The people: called and commissioned.
He called and sent them out.
Mark earlier referenced the calling of the 12
And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons.
There is something very significant in the type of people he sent out:
“The German theologian Friedrich Justus Knecht (d. 1921)[circular reference] reflects on the question, “why did our Lord Jesus Christ choose for this stupendous office twelve ignorant men, of a low station in life, and of no importance in the eyes of the world?” He answers, “it was to show to the whole world that the maintenance and spread of the Church and her doctrine were not due to human wisdom and learning, but solely to His grace and protection.
“The sending of the Twelve appears premature and may catch us by surprise, for the record of the disciples to date has not been reassuring. Heretofore they have impeded Jesus’ mission (1:36–39), become exasperated with him (4:38; 5:31), and even opposed him (3:21). Their perception of Jesus has been—and will continue to be—marked by misunderstanding (8:14–21). The willingness of Jesus to abide the intractable nature and behavior of his followers is further testimony to his divine humility. The sending of these particular individuals—and at this stage of their understanding of Jesus—testifies to the beleaguered believers in Mark’s church, indeed to believers of every age, that the fulfillment of the word of God depends not on the perfection or merit of the missionaries but on the authoritative call and equipping of Jesus.”
The sending of reluctant and timorous disciples into mission is, on the face of it, completely mistaken. Uncomprehending and ill-prepared disciples nevertheless typify believers in every age and place who are sent out by the Lord of the harvest. No matter how much exegesis, theology, and counseling one has studied, one is never “prepared for ministry.” A genuine call to ministry always calls us to that for which we are not adequately prepared. It is only in awareness of such that the Christian experiences the presence and promise of Jesus Christ, and learns to depend not on human capabilities but on the one who calls and in the power of the proclamation to authenticate itself. “This brief description,” writes Eduard Schweizer, “shows how important the genuineness of the proclamation is. Everything, even the poverty and simplicity of the messenger, indeed even the courage to be rejected, must conform to the Word that affirms that God is infinitely more important than all else.” -James Edwards
In the church every member is a minister. And every minister is on mission.
Not the necessity of both calling and commissioning.
The disciples were called to be with him. They were chosen.
15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you . . .
To be called is to be the friends of Jesus.
Known by Jesus.
Chosen by Jesus.
In the Christian life, being comes before doing.
Many Christian set out on mission without first knowing the depths of their election. You can’t sustain service like that.
Other Christians rejoice in their calling, but stay there. Everyone who is called is also commissioned. We are blessed to be a blessing.
Regular people called and commissioned.
Notice that they are commissioned together. They were sent out 2 by 2.
That’s because we are better together.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
Together there is comfort, counsel, complementary gifts.
Another reason for the pairing is rooted in Jewish culture.
A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.
The work: declaring and displaying.
They went out proclaiming that people should repent and they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.
It is easy to emphasize one particular aspect of Jesus ministry.
For some it’s the social work.
For others it’s the teaching.
For other’s its putting the kingdom on display through signs and wonders.
The Bible tells us that a wise man avoids all extremes – this tells me that we will be natural or easy for us to take extreme positions, but that if we are wise we will hold on to one truth without letting go of the other. I want to be a yes and Christian and not a yeah, but Christian.
You can’t separate the works of Jesus. He came as the Messiah to bring the kingdom of God to earth which required both teaching and demonstrating the realities of the kingdom.
Teaching is essential. You can’t take away the centrality of the teaching ministry of Jesus.
You can’t take it out of the context of the works he did.
His works authenticated his teaching but they also applied his teaching, they were his teaching in action. It’s too narrow to say the only purpose of the miracles was to get people’s attention or to prove Jesus’ identity. Those who have been profoundly healed by Jesus understand that. The Messiah comes to heal. At the center of that healing is deliverance of our worst disease which is sin. But it is a wholistic healing.
The message: the kingdom of God has come, repent and believe the gospel and you will be saved. This salvation is a complete salvation. When the message of the kingdom of Christ is preached with the authority of Christ there will inevitably be a display of power.
“Here as elsewhere in early Christianity there is no proclamation of the gospel without powerful deeds, and no powerful deeds without proclamation of the gospel.” -Edwards
Mark 1:15. The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.
