As Jesus went among the villages teaching he began to give more ministry responsibility to the twelve disciples. When Jesus sends out the twelve he gives them some quite specific instructions. They were to have the authority to cast out demons and to anoint the sick with oil for healing.
These signs were given for the purpose of confirmation of the words they were to speak as they spread the gospel among the people. They began their preaching here in the same way that John the Baptist and Jesus Christ began their respective ministeries. They preached repentance.
Repentance is one of the key foundations of Christianity. Under repentance cChristians are to turn from their sinful ways, renounce evil in this world and seek to make themselves right with God. Repentance is a preparatory process as people come to God. It prepares a person to receive the gifts and the call of God and is a first step in turning around a life.
Repentance as a first step requires a person to recognise they have sinned and are in need of a saviour. The only one capable of saving man from sin is Jesus Christ, for that authority has been given to him alone. (Luke 5:24) Repentance also acts as a first step of obedience. When we repent and come to the Lord confessing our sin, we recognise the power of God through Jesus Christ to grant us release from sin. This is a first mark of the obedience we are to show in our new life in Christ.
When Jesus sends out the twelve he tells them not to take money, food or a bag (eg. luggage) but to accept the hospitality of whomever offers it. Nor were they to go from house to house when they entered a town. Whoever opened their home to the disciples would be the one with whom they were to stay while in that town or place. This is a blessing to the person with whom they were staying for the way that we all can serve the Lord is to serve his people.
They were not to take anything with them for the Lord would provide through his people. It was both a test and a blessing when they did receive what was needed as they travelled and preached the gospel.
But they would also receive opposition as some towns would not receive them. Jesus instructed them to leave, and on leaving to even shake off the dust from their feet as testimony against that place. In essence Jesus said not to bang your head against a brick wall. If the people didn’t want to hear the word, don’t try to shove it down their throat. Instead go somewhere else where the people would be more receptive. There are many towns and cities in the world who needed the word, so why struggle where the word is unwanted.
This is still a good lesson for us today. Offer the word to those around you as the opportunity arises, but if they reject it, don’t push it any further, just move on. Who knows, perhaps the seed you planted will come to fruit at a later time and the Lord will have his servant in the right place for that person when his time is right, as he said, “If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him.” (John 12:26)
(Picture sourced from Malaysia Bible Seminary site: http://mbsalumni.blogspot.com/)