The external conditions of conveying Christ ' s message , with special reference to the immediate occasion. Our Lord points out
(a) the sphere of their work ( Matthew 10:5 , Matthew 10:6 );
(b) the substance of their message ( Matthew 10:7 );
(c) its accompanying signs ( Matthew 10:8 );
(d) the external means and methods that they should employ ( Matthew 10:9-15 ).
If rejected, bear your solemn witness to the fact, for to reject you brings awful consequences.
Parallel passage: Luke 10:12 (the seventy). Similar words are used by our Lord in his apostrophe of Capernaum ( Matthew 11:24 , where see note). The combination in Luke 10:11 , Luke 10:12-15 of both the contexts is an instructive warning against accepting the present position of our Lord's sayings as the final indication of the occasion upon which they were delivered. Verily . (For the idea of acquiescence that always underlies this word—even in the case of so solemn a matter as the present—comp. Matthew 5:18 , note.) I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha . Whose inhabitants were the typical example of the worst of sinners ( Deuteronomy 32:32 ; Isaiah 1:10 ; Ezekiel 16:46 ; Revelation 11:8 ). "The men of Sodom have no part in the world to come" (Mishna, 'Sanh.,' 10.3). In the day of judgment . Luke has "in that day;" cf, Matthew 7:22 . In the only two passages in the LXX . ( Proverbs 6:34 ; Isaiah 34:8 ) where, as it seems, our phrase occurs, it refers, not to the judgment of all, good and bad alike, but to that of the wicked alone. So also in 2 Peter 2:9 ; 2 Peter 3:7 ; and possibly also in Matthew 12:36 , but not in 1 John 4:17 (the only passage where it is not anarthrous). Than for that city. Observe that this verse implies that the wicked dead are still in existence, and are waiting for their final judgment; also that in the judgment of the wicked there will be degrees of punishment.
The Lord's charge to his apostles.
I. DIRECTIONS FOR THEIR IMMEDIATE MISSION .
1 . It leas to be confined to the house of Israel. This was a temporary limitation; it was wholly removed at the ascension. The Lord himself entered into the city of the Samaritans; lie healed the daughter of the Syro-Phoenician woman. But for the present the apostles were to preach only to the Jews; it was necessary that the gospel should be first offered unto them; they were the covenant people, the children of the kingdom. The Holy Land was to be the centre from which the light of the gospel was to be diffused throughout the world. The light must be kindled at the centre first; a Church must be formed in the birthplace of the faith; then the messengers of Christ were to go forth for the evangelization of the world. The gospel must be preached at home first; then comes missionary work. Each disciple must be a witness for Christ; first in his own immediate circle, then let him enlarge his efforts. There are lost sheep at home, in our own households, among our own friends and neighbours. God's providence has placed them nearest to us; our first duty is to them.
2 . Their preaching. "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." It had been first the announcement of John the Baptist, then of the Lord himself; now his apostles were to re-echo the solemn message. The kingdom was at hand, not yet fully organized, only in its infancy; but it was in the world. The heavenly King was come; his kingdom was close at hand; men who would share its blessings must press into it.
3. Their power. The Lord had given them power to work miracles or' mercy; they must exercise it. We must care for men's bodily wants as far as God gives us the means, not only for their spiritual needs. The apostles had received freely, without price, the gift of power from Christ; they must, give, as they received , freely, without price. St. Peter obeyed the Lord's commandment when he refused to receive money from Simon the sorcerer in exchange for spiritual power.
4 . No provision needed for their journey. The workman is worthy of his meat; the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. The apostles were to be supported by those to whom they ministered the bread of life; but they were to look for no more than that daily bread for which the Lord encourages us to pray. They were to trust in God for the supply of their daily needs; they were not to provide money; they were to go lightly clad, without the encumbrance of baggage. The Lord gave different rules afterwards ( Luke 22:36 ). The directions here were of temporary force; to require literal obedience to them would savour of the fanaticism of the scribes and Pharisees. But in the spirit they are of perpetual obligation. Christ's ministers must be disinterested; they must labour not for the sake of earthly rewards, but for the love of souls, for the love of Christ; they must cast all their care upon Christ, knowing that he careth for them.
II. DIRECTIONS FOR THEIR SOJOURNING IN THEIR VARIOUS STATIONS .
1 . They were to choose pious households. They must begin in each town or village with those who were most likely to listen to their message. A pious household would be a fit centre from which the good tidings might spread throughout the neighbourhood. There they should remain. They were not to wander from house to house in search of pleasant places; they were to be content to stay where God's providence had first directed them.
