Another Preaching Tour of Galilee
AFTER about two years of intensive preaching, will Jesus now begin to let up and take it easy? On the contrary, he expands his preaching activity by setting out on yet another tour, a third one of Galilee. He visits all the cities and villages in the territory, teaching in the synagogues and preaching the good news of the Kingdom. What he sees on this tour convinces him more than ever of the need to intensify the preaching work.
Wherever Jesus goes, he sees the crowds in need of spiritual healing and comfort. They are like sheep without a shepherd, skinned and thrown about, and he feels pity for them. He tells his disciples: “Yes, the harvest is great, but the workers are few. Therefore, beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.”
Jesus has a plan of action. He summons the 12 apostles, whom he had chosen nearly a year earlier. He divides them into pairs, making six teams of preachers, and gives them instructions. He explains: “Do not go off into the road of the nations, and do not enter into a Samaritan city; but, instead, go continually to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’”
This Kingdom that they are to preach about is the one Jesus taught them to pray for in the model prayer. The Kingdom has drawn near in the sense that God’s designated King, Jesus Christ, is present. To establish his disciples’ credentials as representatives of that superhuman government, Jesus empowers them to cure the sick and even raise the dead. He instructs them to perform these services free.
Next he tells his disciples not to make material preparations for their preaching tour. “Do not procure gold or silver or copper for your girdle purses, or a food pouch for the trip, or two undergarments, or sandals or a staff; for the worker deserves his food.” Those who appreciate the message will respond and contribute food and housing. As Jesus says: “Into whatever city or village you enter, search out who in it is deserving, and stay there until you leave.”
Jesus then gives instructions on how to approach householders with the Kingdom message. “When you are entering into the house,” he instructs, “greet the household; and if the house is deserving, let the peace you wish it come upon it; but if it is not deserving, let the peace from you return upon you. Wherever anyone does not take you in or listen to your words, on going out of that house or that city shake the dust off your feet.”
Of a city that rejects their message, Jesus reveals that the judgment upon it will indeed be severe. He explains: “Truly I say to you, It will be more endurable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on Judgment Day than for that city.” Matthew 9:35–10:15; Mark 6:6-12; Luke 9:1-5.
▪ When does Jesus begin a third preaching tour of Galilee, and of what does it convince him?
▪ When sending his 12 apostles out to preach, what instructions does he give them?
▪ Why is it correct for the disciples to teach that the Kingdom has drawn near?