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Luke 9:1-9:9
Key Verse: 9:2

At the beginning of chapter 8, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him. After that, Jesus told a large crowd the parable of the sower, in order to have them know that the word of God is the seed of the kingdom of God, and that how they listen to it matters. Then Jesus taught about a lamp on a stand, and the criteria of belonging to Jesus’ family, in order to illustrate the role of God’s word and the importance of obedience to the word of God. These teachings of Jesus were followed by the events of Jesus calming the storm, driving out many demons from a demon-possessed man, healing a sick woman, and raising a dead girl. In these events, Jesus’ power and authority were excellently demonstrated. Now, at the beginning of chapter 9, as Jesus’ Galilean ministry is about to close, and thus as his messianic ministry is approaching its end, Jesus sends out the Twelve for fieldwork training. In this study we can learn the principles of doing the gospel work and the significance of discipleship training.

First, the power and authority of Jesus given (1). Look at verse 1. “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases.” In chapter 6:12-13, following a whole night's prayer, Jesus called his disciples to him, chose twelve of them, and designated them apostles. We are reminded that the Twelve were chosen to form a new Israel for God’s world salvation purpose. They were the nuclear members of Jesus’ gospel ministry. Jesus called the Twelve together, for they would be one vessel, both for the present fieldwork training, and for the future gospel work.

Up until this point, they had been following Jesus and Jesus had been the main one doing the work. Now, Jesus was sending them out to practice doing the work themselves. With what did Jesus equip them before 'sending them out'? He gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases. Certainly this power and authority were not the physical power and authority of this world, but the spiritual power and authority of Jesus. Matthew and Mark wrote that Jesus gave them authority (Mt 10:1; Mk 6:7), but Luke specifically recorded that Jesus gave them power and authority to elaborate on what Jesus had given them?). We have seen Jesus’ power and authority over the natural world, spiritual forces of evil, all diseases, and even over death. Now Jesus gave this power and authority of his to the Twelve, as he sent them out. This shows that their battle in their fieldwork training would be a spiritual battle. Paul said in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the power of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

We need many things to do the work of God including human education and wisdom and knowledge. But what we need most of all is the power and authority Jesus gives. We should know that the authority of Jesus is the highest authority in heaven and on earth. We have seen that at the name of Jesus, demons trembled and said, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” (8:28) In Acts 3:6, Peter said to a man who was crippled from birth and begging him for money, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Then the crippled man jumped to his feet and began to walk. God wants us to carry the name of Jesus, whose authority is over all authority. According to Philippians 2:10-11, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” The authority of Jesus is in the name of Jesus.

When we carry the name of Jesus, we carry the authority of Jesus. And the power and authority Jesus give cannot be separated. But also, additionally, regarding power, Jesus said in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” We can receive the power of Jesus when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. Since God is willing to give us the Holy Spirit, just as human fathers want to give good gifts to their children, we should pray for the Holy Spirit until we are filled with the Holy Spirit and so with power (Lk 11:13). In Acts 10:38, God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power to do good work. Then how much more do we need the Holy Spirit and power to do the work of God?

Second, preaching the kingdom of God (2). Look at verse 2. “and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” Here we see the main purpose of the fieldwork training. It is first and foremost to preach the kingdom of God. In 8:1 what Jesus himself did traveling about from one town and village to another was to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God. One morning many people came, looking for/ expecting healing, but Jesus said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent” (Lk 4:43). The purpose of Jesus being sent and the purpose of Jesus sending out his disciples were the same. That was to proclaim the kingdom of God.

The kingdom of God is the key point of the Bible, and the key message of the gospel story, especially in Luke’s gospel. The good news of the kingdom of God is the very message God wants to deliver to the people of this world, and this is the message most needed by the people of this world. The message of the kingdom of God includes repentance and salvation through Jesus (Mk 1:15; 6:12). The kingdom of God comes in the hearts of those who repent and believe in Jesus. Where Jesus is, there is the kingdom of God. Jesus and the kingdom of God go together.

The kingdom of God is the domain where God reigns. When the people of this world rejected God’s reign, they invited Satan’s rule in their hearts. Apostle Paul depicted the state of man’s heart ruled by Satan in Romans 1:24-31: Their sexual relations are perverted, exchanging natural ones between a man and a woman for unnatural ones. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. The world became the kingdom of Satan. But, beginning with the coming of Jesus, the restoration of God’s kingdom has been progressing. Jesus proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and would send out his disciples to preach the kingdom of God so that the kingdom of God might be reestablished in each and every individual’s heart. Preaching the kingdom (or: kingship, rule) of God means no less than proclaiming God’s absolute sovereignty in every sphere: heart, mind, life, family, village, city, state, nation, world; education, industry, commerce, art, science, law and politics, etc. (cf 1 Cor 10:31; 2 Cor 10:5). We are preparing for Club Day 2014. We pray that God may help us to invite some freshmen to Bible study so that God’s kingdom be established in their hearts. We sing every Sunday and pray continually to the Lord that his kingdom come at U of T. The kingdom of God is to be preached until he comes again.

