Jesus was traveling in a circuit among the villages so he could teach in their synagogues, share the good news of the kingdom of heaven, and heal everyone who was sick in any way. He felt compassion when he saw the crowds because they were exhausted and lost, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his closest followers, “The harvest is heavy, but the laborers are light. Therefore, pray to our abundant God to provide more workers.”
MT 9:35-38, LK 10:2
Then Jesus went away by himself to a mountaintop to spend all night in prayer to God. When the first rays of dawn arrived, he called those he had chosen to him and they came. He also appointed 12 apostles. They were to be with him, to go out to preach, and to heal diseases and drive out demons.
Their names were Simon, (who Jesus renamed Peter); his brother Andrew; James and John – the sons of Zebedee; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus; Simon the Cananaean – also known as the Zealot; Thaddeus – also called Jude; and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
MT 10:1-4, MK 3:13-19, LK 6:12-16
Jesus wanted the disciples to only go to fellow Israelites. He instructed them not to go to other nations, especially any associated with Samaria.
He told them “Announce that the kingdom of heaven is near.” Sending them out in pairs, he instructed them to “Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, and cast out demons. Bring nothing for your journey; not a walking stick, a travel bag, food, money, or even extra clothing. Stay in the first house that welcomes you during the entire time you are in that town, eating and drinking what is offered to you, because a worker deserves his pay.”
When entering a house they were to “Say ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, then your blessing will stay with those who live in that house. Otherwise, your blessing will return to you. If the town does not welcome you and your words, then you are to shake the dust off your feet as you leave. When judgment day comes it will be easier on Sodom and Gomorrah that it will be for any town that did not show hospitality to you.”
The disciples went and did as he said, spreading the good news, preaching, and healing everywhere they went.
MT 10:7-15, MK 6:6b-13, LK 9:1-6, LK 10:1, 4-12
Jesus said “I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Because of that, be as clever as snakes and as peaceful as doves.”
MT 10:16, LK 10:3