Matthew 10:5-15 Part 1

Last Lord’s Day we saw that the Lord brought together His twelve disciples – the ones He had sought out and chosen – and He gave them Exousia – authority – over the fallen angels who took possession of men, and over the sicknesses and weaknesses of men.  And we were able to see also the prefigured categories of reality which these things represented, that is, the freeing of men from the hold of sin and depravity, and release from the dissipation and deterioration of men and creation because of uncleanness, separation and death.

And now, this morning, we’ll see our Lord give to these men their very first commission as apostles – having had the Lord’s authority delivered to them.  And it’s for us to be reminded again that God has manifested His King for the purpose of glorifying Himself and for the purpose of submitting the entire Kingdom creation to Himself.  And when the disciples receive Christ’s authority (and were then called Apostles) they were given it for that same purpose!  To give God glory and to submit the Kingdom to the King!  There was no reason in themselves that they should have it – certainly not for glorifying themselves, and not for making money, and not for the joy of it, and not for impressing people, and not just to have power.  Their authority was a derivative authority (a derived authority).  In other words, the Exousia was given to them.  It belonged to another, and it was for the glory and benefit of another!

And it was to be used AS DIRECTED BY ANOTHER!

And just as we come to the text of this very specific commission itself – a commission to use this power in some very specific ways – let me just make a very quick application here.  Since the keys of hell and the powers of loosing and binding are now given to men who are called to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom, then it is a derived authority to do so, and it is by the One from Whom the authority originates, and it is for His Glory, and it is for the establishing and building of His Kingdom.  And the only logical conclusion to come to is that it must be done according to His instructions!

Just like these apostles – given the authority of Christ, for the glory of Christ, and for the establishment of Christ’s kingdom – just as they were to follow His instructions explicitly (instructions which we’ll see in a minute), so are His called-out men today to receive the authority given to them and go out and follow His instructions explicitly!

And since the authority given to the apostles represented and prefigured – or signified – the higher authority now given to Christ’s called-out proclaimers of the Gospel, we now have a higher responsibility than those who were given the obsolete office!   We have a higher responsibility to follow His instructions!

Today’s church, though, has it just backwards!  To most everyone the idea of expelling demons and healing the sick and speaking in tongues are the higher powers!  But they’re not!  Those were only temporary, and representative of what was to come – for the ones who follow explicit instructions to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom have been given the authority to bring light and freedom and healing and extirpation (loosing) from the bonds of Satan, and victory over fleshly lusts, and wholeness (unity) in the body of Christ, and resurrection from the rotting of deterioration and death and abandonment!  The authority to exorcize demons and heal diseased bodies was an uncommon and exceptional authority only because it was temporary – it didn’t last long!  And it didn’t last long because it was “establishing authority” and because it was a lesser authority!

And once the Church was established it was no longer necessary to have the establishing authority – that authority which represented that which was to come (an uncommon but lesser authority), then it reached its point of obsolescence, and the higher authority which it prefigured, remained!

So those who seek the “showy” (visible, lesser), establishing authority are lusting after the magic of the magi, because the EXOUSIA given to the apostles at the beginning was replaced by the King.  It was obsolete due to a higher EXOUSIA then given to the Church - an authority in Jesus’ own Words, to do even greater deeds than the apostles did.

So trying to go back to lesser, obsolete, apostolic authority is attempting to deny the higher to go back to the lesser – and the lesser is gone!  The King did away with it – replaced it – because He didn’t need it any more!  It was only a pre-figuring authority anyway!  And, just like Simon Magus who wanted to buy the power, the Church today, most of it, lusts after it!  And since Jesus dispensed with it, you just have to “wonder” about the source of the pseudo-exousia, that are now manifested, that so saturates the Church.

Well, now let’s go to the text and examine the words of the King as He commissions His twelve apostles for a peculiar and distinctive engagement.  An employment which is so often misinterpreted!

Verse five. 


“These twelve Jesus did send out, having charged them, saying ‘You must not go out the road of the Gentiles, you must not enter a Samaritan city; but, rather, you are to keep on going to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’”


Now, it seems so simple, but needs to be stated, that Matthew was an eye witness to this event.  He was there and one of the apostles.  And he records the entire commission to the twelve.  Mark and Luke were not there, and only portions of what was said are recorded in their accounts.  What’s recorded there is exactly right, but only portions thought by them to be important to their purposes.  And I say that so that if you’re reading over in those books you won’t get confused by what you read.

