And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. (Luke 9:1-6)
This section where Jesus sends out His disciples is amazing, isn’t it? Jesus gave them authority to do the works He had been doing and sent them out on mission, except there was now 12 men to go out instead of just Himself.
Here are some really awesome nuggets from this that we’re going to focus on this week:
Called & Empowered
Jesus not only called His disciples to this work, but He gave them the power and authority to complete the calling. Jesus had already been equipping His disciples as they walked with Him daily and learned from Him. They may not have felt ready for this mission, but as we’ll see later on, when they stepped out in faith to walk in the calling, they indeed were empowered to do it.
When Jesus calls you to do something, you may not feel able and on your own abilities and talents you might be correct in that assessment. It’s not usually the people who are equipped in the worldly sense that God calls. Many times in scripture we see the opposite, that God didn’t call the equipped, but instead He equipped the called. You can trust that if God is calling you to do something, He’s going to equip and empower you to do it.
The Mission Goal
Their mission may seem to have many goals but in reality, the whole mission was simply to tend to the physical and spiritual healing of the people they came across. This would manifest as casting out demons, curing disease, and preaching the gospel message of the kingdom of God. They had heard Jesus preach to the multitudes on many occasions and had private conversations with Him about meaning of parables, such as the parable of the sower, so they were now ready to go out and practice what Jesus had preached, being ambassadors for Christ then as we are called to be today.
The empowerment the Spirit gave them to do things such as casting out demons and healing, may not be seen in our day and age like it was then, but it is still possible if God wants to. And preaching the gospel to all who will listen is most definitely still what we’re all called to today. It’s a matter of willingness to be a useful vessel for God’s glory. Are you ready to be used by God to further His kingdom, whatever that may look like in your life?
They were instructed to take nothing with them, no provisions such as a staff, bag, bread, money, or extra clothes. In those days, traveling around was by foot and could take quite a bit of time getting from town to town, so to not take even the most basic of necessities would take trusting what Jesus taught them in Matthew 6, that if they sought first the kingdom of God, their needs like food and clothes, would be provided by their loving Father. The only thing required for their journey was going to be their faith in God.
When God calls you to do something for Him, it may seem spur of the moment to you, but He would have planned that work for you to walk in long before you became aware of it. So if you don’t feel you’re equipped with the provision you need at the moment, don’t let that stop you from following His lead and letting Him provide in ways you can’t even imagine.
I just have to share this experience with you because it speaks so clearly to how God provides where He guides. A homeless ministry outreach team I was a part of had gone out with bags made up of food, water, basic hygiene necessities, socks, and a bible. The first gentleman we came across was in the park and as we talked to him, he already had a bible and said he read it often but wasn’t sure he actually believed in God because the bible was confusing. We talked to him for a little while before he was done with the conversation. As we were saying bye to him, he gave us a walking stick he had carved from a tree branch as a thank you to us for visiting him. We put it in the trunk of the car we were carpooling in and continued on our way through the homeless areas of the city. About halfway through the day, we approached a man across the street from Safeway who was a veteran. He was also given a bag and after we prayed with him, one of our teammates felt prompted to ask him if there was anything else we could do for him. His answer about shocked us when everyone suddenly realized that God had provided for the need hours ago – he asked if we could get him a cane or a walking stick to help him better walk because of his old injuries. Getting to tell that man that the God of the universe who created him saw his need, loves him, and cared enough to provide for him was such a sweet moment for our team.
Shake It Off
Jesus told them that when they weren’t received, they were to shake off the dust from their feet and keep moving forward in their mission. Notice that Jesus didn’t say “if” they didn’t receive them. He was giving them the heads up that some of the places wouldn’t receive them, and then gave clear instruction on how to deal with that. They were sent on mission with very specific goals – preach the gospel and healing, but there was no instruction on making anyone believe or forcing anyone to listen to them. The gospel always has been a message that must be received voluntarily and willingly by the hearer – believing is a free will choice. The disciples would have undoubtedly been very discouraged if they were going along their way and then a village decides they don’t want them there at all, the way Nazareth was with Jesus when He said, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown”. Yet how gracious Jesus is to have equipped them with knowledge on how to handle it when they weren’t received - to just shake it off and keep going to wherever people were willing to receive them.
Your family, friends, co-workers, classmates, etc may not always receive what you say, even if it’s not necessarily the gospel, but could just be your biblical world view or faith filled comments. That’s ok. You’re not responsible to make people receive you, you just need to be faithful to keep moving forward and share wherever you are received. If you are not received, don’t be discouraged, be encouraged that you’re still on mission for God.
The Same God
It may be tempting to look at this section of scripture and think we could never be like the disciples, being sent out like they were or doing even half the things they did. After all, they got to physically walk with Him and learn from His every move before they were sent out. BUT, my dear sibling in Christ – the same Jesus who sent them is sending you, and the same Spirit who empowered them empowers you, and the same principles of equipping and provision that was true for them is true for you. Don’t allow those flaming darts of fear or doubt rob you of the opportunities to serve God in the ways He calls you to.
If God has called you, He’ll equip you, and if He guides you, He’ll provide for you. All you need is faith, my friend, so trust Him completely as you go out wherever He sends you.