Monday, July 5, 2010

Luke 9: 1-6

Luke chapter 9 invites us to evaluate the information Luke has given us. It is, if you will, a section quiz before transitioning to the next saga. Luke will give us a multiple choice question about who he is. But none of the popular choices are correct. Then, in light of who he is and our relationship to him, who are we and how should we live?

And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal. And he said to them, "Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them." And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. Luke 9:1-6 RSV

The sent ones. Of all those who followed him, who were disciples of his, there were twelve called by Y'shua. Luke 6:12-16 gives the circumstances of their calling. After a night of prayer, Y'shua called his disciples to himself and before them all, named twelve as his chosen ambassadors or apostles. In Luke 8:1 they are said to be with him, but aside from being named as the twelve, they do not seem to have a special roll that distinguishes them from the rest of the disciples. They are there to observe him but I do not see them participating in his ministry. But here in Luke 9 we become privy to the instruction for the mission they are about to be sent on.

He called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases…. No other details are given; Y'shua simply gave the twelve power and authority. My head wants to know how that happened. There is no hint of laying on of hands, of a ceremony of any kind. Just the fact that it happened. But in chapter 10 there is a warning.

Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." Luke 10:19-20 RSV

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The twelve have supernatural power and they go with the authority of Y'shua. The dark, fallen world of spirits who are in bondage under the prince of the power of the air must submit to the authority of Y'shua when they are confronted by any one of the twelve. They also have the power to heal disease. Neither of these are the whole of the story. They have these gifts for a purpose. Proclaim the kingdom of God. The power to heal disease is probably so that men can see that they have authority since physical man cannot see what the spirit realm knows. See Luke 5:17-25 But again, the purpose is to proclaim the kingdom of God.

The kingdom is near to you, but it will not envelope or absorb you. You will not suddenly find that you have tripped into the kingdom, nor can you just move along with the crowd. A decision must be made. Enter or walk away. There is only one way to enter. You must be born from on high by faith in Y'shua ha Mashiyach (Jesus who is the Christ).

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Luke 6:20 RSV Y'shua sends the twelve out to preach the kingdom of God. The sermon on the mount (as it is called by readers of Matthew) begins very much the way the sermon in Luke 6 starts. Of first importance is that the favor of Elohim (Blessed) is on those who are beggars in spirit. Not beggars in the world of men, but beggars in the spirit realm. The kingdom of Elohim belongs to them and he favors those who pray to him for what they need. In light of that they are not to bring a rucksack with a bed roll, extra clothing or money for restaurants or hotels (at least for my 21st century understanding). They are to live according to the blessing of Luke 6:20, dependent on YHVH for their daily bread. Their whole focus is to be proclaiming the kingdom of Elohim.

From town to town, the hospitality they received would be prepared for them by YHVH. In "The History of the New Testament" by FF Bruce, the Essines of the day were not restricted to Qumram. There were followers of the sect in most towns of the holy land. Traveling Essines could depend on a place to sleep and a meal from other Essines when they traveled. Apparently Y'shua wanted his followers to practice and receive this same hospitality. When they traveled they were to find the home that was receptive to them and stay there as they proclaimed the kingdom of God in that town. Even if the town or the host rejected the message of the kingdom of Elohim and his Messiah, they still could be assured they had a place that was provided for them not by the host but by their Lord. If the citizens of that town rejected the good news brought to them by the ambassadors of Y'shua, then they were to go through a ritual to shake off the dust of that town and walk away, no sleep was to be lost, no self loathing because of their failure.

Romans 12 is an appeal to believers to prove what is the will of God by changing our thinking from how we conduct ourselves and survive as people of this world, and how we have been called to live as citizens of the kingdom of Elohim, who have been born from on high and stand firm on faith. Believers are given gifts. Our privilege is to use our gift as a functioning member of the body of Messiah. In the first epistle to the Corinthians Paul teaches that there are varieties of gifts from Elohim for a variety of service. We are united by one and the same Spirit or breath of Elohim for the service of one Messiah. Not everyone is a sent one (note: not simply the office of apostle, but the calling of a missionary), not everyone has speaking gifts. Many of us are gifted to give aid to those who are sent, be it hospitality or aid, but all of us have one purpose, proclaim the good news of the kingdom.

I am just not sure how I am doing. It is easy to feel isolated. Y'shua has given me this amazing gift, and I am hanging on to it, but am I doing my part to proclaim His kingdom?

Do I live in dependence on Elohim or my paycheck? I count the income we have as a blessing. But is that what I am supposed to do? Again in Romans chapter 12 there is the exhortation to not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. How am I to live in light of that?

I suspect that the clout of the world is the glory that the devil is willing to share with those who, in one way or another, will bow and worship him. It is bondage. Choose ye this day whom you will serve…. Y'shua gave everything for me, I don't want to hold back for him.

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