Luke brings us to the time Jesus sent His disciples out on their first missionary journey. When we looked at Jesus preparing His disciples to go out in Matthew 10 we took our time. It would take forever to link all the pieces from that time, but I encourage you to use the search feature and type in Matthew 10 if you want to revisit Jesus’ full job description and preparation.
We also looked at this event while going through Mark’s gospel account. That one is a LOT shorter and can be found under Boots on the Ground.
When Jesus sent His disciples out He gave them two tasks; 1) proclaim the Kingdom of God and 2) heal people. Jesus prepared them for the first task on a daily basis. He taught wherever He went. I don’t know if their job was to share His teachings or to simply share that the Kingdom of God had come in the form of Jesus. Was their teaching aimed prompting the people to seek Him out? Were they sharing their own expectations of what the Kingdom would look like?
The second part of their mission was a little trickier. They watched Jesus heal people every day but He didn’t use one method or way of doing it. Jesus healed in so many different ways that I can’t imagine the disciples felt confident they could replicate His works. They needed something more than just watching and listening to get this part of the job done. Jesus knew that too. His disciples need His power and authority to do any of the works He was calling them to do.
Jesus gave them everything they needed. He gave them His own power and authority over all demons and to heal. Being able to do the works that Jesus was doing was very important to their message and mission. Without the works the crowds didn’t come. The healings drew the crowds to Jesus and His disciples so that they could then share the message. The message of forgiveness of sins. The message that the Kingdom of God was living among them. The message that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah.
Jesus’ disciples were very successful in their mission. Luke tells us, “They departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere” (verse 6). Jesus knew they would succeed in this first mission trip. Did their own success surprise them? Did they encounter any of the resistance Jesus warned them about during His instructions? Was their success dependent on their own faith? Did they start with smaller miracles and “work their way up” to the bigger ones?
Just being out there in the field was testing their faith. Jesus told them that they couldn’t bring any provisions with them. They were to rely on the people they were helping for everything. This included food, shelter, and any other need that arose. They didn’t even get to take extra clothes with them, so their laundering was even provided by those they helped. That took faith on their part. They probably had been living like this with Jesus already.
I’m wondering how long it took for them to have people coming to hear them. Did the crowds come immediately because they knew they were Jesus’ disciples? Did they have to prove themselves and demonstrate the authority Jesus gave them before people would listen to them? How long was this missionary journey? Did the Holy Spirit draw the crowds to them? I want to say that they never went hungry or were in need while out in the field, but I don’t know that for sure. Having Jesus, God’s own Son’s, authority probably paved the way for them.
Father God, I find myself wondering about the difference in “results” between then and now. There are so many people today who say they are going out in Your name but the miracles like Jesus and the disciples did don’t seem to be there. I know You still do miracles; healings and releasing from demons. You even do financial miracles. But the scale of miracles from then to now is so wide. Is it because many of those going out aren’t really going in Your name and Your authority? Have we so perverted Your truths that we stop the working of Your Spirit? Is it because the times are so dark now? Have we lost our faith?
I have to own this last one. I have immense faith in You being able to save me. I don’t doubt that at all. I also easily believe that You are in control of my life. But miraculous healings are harder for me to grab onto. I don’t have trouble believing in the little healings and miracles, like the close parking spot I pray for on occasion. But the big stuff, I fall flat on. Maybe it is because I’m jaded by the teaching I grew up under. Maybe it is my own personal distance from DEEP need. PLEASE don’t think I’m asking for a big need to build my faith! I’m just wondering. I have seen You work many miracles in my life, including healing my husband after heart surgery, but I don’t seem to have the faith for his healing the rest of the way. Why is that? What do I need to do to fix that? Am I supposed to fix that? How do I explain Your not responding to his prayers with a miracle in this area? Please give me direction here and peace to please. That’s something I think I have faith enough for.