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In Matthew chapter 10 Jesus sends out the twelve disciples! Verse 7 stands out: "Jesus sent the twelve disciples out with these instructions: "Don't go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but only to the people of Israel--God's lost sheep." Gentiles are anyone who is not a Jew. Samaritans are a race that resulted in intermarriage between Jews and Gentiles after the Old Testament exiles and captivities - as we see in 2 Kings 17:24 - "The king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim and settled them in the towns of Samaria to replace the Israelites. They took over Samaria and lived in its towns." The Matthew 10 verse 7 above does indicate that Jesus' disciple's ministry was first to the Jews, but soon thereafter the ministry and the gospel message clearly was for all people. As we see in Acts 10:34-35 - "Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right." And certainly as we see in the Great Commission at the end of Matthew, in chapter 28 verses 19 & 20: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." Below is a Spanish wood panel painting by an unknown artist from the early 12th century of Jesus and the twelve disciples:
One interesting note on the listing of names of the 12 disciples in Matthew. Peter is listed first and Judas Iscariot last. We'll read various listings of the 12 disciples throughout the New Testament. And numbers 2 through 11 always vary in order of how the disciples are listed. But in all of the listings, Peter is first. And Judas Iscariot is always listed last. Below is a painting titled " The Sending of the Twelve" by Duccio di Buoninsegna from the early 14th century - (looks to me like Duccio only painted in 11 here... )
Matthew 10 verse 16 stands out: ""Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Be as wary as snakes and harmless as doves." This is good advice for us today as well. Jesus is still sending us out today as his followers. And I do think this teaching is wise - for us to be wary and harmless at the same time. It's an interesting line to walk, but I believe a very wise one. I believe the only way to really walk this line well is through the blessing of the Holy Spirit. I don't think we can do it on our own...
Worship Video: Today's readings reminded me of Lincoln Brewster's song, "Everlasting God:"
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