‘Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two…’ (Mark 6:7 NIVUK)
Sandwiched between the rejection of Jesus by his hometown and relatives and the rejection of John the Baptist by Herod comes this little account of Jesus sending his disciples on an evangelistic mission. With the whiff of rejection in the air they are sent out ‘two by two’ for important reasons.
First, for their own safety in case they are subjected to aggressive and violent rejection. The story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 illustrates the dangers of lone travellers.
Secondly, for mutual support and encouragement should rejection come
(Luke 10:11). The writer of Ecclesiastes highlights that two are better than one because one can lift the other up should he fall
And thirdly, it provides a legal witness, so that in the face of people rejecting the message they could say,
‘In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true.’ (John 8:17).
Interestingly, when Jesus sent his disciples out in an atmosphere of rejection, he instructed them to ‘Take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.’
(Mark 6:8). The staff is a clear reference to Moses. As he led Israel out of physical bondage in Egypt, so would Jesus’ disciples go to the people to lead them out of their spiritual bondage.
But apart from a staff they were to take no provisions. This doesn’t mean that Jesus was against food, luggage and money, rather this was a teaching point for the disciples. Jesus wanted them to be totally dependent on him. He would have to meet their physical needs, which in turn pointed to a greater dependence on Jesus for the power needed to accomplish the mission of spreading the gospel message in the face of some rejection.
Evangelistic efforts to lead people from their spiritual bondage in our own strength and relying on our own resources and techniques will ultimately fail. Our reliance must be in the power Jesus provides.
In all this Jesus is teaching his disciples that he can care for and look after them even when he is not physically with them, and even when they face rejection.
This is also true for us today in our efforts to share the message of Jesus. It is, ‘not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.’
(2 Corinthians 3:5).
As we learn this Christ-centred dependency we’ll see that he is adequate to meet all our needs. Whether it be in sharing the gospel with others, or in facing rejection, in fact in every aspect of our life, the Lord will provide for us, and we can depend on him.
Father, we thank you that you are Jehovah-Jireh, the God who provides, and that you meet all our needs according to your glorious riches in Christ Jesus
Have a good week trusting in the Lord’s provision.