This chapter represents a turning point in Jesus' ministry. Many have referred to this as the "retirement period", as Jesus began withdrawing from cities to less-populous areas and focusing more on teaching, rather than performing miracles. Previously in Luke, we see a great emphasis on the manhood and divinity of Christ. Luke was showing that He had come as a Savior, and was careful to show that He was to be a Savior for Jews and Gentiles.
This chapter can be divided into six sections. The first, third, and fifth sections are primarily discussing the Lord's people, and the second, fourth, and sixth sections discuss Jesus Himself directly. In this first section, consisting of the first six verses, we read of how Jesus sent out the twelve apostles.
Jesus sent out these twelve as representatives of the called out people of God, otherwise known as the church. The commission given to these men is passed on down to all of the people of God, every Christian. Some will have greater involvement in the spread of the Gospel and some will have a lesser involvement. Some will spread the gospel just through their lives and contacts with people they know; others will go out as evangelists.
We note that this passage doesn't say to whom Jesus sent them. He didn't set up a grand missionary strategy; He didn't tell them to try to first convert the leaders of the societies, but just to speak the gospel to all, to whomever they encountered.
Jesus told them to take no possessions with them. He wanted them to be completely reliant upon Him. He wanted them to see that this was His work, and that He would take responsibility to supply all of their needs.
Jesus told them to go to whatever house would accept them, and stay there. They weren't to move about trying to angle for the most advantageous position. They were, again, to remember that this was the Lord's work, His doing. They needed to stay where they were accepted and allow Him to do His business. This was also an encouragement to them. They could be assured that someone out there would accept them, that there would be some out there who would be receptive to the Gospel.
Jesus also told them that some people would reject them. Yet this was no cause for great alarm. They were only to shake the dust off their feet and continue on. We can consider this that we are not required to convert everyone we share with. We are not required to have the perfect answer to all the objections and arguments that may be brought. We are only to speak the Gospel clearly and accurately, and if it is rejected, we should not worry and move on.
We see in verse 6 that they did exactly what Jesus had told them to do. They obeyed His word, even though they had never done anything like this before. This is an example to us. These simple fishermen, at Jesus' command, went out into distant cities with only the clothes on their backs and proclaimed the good news of Christ to all they came in contact with. Just like them, we may not be trained missionaries. But the harvest is all around us, and we can do the Lord's work, knowing there is no discouragement for us when we do what our God has told us to do.