Looking back at Luke 9:1-17, I want to focus on the flow of the ministry of Jesus in the region of Galilee. His public ministry there started when He went to two sets of brothers who were engaged in a profitable fishing business on the Sea of Galilee. He went to Peter and Andrew — and then James and John. He told them to leave their nets and follow Him. So with those four guys He went about Galilee, preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God, working miracles and delivering people from demonic oppression and possession. As a result of that first season of preaching, a huge number of people started to follow Jesus. At the end of that first season, we remember how Jesus went up into a high place to pray — and when He came down, He chose from that large number of people eight more men to be with Him so that He might send them. Remember the title He gave to them? “Apostles” — which means “sent ones.”
In the second season of Galilean ministry, He brought those 12 guys with Him everywhere! They watched Jesus and learned from Jesus in every single context of life. Imagine what that was like! Watching His every move — listening to everything He said — how He said it — how He communicated — who He said it to. They watched everything He did — who He did it for — how He did it.
The disciples came to know the ebb and flow of the life of God incarnate.
They came to know what things His heart beat after because Jesus said — “You guys come and live with Me, eat with Me, talk with Me — observe everything about My life!”
TWO THINGS in all of that:
1. THAT is how WE become disciples of Jesus. “Take My yoke upon you and LEARN OF ME.” Obviously — we can’t observe Jesus like those guys did. But the Holy Spirit inspired some of those men to record what they saw Jesus do and heard Jesus say. We learn of Jesus in the pages in the Gospel. THAT is why we place such an emphasis on the teaching and the study of the Word of God.
2. Jesus is the ULTIMATE teacher — and if we want to be faithful and fruitful in the Great Commission to, “go into all the world and make disciples of all men” — THAT is how it’s done. Many Christians think of discipleship as a packet of information to be deposited into new believers — as a curriculum to study — finish the curriculum, and you are an official disciple of Jesus. I’m not saying information and curriculum have no role in that process. But I believe that Jesus demonstrated that the best way to make disciples is to open up our lives to men and women. Parents — raising children is the ultimate discipleship opportunity! They are watching your every single move.
But here in Luke 9 we come to the third season of Galilean ministry, and it starts with Jesus calling those 12 and sending THEM out.
Matthew tells us in his account of the life and mission of Jesus that, “When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities”(Matthew 11:1). It appears that the 12 didn’t go to their own hometowns and that while the 12 were going into these other towns and villages, Jesus went to their hometowns. After the 12 returned to Jesus, they’re were to debrief and take a trip to a deserted area where Jesus performed a miracle and fed the 5,000 — and then — a little further on in the Gospel of Luke — Jesus took a team of 72 disciples and sent them out two by two to proclaim the Gospel.
I don’t want us to miss this: Jesus was very intentional — very strategic. Round 1: Jesus started with four guys. Round 2: Jesus added eight —taught them. Round 3 (which is the last year ministry before Jesus dies on the cross for the sins of the world): Jesus gives the 12 hands-on experiences. Jesus had a plan within the plan of the cross and resurrection.
“Christianity is the story of how the rightful King has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.” –– C.S. Lewis
He trained those men for the day that He would return to heaven and send the Holy Spirit upon them, in which He would continue His work on earth through THEM — through US!
He prepared them for the time when they could no longer watch Jesus go and proclaim the Gospel and heal the sick. He prepared them for the time when Jesus would go through them. The church (you and me) is the Body of Jesus on earth —and through the members of His body He brings men and women to saving faith in Him! “And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases.”
Jesus gave to them POWER — the ability to do and AUTHORITY —the PERMISSION to do. This is so absolutely amazing. When we think of this batch of men, it is shocking that Jesus would give them anything, let alone power and authority.
It begs the question: WHY would Jesus do that?
FIRST — Gospel work is God work. It is beyond the power of man to convict a person of sin and cause them to be saved. Such work requires the power of God!
SECOND — He did that so we would be left with absolutely no doubt about what He has to work with. It is amazing that Jesus would give ME or give YOU power and His authority! This mission moment is the living illustration of how God deposits His power and authority in jars of clay!
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
It’s not about the vessel — it’s about the power of God and the message the vessel contains. Jesus gave them AUTHORITY — the permission to do — the specific work He was sending them to do. After the Cross and resurrection, and before He ascended into heaven, Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples…”(Matthew 28:18-19).
In other words — the authority that we have to do what we do when we gather as the church to worship Jesus and study the Bible — the authority that we have to proclaim the Gospel and make disciples — is not from Washington D.C. or Sacramento, CA, or even from our downtown Civic Center. It is permission given from Jesus to exercise the divine enabling to proclaim the Good News concerning the Kingdom of God.