We’re returning to our study of Luke’s gospel and Luke’s, Luke chapter 9, you can turn there in your Bibles. Luke chapter 9. When we started into this last week, Luke chapter 9, this wonderful chapter, been a lot of transitions in it, missional transition, geographical transition, theological transition, as the identity of Jesus Christ is made evermore plain and glorious for us, the readers. As we saw last week, Jesus is sending out the apostles on their first mission.
He has called them, and equipped them, and commissioned them, and that’s what we studied last week in the first couple of verse. And just prior to sending them out on their mission, he’s going to give them some important instruction. That’s what we’re going to study today. What he told them, then, with specific instructions about that particular mission, provides us with some principles for our instruction today that we can live by. Take a look at Luke 9, and we will read those first six verses there.
Luke chapter 9, “Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. And he said to them, ‘Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet is a testimony against them.’ And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.”
So we see there, he’s called his apostles, he’s equipped them, and then as he sends them out, he instructs them about how they are to conduct themselves while they’re on this particular mission. Basically, he’s telling them to act in a manner worthy of the gospel that they carry. They are on this mission to behave as ministers, befitting the excellence of the gospel that they are proclaiming to others. These instructions, as we see here, they’re very specific. They are particular to this mission, in particular, and we want to just make a note that this is, these, these instructions are not particular to all missionary endeavors, and all missions in general.
Jesus here, is sending the apostles out on a specific mission, at this specific time, in this specific area. He’s sending them to accomplish the final evangelization of the region of Galilee. And to accomplish that in a specific amount of time, because he’s thinking he’s about to set his face towards Jerusalem to head toward the cross, this is going to require a certain mode of ministry, streamlined, really stripped down, just the bare essentials, very, very lean. That’s not to set the pattern for all missions for all time. This is specific. So you just need to remember that from the start.
These instructions, they do not set the pattern for all mission work, all evangelism, for all time. And Jesus made that clear. I just want to point this out at the beginning, lest you wonder exactly how you’re supposed to apply this to your life. In Luke chapter 22, you can jot this down, Luke 22:35 and 36. Jesus, there told his disciples, just prior to his crucifixion, he said, “When I sent you out, with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals,” he’s referring to this instruction here.
This is when I sent you out with the bare essentials. “He says, ‘Did you lack anything?’ And they said, ‘Nothing.’ And he said to them, ‘But now,’” Basically, the circumstances have changed. “But now let the new one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. Let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.” Different set of circumstances. Situation dictates, doesn’t it? Changing circumstances mean changing specifics, but, get this, the same principles govern both sets of instructions.
That’s really what we want to see here, is to boil this down, to the principal level, to see how we apply this for our own lives. Because what other, what undergirds all these specific instructions, are really a set of principles that inform all gospel outreach, all evangelistic efforts, all missionary efforts, in fact, the principles that we find here in Jesus’ instructions to his apostles, they really do inform the way we live the entire Christian life. Every single day we get up, these are the principles that we put into practice.
And if we live by the set of principles we find here, as Jesus did, following his example, we’re going to find great joy, we’re going to bear much fruit in and through, and for the kingdom of God. So we might call Jesus’ instructions here to his apostles, the apostolic way of conducting outreach. It’s the apostolic way of evangelism, and missions, really, we just boil it down to the apostolic way of living life. This is how we live the Christian life. Notice in verses 3 to 5, Jesus is specifically telling the apostles what to do about physical provisions, what to do about where to find accommodations, what to do in the face of rejection and hostility, against the message.
Again, specific instructions for this specific mission they’re to vark upon. But underlying all those instructions are principles applicable to us all. And by these principles, we live in the world, by these principles, we evangelize in our own spheres of influence. These principles are going to be our outline points for this morning, there are three of them. We’re gonna see principles of faith, and contentment, and dignity. So number one, we see the principle of a confident faith. Number two, the principle of Christian contentment. Number three, the principle of kingdom dignity.
Confident faith, Christian contentment, and kingdom dignity. Let’s look at that first principle, the principle of confident faith. That’s the principle we find at the heart of, first set of instructions there in verse 3, “Jesus said to them, ‘Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.’”
Let’s think about that. They’re going to be walking all over the region of Galilee. And you might think that all these items that Jesus just named, these are exactly the kinds of things they’d want to pack into a backpack, as they travel around Galilee, and Jesus is saying, No, don’t do that. As you’re traveling around the region of Galilee, for this mission, no time for you to go home and pack. Get moving. Get out there, get the job done. Again, it’s very specific, the time here is short. The need that Jesus is seeing here is urgent.
And the demand is to spread the gospel of the kingdom of God, and to do it right now, and to do it very quickly. Validate the gospel, through the powerful working of mercy of God, and healing, do that. Do it now. Go out and get it done. So take nothing for your journey. That’s the general admonition. Take nothing for your journey get going. When we can see from verse 6, that’s exactly what the apostles did. They obeyed him, and left immediately, taking nothing for the journey.
How did they do that? How do they go with nothing, with them. All the things that, that you would think that they’d want to take, how do they just abandon all that and go? Well, they made the decision right then and there, to trust the word of Jesus Christ, to obey him right now, and to trust God to provide for all the physical needs that they might have along the way. That’s the principle, isn’t it? They acted immediately, and they acted in confident faith.
