7 June 2021Luke 9:1-9
Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases. (v. 1).
Following a series of stories on Jesus’ miraculous deeds (8:22-56), Luke describes Jesus’ commissioning of his 12 apostles (vs 1-6). The apostles are given authority and power to proclaim the kingdom in word and deed, demonstrating it through their exorcisms and healings (vs 1-2). This kingdom – God’s coming reign – is the centre of Jesus’ message, and one that the apostles are now equipped to proclaim.
Jesus sends out his disciples without provisions for the journey – without staff or bag, bread or money, or even extra clothing (v. 3). Jesus’ instructions here are not for all mission trips, as later he tells his disciples to take provisions with them (Luke 22:35-36). But at this stage, the apostles’ lack of provision demonstrates their dependence on God.
They also depend on the welcome of villagers, and Jesus instructs his disciples to stay at houses where they are welcome. Such houses become centres for their local mission (v. 4). Where they are not welcome in a village, Jesus invites them to leave and shake dust of their feet as they do! Such a prophetic sign acts as a ‘testimony’ against places of unwelcome (v. 5). As they go on the mission, the apostles find that the power of Jesus is at work with them, and healings and exorcisms result (v. 6).
The second part of the passage describes Herod’s perplexity at Jesus. This ‘Herod the ruler’ is Herod Antipas who reigned over Galilee and Perea from 4 BC to 39 AD, and who had earlier condemned John the Baptist to prison (Luke 3:19-22).
Herod had heard various rumours about Jesus, including that Jesus was a revived John the Baptist, or the prophet Elijah (prophesied to return at the end of the age; Malachi 4:5-6), or that "one of the ancient prophets had arisen" (v. 8). Herod himself had beheaded John the Baptist (recounted in Mark 6:17-29), and so now he was wondering who Jesus was. The passage ends with Herod desiring to see Jesus (v. 9), and his desire was later fulfilled with Pilate’s help (Luke 23:8-11).
- In what ways is mission today similar to or different from the mission given to the 12 apostles in this passage?
- How might those doing mission work rely on the hospitality of others?
- In what ways do people think about Jesus today?