Jesus sent the disciples two by two and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. The twelve apostles had been with Jesus for some time and gained experience from His training. When they were ready for a practicum, Jesus empowered them with power and authority. It proved that they were indeed messengers sent by the Lord Jesus Christ. The ‘authority’ proved that they had the right to do something, and ‘power’ gave them the ability to do it.
Guidelines for their mission
Jesus sent them two by two. Why did Jesus send the Apostles in pairs? Because according to the Jewish law, two witnesses were needed to pronounce a truth. Going two by two carries with it the authority of official witnesses. He gave them instructions. They should not take any supplies for the road but simply trust in God for their requirements. God, the Provider, would open the hearts of believers to take care of the needs of the disciples. Jesus’ instructions also suggest that his disciples should not be like the acquisitive priests of the day, who were interested only in gaining riches. Instead, the disciples of Jesus must be concerned with “giving” rather than “getting.” They should be walking examples of God’s love and providence. By doing so, they would also have the maximum of freedom and the minimum of burdens in their preaching and healing ministry. Jesus wanted his apostles to be rich in all things which really mattered, so that they might enrich those who came into contact with them. It was a proven strategy for its effectiveness. At the last supper Jesus asked the disciples:” when I sent you out with no purse or bag or sandals, did you lack anything? They said “Nothing” (Luke 22: 35).
Jesus sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. In addition to a ministry of healing, the apostles were to proclaim the kingdom of God. Jesus himself said that his mission was to “preach the good news of the kingdom of God.” They were to preach the Good News that God is not a punishing judge, but rather a loving Father who wants to save men from their bondage to sin through Jesus His Son. The disciples were to preach the message of metanoia or repentance. Metanoia literally meant a change of mind. It can also mean taking a new direction. Thus, repentance means a change of heart and a change of action, a change from a self-centered life to a God-centered life. The kingdom of God has to do with the rule of God in the lives of his people. Jesus’ message was that God is the king who calls people to submit to his kingship. God is a gracious king who sent his Son to pay for the sin of his people. People simply need to recognize that they are sinners repent of their sin, put their trust in the person and work of Jesus, and surrender their lives to God’s sovereign and gracious kingship.
Regarding their lodging and reception
Jesus instructed them saying: “Where you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place” (Mark 6:10). Traveling false teachers moved from house to house, collecting money from each household. Jesus did not want his apostles to do that. They were to be content with their lodging. Jesus knew that his disciples would be welcomed to a family or house and give them what they needed because hospitality was an important religious tradition in Palestine. He also gave them stern instruction that if the people refused to listen and welcome them, they were supposed to shake off the dust from their feet. Why they had to shake off the dust from their feet? The Rabbinic law stated that the dust of a Gentile country was defiled, therefore, when a Jew entered Palestine from another country, he had to shake off every particle of the unclean land’s dust from his clothing and sandals. The disciples’ shaking of the dust from their feet declared in symbol that Israelites who rejected the kingdom were no better than Gentiles. They did not belong to the people of God.
Each Christian is called to witness to the kingdom of God. We have a mission not only to be a disciple but also to be an apostle. As disciples, we have to follow Jesus and imitate Jesus. As apostles, we have to evangelize the world. We are called to share with others not just words, or ideas, or doctrines but an experience, our experience of God and His Son, Jesus. We have a liberating and healing mission, liberating people from the clutches of the evil one, and to help people to be cured of their infirmities, not only the bodily sicknesses but psychological and emotional illnesses as well. And finally we have a mission to live in the kingdom of God, kingdom of God is, kingdom of peace, justice and love.
“The Lord tenderly loves those who have the happiness of abandoning themselves totally to the fatherly care of Divine Providence. They do no stop to consider if it is advantageous or not to their own interests. Let us be convinced that the fatherly heart of God will never allow anything that is not for our greater good.” St. Francis De Sales