8 June 2017

Luke 9:1-6

“He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.” (v. 2)

Psalm: Psalm 100


Gathering and sending, entering and leaving. Luke's Gospel reminds us that whilst we read of the times the disciples spent with Jesus there were probably also times when they dispersed, perhaps to their homes and their families. But for now, though, they are called together so that Jesus can equip them for their missionary journey. Theirs is to be a ministry of opposing evil, proclaiming the kingdom of God and curing diseases, thus both imitating the ministry of Jesus himself and setting a pattern of prophetic action, evangelism and healing which has characterised Christ's disciples since that day (verses 1-2). Because they are equipped with all the authority and power from God in Christ needed for this calling (verse 1) they do not require even the basic preparations that any sensible traveller would take (verse 3). Rather they are to enjoy the hospitality of those who are welcoming (verse 4). Not all those they are to encounter, however, will be convivial. The action of shaking off dust (verse 5) is later repeated by Paul and Barnabas as a protest against their persecution (Acts 13:51) and signifies a reciprocal rejection: those that do not need the disciples are not needed by them in return. So complete is to be the disciples' dependence on God that they are not to even take dust from those who are not hospitable.

Having gathered them in and equipped them, Jesus now sends the disciples out in his name, Their journey through the villages probably retraces, at least in part, Jesus' journey; their ministry of preaching and healing certainly replicates, in all its fullness, Jesus' ministry. In gathering, equipping and sending out, Jesus here begins a pattern repeated with the sending of the Seventy (Luke 10:1-12) and the Great Commission (Luke 24:45-49) and followed by his Church ever since.

To Ponder

  • In your Christian life, when have you been 'gathered and equipped' and when have you been 'sent out'?
  • Should the process of 'gathering, equipping and sending out' be a regular pattern of the Church's missional life? Why/why not?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Tim Woolley

The Revd Dr Tim Woolley is superintendent minister of the Hinckley Circuit in Leicestershire and an adjunct faculty member at Cliff College. Tim has a passion for Wesleyan theology and for fresh ways of being church and doing evangelism, and he is a vice chair of Methodist Evangelicals Together.