Matthew 10:1-8-Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,[a] drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
When Jesus sends us out, ordinary people are given extraordinary power to operate in the spiritual and physical realms with great generosity.
Ordinary People-Have you ever wondered why there were twelve disciples? The twelve disciples were replacing the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel that had been chosen to lead God’s people in the Old Testament. Just as there was a New Covenant which became a greater Covenant than the Old Covenant, there was new leadership in place that had a new understanding of what it meant to be in a relationship with God through Christ. Jesus saw His people, the Israelites, as sheep without a shepherd, so He was assembling a team of people to lead them in a new direction.
The men who were chosen to travel with Jesus in His inner circle weren’t the most educated or professional or even the most religious people. Some had been involved in shady business practices. They weren’t really wealthy or well-known. In fact, some of them probably didn’t even like each other. You had Simon the Zealot who was like an extreme patriot for Israel. He was like our equivalent to a Navy Seal. He was a guy who was trained to kill for his country. And then on the other hand you had Matthew, a tax collector, who had sold out to Rome, betraying Israel, for his personal gain. Simon the Zealot wouldn’t have been thrilled to be hanging with Matthew. I’m sure it took a long time and every ounce of restraint he had not to pulverize Matthew in his sleep!
It would be like asking the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton to spend three years doing life with the campaign manager of Donald Trump and watching them learn to love each other! We do believe miracles still happen, right? Maybe Jesus chose them so that He could show people it’s possible to get along and work with anyone and that what we have that unites us is far more than what could ever divide us.
Just because they followed Jesus doesn’t mean they got everything right after that. They had good days and bad days. They were fully committed at times and at other times they denied they had ever met Jesus. Judas even sold Jesus out to the Romans and betrayed Him for 30 pieces of silver. These weren’t the guys other Rabbis would have selected. They didn’t hold religious degrees. Some of them had a rough past. Why were they chosen?
I believe Jesus selected them because not only are the representative of the 12 Tribal leaders in the OT, but they are also representative of you and me. In some ways reading about the disciples is like watching a good reality TV show, the kind that features ordinary people where we can see ourselves in their daily lives. In the disciples we see regular people who are full of faith one day and full of fear the next, people who wonder at times if we are getting it right or if we are getting it at all, but are people who are compelled to seek after, to know more of and to become like this God-man who has changed the entire course of History.
And because of those 12 men we have the written record of the Gospel. Because of those 12 ordinary men, the Gospel was taken to the ends of the known world at the time. Because of those 12 men, the news about Jesus was perpetuated beyond their generation and is still a vibrant, real, and dominant message in the world today. While it is true that you and I wouldn’t be together in this place today without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, it is equally true that we wouldn’t be here without the obedience and passion of 12 ordinary followers of Christ.
The 12 disciples weren’t the only ordinary followers Jesus had. Crowds of ordinary people followed Him and were used by Him. I could give you countless examples of the ordinary people who followed Jesus and were used by Him, but I’ll just mention one. It is a little boy who wound up in a crowd of people who were anxious to hear and see more from Jesus. The story is found in John 6. The crowd had seen Jesus perform incredible miracles and wanted more of that. This little boy was among that crowd.
It was a tough time for Jesus. He had just learned about the beheading of his cousin, John the Baptist. Jesus was surely grieving. Jesus had lost his loved one. Who knows how He was feeling? Who knows how He was processing things? Ministry didn’t stop. The crowds didn’t give Him a break. He didn’t have time to mourn. I wonder if on that day He felt He had nothing to give the people, and yet they were coming to Him, looking to Him. They were spiritually and physically hungry. The disciples mentioned the need the crowd had for food, and verse 6 of John 6 tells us Jesus had a plan. He knew what He was going to do. He was going to do something incredible with an ordinary lunch from an ordinary boy.
Jesus had the disciples get people to sit down. The little boy who had packed a lunch was brought to Jesus. His five loaves and two fish were blessed by Jesus, and His lunch became a banquet feast for well over 5000 people. Scripture doesn’t tell us the name of the little boy. What a humble, ordinary servant, yet through his offering of his lunch the miracle of God was made available to thousands of people.