Now in case we missed the implications of that general prohibition against taking stuff, in case we miss it, or in case they missed it, Jesus got more specific. Take nothing for the journey, means no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. Let’s break that down a little bit further. First, no staff. No staff, what’s the staff? Luke’s account agrees with with Matthew 10:10, “Take no bag for your journey, nor two tunics or sandals or a staff.” What’s the staff about?
It’s common to take a walking staff on a journey back in those days, because they needed to find stability on uneven ground. And especially, if in dim light, whether dim light in the morning or at night, stability on uneven ground. So what is this about? Is this, trust God never to twist an ankle, trust God so you don’t actually fall? It’s not what’s going on here exactly. In fact, if we compare this with Mark’s gospel, Mark 6, verses 8 and 9, we find out from Mark’s gospel that Jesus was not prohibiting the apostles here from carrying a single walking staff.
We read there, he charged them to take nothing for their journey, except a staff, no bread, no bag, no money in their belts, but to wear sandals, and not to put on two tunics. At first glance, that may look like a contradiction in the text until you do a little bit more research. While traveling on the roads, they, Jesus wanted them to wear sandals to protect the feet. Gonna be a lot of walking on this mission. But he’s basically saying, don’t bring an extra pair of sandals. It’s time, it’s fine to take a staff.
A single staff for stability on unimproved paths on the journey, but don’t take an extra staff. And you might say, why would a traveler want two staffs on a long journey? It seems a bit cumbersome, doesn’t it, to conduct a walking tour of Galilee with a walking staff in each hand. So what is Jesus prohibiting here? You look into the word rahbdos. Rahbdos is the word for walking stick, a traveler’s staff, but the same word can also refer to a rod. A rod, like, for beating somebody. Whether it’s beating somebody for punishment or beating them into compliance, the rod was actually a symbol of law enforcement.
Believe it or not, Acts 16:22, the magistrates of Philippi, they gave orders to have Paul and Silas beaten with rods. That’s the verb form of this word, it’s rhabdizo. In verse 35, verse 38 of the same chapter, that word rod, actually refers to the law enforcement officers. It refers to the policeman. The term is rhabdouchos, literally, those who beat with rods. Policemen. They have the right, don’t they? To enforce compliance to the law, or to punish the violators of the law, yes, with the rod. Paul refers to the rod in this way when rebuking the Corinthian church. He kind of flexes his apostolic authority there in 1 Corinthians 4:21.
He says, “What do you want, Corinthian church? Shall I come to you with a rod,” that’s the word rahbdos, “Or with love in the spirit of gentleness?” Same word. Same word used of Jesus as well. When he’s going to come in the end times and he’s going to rule, here’s the word, rahbdos, with a rod of iron. Three times in the book of Revelation, Revelation 2:27, Revelation 12,:5, Revelation 19:15, a rod of iron. He is going to enforce compliance with a rod of iron. He’s going to discipline those who disobey and he’s going to keep people, who maybe otherwise wouldn’t obey, keep them compliant just with the threat of this rahbdos.
That’s what Jesus is prohibiting here. This second rod, Jesus prohibited his apostles from taking with them on their mission. It was not an extra walking stick, but it was a rod for their protection. It was a means of defending themselves. You need to understand that travel in the ancient world was hazardous for many, many reasons, but chief among them, was an encounter with thieves and robbers. They could be violent, absolutely ruthless. In fact, Jesus refers to this reality of traveling dangers, in the next chapter, when he introduces the story of the Good Samaritan. Says the “man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him, and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead.”
Everybody knew what Jesus was talking about. In fact, we have a term today, I don’t hear it used much anymore, but we have the term highwayman. You ever heard that term? Highwayman referred to a thief who robbed travelers on the highway, holding them at gunpoint, robbing them. People need protection when traveling dangerous, unfamiliar roads from bad guys. Here in Luke 9:3, Jesus is prohibiting his disciples, his apostles here, from arming themselves. He’s prohibiting him, them here from taking, along with them, a means of self protection.
So in modern terms, Jesus is saying, “Leave the handgun at home. Don’t go packing, don’t go packing heat. Don’t go back and get your gun. No need for a gun on this mission.” This calls for trust, doesn’t it? This calls for trust in divine protection, that God is a shield for all those who take refuge in him, Psalm 18:30. This is the principle of a confident faith. Psalm 62 verse 8, “Trust him at all times, O people; God is a refuge for us.” Immediate concern here for Jesus. The immediate intent in his mind is to release his apostles here from any sense of danger that they might have, hurrying their way along the road.
He wants to free them from worry and anxiety about traveling dangers, so they could focus, on the more important mission. Obeying his commission, finishing the mission he sent them out for, immediately, he wanted them to get going, he did not want them to worry about their physical safety.
Now, just as a footnote, is this a pacifist proof text? I hear the boos from the Colorado audience here, but is Jesus promoting the ideal here, to just trust God to protect you? Not to try to protect yourself or your family? No, that’s not what’s going on.
As we’ve said, this is a specific instruction for this specific mission. Read earlier from Luke 22:36 involves a new set of circumstances here, doesn’t it? Jesus tells his apostles, even there, he says a rod isn’t even going to be sufficient for your protection. “Let the one who has no sword sell his cloaking and go buy one.” Dangerous, such then, that a rod isn’t going to be enough. He’s heightening the concern, get a short sword because violent times will ensue.
