Matthew 9:35—10:23 (NRSV)
Verse 35Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. Verse 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Verse 37Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; Verse 38therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."
Chapter 10Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. Verse 2These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Verse 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Verse 4Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.
Verse 5These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, Verse 6but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Verse 7As you go, proclaim the good news, 'The kingdom of heaven has come near.' Verse 8Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Verse 9Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, Verse 10no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. Verse 11Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. Verse 12As you enter the house, greet it. Verse 13If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. Verse 14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Verse 15Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
Verse 16"See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Verse 17Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; Verse 18and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. Verse 19When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; Verse 20for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Verse 21Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; Verse 22and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. Verse 23When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
As a child I was always excited when a missionary preached in our church. I tried to imagine that exotic place he or she called home. Since there were missionaries on both sides of my family, I grew up knowing something of India, China, Madagascar, Ecuador, and South Africa. But as a child, I never imagined or realized the full range of the impact they had in those faraway places. I thought they were just trying to make Christians out of those who had never heard the gospel. How wrong I was! Along with their evangelism efforts, they were busy teaching children, healing the sick, and feeding the hungry. They were busy building clinics and caring for whomever they encountered. They were convinced that the good news of the gospel embraced and transformed all of life.
For the first disciples as well as those who have shared the gospel throughout history, we give you praise, God. Protect and keep those who today are sharing your story, your love, your healing throughout the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.