Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Disciples of the Master

By Dan and Brenda Cathcart
Moed Ministries International

The video version of this teaching is available at:

As Yeshua traveled throughout the Galilee region, He taught His disciples about who could enter the kingdom of heaven in the Sermon on the Mount and what the kingdom of heaven was like through comparisons in His parables. He continued to heal the sick and cast out demons. More and more people began to flock to Him wherever He went. The crowds grew so large that even He could not meet all their needs by Himself.

Matthew 9:36-38 NKJV 36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 "Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."

It was time for Yeshua to share His mission with His disciples, to send them out as laborers in the harvest. What would this mean for those first disciples Yeshua sent out as well as for all those who would become Yeshua’s disciples over the centuries? What would their commitment to the mission entail? How would their lives change?

Yeshua chose twelve men to be His first apostles. The Greek word “apostles” is #652, apostolos. in Strong’s Concordance it means a delegate or an ambassador. It comes from a word meaning to send. An apostle is one that is sent out to do the will of the one in authority. Yeshua called the twelve to Him and gave them the mission to work the harvest. He gave them power over sickness and demonic forces.

Matthew 10:1 NKJV 1 And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease

Yeshua will later send out seventy disciple to teach about the kingdom of heaven. He will give different instructions to them than He does to these first twelve on this mission. After Yeshua’s death and resurrection, He tells His disciples about their continuing mission.

Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

Yeshua delegates His authority to them to make more disciples, to bring more people into the kingdom of heaven. Luke’s gospel includes more details about their mission and that they will receive the power to do so.

Luke 24:46-49 NKJV 46 Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 "and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 "And you are witnesses of these things. 49 "Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high."

When Yeshua sent out the first twelve apostles, He gave them detailed instructions on where they were to go and how they were to proceed once they were at their destinations. Their first instruction was that they were to go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 

Matthew 10:5-8 NKJV 5 These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. 6 "But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 "And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' 8 "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

This reference to the last sheep of the house of Israel has given rise to some interesting interpretations, however, the first rule of understanding scripture is to look at it in context. Yeshua is very specifically referring to the multitudes who flocked to Him from all around the Galilee region. Yeshua is not at this point in time instructing His twelve apostles to go out into the nations looking for the Jewish people who had been exiled by the Assyrians under King Shalmanezer or those exiled by the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar. These twelve apostles visited cities in the Galilee region. 

Matthew 11:1 NKJV 1 Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities.

At this point in time, the apostles were instructed to stay away from the Gentiles and the cities of the Samaritans. Does this mean that the gospel message is only for the Jews? Is it only Jews who can accept the message of the kingdom and enter into it? These are doctrines that have been promoted based on this passage. However, Yeshua had already gone into Samaria Himself and stayed two days teaching the kingdom of heaven. Many of the Samaritans came to believe that Yeshua was the Messiah who could provide living water.

John 4:39-41 NKJV 39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, "He told me all that I ever did." 40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of His own word.

If the gospel message can go out and be received by Samaritans and Gentiles, what could be the reason Yeshua restricted the apostles in where they could go? Again, context is important. Part of the reason was the political situation at the time. Yeshua did not yet want to come to the attention of the Roman political leaders. When it became known that He and His disciples were baptizing more people than John the Baptist, He withdrew from Judea and went to Galilee.

John 4:1-3 NKJV 1 Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John 2 (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), 3 He left Judea and departed again to Galilee.

This may have coincided with the arrest of John the Baptist.

Matthew 4:12 NKJV 12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee.

The gospel of Mark relates that King Herod heard of Yeshua during the time that the apostles were visiting the cities of the Galilee.

Mark 6:14 NKJV 14 Now King Herod heard of Him, for His name had become well known. And he said, "John the Baptist is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him."

Herod associated Yeshua with the acts of John the Baptist. Later in Yeshua’s ministry, His brothers refer to Yeshua seeking to be known while at the same time trying not to come to the attention of the authorities.

