“And he called to him the twelve, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. ….. so they went out and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.” (Mark 6:7-13)
A lot to think about with this passage. You have the 12 apostles being sent out two by two. So, who went with who ? Did Peter go with his brother Andrew? Did John go with his brother James… woe, the sons of thunder going out together. Who did Thomas go with? What about Judas? Were there a number of trips and they mixed it up?
It says that they cast out many demons and they healed many that were sick. Did the apostles come back excited…amazed… more deeply converted? Did they recall these wonderful memories when Jesus was going through his passion and death…..” hey, remember when we cast out demons in his name …. remember when we prayed over that person with leprosy and he was healed…wooooo, that was really something.”
I think especially of Judas who was part of the twelve…healing the sick, casting our demons, hearing the teachings of the Lord, seeing his many miracles…for some three years. Wow, on one hand you would think their faith would be so strong after all of this. They heard and saw it all.
Yet, all of them wavered in their faith to one degree or another…. I guess the most severe being Judas who ended in betrayal, despair and suicide…but what about Peter and Thomas, and who knows about the others.
So, what can we draw from all this ? If I witness “signs and wonders”, does that mean that I will stand when the going gets tough? If I’ve witnessed the power of God, will my faith be strengthened and I will not turn from the Lord when the trials start? Well based on the lives of the apostles, the answer is “maybe”, but not necessarily. We can’t store up grace for the future. Like manna in the desert, we need to experience “new mercies each morning”.
So, I definitely believe that every time we experience the power and love of God, our hearts get more and more converted. I believe that, in time, all of these great experiences of the apostles helped them in their service and love of Christ and his church. But they needed the daily power of the Holy Spirit to tap into these experiences. For us too, God has done many great works “for us and in us ….. all good”. But, we need to be open daily to the Holy Spirit in order to access these experiences of grace. We need Christ to help us and forgive us and strengthen us and love us, each day. And if we do this, we will be prepared for whatever comes down the pike. Christ has started a good work in each of us…he has helped us mature over the years…and he will complete this work on the day of Christ Jesus. So, let’s not be afraid, but trust that Jesus will indeed finish this good work in us. And that is very good news.