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Jesus Sends Out the Twelve

Date: Aug. 11, 2019

Author: Jim Rarick

Mark 6:1-13

Key Verse: Mark 6:7

Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.

In Mark’s Gospel Jesus began his ministry saying, “The time has come.  The kingdom of heaven is near.  Repent and believe the good news!”  With great power Jesus faithfully revealed the kingdom of heaven everywhere he went. For example, when a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years touched his cloak, she was immediately healed.  Then Jesus interrupted the crying and wailing of mourners when a precious young girl had died, and he raised her from dead. Wherever Jesus went suffering and death ended, and the Lord was glorified.  Praise to the Lord rang out everywhere Jesus went.  It was the kingdom of heaven coming to this fallen world.  In this passage Jesus visits his hometown, his dearest friends and relatives, to bring the kingdom of heaven there as well.  But they reject him.  Nevertheless, Jesus is more determined to bring his kingdom to the world and sends out his disciples two by two to carry out this work.  Let’s see how Jesus sent them out and the effect of their work in him.

  1. Jesus Is Rejected in His Hometown

Verse 1 says, “Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples.” Most likely Jesus had wanted to visit his hometown for some time but couldn’t because of the demands of his ministry.  For 30 years I had the dilemma of wanting to visit my family on the weekends but couldn’t because I knew many young people were depending on me to lead them in the orchestra.  God finally raised talented and faithful people of God to lead the orchestra and the last two weeks I visited many relatives on my mom’s and dad’s side.  I was so happy to meet them all and they were so happy to meet me.  Finally, Jesus could visit his hometown as well.  But it was not simply for a reunion.  Jesus wanted to bring the kingdom of heaven to them one by one. Jesus knew the struggles and hopelessness of his hometown people intimately.  He wanted to heal all of them and give them the secrets of the kingdom of heaven.

When the Sabbath came, Jesus began to teach in the synagogue.  What happened when Jesus taught?  Verse 2b says, “…and many who heard him were amazed.”  Jesus’ teaching was amazing.  They couldn’t believe how great Jesus’ teaching was. It seemed unreal.  Jesus taught about heavenly things.  He taught about God’s holiness.  He taught about perfect healing and love.  He taught about eternal life.  And his teaching moved their hearts.  It was not a boring lecture but stirred their hearts and souls and minds. They asked one another, “Where did this man get these things?  What’s this wisdom that has been given him?  What are these remarkable miracles he is performing?”  Jesus’ teaching was God’s voice that created heaven and earth. Solomon made one wise ruling and we remember forever.  But every sentence from Jesus revealed God’s wisdom.  And his teaching had power to heal and perform miracles. 

How should the people respond?  Surely, they should praise God for his incredible blessing on them to hear Jesus.  But they began to criticize him.  They said in verse 3, “’Isn’t this the carpenter?  Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him.”  It is astounding that they took offense at Jesus. They took offense at Jesus for having what they didn’t have.  They took offense at Jesus because he didn’t fit into their idea of a servant of God. Jesus was also amazed, but at their lack of faith.  Verses 4 & 5 say, “He said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.’  Jesus couldn’t do any miracles there except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.  He was amazed at their lack of faith.”  Jesus comes to bring his kingdom to all people.  But they rejected him, partly out of jealousy and partly out of their human understanding of Jesus.  When they rejected him, he could perform very few miracles.  Jesus really wanted to heal and bless all the people of his hometown.  But they missed his blessing because of their lack of faith in him as the Messiah. 

