Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first twenty verses of the ninth chapter. WHEN THE NEEDS HAVE A NAME AND THE CROWDS HAVE A NUMBER! WHAT BEGINS WITH POWER AND AUTHORITY EVENTUALLY CULMINATES IN HANDING OUT BREAD! FROM CURING DISEASES TO PASSING OUT BREAD! FROM CASTING OUT DEMONS TO PASSING OUT FISH! WHAT BEGINS WITH POWER AND AUTHORITY CULMINATES IN SERVING DINNER TO THE HUNGRY! JESUS ENTRUSTED THE DISCIPLES WITH HIS MINISTRY! WHAT DID JESUS DO WHILE THE DISCIPLES WERE OUT MINISTERING? When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find it beginning with what is perhaps one of the most important missions and assignments of the disciples given unto them by Jesus the Christ. As you begin reading this passage of scripture you will find Jesus calling His disciples unto Himself and giving them power and authority in order that they might carry out a very specific purpose and assignment within the earth. Within this passage of scripture you will find it written and recorded how Jesus gave the disciples power and authority, and how He gave it to them for a very specific purpose. If there is one thing we must recognize and understand it’s that whenever the Lord endows us with His power and authority, it is always for a specific plan and purpose. Perhaps one of the greatest realities we must learn and recognize is that any authority and any power that is given unto us is never for our own means, our own gain and our own benefit. There would be those who would argue the fact that when they are endowed with power from on high, they are somehow in control of that power and authority and have the right to dictate and control what is done with it. There are men and women among us within this generation and those who have been present in previous generations who would be endowed with power and authority from on High, and yet they would assume and assert their own will, their own desire and their own plans for such power and authority.
What I so love and appreciate about what is found and written within this passage is that Jesus have His disciples power and authority before the day of Pentecost. If you take the time to read this particular passage of scripture you will notice that the day of Pentecost had not yet come, and that the disciples were given power and authority in order that they might be partners in the ministry which Jesus the Christ was sent upon the earth and assigned by the Father to do. What’s more, is that there is a clear and present distinction between the power and authority that is given on this particular occasion and the power that was given on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the one hundred and twenty which were in the upper room. In fact, I would dare say there is a strong contrast between the power and authority that was given on this particular occasion, and when the other New Testament gospel writers write about Jesus giving His disciples power and authority for a specific reason, and the power and authority which was given on the day of Pentecost. I am thoroughly convinced that the power and authority that was given on this particular occasion was such that would enable the disciples to be partners together with Jesus the Christ in the ministry upon the earth for which He was called and sent. The power and authority that was given on the day of Pentecost was not necessarily to be partners together with Jesus the Christ upon the earth, for at and by that time Jesus had already risen from the grave and had ascended unto the right hand of the Father who was in heaven. I am convinced that the power and authority that was given on the day of Pentecost was such that was given in order that the disciples who were transformed into apostles would carry out and continue in the ministry of Jesus Christ within and upon the earth. The endowment of power and authority which we find and read about in the gospels is such that was given in order that the disciples might come alongside Jesus Christ in the work and ministry for which He has been called and sent. The endowment of power and authority of the disciples while Jesus was still with them and upon the earth was such that would enable them to join together and to participate in the work and ministry for which He had been sent.
I am completely and absolutely convinced that we must recognize and understand this particular reality, for within the New Testament gospels, as well as the New Testament book of Acts we not only encounter an endowment of power and authority to partner together in the work and ministry for which Jesus would be sent, but also a second endowment of power and authority that would be given unto them upon His ascension into heaven and His return unto His Father. In all reality—if you study the New Testament gospels, as well as the New Testament book of the Acts you will notice that there could very well conceivably be four different times when the disciples were endowed with power and authority from the Lord for the specific task which was appointed unto and ordained for them. I don’t know if I would specifically state that there were different levels of power and authority in the kingdom, but there is certainly an argument for different experiences with power and authority as it is written and found within the gospels, as well as the New Testament book of Acts. If you study the first five books of the New Testament you will discover the disciples being given power and authority by Jesus the Christ in order that they might join together with Him and partner together in the ministry which was before them while He walked the earth. This power and authority was given unto them to preach the gospel to the poor, to drive out unclean spirits of devils, to raise the dead, and to heal the sick. As you continue reading the gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find it written in the gospel according to John how Jesus would breathe upon them, in order that they might receive the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. If you continue reading the gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find how just prior to and just before He ascended unto the right hand of the Father who was in heaven, Jesus gave the disciples authority and power in order that they might carry out and continue the ministry which He began within and upon the earth. The synoptic writers and authors each presented us with a final endowment of power and authority upon the disciples while Jesus was still present with and among them upon the earth. It is when we come to the New Testament book of Acts that we notice a recapturing of Jesus’ words concerning tarrying in Jerusalem, as well as the actual day of Pentecost when the one hundred and twenty would be baptized with and receive the power, person and presence of the Holy Spirit.
