The Three Visitors
18 Later, the Lord again appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre. At that time Abraham was sitting at the door of his tent. It was during the hottest part of the day. 2 He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When Abraham saw them, he ran from his tent to meet them. He bowed facedown on the ground before them. 3 Abraham said, “Sir, if you think well of me, please stay awhile with me, your servant. 4 I will bring some water so all of you can wash your feet. You may rest under the tree. 5 I will get some bread for you, so you can regain your strength. Then you may continue your journey.”
The three men said, “That is fine. Do as you said.”
6 Abraham hurried to the tent where Sarah was. He said to her, “Hurry, prepare 20 quarts of fine flour. Make it into loaves of bread.” 7 Then Abraham ran to his cattle. He took one of his best calves and gave it to a servant. The servant hurried to kill the calf and to prepare it for food. 8 Abraham gave the three men the calf that had been cooked. He also gave them milk curds and milk. While the three men ate, he stood under the tree near them.
9 The men asked Abraham, “Where is your wife Sarah?”
“There, in the tent,” said Abraham.
10 Then the Lord said, “I will certainly return to you about this time a year from now. At that time your wife Sarah will have a son.”
Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were very old. Sarah was past the age when women normally have children. 12 So she laughed to herself, “My husband and I are too old to have a baby.”
13 Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘I am too old to have a baby’? 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? No! I will return to you at the right time a year from now. And Sarah will have a son.”
15 Sarah was afraid. So she lied and said, “I didn’t laugh.”
But the Lord said, “No. You did laugh.”
Right with God5 We have been made right with God because of our faith. So we have[a] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through our faith,[b] Christ has brought us into that blessing of God’s grace that we now enjoy. And we are happy because of the hope we have of sharing God’s glory. 3 And we also have joy with our troubles because we know that these troubles produce patience. 4 And patience produces character, and character produces hope. 5 And this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts. God gave us his love through the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to us.
6 Christ died for us while we were still weak. We were living against God, but at the right time, Christ died for us. 7 Very few people will die to save the life of someone else. Although perhaps for a good man someone might possibly die. 8 But Christ died for us while we were still sinners. In this way God shows his great love for us.
35 Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages. He taught in their synagogues and told people the Good News about the kingdom. And he healed all kinds of diseases and sicknesses. 36 He saw the crowds of people and felt sorry for them because they were worried and helpless. They were like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Jesus said to his followers, “There are many people to harvest, but there are only a few workers to help harvest them. 38 God owns the harvest. Pray to him that he will send more workers to help gather his harvest.”[a]
Jesus Sends Out His Apostles10 Jesus called his 12 followers together. He gave them power to drive out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and sickness. 2 These are the names of the 12 apostles: Simon (also called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew, the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot. Judas is the one who turned against Jesus.
5 These 12 men he sent out with the following order: “Don’t go to the non-Jewish people. And don’t go into any town where the Samaritans live. 6 But go to the people of Israel. They are like sheep that are lost. 7 When you go, preach this: ‘The kingdom of heaven is coming soon.’ 8 Heal the sick. Give dead people life again. Heal those who have harmful skin diseases. Force demons to leave people. I give you these powers freely. So help other people freely. 9 Don’t carry any money with you—gold or silver or copper. 10 Don’t carry a bag. Take for your trip only the clothes and sandals you are wearing. Don’t take a walking stick. A worker should be given the things he needs.
11 “When you enter a city or town, find some worthy person there and stay in his home until you leave. 12 When you enter that home, say, ‘Peace be with you.’ 13 If the people there welcome you, let your peace stay there. But if they don’t welcome you, take back the peace you wished for them. 14 And if a home or town refuses to welcome you or listen to you, then leave that place. Shake its dust off your feet.[b] 15 I tell you the truth. On the Judgment Day it will be worse for that town than for the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah.[c]
Jesus Warns His Apostles16 “Listen! I am sending you out, and you will be like sheep among wolves. So be as smart as snakes. But also be like doves and do nothing wrong. 17 Be careful of people. They will arrest you and take you to court. They will whip you in their synagogues. 18 Because of me you will be taken to stand before governors and kings. You will tell them and the non-Jewish people about me. 19 When you are arrested, don’t worry about what to say or how you should say it. At that time you will be given the things to say. 20 It will not really be you speaking. The Spirit of your Father will be speaking through you.
21 “Brothers will turn against their own brothers and give them over to be killed. Fathers will turn against their own children and give them to be killed. Children will fight against their own parents and have them killed. 22 All people will hate you because you follow me. But the person who continues strong until the end will be saved. 23 When you are treated badly in one city, go to another city. I tell you the truth. You will not finish going through all the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
When you are asked to do something, by your parents, a teacher, or a coach, do you do it right away? Do you stop whatever you are doing at that moment and run to complete what is asked of you? What if you are doing something that you really like to do? What if the thing you are being asked to do it something you do not like? Think about these questions for a minute.
In ancient times there were very strict rules for how to treat a guest. We call this hospitality and we have some versions of this today, but they are not as strict. When someone visits your house today do you offer them something to drink, maybe something to eat, as soon as they arrive? Maybe, but what Abraham offered the three strangers was very specific, and was part of the rules. Bread and water were not only nice things to offer, they were symbols, and things that everyone would have on hand, even if you had to ask you wife to hurry up and back the bread. Abraham was eager to show his hospitality, he “ran from his tent to meet them”. He was not being asked to do something he did not like, but he did stop what he was doing to complete it. These three strangers turned out to be angels, and they did ask something of Abraham and Sarah, something that the old couple did not believe could happen. They were asked to believe that Sarah could have a child. Even today, it can be hard for a woman over forty years old to have a baby, and Sarah was far older than that, so it is understandable that they did not rush to believe what the angels said. When Sarah laughed it was reasonable, but was it the right thing to do? If you are watching a show, and your parents tell you that it is time to leave, is it reasonable to want to watch the last few minutes of the show? Is it the right thing to do to wait and argue? Is there a reason you need to leave right then? Was there a reason for Sarah to have a baby even at her age?
What of the other things that are asked of people? The Apostles are asked to drop everything, leave their families and go out to follow Jesus. Jesus is asked to die for us. Did they hesitate, did they bargain and argue? What kinds of things are you asked to do? How do you react? How should you react?