8 July 2012Mark 6:1-13
"[Jesus] ordered 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 to put on two tunics." (vv. 8-9)
Jesus shows his humanity, in that like us he had difficulties and obstacles which frustrated and limited what he could do among those he grew up with in his home town of Nazareth. These people could only see him as the local and ordinary carpenter, son of Mary. Prophets are not always honoured by their family (Jeremiah 11:21). Why is he so 'up' himself?
The twelve disciples (appointed and named in Mark 3:14-19) were sent out in pairs to continue Jesus' work. They are no longer simply disciples, followers of Jesus, but are becoming apostles, sent and commissioned with a special purpose. They proclaim repentance (verses 10-12); cast out unclean spirits (verse 7) and heal (verse 13). On their journey, they must travel light (verse 8). The staff is used for support and protection and is symbolic of authority (Exodus 4:20). Take no bread, beggar's bag or money are instructions to trust in both God and neighbour for provision and hospitality. Jesus warns them to expect rejection in some places, but they are to "shake off the dust" (v. 11) on their feet and continue on, taking the rejection lightly.
The passage suggests the need for a deep sense of humility and dependence on God and other people to work with God's power and make visible signs of God's kingdom of love and justice. We like to sense our giftedness and strength, but often it is in the stretched limits of our weakness and vulnerability that we are most effective channels of God's power as disciples (and apostles). The resources we need are to hand, but we have to have the eyes to see them, ears to hear what to do, the humility to ask and depend on God and others. Importantly, to take risks for God's kingdom, we must learn not to be afraid of making mistakes and failing.
- It is tempting to want a bank of resources to meet every eventuality in our daily life. What qualities might form in us if we had to look beyond ourselves for some of these resources?
- Why do you think that God seems to have made us in such a way that we need, not only to give to others, but also to depend on others and receive from them? What does this do to the power equation in our relationships?
- The first lesson in learning to ice skate is to fall down on the ice and pick yourself up again. When you can stop being afraid of falling over, you can start to learn the moves to glide and jump gracefully. From what fears do you need to be freed, in order to risk gliding over the ice for God?