A Disciple’s Commission: Part 1

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The Voice of Hope
A Disciple's Commission: Part 1
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A Disciple’s Commission : Part 1

Mark 6:7-13

            When I was in junior high school, one of the classes we boys had to take was woodshop. The teacher was eccentric, but I learned some fundamentals of woodworking in that class. Of course, the best part was using essential hand tools to build simple projects. Because of that positive experience, I took woodshop as an elective in my sophomore year in high school. After that, I became hooked and spent many years in the woodworking industry. To this day, I enjoy it as a hobby.

            One of my experiences was working with custom cabinetry. In the shop where I worked, an older man, an experienced cabinetmaker, taught me most of the things I eventually learned about the trade. I was not in any formal apprenticeship, but I enjoyed that kind of role with him, and we got along very well.

            Something that always amazed me about him was his ability to fix other people’s mistakes. We worked in a shop with about a dozen employees, and inevitably, somewhere in the process, from building the cabinets to shipping them out the door, mistakes were made, or the product was damaged. When that happened, where did they bring them to be fixed? To this older man I worked with. Very seldom was a piece beyond his ability to repair. I will be grateful for the opportunity to work with and learn from him as long as I live.

            Today, we hear much about mentoring as though it were something new. It’s not; it’s just another word for being an apprentice. Or there’s an even older term – a disciple. Whenever I hear the word, disciple, I think of the twelve – the disciples of Jesus.

            Working through Mark’s gospel, we see how the twelve accompanied Jesus. They listened to His teaching. They watched Him respond to the needs of the people He met. They saw Him cleanse the lepers, restore sight to the blind, heal the crippled, and even raise the dead to life. They heard His teaching, which was so different from the other rabbis of His day. And they saw Him live out what He taught.

            In all of this, they were learning what it meant to be His followers. But in every relationship like theirs, the time comes when the disciple or apprentice needs some hands-on experience. That’s what we see in Mark chapter six. Jesus commissions His disciples and sends them out to preach the gospel of the kingdom, to put into practice what they had learned.

            Today, every person who repents of their sin and accepts by faith the sacrifice of Christ as the only acceptable payment for their sin is forgiven and becomes a disciple of His. As disciples, you and I are called to proclaim the Gospel. It is important for all disciples to be part of a local church fellowship. It is in that context that newly converted disciples can be mentored by older, more experienced followers of Jesus. Paul’s epistles give clear teaching on how this process should work. Paul’s letter to Titus, especially chapter two, is a good example for us.

            Much of what is recorded in the gospels is historical, especially in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. It is narrative that shows how Jesus began to establish the kingdom of God on earth. Not everything that Jesus and the twelve did is commanded to be done today. However, we can learn many things by observing the underlying principles of the historical narrative.

            Our text for today illustrates this fact. In Mark 6:7-13, we see Jesus giving specific instructions about how the disciples were to carry out the assignment He was giving them. Jesus probably would give us different specifics today than He did back then, but there are still important principles we can learn as we study this text.

            To begin, let me read Mark 6:7-13. I’ve titled our study “A Disciple’s Commission.”

This text notes several important PRINCIPLES that should be understood by all who receive “A Disciple’s Commission.”

The First PRINCIPLE is,

            Delegated Authority

            In the opening of our text Jesus called the Twelve together for a meeting. He is sending them out, in groups of two, as His ambassadors, His apostles, to preach the kingdom of God, cast out demons, and heal the sick, according to verse 13. These six pairs would be able to cover more places in Galilee than if they all were together. But they weren’t going to do ministry on their strength! Jesus equips them with what they need.

            Verse 7 says that He gave them power over unclean spirits. The English word, power is translated from the Greek word exousi’a. It is often translated as authority. By giving the disciples authority, Jesus gave them the right to act in His name. He was giving them jurisdiction or control over unclean spirits. Incidentally, the word gave for us is past tense. However, the original word is in the imperfect tense which means that Jesus kept on giving them power throughout the duration of their ministry. His presence and power accompanied them the whole time!

            This same word, exousia, is used in John 1:12, where John states, “But as many as received [Jesus], to them He gave power [authority] to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” Numerous other translations substitute the word “right” for authority. Those who receive Jesus have the legal right to become the sons of God.

            Here, we see the delegated authority principle in those commissioned to proclaim the Gospel. Jesus gave the Twelve the “might and the right” to carry out their commission. This principle still applies today to every disciple of Jesus. We have delegated authority that comes to us by virtue of our relationship with Christ. The power and authority to proclaim the Gospel are not inherent in us; they are something we have received. We must never forget that!

            As Jesus’ disciples, you and I are called to proclaim the kingdom of God. Don’t let the word preach (verse 12), scare you off or make you think you’re exempt from the command. Kerusso means to herald, proclaim, or publish. We can all do that in one way or another. God has given me the tool of media to use in proclamation; He’s most likely given you different tools. But we all work together toward the same goal – making Christ known!

