Jesus Sends Out the Twelve (Luke 9:1-6)
The call to evangelize is difficult in our antagonistic culture. We fear being mocked. Or maybe we think it’s ineffective. Many assume it’s someone else’s responsibility. All of these arguments applied to Jesus’s twelve apostles to a much greater degree.
The one who sends us out ensures the effectiveness of our message. The results will be hardened and softened hearts. Some will welcome us and others will reject us (2 Cor. 2:15-16). The gospel has always produced those results.
Although there is no apostolic succession, this passage is relevant to teachers and preachers in every age. John 14:12 extends the impact of Jesus’s ministry to all believers.
I. Their Mission (1-2)
Apparently, the apostles were not always together. We often envision them as traveling as a group for the full three years that Jesus ministered before his death. But that doesn’t appear to be the case. Jesus gathered them for this critical mission to:
- Cast out demons
- Heal sickness
- Preach the Kingdom of God referring to God’s sovereignty in every sphere (1 Cor. 10:31; 2 Cor. 10:5). The Kingdom of God linked with gospel (vv. 2, 6).
The mission isn’t anything new in terms of activities, but now they would do it themselves. Jesus not only possessed great power, he also granted power and authority to his apostles.
All disciples are called to show compassion, but we should also remain on guard against the devil. When you have something powerful in your control you feel confident, even excited. The apostles were probably filled with wonder and excitement.
All of that, gave them a platform for their message. We never want to minimize the priority of preaching as a means of grace. Miracles and mercy should never be separated from the Word.
The biblical qualifications of apostleship are: (1) Disciple of Jesus, (2) Witness of Resurrection, and (3) Sent by Jesus. Apostles are chosen and empowered by Christ personally. But that raises the question about the legitimacy of Matthias (Acts 1:12-26) and Paul. However, both were accepted by the undisputed apostles without reservation.
Nothing would suggest that Judas was any less successful. He serves as a strong warning to those who would participate in the activities of the Church without faith. Apart from Christ’s divine empowerment, their ministry efforts would’ve been fruitless.
But Jesus also limited…
II. Their Resources (3)
Jesus sent his apostles out with instruction to take nothing but the clothes on their back. Why? It would’ve been nearly impossible for them to be distracted by some other inferior task. They traveled light because their task was urgent.
They needed nothing but themselves and their message. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. They were to depend upon the hospitality of strangers. Their simple living was nothing like the false teachers who traveled around extorting people.
But, was this to be normative for the Christian pastor/missionary? Frankly, it wasn’t even normative for the apostles. Traveling light emphasizes the short-term nature of this particular mission. It’s not how they continued to live. Later on Jesus instructs them to take a moneybag (22:35-38). This passage is clearly not prescribing universal principles of evangelism.
Mark tells us Jesus gave them instruction to take their staff (Mark 6:8). No good solution to the problem. However, Mark and Luke emphasize simple living despite the minor discrepancy regarding the staff.
Modern amenities can be a hindrance to gospel witness. When we are completely self-sufficient we lack the need to interact with others. Their resources were limited and their calling was clear.
Where we invest our treasure reveals our commitment to preaching. That should be applied to each individual family, church, ministry, presbytery, and denomination. How much of their resources have a direct impact upon gospel preaching?
III. Their Witness (4-5)
They needed to be content with the hospitality they were offered. They weren’t to be searching Hotel.com for something more accommodating.
In Acts we saw the frequent link between evangelism and hospitality. It’s as if the receiving of the truth by faith bears witness in receiving the truth-teller. Receiving the Christian into their home illustrates their receiving Christ as Savior.
They were also instructed to depart from whoever rejected them, shaking the “unclean” dust off their feet. They were to be considered heathen Gentiles, unfit for the Kingdom of God (Acts 13:50-51). Shaking off the dust was meant to bring them to repentance. It served as a warning to the judgment that is coming (not a declaration of “good riddance”).
We can place too much of the responsibility upon ourselves to be convincing, when we need to trust in the Spirit’s work. Instead of trying to drum up interest in the gospel, which is something we’re incapable of doing anyways, we should follow the Spirit’s lead.
Illustration: Honest Evangelism by Rico Tice. I respect the approach of Exploring Christianity. No slight of hand.
This is biblical evidence of door-to-door evangelism. It’s not the only way to do it, but we shouldn’t throw it out altogether.
IV. Their Obedience (6)
The apostles had to trust in the power and authority Jesus gave them. Jesus is testing them to see if they can follow him without seeing him. After the resurrection Jesus will send them out again (Acts 1:8). This episode serves as their hands-on training.
Mark informs us they went out in pairs, spreading throughout the region of Galilee. They were not testing the soil beforehand.
Evangelizing – Not restricted to the places we feel comfortable. I love that Spurgeon was converted under the preaching of a layman in a small chapel.
We also see their evangelism was accompanied by compassionate healing. Not preaching alone. Not healing alone. Both made for an effective campaign.
Apostolic evangelism required divine empowerment and human hospitality. The church would do well to recover these qualities once again. As we read this morning, preaching and deeds of compassion compliment each other (1 Cor. 13:1). Jesus was, and still is, concerned with healing body and soul.