Matthew 10:1-4 (NIV) He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
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; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
As chapter nine ends, Jesus is directing His followers to pray for some additional workers to bring in the ripe harvest. Now, his inner circle of disciples is discovering that they are the answer to their own prayers!
These twelve men are often revered by those in the modern Church, and are recognized as “saints” by the vast majority of Christians. But (at least after Jesus’ resurrection) they didn’t see themselves as anything other than people; just people that Jesus chose to be with Him, and whom He sent forth to act in His name and to teach others what they had learned from Him.
As Jesus prepared to send them out, He conferred on them His authority over demons and sickness. Notice that Jesus did NOT give them power that they could exercise at will. He gave them His authority, which they could only use as His emissaries, while they acted in His name. That doesn’t mean that they were limited in what they could do. Jesus’ authority went as far as raising the dead, and even healing leprosy! (See 10:8 below.) It merely prescribed the boundaries for them. They were authorized by Jesus to do whatever he would do if He were there. But the whole time, they knew that HE was the ultimate source of that authority.
This was good training for the disciples in developing the proper mindset. On the day of Pentecost, the disciples would receive not just authority, but genuine power (cf. Acts 1:8). But by then they already knew from experience whose power it was. They also knew that they would only have access to that power as they acted as emissaries of God’s kingdom. They would be able to do all that Jesus did, and even greater things (John 14:12-13), but only as they acted in His name, His authority. So when Jesus did a mighty work through them, they immediately gave credit where credit was due: to Jesus. (See Acts 3:16, 4:9-10.) They fully realized that without Him, they were only men.
Father, it is stunning that You have seen fit to give this kind of authority to men and women; but You have. Of course, they have to be men and women who are sold out to You, just as those early disciples were, and who are willing to be made of no account, but to simply work under Your absolute authority to grow Your kingdom in Your power. Help me to be that kind of a person, so that You can work unimpeded through my life today. Amen.