            This authority over demons; is that for us today or is that era past? I believe we have that authority today. The Scripture tells us that Satan is the “…prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience.” He actively opposes God’s plan and accuses us before the Father. But you and I, through the power of the name of Jesus and the power of His blood, shed on the cross, have access to a power that is greater than any demonic force.

            One of the powerful ways we can help fulfill this commission to proclaim the Gospel is to access the power of prayer. Speaking about the unsaved in Second Corinthians 4:4, Paul says, …the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

So, you and I can use the delegated authority we have to ask the Father, in the name of Jesus and through the power of His blood, to bind the Satanic forces (the god of this world) and to open the blinded eyes of the unsaved. John says we can confidently overcome these anti-Christ spirits “…because greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world,” I John 4:4. 

            Numerous times in my work at Heralds of Hope, I have felt demonic opposition. Calling on the name of Jesus and the power of His blood and asking Him to rebuke those spirits led to visible results and increased faith. I encourage you to use the delegated authority God has given you in Jesus!

            Today, demonic activity is out in the open! The preoccupation in our culture with immorality and violence proves that Satan is having his way in the lives of many people. Unfortunately, many who profess to follow Jesus are opening themselves to the power of demonic spirits. Their music, the movies they watch, the video games they play, and their entertainment make them vulnerable to the influence of evil. We must understand our authority in Christ and how to deal with these challenges.

            Now, you may ask, “What about the healing of the sick?” Remember, I said at the beginning that we are commanded to do only some things that Jesus and the twelve did. Does that mean the gift of healing is obsolete or nonexistent? By no means! You probably know people who were healed miraculously and instantaneously. To say that any of the gifts given by the Holy Spirit are nonexistent today is putting a limit on God and His purposes. However, we do not see the exercise of this gift of healing nearly as much today as in the beginning of the Gospel age.

            But there is another point I’d like to make here. Look at verse 13. It says that the disciples healed many who were sick. The word healed is therapeu’o. In addition to the idea of curing disease, it means to care for, to wait upon, and to relieve.

            Those words express compassion for the suffering and a willingness to serve them. That kind of compassion is essential to proclaiming the kingdom of God. While you and I may not be able to heal the way the disciples did, we can show compassion for those in need. As we observe the life of Jesus, the alleviation of human suffering accompanied by the proclamation of the Gospel is a powerful force in advancing the kingdom of God. Historically, Christians, motivated by the love of Christ, have built more schools, hospitals, and other humanitarian facilities than any other major religious group.

            In all of this, it is important for us to remember Jesus’ words in John 15:5: “…without me, you can do nothing.” Failure to remember this important principle will lead to pride, arrogance, and spiritual ruin. The first principle of a disciple’s commission is the realization that we serve with delegated authority.

The Second PRINCIPLE is,

            Delineated Simplicity

            To delineate means to describe something in detail. That is just what Jesus did! In verses 8 and 9, He gave the Twelve detailed commands about how to carry out their mission. Those commands present a delineated simplicity.

            First, take nothing for your journey except a staff. Wow! Is that all? That is exactly what Jesus said. So, there would be no confusion, He delineated the specifics.

            Don’t take a bag; in that day they were used for carrying food. Don’t take bread. That makes sense since they weren’t supposed to carry a bag. Don’t carry coins in your money belt. And finally, do not take two coats. The word here is chiton and refers to a close-fitting inner garment. That is the equivalent of leaving your clean underwear at home on a trip. Imagine that!

            What is the point of these specific instructions? I believe Jesus was sending the disciples out like this for a reason. He wanted them to rely on Him and Him only. They were being sent out with His authority. He wanted them to understand that He could protect and provide for their every need. Having no resources to fall back on, they would fully put their faith and trust in Him. We humans often want a fallback position, an out, in case things don’t go how we think they should. Jesus gave the disciples no fallback position except for their lodging.

            These restrictions and the unfolding context of Mark chapter 6 suggest that they had a fairly short time to carry out their mission.

            Are Jesus’s commands to the Twelve still the model for missions? I have only met one or two persons in my lifetime who came anywhere close to following these specific commands, and they seemed to me to be somewhat mentally and spiritually unstable. I’m not saying that someone who does this is crazy; I’m just relating my own experience.

            One significant difference between the setting in Luke 9 and today is hospitality. In biblical culture, hospitality was a requirement! The widow in Zarephath took her last food and gave it to the prophet Elijah. She had no idea God would use her obedience to sustain her and her son, yet she showed hospitality. If you read the Scriptures carefully, you’ll repeatedly see this display of costly, self-sacrificing hospitality. It was this kind of hospitality the disciples were to rely on.

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