Summary: The account of Jesus sending out the twelve apostles on a short-term missions trip will teach us principles for ministry today.
Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his public ministry (Luke 3:23), which was primarily a ministry of preaching and healing. Jesus’ ministry lasted approximately three years before his death by crucifixion (which I believe took place on April 6, 30 AD). The first half of Jesus’ ministry took place in Galilee. As his ministry in Galilee was coming to a close, he sent his twelve apostles on a short-term missions trip.
Let’s read about Jesus sending out the twelve apostles in Luke 9:1-9:
1 And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. 3 And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. 4 And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. 5 And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” 6 And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.
7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, 8 by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen. 9 Herod said, “John I beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he sought to see him. (Luke 9:1-9)
Learning comes by doing.
Most people know how to ride a bicycle. Actually, riding a bicycle for most adults is fairly easy. But do you remember what it took to learn to ride a bicycle?
Toddlers may begin on those big, fat plastic three-wheelers on which they sit and push themselves forward with their feet on the floor.
Then they move up to a metal tricycle with pedals. After a short while they get the hang of peddling and they enjoy hours of peddling around the yard.
After a year or two they get a small bicycle that has training wheels. Riding the bicycle with training wheels is not too difficult for them.
Eventually the day arrives when the training wheels come off. It is a big day! Mom or Dad walk next to the child who may be somewhat unsteady on the bicycle. But they hold on and let go for short periods of time so that the child gets the feel of riding a bicycle without training wheels. Finally, Mom and Dad know that the child is able to ride alone and they let go. And off goes the child! Oh, there may still be a few falls. But it is not long and the child is riding quite proficiently all around the neighborhood. The child has learned to ride a bicycle!
Learning comes by doing.
Early in his ministry in Galilee Jesus chose twelve disciples to become his apostles (Luke 6:12-16). These twelve apostles were trained by Jesus to carry on his mission after his death, resurrection and ascension into heaven.
The twelve apostles had been Jesus’ special disciples for about eighteen months. They had listened to his preaching. They had seen his healing. They had witnessed him casting demons out of people. In addition, Jesus tutored them constantly as they followed him day after day and night after night.
Finally, Jesus decided that it was time, as it were, to take off the training wheels. The twelve apostles had seen enough and it was time for them to begin the practical part of their internship. They needed to go and put into practice what they had seen and heard, because learning comes by doing.
The account of Jesus sending the twelve apostles on a short-term missions trip in Luke 9:1-9 will teach us principles for ministry today.
Let’s use the following outline:
1. Their Empowerment (9:1)
2. Their Mission (9:2)
3. Their Instructions (9:3-5)
4. Their Obedience (9:6)
5. Their Effect (9:7-9)
I. Their Empowerment (9:1)
First, let’s look at their empowerment.
The twelve apostles had been with Jesus for about eighteen months. He had been ministering by himself. And so he decided to send them out to minister in his name. It seems that this was in part to give the apostles experience in ministry (the training wheels were coming off!), and in part to multiply the ministry of Jesus himself. Luke said in verse 1 that Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases.
Luke said that Jesus gave power and authority to the twelve. One commentator said, “authority (exousia) is the right to do something, while power (dunamis) is the ability to do it.” What is the distinction between the two?