Sundays on Mark (15): the sending of the 12

Continuing our simple Sunday reflections on Mark’s gospel

This week Mark 6:7-13 and the sending out of the twelve

With this account begins the public ministry of the disciples; it also marks a further widening of Jesus’ mission in Galilee. On first reading, Mark’s sparse description raises more questions than it answers.

Why are they sent in twos?

Why is the mission primarily one of conflict with evil spirits?

Why go with nothing except bare necessities?

What exactly was the message they were to go with?

Mark does say their message is one of repentance, echoing that of John the Baptist. People are being called to repentance for the kingdom of God has come. This is a mission calling people to get ready for the coming of the king.

And it’s interesting that Jesus sends the 12 out while they as yet have an extremely sketchy idea of who he is or the nature of his mission. Yes, he might be the Messiah, yes he has power and authortiy, but their popular expectations of what that means and what later transpires are poles apart.

This message is authenticated with a healing / exorcism ministry demonstrating the power and reality of the kingdom and the unique status of Jesus who delegates the disciples that authority.

And, as with Jesus’ entire mission, the message of the kingdom calls for a response of acceptance & discipleship or rejection and judgement. Their response of hospitality (or not) to Jesus’ messengers is a response to Jesus. To ‘shake dust off your feet’ is a sign of judgement on those who will not receive the kingdom and God’s Messiah. It foreshadows the impending judgement on Israel to come …

Prayer: Lord, helps us to repent with honesty. Enable us to listen to what you are saying to us with open ears. Give us the courage go in your name and with your authority to proclaim and also be the good news of the kingdom of God to our friends, neighbours and localities. Amen

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve

Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. 7Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.

8These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. 10Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.”

12They went out and preached that people should repent. 13They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

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