“In short, the Twelve experienced great power in bringing the gospel to an unbelieving world. It was repentance, deliverance, and healing, just as if Christ were physically there. There was a foretaste of what the Church would do through the centuries when it operated in the power of the Holy Spirit.” -R Kent Hughes
“Later, at the end of his earthly ministry, on the eve of his death, Jesus spoke of this same principle in the most dramatic terms: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do” (John 14:12)
The promises: provision and persecution
Why did Jesus send the disciples with such a light load?
Minimalism leads to flexibility and mobility. There was certainly a benefit to keeping the provisions simple.
I think one of the reasons for this was faith. They learned the provision of God. (Luke 22:35) “I believe that the answer is that Jesus was training the twelve to trust Him for their every need, and especially for their daily needs. If the disciples were to have a roof over their heads at night and food on the table, the power of God would have to be real in and through them. The gospel would have to work.” -Deffinbaugh
Faith is viral. Demonstrating God’s provision and care would spread faith.
Matthew 6:11, give us this day our daily bread was very meaningful in this journey.
“The ultimate issue for the people of God is not “how much do you know?” but “who do you trust?”
A common interpretation is to see Jesus as exemplifying the hippy ethos, a countercultural denunciation of material possessions. Descriptive or Prescriptive.
The philosophy of cynicism: As reasoning creatures, people can gain happiness by rigorous training and by living in a way which is natural for themselves, rejecting all conventional desires for wealth, power, and fame, and even flouting conventions openly and derisively in public. Instead, they were to lead a simple life free from all possessions.
The four items required of the Twelve are, in fact, identical to the belongings that God instructs the Israelites to take on their flight from Egypt: cloak, belt, sandals, and staff in hand (Exod 12:11). The parallel in dress, in other words, is identical with the Exodus apparel but only loosely similar to Cynic dress. These four items of clothing recall the haste and expectation of the Exodus. They suggest that the mission of the Twelve announces something as foundational and revelatory as the Exodus from Egypt, and that the disciples must be as free from encumbrances as were the Israelites, to serve their God in a new venture. -Edwards
Cynicism was essentially an attack on civilization. The Cynic preacher made himself uncouth and unkempt to protest the privilege and refinements of the patrician class, in particular. Above all, Cynicism sought emancipation from all forms of authority, and submission to nothing but the “royalty” of one’s own conscience. For Cynics, itinerancy and lack of attachments were ends in themselves. This is quite different from the program of Jesus and his disciples. The mission of the Twelve is not a crusade against civilization, nor is it free from authority. The mission of the Twelve is not carefree nonattachment but fraught with danger, as we shall see in the subsequent story (vv. 14–29). It is participation in a new authority conferred by Jesus. Its minimal baggage is not itself a virtue but a means for greater service and dependence on God, and its purpose is not protest but rather proclamation of God’s coming rule. -Edwards
True service of Jesus is characterized by dependence on Jesus, and dependence on Jesus is signified by going where Jesus sends despite material shortfalls and unanswered questions. Like the Israelites fleeing Egypt (Exod 12:11), the Twelve must travel light lest worldly cares blunt the urgency of the message. Like Gideon’s troops with their reduced numbers before the battle with Midian (Judges 6–7), they must go in dependency on God. -Edwards
The commissioning ends with a warning. Anyone who does not accept the disciples will receive judgment. Shaking the dust off of sandals was a common practice for the Jewish traveler who has walked on gentile soil. The very land was unclean and must be removed before entering the holy land of Israel.
In the Jewish world a messenger carried the honor of the one who sent them. To dishonor the messenger was to dishonor the sender. To reject the messenger of Jesus is to dishonor Jesus.
Have you accepted the message of Jesus?
He desires to have you as a friend. He desires to call you into the adventure of his great mission in the world.
To say yes is to enter into the restoration and joy and fulfilment of the kingdom of God.
To ignore him is to dishonor the one who sent him.
Choose carefully how you respond friend.
Tom Brown is the planting pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Wichita. Tom and his wife, Mandy, have worked together in ministry for 18 years and have four children. More about Pastor Tom Brown