Matthew 10:5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. 9 Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
In this passage Jesus’ disciples receive directions for their missionary journey. The first thing that gets my attention is the connection between being sent to proclaim the kingdom in word and deed and being sent with no extra provision. The disciples are completely at the mercy of God to provide for their journey via the people they will meet. And while they’re in this state of dependence they are also granted authority to “cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons”. I’m wondering if dependence on God and authority from God go together. I’m not sure but I’m thinking about it.
Secondly I notice the sort of persons they’re looking for as they travel from village to village. Verses 11 and 13 refer to persons who are “worthy”. What makes someone worthy? It would seem someone is worthy when they offer hospitality, open their homes, serve a meal, that sort of thing. v.13 says “If the house is worthy (hospitable?) let your “peace” come upon it.
Thirdly, what does it mean for the “peace” of the disciples to come upon a house? The Greek word here is “εἰρήνη” which describes a state of God’s blessing/favor. So the peace of God carried in the disciples creates an environment where the miraculous power of the Kingdom of God can manifest in any number of ways. It’s interesting to me that one cannot conjure or create this state of peace/favor/blessing. It must be given or imparted by God to the disciples and then from the disciples to the villagers they meet. It is a gift of grace rather than something to be achieved.
There have been a handful of times when I’ve seen with my own eyes the peace of God manifest in this way. I’ve never seen anyone raised from the dead but I have seen people healed and demons cast out. In each case (in my limited experience) such things happened when ministering under difficult circumstances such as in a place of great poverty/crime/spiritual darkness whether in the US or abroad. I can’t think of an instance when I saw such things in a prosperous suburb or urban area. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen I’m just saying I haven’t seen it.
But when believers seek to proclaim the Kingdom of God under difficult circumstances, in dark places, where the presence of the enemy is in plain view, it seems the grace of God is poured out in extra measure. Makes me wonder how the Lord may be calling the church I lead to engage more frequently in such places.
Lord open my eyes to see where you lead. Impart your peace into your church that we too might heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons. Amen.