As for us God’s kingdom is to be enlarged in our hearts. We should let God rule every part of our lives, our thought world and our day to day lives. For this we need the word of God. Particularly Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:27). We should also acknowledge God’s reign at all times, when we are alone or with others, in the family, campus, or work place. We need to guard our hearts and fight a spiritual battle in prayer. As the kingdom of God grows in our hearts and lives, we can preach the kingdom of God to others effectively.

In addition, we should know that there is also the kingdom of God beyond the time and space of this world. This is the place where God’s people can enter after the life on the earth. This is our original eternal home, the home of the righteous (2 Pe 2:13). A repentant criminal dying on the cross beside Jesus believed the kingdom of God and said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Then Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Lk 23:42-43). In that kingdom there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Rev 21:4). Our citizenship is in that kingdom, the kingdom of God (Ph 3:20). We need to fight against all the earthbound hope and truly put our hope in the kingdom of God. Colossians 3:1-2 say, “…set your hearts on things above…Set your minds on things above…”

Look at verse 2 again, “and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” Gospel servants are to take care of the soul and body of people as well. When the sick are healed, their health is restored. Caring for the sick is God’s heart. And physical healing is not the end, but a process for the further blessing of God’s kingdom.

Third, Jesus’ instruction (3-5). Look at verse 3. “He told them, ‘Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.’” Jesus wanted his disciples to really learn the fundamental principle of depending on God in doing the work of God. They had to know that they were not doing human work, but God’s work. They were employed by God and so became employees of God for his business. Provision for the work of God is God’s responsibility. In Matthew Jesus said, “the worker is worth his keep” (Mt 10:10b). Depending on God is one of the big teachings of the Bible. Jesus said in Luke 12:31, “…seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”

When we read the Old Testament, God’s chosen nation Israel time and again depended on the neighbouring countries which looked strong and powerful, ignoring God’s warning to them. They did not rely on the almighty God in their sinfulness. Because of this the people of Israelites suffered tremendously. Human dependency is one of man’s strongest sinful natures. It is said that if a man has 5 dollars in his pocket, he depends on that, not God; a woman depends on her husband even when the husband is very sick, not on God. People want to be secure in their hands here and now, a secure job, certain amount of savings in bank account, a sure marriage partner, etc. Gospel servants must learn to depend on God for everything. In Luke’s gospel Jesus emphasized this, using 5 'no's to re-assert to take nothing for the journey.

Look at verse 4. “Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town.” Gospel workers should be content with whatever given in that situation, not seeking for better surroundings or better working condition. The spread of the gospel has the priority over personal likes and dislikes. And they are to be a blessing to the people in the house they stay.

Look at verse 5. “If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony to them.” It was the custom of the Jews that after traveling through heathen territory they shook the dust off their sandals and clothes before re-entering the Holy Land. They were afraid that otherwise, in their own country levitically clean objects, as well as they themselves, might be rendered unclean. This was a rabbinic idea that the dust of Gentile lands carried defilement. So those who reject the gospel workers and the message of the kingdom of God are to be regarded as Gentiles before God, for by rejecting the gospel servants, they are rejecting God, and hence also Christ. The gospel servants should know the superiority of the gospel, superior to all the knowledge in the world. They should have the dignity as the ambassadors’ of Christ, the ones who were sent with the gospel of salvation for perishing mankind. The gospel is not cheap. The gospel should not be watered down or compromised. The gospel is absolute. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mk 16:6).

Look at verse 6. “So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.” They were obedient doing what Jesus told them to do. Then what was the result? In verses 7-9, “Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed, because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. But Herod said, ‘I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?’ And he tried to see him.” In this short passage of 9 verses Luke assigned 3 verses to describing the result of the fieldwork training, remarking especially on the effect on in one person, Herod the tetrarch. How haunted Herod must have been when he heard that John, whom he had beheaded, had been raised from the dead! We see that the disciples surely spoke about Jesus when they preached the gospel. Clearly the fieldwork training was powerful, shaking even the king, and influencing the whole land. Certainly, this would give them hope for the future gospel work.

The twelve disciples were so precious to Jesus. So he trained them so that they might succeed to his work on earth for God’s purpose of world salvation. He equipped then with the power and authority of Jesus and sent them out to preach the kingdom of God. He wanted them to totally depend on God for all the provisions and to show a clear attitude toward those who reject knowing the superiority of the gospel. They were indeed ambassadors of Christ Jesus. May God raise up such gospel servants through his training. May we particularly engage in preaching the kingdom of God, which is the very message the people of this world need definitely and urgently. May we do gospel work with God’s reign in our hearts and with the constant hope of the kingdom of God.

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