Matthew chapter 10 is packed with a wealth of important instructions as Jesus sent the apostles out to reach the lost. As I started to unpack these verses I wrestled with and have tried to understand the “promotion” from being called disciples to becoming apostles. What is it that signified the change in title for the disciples?
The first verse of chapter 10 tells us that “He gave them authority”, authority to heal the sick and drive out impure and evil spirits. These twelve men had been walking closely with Jesus learning and experiencing first hand the compassion and love for the lost. Jesus had been leading these men through “on the job” learning, building in them the foundation of His love in their own hearts. What an amazing example of a truly effective discipleship training experience, these twelve men were “immersed” in the learning and doing ministry.
The disciples were learning, living and being prepared for what Paul later describes in 1 Timothy as a “noble task”. Having been tested and proven to be above reproach, respectable, self-controlled, and hospitable, these newly appointed apostles were now prepared to shine Jesus’ light in the darkness, to reach the lost with the good news of His love.
Do you remember the acronym WWJD, popularized in the 1990’s by a youth group leader in Michigan to help the youth of the church remember the phrase “What Would Jesus Do”?
Throughout the book of Matthew we get to experience some of what Jesus did do (WJDD) as he began his ministry, we see how He surrounded himself with a group of men (the 12 disciples) which today we might call a ministry team. Beginning in chapter four of Matthew we see Jesus beginning to call his first disciples, Peter, Andrew, James and John. I might ask why these men? What training or experience do they have in aligning them-selves with the ministry of Jesus?
I don’t think it’s any accident that shortly after Jesus calls these men that we encounter in scripture the Sermon on the Mount. “and he began to teach them”. (Mt.5:2) Jesus has started the training and teaching process with the disciples giving them the solid foundation of His love and direction for a life in ministry and for Christian living. The disciples were his intended audience and the crowds that gathered around him also benefited from his teachings. We can only imagine what it might have been like to hear Jesus speak these words of instruction, Matthew chapter 7:28 tells us that the crowds were amazed at his teaching because he taught with such authority.
So what have we seen so far? We have seen Jesus recruit leaders, we have seen him begin to train and teach those leaders and as we continue reading deeper into Matthew we will understand more about what Jesus did do.