John 7:3-6 NKJV 3 His brothers therefore said to Him, "Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. 4 "For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world." 5 For even His brothers did not believe in Him. 6 Then Jesus said to them, "My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready.

Yeshua’s answer to His brothers was that the time to make Himself known was not yet there. So, one of the reasons Yeshua may have restricted the apostles to the Jewish people was to keep from coming to the attention of the Roman authorities.

Another possible reason that Yeshua restricted the apostles to only going to Jewish cities at this time goes back to the writings of the sages about the events at Mt. Sinai when God first took the children of Israel as His own people. Moses records the events as the children of Israel arrived at Mt. Sinai and God offered them the covenant.

Exodus 19:4-5 NKJV 4 'You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself. 5 'Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.

The sages comment on this passage saying that God had offered the covenant to the other nations as well, but only Israel said that they would do all that God commanded. The Stone Edition Chumash comments on this:

“God offered the Torah to other nations, as well, but they all refused it because the commandments of the Torah were in conflict with their national characteristics.… That Israel was willing to accept the Torah without even inquiring as to its contents was because it had inherited the spiritual heritage of the Patriarchs that its cousins had rejected.”[1]

Because the Covenant of God was with the nation of Israel, Israel is rightly the first nation to be offered the New Covenant. In fact, Jeremiah states that the New Covenant will be with the house of Judah and the house of Israel.

Jeremiah 31:33 NKJV 33 "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

Paul explains that the gospel of the kingdom of heaven was offered first to the Jew and then to the Greek.

Romans 1:16 NKJV 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

Paul goes on to say that the rejection of the New Covenant by the Jewish people is what opens the gospel to the entirety of the other nations.

Romans 11:25 NKJV 25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.

At the time that Yeshua sends out the twelve apostles, He has not yet been rejected by the Jewish leadership. The offer of the New Covenant and invitation to be part of the Kingdom of heaven is still being presenting to the nation of Israel as a whole. Many of the Jews will accept that Yeshua is their long-awaited Messiah who leads them into the New Covenant. But the leaders of the nation will reject Yeshua as Messiah and the gospel message will go out to the Gentiles.

As the twelve apostles go out on their journey to their countryman, they are not to carry money or provisions; they are to rely on the hospitality of their brethren.

Matthew 10:9-12 NKJV 9 "Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, 10 "nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food. 11 "Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. 12 "And when you go into a household, greet it.

To “greet a household” is to confer a blessing on it usually by saying, “Peace to you.”[2] This is reminiscent of the threshold covenant where a guest entering a home is to be treated as one of the family and the guest is to put aside all hostility while a guest in the home. Yeshua instructed His apostles that if the householder did not receive them or their message, they were to depart from that home and village and their blessing would be removed from that household and village.

Matthew 10:13-15 NKJV 13 "If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 "And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. 15 "Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!

By their rejection of the message and the messenger, they would now be open to judgment. Sodom and Gomorrah did not receive the messengers of God with hospitality; they sought to harm them and rob them. This rejection of the messengers of God was the final confirmation of their wickedness which led to their judgment and destruction. At the end of His instructions, Yeshua will explain this judgment. Whoever receives the apostles and their message receives Yeshua and, through Him, the Father.

Matthew 10:40-42 NKJV 40 "He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. 41 "He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. 42 "And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward."

In between these pronouncements, Yeshua interrupts His instructions with the interjections, “Behold!” At this point, His words are meant not just for the twelve apostles but for all of those He will send out until His return. Yeshua explains the commitment and cost of being His disciples. Those who go out in Yeshua’s name will need to expect and be prepared for danger.

Matthew 10:16 NKJV 16 "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

Those who would teach about the kingdom of heaven will be rejected, especially by those in authority.

Matthew 10:17-18 NKJV 17 "But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. 18 "You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.

