I’m starting a new sermon series today, I’m calling it back to basics of discipleship, sharing Christ. Just like when the kids return to school which many in the area already have, they start the year by reviewing what they learned before, to cement it in before adding more. But today’s passage (Mark 6: 7-13) could have fit nicely with the last series on healing, because what is one of the main activities the disciples carry out when Jesus sends them: they heal.
But we are starting a new series with this passage, and the first basic for us to review is the basic concept: Go.
I want us to notice that here we are only on chapter 6 of Mark, which yes is the shortest gospel. But we are no where near the end. We are ahead of the middle, still in the first half of the story. And Jesus sends the disciples, on their own.
Well maybe they were fast learners, you might think… but a review of these first 5 and something chapters don’t really bear that out. Jesus has had to stop and say, don’t you get it? a couple of times so far, you can look it up in 4:13 and 4:40 if you want. There is not evidence that they perfectly capture what Jesus is all about or respond perfectly, they are kind of just hanging on…Yet here he is, empowering them to carry out ministry in his name, going ahead of him, to preach, call people to change their hearts and lives, to throw out demons, and to heal.
They have been having on the job training. They are to be student teachers, in a sense. Sharing what they have witnessed and experienced with others, not as trained professionals with degrees and titles, but as sent learners. They are acting as amateur doctors, putting oil on wounds, but they haven’t been to medical school. They are throwing out demons but they are not the son of God. They are proclaiming a change of heart and life and they are still figuring out what this all really means.
The word disciple comes from the word to learn. It means to be a student of someone or something. The word apostle means sent ones. This is the passage where the disciples become apostles. The followers of Jesus, the ones who have been walking along behind him wherever he went, now they are sent ahead. Disciples become apostles. Sent learners.
Today the sent out religious people often think of are called missionaries, and we think of them as sent because they go far from home. They usually have a clear purpose, to help people “over there:” to teach, to provide.
I was a volunteer missionary for a short period of time, and I learned that missionaries need to learn to one thing well before they accomplish anything concrete: they need to learn to walk alongside those they have come to be with. Neither leading nor following. There is a balance of wisdom and humility needed.
As the disciples were sent, they were sent empty-handed. Jesus says, no extra shirt, no bag, no bread. Just yourselves, the message you have heard from me, the authority I give you as you go two by two. They needed to first ask those where they went for food, drink and lodging. They were vulnerable in their mission, they needed to pay attention and listen first, and then they would be able to share what they had to bring: their experience of having walked with Jesus. His message of how lives can be transformed, how God wants us to turn around, clear out all that gets in the way of true life, and heal us.
Beloved look around at our world today. There are so many people hurting in so many different ways. There is unprecedented grief, depression, anxiety, – addictions of all kinds are up, I’ve heard there are more incidents of children with eating disorders, unfortunately more people are taking their own lives, struggling with unemployment sometimes poverty, our relationships are broken… even if nothing else, we are all dealing with an extension of an extension of a time of uncertainty that is just plain hard on most if not all of us. We are weary of this pandemic but it will not let us rest. In the midst of this, there are so many ways we can come along beside others to share what God can do.
But I’m dealing with this stuff too, you might think. And I spent the last 4 weeks talking about God’s healing, because I am sure that many if not all of us are dealing with some of these things I just mentioned.
But this is the thing I see, with the sending of the disciples in Mark 6- you don’t need to have your own situation completely resolved, have perfect faith, have your wound healed and the scar fading to help someone else. Whatever remedy you have found, share it. whatever in the realm of what God wants for us, might have helped you, might help someone else. Whatever the story of God showing up for you is, how God has transformed your life, healed your heart, gave you just a moment of peace, has provided for you, however you know God is real, that is what you have to share with someone else.
And if you aren’t totally sure all of the time that you have experienced this transformation, but you have enough faith to call it a hunch that God is real, that is a fine place to be. Because our world these days is not often convinced by the watertight proof, the neat story with no jagged edge, people are just looking for something real and true, that’s what I think anyway. Someone who cares and can be vulnerable enough just to be there in the middle of the hard part with them, with some hope.
So you might be guessing that I’m saying, you don’t have to go half way around the world to be sent by Jesus still today. You can go next door. Or pick up the phone.
But here is one thing I think we leave out when we read this story of Jesus sending out the disciples and apply it to today: none of them went alone. All of them had a partner, and after a time they all are grouped together again.
They had someone to walk with, to observe with, a community with which to share both the amazing stories, and the pain of when they were rejected, and to wonder with again what God might be up to in their midst.
In our church we have grace groups that meet, to share how our soul is, who we want to pray for, and also we try to do gracings. Each time we meet, we share one little thing we’ve done to share love, grace, a little touch of God’s way in the world.
It isn’t about bragging or comparing, it is about practicing how we want to be, how we can live out this life of faith, we are student teachers sharing our experiments of how we are trying to live out being disciple/apostles, sent learners. We have partners and community as we go.
And yes we may be doing less “go”-ing, less physical movement these days, but I think there are lots of opportunities to still share the life-giving love of God we have known in Jesus Christ, there’s still letters, phone calls, there’s also text messages and emails, and social media too. However it’s possible for you to “go”- and whatever you have found to be transforming, healing, life giving for you, that is your mission. You don’t have to have it all figured out, you don’t have to go to seminary, you just share what it’s been like for you to walk with Jesus.
One sermon from a previous pastor of mine that has stuck with me is, the crux of our faith is not actually that we believe in Jesus. The most important part is, Jesus believes in us. Jesus believed in those fumbling disciples, he granted them authority over evil spirits. He sent them while they were still on their way to understanding what he was all about. But we will hear, they effect transformation, healing on their journey where they share what they have found so far to be true. Jesus calls us to live a different way, heals us and sends us out to continue doing what we’ve seen him do. So beloved, this is our basic of discipleship to embrace this week: Go!
How can you share Christ this week? How is Jesus telling you to Go! ?
Footprint- write down some ideas- keep as a bookmark in whatever you’re reading maybe…
There is a way for you to tell someone how you have found God is with you, how you can come alongside them with humility and let them know they aren’t alone, there is hope. And God can work in powerful ways when we follow the call of Christ to go, Amen.