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. 3 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.4 Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that city. 5 And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 6 Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.
So, after spending more than a year teaching and preaching and performing miracles and after having gathered together a group of men who would carry on for him after he was gone, Jesus sends them out to reach more people in less time, to multiply his ministry. Probably also to let them learn about how to minister on their own while he was still there to instruct them.
People knew about Jesus - he was something of a celebrity. They knew of the miracles that he had performed and many if not most would have a difficult time to deny that Jesus had power and ability to do things that could be ascribed to no one but God, therefore God must have given him this power. So how were the apostles going to show that they too were delivering the message of God? How would people know that they were truly followers of Jesus? From MacArthur's sermon A Profile of a Christian Messenger, Part 2:
Answer: by giving them the ability to do the very same things that Jesus did which were unmistakably powered by God the Creator and therefore it was clear that God had given them the power to validate the message He had also given them. So they were given the power to do exactly what Jesus did, to preach exactly what Jesus preached. Today we have the same responsibility to preach exactly what Jesus preached, not to change the message at all, to preach the same message He preached. We don't have the miraculous power, we don't need that because our message can be measured as to its validity against the New Testament. Once the New Testament was complete, the need for those validating gifts passed away.
So then, Jesus goes on to say that they aren't to take any money, bags, extra clothes, food, nothing. Why would he instruct them this way? MacArthur has this to say:
We have the Great Commission. Our responsibility is to go into all the world and preach the gospel, as was theirs. We are to call sinners to repent and believe in Christ. We are to tell them that the only way to enter God's Kingdom, enjoy forgiveness, spiritual blessings through all eternity, is to come to Christ. We are also to show lost sinners compassion, kindness, tender and mercy. We are to live lives that are constantly marked by trust so that no one ever, ever could assume that we do ministry for money. Getting rich at the expense of the people you're trying to reach is sinful. We are also to demonstrate that we live lives of complete contentment with God's sovereign control over our circumstances wherever we are. And as kind and loving and gracious and selfless as we are, we also have a responsibility to speak judgment where there is fixed rejection and a mocking of the truth and move on to open hearts.
Happy Thursday, everybody.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 9:7-9