Jesus called the twelve apostles, sent them out two by two, and gave them authority over evil spirits. 8 He instructed them to take nothing along on the trip except a walking stick. They were not to take any food, a traveling bag, or money in their pockets. 9 They could wear sandals but could not take along a change of clothes.
10 He told them, “Whenever you go into a home, stay there until you’re ready to leave that place. 11 Wherever people don’t welcome you or listen to you, leave and shake the dust from your feet as a warning to them.”
12 So the disciples went out, telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God. 13 And they cast out many demons and healed many sick people, anointing them with olive oil.
Have you ever been surprised when something actually works and yields a result you really didn’t expect?
- You decide to have a conversation with someone with whom you’ve been in conflict. You pray first, think through what you want to say, then speak the truth in love. And surprise! They listen. The understand. Your conflict is resolved.
- Or, you put away a portion of your income regularly and faithfully each month. And over time, your investments grow beyond your wildest dreams.
- You confront someone in love, calling them to repent, and offering mercy and forgiveness. They listen. They repent. They believe.
- You pray for a friend to be healed. They are healed.
Seems the disciples experienced just that. They went out and preached, healed, and cast out demons. They were successful. They saw God at work.
And Herod noticed.
Seldom does our missionary activity merit the attention of world leaders. But there are those who do. Pastors and people in China or North Korea will gain the unwelcome attention of political leaders. Sometimes they suffer great and grave consequences. Faithful Christians in Muslim countries witness to their neighbors and are thrown in prison or lose their jobs. A college professor expresses his faith and convictions about marriage, human sexuality, and morality, and is taken off the tenure track, or worse yet, fired.
Not all attention to the success of those who spread the gospel is beneficial. Not all will be welcome.
Sometimes I wish the church would make a bigger splash. Sometimes I long for the days when the church was the center of culture and society. But too often those were days of quiet acquiescence to the ways and values of the world. How else would we have gotten mainline denominations that espouse teachings so foreign to New Testament morality or human sexuality?
I’m not suggesting that we never let our voice be known. But I am suggesting that when Herod notices, it won’t necessarily be good. For John. Or even for Jesus.
At least in the long run. But take heart: demons are being cast out. People are being healed. The poor are hearing the Good News of God’s love. And one day, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father.