How tragic to miss the kingdom of heaven because of jealousy or viewing God’s work humanly, rather than with faith.  When I first came to UBF, there were many questions about the ministry because it was based from Korea.  There was great suspicion that the gospel work could come from Korea.  Even my mother came to Bible study with Mother Barry to “check out” UBF.  But she received the living-giving word of God through Bible study with Mother Barry and became a great advocate of our ministry until she passed away five years ago. These days in America race is a serious and important issue.  Because of racial prejudice, many can miss Jesus coming to us through others.  How can we truly overcome racial barriers? It is through seeing everyone as children of God and seeing the work of God in others regardless of race.  This also extends to gender, age, education level, culture, etc.  We need to overcome every barrier to seeing the work of God with faith.  Recently a second-gen missionary from Germany returned to Chicago. When she was a teenager, I never imaged she would want to become a servant of God, let alone a missionary. But she married a second-gen from Germany and somehow the Holy Spirit worked in her heart.  She met Jesus personally and decided to serve others with the gospel.  She became a missionary!  Her sister, whom I thought was even less likely to serve the Lord, moved to Germany and married a second-gen too.  She too met Jesus and became a servant of God, caring for others.  She became missionary too!  It is an incredible work of God.  We could say, “Isn’t this the daughters of so and so?  Weren’t they the least likely to serve God in high school? How is it God is working through them?” But we only thank God for his life-giving work and learned from them.  We must ask God for spiritual eyes of faith to his work in whomever God is working through. We must ask God for spiritual eyes to see Jesus as the Messiah wherever he is working.  These days seminary degrees seem to be important.  It is good to get more education.  But a degree does not give faith.  When I studied music, a degree was good to get, but in the end, how well I played the clarinet was all that mattered in getting a job.  Serving God is the same.  Having faith and bearing fruit is most important.  We need to learn faith in Jesus and bear fruit to him. I am deeply thankful for God’s work at IIT ministry.  It astounds me that those working full-time write messages and even carry all the equipment for the Sunday Worship Service every week to the Godbox.  They prepare a delicious lunch every week and support a fruitful student ministry.  It is amazing!  It is the great work of God going on among the people here.  May God bless this ministry all the more.  May God bless IIT students to see the work of God and come to him through this ministry.

  1. Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Two by Two

Jesus was rejected by those whom he loved so dearly.  Most would be discouraged and need time to regroup. But not Jesus.  Verse 6b says, “Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.”  Jesus was determined to bring the kingdom of heaven through Galilee, Judea and eventually the world.  This verse says that Jesus went around teaching from village to village.  Jesus’ primary ministry was teaching the word of God. Jesus taught the word of God because it had God’s life and power in it.  In our times too, we need to teach the word of God with determination and faith as first priority. 

Look at verse 7.  “Calling the twelve to him, Jesus began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.”  Not only did Jesus continue proclaiming the kingdom of heaven with authority, he began to send out his disciples two by two.  It was to expand his ministry even more.  Jesus first called the twelve to him.  Everyone loves coming to Jesus who is comforting and caring and makes us secure. But Jesus’ calling to himself at this time was to not keep them with him, but to send them out two by two.  Jesus was pushing them out to expand the kingdom of heaven.  There are many reasons why Jesus did so.  First, Jesus knew he would not remain in the world forever and needed to raise future gospel workers.  Second, Jesus wanted his disciples to learn faith.  And third, Jesus knew expanding the kingdom of heaven was the most important work in the world, and the only hope for mankind.  In America and the world there are so many seemingly insurmountable problems.  There is gun violence, racial discord, global warming, moral breakdown, etc, etc.  What is most important in this time as at any time is bringing the kingdom of heaven to the hearts of all people.  Laws are necessary.  But people need to be changed from their hearts through the coming of the kingdom of heaven.  The kingdom of heaven is the kingdom of God’s love and peace and joy.  Our time needs the coming of the kingdom of heaven, just as in Jesus’ time. 

Here we see that Jesus wants to send his disciples out.  Christian fellowship is sweet and we enjoy comfort from our brothers and sisters.  We love being near Jesus and receiving his love.  But going out to people who can be hostile is difficult.  Yet Jesus sent out the twelve.  Jesus sends out his disciples into the difficult and uncomfortable world.  Jesus knew they were not ready to be sent out.  They were too spiritually immature.  Yet, Jesus couldn’t wait.  His heart was burning to bring the kingdom of heaven to the world.  Jesus was grieved that people were living under the rule of the devil and sent his young disciples out.  Later, the Risen Jesus gave his disciples the world mission command out of the heart of God.  50 years ago, three young women went from Korea to Germany as nurses.  Before leaving, our ministry founders asked them to have one week of missionary training, which consisted of daily bread and evangelism study.  It was our expression of Christ’s heart to expand the kingdom of heaven.  They went out and preached the gospel, though they were really not ready.  But when they acted by faith with Jesus’ heart, the Lord performed a miracle. This weekend we had an ESBC with over 1000 attendants.  Now they pray to have ministries in all European countries, including Italy, and all Europeans may have life in our Lord Jesus.  May the Lord give each us his heart to expand the kingdom of heaven.

