"When you enter a house..."
Twice Jesus states that they should eat only what is given to them - "...eating and drinking whatever they give you" and "eat what is offered to you." Why is this so important?
Jesus isn't wanting his disciples to be receiving quid pro quo - he doesn't want them to be teaching in exchange for receiving room and board. This is important to Jesus, and this is why he emphasizes, "eat what is offered to you."
An offering is given out of volition. It is given freely without a condition of exchange. For example, if his students were to go to the village and teach and then expect those they are teaching to bring them dinner, then that is not an offering. That would be quid pro quo - which is a business exchange.
But to simply rely upon what is given out of volition without a condition of exchange is to be accepting an offering.
It is a subtle thing but it is important to understand what Jesus is doing. Jesus doesn't want his disciples to become like the ecclesiastical Jewish temple teachers, who were living off of the temple salaries - inclusive of comfortable living quarters and their choice of foods, all paid for by the donations or tithings of their parishioners.
Donations versus quid pro quo
But isn't that the same thing as using only what has been offered via donations?
Actually, not. Today this same system is in use by most of the sectarian religious institutions, whereby the priest, reverend, rabbi, oman, cardinal, pope or other teacher is paid a regular salary and/or given room and board in exchange for their services of teaching.
This makes them professional teachers, no different than a school teacher or a college professor who is paid to teach their students. This turns what should be an act of loving service (teaching about God) into a business exchange.
But isn't it different because the religious institution is paying the priest, reverend, rabbi, oman, cardinal, pope or other teacher from the proceeds collected from donations?
No. It doesn't matter where the money is coming from. What matters is the relationship between the teacher and the teacher's service. If the teacher is receiving payment for their services then it is no longer a voluntary service. It is a business relationship.
Most of the ecclesiastical religious organizations today earn more than simply donations anyway. Most will have income from selling books or having rummage and bake sales or whatever. These are practices not unlike a business. These practices of selling were also condemned by Jesus. This was illustrated when he turned over the tables at the temple bazaar in Jerusalem.
Are donations always voluntary?
Many of the donations or tithings received by ecclesiastical religious institutions aren't always voluntary offerings anyway. The organization's tactics will often push or even trick people into donating. For example, some evangelists will offer to pray for some request - assuming there is a donation involved. Many will otherwise cajole their followers to give - making them feel guilty or promising that they will go to heaven if they give. At the very least, many of the ecclesiastical religious institutions pass the collection plates around so that eveyone can see what everyone else is "donating." This peer pressure tactic results in higher collections.
As far as the teacher is concerned, even if all the funds were donations, they are being paid by the organization - creating a business relationship between the organization and the teacher.
Even if the teacher's original motivation was to serve, once they begin receiving quid pro quo in the form of a salary, house, stipend or some combination thereof, they have turned their service into a business relationship.
"for the worker deserves his wages"
But what about Jesus' statement, "for the worker deserves his wages" then? Isn't this talking about his students working and getting paid for it?
No. Jesus is using a saying or parable to convey a deeper meaning. The "worker" and the "wages" are analogous. What is being expressed is that whatever Jesus' disciples receive in food is what is coming to them. This might be compared to our modern saying:
"You get what you deserve."
"You get what's coming to you."
or, as stated in Galatians 6:7:
"A man reaps what he sows."Often restated as:
"As you sow, so shall you reap."These common sayings communicate that our lot in life is the result of our previous activities. Our past activities come back to us. Jesus is communicating this in his statement - that whatever they receive is what their past has brought them.
But Jesus is also communicating that they should only be relying upon what is given rather than requesting or expecting any kind of quid pro quo in return for their teachings.
Why didn't he want them to move from one house to another
This is also why Jesus didn't want his disciples moving from one house to another. Once they arrived in the town and they found a place to sleep and eat, they were to begin preaching in the village. This is crucial because Jesus didn't want them to expect to be given a great place to sleep once the villagers heard their powerful teachings.
You see, Jesus' disciples were passing on the teachings given to them by Jesus. So those teachings had power in themselves. They had authority. Jesus did not want that authority diluted in any way. He wanted to make sure that the disciples separated their practical living arrangements from their teaching.
This is based upon the simple economics of survival and the physical body. By nature, each of us wants to keep the body alive. So we seek to accomplish that by earning a wage in exchange for performing some service. Today we call this a job. And that is fine.
But when the economics of survival - or its perverted extension, the desire to be wealthy - gets mixed up with one's service to the Supreme Being, this affects one's ability to offer that service to God sincerely.
God only wants our love
You see, the Supreme Being only wants us to serve Him out of love - which requires freedom of choice. This is what devotion is based upon. As soon as we begin receiving something in return for that service, it taints the service. And if the service is teaching - it removes the authority of such teaching.
Why is this so important to the Supreme Being? Because He wants our love. He doesn't need any service from us. God can do anything and everything Himself. He doesn't need our service.
What God wants is our love. And love is expressed in loving service.
Just consider if a woman was asked by her boyfriend to marry her. She is overjoyed and says yes.
But what would she do if she found out that the boyfriend was offered a million dollars to marry her. Would the woman say yes then? Certainly not. The woman would be disgusted and offended by the marriage proposal, and with the (former) boyfriend. She absolutely would not marry him, because now she knows the marriage is a business deal. It is not based on love: he receives money in exchange for the marriage.
In the same way, the Supreme Being is offended by someone who proposes to serve Him in some way yet seeks to receive payment for that service - be it by a salary, a stipend or other form of compensation or reward.
And just as the woman wants the man to ask her to marry him out of love and without any expectation or reward but their relationship, the Supreme Being wants us to serve Him out of love, without any expectation of reward.
This also goes for the expectation of having many followers, getting to heaven or otherwise being "saved" in return for our service. Because any expectation in exchange for service is not loving service.
And this is precisely what Jesus is asking of his disciples and students - that they teach on Jesus' behalf - to serve the Supreme Being, without any expectation of reward or exchange.
Jesus is guiding his students in this respect because he wants them to love and lovingly serve the Supreme Being. This is also expressed in his most important instruction to them:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)