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.
Jesus game plan can be summarized in two words: “Follow Me.” Follow me and I will make you fisher of people. Follow me and you will become like me. Follow me and you will find life. Follow me and you will discover your kingdom purpose and mission. Follow me and you will truly find why you were created.
Jesus didn’t merely give His followers knowledge and skills; He transformed them. And this transformation didn’t take place through rules and rituals, but rather in relationship with a living person who walked among them. The disciples got to know His personality, style, methods, and values. They began to see life from a different perspective. The same can happen for you.
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 hard-hearted unbelief of the people. That changed with authorizing of the twelve apostles as official representatives of Jesus and His kingdom.
The dozen men selected by Jesus had already spent countless hours accompanying 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 going to take a look at this in two parts. You need to know that as a follower of Jesus you are given a ministry. Your ministry field, the people you can represent Jesus too, are in your house, at work, at school, next door, your community, or a group that you are a part of. You have a ministry. You have a mission. You have a task that God wants you to do. These are principles of ministry that every follower of Jesus needs to know.
Before we get into the principles I want you to notice a subtle, but significant shift that takes places between verses 6 and 7. Verse 6 says, Then Jesus went from village to village, teaching the people. Here Jesus is doing the ministry and He is doing the teaching. But verse 7 shifts the focus on the disciples. Jesus is about to give them the opportunity and authority to do what they have been watching Him do for about a year.
Calling: God will give you a strong desire for your mission
The first principle deals with your calling. The Lord calls you to a specific ministry. Verse 7 says, And he called his twelve disciples together (NLT). This is more than just an invitation to a meeting. The word “call” is used in the sense of appoint or designate. He called them in order to send them.
A “calling” is a strong urge given by God toward a particular way of life or ministry. God will give you a strong desire for your mission. Jesus called these twelve men to do a task and with that appointment also came a great desire to do it. They had a calling on their life from Jesus.
Let’s take a look at this in a couple of other verses.
- Listen carefully to Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (NLT). God calls you for a specific purpose. He gives you a task or mission. With it comes a strong desire and urge to accomplish that mission. It’s a calling that you cannot ignore.
- Look at 1 Peter 2:21 which says, “For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps” (NLT). God calls you to do good. You have this incredible desire and urge to do good even if it means suffering for Christ. This calling becomes a force in your life because it is driven by the Holy Spirit in your life.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:7 says, “God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives” (NLT). Every believer has this call, this urge, this drive inside of them to live a holy life that honors God and others. It is a consuming force in your life. You can’t get away from it. It’s a calling.
Jesus called these specific disciples to a specific ministry. Jesus is doing the same for you. He is calling you to certain lifestyle and purpose and ministry. It may have something to do with your church, your community, your family, or around the world in another country. If you are a believer, God is calling you to do something.
Sending: God wants you to represent Him with others
The second principle deals with sending. God wants you to represent Him with others. Verse 7 goes on to say, …and began sending them out two by two… (NLT). The word translated “send” is apostello in the Greek and gives us our English word apostle. It means “to send someone with a special commission to represent another and to accomplish his work.” They were sent to represent Jesus and His message and kingdom.
After Jesus resurrected from the dead, He told His disciples in John 20:21, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you” (NLT). This is also true for you and me. As followers of Jesus, we are all sent into the world. To demonstrate His forgiveness and mercy, to share His truth, and to minister to others. We represent Him and we are sent to accomplish His work.
I want you to notice that Jesus sent them out two by two.[i] There are several reasons for this.
- Two by two provides safety. Between villages and towns there were thieves and robbers, it made it safer because they could protect each other.
- Two by two provides validity. Whatever they saw and whatever happened there was another eye witness to the account. The Law required at least two witnesses to verify a matter (Deut. 17:6; 19:15; 2 Cor. 13:1).
- Two by two provides encouragement. Jesus understood the power of discouragement and He understood the power of encouragement. He knew they would need each other to pray for one another, talk to one another, and encourage one another and to keep each other accountable.
- Two by two provides strength. Ecclesiastes 4:9 makes clear that “two are better than one.” They both had different strengths, which made them stronger as a team rather than an individual.
Whenever possible, do ministry with others. You will accomplish more, be more encouraged during discouraging times, and you will have an eye witness to validate the great things God did. Do ministry with others. Be a part of a team and a family of believers. Do life and ministry together with other believers.
Enabling: God empowers you to accomplish your mission
The third principle deals with enabling. God empowers you to accomplish your mission. Whatever God wants you to do He is going to equip you to do it. Verse 7 ends by saying, Jesus [gave] them authority to cast out evil spirits (NLT)[ii]. When God tells you to do something, God will also enable you to do that something (2 Cor. 3:5-6).
For these 12 disciples Jesus gave them “authority to cast out evil spirits.” He gave them incredible authority to command demons to release individuals from bondage. According to Matthew 10:8, Jesus also gave them authority to “heal the sick” and “raise the dead” (NLT). The reason Jesus gave them such great authority was to authenticate they were true messengers from God. The fact they could perform the same kinds of miracles as Jesus proved that He had sent them (cf. Mark 1:21-27; 32-34; 40-45; 2:1-12; 5:35-43).
Let’s make sure we see what is happening here. Jesus had more than 12 disciples. He had many followers at this point. But there were 12 specific disciples that Jesus would eventually make official apostles and be used to establish the church after His resurrection. One of them would be a traitor and would be replaced, but Jesus already knew that. But here is the point, Jesus specifically gave these 12 disciples authority to do these specific things. At this time, not all His disciples had this authority, only the twelve.
