1 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
Does every believer have the authority to heal every disease and sickness, or those to whom God gives the gift of faith to heal? Theology apart, in practice, I have observed that some people’s prayers heal the sick, and change things, which is not true of every prayer uttered for healing.
If I were sick, I would, of course, ask for prayer from someone with a track record of healing disease and sickness, because they are more likely to have the faith and authority.
2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is 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, who betrayed him.
5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.
Salvation, because of God’s sovereign choice came from the Jews, and was preached first to the Jews.
These are the signs of the kingdom of heaven on earth—the sick healed, the dead raised, lepers cleansed, demons exorcised.
Healings, exorcisms, miracles. Signs of the Kingdom.
Are these the only signs of the Kingdom?
No. Because the Kingdom of God is also within us. Where one experiences and demonstrates love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control, whatever the provocation.
Freely you have received; freely give.
God freely gives spiritual power, and expects it to be shared freely.
9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep.
While Jesus does not want his apostles to profiteer, or make a fortune off the spiritual gifts he has given them, he does expect those blessed by their endeavours to support them.
11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave.
And what a blessing they would have been to their hosts!!
12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.
Peace is the gift given to individuals, homes or cities which receive the good news of the kingdom.
14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
They come non-coercively bearing blessing. If they and their blessing are not wanted, they move on.
16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.
ESV The serpent was the symbol of shrewdness and intellectual cunning, while the dove was emblematic of simple innocence.
What protection might a sheep, among the most tasty and most defenceless creatures in the animal kingdom (even more so than rabbits which have speed and sharp teeth) have when surrounded by ravenous wolves?
Or us when face to face with evil?
We can ask God for shrewdness, whether it is a natural quality of ours or not. We can think. We ask him for guidance in how to be shrewd enough when we suspect that we are out of our depth in miry situations.
Goodness, innocence, gentleness and naivete also have an immense power. People after all are made in the image of God.
The ultimate power however for a sheep among wolves is the fact that the eyes of the shepherd are on it.
17 Be on your guard;
Jesus was meek and humble, yet his advice was edgy.
Don’t trust too soon, too easily, and perhaps not too much. Be guarded, be careful.
This is hard advice for me, I am naturally sanguine, trusting, and open. But heeding it is part of growing up.
you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Jesus tells his disciples not to be anxious because the spirit will guide them.
Jesus promises protection and infusion of wisdom when one lands up in tricky situations because of doing the right thing.
One needs to experience it to know its reality.
I will give you words and wisdom which your adversaries cannot withstand or contradict. Luke 21:15
21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
Following Christ is always a divisive thing.
It may well lead to persecution—unfair, unjust targeting.
And sadly, not just from non-believers, but also from believers and church-goers, who, for instance, may prefer the status quo and power to anything which might rock the boat.
* * *
And here’s how the disciples would stack up if we were hiring.
FROM: Jordan Management Consultants, Jerusalem
Thank you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men you have picked for managerial positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests; and we have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant. The profiles of all tests are included, and you will want to study each of them carefully.
As part of our service, we make some general comments for your guidance, much as an auditor will include some general statements. This is given as a result of staff consultation, and comes without any additional fee.
It is the staff opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capability.
Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau. James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus definitely have radical leanings, and they both registered a high score on the manic-depressive scale.
One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man. All the other profiles are self-explanatory.
We wish you every success in your new venture.
Jordan Management Consultants