I can’t help but think how helpful the kingdom parables (4:1-34) will be to the apostles as they get sent out two by two to heal the sick, cast out demons and preach repentance to the lost.
After Jesus leaves His hometown which suffered a lack of belief in Him (see previous study), He went around the local villages and was teaching (v. 6). We should notice that Mark uses a “sandwich pattern” in his writing. He places the backstory of Herod (14-29) between (the twelve being sent out v. 7, and the twelve returning v. 30) The reason for that will become more obvious as our study unfolds!
There appears to be a methodology in Christ’s preparation of the twelve for ministry that has been unfolding up to this point in Marks writing:
- He called (1:16-20; 2:14)
- He appoints (3:14)
- He teaches (Mark 1-6)
- He summoned (6:7)
- He sends them out (6:12)
That is a model for effective ministry that wise mentors incorporate in their discipleship program of future gospel ministers (Calling, teaching, ordaining, and sending).
7 And He *summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits;
FOCUS ONE: Christ summoned the twelve
“And He summoned the twelve.” With those words Christ ushers in the beginning of a new setting in Marks account!
He sends them out by two’s for various reasons: comfort for one another in strange places, to strengthen and encourage one another in difficult circumstances, and most likely because it would meet the “legal” requirement for an authentic testimony (Deuteronomy 19:15).
He gives them authority over unclean spirits. What type authority? His divine authority OR “right” and “power” to exercise demons (1:26). This power would authenticate their preaching and mission (that it is of God) with those they come into contact with.
Christ actually commissions them to attack the devil in his own territory! To bind the strong man (3:27). Some people believe that this power and authority is given to Christians today, if they just exercise enough faith. I personally do not believe in that vain of thought. I think the words of Jude 9 are instructive here:
“Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, BUT said, ‘The Lord rebuke you.’”
“Rather than personally cursing such a powerful angel as Satan, Michael deferred to the ultimate, sovereign power of God following the example of the Angel of the Lord in Zechariah 3:2. This is the supreme illustration of how Christians are to deal with Satan and demons. Believers are not to address them, but rather to seek the Lord’s intervening power against them” (John MacArthur).
8 and He instructed them that they were to take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff—no bread, no [a]bag, no money in their belt— 9 but [b]to wear sandals; and He added, “Do not wear two [c]tunics.” 10 And He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you [d]leave town. 11 Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust [e]off the soles of your feet as a testimony against them.”
FOCUS TWO: Christ instructs the twelve
In Christ’s instructions to these men we observe several things:
A. They are to take nothing except a staff (walking stick), sandals, and one tunic (opposite in Luke 22:35-37), Why? Worse times, worse people?
B. Their provisions are so minimal that it highlights the urgency of the task.
C. And these instructions highlight their need for sole dependence upon God’s divine provision!
No bread, no bag, no money? That goes against all of our human instincts. We need these things to survive. The urgency of their mission dictated haste and their need to depend solely on God to provide food and shelter through the hospitality of Jewish households.
This is different in another account in Luke where Jesus prepares His disciples for the “opposition” that will follow His crucifixion and resurrection (Luke 22:35-38).
He told them to stay in one house until they would leave that town. He did not want them to be seeking “better” accommodations. “*They were not to impose on the hospitality of many stranger or to peruse more attractive offers, rather they were to stay in one place and make it there “base of operations.”
If in their search for a place to stay, in the territory of Herod Antipas, they are not received, they are told to shake the dust from the soils of their feet as a testimony against them (this symbolizes a decision to discontinue all association with those who have refused God’s message and are headed for His judgment).
They had received what they might give,
Had learned what they might teach,
And are now sent forth (Matthew Henry).
They had to deny themselves 7-9
And fulfill their responsibility. 10-11
Their success v.13
They went out! These three words may not appear on their face to be all that important but I assure you that they are for several reasons:
- They went out amid much fear and uncertainty.
- They went out with a message that they only previously heard the Lord teach. Now, it is their message to herald!
- They went out with previously unknown “authority” and “power.”
- They went out in obedience to their Lord!
- They went out and Christ showed Himself faithful!
Christ instructed, the disciples obeyed. It seems simple, but we fail at it miserably. We have the responsibility of being “witnesses” for Christ; we’ve been instructed as well (Matthew 28:18-20). How are we doing? How are you doing, dear Christian?
12 And they went out and [a]preached that people are to repent. 13 And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them.
FOCUS THREE: Their message
“They preached that men should repent.” That is the same message that we are to be heralds’ of today!
20 “how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was beneficial, and teaching you publicly and [a]from house to house, 21 solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:20-21).
Take notice that it is NOT one without the other, rather they are two sides of the same gospel coin, if you will. Some people argue that repentance is “only” a change of mind, a change in our thinking towards God and sin. Repentance surely does involve a change of mind, but it is just such a change that fosters a change of will and therefore a change of direction as well (1 Thessalonians 1:9).
They not only proclaimed the “good news” but by the power of God cast out demons and anointed the sick and many people were being healed!
In our next study we will observe how the successful ministry of the apostles stands in stark contrast to Herod’s guilty conscience and fearfulness.
• The Bible Knowledge Commentary, pg. 260