JESUS INSTRUCTS THE TWELVE
Jesus continued to teach and preach about the Kingdom of God
in all the cities and villages, instructing on the word of the
Lord in their synagogues. He also continued to heal every disease
and every sickness and infirmity that people had.
The crowds grew larger and larger wherever He went. His
sorrow and compassion for them also grew larger, because He saw
they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
He called His disciples and said to them, "Look around you and
see how large the harvest is, but the laborers are very few. You
need to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into
He then told the twelve He was going to send them out among
the harvest of the people. He would give them authority over evil
spirits, to cast them out of individuals, and to heal every
disease and sickness that people had (Mat.9: 35 to 10: 1).
Jesus gave the twelve certain instruction for that specific
preaching and healing ministry that He was about to send them
upon. He told them:
"Go not to the none Israelites or to the sect of the
Samaritans, but go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, your
countrymen. As you go, preach, saying, 'The Kingdom of heaven is
close at hand.' I want you to heal the sick, even raise the dead,
cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying
for it, so give freely. You are to take no gold, nor silver, nor
money in your wallets. Take no bag for your journey, nor two
outer coats, nor two pair of sandals. Do not take a staff or
walking stick. The laborer deserves his food. When you enter a
town or village, inquire who is worthy there, and stay with them
until you depart. As you enter the house, honor it. And if the
household is indeed worthy, let your peace of blessing you bring
come upon them. But if that household is not worthy, keep your
blessing you bring to yourself. If anyone will not receive you or
will not listen to your words, then shake off the very dust there
from your feet as you leave that household or that town. Truly, I
say to you, it shall be more tolerable and merciful on the day of
judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah, than for that town
or household" (Mat. 10: 5-15).
The words Jesus just spoke were specifically for the twelve
disciples at that time and for the commission they were about to
undertake. It does not mean all AFTER that particular
evangelistic task the twelve were to undertake, must follow
exactly the outline Jesus gave them for their journey of teaching
the Kingdom of God. This we can clearly see from other parts of
the Gospels and especially from the book of Acts and the life and
journeys of the great apostle Paul.
The words that Jesus spoke next, from the very context of
the words themselves, we can see that Jesus was giving "overall"
knowledge and instructions to some who would go forth in any age
to preach the truths and word of the Kingdom of God.
"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so
you need to be as wise as serpents but as harmless as doves.
Beware of people; for some will deliver you up to their
theological councils, and may even flog you with the whip in
their synagogues and meeting places. You may be dragged before
governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them
and the nations for God's word. When they deliver you up, do not
be worried how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what
you are to say will be given to you in that hour of need; for it
is not you who speaks but the Spirit of your Father speaking
through you. Brother will deliver up brother even to be put to
death, and the father his child, and children will rise up and be
in conflict with their parents and have them put to death; and
you will be hated by all for my names's sake. But he who endures
to the end will be saved.
When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for
truly I say unto you, you will not have gone through all the
towns of Israel, before the Son of man comes" (Mat.10: 16-23).
It is obvious from the above words of Jesus, and Him saying
that His disciples will not have covered all the cities of Israel
before He returns in glory, that this section of Jesus' discourse
is for ALL of this age, from that time then, when He uttered
those words, to the time of His second coming to establish the
Kingdom of God on earth. It is also interesting to note that the
cities and towns of Israel must be way more than the towns
that are now within the land area we call the "State of Israel" -
the land of Palestine in the Middle East. So numerous would be
the towns and cities of Israel that Jesus said they all would not
have been covered with the Gospel message before He returned to
earth again. The truth of who ALL of Israel is, must be for
another time and place to study and discuss.
Continuing with Jesus' words:
"A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above
his master; it is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher,
and the servant like his master. If they have called
the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they malign
and call evil those of his household.
So, have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will
not finally be revealed, or hidden that will not be finally
known. What I tell you in the dark and private, you utter
in the blazing light; and what you hear whispered by me in your
ears, you proclaim loudly upon the house tops. And do not fear
those who can kill the body, but cannot kill the inner life you
have in me; rather fear Him who can destroy both your inner life
and body in the fires of the second death - hell. Are not two
sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the
ground without your Father taking note of it. But even the hairs
of your head are all numbered by God. Fear not therefore; you are
of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me
before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in
heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny
before my Father who is in heaven.
Do NOT THINK that I have come to bring peace on earth at
this time; I have not come this first time to bring peace on
earth, but indeed a sword. For I have come to set a man at odds
against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a
daughter-in- law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes will
be they even from his own household.
He who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy
of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not
worthy of me; and he who does not take his life, willing to lay
it down for my sake, who does not take his cross and is not
willing to follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life
will loose it, and he who looses his life for my sake will find
He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me,
receives the one who sent me, the Father. He who receives a
prophet shall receive a prophet's reward, and he who receives a
righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a
righteous man's reward. And whoever gives to one of these little
ones of mine even a cup of cold water because he is my disciple,
truly, I say to you, he shall not loose his reward" (Mat.10:
Matthew then says that when Jesus had so instructed His
twelve disciples, He left and went out to teach and preach in
the cities (Mat.11: 1).
