SENDING FORTH THE TWELVE
When Jesus set out to build His kingdom upon earth, there were many different strategies which He could have used. He could have waved His hand and erected a giant city with streets of gold and mighty ramparts. He could have sent forth His holy angels to announce the news in every tongue and in every land. He could have written His message upon the clouds for all to see. But He did none of these things. He had a different strategy.
Men were His method. We have already seen in Luke 6:13 how Jesus has selected a small handful of men through whom He would change the world. He chose them and he called them "apostles." The word "apostle" means "one who is sent." He called them apostles, but He did not immediately send them out. Instead, these twelve apostles have been traveling with Jesus and watching Him preach and teach and heal and minister. Now it is their turn. This is their first commission. It serves as "on the job training."
They had followed Him. They had watched Him do the work of ministry. Now it is their turn. Like a mother eagle pushing her babies out of the nest, Jesus is going to send forth the Twelve on a short-term mission trip.
After this mission trip is over, the Twelve shall come back to spend a great deal more time being personally taught by Jesus. Indeed, they are going to learn better after this time because they are going to get a taste of what they really need to know.
There is nothing like experience to teach you what you donít know. That is why high school kids think that they know everything. They havenít had the experience to teach them what they donít know.
A COMMISSION TO MINISTRY
And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons, and to heal diseases.2 And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God, and to perform healing. (Luke 9:1-2).
The Twelve were about to be given their marching orders. They were going to be sent out to do a job. But before they are given their orders, they are given the tools by which they will be able to carry out those orders.
He... gave them POWER and AUTHORITY...
Over all the Demons
To heal diseases
Notice that they were given both power and authority. They have the legal right to do the work for which they are commissioned and they also have the practical ability and the power to do that work.
There is a lesson here. It is that God never calls us without giving us the power to accomplish the task. Do you remember the last thing that Jesus ever did before ascending to heaven? He gave a final commission to His disciples. And in that commission was a promise of power. They would receive power from the Holy Spirit.
We have the same promise of Godís Spirit. And we have the same resource for Godís power. What is it that God is calling you to do? Whatever it is, God will also provide the power to do it
A HUMBLE PREPARATION
And He said to them, "Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece." (Luke 9:3).
Rabbinic law ordered that when a man entered the Temple courts he was to put off his staff and shoes and money belt. As Jesus sends His disciples out to do a holy work, He gives similar instructions to them - but allows them to wear sandals. They were to travel lightly. And their wallet was to travel lightly, too. They were not to be in the ministry for the money. They were not sent out to do deputation work, raising money for their support on the mission field. Instead they were to depend upon the Lord and upon the hospitality of His people for their upkeep. They were to limit their support. Even though they might possess greater resources, they were to limit that which they took with them.
There is a principle here. Whatever you own owns you. Most of us have too much stuff. All that stuff hinders us. We spend altogether too much time taking care of our stuff.
What would happen if you lost all of your stuff? Would you still be able to praise God? If you would not, then you have become enslaved to your stuff.
This is true of all Christians, but it is especially true of those whom God has called to shepherd His church.
A DETERMINING RECEPTION
And whatever house you enter, stay there, and take your leave from there.5 And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them." (Luke 9:4-5).
The rabbis were never to place a price upon their teaching. This did not mean that their teaching was considered to be worthless. Rather it was to be considered priceless. The physical needs of the rabbis were to be met by the people to whom they ministered. The Talmud speaks of the blessings given to those who meet the physical needs of the rabbis.
"If a man entertains a rabbi in his house and lets him enjoy his possessions, Scripture accounts it to him as if he had sacrificed the daily burnt offering." (Berakoth 10b).
Paul would later set forth this same principle for the church, teaching that "the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel" (1 Corinthians 9:14).
The principle is that the minister of the gospel is not to be concerned with the meeting of his material needs. Those needs should be met by those to whom he is ministering.
Rabbinic Law stated that when an Israelite left the land of Israel and traveled abroad and then returned, he was to stop at the borders of the land and shake the Gentile dust from his clothes. The implication in this passage is that anyone who did not accept the message of the apostles was to be considered on the same level at a pagan Gentile.
