Luke 9:1-17 [Audio at Bottom]
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.
Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen. Herod said, “John I beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he sought to see him.
On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.” But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” And they did so, and had them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.
The big idea of this entire passage is this: Jesus Co-missions. What I mean is, that he calls his disciples to join Him in his mission. In verses 1 and 2 he calls them out, gives them power and authority, and then sends them out to become co-missionaries with Him. In sending them out He co-missions them. I say that this is the theme of the entire passage because we see the co-missioning continue in the episode with the 5000. The twelve would had been commissioned ask Jesus to send the crowd away to find food and lodging. Verse 13: “But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” After Jesus miraculously multiplies the food, notice that He doesn’t feed the masses himself, but he gave the food to his disciples and they set the food before the crowd. Finally, at the end of the meal, twelve baskets of leftovers were collected. This is not an accident. One basket of food left over for each of the twelve who were commissioned. Jesus co- missions.
Why make a big deal of this? Co-missioning is a great theme of Luke and Acts. We often only think of commissioning in terms of the great commission that Jesus gave to his disciples after his resurrection. Yet, as far see, in the books of Luke and Acts there are five commissions given. First, here Jesus sends out the 12 disciples, the second is in chapter 10 in which Jesus sends out the 72. The great commission is given in Acts in chapter 1:8 in which the disciples are told that they will be Jesus’ witnesses to the end of the earth. In Acts chapter 13 Paul and Barnabas are commissioned by the Holy Spirit to go to the Gentiles. And finally in acts chapter 20 Paul commissions the Ephesian elders to continue to oversee the church of God. In fact one might say that the entire two-volume work of Luke and acts is about co-missioning with Jesus. I’m entitling our studies in the book of Luke, “Jesus, Man on an Mission”. Whatever title you might want to give Acts if you were preaching it, the point of that book is the church continuing the mission of Jesus.
In a sense, then, this first commissioning is foundational to all of the other co-missioning to follow. Yet here the question must be asked, why are the disciples call to join Jesus in his mission? It seems so obvious to us today, but it would not have been obvious to them. It’s not obvious to us if we were reading the book of Luke for the first time. Because this books so far has been about Jesus. Jesus on his mission. Jesus come to heal and to save and preach the gospel. the disciples, up to this point have been in a sense bystanders, assisting him at times perhaps, but mostly just watching Jesus and marveling over the stuff he was doing just like everyone else. There has been hints before this that more was to be expected; for example, when Peter was called by Jesus he was told that he would no longer catch fish, but that he would be catching men. And the twelve were named as apostles (literally: send out ones, meaning missionaries or ambassadors) back in chapter 6, but they were, up to this point, sent-out-ones who had never been sent out. Here now, in this first commission, they are. Here they finally start living up to their name.
What were the specifics of this commissioning?
- First: They were to extend Jesus’ ministry of healing, deliverance and gospel-preaching. Remember, at this time in Jesus’ ministry, Jesus’ ministry was primarily about doing the ministry of the Messiah as seen through the lens of Isaiah 61. proclaiming good news to the poor, setting captives free, recovering sight to the blind. Jesus’ ministry is summarized here as preaching and healing. Verse 2: and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. Verse 6: And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. In verse 11 we see Jesus ministering in the same way: When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. Preaching and Healing. Now we all figure that we understand this idea of preaching, right? So I want to take some time to address the idea of healing, because the apostles were commissioned to do it and they were probably as shocked as some of you would be that the Lord gave them authority to do so.
- We have seen in Luke that healing is holistic affecting body, soul and spirit. We’ve seen that throughout the book of Luke a very tight binding together of our physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of our being. Jesus healed the body to demonstrate that he had authority to heal the soul. We’ve seen in some cases, physical ailments were accompanied by demonic oppression and when Jesus dealt with the demonic influence the person was healed. In other cases, Luke has highlighted the social stigma of illness and we’ve seen Jesus break down those cultural barriers to heal people, such as touching lepers and even the dead. In every case, the healing was a sign to people that Jesus was indeed the Messiah and that he had the authority of the Messiah to bring people back to wholeness and health.
- Jesus still seeks to bring people back to wholeness and health. Jesus can still heal body, soul and spirit. And Jesus still commissions us to pray for people in His name so that He can do his work of bringing people to physical, emotional and spiritual wholeness. Where does He commission us, you say?
