“Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every sickness.” – Matthew 10:1
The previous chapter concluded with Jesus’ expression of compassion for the people of Israel. Looking on the crowds following Him, Jesus saw vast fields ready to be harvested. He meant that the people were primed to believe in Jesus as the Messiah and be made ready to participate in the kingdom of heaven. The problem, though, is that not enough workers were available to go out and harvest them by bringing the good news about the Messiah (Matthew 9:36–37).
Christ will address this problem by sending out twelve laborers to do this harvesting work. These are specifically chosen men, also known as “the Twelve.” These are the twelve apostles, who form a special group that will represent Him both in this moment and after His death, resurrection, and return to heaven. A group of twelve carried significant symbolism, because of the connection to the twelve tribes of Israel.
Jesus will send them out in pairs to the towns of Israel. Matthew 10 contains Jesus’ very specific instructions about how to accomplish the mission He is giving them. Remarkably, Jesus is sending them out with the same authority He has been displaying during His ministry on earth. Matthew has made much of the word “authority.” The Romans centurion recognized Jesus’ authority over physical illness (Matthew 8:5–13). Jesus demonstrated to the scribes His authority to forgive sins on earth by healing a paralyzed man (Matthew 9:1–8).
Now Jesus gives to this core group of twelve disciples the authority to cast out unclean spirits—meaning demons—and to heal every disease and affliction. They will operate under the authority of Jesus and with His power.
Just imagine this scene. Really. Take a minute and imagine it. These 12 guys. Now Jesus gives them the authority to cast out spirits and demons, the ability to heal. Just imagine it….
And yet..here we are…followers of Jesus…because these 12 did their jobs. Praise the Lord for these men….