V 5. Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: “Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but only to the people of Israel—God’s lost sheep.
This is the very beginning of Mission in the New Testament. It was there in the Old as God sent prophets such as Jonah and Jeremiah to the nations. Like Jonah, Jeremiah tried to dodge the call too, his response was ‘O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you.’ (Jeremiah 1:6) But now Jesus sends out the first 12 apostles to prepare God’s people to respond to Him. Jesus’ warning about the reception they are likely to get is perfectly clear ‘Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. ‘ (Matthew 10:16)
From the outset Jesus lets the disciples know that Mission will be a hazardous venture. But the opportunity to tell people about Jesus is not to be neglected whatever the cost.
Down the ages that has been the story of God’s mission to the world through His followers. Don’t expect things to be hugely different today. In many parts of the world, to be a follower of Jesus and announce Good News of His Kingdom brings danger and even death.
These first disciples went gladly – and the same responsibility rests on our shoulders.