dust off”- is intended to encourage the disciples so that they might not be hindered by the ingratitude of the world (cf. 1 Cor. 2:15,16). To shake off the dust from the feet was intended to symbolize that those who reject his word were so polluted that the very ground on which they walked was infected. No crime is more offensive to God than the contempt for his word. Matthew points out that Jesus said it would be more bearable for Sodom and Gommorrah which were wicked cities visibly punished in an extraordinary manner. (Commentaries)
Thoughts: Jesus sent them out two by two to encourage one another. Ecclesisastes 4 says that two are better than one for they have a good return for their work- if one falls the other may help them up. Each could hold the other accountable. So even today, it is a good rule for two to go out together to share the faith. And yes, there is a place for “cold turkey evangelism” (talking to strangers about faith- even though I think it is usually less effective). At the very beginning of his ministry and the very end, Jesus was concerned with the spread of the good news. The choosing of disciples was so that they might be disciple-makers. Reproduction and fruitfulness are one of the basic signs of life physically, and they are also one of the great signs of life spiritually. “The Laborer is worthy of his hire”- There are some who believe that no one should ever be paid for the great and important work of preaching the gospel. Some believe it should be relegated to a part-time profession. But Jesus and his apostles dropped their nets and when they did so, they also were dependent on the generosity of others to give (certainly the priests were this way in the Old Testament). On the other hand, there are those who take away more from the church than they give. The example of ministry is Jesus who gave himself more than fully to the work, and was dependent on the generosity of others to sustain himself. 1:13- they “drove out many demons and healed the sick with the anointing of oil”- The power of Jesus is passed to his disciples- showing it is the power of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit. This also shows that disciples of Jesus are to care for those who are mentally, spiritually, and physically sick. The world is changed when the disciples of Jesus go out – believing and spreading the good news in His power.
Prayer: As we go back into the workplace this day- this first Monday in January- give us grace to look for opportunities to encourage those who are downtrodden and share the faith. Use us, O Lord, as you used the disciples of old, to make this world a better place.