What happened was that an ordinary boy was willing to be used by God. He probably didn’t think when he woke up that morning that he would be the conduit through which thousands of people would have a need met. But when the opportunity came he was willing to sacrifice what He had, to put His resources into the hands of Jesus. Listen, it isn’t about talent or pedigree, but it is about availability. The story of the little boy and his lunch is a reminder that just one ordinary life, in the hands of God, can impact thousands of lives in a supernatural way.
Many years ago, a young 13-year-old boy named BOBBY HILL read a book about the medical missionary ALBERT SCHWEITZER. Young Bobby Hill was so moved by the book, he developed a passion to do something to help Dr. Schweitzer in his work in Africa.
He sent a letter and a bottle of aspirin to General Richard Lindsay who at that time was the Commander of the Allied Forces in Southern Europe. In his letter, Bobby Hill asked General Lindsay if there was any way one of his military planes could fly over Africa and drop the bottle of aspirin down to Dr. Schweitzer.
Somehow…….an ITALIAN RADIO STATION heard about Bobby Hill’s letter and began issuing a public appeal for funds. In just a matter of a few short weeks over $400, 000 in donations had come in that was used to buy all kinds of medical supplies. The Italian and French governments each offered one cargo plane to AIR LIFT the medical supplies to Dr. Schweitzer. Aboard one of the cargo planes was young Bobby Hill, who was given the opportunity of meeting Dr. Albert Schweitzer in person when the medical supplies were delivered. Just an ORDINARY BOY through whom GOD accomplished something EXTRAORDINARY!
Jesus relied on ordinary people to represent Him and His work when He left this earth, and He is still relying on ordinary people to do just that. When God sends us out, He sends ordinary people.
And these ordinary men were given
extraordinary power to operate in the spiritual and physical realms
Verse one tells us that Jesus gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. Authority over evil spirits and authority over physical sickness. The disciples were given supernatural power and authority to take control. To be able to have power over or authority over evil spirits and physical illness was a power and authority they didn’t possess on their own. When God sends us out, you see, we don’t go in our own power and authority, but in His.
Not only were they given power and authority, but they remained under the authority of Christ as they exercised this new power and authority. They didn’t just use their power and authority to do what seemed good to them, but they used it to do the things Jesus had done. The reason they were given power and authority was so that the work of Christ could be proliferated.
Those 12 were given spiritual authority and power. Later in Luke 10, 70 people were given spiritual authority and power, and on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came, all the believers gathered there were filled with the Spirit of God and received authority and power. And God’s Word teaches us that each of us can be baptized with the Holy Spirit to possess the same kind of supernatural power and authority.
We have authority to deal with Satan and his dark angels personally, and we have authority to deal with things in the physical realm like sickness as well. But I am afraid that while believers have authority and power, many aren’t exercising it. One way we would demonstrate power and authority is by witnessing. Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 28:18-20 that all authority in heaven and on earth was His, and He was giving it to them to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. So, while we may have power and authority to preach in Jesus’ name, if we aren’t preaching in Jesus’ name we aren’t expressing that power and authority. If we aren’t witnessing to people about the Resurrection and the difference Christ makes we aren’t exercising power and authority. Verse 7 of our text says we are to use this power and authority to tell people that the Kingdom of Heaven has come near, that the Messiah has come.
There is a sense that as believers we are to take control of the happenings around us. That is what people with authority do. Teachers in a classroom take control of chatty or disruptive behavior. They walk into the room with a lesson plan. They have already determined to accomplish some objectives. They know they will face opposition from time to time, but they have already determined they will succeed, and they will influence their students.
We Christians need to live like seasoned teachers. When we get involved in the community, when we go to our doctor appointments, when our kids participate in a sports team, when we enter into business relationships, when we develop friendships in our neighborhoods, we need to have an objective. We need to have a strategy for influencing people for the sake of the Gospel. Yes, we know we may have some opposition, but we pray ahead and we rely on the Holy Spirit to use us as we exercise our God-given authority to say and do things that put Christ on display. While a teacher knows not every student will love and process and be transformed by the information they have to share, many will. They show up and stay committed to their goal of instructing for those who will embrace it.
Officers of the Law have authority to enforce the law and to protect the people. The uniform is a symbol of their authority, but just wearing the uniform doesn’t make them people who express authority. Authority is expressed when they act on their charge to enforce the law and protect the people. Sometimes it means they have to get involved to put an end to something violent or destructive. Sometimes it means they have to put their own necks out on the line in order to protect other people. They patrol their areas with an alertness and with an eye for any situation that might need the expression of authority. They call in back at their headquarters to receive instructions and updates.
