Jesus had taught his disciples well. Now it was time to send them out to preach repentance. They would be emboldened by this experience for much greater challenges in the future. This may have been their first practical application of Jesus’ teachings.
Jesus had taught them “experientially”, as they witnessed Him healing the sick, casting out demons, and even forgiving sins. They were now being sent out to perform the first two of these: heal the sick and cast out demons – and by all accounts, that’s what they did. See Matthew 10 for more detailed instructions Jesus gave them at this time.
Key to Jesus’ instructions is how the disciples were told to see to their physical needs for food, shelter and clothing – it was up to the leaders of each village to see to their provisions. After all, the disciples were bringing healing to the people, they were bringing the gospel of salvation and should be supported in their work. Imagine how the economies of these villages would have improved if their sick were healed, demons were cast out, and the people were given something real to hope in. Woe to those who rejected these priceless gifts.
How do we apply this today? Can we heal the sick? Can we cast out demons? Some of us may have limited knowledge and abilities in these disciplines. But we can all certainly spread hope! And that has great value. The gospel of Jesus Christ brings hope, and by knowing it, practicing it and sharing it, we improve the world around us. And God (not people) provides for us. Now our standard of living may cause us to mistakenly believe that we’ll have nice homes, abundant food and nice clothes if we preach the hope in Jesus Christ. You might, but that’s not why you preach. You preach out of love for God and in support of His desire that “all may be saved” (1 Timothy 2:3-4). God will use those who receive His message to meet your needs.
I was reduced to sleeping in a minivan for a week and learned to praise Him for His abundant provision. By the end of that week I was invited to stay in a spare room of a kind and godly man. What a wonderful lesson the Lord taught me that week. It was at that time that I was serving voluntarily in a men’s Bible study of about 175 men.
God provides for us as we obediently serve Him. It may not be “in style”, and I’ve heard of faithful men and women sent out who suffered much more than the minor inconveniences I experienced – some suffered cruel abuse, others died. But God knows what happens in eternity and if the kindness of His message of hope and promise of provision is any indicator, eternity is a marvelous reward.