“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”
This is the charge that Jesus gave to his apostles when he sent them out to preach the good news that the Kingdom of God had arrived. This isn’t the great commission, Jesus’ command that he gave before he ascended into heaven. This happened before Jesus’ death and resurrection, during his ministry. He sent the apostles throughout Israel to proclaim the good news, saying “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
The instructions he give are not easy. I can’t imagine how I’d feel if Jesus told me to go and raise the dead or heal the sick or drive out demons. Those are miracles that I’ve only read about in Scripture, certainly not something I could do myself, right? Well, not according to Jesus. He wouldn’t have given his apostles instructions that he hadn’t equipped them to do. And while I’m not one of Jesus’ apostles, I do believe that I have received the Holy Spirit as a Christian, and if the same spirit that lived in Christ and in those apostles lives in me, then what is holding me back? The answer is faith.
Regardless of how strong your faith is, there’s something to take from it. I think the most important thing is not necessarily what kind of miracles Jesus wants us to work as we spread the gospel, but that we do indeed spread the gospel. The key phrase here is “Freely you have received, freely give.”
He is telling his apostles – and us – that we didn’t do anything to earn or pay for the gift of grace that we’ve received. Jesus gave himself and his Spirit freely to us. In the same way, he expects us to give it freely to our neighbor. This is such an important verse, because it is clear what Jesus is calling us all to do – evangelize. He has given us a powerful Spirit, the very Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, and he wants us to use it. It was given freely to us, and so we should freely give it. After all, what good does it do for you or for anyone else if you hoard that Spirit. It does no good if it’s not put to use.
So, I challenge you today, use the Spirit that Christ has freely given to you. Give life to those who don’t know the gospel of Christ. Heal the spiritual wounds of those who have been spurned and rejected. Offer peace, hope, grace, and love to all who need it. Jesus has empowered you to do so. He gave it freely to you. Give it freely to them.
Help me to have faith and to be empowered by your Spirit. Help me not to doubt your power through me or what you are capable of accomplishing even in my weakness. Give me the gift of your Holy Spirit, and inspire me to give it freely just as it has been given to me.
In Jesus’ Name,