The sending out of the disciples as told by Luke. In Jesus’ day of walking among us, there was only one way of getting a message out and that was word of mouth. Newspapers did not exist, books had to be hand copied at very high expense. There was no radio, no television, no internet. They didn’t even have Facebook!
One day Jesus called together his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases. Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. Being fully human, Jesus was under the limitations of time and space, physically able to be only one place at any given time. So He needed the disciples to be His mouth and feet, to go out and spread His message. Jesus has the very power to confer his power and authority onto his disciples to fight the demonic and heal the sick.
“Take nothing for your journey,” he instructed them. “Don’t take a walking stick, a traveler’s bag, food, money, or even a change of clothes.” He instructed them to travel lightly. I think we traditionally say this was to make them depend on God for their support, but weren’t they already submitted to Jesus? Isn’t that why he chose them, why they followed Him? Once He has them ready to send into the world, they know where their daily bread comes from. I believe the reason He tells them to travel so lightly is this – He wanted them to be able to travel far and travel fast. If the disciples were weighed down with as many material things as they could carry, getting from point A to point B would have been slow and tedious. These guys had to be mobile, they weren’t sent to set up camp and stay in one place. They had a message to spread.
Wherever you go, stay in the same house until you leave town. And if a town refuses to welcome you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate. Like I said, they are to be on the move. We forget how different the culture of these days was compared to ours. People during these days, in this area, had no choice but to rely on each other for survival. There weren’t hotels on every corner waiting for travelers. It was average people who would take the disciples into their homes and share their food with them.
And if they were not received, they were to shake the dust off their feet. Rabbis who made a journey into gentile lands would, upon re-entering Palestine, shake the last heathen dust from their feet. So if they were not received on their journey, they would treat that town as a strict Jew would treat Gentile territory. It had refused it’s opportunity and condemned itself.
So they began their circuit of the villages, preaching the Good News and healing the sick. Notice one thing here, as well as above – in Jesus’ original ministry preaching and healing go together. He gave the disciples authority to cast out demons and heal all diseases. Jesus came to heal people both in body and soul. Jesus’ Gospel was not just words, but deeds as well. Our faith should not (can not) deal only with questions of eternity, but it must be applied to conditions here on earth as well. Health of men’s bodies is an integral aspect of the health of their souls.
It does great harm to the church when we out our heads in the sand and declare that things of this world don’t matter. I know I’ve done this even in my short time as a believer. As recently as the our Great Recession of 2008, millions of families lost their homes in the housing collapse, as well as lost their jobs and incomes. Many respectable and decent families were part of this collapse; many of them wound up out in the cold for a period. They didn’t always know where they were going to sleep at night, or where their next meal would come from. To tell them material things didn’t matter was unforgivable, especially if the person saying that was still living healthy and comfortable.
William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, was once criticized for giving food and meals to the poor instead of simply sharing the gospel. His response to this “accusation”? “It is impossible to comfort men’s hearts with the love of God when their feet are perishing with cold.”
I’ll add this to what General Booth had to say – just as it’s impossible to comfort a man’s while his feet are perishing with cold, so it is impossible to comfort his heart when his mind is preoccupied with addictions and compulsions. Alcohol, drugs, porn, gambling, these might be the demons we can expel now, the disease we can cure, as present day disciples. We have progressed so far medically, yet we still minister to sick and suffering people every day.
Of course, we live in a world where we completely over stress material things. Yet, somehow, for those in greatest need, we still manage to neglect them. We must never forget that Jesus Himself first sent His disciples to both preach and heal. He came to save us both in body and in soul.
“One day Jesus called together his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases. Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. “Take nothing for your journey,” he instructed them. “Don’t take a walking stick, a traveler’s bag, food, money, or even a change of clothes. Wherever you go, stay in the same house until you leave town. And if a town refuses to welcome you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.” So they began their circuit of the villages, preaching the Good News and healing the sick.”