v 7. And he called his twelve disciples together and began sending them out two by two, giving them authority to cast out evil spirits.
Unlike many other leaders in history Jesus did not cling on to power for Himself. He discipled his followers carefully, setting them examples of how to do good for others. He planned to work with and through His followers. We see the full impact of that in the Book of Acts as the Apostles set out to teach and heal just as Jesus had done.
This is in fact the ultimate test of good leadership; it trains other people to continue with and even improve on what is being done. There have been far too many organisations that have folded when an enthusiastic and visionary leader has retired. The vision has not been passed on, and the organisation has wilted. Jesus planned it differently; His work had to develop to become global in scope and that needed a well-trained and empowered group of followers. Jesus laid a good foundation and the Church has grown through all nations.
It is worth reflecting for a moment on the task that the disciples were given. It is not a preaching power – the ability to stand in front of crowds and speak about Jesus. That came later for some of them; just think of Peter on the Day of Pentecost. Nor was it great organisational or writing skill at this stage. It was the rather poorly understood concept of authority to cast out evil spirits. That is the ability to intervene in the lives of individuals and re-orientate them as they began to live a God-centred life. Vast tomes have been written on what the Bible means by ‘Evil Spirits’; ideas ranging from demon-possession right through to some medical condition such as epilepsy. Perhaps all we need to grasp here is that Jesus empowered these disciples to act in His name to change both the centre of people’s lives and the direction in which their lives were travelling.
The disciples were not equipped to teach Theology, nor even to establish Churches throughout the known world. They were to imitate Jesus in seeing lives transformed for the better. The evil, sinful influences that pervaded the lives of so many were to be beaten back. This marks the start of the expansion of Jesus’ ministry; He was a Man empowering other people like no other.