2 . They were to bring the message of peace. "Peace be unto you!" was the common formula of Oriental salutation. The Lord would not have his servants neglect the ordinary courtesies of social life. "A servant of the Lord," Stier writes, "is truly courteous, for he has learned to be so in the high court of his King." But the salutation becomes a Christian blessing in the mouth of the Lord, or of his servants speaking in his Name; its brings peace to the household that is worthy of peace. Words of blessing do no good to the unbelieving and the unworthy. But they are not lost; the blessing returns upon him who utters it in faith and love. Christian love is very precious; every deed and word and thought of love are registered in heaven; not one is lost. If there are some who harden their hearts and will not receive the benefit, it returns in multiplied blessing upon the faithful servant of the Lord.
3 . The danger of rejecting the gospel message. The Jews were accustomed to shake off the dust when they returned from foreign journeys; the dust of heathen countries defiled the Holy Land. The apostles were to do so when they left households or towns which refused to receive them and to hear their words. The action was symbolical; it was to be done in sadness, not in anger; it implied separation; it was the last solemn appeal, a warning of the coming judgment. Still Christ's ministers must observe their Lord's injunction—not, indeed, in the letter, but in the spirit; still they must announce to the wicked the Lord's most awful warning, "O wicked man, thou shall surely die." If they speak not to warn the wicked, he must die; but his blood will be required at their hand. The Lord himself ratifies the awful sentence. He looks forward to the judgment of the great day. It shall be more tolerable then, he says, for Sodom and Gomorrha than for those who have heard the gospel and rejected it. There are degrees or' guilt, and there are degrees of condemnation. Sin against light is far more guilty than the sin of ignorance; the greater the light, the greater the guilt, if when we have the light we come not to the light, but walk still in darkness, loving with a strange perversity darkness rather than light.
1 . Do not neglect home duties; care first for the souls which God has put within your influence.
2 . Christ's ministers must seek souls, not riches; his people must give freely to supply their needs.
3 . Christians must he courteous in their intercourse with one another.
4 . The message comes from God; those who reject it incur a most awful danger.
The "commanding" of the twelve.
This was a grand historic occasion indeed. The honoured but ever-comparatively feeble and now dimmed, dying, or dead schools of the prophets are to be succeeded by a scion of Christianity that marks at one and the same time its noblest and most amazing human institution, and Heaven's most condescending gift and human trust. Now begins "the great company of preachers" of the New Testament. They began with twelve;. they very soon grew to seventy; and authorized provision was made by him who first called them , and first "gave them commandment" for their indefinite, "innumerable" increase, by the one method of prayer, their prayer to the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his "great" harvest. With what sublimest of simplicity is it said in the first verse of the following chapter, "When Jesus trod made an end of commanding his twelve disciples"! The commandments were not ten , and, whatever their number, neither were they like those ten master-instructions of the old covenant, and of all time, till time shall end. These commandments breathed the very breath of love, of sympathy, of help. They were charged with trust, and that trust nothing short of Heaven's own-confided trust. The endowments of mighty powers of gift and of grace were enshrined in them. A glorious honour gilded them with deep, rich light. But throughout them, without a break, there ran the "commandment" that meant caution, warning, an ever-present dangerous enemy , thick dangers through which to thread the way. For this necessity, protection and even the very essence of inspiration were the promises vouchsafed. In some analysis of this "commanding of his disciples" we notice—
I. FIRST OF ALL , CHRIST 'S PARAMOUNT AUTHORITY IN REGARD OF THE PERSONS WHOM HE COMMISSIONS . Once " he called" them; now " he calls them to him;" he "sends them forth;" and before they go, he " commands " them, and he gives them power. " Of this authority two things must be said, and unhesitatingly. First , that what it seemed and what it was to these original twelve disciples, such it ever has been since, and still is, toward those who are their true successors, whether they are the successors of such as Peter and John, or of such as Judas Iscariot. Secondly , that the authority in question is one unshared and undivided, except as it is shared and divided, in whatever mysterious way and in whatever unknown proportion, with those very persons themselves, who either first pushed in to volunteer the solemn responsibility, or put themselves in the way to court it and to consent to accept it. The ordination of Judas Iscariot is not less a fact than that of St. Peter; and so has it likewise travelled down the ages of Christendom to this hour. Before this phenomenon we justly quail, and just are we dumb; but we cannot deny it.
