Matthew 10:5-15 (ESV)

These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “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 proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. 11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

Jesus commissioned his twelve apostles to announce the same message that he and John the Baptist preached: “The kingdom of heaven is here!” As they went from place to place and town to village, the apostles were to embrace those who accepted the news they brought and reject those who didn’t accept what they proclaimed. Jesus declared the severe consequences for those who would not receive the twelve. In verse 15, he begins with the phrase “Truly, I say to you.” This signaled to the listeners that the next statement was critically important. Jesus then says, “It will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.” Most remember Sodom and Gomorrah as the twin cities known for their incredible wickedness. Because of their evil practices, darkness, and the hardened hearts of those who dwelt there, God completely overthrew and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.

Jesus’ teaching here is a truth we should all stop and think about for a few minutes. What did he mean by “it will be more bearable” for Sodom and Gomorrah than for the towns that deliberately rejected the apostles? Those who spurned the message of Jesus’ sent ones would be punished more severely than the outlandish sinners of ancient history chronicled in Genesis. In a time and a place where most have come face to face with the gospel, if we continue to reject his message, how do we think we will escape the judgment of God? If you have family or friends who are refusing the good news, understand that Jesus takes this dismissal very seriously. If you are faithfully communicating the message Jesus preached, know that God continues to stand behind those who proclaim his word. Even though we may face rejection from the world now, it will be nothing compared to the eternal wrath that those who snub him will face in the life to come. Pray for those close to you who have not surrendered to Christ in repentance and faith. Be confident as you continue to petition God on their behalf and speak the truth in love to them. God has put specific souls in your life for a reason. Share the good news! Though the majority may not listen, you never know who will, and who may even be saved today.