These are my notes from a sermon series I did through the gospel of Mark. It has not been proofed for spelling or grammatical errors. I present it to you as-is.
The gospel calls every believer to believe what Jesus believed, lived as Jesus lived, loved as Jesus loved, and serve as Jesus served. That’s exactly what the gospel of Mark is trying to teach us. We are going through the gospel of Mark. We are learning who Jesus is and what it means to follow Him in our daily lives.
The section in Mark that we are looking at today marks a turning point in the Lord’s ministry. Before this, only Jesus preached the gospel message, healed diseases, performed miracles, and confronted the stubborn unbelief of the people. That changed with the authorizing of the twelve apostles as official representatives of Jesus and His kingdom.
The dozen men selected by Jesus had already spent about a year with Jesus and learning from Him. They had spent about a year going from village to village. Though already named as apostles, they had not yet been set apart from the larger group of Jesus disciples for specific service. The Lord had earlier promised them that He would train them to be “fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). Now the time had come for their personal ministries to begin. Though they would not be fully equipped and empowered for that task until the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8), their ministry began here.
Let’s take a look at Mark says about this in Mark 6:7-13, Then Jesus went from village to village, teaching the people. 7 And he called his twelve disciples together and began sending them out two by two, giving them authority to cast out evil spirits. 8 He told them to take nothing for their journey except a walking stick—no food, no traveler’s bag, no money. 9 He allowed them to wear sandals but not to take a change of clothes. 10 “Wherever you go,” he said, “stay in the same house until you leave town. 11 But if any place refuses to welcome you or listen to you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.” 12 So the disciples went out, telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God. 13 And they cast out many demons and healed many sick people, anointing them with olive oil. (NLT)
As Jesus sent them out, He gave practical instructions that reflect some important principles for ministry. We are taking a look at this in two parts. A couple of weeks ago we looked at part 1.
- We saw that ministry and serving others involves a calling. God will give you a strong desire for your mission, your ministry. You will feel God’s drawing and pull to bless a particular person or to serve in a specific ministry. It’s a calling by God.
- We also learned that serving others involves a sending. You are sent out to represent God as you bless others. You will not be sent alone, God wants you to do ministry with others.
- We also discovered a divine enabling. God will empower you to accomplish the mission He sends you on.
- Finally, we saw the principle of dependence. God wants you to trust Him to provide what you need as you serve others and help spread the gospel.
We looked at those four principles a couple of weeks ago. We are going to pick up where we left and off and take a look at some more principles of ministry.
Contentment: Being satisfied with what God provides
A fifth principle deals with contentment: being satisfied with what God provides. In verse 10 Jesus said, “Wherever you go… stay in the same house until you leave town.”
- Given their power to heal diseases and cast out demons, they likely received invitations to upgrade their comfort by changing homes. But they were not to move from house to house, as if to receive money from more people. After they accepted one initial invitation, they were to decline all others.
- Doing this would set them apart from traveling false teachers, who made a career of going from house to house, seeking money and taking advantage of the resources of unsuspecting hosts. Paul warned Timothy of these types of false teachers in 2 Timothy 3:6, “They are the kind who work their way into people’s homes and win the confidence of vulnerable women who are burdened with the guilt of sin and controlled by various desires. (Such women are forever following new teachings, but they are never able to understand the truth)” (vs.6-7, NLT). He says don’t be like those guys.
- Instead, avoid the love of money and be characterized by contentment. Listen to what 1 Timothy 6:6 says, “Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. 7 After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. 8 So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. 9 But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows” (NLT).
- As you minister to others and bless them and stay faithful to the mission God has called you remember to be content. As we represent Christ and love others we need to remember what Paul said about contentment in Philippians 4:11, “I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (vs. 11-13, NLT).
In contrast to the false teachers, the disciples were not to put a price on their ministry. They had been given extraordinary power, but they were not to abuse it for personal gain. They were to stay in the first house, be content, and have no appearance of being greedy or lovers of money.
Discerning: Evaluate your opportunities of service
A sixth principle deals with discernment: evaluate your opportunities of service. Jesus went on to say in verse 11, But if any place refuses to welcome you or listen to you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate. This seems harsh and it is to some degree. Jesus was taking a common practice from that culture and using it to communicate something significant. In that culture there was this huge division between Jews and Gentiles. When Jews would travel through a Gentile village or a Samaritan village they would dust the dirt off their feet as they exited the town to symbolize their disconnect with God and God’s people. Most of the towns the disciples were going into were Jewish and Jesus is telling them to do the same to them if they reject their message. The reason they did this was to serve as an object lesson to those watching and hopefully it would give them something to think about.
What Jesus had done was to take something from the culture that was used to insult and cast unmerciful judgment on others and redeem it and redefine it for use in ministry. It was to be an object lesson and an action to make people think seriously about what they just heard and rejected.
Let me be clear here, this action was not to be done in anger or rudeness. It’s an act of compassion and warning to those who had just heard the gospel, but rejected it.
