Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. And He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs nor bag nor bread nor money; and do not have two tunics apiece. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. (Luke 9:1-6)
The Joy Of The Twelve
Growing up in Israel, twelve little boys would have little idea how much their lives would change when they became adults. Like all other boys, many followed their father’s trade. Four of the boys grew up helping their family fish the Sea of Galilee learning the dangers of sudden storms and enjoying the calming sunsets over the water. Some of the other boys had impressions on them that instilled great national pride, a desire to be a successful businessman, and a heart that was fully devoted to God. Twelve little boys who would help to change the world in ways they could never imagine.
The nation had long looked for the coming Messiah. It had been four hundred years since the word of the Lord had come to the people. A famine of the word of God had blanketed the nation as Amos had prophesied. Anticipation was always at a peak as men rose claiming to be the Christ until the day Jesus Christ came into the lives of twelve men. He called them one by one and they followed Him not knowing the challenges they faced. This was the real Messiah. His power was clear. His teaching forceful. He endued them with power to cast out demons and cure diseases. They went out preaching the kingdom of God and healing the sick.
Twelve men left Jesus that day to do something they never dreamed would be where their life would take them. Peter must have thought he would spend his life toiling on a fishing boat like every generation before him. What kind of family did Judas come from? Where did Thomas learn a deep love for the Lord? Matthew was a deeply devoted Jew who would be a writer telling the story of the Christ from Nazareth. Twelve men going out from the Lord to preach the good news of repentance. Coming into a village, they began to heal the sick. What was it like to heal someone by the touch of the hand? Judas cast out a demon, Bartholomew gave sight to a blind man, Andrew moved the hearts of the people with a sermon of God’s love, and John gave food to a poor family. The excitement among the twelve was profound.
Multitudes of common people came to hear what the twelve men proclaimed. They had never heard such teaching before. Many had come claiming to be the Christ but no one had the power over demons or healing of all manner of diseases like these twelve men. The disciples of Jesus grew in number. Twelve men preached the joy of salvation to a nation of people who had long lost their hope. The people marveled at how common the twelve men were. They would have expected nobles such as the Pharisees or scribes to be the teachers but these were fishermen, zealots, tax collectors and ordinary men who brought them the message of Jesus Christ. Twelve men turned the world upside down. Men of faith doing the work of the Lord. Now that is a great story.
Good preaching sounds reveille, not taps. (James M. Gillis, This Mysterious Human Nature, 1956)