I think there is a lesson here. Ultimately, we all have the same mission as followers of Jesus and that’s to make disciples: point people to Jesus, help them grow spiritually, love people, and love God. Every believer has a God-given spiritual ability called a spiritual gift (1 Cor. 12:1-11; Romans 12:6-8). Some of you have the spiritual gift of teaching, you are able to help people understand God’s Word. Some of you have the spiritual gift of encouragement, you are able to build people up and inspire them and help them overcome discouragement. Some of you have the spiritual gift of wisdom, you are able to help believers see what the right thing to do is. There are about 20 specific spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible. As a believer, you have one of them. The reason you have that spiritual gift is because God has a mission for your life and He has equipped and enabled you to do what He created you to do. This is what Ephesians 2:10 is talking about when it says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (NLT).
Depending: God wants you trust Him to provide
A fourth principle deals with depending. God wants you to trust Him to provide. In verse 8 Mark tells us, [Jesus] 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.[iii] Jesus wanted them to be adequately supplied, but not to the point of ceasing to live by faith. He wanted them to travel light. This is called functional simplicity. The minimum of provisions was meant to call out the maximum of faith.
This is what I call appropriate faith. The culture of that time made hospitality to strangers a sacred duty. Jesus was not asking them to do something completely weird or foolish. There wasn’t a McDonalds every 20 miles. There wasn’t a Holiday Inn in every town or village. It was common practice for strangers to knock on your door and ask for a place to stay for the night as they traveled. Jesus is saying, “I want you to travel light and trust God for what you need.” He wanted them to focus on the mission rather than focus on their provisions.
This still requires a great level of faith. They are about to travel with no money, no extra clothes, and no food. This would force them to trust God. They would see God provide and gain great experience and wisdom along the way. In some way, this was fasting from material things. Jesus really wanted them to learn something significant about God’s faithfulness. For the future, His disciples needed to understand Matthew 6:31 where Jesus said, “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matt. 6:31-33, NLT). Every believer needs to go through this at some point. As believers in America, we are way to materialistic. We trust and depend on things way more than we should. Part of growing as follower of Jesus is learning to depend on God to provide what you need.
- There is another lesson here for us. God’s provision will come through other people. For some believers, it is a struggle to trust God to use other people. For the disciples they would have to trust other people to open up their homes, provide food and water, and to provide shelter. Trusting God always involves trusting people. God works through people.
- One more thought. These strict stipulations were only temporary. They did not represent a permanent vow of poverty, as Jesus Himself later made clear. In the upper room, as He reflected on this event, the Lord explained to His disciples, “Then Jesus asked them, ‘When I sent you out to preach the Good News and you did not have money, a traveler’s bag, or an extra pair of sandals, did you need anything?” “No,” they replied.36 “But now,”he said, “take your money and a traveler’s bag. And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one! 37 For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.’ Yes, everything written about me by the prophets will come true” (Luke 22:35-37, NLT). As Jesus’ words indicate, the normal expectation for the apostles was that they would plan and prepare wisely for the future.
There are going to be times, you may be in one now, where you will have to trust God to provide. Those times are times for stretching your faith and developing maturing in your understanding of God’s faithfulness. Other times, you will need to use wisdom on how to invest your finances, time, and energy. But everything you do needs to be through the filter of accomplishing God’s mission in your life. But no matter how you look at it, it will take dependence on God.
If you are a follower of Jesus, then Jesus has a mission for you. He is teaching you and preparing you for that mission. He is equipping and empowering you for that mission. There are people you are uniquely designed to share the gospel with, to bless, give biblical counsel, lovingly correct, and encourage. You will need to trust Him through it all. Jesus did not call you so you can sit and watch, but to be sent and do.
[i] Jesus didn’t tell the disciples where to go; He apparently allowed them to decide where they would proclaim the good news. Luke says “they began their circuit of the villages, preaching the Good News and healing the sick” (Luke 9:6, NLT). “began sending them out” suggests that Jesus did not send them all at once but staggered their send-off over a brief period of time. It is likely they returned the same way (cf. v. 30).
[ii] Notes: (1) Each of them (even Judas!) was given power. The commissioning meant that they were extensions of Christ. (2) This commissioning was for a specific ministry and for a specific length of time. (3) Even though the disciples were given both power (dynamis) and authority (exousia) (Luke 9:1), Mark emphasizes the “authority.” The distinction between exousia and dynamis is subtle yet important. Authority is an intrinsic influence that comes from another source. The other source in the case of a police officer standing in an intersection directing traffic is a government agency. A city or state government stands behind the officer, who uses this authority to stop traffic by holding up a hand. The officer cannot possibly stop a two-ton vehicle using personal might or “power” (dynamis). Rather, the officer depends upon the authority of a judge, who will say to violaters, “By the authority vested in me by the people of this state, I hereby declare you are guilty as charged and subject to fines or imprisonment.” That’s authority. (Swindoll, 152-153).
[iii] Jesus continued by delineating a number of stipulations for the apostles’ short-term ministry trip. When the Israelites left Egypt during the exodus, the Lord God commanded them to eat the Passover meal “with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste – it is the Lord’s Passover” (Ex. 12:11). Jesus similarly instructed the apostles to take only one staff, along with the clothes and sandals they were already wearing. The parallel with the Passover may have been intended to demonstrate that a new era in redemptive history was about to begin, starting with an exodus of God’s true people from apostasy. (MacArthur; The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Mark 1-8, page 289).