Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 10:1c “. . .he gave them power. . .”
The Twelve, having been instructed and trained, could now be trusted to go on a short-term mission trip. Since all Israel had heard of Jesus’ miracles, the Twelve’s credentials would have to be proper and impressive. To prove they were Christ’s representatives, they had to carry with them the evidence of His power.
Therefore, Jesus performed a miracle regarding miracles and gave the Twelve power to perform mighty deeds of mercy like the ones He had been doing. They were to do what their Master did with a power their Master bestowed.
Christ not only had power. He possessed the power to dispense power, and had authority to confer authority. This trait proves the vast power Jesus possessed in Himself, and is one of our strongest arguments of His deity. Only God can take essence from His own presence and convey it to others. Therefore, Jesus is God.
Our Master never cruelly sends soldiers into battle without ammunition. He gives us power, which allows us to be conquerors. He grants us authority to rule over whatever opposes our efforts to spread the kingdom. This bestowal is our only hope for victory. The Twelve needed power, we do too. I beg us all to pray.
Matt. 10:1d “. . .against unclean spirits, to cast them out,. . .”
“Unclean” is an appropriate label for demons. They are polluted and pollute people. Demons, dirty in themselves, prompt filthy thoughts, speech, and actions.
Look past the surface. Closely examine what sin does. It degrades. Left unchecked, sin inevitably reduces people to wallowing in squalor. Sinners start out boastful, strutting like a million dollars, but end up feeling like loose change.
When considering this matter of casting out unclean spirits, we must avoid two extremes: superstition and denial. Beware the fanaticism of seeking a gremlin in every bush and a demon in every illness. I’ve had an eye infection for 17 days. Some would call it demonic. I hold to another option: a virus landed in my eye.
Don’t always be spooky, but on the other hand, beware letting the fanaticism of some cause us to deny the existence of demons. Spiritual warfare is real. Being vitally involved in missions has convinced Second Baptist of this reality.
We are locked in spiritual warfare to the death with Satan, a sinister, intelligent warlord. With deadly precision, he constantly attacks us on two fronts, doctrinal error (RV 16:13) and debauchery (2 P 2:10), using lies as his weapon.
The devil always lies. Jesus called him “a liar, and the father of lies” (JN 8:44 NAS). My friend, Craig Fields, pastor at Jefferson Avenue Baptist Church here in Springfield, gives good counsel. When trouble enters a church or home, or when sin invades a life, find the lie. Whatever the devil is in, there will be a lie at the core of it. Find the lie, and confront it with truth. We believers are given authority against, literally over, unclean spirits. Let’s exercise our God-given right.
Matt. 10:1e “. . .and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of
The prominence given here to healing disappoints many. Some want to ignore the possibility of divine healing, and pretend it doesn’t exist. Churches often avoid praying for healings due to a fear that someone might be healed. I admit, I have been guilty of this mentality. To my shame, I have wondered, “What would we do if people started getting healed? What would other churches think of us?”
Many abuse this beautiful gift, making it a three-ring circus. Don’t let their theatrics rob us of the marvelous truth Jesus still can and does miraculously heal.
On our church prayer list, we at one time used the word “terminal” for those near death. One of our prayer warriors approached me, saying she felt we needed a different word, one expressing hope and faith as opposed to despair. I took the suggestion to our staff. They all agreed with her. Thus, we quit using the word.
Believers should never abandon hope in any case. Jesus is sovereign ruler over mind, spirit, and body, working in each according to our faith and to His will.
We are grateful for doctors and nurses. All physicians should view themselves as indebted to, servants of, and extensions of, the Great Physician. Medical missions is a valid descendant of the traveling healing ministry Jesus practiced.
We honor the medical profession. If you get sick, go see a doctor, and take your medicine. We are grateful for medical advances. At the same time, we refuse to deny that Jesus retains to Himself the power to heal directly, as He wills.
The Twelve, commanded by Jesus to conquer Satan and cure sickness, obeyed. Their seemingly impossible mission, which they chose to accept, entailed going forth, and proving with power they were followers of Jesus the Son of God.
Using miracles as their badges of heavenly power, they captured attention and secured confidence in what they had to say. This is still the proper use of the miraculous. Its purpose is to gain a hearing for the Gospel. Miracles can’t change a person’s heart. They can merely capture attention. Only the truths from God’s Word can reach the will, and penetrate to the decision-making part of the brain.
Jesus’ power flowed to and through the Twelve, resulting in their success. Jesus still sends His power to those who will give it away. His blessing comes to us on its way to someone else. His power flies on the wings of His compassion.
While on earth, Jesus proved He cares for people in their total being. For Him words of compassion were not mere rhetoric. He claimed He came to give life, and give it abundantly, and verified His words by caring for people not only spiritually, but also emotionally, mentally, and physically. What He did for people while here is what He still wants to do today. He seeks human vessels through which His compassion, followed by His power, can flow freely to the masses.
In our doing of love, Christ’s power is unleashed. Before the Twelve departed on their first short-term mission trip, there were no fireworks, no cloven tongues of fire, no mighty rushing wind. The Twelve realized they had Jesus’ power only after they started doing the works He had commanded them to do.
We never realize how much power we can have until we set ourselves to the tasks assigned us. Jesus has commanded us what to do. Many tasks await us, and Jesus promises us ample strength to do them. His power comes on us as we obey His commands, and manifests itself in our doing deeds of mission and ministry.
Jesus is absolute Lord over demons, over disease, and, as the response of the Twelve reminds us, over His disciples. We are not afforded the luxury of rightfully choosing whether to serve or not. Jesus has already enlisted every believer in His service. Failure to serve is rebellion, high treason. Jesus takes the initiative in involving us in His mission. He has already given us His plan.
Avery Willis well says, God is not seeking volunteers. He is enlisting. Volunteers come on their own terms, but when God calls, He sets the guidelines. Our role is to hear His call, and then to pray, not to decide whether we will heed it, but to determine where we shall heed it, and to receive His power to succeed.