What a message Jesus gave to His twelve and to all disciples
who would follow afterwards down through the age to His coming
again. It might be worth reading over those words again, before
continuing with this Bible Story.
There has been many times in the last 2,000 years when those
words of Jesus have come to pass. Many have been handed over to
authorities to be killed for the sake of the truths and words and
ways of Jesus Christ. In some parts of the world even today,
being killed for being a true Christian is still a very real
threat. It is happening, but seldom does it get the news coverage
it should, especially in the Western world.
Men can kill the body, but they cannot kill the inner
spiritual life that you have for being a child of the Father.
Upon your death that inner life is kept safe by God (Ecc. 12:
7) and He is able to restore life immortal to you on that
resurrection day, when the last trumpet will sound and the dead
in Christ shall rise to meet Jesus in the air, in the clouds,
and be with Him for ever more (1 Thes. 4: 13-18).
God loves us more than we can imagine. He has a glorious day
waiting for us if we endure to the end as Jesus said. We are to
spread His word, His Gospel message, knowing it may make enemies
even from and within our own flesh and blood family members. But
those that receive it, receive you for doing and living God's
will, shall be rewarded.
The word of the Lord is to go forth, we can, if we will but
accept, be a part of sending forth His word. It will go forth and
it will not return to Him void. So the Lord has written and so it
HOW JOHN THE BAPTIST WAS KILLED
It is the Gospel of Mark that informs us with the most
detail on why and how John the Baptist was killed by Herod.
Jesus was so busy preaching and healing in the towns and
cities that His fame had reached the notice of King Herod. Some
were saying John the Baptist had been raised from the dead, and
had wonder working powers. Others said it was Elijah come
back to life. Still others declared Jesus was a prophet like the
prophets of old. But when Herod heard about this miracle working
man, he with somewhat of a trembling voice, said, "Oh, oh, this
must be John whom I had beheaded, come back to life."
Herod was deeply troubled in thinking this was John the
Baptist, for Herod had sent and seized John, had him bound with
chains and cast into prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother
Philip's wife, because he had married her. John had boldly faced
Herod and told him that it was not lawful for him to have his
brother's wife. And so Herodias had a bitter grudge against John
and wanted to see him killed, but her desire could not be
fulfilled because Herod feared John as he knew John was a
righteous and holy man, and Herod made sure John was safe, at
least from death. Herod would gladly listen to John but was
always troubled, anxious, and worried by his words.
Herodias saw an opportunity one day to have her wish come
true. It was Herod's birthday and he gave a large banquet for his
court officials and officers and the leading men of Galilee.
Herodias' daughter danced so well and enticing for Herod and
all present, that the king said to the girl, "Young lady, you are
so beautiful and you are such a fine dancer, you have danced so
well, as everyone here is in agreement that you have, making this
day and banquet so special, I will give you whatever you ask for,
even to half of my kingdom." Herod vowed to her, so showing he
meant what he said.
The young lady was surprised and really did not know what to
ask for, so she went to her mother. "Mother, this is a shock to
me," the daughter said, "king Herod has said he will give me
anything I desire, up to half of his kingdom. I haven't a clue
what I should ask for."
"I know," replied her mother with a smirk on her face, "you
can ask for the head of John the baptist."
The young lady went back to Herod and unashamedly said, "I
have decided what I want you to give me. I want the head of John
on a plate."
Obviously this young lady was either every much in tune with
her mother about certain things where John was making trouble for
her mother, or she was one of those young daughters that would do
anything a parent said, even to murder and kill someone the
parent did not like for whatever reason.
Herod was exceedingly sorry and upset. He realized he had
done a silly thing in giving a vow or oath to her in front of his
guests, but fearing even more to break his vow, he sent a soldier
to John with orders to cut off his head and bring it to him. And
indeed that is what happened. John was beheaded while in Herod's
prison. His head was brought on a plate, given to the young lady
who in turn gave it to her mother.
When John's disciples heard about it they came and recovered
his body and laid it in a tomb (Mark 6: 14-29).
THE MIRACLE OF FEEDING FIVE THOUSAND
The twelve apostles went on their journey while Jesus was
preaching in the towns, and they then came back telling Him all
that they had done and the words they had spoken.
"It has been a busy time for you all and for me, so come
with me to a quiet place, and we shall rest a while," said Jesus
to the twelve. So busy had it been for all of them that they
hardly had any time to eat, for people were coming and going all
the time it seemed, from sun up to sun set. They took a boat and
went to a town called Bethsaida, on the other side of the sea of
Galilee, which was called the sea of Tiberias.
It was not easy to get away from the crowds of people. They
saw that Jesus was heading out with the twelve, and they just
followed, because they knew He could heal people from all their
diseases. Jesus arrived on the other side of Galilee and went
with the twelve up into the hills for to rest a while. Now it
was close to the time of the Passover feast the Gospel of John
tells us. Jesus could not get away from the crowds for very long.