Again, just back to the point, the principle here is a confident faith. This isn’t about having a handgun or not. This isn’t about carrying a rod, or a billy club, or a stick, to protect yourself, or your family. The principle here is that the apostles trust God to protect them on this mission, at this particular time. And that principle extends to us as well. No matter if we’re armed or unarmed, we need to understand that it’s God who watches over us.
We need to learn to trust God to provide for all of our physical needs. And it starts with this sense we have of mortal danger. Will God preserve your life? Will he take care of you? Absolutely, he will. If we recognize that our protection is in God’s hands and not ours, then our minds are going to also, like these apostles on this mission, our minds also, are going to be free from worry, free from anxiety. If we’re not preoccupied with fear for our physical safety, with our need to be protected from mortal danger, because we know that God is in sovereign control, you know what, we’re going to rest in him.
We’re going to focus our attention on doing his will. We know that God will care for our safety, for the protection of our family. I know some people that spend a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of attention, not only getting themselves armed, but getting themselves trained, physically prepared, trying to protect and mitigate against any kind of physical threat. I sometimes wonder, if it’s not just that they’re in love with guns and all that kind of stuff, but it’s, it’s actually that they are fearful people inside. They’re actually quite insecure.
That they so distrust God, that they got to arm themselves to the teeth and make sure that they’ve got every training, and every kind of Krav Maga, every kind of karate, and Kung Fu, and everything else, every other Asian form of martial arts, so they can make sure that anybody who attacks them, they can just put them down. Sometimes I wonder if those people are some of the most scared people in the world. I’m concerned for them. Because I see in that, in some cases, I see in that, people who really don’t trust in the sovereignty of God. People who really don’t know that God is their refuge and their strength, a very present help in times of trouble. Beloved, as Christians, we need to live, trusting that God will take care of our lives.
Second, let’s lump the next few items together, here in the list. Jesus said in Luke 9:3, “No bread, no bag, nor bread, nor money.” If the staff here, the rod, is a picture of physical protection, the bag, the bread, and the money refer to the means of physical provision. The bag here is the pera, it’s a small leather bag with a strap that they would wear around their upper, their torso. Travelers used to carry that pera with them to hold food, money, personal effects, other provisions. We might call it, maybe, like a knapsack, or a fanny pack, or something like that. Even a small backpack, that might, might be the image that we have.
And Jesus said here, basically, “Don’t bring one because I don’t want you to go home and pack. I don’t want you to carry supplies, I want you to get going. Leave the backpack at home and go.” Some commentators see here, this, this prohibition against carrying that pera, as Jesus distinguishing the apostles as different from the itinerant and mendicant preachers who used to wander around in the first century, actually, used to wander around for many centuries. Mendikens is a word that means beggar. There were plenty of these homeless, beggar philosophers who used to wander the countryside, preaching their ancient doctrines of all these worldly principles to these hapless villagers who thought they were getting something sophisticated, and really, really important from these philosophers.
And in exchange for this worldly wisdom, the beggars wanted money. So they would take money and carried bags with them, the pera, and they hoped to fill those bags with silver and gold. Jesus instructed the apostles, over in the parallel account, in Matthew 10:8-9, he said, “Listen, you received without paying.” Jesus said, basically, “I gave you everything, for nothing. And everything I gave you, it didn’t cost you anything, but it did cost me everything. You received without paying, so give without pay. Don’t charge for the gospel.” He says, “Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts.” Preaching the gospel is not in any way, whatsoever, about making money. The ministry is not a profession.
Preaching the gospel is not a career path. It’s not one of many, honest ways, to make a living. There’s a word for those kinds of people who think that way, it’s the word hirelings. They preach for money. They do what they do because they’re trying to get a paycheck. That’s why they’re so concerned about never offending anybody. Never speaking the truth boldly, never exhorting people to obey Christ. They’re hirelings Jesus said, ‘You’re not to be like that, there should be no strings attached to your ministry. You preach the truth, you preach it boldly, you preach exactly what I tell you to preach.”
“On this first mission, the apostles were to look to God for their physical provision, for their sustenance, for their subsistence.”Travis Allen
Having said that, I’m not sure that Jesus here, his main intention is to distinguish his apostles from the Mendiken, philosopher, beggars. I believe the prohibition for carrying, or against carrying a knapsack, or a backpack, had the effect of distinguishing the apostles from those itinerant philosophers. But I believe Jesus’ purpose here is a lot more basic. He simply wants his apostles to trust God to provide for their physical needs, like food, trust God for your food. On this trip, on this first mission, the apostles were to look to God for their physical provision, for their sustenance, for their subsistence.
Listen, that’s going to pay major dividends later on as the apostles look to God to provide for all their needs. I could go through all the New Testament and show you, point after point, about this principle coming through in all of Scripture, but Paul summarized a verse that we’ve all memorized, Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” This is what the apostles needed to learn. And this here, is how Jesus has trained them to think, right here at the beginning. So no bag to hold provisions for the journey.
