Luke 9:1-6 (NIV) When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey–no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.” So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.
There was much work to be done .Many people still had not heard the good news of the kingdom, and seen the positive signs of its arrival. Jesus could only be in one place at a time, and time was passing quickly.
So He called His closest disciples together, empowered them, gave them authority, and sent them out to proclaim the coming of the kingdom of God, and to demonstrate its reality through miracles and casting out demons. It is important to note that these twelve men were given this power and authority by Jesus. Without these gifts, they would not have been effective as witnesses of the kingdom. A powerless Christianity does not show the reality of God’s kingdom to non-believers.
Far from being merely a test run for their future ministry, this assignment was the real deal. The apostles (“sent ones”) were to go as Jesus Himself was going, taking nothing for the journey but the clothes on their backs. This would make them completely dependent on God, not just for the power and authority that they would need, but for their sustenance as well. Jesus told them that, in every place that He was sending them, they were to look for a person who would welcome them into his or her home and provide for them. If they could not find anyone in a town who would welcome them, they were to simply leave, shaking the dust of the town off of their feet as a sign of God’s own judgment against them.
The amazing thing is that the disciples obeyed Jesus to the letter. They went from village to village, proclaiming the reality of God’s kingdom in each place, freeing people from demons and diseases, and experiencing God’s abundant provision everyplace that they went. They were faithful to God’s call on their lives, and in return, God was faithful to provide everything that they needed, both physically and spiritually.
Father, this is so clear, so simple: You provided everything that those sent by Jesus needed. But it is also clear that You didn’t provide first, before they started. It was only as they were in the midst of the mission that You had assigned to them that You provided all that they needed. Help me to be faithful as well, actively about the work to which You have called me, so that I, too, can experience all of Your provision for me. Amen.