The Gospel of Luke records Jesus making a statement at the beginning of his public ministry. It can be considered a mission statement. After Jesus’ baptism and temptation the wilderness, Jesus was ready to start His public ministry. “Full of the Spirit,” Jesus began teaching in the synagogues of Galilee and demonstrating the works of the kingdom. In one of those synagogues, Jesus was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. He read the following passage:
THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE DOWNTRODDEN, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.” Luke 4:18-19 NASB
After reading this passage, Jesus sat down and declared, “Today this passage is fulfilled in your midst.” By doing this, Jesus was saying that His ministry was a prophetic fulfillment of this passage. Jesus’ ministry was the ministry of bringing the good news of the kingdom to mankind. And, the first “sign” or demonstration of that kingdom that Luke recorded after Jesus public statement was deliverance.
Luke 4:31-37 tells us that Jesus went to Capernaum and was preaching in a Synagogue. In the middle of his message a man “with an unclean spirit” started manifesting a demon. Jesus silenced the demon and commanded it to leave. The man was free and unharmed.
Jesus not only brought deliverance to those who were troubled by evil spirits, He also trained others to bring deliverance. Matthew captures Jesus’ heart in training others to do the ministry of the kingdom (Matthew 9:35-10:8). When reading these verses, keep in mind, that in the original Greek, there would have been no chapter and verse distinctions. The verses at the end of chapter 9 were connected to the verses at the beginning of chapter 10.
And Jesus was going about all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. “Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” Mathew 9:35-38 NASB
Notice Jesus felt compassion for the multitudes because they were “distressed and downcast” like sheep without a shepherd. The ESVS uses the words, “harassed and helpless” to describe the multitudes. If one can read between the lines, the activity of demons was one of the contributing factors in the harassment and helplessness of the multitudes. Jesus’ response to the need of the multitudes was to recognize the need for more workers. When Jesus started his ministry he was doing the majority of the teaching, praying for the sick and healing of the demonized. He was modeling how to do the ministry of the kingdom. And now the time had come to commission and release the Twelve. Jesus told his disciples to pray that The Lord of the harvest would send out more workers to demonstrate the kingdom, and then at the beginning of chapter 10, He commissioned the Twelve to do the work of the kingdom. Keep in mind that the commissioning in chapter 10 is directly connected to the verses at the end of chapter 9.
Let us take a look at the commissioning and sending of the Twelve:
The Commissioning and Sending of the Twelve
And having summoned His twelve disciples, He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Matthew 10:1 NASB.
These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them, saying, “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 10:5-8 NASB
Matthew records Jesus giving His disciples the following instructions:
- Cast out demons
- Heal the sick
- Raise the dead
- Preach the kingdom
- When they are persecuted speak what the Holy Spirit tells them to speak,
- Do not worry about those who will try to kill them, but fear God
- Be prepared for rejection-shake dust of their feet
- Give freely
- Travel/minister unencumbered
Notice that Jesus gave the Twelve authority over demons and then he sent them out to do the work of casting out demons. Driving out demons is part of demonstrating that the Kingdom of God is at hand. Deliverance is connected to healing, evangelism and is freeing those who are held in bondage.
The Ministry of the Seventy
Sometime after the sending of the Twelve, Jesus trained, equipped and sent seventy others to do the work of the kingdom, including the casting out of demons. In chapter ten of his gospel, Luke records the ministry of the Seventy:
Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them two and two ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Luke 10:1-2 NASB
And the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. “Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you. Luke 10:17-18 NASB
There is quite a similarity between the sending of the Twelve and the sending of the Seventy. Jesus equated the ministry of demonstrating the kingdom with being a laborer in the harvest. Freeing people from the harassment of demons was considered one of the things those who labored in the harvest would do.
Matthew, Mark and Luke all record similar commissions at the end of their Gospels (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark16:14-20; Luke/Acts (Luke 24:46-49 + Acts 1:4-9). The commission recorded in Matthew’s Gospel is often called The Great Commission.
© 2016 Alan Garrett, alsgarrett.org