The authority of a disciple




I love reading Bible stories where individuals are thinking about something they need to do and God comes along and gives His blessing to go and do it. We know that happened to Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, but I had forgotten it happened to Jacob as well.

Now Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were saying, “Jacob has taken all that was our father’s, and from what was our father’s he has gained all this wealth.” And Jacob saw that Laban did not regard him with favor as before. Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.” – Genesis 31:1-3  ESV

There is much more authority in our wings when we are given that authority by God. The same thing happened with the early disciples. In fact, when the twelve were first sent out, Jesus gave them every resource they needed to carry out the task that they had been assigned – both power and authority.

 “Authority is like a traffic cop who, by simply raising his hand, can bring two tons of speeding automobile to a complete halt. Does the officer have the power to stop the car? No! But the authority of the uniform does.” Charles Swindoll   

Following Jesus in this manner does come at a cost. A genuine disciple is more than just being forgiven of our sins, it is more than just denying the manifestation of sin in our life, it is participating in the carrying of our cross every day resulting in us being conformed to the image of Jesus.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. – Luke 9:23  ESV

When Jesus starts talking about His death, He kind of throws a crisis among the disciples following Him. They cannot understand and they are afraid. They start talking about who is the greatest, they want to control who can and cannot use the name of Jesus, and they want to destroy an entire village because they refused to welcome Jesus. Jesus tries to form His disciples into understanding His mission and eventually theirs. Jesus gives these three conditions for following Him:

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”  And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”  To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”  And Jesus[g] said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”  Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.”  Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:57-62

While praying for healing is part and parcel of the authority and power we all have as disciples, I think Jesus was trying to get both our feet on the ground by reminding us that a disciple is a servant. They get their hands dirty distributing multiplied food to hungry people. A disciple’s task involves being sent to proclaim the kingdom of God. We have a message to give. We ourselves are disciples because we confessed Jesus as the Christ.