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Subject: Christian Religious Studies
Topic: Mission of The Apostles
Lesson Objectives: At the end of the lesson, learners should be able to:
i. Explain the differences in the synoptic account of the mission of the twelve and deduce reasons for the difference,
ii. Find out the differences in the instructions given to the twelve and seventy,
iii. Identify the achievements of each mission; and its significance.
Mission Of The Twelve (Matthew 10:1 – 15, Mark 6:7 – 13, Luke 9: 1- 16)
Jesus, having trained his disciples by teaching them both privately and publicly felt that they learnt enough about his ministry. He therefore, decided to send them out to practice what they had learnt. The mission of the twelve disciples is recorded in the three synoptic gospels.
The general outline of the story is the same as presented by the three synoptic gospels, but there are few areas of differences. Matthew stated that the mission of the twelve was limited to the Jews, but there was no such detail in Luke and Mark. It was Matthew that stated the names of the disciples that were sent out while Luke and Mark did not state this but gave the details elsewhere. Mark stated that the disciples were sent out in pairs, that is two by two, but other synoptic writers did not state this. Mark stated also that they were allowed to take their scandals.
According to Matthew, Jesus called the twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits; to cast them out and heal every disease and every infirmity. They were charged to:
“Go nowhere among the gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 10:5 – 7).
He charged them to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons and not collect money for their services. The disciples were also charged not to take anything with them and that in any town they entered they should find out was worthy and stay with such until they departed. As they entered the house, they were expected to greet it and if the house was worthy, then their peace would come upon it, but if it was not worthy, their peace would return to them. If anyone would not receive or listen to them, they should shake off the dust from their feet as they left the house or town and would stand in judgement against such people.
The important fact about the mission of the twelve is that it enables Christians to understand the preparations which they must take in terms of sound teaching and practical experience before becoming a priest, evangelist, minister of God and before undertaking other ministerial assignments.
Mission Of The Seventy (Luke 10:1 – 24)
Only the book of Luke gave an account of the mission of the seventy. According to Luke, Jesus appointed seventy others and sent them ahead of him in every pairs to every town and place where he himself was about to go. He said to them:
“The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest. Go your way; behold I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves’. (Luke 10:2 – 3).
He charged them not to carry purse, bags, scandals and to greet no one on the road. Whatever house they entered they should first day: “Peace be upon this house”. If a son of peace was there, their peace would rest upon the house. He charged them not to go from house to house.
Whenever they entered a town and they were received, they should eat and heal the sick in the town and say to them, “The Kingdom of God had come near to you”. If they entered a town and the people failed to receive them, they should go into the streets and proclaim that even the dust of the town that clinched to their feet was wiped off against them. Jesus condemned cities such as Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum where he did a lot of mighty work, yet they did not repent or believe him. Jesus concluded his charge to the seventy by saying:
“He who hears you heard me and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects Him who sent me”.
The seventy returned to Jesus with joy saying “Lord, even the demons are subjects to us in your name.” Jesus answered them and said:
“I saw Satan fall like a lightening from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:18 – 20)
After this, Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit. He thanked God for hiding these things from the wise and revealing them to the babes. He revealed that all things that had been delivered to him by his father and no one knows who the son is, except the father, and who the father is, except the son and anyone whom the son chooses to reveal the father to. Jesus further told the disciple that they were blessed for seeing what they had seen and hearing what they had heard. This was because many prophets and Kings desired to hear it but they were not privileged.
Significance And Lessons To Learn
i. Jesus warned his disciples that he was sending them as lambs in the mist of wolves. This was an indication that they were going to encounter dangers and persecution but they should be very careful to ensure success in their mission. In the same way, present day Christians should know that the task of being real Christians is not easy; but they should be very careful in order to have success in their ways.
ii. It should be recalled that the twelve sent out only to the house of Israel. Twelve symbolically represents the twelve tribes of Israel. From this, one can infer that the mission of the twelve represented Jesus’ mission to the Israelites. The seventy disciples were sent to Gentiles and seventy, in the Jewish tradition, represents the rest of the nations of the world.
Therefore, it can as well be said that the mission of the seventy represents Jesus Christ’s mission to the rest of the world. The seventy disciples successfully performed miracles in the name of Jesus Christ and with the support of the Holy Spirit. This fulfilled what Jesus said in John 14:12 that whoever believes in him shall do the same work he did and even greater work. Christians should endeavour to have strong faith in Jesus Christ so that they can do his work with his power and support.
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Take a quick test for this lesson
i. Narrate the missions of the twelve and the seventy and explain the significances of these missions.
ii. What instructions were given to the twelve disciples before they set out for their mission? Mention any four differences that are notable in the accounts of Matthew and Mark.
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