“And he went about among the villages teaching. And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts—but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And he said to them, ‘Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.’ So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.” - Mark 6:6-13
At this point in Mark’s Gospel, the narrative shifts. The disciples had been called and anointed but, up until now, they had simply followed Jesus. For the most part, they had listened, learned, and marveled at his teachings and miraculous works like everyone else (albeit with some extra tutoring). But everything changed when Jesus shared his authority and charged them with continuing his work. They were no longer spectators but rather active participants, set apart by Jesus to help him expand the kingdom of God on earth.
I suspect at least a few of the disciples were terrified at the prospect of “leaving the nest” and striking out on their own. Fortunately, Jesus did not just empower them and send them on their way; he provided rather specific instructions. The disciples were to work in pairs, travel lightly, enjoy the gift of hospitality, and proclaim the kingdom of God in word and deed. Each of these directives was designed for their own benefit.
In those days, robbers and thieves stalked the roads in search of solitary prey. Traveling in pairs would provide some measure of physical safety. More importantly, Jesus knew how much these men would need support and companionship during their journey. They would experience many challenges, rejections, and dangers along the way, but the presence of another follower would give them the strength to persevere.
When Jesus said travel light, he wasn’t kidding around. The disciples were not to take any food, money, provisions, or even extra clothes with them. Logistically, the lack of baggage would make it easier to move from place to place, but once again, there was also a deeper purpose. Traveling without supplies would teach these men to depend on the Lord’s provision for their every need, including shelter. Jesus told them to accept hospitality where it was offered and continue their ministry in that place until it was time to move on to the next village. When a town rejected the disciples – and by extension Jesus and the invitation to see, hear, and experience the kingdom of God – they were to shake the dust off their feet and continue their journey.
The disciples went out just as Jesus instructed: they proclaimed the kingdom of God, called people to repentance, drove out demons, and healed the sick. Like Jesus, they performed the mighty works of God. How could this motley crew accomplish such great things? Only through the power and authority Jesus had given them! And that was just the beginning of what God would do in and through them.
The Lord longs to accomplish his mighty work through you as well. You too have been imbued with his power and authority, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. You too have been entrusted with the Gospel message and the calling to build his kingdom. Are you demonstrating that power and living into your calling? Are you engaged in the community of Christ, knowing you can’t do God’s work alone? Are you traveling light, shedding the baggage of this world and trusting in God’s provision? Are you proclaiming God’s Gospel with every word and deed?
Jesus loves to share his authority and power. He longs to see his kingdom flourish on earth, and he wants you to be part of that expansion!
Reflect and Respond:
Are you participating in the expansion of the kingdom of God? What more might he be calling you to do? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In our new six-week Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
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