(Study Outline sourced from “The System Bible Study” – “The Book of Life” [Zondervan])
9. CHRIST’S THIRD TOUR OF GALILEE
(1) Jesus Instructs the Twelve Disciples And Sends Them Out To Preach An Heal
On the first two tours of the Galilee region Jesus took His disciples along with Him and they were witnesses to His preaching and healing, now He is about to give them the practical experience of what it will be like for them to go out on their own to continue preaching the good news of the Kingdom. The second tour introduced something new to the disciples, they were accompanied by a band of women who helped to support them , but for this third tour Jesus instructs them “Take nothing for the journey”; furthermore, they were to “search for some worthy person” in the town or village that they would enter and to stay at their house for the duration of their visit. Matthew also gives us an idea for the reason for this mission: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” .
Jesus is showing us here that it is the duty of all His disciples to have the same compassion that He has for the lost souls of people around us, and that we should pray that He would send His workers to “harvest these lost sheep”. He also instructs them that the recipients of the message should be “the lost sheep of Israel”, they were not to go to the Gentile people or the Samaritans; Jesus was extending to the Jewish people possibly their last opportunity to accept the message of the Kingdom. He also warned the disciples that preaching the gospel of the Kingdom was not going to be an easy task – “All men will hate you because of me” and He explains to them the extent of this hatred and that such hatred will lead to the final rejection of God’s salvation by many people: “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.”
“shake the dust off your feet” – a symbolic practice of the Pharisees when they left an ‘unclean’ Gentile location (NIV Study Bible) – but here Jesus is using this act as a solemn warning to all those who reject the message of God’s salvation, since there may not be another opportunity to hear or receive the message – it would be “more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah” than for those who reject the message of Jesus. They were also to understand the fact that He was sending them out “like sheep among wolves” therefore they were to be “shrewd as snakes” – avoid giving needless offence or being tricked into compromising situations – “and as innocent as doves” – protected by the armour of a righteous character and unfeigned faith: a reference to their behaviour in the face of persecution (Believers Bible Commentary) . There will come situations in which they would be brought before local councils governors and kings, they would be arrested beaten and imprisoned and called to testify for their actions and words; and Jesus instructs them “do not worry about what to say or how to say it” for it will not be they who will do the speaking “but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” ; and all this will be so because “A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master” .
Jesus continues to comfort them by assuring them that nothing that they are about to suffer is hidden from their heavenly Father, and that they should not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul, but “Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” – they are more worthy than many sparrows that are cared for by The Heavenly Father . “Whoever acknowledges me…..I will also acknowledge…” – there will come a day when all mankind will have to acknowledge the Son of God, even though there is rebellion and rejection of the message of the Kingdom today . Anyone that loves father or mother more than Christ, or anyone that does not take his cross and follow Christ is not worthy of Christ; we must all love Jesus to the extent that our love for family members and friends seem little compared to our love for Him; we must be willing to bear all reproach as we seek to follow Jesus in discipleship, understanding that those who accept Jesus accepts the One that sent Him into the world – Our Heavenly Father .
At the close of His instructions, Jesus states: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” which may seem to be a contradiction to the prophecy of Isaiah , but from the Scriptures, especially the N.T., we see that Christ’s peace is between the believer and God, and thus between the followers of Christ: the inevitable result of Christ’s coming into the world has been a continual conflict between Christ and the powers of darkness – Satan and his hosts – resulting in a continuous conflict between Christ’s disciples and the followers of Satan which can occur among family members, thus making the task of spreading the message of the Kingdom even more difficult; to which Jesus enlightens them that they “will not finish” [the task] “before the Son of Man comes” [or returns at His second coming].
(2) Herod’s Guilty Fears Because He Had John The Baptist Beheaded
“King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.” Others said, “He is Elijah.” And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.” But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, the man I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!”
John the Baptist was imprisoned by Herod because John had said, on occasions, to Herod “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife” ; Herodias wanted to kill John as a result of what he had been preaching to Herod, but “Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man” . On hearing the reports from the people in regards to Jesus, Herod was deeply troubled because he thought that John had been raised from the dead, Matthew adds in his account that “Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered him a prophet” , and Luke states that Herod “tried to see him” [Jesus] . Like many of the prophets before him, John’s testimony and his preaching caused him to suffer at the hands of his captors as his blood was shed, and this was only another incident of the growing hatred of the Jews toward Jesus’ ministry – a sober reminder of the awfulness of sin that would shortly see the capture and murder of Jesus Himself.