The next phase of training had begun. The apprentice-apostles had been observing Jesus as He healed the sick and cast out demons (Luke 6:12-19). Although they did not realise it, much of the teaching was to equip them to do the same. Now it was their turn. Jesus called them together for a briefing session before sending them out. The next few verses give practical instructions, but today's reading focuses on the commission, authority and power – which Jesus repeated just before He went back to heaven (Matthew 28:18-20).
The assignment would have been limited to a few weeks at the most, and they would go in pairs to different villages (Mark 6:7). Jesus would not be physically present, but He delegated power and authority to them (temporarily until the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost), so that they could do what He had done. Without His authority, they could do nothing (John 15:5).
Their work was spiritual, not medical or educational: they were to dispossess Satan of his illegally held authority to exercise destructive power over the people they would meet (2 Corinthians 4:4). This was not a technique to be learned but a delegated authority to be exercised. Jesus gave them the right to command sickness and Satan to leave the people alone, so that they might hear the good news of God's Kingdom and believe in Him. This work of gospel proclamation was to be the church's work in the centuries to come.
As members of that church, it is important that we understand the nature of our calling to believe in Christ and serve Him. His Kingdom on earth has been given authority by Jesus, and power to make a difference. That difference will include demonstrations that Jesus really is King, and not Satan! So, in Jesus' Name, some will testify to physical healing, while others will show supernatural courage to suffer with joy. Some will be released from gripping addictions and others from spiritual anguish: and the words of the gospel will powerfully convict sinners of their guilt before God so that they may turn to Jesus and be saved. This is not a matter of manipulative skills or psychological techniques: it is a simple acceptance of Christ's commission to be taught how to obey what He commanded (Matthew 28:18-20). Our briefing sessions are in the Word with the Holy Spirit, and in prayer with another believer; our commission is to go to work and around the community in the power of the Holy Spirit with the task of announcing that Jesus is Lord.
© Dr Paul Adams