Second Rejection in Nazareth and the Sending of the Twelve: The Gospel Accounts: A Chronological Harmony

Second Rejection in Nazareth and the Sending of the Twelve

Rejection in Nazareth (Matthew 13:53-58; Mark 6:1-6)

            Jesus returns to Nazareth where he grew up and began preaching in the synagogue the following Sabbath. Those who knew him from childhood were shocked. They could not understand how a simple carpenter’s son could become so wise and do miraculous works. This implies that Jesus kept his knowledge and wisdom to himself while he was growing up in Nazareth.

            While he is called the carpenter’s son, the wording indicates that Joseph is no longer alive, though his mother, Mary, his brothers, and more than one sister continue to live in the area. Again, this passage, like the one we saw before indicates that Mary had more children after Jesus.

            Recall that this isn’t the first time that Jesus had taught in Nazareth (see Luke 4:16-30). The people were upset enough on the prior visit to attempt to murder Jesus. Here on his second visit we see that they continue to be offended by Jesus’ obvious advancement over them. They were envious and too proud to be taught by someone they had known so long and who came from humble origins. The problem is that their familiarity with Jesus inbred contempt for him. The extend of their unbelief amazed even Jesus.

            As a result, Jesus did few miracles among them. It is not that he was unable to do miracles, but that miracles were done to serve a purpose (John 20:30-31). Because these people were not going to believe any evidence that was presented, there was no reason to offer what would be rejected. It wasn’t that they didn’t know about the miracles because they mentioned them as they disparaged the Lord. But those miracles confirmed what they refused to believe, so instead of softening their hearts, they became angry with the one who forced them to face the unacceptable.

            As a result Jesus left and began teaching in the towns of the region.

The Need for Laborers (Matthew 9:35-38)

            As he taught and healed people, Jesus was moved with compassion for the people. He saw them as sheep without a shepherd. They were weak and helpless on their own. They needed guidance and had none available to them.

            The multitudes coming to Jesus proved that there was plenty of opportunity to do God’s work, but there just wasn’t enough people to accomplish all the work that needed to be done. Jesus told his disciples that they should pray that God send more laborers.

            The case is no different today. Look at how many people are searching for answers to their problems. On talk shows and Internet sites you find people asking for help solving the mess they have made of their lives. Unfortunately, they look in the wrong places and get a lot of bad advice, but the fact that people are looking means the opportunity to teach is still there.

The Sending of the Twelve (Matthew 10:1-11:1; Mark 6:7-13; Luke 9:1-6)

            Jesus did not leave the problem with just words. He sent his disciples into action (James 2:14-17). They had followed him and learned enough from him that they could teach on their own. He have them abilities to do miracles; thus, supporting their teachings with evidence of the power of God. They had graduated, in a sense, from being disciples (students) to apostles (ambassadors) of Jesus.

            This initial sending would be limited to only Israel. They were specifically told not to go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans. Their message to Israel was to warn them that the kingdom of heaven was close at hand. One reason for the limited commission was the fact that the Old Law was still in effect. Christ was born under the Law (Galatians 4:4-5). Until the law was brought to an end by Christ’s death, the focus of Jesus’ ministry was to Israel (Colossians 2:14). As the apostles were preparing the way for Christ as he toured Israel, they were limited in teaching only there. The full broad commission comes after Jesus’ death.

            The disciples were not to take extra for their journey. Instead, they were to expect support to come as a result of their work (Matthew 10:10). At times you will find someone claiming a contradiction between Mark’s account and Matthew’s. But the explanation is simple, Mark records that the apostles were to take basic necessities and Matthew’s account notes that they were not to bring spares, but rely on support from those they teach as their provisions were exhausted or worn out.

            As they enter a town, they were to enquire as to who was noted for their hospitality and had a good reputation. Thus, the apostles would not needlessly put themselves in a position of difficulty while they were teaching in the town. They were to stay with that family while in that town and not to shift lodgings from house to house as if they were discontented. As they came to the selected home, they were to show proper civility to the occupants of the home. If they receive the apostles, their blessing should rest upon the house. If they will not, they were to move on – their blessing would stay with them; that is, it would come back to the apostles unused. (This is a idiomatic style of speaking common in Israel. See Psalm 35:13 for an example.) If the apostles were not accepted, they were to shake the dust off of them as they left; that is, since they were refused, they would not accept anything from the city, not even its dust (Nehemiah 5:13; Acts 13:51; 18:6). They need not take any action against the people or the city as God will judge them in the last day.