A couple of practical thoughts regarding this action:
- The principle involves discernment. Discernment is the ability to judge something well. There are going to be times you will need to make a judgement call on whether or not your ministry and your message is being accepted or rejected and then decide whether to continue there or move on. Jesus is saying, “Don’t waste your time where you and the message is not being accepted. Spend your time, energy, and resources with those who are listening to what you say.”
- He didn’t tell them to try to convince people who refused to listen or to plead with the stubborn. He told them to proclaim the truth to those ready to receive the gospel message. If the person was listening, asking questions, and had a genuine interest spend time with that person. If they had no interest and did not care about what they had to say, move on.
Sometimes in ministry, you just need to move on to the next person. Use your time and resources wisely.
Obeying: Step out in faith and do what God has called you to do
A seventh principle deals with obeying: step out in faith and do what God has called you to do. According to verse 12, after Jesus gave them their instructions, the disciples went out. They went. At some point you will have to step out in faith and do what God has called you to do. You will need to go and do it. Talk to that person. Bless that family. Start that ministry. Join a Life Group and invest in the people there. Go on that mission trip. Start giving. Start going. Don’t put it off, just do it. There are opportunities and blessings for you when you are obedient to God.
Proclaiming: Tell others about Jesus
An eighth principle deals with proclaiming: tell other about Jesus. According to verse 12, as the disciples went into various towns and villages they were telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God. The nice thing about the gospel is that you don’t need to create the message. It has already been created. God has given you a message to share with others. The message is simple. Repent of [your] sins and turn to God.
- To “repent” of your sins is to change your mind about the sin. Instead of embracing it, you reject it. You fight your sin. You resist your sin. You see it as a problem. You have changed your mind about how you think about your sin and how you feel about it.
- To “turn to God” means to embrace God’s plan for your life. To live for Him. To honor Him. To accept Jesus as Lord.
You and I are to share the gospel. Each of us will share it in different ways. Because of who you are, your personality, and your communication style you will share it one way and I will share it another. No matter who we are, we are to proclaim the gospel.
In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul said it this way, “God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’ 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (vs. 18-21, NLT). What a privilege and what an opportunity!
Caring: Show compassion to those who are hurting
The last principle deals with caring: show compassion to those who are hurting. Jesus had given them authority to do miracles and as they performed miracles they were demonstrating compassion. Mark concludes this section in verse 13 by saying, and they cast out many demons and healed many sick people, anointing them with olive oil.[i]
- “They cast out many demons” – Demons can cause people to hurt themselves and to hurt others. Demons cause people to do some horrible things. Yet, here the disciples were ministering and loving those who were control by the kingdom of darkness. They were showing concern and compassion as they cast out demons. In a similar way, you will need to show compassion to those who do some horrible things. You will need to minister to those that others would rather stay away from. To serve like Jesus is to serve everyone.
- “healed many sick people” – People get sick for various reasons, but they all need compassion. The disciples were loving and serving those who were hurting. You will need to do the same.
- “anointing them with olive oil” – Often times “olive oil” was used as a medicine to soothe wounds. Perhaps they were using it that way, but based on the context I believe they were using it as a symbol of the Holy Spirit which was well known by many of the people who they were serving. They were making it clear that God was behind their power and healing.
According to Matthew, they were given the authority to cast out demons, heal the sick, and raise the dead (Matt. 10:8). Last time we addressed the uniqueness of the original disciples (the Apostles) who were given this level of authority.
There is a principle hidden within the miracles that we should not overlook. All there miracles were acts that demonstrated the compassion, mercy, and loving-kindness of God. Jesus was sympathetic, tender, and compassionate. He wanted His followers to be the same. Don’t get caught up and obsessed with doing miracles, get caught up and obsessed with showing compassion. Care about people. Love people. Bless people. Bring encouragement, hope, and joy into people’s lives.
Each of you has a ministry. Every follower of Jesus can serve like Jesus served, loved like Jesus loved, bless like Jesus blessed. Serve those in your family. Serve those you work with and go to school with. Serve those you go to church with.
[i] The gospel records never indicate that Jesus anointed the sick with oil, yet the apostles did on at least this occasion. Though olive oil was sometimes used for medicinal purposes (cf. Luke 10:34), that was not its purpose here since the apostles healed the sick miraculously and not through the use of medicine (Matt. 10:8). Why then did they anoint the sick with oil? In the Old Testament, olive oil was used to symbolize God’s presence and authority, especially in the anointing of priests and kings (cf. Ex. 30:22-33; 1 Sam. 16:13). The apostles, then, anointed the sick with oil to symbolize they were not the source of their power but only channels for it. By using a simple symbol, familiar to the first-century Jews, the apostles passed the glory back to the Lord Himself. As God incarnate (cf. Col. 2:9), Jesus needed no such symbol when he healed. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Mark 1-8, p.295).