Last week we looked at what faith is, and how Jesus pursues using various ways, and the evidence is faith. But today I want to ask another question about faith that I believe is revealed in this text. Do you primarily exercise faith with the aim of making your life more comfortable, or is the aim to fulfill the mission God has called you to carry out? Now, that may not be as evident on the face of it. But if your prayers of faith ultimately terminate on your comfort, or benefit, they may be missing the mark for what God intends them to terminate on, namely, His Glory.
What we have in these few verses is actually the applications for what Jesus has just been teaching and showing His disciples. We have seen Him tell the parable of the sower, and we have seen his power over demons and over disease, and so to apply that knowledge, He gathers His disciples together and delegates that power to them, and also sends them out to go and do the same. Now, this is powerful stuff because they have been watching Him do these things and hearing Him teach these things, and now, He is telling them to go and do the same, and He is asking them to do it without taking along the needed items for the journey. This is Jesus preparing His disciples for the day when He would be ascended back to Heaven and they would be given the task of taking the Gospel to the nations.
Now, lets look at a few pieces of this task that highlight the purpose of faith in their calling, and how that can relate to our calling.
Jesus Gives them power to heal disease and cast out demons: So, Jesus had shown them many times that He had the authority to do these things, but now, He is delegating that authority to them. Can you imagine what that must have felt like the first time they prayed for healing, or commanded a demon to leave? Also, inherent in the authority given to them is the understanding that they have been given the responsibility to do it. They weren’t given that authority Just in case they needed it. They were given it, so that they could do as they were called. Their calling was focussed on others
Jesus Sends them out to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal. As I said, the power to do something comes with the inherent call to do it. They were sent to proclaim to others.
Jesus sent them in a manner that would require them to trust Him daily. “take Nothing for your journey” He asked them to do this task that was impossible by human means, taking nothing that would normally be thought necessary. No bread, money, extra clothes. And He instructed them to rely on the kindness of strangers for all that they need, ultimately relying on God. They were in a place where they were constantly reminded of God’s provision and faithfulness. They were sent to rely on others.
They also needed to remember His teaching about the seed and the sower. He told them they would be rejected. “wherever they do not receive you…” Was a reminder that they would come across people who were not going to respond positively to the message of the Kingdom. Also in this understanding that when someone doesn’t respond, it is not a problem with the messenger, or the message, it is a problem with the hearer, and that hearers will be held accountable for their rejection of God. They were going to be rejected by others.
They obeyed, and went out preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere. They went out to preach and heal others.
The mission of these disciples and the mission of the church is all about engaging and proclaiming the gospel to other people. It is about serving and loving other people, it is about going out of our comfort zone to be a part of other people’s lives, and ultimately seeing other people come into relationship with God. so that they may be a part of what He is doing in this world to restore all things to Himself. All of that takes faith in His promises. Faith to trust that He has called us to go into all the world and make disciples. baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy spirit and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded.
Have you been called into a place of discomfort, where you have been given as task that relies on supernatural power, where you have to rely on God for even the simplest of needs, and where you have to constantly remember to rely on Christ? If you don’t feel that way, its not because Christ hasn’t called you to that task, it is because you aren’t going out and doing it.
Go out, in the strength He has provided, with the words He has spoken on your hearts, and take His Good News to the people around you. It will deepen your sense of need, and grow your faith in Him.