As we enter the ninth chapter of Luke’s gospel, it’s helpful to understand what is taking place in the ministry of Jesus. At this point, Jesus is finishing His second full year of ministry. He is well known in Israel, and large crowds of people gather daily to hear His teaching, be healed, and to have demons exorcised.
Nobody in history has made such an incredible impact in such a short time. Jesus is turning the world upside down. He is proving that He alone is capable of saving humanity.
Chapter nine begins changes in the ministry of Jesus. He is completing His work in the northern area of Israel. He will still spend a few more months in the area, with the ending highlight being His transfiguration. After the transfiguration, Jesus will start His way towards Jerusalem.
Jesus begins involving His disciples, the Twelve, in His work. In the passage we are looking at today, Jesus will commission the twelve to proclaim the truth of the kingdom of God, and He will empower them with the ability to perform miraculous works. No longer do they passively follow and observe Jesus and learn. He deems them as ready to participate as ministers of the gospel.
Jesus is readying Himself to leave the northern region of Galilee. But, before He goes, He wants everyone to know about Him. He cannot do it alone, so He sends the twelve.
Jesus equips the Twelve for the proclamation of the kingdom of God. He equips them in four ways. First, Jesus spends personal time teaching the Twelve about the kingdom of God. By now, they are well taught. He explains parables to them about everlasting life and the requirement of holiness. The Twelve know of the need for repentance from sin and the need for holiness.
An essential truth Jesus teaches people is that salvation is by faith in Him, faith alone in Christ alone. Jesus commends the centurion and the woman with the hemorrhage for their faith. He tells His disciples in the storm they need more faith. The apostles' proclamation of the kingdom of God is the proclamation that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Believe in Him.
The second way Jesus equips His disciples is by giving them power. He bestows upon His disciples the power to cast out demons. In doing so, they show that Jesus’ authority extends beyond this world, and it includes the spiritual realm. At the name of Jesus, the demons must flee. In the kingdom of God, every knee bows to Jesus.
The third way Jesus equips the Twelve is to give them the power to heal diseases. The ministry of healing is a ministry of compassion and mercy. Sickness and disease are the results of the fall of man. Christ’s healing of the sick proves God is compassionate and loving. Jesus came to save people from sin, and all that sin entails.
Lastly, Jesus bestows upon the Twelve authority. They will teach with authority just as He does. They will have His authority over the spiritual realm and sickness. Jesus has the authority to forgive sin. They now share in the authority of Jesus.
Without the equipping of Jesus, the Twelve have no power or authority. All authority and power reside in Him, and it is His to give as He wishes.
Jesus equips us for the proclamation of the kingdom of God. He establishes the church and gives the church pastors, teachers, evangelists, and apostles to equip the saints with the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12).
The church ministers the word of God through preaching and teaching. When we gather together to hear the word of God, it is for the purpose of knowing Christ and making Him known.
Jesus equips us with the ministry of compassion and mercy. Thousands upon thousands of hospitals are built in the name of Jesus. The church sponsors orphanages and care organizations. We do not have the miraculous healing power given to the Apostles, but we have the compassion and mercy of His Holy Spirit to reach out to hurting people to let them know that God loves them and desires for their good.
Jesus bestows upon us His authority. When He ascended, He tells His disciples that all authority is given to Him, go therefore and preach the gospel and make disciples (Matthew 24:28). When we proclaim the kingdom of God, we participate in the ministry of Jesus, just as the Apostles. When we share the gospel, we are speaking with the authority of God’s word.
Luke tells us about Jesus sending out His apostles with power and authority to proclaim the kingdom of God. Luke includes interesting information that Jesus gives the apostles regarding their journey. The account gives us logistical details of their commission to proclaim.
Jesus tells His apostles to take nothing on their journey. No staff, bag, bread, money, or an extra coat. And, once they enter a house, they are to stay in the same house until they leave that city.
One of the eyewitnesses, likely one of the apostles, tells Luke how Jesus sends them out empty-handed. Jesus wants the twelve to trust God and have faith that He will provide for their needs.
At that time, people would travel as teachers, and they would bring everything with them. If they are invited to stay in a better house, they would “upgrade” their accommodations. When the apostles proclaim the kingdom of God in the name of Jesus, they are set apart from others. They will journey by faith in God’s provision.
