SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS
Commentary by Walter Albritton
Disciples Are Still Sent Out to Share the Good News
Mark 3:13-19; 6:6b-13.
Key Verse: [Jesus] appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message. - Mark
A Gallop poll indicated that of the
major denominations in
Why are so many Christians fearful of speaking about their faith? Is it because their pastors have not taught them how to share their faith? Dr. Fred Craddock, respected preacher, author and teacher of homiletics, thinks that is the reason. Pastors, Craddock says, must preach so that their people can learn how to say the faith, sing the faith, and live the faith.
Eddie Fox and George Morris offer a helpful answer to this dilemma. They co-authored a book called Sharing the Faith that can be used to teach people how to express their love for Christ without fear. Recently Fox and Morris prepared a Work Book and a Power Point Program that can be used with the book. Another valuable resource is the pocket-size Faith-Sharing New Testament and Psalms. It contains helpful information on the essentials of leading a person to faith in Christ. All of these materials, and more, can be obtained from WME Press (World Methodist Evangelism Publishing). Go to www.WorldMethodist.org/ to find out more.
When Jesus began his ministry, he did not depend merely on his preaching, teaching, and healing ministry. He did not attempt to bring in the Kingdom on his own. He called together a band of disciples. These were men Jesus needed in order to accomplish his mission. Mark says Jesus called these men because he “wanted” them. What an honor – to be wanted for the service of the King!
The Twelve were appointed to serve as Jesus’ apostles. He asked them first to be “with him.” He wanted to know them intimately so that they could bond together and understand his mission. Being with Jesus day after day was the best possible preparation for ministry. We can only imagine how inspiring it was for the disciples to spend time apart with Jesus.
Jesus prepared the apostles so he could “send them out” to proclaim the good news, and “to have authority to cast out demons.” After their training, Jesus sent the apostles out two by two.
Scholars are not sure why Jesus sent them out in pairs. Perhaps the simplest answer is that they, like us, were afraid to go one by one. However, there is great wisdom in going on a mission with a companion of like mind. One great benefit is the encouragement that each can give the other. When the mission is difficult, the encouragement of a companion helps us not to give up but to keep going.
The apostles were ordered to travel light. They could take only a staff, their sandals, and one coat (tunic). Why? Jesus did not want them to be hindered by their “stuff.” Stuff can so easily get in the way of the work God wants us to do. Life, after all, does not “consist in the abundance of our possessions.” Jesus was asking his disciples to practice what he preached, and obviously lived out in his own life. There is no evidence in the gospels that Jesus hauled a large suitcase around as he traveled.
More than that, Jesus wanted the apostles to be completely dependent upon God. He knew that God would provide if they trusted him. And God did provide – through the generosity of people, the apostles had all the provisions they needed. They learned a basic principle of Kingdom living – Where God Guides, He Provides!
Jesus knew the disciples would sometimes be rebuffed. So he prepared them for rejection: “If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.”
It may be important for us to remember, when we are snubbed, that Jesus did not instruct the apostles to speak against those who rejected them. No denouncement was called for; they were simply to shake the dust off their feet and leave. When we are willing to do that, often we find a more receptive audience the next time around.
We may observe that the apostles obeyed Jesus, and their work was rewarded with success. Many were stirred by their strong preaching to change their ways and turn to God. They had power over evil spirits because Jesus had given them that power. Mark says “they expelled many evil spirits.” They “anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.” Again, they were able to do this because Jesus had given them that power.
There is every reason to believe that Jesus still wants to send out his disciples to share in his mission to offer redemption to the whole world. We who are his present-day disciples should spend time with Jesus, receive his power, and go out in his name to share the good news. When we do, he will go with us and crown our ministry with success.
Repeatedly, in my own ministry, whenever I have gone out to share his message with others, Jesus has honored my work and given me fruit for his Kingdom. I have known failure, of course, but always there has been enough success to inspire me to go out again.
One thing I remember Harry Denman saying: “Jesus said ‘Go’ more often than he said ‘Pray’ so his disciples must be willing to let Jesus send them out to do His will.” Harry was right.
The more we go out, the more we learn to depend on God rather than ourselves and our stuff; and the more we receive the power to share the good news, have authority over evil, and see the sick healed in answer to our prayers.
Shall we go? We have no other option really – if we want to be faithful disciples of Jesus.
+ + + + (Contact Walter at email@example.com)