Thursday, July 27, 2006

Authority and Power for Miracles

Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons. (Mark 3:14-15)
Jesus had a plan and a purpose. He came to establish His kingdom, destroy the work of the devil and take away the sins of the world. He chose disciples to partner with Him in the work of this ministry, and He gave them assignments. He chose them, first of all, so that they might be with Him — to walk with Him, live with Him, learn from Him.

He also chose them for a threefold assignment: To preach the gospel, heal sicknesses and cast out demons. Now, God will never give us an assignment without also giving us the authority and power to carry out that assignment. So Mark notes the Jesus chose the disciples that He might send them out to have power. The Greek word for “power” here is exousia and actually means “authority.” Jesus chose the disciples to give them the authority to preach, heal sicknesses and expel demons. In Mark 6, we find that this is exactly what they did:
And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power [exousia] over unclean spirits … So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them. (Mark 6:7, 12-13)

And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power [exousia] over the unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease … These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them saying, “…As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. (Matthew 10:1, 5, 7-8)
Now, this authority was not just for the original disciples, but for all who would follow Him. Before He ascended to heaven, Jesus gave them a final commission, saying,
All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20)
No commission comes without authority. That is why Jesus began by saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” In commissioning the disciples, He was authorizing them, giving them authority to do what He was sending them out to do. What was He sending them out to do? To preach the gospel, make disciples of all nations, baptize them and teach them to observe everything that Jesus had taught them. Whatever Jesus had taught His own disciples to do, that it what they were to teach their disciples. And what did Jesus teach His own disciples to do? To preach the gospel, heal sicknesses, cast out demons — and even raise the dead!

Here is the assignment and the authority, but where is the power to do it? Luke answers that in how he records the Great Commission, both in the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts:
Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high. (Luke 24:49)

And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father … And He said to them, “… You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:4, 7-8)
The Greek word for “power” in these verses is dynamis. It is the ability to get things done, even the working of miracles. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 12:9, where Paul speaks of the working of miracles, the Greek word translated “miracles” is dynamis.

Dynamis is the miracle working power of God. When the woman with the issue of blood touched the hem of His garment, Jesus declared, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power [dynamis] going out from Me” (Luke 8:46).

Now, many Christians think that the power Jesus used to work miracles was the power He had because He is the Son of God. But this is not what the Scripture says. Indeed Jesus was (and is) the Son of God. But He was (and is) fully human as well as fully divine. So if it was not His own divine power He used, by what power did He perform miracles? Peter gives us the answer in the words he spoke to Cornelius:
God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power [dynamis], who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. (Acts 10:38)
Jesus did not perform these things out of His own power as the Son of God, but because God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and power, and because God was with Him. That is, He did them out of His humanity, anointed with the Holy Spirit. This is the same Holy Spirit anointing and power that is available for all Jesus’ disciples. It is what He promised us in Acts 1:8, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”

This dynamis is the power to be witnesses concerning Jesus Christ to all the world. A witness is one who brings evidence and produces proof. God gave us the Holy Spirit and power so that we could give evidence and produce proof about who Jesus Christ is and why He came. That is why Jesus said, in Mark’s version of the Great Commission,
And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. (Mark 16:17-18)
This miracle working power does not come from us; it comes from God. But it has been given to us, along with divine authority, in order to fulfill the great assignment Jesus has given us — to be witnesses to Jesus Christ in all the world.