Jesus wants the apostles to trust God for their needs. He wants them to pray each day for their daily bread. What good is healing power from God, if you don’t believe God will provide for your everyday existence. In other words, imagine how foolish it will look if God works through the Apostles to heal, but God makes the apostles go hungry.
Later in Luke (10:7), Jesus tells His disciples that those who labor for the gospel ought to be paid by those who are taught. Paul quotes Luke and teaches Timothy the same principle that the laborer is worthy of his wages (1 Timothy 5:18). Jesus believes that the people in the villages and towns are to support those who proclaim the kingdom of God.
The apostles will face great hardship in the future as they build the church. Jesus wants them to know God will provide for the ministry of the gospel. Jesus is increasing the faith of His apostles to trust they will always be taken care of by God.
This passage is not a formula for mission work. In other words, we are not to send out a missionary with one jacket, no money, and nothing to eat. This passage is a description of a one-time specific command given by Jesus to the twelve apostles. It is not a prescription for sending out evangelists. Scripture interprets Scripture. At a later time, Jesus tells His apostles they may take money on their journey. Therefore, the description in these verses is not a hard and fast rule (description, not prescription).
When we proclaim the gospel, we are to be set apart. We are to be content with God’s provision. We all live by faith and need to trust God for our provision.
Jesus expects the people in the towns and villages to provide for His apostles. In the same way, we are to provide for those who minister the gospel to us. Many in the church give generously, so I and the missionaries receive a wage.
Jesus expects all who regularly attend this church to contribute to the church. It’s not right to attend and be fed by the word of God and give nothing or give very little so the work of the gospel can continue. If you are not participating by giving, you are in disobedience to the Scripture, and you are missing out on the blessings of God, for He says it is more blessed to give than receive.
Jesus sets His apostles apart from other teachers at the time. In the same way, all of us are to be set apart for the sake of the gospel. Our conduct is to reflect the holiness of God (2 Corinthians 6:17, 7:1). We are to set our minds on the things above, not on things that are on the earth (Colossians 3:2). In doing so, we prove the gospel is worthy of knowing and of applying.
Jesus expects His apostles will experience rejection. How can this be? They are entering cities and healing people miraculously. They release people from the bondage of demons. People in deep pain or torment experience immediate wellness. Despite the good news of God’s kingdom and the many signs and wonders, some people will reject the truth.
It is hard to imagine someone rejecting the Apostles’ ministry, but Jesus expects they will be rejected. He prepares them for when it will happen.
Why does Jesus expect rejection? Because people reject Jesus. The apostles will help people tremendously. They will attract a crowd as leprosy scales fall off, blind people receive sight, and sickness and demons scatter. But, as soon as they talk about Jesus, people will reject their teachings. They will scoff and mock the apostles.
Jesus tells His Apostles that those who do not honor the Son do not honor the Father who sent Him (John 5:23). If they call Jesus, who is the head of the house, the devil, how much more will they call members of the household, evil names as well (Matthew 10:25).
When people do not receive the apostles they are to go out from that city and shake the dust off their feet as a testimony against that city. When the Israelites ventured to foreign lands, when they returned to Israel, they would shake the dust of their feet. It is an act to show gentile soil is not worthy of being mixed with the soil of God’s Promised Land.
When the disciples leave a city and shake the dust off their feet, they are testifying to all who watch that they are no better than pagan gentiles. The message will be a clear signal of condemnation.
What about us? Will people reject us because of Jesus? Absolutely. Thousands of Christians are killed each year for the sake of saying Jesus is the Savior of the world. The hatred for Jesus is intense.
Try this for an experiment. Announce that you are going to build a hospital, school, or orphanage. Watch how excited people become. Then, tell them that the purpose of the building is so that more people will hear about Jesus and His gospel. Do you think the reception will be the same?
The world will always let Christians build schools, hospitals, feeding stations, clothing centers, and orphanages. But as soon as the gospel is the center of those ministries, watch how quickly the reception will wear off.
We all desire to be accepted. We hate rejection. Fear of rejection is the number one reason most people do not share Christ with others. The disciples are told before they enter the city they will face rejection. They know upfront. So do we. We will face rejection.
But, when people reject the gospel, Jesus tells His apostles to let the listener know the result of their decision. If we don’t tell them the consequences, we have not given the whole gospel, but only what we believe is safe. In doing so, we demonstrate a lack of faith that God will protect us.
We will experience rejection. It is not our custom to shake the dust off our feet. But, we need to urge people to make a decision and explain with love the consequences of rejecting Christ.
