Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. (Luke 9:6 NASB)
When the apostles returned, they gave an account to Him of all that they had done. (Luke 9:10a NASB)
Jesus summoned His twelve closest followers, the ones He called apostles, and equipped them for a Journey of Obedience with two remarkable gifts. He gave them both power and authority over demons and disease. That, with the truth He had planted in them already, was all that was needed for the task He was assigning them.
They were to go as two-person teams from village to village, proclaiming the Kingdom of God and performing healing. The power and authority He had given were all they were to take with them. They were not to take a bag, a change of clothes, money, or a walking stick. They were totally dependent upon the provision of God.
These men had left everything to follow Jesus, but likely never expected to become preachers and miracle workers themselves. Nevertheless, that was exactly what Jesus had in mind. They saw themselves as followers but Jesus saw them as leaders who would take the gospel throughout the world. He was training them for a job so big they could have never imagined it. Their Journey of Obedience was just one step along the way.
The tally of their success is not given. There is no record in Scripture of the number of people to whom they preached, the type and number of decisions registered, or the people who were healed. The accounting is inadequate by our standards. We want numbers we can compare. Were there more decisions when Peter preached? More healings with Matthew's team? We want to compare results, don't we? We want to know who was best, who was most effective, but "they began going" and "preaching and healing everywhere" are all we are given.
Those simple phrases tell us more than we might think at first glance. What we find is that this Journey of Obedience was not a competition. It was not a question of who was most effective, because results were not dependent upon the apostles. They had nothing but the power and authority of Jesus with which to work. Any results belonged to God alone.
The gospel accounting tells us another important truth. There was no delay. As they left Jesus, the instructions to go freshly given, they went. No procrastination. No worry about the future. They simply went when He said go. They preached and healed because He said to preach and heal, and they preached and healed "everywhere". They didn't look for the easy places alone. They went everywhere. Because it wasn't a competition for results, it did not matter who went to the "easy" places where hearts were receptive and who went to the "hard" and less receptive villages. What mattered was the going.
Eventually, there was an accounting. The apostles returned from their Journey, and when they did, they gave a full accounting to Jesus. They told Him about everything they did, their successes, the seeming failures, and how God had seen them through. Can't you just imagine their reunion? Twelve men, most of them very young, were reunited to share the most exciting time of their lives with Jesus. What a happy time it must have been!
One day, we, too, will give an accounting of our own Journey of Obedience to Jesus. On that day, our obedience will be the vital part of our account. Did we do what He said? Did we obey when He directed? What a happy day it will be if we, like the apostles, can say, "Jesus said to go and that is exactly what I did." There is grace and mercy for our failures, for our sin, but the amazing joy for our obedience will make all our hard times worth it in the end.
Have we obeyed? Oh, dear ones, may we live in such a way that all who see our lives will know that we have done that which Jesus gave us to do, and that we counted it worth it for the joy our obedience gave.