And then we read, no bread or money either. They’re not to slip in any food or money into the fold of their garments, carry it within their pockets, not a loaf of bread or a sandwich, not a couple of bucks for the McDonald’s drive thru. Don’t worry about anything like that. He stripped them down to nothing but the clothes on their backs, and he sent them away, “Just trust God to feed you.” So Jesus is saying, “Just don’t prepare ahead of time for your protection, or your provision.” There’s a third prohibition here in verse 3, and this has to do about relying on themselves to provide for provision in the future. So first is, no bread or money or a bag, that’s about provision in the now. And then he says, about relying in the future, third, end of verse 3, “Do not have two tunics.” Do not have two tunics.
The tunic was not the outer garment, tunic was an inner garment. It was worn next to the skin, it was The tunic was not the outer garment, tunic was an inner garment. It was worn next to the skin, it was like a long soft undergarment, like a long undershirt. It reached down, in those flowing robes that they wore, were almost down to the feet. And Jesus says they’re not to take two of those. They’re just to take one, just the one that they’re wearing. One tunic would be sufficient. Putting that into today’s vernacular, Jesus is basically saying, “Don’t bring an extra chang, change of clothes.” You say, “What? What’s that about?” Let me tell you, it’s not about hygiene. People used to wear that tunic, and that robe, like that, for days, and there was no issue of hygiene.
I believe comparing this with Matthew 10:10, this has to do with just utter reliance upon God, not just for the provision of the now, for provision in the future. Even in the future, they were not to rely on themselves. So the bag, the bread, the money, that’s for immediate provision. No two tunics, that’s for future provision. Matthew records it this way, he says, “Take no,” Matthew 10:10, “Take no bag for your journey or two tunics or sandals or a staff. And then Jesus gives the reason why, “For the laborer deserves his food.” Interesting, isn’t it? That is to say, apostles, you need to understand, disciples of Jesus Christ, Grace Church, you need to understand the proclamation of God’s Kingdom, the healing power that accompanies that proclamation, that is labor.
It’s dignified labor. It’s wage worthy labor. Paul repeated that principle several times to several churches. You can see in Galatians 6:6, “Let the one who is taught the word share in all good things with the one who teaches.” Fact turn over, just briefly, turn over to 1 Corinthians chapter 9, and I want you to see how Paul defends this principle of provision for the one who preaches the gospel like these apostles. And you’re wondering, “Okay, what does this have to do with two tunics?” I’m getting there, just be patient.
But notice in 1 Corinthians 9, Paul wants the Corinthians to see how he did not seek financial support from them, from their own church, when he first preached the gospel to them, and rather 2 Corinthians 11:8 he says, “Listen, when I first came to you, Corinthians, when I first came to your church, you know what I did? How I was provided for? I robbed other churches, by accepting support from them in order to serve you.” And still, Paul defended the legitimacy of his right to support, for preaching the gospel. Look at 1 Corinthians 9:3, and following, “This is my defense to those who would examine me. Do we not have the right to eat and drink? Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living?
“Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Who tends a flock without getting some of the milk? Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the law say the same? For it is written in the Law of Moses, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.’ Is it for oxen, then God is is concerned? Does he not speak entirely for our sake. It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope that the thresher thresh in hope of sharing the crop. If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?”
Paul extended that principle of pastoral support, or, you know, all the way to the pastors and teachers who rule, who rule and exercise authority, and teach, and preach in the church. He tells Timothy, 1 Timothy 5:18, “The Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox, ox when it treads out the grain,’” repetition of what’s in Deuteronomy. And he says, “The laborer deserves his wages.” Now go back to Luke chapter 9, let’s see how this connects. Jesus is sending the apostles out into the region of Galilee with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
He did not want them, when they went to another town, he didn’t want them to rely on any other labor in this mission. He didn’t want, want them to even rely on the work that they could do with their own hands. Paul, for a time, even augmented the support that he received from other churches, as he’s preaching and teaching, with his tent making profession. His tent making trade, you remember that? Jesus says here, “I don’t want you to even do that. I don’t want you to spend any time trying to provide with your own hands for your own needs. You’re not going to need two tunics.” One for working in the field as a day laborer, which is going to get soiled, and another for doing kingdom work, for being in homes, and teaching, and preaching, and healing.
He did not want them to get distracted with any need to support themselves for their physical provision. He wanted focus. Not to stay in one place and provide for your own practical needs as a day laborer. That’s going to require more time, and it’s going to require more than one change of tunics. One for working in the field, one for preaching, and healing. Jesus said, “Your labor is true labor, your work is legitimate work, and providing for your labor, and your work, is one of those duties that those who are benefited, they’re going to do for you.”
So take no bag, don’t take two tunics or extra sandals or an extra staff, for, Matthew 10:10, “The laborer deserves his food.” Again, the apostles had to trust that. They had to put their faith in Jesus’ words, they had to rely on his instructions. They needed to look to God in a very acute, practical, and immediate way, to provide for their physical safety, to provide for their daily provision, their daily bread, not only for today, but also for tomorrow.
They’re going to learn what it means, they’re gonna learn for themselves, Deuteronomy 8:3, “The man does not live by bread alone, but he lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” If you look ahead in your text, you’re gonna find that he teaches that yet again, as he feeds the 5,000, with his power, with his word.