Jesus gives a command, and the Twelve obey. They go throughout the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.
We can imagine the excitement as they heal, cast out demons, and proclaim the glories of God’s kingdom. There is no greater news.
Notice, in verse two, it says they are sent to proclaim the kingdom of God, and here in verse six, it says they went preaching the gospel. To tell people about God’s kingdom and to proclaim the gospel is the same.
When the apostles proclaim the kingdom of God, they tell people they are sinners. No sinner will enter the kingdom of God. The gospel (good news) is that Jesus has the power to forgive sins. It is proven by His authority over sickness (telling the paralytic to walk) and with His authority in the spiritual realm over Satan and his demons. Jesus gives the apostles His authority. All who listen and put their faith in the forgiveness Jesus offers will receive forgiveness, and theirs is the kingdom of God.
When Jesus ascended into heaven, He gave all who follow Him the same command He gives the apostles. Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore …” (Matthew 28:18-19).
We are given a command to obey. We need to be obedient to the gospel. We have good news. We have the opportunity to share good news in a world full of evil news. Let us go, therefore, and be obedient to the command to make disciples.
The work and ministry of Jesus do not go unnoticed. Herod, the tetrarch hears of all that is happening, and he is greatly perplexed. The reason for being perplexed is that he hears many different stories about Jesus. Nobody is telling him the same thing. Some are telling Herod that Jesus is John the Baptist risen from the dead. That, of course, would be frightening to Herod since he is the one who beheaded John.
Others are telling Herod that Jesus is Elijah. Some people tell Herod that Jesus is one of the other prophets who is risen again. Herod doesn’t know what to think. He asks an essential question, “who is this man about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see Him. But, he is going to have to wait.
There are many opinions about Jesus when Jesus is on earth. People are unsure of His true identity.
The same confusion exists today, and many are perplexed. Some believe Jesus is a good teacher, but not Lord. Others, such as Muslims, believe Jesus is only a prophet. False cults believe Jesus is not God, but He is a created being.
Jesus claims He is God and makes Himself equal with God (John 5:18). Jesus says that if we see Him, we see the Father (John 14:7, 9). The Jews seek to kill Jesus for blasphemy (Le. 24:16) because He says He existed before Abraham and that He is “I am” (Ex. 3:14; Jn. 8:58). Jesus claims the power to forgive sins (Mt. 9:6).
The influential Christian writer, C.S. Lewis, comments that Jesus’s claim to have the power to forgive sins as “the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.” Lewis goes on to say, “Now unless the speaker is God, this is really so preposterous as to be comic.”
The gospel is not shared if we do not tell people about the person and work of Jesus. The gospel is to tell people that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus is more than a good teacher or a prophet; He is God.
The gospel is the proclamation that there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
The gospel is not about going to church, doing good works, or about being a good person. The gospel is not about feeding the poor, orphanages, or building hospitals. The gospel is putting faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus is the gospel.
Luke writes an account about Jesus. He talks to eyewitnesses and Luke’s writings corroborate with the documents of history written at that time. Luke gives accurate historical details about who is in power (ex., Herod). He describes the geography in ways that only someone who has been there could.
Luke writes his account so others will believe in Jesus. This account is about Jesus, the Messiah of Israel. Luke writes to answer Herod’s question, “who is this man about whom I hear such things?”
Everyone is asking the same question in the time of Luke, “who is this man?” Luke investigates the matter and discovers Jesus is more than a man; He is God. The identity of Jesus is the point of Luke’s gospel. It is not about miracles. It is not about the interesting stories. It is about the person of Jesus. Jesus is the gospel; He is good news.
Our world needs to know Jesus.
People protest in the streets demanding justice. Only Jesus brings true justice. Stories of corruption in government and business reveal evil in high places. Only Jesus can eradicate evil and bring good. Countries in the Middle East, terrorism, tensions in Korea, unrest in China, and threats from drug cartels bring about war and destruction. Only Jesus offers real peace. Lies and deceit fill new organizations, companies, government, educational institutions, and the news media. Believe Jesus. His words are true. Coronavirus, automobile accidents and natural disasters end life quickly. We all want life and not death. Jesus brings life.
In a world full of bad news, Jesus is the good news that everyone seeks. Jesus has the power and authority to reverse all that is wrong in this world. Only He is the source of good. Put your faith in Him. Jesus is good news.
 Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis; Collier Books, MacMillan Publishing Company, 1960, pg. 60