Luke 9:1-17 captures Jesus sending out the twelve and feeding the five thousand through his eyes. So what happened when Jesus called the twelve with the simple words “follow me”? Scripture tells us Jesus:
- “Gave them power
- Gave them authority over all demons
- Gave them authority to cure diseases
- Sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God
- Sent them out to heal”
He equipped them for the task at hand with power and authority and gave them clear direction on what they should do. He also told them how to prepare and go. Jesus says “take nothing for you journey”. That doesn’t really sound very prepared does it? Here these guys are heading out to minister and they aren’t to take “staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money…..do not have two tunics”. No food, no money, no clothes. Certainly simplifies the travel planning eh? They were to be unencumbered by the details of how to go and just to do it – just go and follow God’s direction. Jesus is very clear that if they came into a town where people “do not receive you” they were to move on and “shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them”. Jesus didn’t expect them to keep beating their heads against a wall if no one was listening. They were to go and preach the good news and if they weren’t received, to move on. This is a leadership principle that many struggle with. But we see it over and over in scripture. We can’t force people to act in any certain way. Man has free will. It is not our job to make people believe this or that, or do this or that, but simply to share God’s truth. From that point it is their decision and choice. God calls us to go, not to force. Jesus knew that not everyone would receive these twelve with open arms. He knew that some would fail to believe. So He prepares them in how to respond which was to move on to the next town and continue the mission, not get wrapped up in what may feel like a failure.
Good old Herod is really wrestling with what is happening. He was getting mixed signals on what was up. Some said the miracles were because:
- “John had been raised
- Elijah had appeared
- Prophets of old had risen”
Can you imagine how confused he was. Things were out of his control – miracles were happening and people were flocking to Jesus. So “he sought to see him”. Seems like the right thing to do. Luke doesn’t tell us if that happened or not, but Jesus definitely had made Herod’s radar. As the twelve come back from the field, they told Jesus “all they had done” and “He took them and withdrew apart”. Jesus takes the twelve and gets away with them to review their work. Here are a couple great leadership points. Jesus listened and heard what the twelve had been doing – in fact “all” of what they had been doing. But rather than pat them on the back and tell them to get back out there, He took them out of the fray for a bit to do some more training and give them some downtime. That is so important for all of us to remember. If we are going to be effective, we must continually learn new and better ways to share God’s truth, must have a source of being fed on a regular and consistent basis, and we also must escape from the front lines on occasion to rest and refresh. Were the twelve done with their mission? Had they shared the good news completely to all? Nope – but Jesus knew that in order for them to remain effective, they needed some time away from people. It didn’t last long because “when the crowds heard it, they followed”. So the downtime was short, but still so necessary. I find it interesting that as Luke describes the throng coming to see and hear Jesus, he uses the words “they followed”. Want to describe Jesus ministry in one short word – it is “follow”. That is also how you tell is someone is a real leader – they have followers. Jesus did and is the best example of a leader we will ever find. Are you leading like Jesus? To do that, as the twelve did, we have to first become His follower. All day, every day, following Him!