Try to imagine organizing a following at the time of Jesus. Nowadays, we have amazing ways of communicating instantly around the world via phone networks and the internet. We have satellites in the heavens to relay these messages. But in Jesus’ world, messages were either spoken to someone standing next to you or written and carried by runners to another person. How do you control the message in this situation and make sure everyone has received the correct information and knows what to do with it?
Jesus saw that His growing flock had no shepherds but Him. And many outside influences meant to scatter them. He called twelve apostles, and later seventy, to help them in the work. All of the twelve apostles were of the tribe of Judah, and they were an interesting group. Fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot (Simon Peter) — not a single scribe among them. None were Sadducees, either. As far as material success, they fell on the lower rungs of the social ladder. Yet they became great leaders and missionaries, proving that the Lord sees our hearts and not our social status.
Today, Christ still needs disciples—people who can declare to all the world, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:7). How can you answer the call to be a disciple of Jesus and share your belief?
The Lord gave His servants the power to work:
The Jews had the Aaronic Priesthood, and even the high priest served under this priesthood. There had been no prophet in Israel for 400 years. Jesus honored this priesthood but not its servants at the time. Instead, He formed His own leadership structure outside “tradition.” He gave His servants the higher priesthood with the power to confer the Holy Spirit. And not only that but the power to heal and to cast out evil spirits. No Aaronic priest could do anything like this. This was startling in the established culture and caused fractures in society, even among friends and family.
Fear not (Matthew 10):
These are pretty scary things that Jesus prophesied for the future of His apostles, all of whom ended up as martyrs for the faith. Christ’s words may have shaken them, but the disciples were chosen for their strength of faith. Jesus knew they would continue on, even in the face of death.
I came not to send peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:34):
Not everyone will accept the gospel of Jesus, and the “wicked” who hear it are often angered to the point that they will try to destroy both the gospel and those who follow it. Jesus offers peace “not as the world giveth” to us, but an inner peace, not peace in the world. In Matthew 11 and Luke 7, Jesus praises John the Baptist as His forerunner and prophesies that beginning with John there would be no peace between His followers and the world.
It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 11:20 – 24):
Jesus is again condemning those of Israel who have failed to repent and said that Gentile cities (Tyre and Sidon are in what is now Lebanon) would have repented had He taught them. Jesus added to the insult by saying that even Sodom would fare better at the judgment (another Gentile city of the past, destroyed for its wickedness).
I will have mercy and not sacrifice (Matthew 12:7):
It’s a mistake to think that the Law of Moses was not spiritual, but just the letter of the law. It was the Pharisees who were focused on the foundational laws of Moses to the letter, the laws of repentance and sacrifice. They had forgotten mercy. Also, under King Josiah, much of the spirituality of the preparatory gospel had been stripped away. Jesus wanted the gospel to be written in our hearts, a gospel of mercy and love.
When thine eye is single (Luke 11:34):
“The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.”
To see with a “single” eye means to see things the way God Himself sees them. In other words, you understand the truth and you see things clearly. When you have seen with God’s eyes, when you are in perfect agreement with Him, you are filled with light.