Also, we need just a bit of history – genealogy – to distinguish Samaria from the rest of Galilee.  Although Galilee itself was a mixed-race area, Samaria was an area even more distasteful to the Jews!  A part of the northern kingdom of Israel, and even a part of Galilee itself, Samaria had been a separate region of Israel for six hundred years.

You remember that Israel had split into two kingdoms – the Kingdom of Judah and the Kingdom of Israel.  And the Assyrians had invaded the Kingdom of Israel (the northern kingdom) in 701 BC, and they had carried away all the best families into slavery and dispersed them into the nations.  One record says over twenty-seven thousand whole families were removed.  Covenantal families were big - not four or five, but dozens amid scores – maybe hundreds (unity of Biblical family).  Many of the rest were slaughtered, so that only a very thin population of Jews was left in that portion of the region.

After that the history gets a little complicated, so I won’t take the time to detail it.  But five different far-flung nationalities were brought in to resettle one area, and a new city was established called Samaria.  So was the region around it.  And all five of them, all of them being pagans, brought their own pagan religions with them.  And, of course, all five were Gentiles.

As the Scriptures so clearly record, Josiah, King of Judah, invaded this area about a hundred years after Assyria carried away the Jews, and he struck down all the various worship places and different idols of these people – of course attempting to re-incorporate the region back into the Kingdom of Judah.  And even though it was generally seen as a part of Israel from then on, it never was seen again as anything but a thoroughly Gentile and thoroughly pagan region.

So the region called Galilee was where Jesus and His apostles had been working.  A region of mixed-race people, but one in which many Jews lived and worked – a region where there were many synagogues.  But in Samaria there were very few orthodox Jews, if any.  It was an unclean area.  An area occupied by Gentiles - Gentiles who worshipped a whole pantheon of gods.  An area which also, strangely enough, thought of itself as the guardians of the Law of Moses!  And that could also be another reason why they were so hated by orthodox Jews (any Jew, really).  Gentiles worshipped the Law!  Even as a part of Israel, the culture in Samaria was different – and they were outcasts in Jewish society.  They were loathed and avoided.

But Jesus’ commission to His twelve, here, was in Galilee – probably in His own town of Capernaum; and He commissioned them by telling them first who they were to target, or seek, and who they were to leave alone.  “Don’t go off up the Gentile road, it’s not Gentiles you are to seek!  Don’t go to the Samaritan cities, you’re not looking for Samaritans,” He said.  Why?  It’s not time yet!  Why not?  Because we have to find and bring out the lost sheep of the house of Israel, He says in verse six.  I’ll say more about “why” later on.

Now, we won’t get to verse seven today for a thorough exposition, but the answer to the question “what do we do when we find them?” is “Preach!”  They must hear the Good News about what’s going on!  We’ll go into that next Lord’s Day.  But there are other questions to answer here, aren’t there?

One of which is “What does the ‘house of Israel’ mean?”  “House,” in this context, means the whole descendancy of the nation - from the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – to the constitution of the nation under Moses, and the fullness of the people to the time Christ uttered these words.  The term “house of Israel” is a very common Old Testament term, an example of which you’ll see in a minute.  It simply means the entire descendancy of Israel.  “Jacob is Israel” Scripture says.  And from his loins came the twelve tribes of the nation.

And Jesus says here:  “but rather”…, (“don’t go to the Gentiles…) “…but rather you are to keep on going to the sheep of the house of Israel who are lost.”

Now, who are the lost sheep?  That term certainly doesn’t include the Jewish leadership of Israel!  The lost sheep “of” the house of Israel is a portion of the descendancy of Jacob who are sheep!  And they’re lost!  And the common interpretation today is that Jesus was calling the entire nation to repentance.  And they didn’t repent - they killed Him!  He failed to convince them and they didn’t believe Him and repent, so they killed Him!  But was it the entire nation of Jews that Jesus sent His apostles to find?  Why would He need to find them, if they were all over the place?  And why would Jesus later say that “all His sheep know His voice”?  And that He would lose none of them?

