Questions and observations for discussion:
1. When it comes to witnessing for the Kingdom, what message does the diversity of those Jesus called to be his disciples have for us?
2. In the record of the disciples’ first practicum in witnessing in Mat 10:5-15 Jesus prescribes an exclusive focus on the Jews as well as a charity based mission. Why or why not would this be a valid example of how mission should be run today? What do we know about Jesus’ message in the rest of Matthew that indicates this initial focus on Jews was not intended to be exclusive? See also Rom 1:16.
3. The disciples were given the same message that John the Baptist and Jesus started their ministries with, i.e. “The kingdom of heaven is near” (See Mat 3:1-2, 17). Another way of understanding “kingdom of heaven” is the “reign of God.” What did this message mean then and what does it mean now?
4. In the next major section of Jesus’ instructions to the disciples (Mat 10:16-31) he both warns of persecution and comforts them. In this instruction there are several puzzling statements:
a. Why does Jesus say that “you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel, before the Son of Man comes” (Mat 10:23 NRSV)?
b. What does he mean when he says, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mat 10:28 NRSV)?
5. In the final section (Mat 10:32-42) Jesus’ instructions are about a disciple’s priorities and rewards.
a. What does Jesus mean in the fundamental paradox he expresses in Mat 10:39: “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it”? Is this purely about dying a martyr’s death in the service of the gospel and its reward?
b. What does Jesus mean in Mat 10:41 about the rewards of a prophet and a righteous man in relation to the reward of giving a cold cup of water to one of his disciples?