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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Jesus Gives Power to His Followers

Jesus Gives Power to His Followers

Matthew 10


Jesus had traveled around Israel preaching and healing thousands of people, but there were thousands more that needed to hear the good news and receive His healing touch.  So Jesus called His twelve disciples together and He gave them His authority over evil spirits and His power to heal diseases!  Scripture says: “Jesus gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of diseases.”  (Matthew 10:1b) 


Then Jesus sent the twelve disciples out and told them to travel around Israel and “teach that the Kingdom of God was near.  And they were to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead and cast out demons.” (Matthew 10:8)  And He told his disciples, “Freely you have received, freely give.”  (Matt.10:8b)


Jesus called these twelve men to go about healing and preaching without charging money.  They had freely received these miraculous gifts from Jesus so they were to give them out freely.  They were not to worry about how they would eat or where they would stay.  Support would come from grateful hearts!  They were to live by faith.  The disciples were given this amazing freedom in Christ. (and we are too!)


 If a family invited the disciples to stay in their home when they were on their mission, they were to “let their peace come upon that home.”  (Matt.1013b)  Jesus gives all of his followers peace!  And if some of the people didn’t want the disciples around and threw them out of their town, they were to “shake off the dust from their feet.”  (Matt.10:14)  Perhaps Jesus was telling them not to be angry and hold a grudge against the folks who rejected their ministry and didn’t want them around.  I think that Jesus would give His followers that same message today.  We are commanded to forgive and love our enemies.  Shake the dust off of our feet and move on. 


Jesus gave His power and authority to these twelve men to go out on this mission around the towns and villages of Israel.  And Scripture says that the disciples came back excited and enthusiastic because they were healing the sick and casting out demons.  And they preached the good news and brought lost people back to God.  They were so excited about being given this wonderful power!


The twelve disciples spread spiritual light to a dark and sinful world back then, but today we are the ones who Jesus is sending out to do that job.  Now it is our turn!  We are the ones who receive spiritual help to use on our mission.  Before Jesus went back to heaven He called all of his followers to go be his hands and feet in the world.  This was his commission to all of His own:  “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.  And lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:16-20


Like those first twelve disciples, every follower of Jesus who is alive today or has ever lived has been called on a mission by Jesus to go out in the world and pray for the sick, give to the poor and preach the good news of a Savior.  Just as Jesus gave his power to those first twelve disciples, He promises to give everyone who belongs to Him a gift so that they can do his work.


 Scripture says:  “And God appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, and tongues.  Are all apostles?  Are all prophets?  Are all teachers?  Are all miracle workers or do all have gifts of healings?  Do all speak in tongues?  Or interpret? “  (1 Corinthians 12:28) 


Along with receiving the “gifts” of the Spirit the followers of Jesus also receive the “fruits” of the Spirit.  Scripture says: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”  (Galatians 5:22-23)  Some immature Christians fail to use these “fruits” in their lives, but they are there for them to grow into if they so desire.


Jesus gave his twelve disciples his power to heal diseases and cast our demons and preach.  Some have wondered why every Christian doesn’t automatically have that same level of dynamic power to heal diseases and cast out demons as those first twelve disciples did.  I don’t know the answer but perhaps things were different then than now.  Back then there were only twelve disciples of Jesus but now there are millions and millions of Christians.


 We are not all given the gift of healings today according to 1 Corinthians 12:28.  Each believer is given a different gift and ability so that we can work together as the body of Christ and as the Church.  One of the gifts is the gift of “helps” and another gift is of “administrations”.  Not every believer is good at managing and administrating and not every believer is good at evangelizing.  But we are to work together to accomplish Christ’s call!


The church had not yet been established when Jesus first sent out his twelve disciples. And Jesus had not gone to the cross then or died for our sins and the Holy Spirit had not yet fallen on the believers as He did at Pentecost.  It was a different situation then than now so the gifts were given out differently to those first twelve disciples I would think.   


Jesus encourages his followers as they obey his call and go out to confess Him before others.  In fact He says: “Whoever confesses Me before others, I will confess that person before My Father who is in heaven.  But whoever denies Me before others, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.”  (Matthew 10:32-33) 


Jesus told his disciples – and all of his followers – that we would be persecuted for spreading the good news of the Savior.  We would be persecuted for healing the sick and for following Him.  Jesus was persecuted and murdered on a cross and since we are his followers we can expect to be persecuted also.  Jesus tells us: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.”  (Matthew 10:16) 


He even tells his followers that their own families may turn against them because they are following Him.  “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth.  I did not come to bring peace but a sword.  For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.  And a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.”  (Matthew 10:34-36)  He adds: “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”  (Matthew 10:39) 


There are not many sermons preached on these upsetting words of Jesus because these are not nice words to hear.  But since Jesus spoke these words, we should take them seriously.  We know that God’s will, expressed throughout the Bible, is that families stay together and be strong and loving.  But here in Matthew 10 Jesus is predicting that his followers can expect persecution even within their own families.  Jesus explains that his followers will be going out and delivering his message in a rebellious and wicked world.  And often they will be met with hostility.  And when a family is divided and several in the family are Christian and several are not, there may be conflict and division right in the family. 


After Jesus warns his followers of the persecution that they can expect, He comforts them and tells them not to be afraid.  He reminds them that God has them covered.  That the very hairs of their head are all numbered.  (Matthew 10:30)  That the person who holds out under stress and perserveres under pressure will be taken care of in the end.  (the end of the age) (Matthew 24:13)  And we have the amazing promise in Scripture that all of our problems will be taken care of in the end.








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