Harmony of the Gospels

 Harmony of the Gospels

-AD 28-
(34) Twelve Sent Out
(1 Corinthians 9:14), Matthew 9:35-11:1, Mark 6:6-13, Luke 9:1-6


What a privilege, to be a messenger of God and give His word to those who are hungry for it.  I have seen what the Word of God can do for a person who will not only believe it, but will live it.  It has the power to change lives!  Those who are preachers of the Gospel have the responsibility due to their calling, to give their very best for God.  It’s a full time job that needs the support of their family and their flock.  They are to support the preacher with their prayers, and by encouraging him and by providing him with a livable salary.

We are told in I Corinthians 9:14, “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.”  God intends for the preacher to be supported by his church.  I don’t believe that a preacher should be rich, because riches tend to get a hold on a man; but his family should not have to go without, and neither should he.  I believe that God will bless the church, which takes good care of their pastor, and loves him.  In today’s study, Jesus sends out His disciples with a mission and there are some good lessons for us in His instructions to them.  Mathew, Mark and Luke record this account.


Matthew 9

35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.

“The gospel of the kingdom” was the announcement that the Kingdom of heaven was at hand.  It meant to get ready for the King.  It required a heart condition that would accept and follow the King, who was then on the way to the cross.  And on the way to the cross, He was “healing every sickness and every disease among the people.”  Matthew keeps impressing upon us that there were thousands of people who were healed by Jesus.  This is the reason the enemy never questioned the fact that He performed miracles-it was too obvious.

In our day, a great many people get excited by the claims of certain people that they have the gift of healing.  Personally, I don’t think that anyone in our day has that gift; but I do believe that God heals.  He heals, if it’s His will, and since we do not know His will in these matters, we should ask Him for healing and pray, “But thy will be done, not mine.”

In contrast to today, there were thousands of people healed by Our Lord Jesus.  I know that Jesus is the Great Physician, and that He can heal today as well as yesterday.  I have a great confidence in Him.  When we are sick, we should seek the best medical help available to us, but we need to recognize that doctors are extremely limited.  However, the Lord Jesus is not limited.  We should be confident that He will deal with us according to His perfect will, and we need to give Him the credit for whatever happens.

36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.

Note the compassion that is evident in this verse; and it is for the multitudes of people who flocked to Him.

Jesus said they were like sheep that didn’t have a shepherd.  God’s ideal kings and rulers had been shepherds.  Both Moses and David had been shepherds before they led God’s people.  When we pray for missionaries to take Christ to the lost, pray that they will be shepherds.  And let’s pray that God will give us a heart for the lost.

37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;
38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
After Jesus said this to His disciples, He sent them out.  He asked them to pray for laborers to send into the harvest; then He sent them out, the very men He asked to pray about it.  Isn’t this interesting?  Should we be ready to do what we pray about, in case God decides to send us?

Matthew 10

The disciples did not go out as forerunners, but as after-runners.  Our Lord gave them power to perform miracles-this was their credential.  (Have you ever noticed that John the Baptist never performed a miracle?)  Note that their title is changed from disciple (learner) to apostle (delegate).

1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.

The power He gave them was their credential, as they went to the nation Israel.  The Old Testament prophets had said that this would be the credential of the Messiah.  Now that they had this power, He called them apostles.

2 Now 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 publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;
4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

Note that Matthew calls himself “the publican.”  That’s another name for the tax collectors, who were hated by the people.  He never forgot where he came from.  Jesus called this man out of sin and equipped him to tell millions about Christ through His Gospel.

5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Their ministry was only to be to the nation Israel, and no where else.  Jesus made that very clear, so we could not use this commission for our own ministry.  Compare it with our commission, given in Acts 1:8, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”  We are told now that we are to go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and throughout the whole world.  Now look at what their message is:

7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

How was it at hand?  It was there in the person of the King-the Lord Jesus Christ.  He was there in their midst.

