Luke 9:1–9 . . . Bible Study Summary with Questions
Good News Is to Be Proclaimed by The Twelve
For the first time in Luke's gospel, Jesus finally calls upon his disciples to do something. Until now they've primarily been observers and hearers. He's taught a hundred crowds in their hearing, embedded in their minds his message and methods, day after day, week after week, month after month, until they know them by heart. Now it's time to send them out to learn how to minister.
Sadly, some disciples today, in all churches, never seem to get beyond hearing. In effect, they're feeders, never farmers; they go to church for a meal, not for a mission.
Gathering and Sending (vv. 1–2)
Jesus and his disciples regularly spend a great deal of time together, especially in Galilee. These days, Jesus is often thronged by crowds; but on this particular occasion, Jesus calls twelve disciples together apart from the crowds, to give them a training exercise and a mission — their first.
Who are The Twelve? Although Luke doesn't name them, we learn their names and pairings from Matthew (10:2–4): Simon and Andrew; Thomas and Matthew (tax collector Levi); James and John; James and Thaddaeus; Philip and Andrew; and Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot. All three gospel accounts inform us that the disciples had to be called together, which tells us, perhaps to our surprise, that the disciples weren't always together, and not always with their Lord, even at this early stage in his earthly ministry. Some were family men so it shouldn't come as a surprise that they weren't always with Jesus.
For now, they're The Twelve Apostles; later they'll be called The Seventy (10:1–24). To be a disciple means to be willing to be trained for and sent out on a mission, then to be gathered and sent. Let's examine v. 1 closely: "When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases." Once he's called them together, he gives them power (Greek dunamis) and authority (Greek exousia). Similar but distinct concepts, you'd do well to remember the distinction, since you'll see these words again and again in the New Testament. "Power" — Greek dunamis means "power, might, strength, force. . . ability, capability." It refers to the raw power needed to accomplish an action. "Authority" — Greek exousia can also refer to capability, might, power, ability; but when used with dunamis it emphasizes "the power exercised by rulers or others in high position by virtue of their office, ruling power, official power." For example, a barroom bouncer may have muscular power, but, without having the authority to use it, he could be arrested for assault if he isn't careful. The distinction: dunamis is the raw power; exousia is the authority to use that raw power.
Commissioned to Preach and Heal After being given power and authority, Jesus gave them the commission to preach and heal. Until now, the disciples had seen Jesus exercise awesome power over demons. They've now been delegated that power and authority. Notice, the Holy Spirit hasn't come upon them yet, as it had on Jesus at his baptism (see Week 10). This is a limited mission with specific delegated powers at this point. What this means is that when one of The Twelve comes up against a demon on a preaching mission, he can operate with full authority over that demon in the spirit-world; it isn't the disciples' authority, but a delegated authority given by Jesus. It works like a "spiritual power of attorney." The demons recognize Jesus' authority; now they have to reckon with and obey that authority multiplied by twelve.
The disciples are also given both the ability and the authority to heal the sick (i.e., to treat medically and restore, both physically and spiritually) and to preach (i.e., to announce and proclaim the news of the kingdom of God as his heralds). Hopefully, those of you who are on a mission will continue to proclaim this Kingdom message: It's a saving message of Good News about the coming of the King to save his people and set them free.
Equipment and Contentment (vv. 3–4)
Are you curious about Jesus' instructions? Before you head out on a journey, you pack essential belongings, don't you? Then why would Jesus order them to "take nothing" on their upcoming journey? Because he gives his order for a specific purpose — a training purpose; he wants his disciples to learn how to trust him to provide for them. This is one of the most important lessons we disciples can learn: God will provide all our needs when we trust him to do so.
Jesus' instructions were given to teach and train the Twelve. And his instructions were effective! See how The Twelve answered his question in Luke 22:35. That is, without a purse you learn to rely on the Lord to fund what he desires; without a bag, you have to depend upon the Lord's provision of resources.
See in v. 4 that the disciples aren't to keep moving from one house to another, hoping to find more comfortable lodgings and better food. Instead, they're to be content with the accommodations in the first home they come to so they'll be capable of getting on with their mission of preaching and healing. Sometimes, being content with God's provision can be difficult. Nevertheless, believers must take on the burden of ministering, being content with what God has provided, despite the conditions, not waiting for conditions to improve. When times get difficult for you disciples, learn well the lesson Jesus would teach you, the secret of being content, taken from Philippians 4:13. Jesus was to bring The Twelve to the realization that he was the one who imposed such atypical mission rules, designed to bring them and us to that place where they and we sometimes suffer hardship. If we can learn these lessons well, then (perhaps) the Lord will bring to us his next new lesson. ( ; - )
Preaching and Healing Everywhere (vv. 5–6)
The "shake the dust off your feet" instruction sounds strange to twenty-first-century ears, but not to first-century Jewish ears. They'd shake off the dust of a Gentile city to remove what was ceremonially unclean, before returning to their own land, lest they'd defile it. The disciples are not to be vindictive. But when the message of the kingdom is rejected by Jewish villages, they're to indicate God's judgment, not by wasting time with unreceptive villages, but by moving on to those villages that receive them.
Verse 6 is a wonderful verse. The Twelve visit village after village, declaring good tidings of great joy, preaching that the kingdom of God is at hand. Everywhere they go, they heal. How inspiring! Jesus' ministry has been multiplied. For many months the disciples have been in training — watching, listening, questioning, observing, and memorizing the message that Jesus proclaims. Now they become proclaimers of the same good news, and they herald good deeds of God's gracious healing, as if to illustrate the Word.
Mark tells us that The Twelve had gone out two by two (Mark 6:6–7). With six teams instead of just one large team, they could cover much more ground. Neither could the crowds that had impeded Jesus' movements slow them down.
So, two by two, they spread out and went from village to village. And their preaching and healing had such an impact that word of it went as far as the palace of King Herod Antipas.
Perplexity and Confusion (v. 7–9)
It wouldn't have been difficult for Herod to have kept up to date on Jesus' teachings and activities: Jesus was "the talk of the town"! Word of his approach or arrival was quickly spread (cf. 9:11). In addition, Herod, a highly threatened man, would have undoubtedly had some counterpart to the secret police who'd have kept track of Jesus. Even beyond this, Herod had one very direct source of information. Among those listed as people who accompanied Jesus and contributed to his support was Joanna, the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod's household (Luke 8:3).
We're told by all three synoptic gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) that Herod had a keen and on-going interest in Jesus. Luke tells us that Herod kept on trying to see him; all Herod knew was that the Jesus Movement was growing. Despite his executing John, the movement still grew. Herod was beginning to hear so much that he tried to meet with Jesus to determine the truth. Alas, there's no evidence that Herod ever met Jesus, except of course on the day of Jesus' trial and crucifixion.
- Q. 1 Why did Jesus instruct his Twelve to "travel light"?
- Q. 2 Have you ever gone out two by two to minister? Who'd you like as your team member? What keeps both of you from preaching the Good News to one or more people who don't yet know Christ Jesus? Start making plans; don't wait!
Jesus Sends Out the Twelve
9 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2and he sent them out to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3He told them: "Take nothing for the journey — no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. 4Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. 5If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them." 6So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.
7Now 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, 8others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. 9But Herod said, "I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?" And he tried to see him.