By Allen White
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. Matthew 10:5-8
In sending out His disciples to serve, Jesus instructed them to avoid the Gentiles (non-Jews) and the Samaritans (half Jews). He only wanted His disciples to seek out the “lost sheep of Israel.” This flies in the face of other parts of Scripture. Why would Jesus intentionally ignore people who needed saving? Did He have something against them?
This was the first step in a multi-part strategy. His last words to His disciples instructed them to witness in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8). The easiest group for His Jewish disciples to reach were Jews.
The Jews were expecting the Messiah. They had some context about the message of the Gospel. The Gentiles and even the Samaritans would have been a harder sell at this point.
As Jesus began building the church, He knew that the twelve needed to multiply in order to get to the uttermost parts of the earth. The Jews, having a context for the Gospel message, were the low hanging fruit, if you will.
In time, the Gentiles and Samaritans would receive the Gospel. Jesus, Himself, shared with a Samaritan woman (John 4). When the Roman centurion came to Him, Jesus said that He saw no greater faith in all of Israel (Matthew 8:5-13).
Following Jesus’ model, we should start serving right where we are with the people we know. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against mission trips. My first mission trip took me to Hong Kong for a summer when I was 19-years-old. But, sometimes we’re overly focused on serving “over there” to the point of ignoring who’s around us.
Who’s in your life that has a need? Who’s making bad choices? Who needs encouragement? Who do you need to love enough by telling them they’re acting like a knucklehead?
Do you know your neighbors? Do they need help? I wouldn’t start the conversation with the Four Spiritual Laws or the Romans Road. Start by building a relationship. They may be Jews or Gentiles or even Samaritans. That’s not the point. If they are nearby and you can relate to them, then that’s your “Jerusalem.”
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