PassageIn this passage Jesus calls together the twelve Apostles, and gives them “power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases” (verse 1 (ESV)). He is going to send them out to proclaim the kingdom of God, and to heal, but as they go they aren’t to over equip themselves:
And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” (verses 3–5 (ESV))So they do as they’re told, and go proclaim the gospel and heal people.
As all of this is going on, Herod is getting “perplexed” (verse 7 (ESV)), because of his guilty conscience. He’s put John the Baptist to death (verse 9 (ESV)), but now he’s hearing all of these rumours that Jesus is actually John, who’s been raised from the dead—as well as rumours that Jesus might be Elijah. He seeks to see Jesus, but we’ll have to wait for Chapter 23 for them to finally meet.
ThoughtsThis passage interests me because, in some ways, it meets our expectations as to how things are supposed to work. Usually Jesus does things in a way that is unexpected, reminding us that his ways are not our ways, but this seems pretty straightforward: Jesus obviously has authority over demons, and obviously has the power to heal, so granting that power to his Apostles makes sense. At least… it does if we’re talking about magic. If Jesus is a magician, then it makes perfect sense to give his Apostles the ability to perform the same tricks. But when I think about it a bit more, I remember that Jesus isn’t a magician, he’s God, so for him to be able to delegate responsibility like this to the Apostles is, frankly, surprising to me. (It’s what I get for overthinking things: Jesus surprises me by doing something that’s not surprising, which turns out to be very surprising indeed…)
Regardless, healing and having authority over demons isn’t the overarching reason for this mission. Jesus is sending the Apostles to preach the gospel; the ability to heal, and the authority over demons, will lend credence to the Apostles’ message, but they’re not being sent to heal, they’re being sent to preach. The intent is that the people hearing the message will take it more seriously because of the Apostles’ abilities/authority, but the focus isn’t on the abilities, it’s on the message.
When it comes to the point about Jesus instructing the Apostles not to over-equip themselves, it’s important that we don’t miss the obvious: they are to trust God for this journey. He will provide for them, and that’s all they need to know.
The point about Herod wanting to meet Jesus seems like a total tangent, and, as mentioned, we’ll have to wait another dozen chapters or more before they finally do.