Principle of faith, the apostles were to live by on this first mission is going to force them to look to God to provide, to take care of their physical safety, to take care of today’s provision, to take care of tomorrow’s provision. Beloved, are these principles that we need to put into practice as well? Trust God to provide for our needs.
Because if we do, we are free from anxiety, we are free from worry. We can focus in a mindset, and a heart of faith to do the work that he’s called us to do. Not worry about lacking for a thing. Our life is firmly in his hands. So the apostles on this first mission, they’re going to be looking to God for His provision. And however God chooses to provide for them, they’re going to be satisfied. They’re to be grateful for his provision, they’re to be content.
That’s our second principle, number two, the principle of Christian contentment. The principle of Christian contentment. The apostles need to rest contentedly in God’s provision, in whatever way that he provides.
Contentment is the principle, contentment is the attitude behind his instruction, in verse 4, “And whatever house you enter, stay there and from there depart.” Why are they entering into a house? Because they need their daily food, they need to be provided for. So they’re going to enter into a house. He says, “Wherever you go, stay there, and leave from there.”
Now, there are some very imminently practical reasons for this instruction, very practical. First of all, they need to get going. They need to move with haste. Not only did Jesus want them to leave immediately with nothing more than the clothes on their backs, when they arrived at any leave immediately with nothing more than the clothes on their backs, when they arrived at any particular village, they need to get to work preaching and healing. If they were to move from house to house, that would involve unnecessary waste of time, it would involves gaps in ministry, it would result in an extension of the time that they had to spend in one particular place, and Jesus wanted him to keep moving, he did not want them to move from house to house and take more time.
So instead of going from house to house, instead of making house calls for kingdom proclamation, for physical healing, Jesus wanted them to centralize, to locate themselves in one place. Have everybody in the village come to where they are, one centralized location. And hopefully in a very short period of time, they’d be able to finish their evangelization work in that town or village, and then move on to another. Along with that, another practical consideration, a short stay meant they wouldn’t wear out their welcome. It’s very important, if you’re a guest in somebody else’s house, to have the, understand what it takes to host, to be a respectful, polite guest. So by hurrying along, the apostles are not going to burden their host home with too long or too extended of a stay.
This, this attention to courtesy as guests, that also kept them focused on their mission, move them along as quickly as possible. Another practical consideration, by staying put, that would help them to avoid any rivalry among neighbors. Some kind of one upmanship among neighbors. Showing hospitality in that world, believe it or not, in the ancient world, hospitality was something that people took pride in, took a great joy in. When they saw somebody who was lacking, they would run to that person and want to show them hospitality.
It’s something that, what I think the western world could learn from the eastern world, don’t you think? Prevented the apostles from creating any kind of rivalry of hospitality among neighbors, any kind of dissension among the villagers. They just went to one place, stayed there, that person provided hospitality, and honestly, it was a great honor. For whoever showed hospitality to the Lord and to his people, it’s a great honor for them to host them. I know that we’ve had conference speakers here before, and those who host those conference speakers, they enjoy the hospitality of serving those speak, those people who come here to serve us and minister us the Word of God.
And ev, every time I’ve talked to people who host, they say, “You know what, the hosting was nothing. The joy, the benefit that we received from hosting those people, and having the kind of conversations at night around the table. I mean that, I would have paid anything for that.” It’s something we need to understand, don’t we? But further, this prevented the apostles from going into one place, getting provision, accommodations, in one home and saying, “You know what? I actually think I like Mr. Smith’s house over there. So I’m gonna go to, they got a softer bed. I like the, you know, the omelets that they serve in the morning.” You know, it prevented them from kind of seeking better accommodation, right?
So it helped them with their own heart. After entering into a village, these apostles had to make a decision about where to stay. After they made that decision, they need to stay put, they need to accept with gratitude, with joy, whatever level of hospitality that that home could provide for them. They need to receive that hospitality as a gift from God. They need to be grateful and content with his provision for them.
Matthew’s record is a little bit more expansive on this point. We find out that when they made a decision about what host, what home that would host them, they didn’t flip any kind of a they made a decision about what host, what home that would host them, they didn’t flip any kind of a coin or anything like that. Some investigation went into deciding which house to enter, it says Matthew 10:11-12, “Whatever town or village you enter,” Jesus says, “Find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it.” Interesting, isn’t it? That word, that concern for worthiness?
Is the house worthy? Is this house worthy, not of me as an apostle, but of this treasure that I bring? Are they worthy of hosting kingdom treasure inside the walls? Listen, that might be said another way. Don’t lay hands on someone too quickly. Don’t affirm a house too quickly. But you want to do some investigation and see, does this house qualify? Is it worthy? So what we saw back in Luke 7:4-5, as the synagogue rulers commended the Centurian to Jesus. They said to Jesus, “Listen, he’s got a need, and he is worthy for you to do this for him, for he loves our nation. He’s the one who built us our synagogue.”
In other words, all the elders knew this man, this centurion, is noble. He’s sober minded about spiritual things. He’s dignified, he has a spiritual interest, he is worthy. It’s those who seemed most likely to the apostles, that they would receive the gospel for the excellence and worth that it had. Seeing them as spiritually serious, seeing them as God fearing people. The apostles were to seek room and board with those kinds of people, and not with just any people. In fact, they were to revert those kinds of people, worthy people, over wealthy people.