The word translated as “synagogue” is the Greek word soon-ag-o-gay', #4864 in Strong’s Concordance meaning an assembly. These assemblies that Yeshua’s disciples will be delivered up to may be Jewish assembles, but they may also be any assembly in whatever nation the disciple happens to teaching!

Yeshua promises that when we are called to account by authorities, that the Holy Spirit will give us the words to speak, not necessarily in defense of our position but the words that those in authority need to hear.

Matthew 10:19-20 NKJV 19 "But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20 "for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

After His resurrection, Yeshua promised that the coming of the Holy Spirit would give us the power we need to speak the gospel message.

Acts 1:8-9 NKJV 8 "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." 9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.

Not only will those in authority hate the message of the kingdom, so will some of our nearest friends, relatives, and neighbors. Being a disciple is a dangerous proposition.

Matthew 10:21-22 NKJV 21 "Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22 "And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.

Like the twelve were to wipe off the dust of the city of those who rejected them, so also are those of us who are disciples today and tomorrow to turn on backs on those places who reject the message of the kingdom.

Matthew 10:23 NKJV 23 "When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

Does this mean that Yeshua will come before the gospel reaches all the cities just of Israel? First Fruits of Zion, in their work, The Chronicles of Messiah, explains that this means that “places of refuge will not run out.”[3]

Being a disciple also requires that we put Yeshua before all else. Yeshua tells us that we can do no better than following in His steps, the steps of our master.

Matthew 10:24-26 NKJV 24 "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 "It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master.

We are to put Yeshua before our families and even our physical lives. Yeshua said that anyone who would not put Him first is not worthy of the kingdom of heaven!

Matthew 10:37-39 NKJV 37 "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

We are assured acceptance by the Father is we acknowledge the Son!

Matthew 10:32-33 NKJV 32 "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 "But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

Paul demonstrated this devotion to Yeshua. When imprisoned in Rome and standing before Caesar, he didn’t falter but spoke the words given to him through the Holy Spirit.

2 Timothy 4:17-18 NKJV 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 18 And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!

Paul gave up his life following His master Yeshua. It cost him everything that this world values, but he received the gift of eternal life. Yeshua has confessed him before the Father and the Father has received him. We know this because of the promise in Yeshua’s words. Being a disciple of the Master is a calling to share the gospel of the kingdom; it is a calling to follow Him each and every day.

Discussion Questions:

1. How do instructions to the seventy disciples in Luke 10:1-12 compare to the instructions given to the twelve? Just before His crucifixion, Yeshua gave new instructions in Luke 22:35-36 and, after His resurrection, in Luke 24:44-46 and in Matthew 28:18-20. Compare this new set of instructions with those given to the twelve and the seventy.

2. Yeshua describes the multitude as “sheep who are weary and scattered” in Matthew 9:36. Mark describes them as “sheep without a shepherd” in Mark 6:34. Yeshua, then, sends the twelve to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.” How are the multitudes “lost sheep who are weary and scattered without a shepherd?”

3. When going to the Jewish people, the disciples were instructed to enter one home and bless the home. How is this carrying out the threshold covenant that existed between all the families of Israel? What, then, would be the significance of wiping off the dust of the shoes and removing the blessing? Compare this to Yeshua’s words in Matthew 10:21-23 and 34-36.

4. Yeshua describes a reward going to those who receive or honor three different types of people, prophets, those who are righteous, and little ones in Matthew 10:41. The reward received is, also, described as three different types. What is the message behind this verse? How does it connect to verse 40?

© 2018 Moed Ministries International. All rights reserved.

[1] The Stone Edition Chumash. General Editors: Rabbi Nosson Scherman and Rabbi Meyer Zlotowitz. Mesorah Publications, ltd. ©2000. Page 401-402.
[2] New King James study Bible. General Editor Earl D. Radmacher, Th.D. Thomas Nelson. ©2007. Pgae 1505.
[3] The Chronicles of Messiah, Volume 2. Lancaster, D. Thomas. First Fruits of Zion. 2014. Page 658

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