Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him. These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: "Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. "And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. (Matthew 10:1-8 NASB)
Jesus gathers the twelve, gives them authority, and sends them. First realize that they are not sent to perform miracles because of some level of piety or faith that they have acquired. They are given authority by Christ, because Christ chose to give them (the twelve) authority. This may seem trivial, but it’s not. This text must never be used to promote healings, recitations of the dead, and casting out of demons, on the basis of faith and righteousness. It was not by the working of the twelve that any of these things happened, it was merely by the authority Christ gave. Again these things only happen by the authority given by God, and in the case of this passage it was unique to twelve individuals (who might I add did not yet realize that Christ was even the Son of God.) The other thing interesting about this passage is that Christ did not send the Disciples to the gentiles. Now if this is the normal Christian life, raising the dead, casting out demons, healing every kind of sickness, then is the normal Christian life also only to go the lost sheep of Israel? Of course not! The point is that this sending is unique... it is not the Christian standard.
This is a short post, but it is important when you read a text like this to take it at face value. First, this was authority given by Christ to twelve men, and not universally to all the disciples who followed Him around. Second it was authority given by Christ not on the basis of merit, prayer life, piety, faith, or anything else other than the will of Christ. Finally this mission was only to the lost sheep of Israel.
There is a lot more to say in the upcoming posts, but I did not want to bite off more than 8 verses for 1 post.