It’s interesting, isn’t it? God’s way of providing for needs, not only in this case, but in many cases, God likes to provide through the support of not just anybody, but like-minded friends. I heard John Piper say one time, that he, if someone told him that he, or told him that he, they had won the lottery, and they’re gonna take half the proceeds from the lottery and give it to Bethlehem Baptist Church, John Piper said, “I’d refuse it.” He’s concerned about the source of support. I like that. God wants to connect like- minded gospel preachers with like minded gospel supporters. That’s his way.
He wants to connect people of like mind and like mission. He wants to join them together in relationship. In the mutuality of joyful partnership and the gospel. He wants to create an interdependency as fellow partners in gospel work. Many stay, and work, and provide, and support. Some go. Galatians 6:6 again, “Let the one who’s taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.” God unites those who share spiritual provision, with those who share physical provision, and vice versa. Why? So that there may be a mutuality of provision, and edification, and appreciation, and affection, and joy, and partnership.
The apostles need to rest contentedly in God’s provision, in whatever way that he provides.Travis Allen
Listen, if you’re wondering about how you use your finances to support all your own interests, and you’re not interested in providing for the gospel, and providing for gospel ministers, and partnering, you really need to think through your priorities. I don’t say that as a stinging rebuke, I just say, Don’t be satisfied with small things. Petty trivialities, things that are going to burn in the end.
Man, give yourself the gospel work, gospel provision, gospel support, gospel preaching, give yourself to it. Take joy, take pleasure. This is what God does. He brings the church together that we can together, be on this mission. So exciting, so joyful. When Jesus sent out and instructed his 72 disciples in the next chapter of Luke, you can look at it there Luke 10:5, he said the same thing to them.
All this based on a principle of Christian contentment, notice Luke 10:5-8. Luke 10:5, “Whatever house you enter first, say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages.”
There it is again, don’t go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you ,eat what is set before you. That’s the idea. Be content with their provision. Whatever house you enter, stay there. Eat and drink whatever they set in front of you, even if it’s brussel sprouts, even if it’s that, enjoy it. It will make you mighty. God will give you the grace to swallow every bite.
Don’t go from house to house. Don’t look for better accommodations. Stay there, be content. Stay there until you’re finished proclaiming the kingdom, healing in that village, and from that location depart. Paul told the same thing to Timothy. 1 Timothy 6:6-11, he’s laying the foundation hear for his 12 apostles.
But Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 6, he said, “There is great gain in godliness with contentment. For we brought nothing into the world, we can take nothing out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. Through this craving the some have wandered away from the faith, pierced themselves with many pangs.” Don’t love money. Be content.
Be content with what God provides. J.C. Ryle said this principle of contentment guards against worldliness and living a life of luxury. He says this, “It would have been good for the world, and for the church, if this warning from Jesus had been carefully heeded, Christianity has been harmed more by its own teachers than by anyone else. Its teachers have aired so much and so often have lived lives of worldliness and luxury. The preacher whose desires are set on money, and clothes, and eating, and seeking pleasure, has clearly mistaken his vocation. He has forgotten his masters instructions. He is not an apostolic man.” End quote.
Beloved, I want to be an apostolic man. We want to be apostolic people. Darrell Bock put it this way, he said, “The disciples form of ministry stands in contrast to other peddlers of religion and philosophy. And then this, modesty is the rule. Ministry is the focus.” That is good, that bears repeating. Modesty is the rule, ministry is the focus. We’ll be able to live that out if we live by this principle of Christian contentment. This the apostolic way, this is the manner of all of our evangelism, all of our missions, it’s the way we extend the gospel.
It is the way we live our lives. We go into principle of confident faith, we go in the principle of Christian contentment, finally, a third principle for this morning. The principle of kingdom dignity. The principle of kingdom dignity. Beloved, when you face rejection for the sake of the gospel, whether it’s for the actual gospel that you preach and share with others, or whether it’s for the life that you live as a testimony to that gospel, the decisions you make or refuse, the things you refuse to do, for the sake of the gospel, and you’re rejected, and scorned and hated.
Don’t cower before gospel rejection, ever. Walk in a manner worthy of the gospel that we carry. Live by the principle of kingdom dignity. Remember that you’re serving the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. You’re his ambassador. You represent his interest in his kingdom on this earth. So when they reject the gospel, they’re not rejecting you, beloved, it’s not about you. Never was. They’re rejecting the king that you represent. They’re rejecting the king whose words you’re They’re rejecting the king that you represent. They’re rejecting the king whose words you’re speaking, they’re rejecting the king who commands your conscience, commands your behavior. They hate him.
Take a look at verse 5, Jesus tells his apostles, “Wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town, shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” It’s customary for Jews when they were returning from a journey that took them through Gentile lands, it’s common for them, as they left that Gentile land and stepped into Jewish land, to shake the dust of Gentile lands off of their feet.
Now, the Jews didn’t have this strange, literal belief that dust from a Gentile country was somehow had contaminating molecules in it, and was going to work its way into their pores or something like that and defile them, make them ritually impure. They were not thinking that way. They were simply sending a message to the Gentiles, and reinforcing within their own minds, signaling a disdain for Gentile pagan impurity.
