December 3, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. These were his instructions: ‘Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.’ They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.”—Mark 6:6b–13 (NIV)
After Jesus was rejected by His own countrymen, He didn’t let that stop Him and kept going forward with His mission of traveling to different villages and teaching. And because He didn’t want His ministry to end with Him, He took His disciples along so they could observe, learn, and grow in their faith as they walked with God in the flesh.
In today’s passage, Jesus starts sending His disciples out in pairs to minister. He probably had several reasons to send them out in pairs: 1) it’s safer to not travel alone, 2) the law required two or more witnesses to verify a matter (Deuteronomy 19:15), 3) they could keep each other accountable and on mission, and 4) to not only help each other but also to learn from each other.
As He sent them out, He gave them authority over unclean spirits and instructed them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, money, extra clothes, bags, etc. Without money, they wouldn’t be able to buy themselves anything. Jesus knows that having more things often equals more distractions, which can both literally and figuratively slow us down and take our focus away from the mission and purpose He has for us. The same way Jesus didn’t travel with much but was always provided for, the disciples would also be provided with whatever they needed for the moment. Not only that, they were empowered to drive out impure spirits and heal people. So, even though they were sent out with almost nothing, they had everything they needed.
He also cautioned them to just stay at one place until they left that town as they were there to serve and not to be served or pampered. If there was a house or community that wouldn’t receive them, they had His permission to declare God’s judgment on them, shake the dust off their feet, and leave. The disciples did as Jesus asked and they drove out many demons and healed many sick people.
We’re all commanded to share the gospel and be the hands and feet of Jesus. Romans 8:11 teaches us that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead dwells inside those of us who are believers and followers of Jesus Christ. Just like the disciples were empowered by Jesus as they grew in their walk with Him, so are we! Our faithful Savior gives us everything we need as we trust in Him. We simply need to trust and take the steps of faith He is calling us to! So, where is He calling you to step out in faith right now?
Pause: What instructions is the Lord giving you? Are you trusting Him today that His provision is adequate?
Practice: Make a list of only 10 essential items you use for daily living. Then talk to God about all of the additional gifts He has given you.
Pray: Dear Lord, thank You for how You empower us and provide for our every need. Help me be content with Your provision whether it is more than I need for today or just enough. I pray that Your Spirit will guide me as to how to best manage all the resources and gifts You give me not just for myself but also for serving others and, ultimately, serving You. In Jesus’ name, amen.