II. CHRIST 'S PARAMOUNT AUTHORITY IN RESPECT OF THE PRINCIPLES UPON WHICH THOSE HE COMMISSIONS ARE TO FULFIL THEIR ALLOTTED WORK . These are such as follow: Firstly , absolute independence of any supposed dictation on the part of those to whom their mission is. Secondly , absolute undoubting reliance on himself for guidance and protection, and in the last resort for all that is necessary for "life." Thirdly , the exclusive use and encouragement of moral influence over and among those who are to be visited and preached to, and whose spiritual and bodily sicknesses and diseases are to be ministered to. A most interesting and significant exemplification of this same principle is to be observed in the direction given to the disciples to accept hospitality; not only this, but to lay themselves open to the offer of it; nay, to inquire for it, but never to force it. And this exemplification is perhaps yet more powerfully established in the external symbolic, but still moral condemnation, directed to be expressed towards those who refused to "receive them," as also to " hear their words." Fourthly , throughout all that might seem to merely superficial observation special and artificial and supernatural—a religious and grateful obedience to what wise nature and true reason must dictate. They are sent forth "by two and two". This is
III. CHRIST 'S FOREKNOWLEDGE OF THE COURSE OF HIS CHURCH AND KINGDOM ; AND THE HOSTAGES HE GIVES HEREIN OF HIS OWN ABSOLUTE AND INTRINSIC AUTHORITY , BY THE BOLD AND FULL DESCRIPTION OF THAT COURSE , AS IN THE FULLEST SENSE THAT OF A DEEP REVOLUTION , A REVOLUTION THAT WOULD REND TO THEIR FOUNDATIONS Tile STRONGHOLDS OF HUMAN SOCIETIES , HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS , WITH ALL THEIR LONGEST CUSTOMS AND FIERCEST PREJUDICES .
IV. THE CALM , IMMOVABLE INTREPIDITY OF ATTITUDE AND OF SOUL THAT IS TO MARK THOSE WHO SHALL SEEM THE CHIEF ACTORS IN THIS MORAL REVOLUTION . This is to rest upon: Firstly , the forearmedness of forewarnedness. Knowledge of themselves, of the enemy, and of him who fights by them, in them, for his own grand works; and who will not fail to fight for them, by himself, and all necessary unseen power. Secondly , the confidence that the Spirit of the Father shall be with them, and speak in and for them at each time of need. Thirdly , in memory of that Master, who is "above the servant "—a memory that has often shown itself so omnipotent an impulse and source of strength, Fourthly , with ever-present memory of the infinite disparity between the ultimate sanctions involved, viz. that of those who can kill the body but can no more, and of him who indeed can kill both, but of whom it is in the same breath said—He notices the fall of a sparrow, and counts the hairs of the head of his servant. Fifthly , that noblest incentive of the safest ambition that was vouchsafed in the words of incredible condescension, "He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me." This for some and all. And sixthly , also for some and all the words of tenderest promise, "Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward." Thus forewarned, thus forearmed, thus taught, thus given to fear with godly fear, and stimulated thus with promise and present assurance, it might well be that human "weakness" should be, as it was, as it often is , " made perfect in strength."—B.
Christ's charge to his apostles.
After a night spent in prayer, Jesus called his twelve disciples and constituted them into an apostolic college. With his commission he gave them his charge. Notice—
I. THE PERSONS COMMISSIONED AND CHARGED .
1 . They were twelve in number.
2 . Their names are given in order.
II. THE CHARGE .
1 . As to the apostles preaching.
(a) Not to the Gentiles.
(b) Not to the Samaritans.
(c) They were to limit their preaching to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel"
(cf. Isaiah 53:6 ; Jeremiah 1:1-19 .6; Matthew 12:1-50 ; Romans 9:1-4 ). The gospel must first be preached to the Jews (cf. Matthew 15:24 ; Romans 15:8 ). The restriction, however, was temporary (see Acts 1:8 ; Acts 3:26 ; Acts 13:46 ).
(a) The gospel of the "kingdom." Its spiritual nature. Spiritually, as well as literally, they were to "heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils."
(b) Its near approach. " At hand," viz. when the Spirit should be given on the Day of Pentecost.
(c) Therefore the need of preparation for it, viz. by repentance.
2 . As to its authentication.
3 . As to their maintenance.
1 . This sin is worse than that of the men of Sodom ( Ezekiel 16:48 , Ezekiel 16:49 ). Who sin against the clear light of revelation are more guilty than those who offend against the dim light of tradition.
2 . The full judgment upon sin is reserved to the last great day.