Soon there was another very large crowd around Him, which Jesus
did not mind, He actually welcomed them for it was an opportunity
once more to teach them about the Kingdom of God and to heal
those who were sick.
It was now getting late on this day, even into the evening,
and it was a lonely wilderness type place where they were. The
disciples suggested to Jesus that He send the people away into
the villages so they could buy food to eat.
"No, I do not think I will send them away. I want you to
give them food," said Jesus to the twelve.
Looking at Philip, Jesus said to test him, "How can we buy
bread to feed all this mass of people here?"
"Master," Philip replied with astonishment at the very
thought of the twelve trying to buy food to feed the people,
"Why, even 500 dollars would not be enough money to buy food for
all these people," Philip said.
Then Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Jesus, "There is
a lad here who does have five barley loaves and two fish, but
that is insignificant among such a huge crowd of people."
"Ah, okay, make the people sit down," Jesus said. There was
much soft lush grass where they were. The number of people was
about five thousand, and they all sat down in orderly groups of
hundreds and fifties, at the disciples instructions and
Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looking up to
heaven He blessed and gave thanks, and then told the disciples to
distribute them among the people. All ate well and enough until
they were satisfied. Then Jesus told the disciples to gather up
what was left.
There was enough food left over to fill 12 baskets.
When the people saw the miracle of 5 loaves and 2 fish
feeding 5,000 people, they said among themselves, "This is indeed
THE prophet who was to come into the world !" (Mat.14:13-21; Mark
6: 30-44; Luke 9: 10-17; John 6: 1-14).
JESUS WALKS ON THE WATER
The crowd, after seeing this miracle, on top of all the
other miracles He had done, got more excited and more excited,
like a tidal wave of water the excitement grew until they had
determined to come and take Him by force if necessary, and make
him King. Jesus quickly withdrew Himself and went up into the
hills by Himself alone to pray and meditate.
When evening time had come and it was now dark, the
disciples went down to the sea shore and boarded the boat once
more to cross the sea and go back to Capernaum. Jesus had not yet
come back to them so they were without Him as they started to
cross the sea.
The wind was blowing hard and right into them, a head wind
as they say. It was a rowing boat they had, not a sail boat,
hence it was very hard work to row into such a heavy wind. The
"fourth watch" came, which meant it was sometime between 3 am and
6 am. Looking up, what did they see but Jesus coming towards them
and getting closer, but not in another boat. They were amazed,
had to blink twice, but it was true, Jesus was coming towards
them WALKING ON TOP OF the water!
When the reality of what they saw sank in, they became very
frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost, not really the
literal flesh and blood body of Jesus. They of course had never
seen such a sight before or ever heard of such a thing being done
by a human being, as literally walking on top of a sea of water.
Such frightful panic gripped them that they cried out in fear.
Jesus heard their fearful cries and said, "Take heart, it
is really I, be not afraid."
But Peter still not quite sure if this was the real Jesus,
shouted out, "Well Lord, if it is really you, bid me that I may
come to you walking on the water also."
"Come on then, " said Jesus.
So Peter jumped out of the boat and started towards Jesus
also WALKING ON the water! The wind was still howling away and
blowing very strongly. Peter realizing the situation of being in
a wind storm, started to be afraid once more and with that fear
he began to sink into the water. Seeing he was possibly going to
drown he cried out, "Please Lord, save me."
Jesus immediately reached out and took him by the hand
saying to him at the same time, "O man of little faith, why did
you start to doubt?"
Both Jesus and Peter got into the boat and instantly the
wind ceased to blow. The disciples had already forgotten about
the miracle of the loaves and fish, their hearts were still
somewhat hardened even after all the signs and wonders they had
seen Jesus perform, so the Gospel of Mark tells us. But once more
after this miracle they fell to their knees and worshipped Him,
saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."
Another part of this miraculous event is that after Jesus
entered the boat out on the sea, the boat was immediately, in an
instant, at the land where they were headed.
The next day, the huge crowd of people that was left behind
came to understand that the disciples had departed in a boat but
not with Jesus, and that the boat they left in was the only one
around in that area. They knew Jesus was not still there. They
knew another miracle had been done by Jesus.
It happened that some boats from Tiberias came along to the
place where Jesus had fed the five thousand. The people quickly
jumped into the boats and set out for Capernaum to seek Jesus.
They somehow thought He would be at that city. But Jesus
and the disciples landed at Gennesaret, a town to the south of
Soon it was noised abroad that Jesus was in their region.
People of course recognized Him and soon they began bringing all
the sick to Him for healing. Whatever town or village He was at
they came bringing the sick, even laying them down in the
market places. The sick pleaded with Him that they might simply
touch His garment to be healed, and it was so, as many as touched
His clothes were made healthy and well (Mat.14: 22-36; Mark 6:
45-56; John 6: 15-24).
Written October 2002