I am convinced that if we want to truly understand this particular reality, it is absolutely necessary that we examine each of these passages carefully and consider them in light of what the Spirit of the living God desires to speak unto us. If we are truly going to understand that which is found within this particular chapter found in the New Testament gospel of Luke, it is imperative that we understand the progression of power and authority that was bestowed upon and given unto the disciples—and not just the disciples alone, for within the gospels you will find that Jesus also ordained, appointed and anointed seventy individuals and sent them out two by two in order that they might be partners together with Him in the ministry. What’s more, is that by the time we come to the New Testament book of Acts and the events which would take place after the ascension of Jesus unto the right hand of the Father in heaven, it wasn’t just the eleven apostles together with the newest addition which was chosen by lots in the upper room, but it was a total of one hundred and twenty who were present in the upper room, which would include Mary the mother of Jesus, and certain women who were faithful unto and followed Jesus the Christ while He walked upon the earth. If there is one thing we must recognize and learn when considering the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, it’s that He didn’t attempt to do the ministry alone and by Himself. It is true that we read countless examples and accounts of Jesus engaging in public ministry among men within and upon the earth, but there were at least two specific times within his life and ministry when He specifically chose two distinct groups of people and endowed them with power and authority in order that they might carry out the mission, the purpose and assignment which He had been sent by the Father to fulfill. It is at this juncture where I would draw and call your attention to specific references and specific passages within the New Testament gospels, as well as the New Testament book of Acts and to the very specific accounts of the disciples and others being endowed with power and authority from and by Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Consider if you will each of these examples, and that for which the disciples, the seventy, and the entire one-hundred and twenty were called, chosen, ordained and appointed to do within and upon the earth:
“And when He had called unto Him His twelve disciples, He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaes, whose surname was Thaddeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot who also betrayed Him. These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans, enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as your go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that houser or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city” (Matthew 10:1-15).
“After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before His face into every city and place, whither He Himself would come. Therefore said He unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest. Go your ways: behold, Is ent you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor hoses: and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: and heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleavers on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God come nigh unto you. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city…And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. And He said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:1–13, 17-20).
These two passages bring us face to face with the endowing of power and authority—first upon the twelve apostles, and later upon an additional seventy individuals who were sent out two by two before the face of Jesus into the cities in which He would come, in order that they might make ready and prepare those cities and the people therein for the arrival of Jesus within them. In all reality, I would dare say that that which Jesus ordained and appointed these seventy for was a forerunner assignment—an assignment which was similar to that of John the Baptist, for they were sent into the cities ahead of Jesus the Christ in order that they might prepare those cities and the people therein for the arrival of Jesus, as well as for the ministry which He would initiate and bring among them. It was unto the twelve apostles Jesus gave power and authority to heal the sick, to cleanse the lepers, to cast out devils, to raise the dead, to preach the gospel unto the poor, and to partner together with the ministry which Jesus Himself was sent. It was unto the seventy mentioned in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke that Jesus ordained, chose and appointed in order that they might be forerunners for Him into the cities in which He would come, in order that they might prepare and make ready those cities and the people therein for the arrival of Jesus, and the ministry which He Himself would bring unto and among them. How absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to think about and consider the fact that there were those who were ordained, appointed and anointed by Jesus the Christ in order that they might partner together with Jesus in the ministry, and there would be those whom Jesus would ordain and appoint to prepare cities, towns and villages for His appearance and His arrival. The ministry of the seventh was actually quite simple when you think about it, for it would be through the ministry appointed unto them that not only were cities, towns and villages prepared for the arrival of Jesus the Christ, but these seventy would also drive out devils, and would be given power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing would by any means hurt them. How absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to think that these seventy would prepare cities, towns and villages for the arrival and appearance of Jesus the Christ simply by engaging themselves in fellowship and communion, and even healing the sick, declaring that the kingdom of God was come night unto them, and to cast out demons and devils. The appointment of the twelve and their endowment with power and authority, as well as the appointing of the seventy would be the beginning of the partnership in ministry which would be present while Jesus was upon the earth, but we must also recognize that prior to Jesus’ ascension unto the right hand of the Father in heaven, He spoke very specific words unto His eleven disciples and apostles concerning their ministry and assignment within the earth:
“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw Him, they worshipped Him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:16-20).
“Afterward He appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen. And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; and they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:14-18).
“Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endured with power from on high” (Luke 24:45-49).
“Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when He had so said, He shewed unto them His hands and His side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained” (John 20:19-23).
It is within these four passages of Scripture where we find and discover Jesus endowing the eleven disciples with power and authority, and sending them forth into the earth to reach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and teaching them to observe all things which He had commanded. It is within these passages where we find Jesus speaking directly unto the eleven and to preach the gospel to every creature and to continue and carry out the ministry for which He was sent and which He had begun within and upon the earth. In fact, when you come to the New Testament book of the Acts you will find the beloved physician Luke writing concerning the words which Jesus spoke unto His disciples prior to His ascension, and then presenting us with the events which took place on the day of Pentecost. Consider if you will the words which are found—both in the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts, as well as the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts:
“…of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after that He through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom He had chosen: to whom also He shewed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which saith He, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And He said unto them, IT is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:1-8).
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).
Now I fully recognize and understand that this particular writing has focused a lot on power and authority, and the power and authority which was given—first unto the twelve apostles, and then unto seventy others who were ordained and appointed as forerunners for the arrival of the Messiah into the cities, towns and villages within Judaea and Samaria. I acknowledge that this writing has focused on the power and authority which was given unto the eleven disciples whom were chosen and ordained as apostles by Jesus the Christ just prior to Jesus ascending to the right hand of the Father who was in heaven, and even the power and authority which was given on the day of Pentecost. With that being said, I feel a great and tremendous need to transition to what is found and recorded within the ninth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke, for while it begins with power and authority, it does not end and culminate with power and authority. If you take the time to read the ninth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke you will find that it begins with Jesus giving the twelve disciples power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. As the ninth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke begins and opens, it does so with Jesus sending them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick, and how the disciples went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where. Despite the fact that the ninth chapter of the New Testament gospel begins and opens with power and authority being given unto the disciples, it does not end and culminate with power and authority over devils, and with power and authority to cure diseases, and with power and authority to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. As you continue reading this particular passage of Scripture you will find that while it begins with power and authority, it would eventually and ultimately culminate with serving—and serving others in the midst and place of their need. How absolutely wonderful—and quite possibly even ironic—it is to think that a passage which would begin with power and authority would not continue with power and authority, but would end with the disciples serving the needs of others. What’s more, is that as you continue reading within this passage you will find that while it was true that they were given power and authority to heal the sick, to cure diseases, to drive out all devils, and to preach the kingdom of God, that power and authority didn’t exempt them from serving others. Even though the twelve disciples were given power and authority to be partners together with Jesus in the ministry for which He was sent, that didn’t mean that partnership with Jesus in ministry is limited to that which deals in the supernatural with signs, wonders, healing, and miracles. Far too often we think and assume that partnership together with Jesus in ministry is exclusive to that which touches the supernatural, and that which deals with healing the sick, casting out devils, raising the dead, cleansing the lepers, causing the blind to sea, the lame to walk, the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak. I would present unto you that this simply is not the case, for we aren’t given power and authority simply to deal in the supernatural.
It’s worth noting that as you continue reading this passage of Scripture you will notice that while it began with Jesus giving power and authority unto the disciples whom He had ordained and chosen as apostles, it would not end and culminate with that, for it would end with the disciples distributing fragments of bread and fragments of fish unto the five thousand men—not including women and children which were present on this particular day. In fact, the apostles returned unto Jesus and declared unto Him all the things which they had done, and the first thing He does is take them aside privately into a desert place belonging to a city called Bethsaida. The people, when they had learned about Jesus’ departure into the desert place, followed Him, and He received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing. The apostles would return unto Jesus declaring unto Him all the things they had done, and then immediately following their declaration, we find Jesus not only teaching concerning the kingdom of God unto those who gathered themselves unto Him, but also healing all those that had need of healing, and eventually and ultimately feeding five thousand men with and from five loaves of bread and two fish. The disciples declared and spoke of that which they had accomplished in the earth when they returned unto Jesus, and yet immediately following their statement and declaration, Jesus not only preached the kingdom of God, healed those which were sick, but ultimately fed five thousand men with only five loaves of bread and two fish. This is truly wonderful and remarkable, for included in this feeding of the five thousand was a partnership of the apostles—not a partnership in the supernatural in the sense that they healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out devils, and cleansed the lepers, but rather, a partnership in passing out bread. PARTNERSHIP IN SERVING! It’s interesting and worth noting that there is a partnership in the supernatural, but there is also a partnership in serving—a partnership in that which has nothing to do with signs, wonders and miracles, but simply in serving the needs of others. Far too often we allow ourselves to get caught up in the partnership of the supernatural, and carrying out of the ministry of healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out devils, cleansing the lepers, causing the blind eyes to see, causing deaf ears to hear, and causing mute tongues to speaks, and we allow ourselves to completely and totally forget that we have been called to partner together in service of the needs of others. It is very easy to allow ourselves to get caught up in the supernatural that we completely forget the need to inject ourselves into situations and among people in order that we might serve them and serve the needs which they have. The disciples initially sought to send the people away within this passage, and yet instead of agreeing to send the people away, Jesus instructed them to feed the five thousand which were before them—this being because Jesus already knew what He was going to do.
