“Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons:”
Remember Jesus’ mission? In Mark 1:38 Jesus said “that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.” The men Jesus chose and appointed had the exact same mission as their leader: to preach, that’s the first and forefront purpose. And it remains our primary job.
What would it look like if we as a Christian community truly adopted this as our main mission in life? If someone asked what you do for a living, your response was “I’m a preacher of the gospel, and an elementary school teacher.” Or “I preach the good news and I’m a plumber.” What if when we thought about our careers, it was forefront in our mind that we are first to preach? “Go, therefore, and make disciples.” But just like we struggle with that calling, the disciples did too. There were a couple times that they found themselves leaving this main calling to go back to fishing.
Now, I am not saying we should not work. Paul is a very good example of someone whole-heartedly dedicated to preaching the gospel and being a working man. He was a tent maker by trade, and constantly talks in his letters about not being a burden on the rest of the church. And the Bible has plenty to say about someone who doesn’t labor: Ephesians 6:5-9 and 2 Thessalonians 3:10 for example (there are many others: Proverbs is full of the woes of the lazy man). But in our work, our minds can be focused on God in the middle of our daily lives, ready to –
“…sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;” (1 Peter 3:15)
Jesus sent them out for another reason, also – to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons. Many people have said those miraculous abilities were for only them at only that time. And many people have gone the other extreme of saying that ‘the apostleship’ continues today and only elite believers have this great power. I firmly don’t believe either stance: Jesus said in Matthew 21:21-22 “Assuredly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” And in John 14:12-14 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”
This can be a touchy subject: I am not casting out demons and healing sick. And you probably aren’t either. So does that mean that just because the people in our circles are not seeing this, they don’t exist today? No, miracles still happen, and many people can attest to that.
A very good book about this is “Greater” by Steve Furtick. I highly recommend you read this to help you see what God wants to do in and through you in this time and age. And I don’t expect to be out healing people tomorrow, and I will not go out and try in my own strength. But if God speaks to me and tells me to pray for so-and-so for healing, I’ll move when He says. Because it’s in His power, not mine. He gives the power. And I just need to be willing to answer when He calls me to move in His power. Next time, we’ll meet the type of people that Jesus used to showcase the change that Jesus’ power in us can make, the Twelve.