5:15 PM

Joseph on powers of modern disciples

Considering the powers that Jesus gives to the disciples, such as the authority to cast out unclean spirits and cure every disease and every sickness, what tools are the modern disciples left with? Is it possible that the powers mentioned in chapter 10 are not intended to be taken the way that modern readers do? Do disciples still have the same powers? The commentators I read haven't really addressed this possibility yet. But, it seems possible that the promise of the Gospel is just the cure referenced by these miraculous powers. Salvation removes unclean sprits and heals all illness, though not in the way typically thought of.

Comment (1)

I assume that commentators skirt this question b/c we know of no good reason for our powerlessness. Many of our claims to salvation are simply empty, and I suspect we just don't want to admit it.

Part of the problem is that the miracles of Mt. 10 are quickly categorized as "ways of magically eliminating bad stuff" or even "magically doing whatever we want to do." But these miracles are more peculiar and address very specific, socially thick conditions. They are also performed by people who have assumed a particular material shape in service to Jesus (and thus reflect/convey Jesus' authority). I don't think these miracles are a subset of "magical shortcuts" that circumvent costly and patient discipleship. Those are often the "miracles" we wish for today and wonder why we're powerless to perform. I doubt that God often grants such shortcuts--they only perpetuate our unfaithfulness. Instead, these miracles are concrete signs of the eschatological life that is to fill the community of disciples that Jesus is gathering together and eventually the whole world over which he is soon to become Lord. There is real magic to that community when it is conformed to the death of Messiah and lives faithfully. I don't see why these signs shouldn't occur today, but nor do I see much discipleship like that of Mt. 10 today. We spend most of our time explaining why discipleship doesn't have to be that way anymore, and so it's little surprise that we don't see signs like that anymore either.

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