As Chapter 9 begins, the scene changes and Jesus sends out the twelve disciples to proclaim the Kingdom. In doing so, he gave them some unusual instructions:
“Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” (9:3-5)
Nobody sets off on a road trip like that, at least not by design. Jesus sent these guys out there with nothing; no provision, no supplies, not even a change of clothes. We might be tempted to criticize His lack of planning and organization…
If we did so, we would be acting in haste, for actually there was a plan, a very counter-intuitive one. The disciples were to head out and let God worry about the provisions, so they could worry about the mission. Apparently there were some places that needed to hear their message, while others wouldn’t be willing to listen. How would they know the difference between the two?
If no one would welcome them, then that village didn’t have ears to hear the message, and they would simply move on… This plan was elegant in its simplicity.
Of course there would be benefits for those who would receive their message, for the disciples had authority to heal and drive out demons, something that those who would not welcome them would never know about.
What an amazing picture of the Kingdom of Heaven!
Think about the times we live in: There are many who will eagerly receive the message about Jesus, and when they accept His message and receive His grace, they become rich in blessings. Yet there are also many who will refuse to hear anything about Jesus, and thus they will remain in their pride and self-assurance, but gain no real blessing at all, for their reward is purely an earthly one.
News of all of this reaches King Herod, and he is troubled. He wonders if this is the reincarnation of John the Baptist, whom he has murdered; his conscience seems to be troubled. Some think Elijah has returned; there are various theories about the stir throughout the land.
Herod wants to investigate…