Matthew 10:9-15 (NIV) “Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.”
Jesus was not just sending out His disciples on a mission. He was teaching them how to do missions in the way that they were done in the kingdom of God.
First, He stripped away all that most people believed was essential when going on a journey of indeterminate duration. He forbade them to take any money (not even thin copper coins like the widow put into the treasury – Mark 12:41-42), and He forbade them to take a bag to carry extra food or clothing. This would make them completely dependent on God for their sustenance and provision.
Next, He stripped them of a change of clothes or extra shoes, in case their current things got worn out from the long journey. They would again have to depend on God to preserve even their clothing, like He did with the Israelites for the forty years that they were in the wilderness (cf. Deuteronomy 8:4).
But in this case, God wasn’t going to rain down manna from the sky or bring water out of a rock for them to drink. Instead, He would move the heart of someone in each town they visited to open their doors to these kingdom emissaries. Then He would help guide them to the right house. That household would provide for their needs for as long as they stayed in the town, so they were instructed to just stay there, and not look for a better place.
When they entered the house, they were to bless it with shalom, God’s peace. If the homeowner was receptive to God’s leading and was obedient and generous in providing for these apostles, then God’s peace would remain on the house, and God would bless it with more than they gave. If, on the other hand, the household resisted God’s call on them to provide hospitality, then His blessing would be withheld. If the whole town was resistant to God’s message, or to providing hospitality, then God would lump them in with Sodom and Gomorrah as places that gave poor hospitality to the messengers that He sent to them.
Admittedly, this was not the normal way of doing things. But it was the way that Jesus did them. Jesus lived out His own teaching not to worry about food, drink, and clothing, but instead to rely entirely on God to provide for Him, as He carried out God’s plan for His life (cf. Matthew 6:31-34). And He wanted His followers to develop that same mindset, so that they could experience the same daily provision that He did.
Father, many of us can quote those verses from the Sermon on the Mount, but very few of us actually live them out on a day-to-day basis. And, because of that, our faith is weaker than it could be, and our testimony is less robust than it should be. Help us to trust You, lord, for all that we need, even as Jesus did, and even as He trained His followers to do. Amen.