During the last hundred years or so, there have been those who have sought to establish the “Kingdom of Heaven,” and they were optimistic and dedicated, and worked as if they had a contract from God.  But the church was never called to build the Kingdom.  We are told in God’s word that it is the Lord Jesus Christ who will build the Kingdom when He returns to earth. The church is a called out body, which is to make the Gospel known to the world.  We are not building the church or the Kingdom; that is Christ’s business, and none of our business.

The Kingdom of Heaven is within us, when we receive Christ.

Now notice that Jesus sends out the twelve with the same credentials that He, himself, has.

8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

They were given all four of these powers, not just one.  Why would those today claim to only have one of them; all four were given to the apostles.  Or why would they leave out the power to raise the dead?  The faith healers who claim this verse as their commission always leave out the next verse, or at least I have never heard it used.

9 Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,
10 Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.

I would like to see the so-called faith healers go to the hospitals, where they are really needed.  But it is interesting to see that these people have to be in a place where an offering can be taken.

Now, we need to put this verse in the proper context.  These instructions were only temporary; they were for Our Lord’s three year ministry.  There came a day at the end of His ministry, when he gave different instructions to His apostles: “And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.  Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.” (Luke 22:35-36 (KJV) 

The apostle Paul wrote, “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:14 (KJV)  It is clear that in our day, God expects us to support Christian ministries.

I think that anyone who appropriates verse 8 to apply to them should also take the next verse, because it is important to always interpret scripture in its context. 

Now notice that there were other instructions that Our Lord gave to the apostles before He sent then out for the first time.

11 And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.

These are not instructions for us today.  This wouldn’t work in our time.  We could not go into a strange town and knock on a door and ask who the best Christian is, and then go to their house and ask to stay with them.  These are temporary instructions for His three-year ministry.  We must interpret it in the proper context.

12 And when ye come into an house, salute it.
13 And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.

The word house refers not to a building, but to the people who live in it; the household.

14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

This is not our commission today.  Missionaries are not usually received well, but must labor for years for just a few converts.  They must face rejection and go back and try to preach the Gospel again.  These instructions were given to those men for that particular time.

15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

In chapter 11 of Matthew it says what happened to those cities that fell under judgment.  There is a penalty for those who reject the Gospel.  The sin of unbelief is the only sin that Christ doesn’t have a remedy for.  Those who have had the Gospel preached to them in abundance, but refuse to believe will be judged more critically than those who have only had a touch of it.  That is clear from Christ’s words in the next chapter.

Now, the Lord gives His men some great principles, which would apply to their mission.  They were good for their day, and still apply today, and will apply for eternity. 

16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

The child of God is to be wise and harmless.  It is dangerous to be one and not the other.  I’ll bet you are like me; you know some, who are wise, but they are not harmless-they may hurt you.  There are others who are quite gullible; they are harmless as doves, but they are not wise as serpents.  What Jesus is saying is that we need to combine both qualities; we should be wise and inoffensive.

17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;

I have never been scourged in a synagogue, but I know those who have been verbally scourged in our good churches.

18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.

In that day it happened to many; it happened to John the Baptist, to Jesus and to Paul and to many others who were His.  And after that it happened to many in the church.

19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.

We need to keep these verses in their context.  Remember, these are Jesus’ instructions to His disciples for the local situation that they are in.  These men didn’t make any preparations.  In fact they didn’t even prepare answers, in case they were arrested for doing the job that He sent them to do.

21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.

When Christ came into the world, it divided men; it did not bring unity.  There is division when one family member accepts Christ and the others do not.  Paul had this to say on the subject: "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18 (KJV)

22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

This means that the Lord will be able to keep His own for the three year period of His ministry.  And He has the power to keep us saved also.  He is the Good Shepherd, who starts out with 100 sheep, and brings all 100 home.

23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.

Jesus covered the nation of Israel with His message.  And He caused divisions within families, religious groups, and cities.  There were a lot of differing opinions concerning who He was.  Even today, He is the most controversial person who was ever in the world.

Now the Lord Jesus gives His men some general instructions.  These are great principles, which we can certainly apply to ourselves, but they were given to the disciples.

24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.

We must understand that we are representing Him, and if we do not put Him first, we will have trouble-I mean trouble with Him.  We should not expect for everything in our lives to be smooth sailing; Jesus suffered and we are not better than Him, therefore we should expect to have our trials.  But we will get through them, if we walk by faith in Him.