The end of verse 7 says, “…and gave them authority over impure spirits.”  This may be the most important phrase in this passage.  Jesus gave his authority over impure or evil spirits.  The disciples were not going to start another club on campus or in society. They were going to free people from the power of the devil.  They needed spiritual authority to do so.  Jesus gave them this authority.  Spiritual authority comes through faith in Jesus and obedience to his word.  I am always moved by remembering a story about John Wesley.  He was a very disciplined son of a pastor in England.  He attended Oxford and held accountability meetings to live a holy life. He did his best to prepare messages and serve God’s work.  But no one was moved—nothing happened in his ministry.  Then he was asked to serve native Americans in the U.S. and came over by boat.  On the way, a fierce storm threatened to sink the ship.  He was terrified that he might die.  But he saw several Moravian Christians on the boat singing hymns and praying.  They were not afraid at all.  John Wesley asked why they were not afraid.  They said they believed if they died they would enter the kingdom of heaven with their Lord Jesus forever.  John Wesley realized he did not have simple faith in the gospel of Jesus as these Moravians.  He repented and believed the gospel with all his heart.  When he started preaching after that, God worked powerfully. People would scream as demons came out and many thousands turned to the Lord through his preaching.  God began a great revival in England through him and several others.  His brother also became a believer and wrote many great hymns, which we still sing today. Today the enemy is not other people. It is the devil who is working to destroy lives.  We need spiritual authority from Jesus to remain in him and to be used to free others with God’s power.  This power comes through faith in Jesus and obedience to his word.  May God bless us with spiritual authority over impure spirits. 

Jesus also gave the following 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.”  The disciples were to go with nothing so they could depend on God alone.  Taking a staff meant they were to walk a lot—taking a hiking stick.  But they were to take nothing else, not even a snack or five dollars for a drink.  How could they do so?  Jesus believed God would provide for them.  Jesus believed God would bless their journey both spiritually and materially.  Jesus never doubted for a second God would bless them.  When Jesus uses us to raise his disciples, we need this same kind of faith. We need to plant faith in Jesus’ disciples that God will bless them, provide for them and use them greatly. We need Jesus’ faith.  May God give us Jesus’ faith. 

The disciples were also not to compromise with those who rejected their message.  Verses 10 & 11 say, “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.”  The disciples were to stay wherever they were welcomed until they left the town.  But if any place would not welcome them or listen to them, they were to leave and even shake the dust off their feet as a testimony to their fate.  No one likes to be rejected.  Politicians especially change their message many times in order to be accepted and voted into office.  But disciples of Jesus are not politicians, although politicians can be disciples of Jesus. Disciples of Jesus are to proclaim Jesus’ name and his gospel with great confidence and conviction.  These days there is intense pressure to compromise the gospel in order to be accepted.  One prominent pastor even denied his faith in Christ because he compromised with our immoral culture.  He discouraged many believers and denied Christ.  What a tragedy.  But we must stand clearly as disciples of Christ and advance the kingdom of heaven.

What happened when the disciples went out?  Verses 12 & 13 say, “They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.”  The disciples went out as Jesus said and simply preached as Jesus had preached, that people should repent and accept the kingdom of heaven.  Then God blessed them with spiritual authority. They drove out many demons and healed many sick people.  God shook the countryside with an incredible work of God.  The kingdom of heaven advanced powerfully driving out the work of the devil and healing many people.  God freed many people from the devil’s torment.  Praise God for his marvelous work. 

I have been serving Loyola Ministry for about 20 years.  In that time, we have faced many rejections as well as persecutions from faculty and staff.  We cannot go to the campus to invite students to Bible study but must stay on the public sidewalk.  I love living among kind, godly people in our ministry, but lost heart to go to the campus. But I learned Jesus sent out the twelve because he wanted to bring the kingdom of heaven to the hearts of all people. Many would reject.  But many great works of God happened and will happen today. I learned Jesus’ heart is to bring his kingdom and I need Jesus’ power to do his work.  As I said, there are so many issues in our country and in the world today.  But the kingdom of heaven is the solution to all problems.  Jesus calls me to leave my comfortable life and carry his kingdom with power.  May God bless me and each of us to do so. 

Today we learned the tragedy of rejecting Jesus for any reason.  We also learned Jesus’ heart to bring the kingdom of heaven to all people, and that he sent the twelve out two by two to carry out this work.  We must do the same today.  Mostly we learned that Jesus gives us power when we trust his word and obey him, and we can be used powerfully in Jesus to bring his kingdom to our troubled world. 

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Blessed Be Abram by God Most High

Genesis 14:1-24

Key Verse: 14:20

  and blessed be God Most High,
    who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”

And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

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