Matthew 10:5–15 (NKJV, also appearing in Mark 6:8-11; Luke 9:3-5)
5 These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. 9 Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, 10 nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.
Jesus sent His disciples out into the harvest field spoken of in the previous verses. He instructed them to first go to the house of Israel, not Gentiles. Timing is important in the greater scheme of things. Order was set and established, and the disciples operated under Jesus’ authority. He sent them to speak first to their family members, friends, and extended relatives. This is a common pattern in the kingdom of God. When Jesus offered the Great Commission in Matthew 28, He starts a series of concentric circles with the smallest circle of attack, which was Jerusalem (then Judea, Samaria, and the world). Start at home, but don’t necessarily stay there. Jesus sent them first to Israel to fulfill the promise of the Old Testament of a Messiah. Christianity was not meant to be a new religion, but fulfillment of the faith of Abraham. So Jesus went to the house of Israel first.
God is a God of order. He is also a God of power. Jesus empowers the disciples to heal, raise the dead, cast out demons, etc. This power and authority would have shaken some of these men, but they responded and obeyed. He instructed them to be generous (with the gospel) and to be full of faith, even when it came to their provisions while on the journey. The worker is worthy of his food.
11 “Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. 12 And when you go into a household, greet it. 13 If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!
One final instruction for this passage tells the disciples to judge or discern which households are worthy, and to stay there. If they receive the words (the gospel), then they will be counted worthy. If they reject the gospel, then move on to another house and preach the gospel. Shake the dust off your feet. In other words, do not carry the negativity and sense of failure with you. While God never gives up on a soul, He also wants us to operate with order and authority and reach as many souls as possible. Pray for those who reject the gospel. Circle around to them again if possible. However, don’t be discouraged in your witnessing. Keep sowing, find fertile soil, and you will reap a harvest.
Artwork from: http://www.alittleperspective.com/matthew-10-2016/