How Did Jesus Actually Impart His Authority To His Disciples?

Matthew 10:1 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

I spent 20 minutes yesterday mulling over this sentence asking Jesus:

How did you do that?

What did it look like?

What actually is your authority as it sounds a bit nebulous?

How did the disciples know they had received this authority?

Did you anoint them with oil like they did in times of old?

Did you lay hands on them like we do today?

Lots of questions. Today I got some answers.

While mentioning this verse to a friend this morning it dawned on me that Jesus simply spoke his authority into being. Speaking a universe into being is the ultimate test of authority. If this is how Jesus made the universe then why couldn’t he simply speak his creative authority into his disciples as well? He spoke this special word of power knowing that his authority was instantly transferred into the hearts of the 12 men listening to him that day.

What an amazing transfer! From that day they would be able to do what, until then, was thought to be the province of the divine. The Greeks, steeped as they were in animistic beliefs, would later think these preachers of the Good News were gods in human form after seeing this authority demonstrated through healings (Acts 5:12, 14:11). The Jews would be shocked at the courage, authority and boldness of these unschooled ordinary men (Acts 4:13).

But on that day, all of this was still ahead. How did the 12 know when the authority was transferred, I mean actually KNOW they had received this super-dose of divine authority? I believe the answer is very familiar to followers of Jesus today. They had to trust by faith that it had been done, then go and act on it. Scripture says that Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). They had to trust Jesus.

So, when they heard Jesus giving them his authority, they would have been excited. But when they heard their marching orders a few minutes later to go through Galilee healing the sick, raising the dead and casting out demons (Matthew 10:8) they could have been quite fearful. We don’t know for sure, but I would have been fearful!

The only way the disciples could know for sure that the spoken authority of Jesus was real or not would be to test it. They had to go find a cripple, a leper, a demon possessed person or a dead person and speak to them with authority. Then wait to see if anything would happen.

Tick, tick, tick, boom!

Once the first miracle happened there would have been no stopping them, but that first miracle would have been like scaling the Mount Everest in their hearts and minds.

This scaling of the Mount Everest of fear happened to me once. I taught in a large Christian high school in Australia and in 2008 the Holy Spirit told me to take a chapel service and pray for the sick. Skeptical teenagers are the hardest audience on the planet, and I was in front of 350 of them. Seven times I tried to get out of it and seven times the Holy Spirit gave me encouragement. My biggest fear was if nothing happened then I’d be toast for years in their eyes, the laughingstock of the entire school. Then, halfway through the chapel the Holy Spirit told me they were ready, faith had risen. Nine teenagers were healed that day and the school talked of nothing else at morning tea and lunch. I know because my Year 10 son was in some of those discussions and heated debates.

Jesus’ authority transfer was real. But if the disciples had never acted on their authority that day, we would not have Christianity. You too have that divine authority to do the supernatural so step out of your boat and act on it. Lives will change because you acted in faith.

Trust him.


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