Luke 9:1-9 (ESV)
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.
Jesus called together his core team of disciples, and he gave them power and authority over sickness and demons. “Power” means “the ability to do something,” and “authority” has to do with the right to use that power. They were sent to preach the coming of God’s kingdom and to heal the sick. Jesus told them to pack lightly for their journey and not to bring a staff, a bag, bread, money, or an extra shirt. Why shouldn’t they bring these things? What would be wrong with packing a little cash for the road trip? Jesus wanted his disciples to depend upon others’ generosity as those they met would be prompted by God to help them out. They weren’t to worry about their personal comfort. He was also building their trust in God. When they came into a city, they were to find a place to stay and remain in that home while they worked in that city. If no one took them in, they were called to “shake the dust off their feet.” This was a symbolic action against the people who lived there. The Jews would shake their feet off when they returned from traveling through Gentile territory. So shaking their feet would proclaim that the unreceptive Jews were acting like Gentiles in rejecting the kingdom and the Messiah. Luke adds that even Herod the tetrarch (the one who beheaded John the Baptist) heard about Jesus and his apostles (v. 7). The message about the coming kingdom was going out to many places and up the social ladder.
As followers of Christ, we have the same commission. We have been given the Holy Spirit and the Gospel. Jesus has charged all of his followers to bring his message to as many people as possible and make more disciples. As we do this, some will receive the message, but many, if not most, will not be interested. But Jesus takes the rejection of his followers personally. When he confronted the apostle Paul, who was called Saul, he asked, “Why do you persecute me?” Paul terrorized Christians, not Jesus directly, yet according to Jesus, Paul was persecuting Jesus nonetheless. As it would have been ridiculous for the apostles to be sent out by Jesus and not preach his message, it is just as silly for us as his followers not to communicate what he wants to say to others. Keep proclaiming the good news to as many as you can. It’s your job.