“Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”
It was time to leave the nest. Simon Peter and the rest of the twelve apostles had traveled with Jesus for quite a while, watching and learning from Him as He preached and performed miracles. But the time had come for them to begin sharing the gospel themselves, to take up the mantle of their Master and to live and work as He did. Jesus took the Twelve aside and gave them the power and authority to cast out unclean spirits and to heal all sorts of sickness and disease. (Matthew 10:1) And then Jesus gave them a sort of pep talk, a few quick lessons on where they should go, how they ought to live, and what they ought to speak. It was time for Simon Peter and the others to become the “fishers of men” that Christ had called them to be.
It can’t have been easy, stepping out on their own like that. Sure, they had the best Teacher one could hope for, but being used to life as they once knew it, they must have struggled with doubts and uncertainty. Jesus kept it simple as He explained what they were to do. The core of their mission was in this simple sentence: “Freely you have received, freely give.”
I have heard it said that the heart of the gospel is ultimate giving, and the words of Jesus support that idea.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
“Freely you have received, freely give.” God loved us so freely and completely that He gave His Son for our sins, so what ought we to give to others? Jesus freely gave up His glory to live among us and free us from our bondage to sin, so what ought we to give? Jesus freely brought us the good news of the peace we can have with God the Father through Christ the Son. What ought we then to give?
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 “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,
20 “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.” Amen.
Jesus came and gave His authority to His disciples to “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.” And after the Resurrection He gave that authority to us all, knowing that we would do greater works than those He had performed. (John 14:12) The time of Jesus’ ministry was just three short years, and so many of us have a lifetime to share, to give to others. “Freely you have received, freely give.”
On this first time out on their own, the apostles would do a lot of great things, but they were still “learning the trade,” so to speak. Later on, they would face a demon they could not cast out, and then the Lord would softly rebuke them, reminding them that their faith alone would have been sufficient, provided they had first girded themselves through prayer and fasting. (Matthew 17:20-21) They were always learning, those Twelve. And so ought we to learn.
Jesus has sent us out as sheep among wolves, and the Great Commission weighs on us all. (Matthew 28:19) It is a heavy burden that we can bear through faith. It is a weighty authority we have been given to share the gospel and to heal others in Jesus’ name. We who believe have been given eternal life through Christ Jesus, and we have been commanded to share that life, to bring the power and authority of Jesus to this broken world, so that others might also be saved to eternal life. Nothing we have done or ever could do would ever earn our salvation, would ever bring us this gift of eternal life and of power in Christ. It has all been given to us freely.
We have been freely forgiven of our sins, so we ought to freely forgive.
We have been freely given the Holy Spirit and various gifts and ministries, so we ought to freely give.
We have been freely given the gospel, so we ought to freely give it.
We have been freely given eternal life, so we ought to give life.
The kingdom of heaven is at hand. And although, like Simon Peter, you and I are still growing and still learning the strength of our faith, freely we have been given and so freely we ought to give. Therefore, let us go forth boldly in Jesus’ name, let us use the authority vested in us by our Savior. Let us heal the sick, let us bind and loose, let us cast out evil, and let us speak His Word with power and love and grace. We will stumble now and then, and our faith is yet small, but with the power of God’s Holy Spirit within us, we can accomplish great things. Listen and believe as the Savior says to us all, “Freely you have received, freely give.”
Gracious Lord God, who am I and what is my family that You have brought me this far? I have done nothing to deserve the great gift of life You have so freely given through Christ, and yet I know and experience Your power and grace every day. Thank You for Your unending mercy. Now, Father, please strengthen me for the journey ahead, so that I might be the instrument of Your mercy and grace here on earth. Thank You, Lord, for freely giving. Please, teach me to so freely give. Amen.