They were conveying their own fastidiousness to Jewish purity. If you think about this, what Jesus is saying to his apostles, this is quite the reversal, isn’t it? I mean, they’re in the region of the Galilee. They’re in all Jewish territory. So for Jesus to tell his apostles to shake Jewish dust from their own Jewish feet, this is really a significant, significant act of rebuke, of condemnation. This a pronouncement of a very serious judgment upon any city, any village, any people, that rejects the message. They’re basically saying, “Listen, by rejecting the proclamation of the kingdom, by rejecting the power of kingdom healing, you’re in the same defiled condition as pagan Gentiles, the ones that you recognize as defiled, you’re the same as them.”
Whoa, these are fighting words. It’s important to note here, this is not some petty act of spite, like we’re gonna take our apostolic ball and go home. This is a very severe, and yet at the same time, a very gracious warning about the seriousness of one’s response to Jesus Christ. For those who heed this warning and repent, there is abundant grace and, in the forgiving mercy of God and Christ. Abundant.
In fact, the language of Mark’s accounts, indicates the shaking off of the dust from the feet was to be an immediate testimony, literally, to them, to them right there, right now. Perhaps in the hope of their immediate rethinking of their actions, leading to immediate repentance. The language here in our texts, in Luke 9 verse 5, it points to really a future testimonial, a condemnation of stubborn hearted unbelief.
Those who remain fixed in unbelieving rejection, all that remains for them is a certain expectation of judgment. That’s actually the prevailing thought of the parallel over Matthew 10. Matthew 10, verses 14-15. Jesus, it’s expanded there what Jesus said, “If anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or that town.” So, whether it’s the whole group that rejects you, or just the house, you shake the dust off. He says, “Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.”
Wow. So you mean to tell me that rejecting the gospel, rejecting gospel messengers, rejecting the power of that testimony, even if it’s with a smile, even if it’s with politeness, even if it’s with a shu, shut door, and I’m not interested? You mean that’s more severe then all the defiled debauchery, and wickedness, and sexual immorality of Sodom and Gomorrah that called the fire of God to rain down fire, and brimstone, and destroy, and obliterate, and completely annihilate, and wipe out that town, those towns from the face of the earth? Is that what Jesus is saying? Yeah, that’s what he’s saying.
Same principle in Matthew 7:6. Jesus said, Is that what Jesus is saying? Yeah, that’s what he’s saying. Same principle in Matthew 7:6. Jesus said, “Do not give dogs what is holy, do not throw your pearls before pigs.” Oh Jesus is very serious about kingdom business. How people respond to the message of the gospel, it’s life and death. Its very sober. How people react to the self evident power of the gospel, and first, we might note, the power of the gospel in the testimony here, the spiritual power to heal, as recorded in the gospels.
The many of our day, who reject supernatural things and scoff, and mock, and reject it out of hand, they have an anti supernatural bias, and they teach our children from preschool all the way through university, teach them to reject the gospel, reject supernatural. They’re responsible to respond to what’s written here. They’re responsible to respect, and honor it, and believe it. That even right now, today, in the testimony of the spiritual power that changes lives, evident in the life of each and every saint. People are responsible before God, to repent, and believe the message, and the power of the gospel, to save and sanctify.
I once worked with a, an atheist, an orphaned descendant of English colonists, he was born in Rhodesia. He was raised without parents in a Catholic orphanage. He hated Christianity. I met him, working with him, loved him, appreciated and respected him for many things. But I told him the gospel, told him my testimony, told him the before and after story of my own life, what I used to be and how God had changed my life by the power of the Spirit in the word because of that gospel. You know what he did? Laughed out loud. He laughed out loud at me. Mine was a testimony of saving and transforming grace, much like many of you, and this man accused me of lying to him. He didn’t believe the before and after story, he was incredulous. And the more I insisted of its truthfulness, the more he increased his scoffing. I was angry about that at first.
I was younger in my Christian walk, and not having sanctified thoughts about him. But then I realized that the power of gospel transformation in my life is just as radical as any miracle recorded in Scripture. To save and sanctify any sinner, to make a sinner spiritually alive, and transform that outer man, to deliver him from the domain of darkness and transfer him into the kingdom of God’s beloved son, to turn him into something he never before was, beloved, that’s supernatural. Not only that, but it’s no laughing matter.
If they will not repent and believe the gospel, if they will not believe the testimony of God’s saving, sanctifying, healing power, in the gospel, written in Scripture, plain for them to see. Miracles recorded there, plain for them to study on their own, if they will not accept the saving and transforming power in the testimony of a life of a believer, then they abide in condemnation. They live under the wrath of Almighty God, they can only anticipate the terrifying expectation of future judgment, the final sentencing to an eternal hell.
We heard recently from Jude, versus 14-15, “Beloved, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
Listen, we need to understand those ten thousands of his holy ones, they’re on our side. We’re on their side. We’re so grateful, that when they come to visit judgment upon the earth, that we’re not swept away in it. But we need to be sober minded and fear about those who are swept away. Many of them loved ones and friends. Listen, we are ambassadors of the kingdom of God. And that means were to act like ambassadors of the kingdom of God. We are not embarrassed when ungodly sinners speak against the king of our kingdom.