Well, this must mean someone else other than the whole nation of the Jews!  Twelve men commissioned to go out and find the lost sheep of the house of Israel – the house of Jacob, who gave birth to the twelve tribes – the Covenantal descendancy.  Twelve men to go out and find the covenantal descendancy from the twelve tribes!  Well, He must be sending them – not to find Jewish people – but to find God’s covenant elect!  The portion who are sheep!  The remnant!  Those who are the true, covenantal descendants of Jacob.  Isn’t that right?  The ones who are preserved by God as His own!

Listen to the Old Testament text.  So much of the prophecy of the Old Testament is about God’s remnant – the true descendants of Jacob – who He will bring out of the apostasized nation of Jews, and who He will bring out of the nations where they’ve been scattered by bad shepherds!  But listen.  This is Ezekiel chapter thirty-four:


“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel.  Prophesy, and say unto them, ‘thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds:  Woe to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves!  Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?  … As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out My sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day….  Therefore will I save my sheep, and they shall no more be a prey….  And I will set up one Shepherd over them, and He shall feed them, even My servant David; He shall feed them, and He shall be their Shepherd.”


And listen to Jeremiah chapter thirty-one:


“For thus saith the Lord; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the Chief of the nations; publish ye, praise ye, and say, ‘O Lord, save Thy people, the remnant of Israel.’  Behold I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together:  a great company shall return thither….  Hear the Word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, ‘He that scattered Israel will gather Him, and keep Him, as a shepherd does His flock.’”


And, just so you won’t get restless, out of the hundreds I give you just one more from the Old Testament:  Isaiah chapter thirty-seven says:


“And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward; for out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, they that escape out of Mount Zion:  the zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this!”


And, lastly, here’s what the apostle Paul says about this whole situation in Israel - written about fifteen years after Jesus’ death and resurrection:  Romans chapter eleven:


“God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew.  Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah?  How he makes intercession to God against Israel, saying ‘Lord, they have killed Thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone; and they seek my life.’  But what saith the answer of God unto him?  ‘I have reserved to Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’ (Paul continues)  Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.”


So the facts are that God had lovingly elected to preserve some of His covenant people – even in the terrible state of apostasy in this nation!  And Israel’s shepherds – the leaders of the nation – had, as we saw at the end of chapter nine, cast them down and scattered them.  And they were sheep.  They belonged!  They belonged to the King, and He empowered twelve men with EXOUSIA to help search them out and preach the Good News to them.  And they would hear the Shepherd’s voice.  And they would no longer be the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  But He would bind up their wounds and salve their bruises and give light to blind eyes and hearing to deaf ears and cleanse their leprosy and their fountains of blood – and He would spread a table before them with the Bread of Life.

These are the elect of His Father – kept for Himself from the foundations of the world.  And the Shepherd went to search for them.  And He found all of them.  And we know that, later on, Jesus would warn them all to get out of Jerusalem (Israel).  And so they were spewed out into the nations just in time before the slaughter occurred, and for the purpose of founding the beginning churches in the New Heavens and the New Earth.

“Don’t go up the road to the Gentile cities – the cities of the Samaritans,” Jesus said.  “But rather you are to keep on going to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.  They are mine.  And when you find them, preach to them – the Kingdom of the Heavens has come near.”

Next Lord’s Day we begin with an examination of the atonement as it relates to 1) the “remnant of Israel” and to 2) the salvation of the whole world!  And a sign of that atonement was given to the church by which we remember all these things.

As we already know the sign of the atonement cannot be the atonement.  This bread and wine is a sign of the atonement.  And as we preach the Gospel of the Kingdom, God will bring His own sheep out of the world order, and they will enter into union with Him by faith.  And they too will signify that union at the Lord’s Table.

The bread and wine figure the body and blood of Christ, and those who live in union with Him.  For example, in His body – we are so intimately related to Him through faith – there’s a connection – that the sacrament actually becomes a means of grace by which God blesses us in union with His Son.

So as the King finds us, the other sheep, He makes us new creations and gives us union in Him through faith, and there, in His body, we are nurtured and fed.  And He has graciously given us this beautiful figure of that union – which we so cherish in the Church.