A MULTIPLIED MINISTRY
And departing, they began going about among the villages, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere. (Luke 9:6).
The ministry of the Twelve is a mirror to the ministry of Jesus. They did exactly what they had seen Him do throughout His ministry.
Preaching the Gospel
Credentials of the Messengers
What they are to SAY
What they are to DO
1. Preaching the Gospel.
The disciples were to go forth and make an announcement. It is not really an evangelistic crusade. They are not to engage in apologetics. It is not their job to convince the would how wrong it is. They are not reformers. They are announcers.
We have not been called to win arguments or to get people to dress like we dress or to talk like we talk. We have been called to proclaim a message.
The message is described here as the GOSPEL. The term means "good news." Luke has used this term to describe both the preaching of Jesus as well as the preaching of John (Luke 3:18; 4:18; 7:22). It is the good news that God has drawn near. That was the message John preached. And it was the message that Jesus preached. And it was preached by the apostles. And it is proclaimed by us today.
2. Healing Everywhere.
The healing ministry was to serve as the credentials of the Twelve. They have no credentials from an accredited university. They have no degrees behind their name. Their degrees are from the Lord.
There is something significant about these particular credentials. After all, Jesus could have given the disciples the ability to leap tall buildings with a single bound or to be faster than a speeding bullet. But these particular credentials were people-oriented. They were credentials which met real physical needs.
Now letís make this personal. What are your credentials? I donít mean what kind of degree you have received from an academic institution. And I donít mean that you have some ability to heal the sick or to cast out demons. I mean what is there in your life that can only be explained in the terms of the supernatural? Do you have credentials from the Lord? And are they people-oriented?
It matters not in the long run what degrees you may be able to hang on your wall or what letters you can place along side your name. What matters are your heavenly credentials. And the people whose lives you have touched with the gospel of Christ.
THE PERPLEXITY OF UNBELIEF
Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was happening; and he was greatly perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead,8 and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others, that one of the prophets of old had risen again.
And Herod said, "I myself had John beheaded; but who is this man about whom I hear such things?" And he kept trying to see Him. (Luke 9:7-9).
It had been one thing which Jesus was going around and teaching and preaching and healing. But suddenly His ministry was multiplied by the order of twelve. This soon attracted the attention of the civil government of Galilee. That government rested in the hands of Herod Antipas.
Antipas was one of the sons of Herod the Great. The kingdom of Herod had been divided among the sons of Herod, though in these days the province of Judea was now under a Roman Procurator. Antipas had only a quarter of the kingdom - those areas known as Galilee and Perea. That is what it meant to be a Tetrarch - the term means, "ruler of a fourth."
Antipas had been familiar with the ministry of John the Baptist. It was Antipas who ordered John arrested and it was Antipas who condemned him to death. He had thought that this would be the end of the story, but instead it was only the beginning. Now instead of John, there were twelve preachers traveling through Galilee. To make matters worse, there were conflicting stories being circulated.
Herod seems to have been troubled over these rumors. He was troubled because of his own guilty conscience. His guilty conscience made him overly superstitious. There is a proverb that says, "the wicked flee when no one is pursuing" (Proverbs 28:1). Such was the case with Herod. Perhaps he feared that John the Baptist might be returning to haunt him.
A TIME OF DEBRIEFING
And when the apostles returned, they gave an account to Him of all that they had done. And taking them with Him, He withdrew by Himself to a city called Bethsaida. (Luke 9:10).
What a wonderful time this must have been! To go out and to minister and then to come back together to be encouraged in all of the things that God had accomplished through them. That is what the church is all about. It is when we come back together to share and to worship and to be encouraged in the continuing work.
This tells me something about this particular sending forth of the apostles. This was not so much for the benefit of the ministry as it was for THEIR benefit. This was a part of their training and their growth. When you do the work of ministry, it not only helps those to whom you minister, but it also helps YOU.