25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?

Don’t worry what people are saying about you, if you are being faithful to Him.  They said terrible things about Jesus, so how could we expect to be treated any better.  We can’t always please both God and people, so when there is a conflict please God.

26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.

Nothing is hidden from God, and the time is approaching for all men and women when we will be judged.  At that time we need to look as good on the inside as we do on the outside. 

27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.

Some people can take in a whole lot of God’s word, but they never give it out.  You would think, that like a sponge, they would become saturated and would need to give some out, before they can take more in.  But they never do.  You don’t always have to preach the Gospel; sometimes it is better to just live it before others, so they can see that you have a reality in your life.

28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

In other words, fear God.  God is love.  He is long suffering.  He is not willing that any should perish.  But God is righteous and those who reject His Son will not be spared; both body and soul will be destroyed in Hell.  This is not a comforting verse for the Christian, unless we see that if we fear God, we will not fear men as much.  For the child of God, it is not a matter that we need to fear God’s wrath, because we have been reconciled to Him through faith in Jesus Christ.  But we need to give Him the proper respect.  God is not your buddy; He is sovereign and holy, and we owe Him respect. 

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.

There are several verses that I go to when I am stressed; this is one of them.  What a wonderful thought, that God knows every one of the millions of sparrows.  They don’t amount to much; yet he cares for them.  Don’t you think that you are more important to Him that a sparrow.  He knows all about you, and me also, as we will see in the next verse.

30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

Your mother loved you, but did she ever count the number of hairs on your head.  God knows how many there are.  He loves you more than anyone.

31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

The value of something is based on what someone is willing to pay for it.  God paid a tremendous price for us; He gave His only begotten Son.  Therefore, we are worth more than anything else in this world.  Christ died for you and for me.  He did not die for any other creature.  He takes a great interest in us because we mean a lot to Him; He loves us and He knows all about us.  He knows the number of hairs on our heads and we are more valuable, to Him, than all the rest of creation.

32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

We should take every opportunity to be a witness for our Savior.  Actually, we are commanded to do that.  He said that we are to be His witnesses to the whole world.  We don’t want to ever deny Him, but there are times that we should keep quiet, because we do not want to cast our pearls before swine. 

34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

Jesus did not come to bring peace on earth; He came to bring salvation to those who will believe in Him.  Sin is still in the world and Satan dominates the actions of lost men.  There is no peace for the wicked.  When Jesus comes the second time there will be peace, because He will put down all rebellion and unrighteousness.

35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.

Faith in God will split families, because it transforms lives.  The believer cannot have the same relationships that he had before he was saved, because he must now walk by faith, and faith leads to obedience.  That’s why the Word of God says that we are not to be unequally yoked, and that we are not to fellowship with unbelievers.  And believers will often feel closer to other believers than they do to their own family members.  Paul clarified this in I Corinthians 1:18, when he said, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

When I read this verse, I thought how God loved us so much that He gave His Son to die for us.  And then I realized that He can say this, because He did not withhold His Son.  So we can’t give a greater place to anyone in our lives; God must stand first.  We love Him, because He first loved us. 

38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

I don’t believe that anyone ever followed Christ, who did not carry a cross.  We know about the cross that He carried.  He was nailed to it along with our sins.  But our cross will be easy to carry, because He will make it so.  And the longer we carry it, the lighter it will become, and in the end He will completely remove it, and we will have rest.  He told us all about this in Matthew, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30 (KJV)

39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

This verse says that anyone who is put to death because of their faith in Christ will gain eternal life.  That doesn’t happen in the United States yet, but it is happening in some parts of the world today.  He is making a contrast here between life in the world and the Christian life.  Those who are satisfied with the things of this world don’t want Christ, because they don’t want to give up their sin.  Therefore, they will lose eternal life.

40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.
42 And 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.