I can’t help but wonder what would and could have happened on this particular occasion if the five thousand had not already experienced healing from Jesus. Luke makes it very clear that not only did these men and women have the gospel preached unto them, but Jesus had also healed all those which had need of healing. The preaching of the kingdom and the healing of their diseases and infirmities had already taken place, and now the day was late, and the people were undoubtedly hungry. It’s worth noting that the disciples—if Jesus had consented and agreed to it—would have sent these people away hungry and thirsty unto their homes, and even to provide for themselves and satisfy their own needs and longings. Earlier they were given power and authority to engage in the supernatural and to participate in the work and ministry for which Jesus was sent, and even returned speaking of and declaring those things which they had done, and yet now they encountered something which Jesus had not given them power and authority for. It’s quite interesting to note that Jesus never gave power and authority to serve the needs of others. You will never read anywhere in the gospels that Jesus gave power and authority unto His disciples, or even unto the seventy in order that they might serve the needs of others, and engage themselves in service. IN all reality, I would dare say that there is absolutely no need for Jesus to give power and authority unto His disciples and those who would follow Him in order that they might serve the needs of others. What I find within this passage of Scripture is the disciples who were called as pastels being given power and authority to heal the sick, cure diseases, cast out devils and preaching the kingdom of God being invited to partner together with Jesus in service—something for which they neither needed power, nor authority to fulfill, step into and accomplish. Perhaps the single greatest question I can’t help but ask myself when reading that which is contained within this passage of Scripture is how many of us would gladly and willingly give ourselves to partnering together with Jesus the Christ in the supernatural, but when it comes to partnering together with Him in service, we tend to shy away from, and even reject such a notion and idea. It is true that we have been given power and authority to heal the sick, to cleanse the lepers, to raise the dead, to cast out devils, and to preach the gospel of the kingdom, however, if that power and authority is all we focus on, and we have no capacity to serve among others, we have severely and sorely missed the point. Heaven help us if we have no capacity and space to serve the needs of others, and when all we want to do is engage ourselves in the supernatural. Heaven help us if we are perfectly willing to partner together with Jesus the Christ in the ministry of the supernatural, and yet we are unwilling to partner together in service by passing out bread and distributing fish.
The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we think and believe ourselves to be above and to be too good to serve the needs of others, and to pass out bread, and to distribute fish. I would dare say that if we have absolutely no capacity to serve the needs of others, we dare not, we should not, and must not engage ourselves in the ministry of the supernatural, for the kingdom of heaven doesn’t need more mighty men and women in the supernatural, but mighty men and women in service. Heaven help those men and women who have no space and no capacity within themselves to serve the needs of others, and who believe themselves to be above passing out bread and distributing fish. I recognize that it is quite bold to declare that there is no space and no room for those who are unwilling to serve the needs of others, but I am convinced that if you are unwilling to serve the needs of others in the natural, you have no right to serve the needs of others in the supernatural. There are too many men and women who desire to operate solely in the supernatural, and yet they have no capacity and no room to operate in the natural—no room and capacity to serve and minister to the very real needs men and women have within their lives. The kingdom of heaven does not need men and women who are only willing to move and operate in the supernatural, and yet have no room, no space, and no desire to move and function in the natural, and to serve and service the needs of others. There is something to be said about those who are willing to pass out fragments of bread and distribute fragments of fish that says something—and says something far greater than healing the sick, casting out devils, raising the dead, etc. This particular passage began and opened with the disciples being endowed with power and authority to partner together with Jesus in the ministry of the supernatural, yet it would eventually culminate and reach the point where the disciples would move and operate in the natural, for they would be tasked with passing out bread and fish to all those who were hungry. Oh, it is true that we might have been given power and authority to engage ourselves in the supernatural, but if we have absolutely room and no space to engage ourselves in the natural, and to meet the very real needs of those around us, we dare not and ought not make any attempt to move and operate in the supernatural. Heaven help us if there is an array of disciples of Jesus who would rather engage themselves in the supernatural and have absolutely no space and capacity to operate in the natural and give themselves to serving the very real needs of others—despite the fact that they are tired and weary, despite the fact that they would just assume send the crowds away, and despite the fact that they feel as though they don’t have enough to serve those needs.