- Matthew 28:18: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” Why does Jesus stress his authority? Did you notice that authority is also stressed in the passage we’re studying today “he gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases.”
- In Mark’s version of the great commission it is even more explicit: 16:17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” This passage is disputed however, and may not be in the original text.
- In Luke’s version of the great commission it is merely said that they will be witnesses to Christ, yet they were not to begin the work of being his witnesses until they were clothed with the power of the Holy Spirit, and when they were, healings continued in the book of Acts.
- How about other writings? 1 Corinthians 12:9 says that to some people the Holy Spirit gives gifts of healings and working of miracles. In James 5 those who are sick and weak are told to call for the elders of the church that they might pray for him and be raised up - this clearly suggests an ongoing healing ministry of the church.
- Now we all know that many, many abuses have arisen from false prophets who promise healing. Yet some in response to the abuses have given up the practice of praying for one another in faith that Jesus can heal. God doesn’t promise healing to all - even Jesus did not heal all while he was among us. Paul, prayed 3 times for his thorn in his flesh to be removed (perhaps a physical malady) yet God wished it to remain to teach Paul dependance. Paul instructed Timothy to drink some wine to ease his frequent stomach problems. Medicinal use. He didn’t just say pray it away. Here is the seatbelt that I find helpful when I pray: Daniel 3:17-18: If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” God can, and does, and may choose to heal you when you pray in faith. He also can, and does and may choose to use your sickness to teach you dependance on him. But we pray. We pray for ourselves and for one another, not giving up and rejoicing when God heals.
- This is one of the reasons we want to provide more time of response at the end of the service. We want to pray for hurting people. If you feel that you need to come for prayer, we want to give you opportunity to do so.
- Second: They were to take nothing, expressing their total reliance on God. Verse 3-4: 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. This seems pretty radical - they were to take nothing at all. They couldn’t even take a bag, incase people gave them items along the way. Also, they couldn’t trade up their living arrangements once they entered into a town. Very strict. Now, it is clear that this was a testing moment for the disciples. We know this is a test because Jesus refers back to it later in the gospel, Luke 22:35: And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. In the face of Jesus, death, sending them out into the world, Jesus rescinds the limitation to take nothing. So why this test? They had to learn that if they were to trust Jesus for his power, they also had to trust Him for his provision. Remember, they were being sent out with the power and authority to preach and heal. Was this anything they could do one their own? No, of course not. To underscore their spiritual dependence upon God, Jesus sent them out under conditions that they would have to be fully dependent upon God for their material provisions. Again, the material and the spiritual are related. Comfort threatens our dependence upon God, which renders us powerless. In order to experience spiritual power, we must be led into new places of spiritual dependence.
- Third: They were not to linger. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” If a town did not receive them, they were to move on quickly. Imp. Sometimes we linger to long. Ill. The sower went out to sow and dropped seed.
What were the results of this commissioning?
Immediately after this section of commissioning the apostles to go out, Luke inserts and interesting paragraph that we’ll look at more next week: Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was perplexed, Herod heard what was happening. the ministry of Jesus was becoming a movement which attracted the attention of those in authority. One person can have a ministry. Ministries rarely catch the eye of the authorities. A movement happens when people are called, equipped and sent out into co-mission. That’s when things start happening and you start catching the eye of people. Now, notice, this isn’t necessarily all positive, Herod is reminded of John the Baptist - whom he killed! Yet Jesus was preparing his followers for after his departure, when they of radical faith and dependence upon God would take his message, preaching and healing, all over the world.
- Are you co-missioning with Jesus?
- there is a flattening out of ministry in the body of Christ. “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,” (Ephesians 4:11–13 ESV)
- You’ve got to be called by Jesus - you need to know him.
- New OCBC initiatives
- We’ve already talked about time during service to pray for one another.
- Discipleship team. Next two Sundays. New Christian follow-up, Baptism, Membership.
- Vision: Every week people coming forward to know Christ, wish to be baptized, or become members, and every week we immediately connect them with a discipleship team mentor mentor, right during the service.
- Dependency: Are you willing to go outside of your comfort zone for Christ, whether materially, financially, socially, whatever?