            As Jesus gives the apostles instructions, the things he discusses with them apply both immediately and in the future when they are sent into all the world.

            As they taught, they would need to be cautious. They were going among men not inclined to accept God’s message. It would require wisdom on their part and a non-violent attitude. They would be arrested and tried. They would be punished, but it will be necessary for the sake of the message they are delivering and for the saving of the Gentiles. Jesus’ statements were fulfilled many times through the book of Acts (Acts 5:26; 12:1-4; 23:33; and 24:10 are just a few examples). The mention of governors and kings who are Gentile rulers demonstrates that Jesus has broaden his statement from the limited commission to the future general commission to go to the whole world.

            Though the apostles would be brought before the powerful men of the world, they did not need to worry about what to say as God would be with them and tell them what to say. This is the first mention that the apostles would be inspired (Acts 4:8; II Timothy 4:17). Notice that this wasn’t a promise for every speech that they made, but for those times they would have to serve as witnesses before rulers. Inspiration is defined here as God speaking through them (Exodus 4:12; I Corinthians 2:9-13).

            Even though the words will come from God, everyone will not accept the message (I Corinthians 2:14-15). Households will be violently divided against each other because of the message; a warning that is repeated several times (Matthew 10:35-36; Luke 21:16-17).

            Because of Jesus’s authority (his name’s sake), the messengers of Christ, the apostles, would be hated and persecuted. Still, Christ asks his apostles to endure because in enduring they will find salvation. This is another point that is repeated several times (Matthew 24:13; Mark 13:13). Despite the opposition, Jesus tells the apostles to move along the route of least resistance. Even then, they would not have time to cover all of Israel before Jesus comes again.

            The phrase “comes again” can refer to the Jesus coming in his kingdom; that is the establishment of the church (Matthew 16:28). Or, it could refer to Jesus coming in judgment on Israel when Jerusalem is destroyed (Matthew 24:30). Or, it could refer to Jesus coming to judge the world (II Thessalonians 1:9-10). The later would not apply as there would have been plenty of time to cover all the cities of Israel.

            Jesus warns his apostles that they cannot expect a better reception than that given to their teacher. A student can only hope to be like his teacher. But their teacher has been called Beelzebub, so they can’t expect anything better. (Recall the events in Mark 3:20-30). Therefore, since they know the worse in advance, there is no need to fear men. Everything man can possibly do will eventually be revealed (I Corinthians 4:5).

            There will come a time when the things that Jesus taught them in private will be taught publically. And when that time comes, his apostles will need to boldly proclaim the good news. Opposition to the gospel should not be a consideration (Isaiah 8:12-13; Romans 8:35-39). If fear is due anyone, it is due to God. All man can do is kill the physical body. God can destroy both body and soul in Hell (I Peter 3:14).

            But at the same time, God cares for His children. Jesus assures them that God will watch over them. He points out that God knows when a sparrow dies, they are more valuable to God than a sparrow; therefore, God will know their comings and goings. He knows more about them than they know about themselves – He even knows how many hairs are on their heads. With that much attention by God, they had no need for fear.

            Even more importantly, Jesus promised to be with them in judgment. If they are willing to confess Jesus before men, he would confess them before the eternal Father. But if they let their fears dominate and deny him, he would deny them before the Father (Romans 10:10; II Timothy 2:12).

            Jesus’ goal was not that his people would get along with the people of the world. Even to this day it is a mistaken notion that controversy surrounding the truth is somehow wrong. Jesus did not come to bring peace, but to do battle. Families become divided because of the truth. But if anyone puts his family before Jesus, he is not worthy to be a follower of Christ.

            Thus, it becomes important that everyone who is about to set out after Christ consider the difficulties that he will eventually face. A person unwilling to face hardships is not worthy to follow Jesus. Unless a person is willing to give his very life for Christ, he is not worthy to follow him. Attempting to preserve one’s temporal life will ultimately result in the lose of his eternal life.

            Finally, Jesus speaks of the benefits that will come to those to whom the apostles will be teaching. They are Christ’s ambassadors. Those who receive them are receiving the Christ whom they represent (Galatians 4:14). A person who receives a prophet or a righteous man because of there authority or office that they represent will likewise share the reward of that prophet or righteous man. Even when a person does a small favor for the least of a disciple, that is a new Christian, God will take note of it and his kindness will not go unrewarded (Matthew 25:37-40; Hebrews 6:10).

            After giving them instructions, Jesus sent them on their way. He himself also journeyed to teach in the various cities in the area.

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