We need to live as people on patrol who are looking for dangerous situations that need the expression of biblical authority. We need to live as people on patrol who are looking for people who need defending or rescuing. You can’t express authority if you aren’t even aware that a situation calls for it to be exerted. Live alert so you can live to exercise authority. We need to be regularly checking in with “Headquarters” to receive instructions and updates. When was the last time we prayed, “Father, show me where you want me to exercise power and authority today!?”
There are moments when someone might be sharing something with me that is concerning, or when I am in a situation out in public that is concerning, and all the while, I am praying for God’s Kingdom to come into the middle of that situation and to use me to bring it. I pray for peace in some settings. I speak peace in some settings. I pray for roadblocks and obstacles to be put in the way of contentious people or people who are seeking to do harm to others. I speak deliverance and freedom for people who are being oppressed. You don’t have to travel across the ocean to see oppression. You can witness it in Wal-mart. We have authority to call forth miracles and to ask the Spirit to allow the Kingdom of God to come in situations that need His touch.
Just in the last few months a team of us was called to the home of some church members where there had been some dark, evil oppression on several occasions that was disrupting their evening and sleep time. We took some anointing oil, we spoke the Word of God over the home, and we exercised our God-given authority to remind the enemy he wasn’t welcome in that place. Since that time there has been no further incident. All glory to God! I could have believed for deliverance when the family shared the issue with me, but that wouldn’t have been exerting my authority in Christ. We only exert Christ’s authority when we do something about the problem.
If you wonder if you should use Christ’s authority in a situation just answer this question. Is there a need for salvation, deliverance or healing here? If the answer is “yes,” get busy!
Biblical authority is the expression of a command according to God’s will. People with authority don’t beg. They speak and believe. They pray and believe. They act and believe.
When Jesus sends you out you need to live as a person who takes charge whenever the situation calls for deliverance, protection, and healing and as you do, proclaim the Kingdom of God.
Finally, when Jesus sends us out, He gives us the command to give to others freely with great generosity. Generosity is a spiritual principle. Freely we have received from the generous hand of God. Freely we are to give to others. How generous are we with others? Doing what Jesus did includes touching people, going out of our way for people, taking care of people’s basic needs, and teaching people God’s ways which includes helping them figure out ways to live the abundant life. How this past week did you show God’s compassion or love of care for someone who is disconnected from Christ?
The clip I am about to show you is from the TV Show, “What Would You Do?” which is a social experiment show where actors are supposed to play out scenarios in public in order to see what the response will be from the people around them. In this scene, an actress who is pretending to be pregnant and has promised to give her baby up for adoption announces to the adoptive parents, also actors, that she is changing her mind. As the scene plays out, two strangers from two different tables get involved to generously show this “heartbroken” adoptive mom Christ’s love and compassion.
Even though the woman they embraced was an actress who hadn’t really suffered any devastating news or loss, could you see how impacted she was by the love of God that was shared with her? It was literally transforming. Christ sends us out with the expectation that we will love this world freely without fear, without judgment, and without strings attached. Had it been you in the restaurant, would you have been prompted to act so boldly? Would you have embraced and prayed for and encouraged a total stranger? If that isn’t your first inclination pray that God would give you a spirit of generosity toward all people regardless of race, financial status, or lot in life. Ask God to give you a courageous spirit so that you will act decisively and without hesitation.
You can give your time. You can give through sharing your talents. You can give financial resources or stuff you don’t even need. You can give forgiveness to all people. You can give an encouraging word. You can give the gift of prayer. You can give other people the benefit of the doubt. You can give the Word of God to people. You can give away your testimony. You can pass on your experience. We need to cultivate a spirit of generosity in each one of our lives. The truth I heard all throughout my childhood is one I have personally experienced: You can’t out give God. The power of Kingdom generosity is that it causes more to flow into our lives in order that we can be a greater blessing. As we pour ourselves out, He pours more of His life into us.
As Jesus sends us out, He sends us out with the generous resources and generous love of God. Let’s not hold back! We will never regret what we spend, give, volunteer, or offer in the name of Christ.
When Jesus sends us out, ordinary people are given extraordinary power to operate in the spiritual and physical realms with great generosity.
Will you be one of the sent this morning?