There are rewards for living the Christian life, but one of them is that the world will hate you.  Jesus says that we should not be surprised about that, because it hated Him.  We should not expect to be treated better than He was.  Jesus is saying here that if you receive Him as a prophet or a righteous man, you will receive the same reward as a prophet or righteous man.  But if you acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior, you will receive a full reward.  Our Lord makes it very clear that rewards are given on the basis of faithfulness.

Matthew 11

1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.
After His disciples had gone out, Jesus went out into the cities to preach His message.  It is very important to get the word of God out, and Jesus did it, and we should do it in our day.

-Mark (Chapter 6)-

6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.

Why would Jesus marvel at the unbelief of these people?  It was because He had done so much to confirm His message and who He was.  The purpose for His teaching was to bring them to faith in Him; but despite the miracles that they saw and His teaching, they did not believe.  They rejected Him, because they knew His parents and that He was uneducated, and that he had worked as a carpenter among them.  That couldn’t get past their own prejudices, even though the proofs of His deity and Messiahship were all about them, and as a man, that surprised Him.

So Jesus left His own country and went to all the little cities around Nazareth and instructed those people concerning the Kingdom of God.  As far as we know, he never returned to Nazareth.

7 And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;
8 And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse:
9 But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats

The apostles were sent forth by couples, so that they would have company, and so that they could assist each other.  Each pair was sent to a different place; therefore the message would be spread faster than if they all went together.

Jesus gave them abilities that would help them; such as the ability to cast out evil spirits.

He told them that they were not to take much with them.  They could carry a staff, but they were not to take any money or food.  They were to be provided for, at no cost, by those that they taught.

Jesus added that they were to wear sandals.  They could only have the one pair of sandals and one coat.  The reason is that a minister of the Gospel is not to be worldly.  He should not be concerned about amassing wealth or dwell upon sensual things.  He must avoid worldly cares, being involved in business, and worrying about supporting himself.  He must devote himself to prayer and studying God’s word and ministering to the flock which God has given him.  He should be cared for by the people who he ministers to.

10 And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place.

When they enter a town, He told them that they were to stay in a place and not go house to house.

11 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

Jesus warns them that there will be those who will not take them into their house and will not listen to what they have to say.  When they leave that house or city they are to declare them unworthy, because they rejected and despised the Gospel.  They will come to the Day of Judgment, to appear before God and to be judged for rejecting the Gospel.  Their punishment will be more terrible than for the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, because they had received more of the light of the Gospel.

12 And they went out, and preached that men should repent.

The message was simple, and it was the same as John and Jesus preached-repent of your sins and turn back to God. 

13 And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.
Casting out demons was a prelude to what they were called to do, which was to cast Satan out of the souls of men.  They no doubt were directed by Christ to anoint the sick with oil for an outward sign of their healing.  The oil was not intended as a medical treatment or there would have been no miracle in their cure.  Today, we realize that healing is ascribed to the prayer of faith, even though some may still anoint with oil.  If it is God’s will, healing will happen with or without oil.  Even the apostles rarely used anointing oil; they were more likely to speak words of healing.  Sometimes they laid hands on the sick, or sometimes healing came when handkerchiefs or aprons were laid on them.  In Acts is tells us that some placed the sick where Peter’s shadow passed over them, and they were healed.  All these means were just outward signs, and the real power to heal was from God.

-Luke (Chapter 9)-

1 Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.
2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.
3 And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.
4 And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart.
5 And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.
6 And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where.
  Luke 9:1-6 (KJV)

Jesus could only be in one place at a time, so now we see the method He used to spread His Gospel.  By this time, the disciples were pretty well taught and could deliver the message effectively, so Jesus sent them out in couples.  It was so important that men receive the message that He empowered His disciples to do miracles.  He gave them the ability to heal the sick and to dispossess demons.  They were welcomed by people, because of these abilities; and they gained their affections and held their interest. 

They were to go as they were, depending upon the providence of God, and the kindness of people for their needs.  Although they went away from Jesus presence, they still had His spiritual presence with them.  They were sent forth in His name and acting under His authority performed miracles in His name.  Their work was the same as their Master’s and was convincing proof that He was the Messiah.  His fame spread, because not only could He work miracles but so could His disciples. 

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