Today’s passage discusses when Jesus sent His 12 disciples out on their first ministry tour without Him. While we are not the apostles, we are Christ’s disciples, too, so we see some examples in their mission that we can follow.
The Text (Mark 6:7-13)
7 And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits. 8 He commanded them to take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bag, no bread, no copper in their money belts— 9 but to wear sandals, and not to put on two tunics.
10 Also He said to them, “In whatever place you enter a house, stay there till you depart from that place. 11 And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!”
12 So they went out and preached that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.
After rejection by the people of His hometown of Nazareth, Jesus goes on a ministry tour of the surrounding towns. At some point during or after this circuit trip, Jesus sends out His 12 closest disciples on a ministry tour of their own. They go out in pairs for mutual support and spiritual strength. But they go without Jesus; they must test out their ministry wings like new birds who must finally leave the nest to learn how to fly. The disciples follow Jesus’ example. They preach a message of repentance and we can assume also faith, because Jesus always called people to turn from their sins to something better, namely God and His kingdom. Jesus gives them the supernatural power to cast out demons and heal the sick in His name. Finally, they also follow Jesus’ ministry model of lingering to give greater ministry to those who receive them and their message, while walking away in judgment from those who reject the gospel. The instructions to travel light would force the disciples to trust God to provide for their needs each day, especially through the faithful families that joyfully accept these ambassadors of Christ.
We as Christians today are not the original 12 disciples, so we must be careful with how we apply this passage to our own ministry service. These men were the apostles, specially chosen by Jesus to found His church after His death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven. They were given authority to write the books of the New Testament and to do great miracles to prove the truth and power of the gospel. There are no apostles still alive today. But as Christians, we are disciples or followers of Christ. We should also be on mission for the Lord. Jesus has made us His ambassadors of peace, sent out to offer peace with God through repentance and faith in our Savior (check out 2 Corinthians 5:20-21). We must be careful not to condemn those who reject the gospel; that is not our place and people who reject Christ now may yet turn to Him later and joyfully remember our witnessing to them. However, we are wise to be sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our efforts to make disciples. When we see people open to the gospel, we should lovingly and wisely press the issue with them as God leads. What does that look like? People who are hurting or going through a great trial may suddenly become interested in finding the meaning of life and hope in the midst of their pain. People who seem bored or discontented with life may show themselves open to finding the real purpose of their existence. We find out where people are spiritually by really listening to them, praying for them, and talking with them about life. I pray that God will guide us into embracing the mission of personal evangelism that He has given us. Help us, Lord, to see Your work in the lives of those in our circles of influence, and help us to obey by joining You where you lead.