MAIN TEXT: MARK 6:7-13
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.
With the arrival of Jesus (God in flesh) the kingdom of God was declared “at hand” (Matthew 3:2). A new era, a new chapter, a new dimension of the kingdom of heaven is brought to earth. Jesus knows God’s heavenly kingdom firsthand - having left it to be born of a virgin. He is the Son of God – eternally existent. He has always been – and was there at creation. Man’s sin and disobedience shattered God’s image in man and broke the intentions of God for all of creation. God immediately sets out to redeem His creation.
The birth, life, teaching, miracles, death, and resurrection of Christ were the pinnacle moments of this redemptive act. Jesus ushered in the kingdom of God that is brought to the hearts of those who repent and believe. The kingdom has come – but even today is not fully realized. Jesus ushered in foretastes (healings, miracles, teachings) of this kingdom that will be fully established at His second return when all of creation will be restored and a new heavens and new earth is established. This kingdom can be experienced today – followers of Jesus pray for God’s kingdom to come to earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9-13). Every follower of Jesus is now a commissioned, empowered, and sent minister of the kingdom to advance the kingdom. This is our mission during this mission period of God’s redemptive plan.
In our text, Jesus calls the twelve to Himself, gives them authority, and sends them out. In Mark 4:11, Jesus told His disciples, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God…” There is a pattern that Jesus has: “come to me” – “now, go!” (Matthew 11:28; Mathew 28:19). The pattern of coming and going, being summoned and then sent out, gathering and scattering, is common in Mark’s gospel and is a pattern for how the Church of Jesus should function today.
Not all aspects of the disciples training and instruction apply to us – however, it is wise to consider some of the significant principles that do apply to us as we join hands with Jesus to advance the kingdom.
Go with Jesus’ authority and as a team
They were sent out two by two. This was safer and wiser since Lone Rangers are easy targets for the evil one. It was also customary and a cultural norm. Jesus gave them authority – a power that wasn’t their own. What an honor they were given – to represent Jesus Himself! What a responsibility!
Years later, the apostle Paul said, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20). We represent the King! We are called as fishers of men (Mark 1:16-20). We are set apart to be with Jesus (Mark 3:13-19). These disciples are now ready to go out on their own as extensions of their Master.
Go light - with nothing nonessential
To be effective, we must go in radical faith and dependence on our God. Jesus’ instructions in verses 8-9 provide principles for our work today advancing the kingdom. They were instructed to travel light, taking nothing that is absolutely essential. Accumulating stuff was not advised. The items that Jesus described are identical to the things that God instructed His people (The Hebrews) to take on their exit from Egypt (Exodus 12:11). The emphasis on traveling light and lean then and now is to make it imperative to have faith in God to provide what is needed. True service to Jesus is characterized by dependence on Jesus.
Followers of Jesus must trust Him alone to provide since He sent us. Obedience and little provisions require big faith in God to meet your needs. Paul encouraged the early church, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
In this trust for monetary provision, you cannot allow fear, cynicism, or indifference to keep you from experiencing the joy that comes from obedience, sacrifice, and trust.
Go where you are welcomed and move on when rejected
Jesus gives some instructions regarding their interactions with others during ministry (verses 10-11). Don’t impose yourself on multiple homes or seek out nicer accommodations. Accept what is offered and be grateful. Jesus was telling them not to dishonor the kindness of a lesser home by moving to a nicer one because by doing so it will become an offense to the gospel. The heart of this is clear: live among the people. Live in community. Be transparent. Show integrity.
Shaking the dust off your feet when rejected was leaving a warning sign of personal responsibility and judgment to those who rejected. This had been a custom for Jews when they traveled outside Israel to signify their disassociation from paganism and the judgment that awaited.
There are times, with a broken heart, that we must warn others of the danger of rejecting Christ and the judgment they will experience. It hurts but is at times necessary.
Go preaching the Word and doing the work of the kingdom
The final two verses (12-13) of our text summarize the specifics of the apostles’ mission. It mirrors what they had seen Jesus do. They cast our demons, healed the sick, and preached repentance. They went as servants (Jesus being the suffering servant). They were not to compromise their message even if it brought rejection and persecution. They had the courage to tell the truth about Jesus and the gospel.
Repentance was the first word recorded out of the mouth of John the Baptist, Jesus, and the apostles (Acts 2:38). Repentance is enabled by God Himself (John 6:65). Repentance happens when the Holy Spirit inwardly humbles a person and is thereby visibly reformed. Here are some key components of repentance that progress when it is true:
- You see your sin clearly. (Luke 15:7)
- You have sorrow for your sin – a holy agony and grief seeing Jesus’ suffering for it. (2 Corinthians 7:10)
- You confess your sin. (Romans 7:25; 1 John 1:9)
- You posses shame for your sin. (Luke 15:21)
- You develop a hatred for sin more deeply as you love Jesus more deeply. (Hebrews 1:9)
- You turn away from sin and turn toward God and faith in Jesus. (Acts 20:21)
We are not promised a life of ease, comfort, welcome, or old age. We are promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us as we carry His name! (Hebrews 13:5)
Advance the kingdom!
APPLY TO LIFE
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Read: Mark 6:7-13
When people know that you are Jesus’ ambassador, what do they see?
What are the advantages to having few possessions? What are the advantages to having abundant possessions? What are the dangers of either situation?
How would you define repentance to someone who had never been in a church?