I have no idea how long the disciples were following and shadowing Jesus as He ministered to the people before He sent them out to do the same. Jesus’ active ministry was for three years. When did the disciples move from observers to participants? I asked Google this question and didn’t find any answers. I suppose that is another “bench” question for Jesus.
Jesus and His disciples are traveling “throughout all the cities and villages” teaching, preaching, and healing. I don’t know if Matthew is summing up what has come before, giving a broad account of what happened between healing the mute man and the sending out, or grouping both before and current activities together. Whatever time frame Matthew is referring to, he makes it clear that Jesus and His disciples did some extensive interacting with the people. Matthew says He went to “all” the cities and villages. I’m assuming Matthew is speaking of cities and villages populated by Israelites. We know that Jesus visited some locations that were not considered Israeli, like the village/city in Samaria with the woman at the well, but we haven’t heard of those interactions yet in our reading. He may not have gone there yet.
Jesus has engaged in extensive teaching with His disciples. The Sermon on the Mount is a prime example. I believe that message was primarily for His disciples, as they gathered around Him in the beginning (Matt. 5:1). Jesus also taught in the synagogues and temples as He went from city to city in His journey.
So many people came to Jesus for help that it is impossible to list each event individually. Jesus helped everyone that came to Him. We have records of miracles He performed as diverse as raising the dead to healing a withered hand. There was no disease He would not heal when brought before Him.
Jesus power and authority extended to the spiritual realm as well as the physical. Demons KNEW they were in trouble when Jesus arrived on the scene. Jesus dealt with single demon oppression to legion possession. He even exercised His authority over the very elements of the earth, which Satan was given dominion over when he was kicked out of Heaven.
I wonder if Jesus’ disciples even had an inkling that they were going to be given authority to do the same works Jesus was doing. They might have expected to carry on His teachings once He was no longer living, many years in the future, but to perform miracles that surpassed those of the prophets probably never even entered their minds.
Jesus knew how short His time was, so He crammed as much first hand “on the job training” as possible into His disciple’s lives. The people’s needs were so great that He could not meet them all alone. As God He could have but He chose to come in human form and there are limitations that come with it. Did Jesus disciples know that when He instructed them to pray to “the Lord of the harvest” (verse 38) for laborers that they were to be those laborers? They had been training since the day they met Jesus. Soon they would receive their tools for the trade and embark on their first assignments.
Jesus, thank You for spending so much time training Your disciples, so when You returned to You Father they were ready, willing and able to continue Your work. You didn’t leave them “unsupervised” even after completing their apprenticeship. You sent them Your Holy Spirit. I am benefiting from Your partnership with these men every time I open Your word. You are the ultimate teacher. I’m excited about looking at how You equipped them in the next couple of days.
Thank You that You have provided everything we need for Your work. All we have to do is access it and listen to Your instructions. Remind me daily to take the time to read Your “instruction manual” because without it I make a mess! Your instruction manual gets twisted to many times by well-intentioned and even unscrupulous people. I am guilty of misunderstanding and sometimes misrepresenting Your intended meaning. Please forgive me and please protect others from all of my mistakes. Teach me daily Your truths, like You did with Your disciples. They didn’t understand a lot of what You said until after Your death, but You sent them into the field anyway. You had and always will have ultimate control over Your word and its impact on each individual. Thank You for using the talents You have given me as one of Your tools to reach out to Your children. Keep me open to Your instructions as I too am still in training.