This is the first time that Matthew mentions the names of Jesus’ 12 disciples, although previously he has referred to the existence of this group. As Jesus prepares them to go out and share his message, he gives them authority over unclean spirits, so that they can heal any kind of disease.
This delegation of authority was quite unheard of before. Jesus, the one with all authority, now demonstrates the uniqueness of that authority as he shares it with the disciples for the mission he is about to send them on.
We have seen that others in Israel’s history were given the ability to perform miraculous deeds – Moses, for instance, and Elijah – but they didn’t have the ability to give that authority to others. Elijah’s anointing was transferred to Elisha, but only when it was time for Elijah to leave this earth.
Yet here, Jesus simply speaks, and the authority that was given to him was also given to his disciples. Notice that the disciples are given the authority to heal every disease and sickness – this is the exact same phrase that Matthew uses to describe Jesus’ ministry in 4:23 and 9:35. Matthew wants to leave us in no doubt that the ministry of the disciples is linked directly to the ministry of Jesus.
Later, Paul would pray that the believers in Ephesus would understand “the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him,” pointing out that, “This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead” (Eph 1:19-20). The delegation of power and authority that took place between Jesus and his disciples continues to take place today, through to Holy Spirit, to all those who believe in him. Walk in power and authority today as you go about the Lord’s business.