Emissaries of the King: Matthew 10:1-11:1
Having explored Matthew’s narrative on the spread of the kingdom, let’s turn to the corresponding discourse in Matthew 10:1–11:1. This discourse focuses on the disciples as emissaries, or representatives, of the king.
In this section, Jesus answered the challenge that he had posed at the end of the preceding narrative. After commanding his followers to pray for God to raise up evangelists and leaders, Jesus extended his personal kingdom ministry by empowering twelve disciples for ministry, and commanding them to announce the presence of the kingdom in word and deed, just as he himself had done.
As we read in Matthew 10:7-8, Jesus commissioned them with these words:
As you go, preach this message: “The kingdom of heaven is near.” Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.
Jesus gave his disciples many warnings before he sent them out. Life would not be easy when they followed Jesus’ example. The world would not be kind to them. They would suffer. They would be mocked, arrested, and killed.
But Jesus also promised that their ministry would be blessed by their heavenly Father and that eventually the life of the kingdom would be theirs. Consider how Jesus reassured his disciples in Matthew 10:39:
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Jesus’ disciples were abandoning their prior lives for the sake of Jesus’ teaching and healing ministry. But Jesus assured them that they would find true kingdom life in the company of King Jesus himself.
In this second major division of the gospel, we’ve seen that Matthew described the spread of the kingdom especially in terms of Jesus’ works of power, and Jesus’ instructions to his disciples. And this provides a good model for our own ministry in the modern church. As we rely on Jesus’ power and serve him as faithful disciples, Jesus will build his kingdom through us as well, and reward us with heavenly blessings.