Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.…
We learn from this commission and these instructions -
I. THAT CHRIST HAS DIVINE RESOURCES FOR SPECIAL NECESSITIES. He gave to the twelve "power and authority over all devils," etc. If he had such resources at his command then, when he was stooping so low and laying aside so much of heavenly rank and authority, of what is he not possessed now - now that he is enthroned, now that "all power is given unto him in heaven and on earth"? His Church may be very bitterly assailed; it may fall very low in consequence of the slackness and unfaithfulness of its own members; it has thus fallen more than once since he ascended: but in his hand are great reserves; his Divine resources are illimitable. He can equip and send forth men endowed with wonderful power, with marvellous faculty of persuasion or of organization; he can send forth those whose influence shall be felt even "where Satan's seat is," in the depths of spiritual evil and moral wrong, and thus he can establish or re-establish his kingdom.
II. THAT WE MAY COMMIT OURSELVES TO WORKS OF USEFULNESS though conscious of much insufficiency. We may be surprised that our Lord should send out the twelve to "preach the kingdom of God" (ver. 2) at a time when they had so very imperfect an idea as they then had of the character of that kingdom. Their views of it were very elementary; they had yet to learn concerning it facts and truths which seem to us of the first importance. But still he sent them; there was something, and something of substantial value, they could teach; and they were (all of them, at that time) genuinely attached to their Divine Master. If we wait until we know everything it would be well to know before we begin our ministry, we shall be postponing the time until our chance is gone. We should begin the work of holy usefulness early, even when there is very much to learn; we shall acquire knowledge, tact, wisdom, power, as we go on our way of service. The one requisite thing is that we shall be thoroughly sincere, and do all that we do out of a true and faithful heart.
III. THAT CHRIST MAY CALL ON US TO CAST OURSELVES ENTIRELY ON HIS PROVIDING AND PROTECTING CARE. This he did with his apostles now (ver. 3). Usually it is our duty to take every precaution for our bodily necessities; not to expose ourselves to needless perils or to injurious privations. But there are times when it becomes our duty - especially that of the Christian minister, or evangelist, or missionary - to cast aside all prudential considerations, to run all risks, to commit himself absolutely to the care of the Divine Father.
IV. THAT THERE IS A LIMIT WHICH EVEN HOLY PERSISTENCY MAY NOT PASS. (Ver. 5.) It is well to work patiently on under discouragement. It is our sacred duty to do this; we are quite unfitted for the nobler spheres of service if we are not prepared to do so. We admire and applaud those who cannot tear themselves away from work which they have set their hearts on accomplishing. Let patient persistency have abundant scope for its exercise, but there is a point where it must stop; to exceed a certain measure is to be disregardful of those who would not reject the Word of life, on whom Christian service would not be spent in vain.
V. THAT PRACTICAL KINDNESS TO BODILY WANTS goes well with earnest attention to spiritual necessities (ver. 6). - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.