THE PROOF OF THE PUDDING
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: 7-13).
It was time for the acid test. Twelve men had spent enough time with their rabbi to have a feeling for who He was and what He was about. It was time for them to put into action the lessons they had learned. If they were to continue the mission of Jesus when He was no longer with them, they had to show Him that they could do it, that His confidence in them was not misplaced and that they had enough confidence in both Him and themselves to replicate Him wherever they went.
He sent them out in pairs so that they would have each other for encouragement and support. Jesus was not interested in “lone rangers”. They needed each other and He paired them up so that they would learn to live together as one. Imagine! Who did He put with whom? Peter – the motor mouth? John – the hothead? Thomas – the dubious one? Judas – the schemer? O yes, they needed each other alright – because they had many rough edges to knock off.
Why did Jesus tell them to travel light? I think it was a test for both preachers and listeners. The Jews were part of the Middle Eastern tradition to be hospitable. There was no ”guest house” industry in Israel. Travellers relied on the hospitality of the people as they moved through the country. The attitude of the inhabitants would determine their attitude to the message. If they received the disciples with generosity it would be a sign that they were open to their message, and to one whom they represented.
The disciples were not to be picky about their hosts. They were to accept the hospitality of those who received them gladly and not to go off looking for more comfortable accommodation or better cuisine. It was a case of give and take. Where they were welcome they were to stay as long as they were in that town.
Why should they travel light – no suitcase of clothing and no ready cash in their money belts? This was also to be a faith journey for them. They were to learn to trust their heavenly Father to meet their needs as they went out proclaiming the kingdom. Again it was to be give and take. As they obeyed the Master, so He would ensure that their everyday needs were met.
What if the people of the town or village rejected them? Jesus’ instruction sounded like He was telling them to thumb their noses at them. That’s probably how we would react, but that was not Jesus. When a rabbi was training His disciples to walk with him, they did not walk in a bunch around him. They walked in an orderly line, one behind the other. The rabbi wore sandals with flaps on them which kicked up dust as he walked. The one closest to the rabbi, who led them, was privileged to have the dust of his rabbi on his cloak and feet.
As representatives of their rabbi, the disciples would have their rabbi’s dust – His disposition – on them as they went from place to place. If they were not welcomed in the town, they were to shake the dust off their feet – not cursing the people, but leaving behind their rabbi’s blessing as they went on their way. Isn’t that neat! Isn’t that just like Jesus! The very dust of the rabbi’s blessing would testify against them because of their unbelief.
The disciples must have been ecstatic, disease and demons giving was to the authority Jesus had given them. Getting rid of the Romans had nothing on that! Even Judas was in on the deal. We will never know what was in Judas’ heart that led him to betray his Master after an experience like that.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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