Not that, and we’re not embarrassed, we’re not ashamed. We’re indignant. We’re jealous for God’s glory. And we shudder, and we wince, and we grieve, and we sorrow, over the fate of anybody who would mock our Savior, and our Lord, and our King because we know, we know what they don’t know. They don’t know what they’re talking about. But we’re never ashamed.
Not only that, but as ambassadors, were dignified in the way we live and in the way we speak. We know the infinite value of the treasure that we carry with us. So, beloved, when people reject the gospel, when they spurn the gospel, when they turn to scorning, and mocking, and expressing disdain, we don’t stick around and beg them to accept us, beg them to accept Jesus. We don’t beg, and plead, and grovel. That is not becoming and befitting of gospel ambassadors.
We do not give what is holy to dogs, we do not cast our pearls before swine. These are Jesus’ words, beloved, not mine. If God wants him to receive the message from you, he’ll bring them back to you. But when he, when they come back, they will come back with a different demeanor. With a humble, receptive, attitude. You keep moving, you find those whose hearts have been prepared by the Spirit, you look for that good soil. Luke 8:15, “Those who, hearing the word, hold it fast with an honest and good heart, bear fruit with endurance.”
Trust Jesus Christ in this, there are more people to reach with the gospel than we have time, and life, and energy, and laborers to reach them. So, preach the gospel, call people to repent and believe, testify about the power of God, as recorded in Scripture. As is evident in the power to save and sanctify you. If people are receptive, as long as they’re receptive, keep talking. Keep praying. Keep hoping. For those who reject, don’t cajole them. Don’t beg, don’t grovel, and worse, don’t compromise the message. Don’t go silent. Don’t soften the hard edges. Don’t remain buddy-buddy with Christ’s rejecting scoffers.
Instead, refuse to throw pearls of the kingdom before swine. Refuse to give what’s holy to dogs, keep moving, find those whom the master has chosen. Those who respond to the word of Christ and the message of salvation. That’s kingdom of, or the principle of Kingdom dignity. We’re gonna walk, and speak, and live in a manner worthy of the gospel that we carry. We’re ambassadors of the mighty king, we carry the king’s message. We’re on the king’s mission.
Now just as a postscript here, how did all this work out for the apostles? Well, quite well. Take a look at verse 6, says, They departed, went through the villages. Following Jesus’ instructions, they stayed light on their feet, they moved quickly from village to village, they work their way efficiently through the remainder of Galilee. “They departed, went through the villages, preaching the gospel, healing everywhere.”
That last word everywhere means they radiate it out in all directions of the compass. Mark 6:7 tells us that Jesus sent them out two by two, which I think is a very, very wise principle, for support, for accountability, for encouragement. They went out two by two, six different directions, through all the villages, and they covered the rest They went out two by two, six different directions, through all the villages, and they covered the rest of the region of Galilee. That tells us about the fast geographical spread of the message, tells us about their success. In Mark’s parallel account, Mark 6:12-13, he highlights the success of the preaching and the healing ministry. He says, “They went out, proclaimed that people should repent.” I love that expansion.
They went out, proclaimed, not just the kingdom of God, but that they should repent. Cast out many demons, they anointed with oil, many who were sick, and they healed them. Matthew adds something of the comprehensive nature of the power and authority that Jesus gave them in Matthew 10, verse 8, their power included the ability to raise the dead, cleanse lepers.
Listen, these men were effective. The same unstoppable power Christ had, it flow through them. When they did God’s will, when they did God’s will God’s way, God gave them success. They obeyed the commission, they did what Christ commanded. And they accomplished his commission, doing it exactly the way he told them in the manner that he commanded them to do it. Their actions are the outworking of all these principles, of Christian faith, confident faith, Christian contentment, and kingdom dignity.
Beloved, that’s the way we live today. And if we live that way, and according to those principles, we’re going to find God gives us great success.
Let’s pray for that now. Our God and our Father, thank you for our savior and Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for what he taught. Thank you for the principles that are a resident here in these instructions. Thank you for giving us the faith to believe. Thank you for making us confident in it and we pray that you would help us with our, sometimes, weak faith, inconsistent faith, we pray that you would strengthen it. Make it always confident, consistent, always trusting you to provide for us, protect us. Pray that for in whatever way you provide for us and protect us, that we would be content in that.
That we’d understand that you providing us for food and clothing, shelter, these are our basic needs. If we have those, we’re content with joy, with gratitude. We’re not always striving, and reaching, selfless, and ambitious for wearing ourselves out for something as fleeting, and small, and petty, as money. Help us to invest the money that you do send our way. Let us be channels, conduits of that, those finances to kingdom work.
Help us to be content with what you’ve provided for us. And as we go out, as we live, as we support gospel preaching, as we go out and share the message of the gospel, and testify to your power to save and sanctify us. We pray that you would help us to walk, and speak, and live in dignity, a dignity that befits the message that we preach. Help us to walk in a way that brings pleasure to you. We love you.
We thank you for the gospel that saved us and the gospel that we bear, and we bring, that we share with others. And we thank you for the partnership that we have in our church to do this together. Help us to enjoy the week ahead of us, and finding opportunities, and open doors for the gospel. Help us to speak boldly as we ought to speak. In Jesus name, Amen.