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Gene’s Daily Scriptural Postings

Reflective Bible Study.

Flashback Episode — Ignoring Rejection: Mark 6:7-13

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Flashback Episode: Year in Mark – Episode 14: When Jesus sends the disciples out in pairs, He gives them instructions about how to face rejection, but the disciples return without even mentioning anything about that. Discover why this might be and some other big truths in this amazing passage!

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Read the transcript:

After being rejected in His hometown of Nazareth, Mark’s gospel transitions to Jesus sending His disciples out to spread God’s message. Whether this was directly because of the rejection Jesus faced, or because Jesus wanted to teach the disciples a big truth, Mark transitions us to this event, and he specifically includes some of Jesus’ instructions to the disciples as they head out.

Let’s read what Mark tells us and discover some things we can learn from Jesus sending out His disciples. Our passage is found in Mark’s gospel, chapter 6, and we will read it from the New International Reader’s Version. Starting in verse 7, Mark tells us that Jesus:

7 [He] called the 12 disciples to him. Then he began to send them out two by two. He gave them authority to drive out evil spirits.

8 Here is what he told them to do. “Take only a walking stick for your trip. Do not take bread or a bag. Take no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals. But do not take extra clothes. 10 When you are invited into a house, stay there until you leave town. 11 Some places may not welcome you or listen to you. If they don’t, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet. That will be a witness against the people living there.”

12 They went out. And they preached that people should turn away from their sins. 13 They drove out many demons. They poured olive oil on many sick people and healed them.

In this short passage, we discover some amazing ideas. Probably the first amazing thing is that Jesus gives His disciples the authority to drive out evil spirits. While we can learn from the detail of Jesus sending His disciples out in pairs, this strategy is less amazing than the incredible thought that Jesus would give sinful, people the authority to drive out evil spirits.

It is even a little more amazing to think that this passage strongly implies that Judas Iscariot would have been included in this. Judas Iscariot was the disciple who would later let Satan into his life prompting his betrayal of Jesus, and here, earlier in Jesus’ ministry, Judas Iscariot is given the power and authority to drive evil spirits out of other people.

However, in Jesus’ instructions to the disciples, another big idea stands out in my mind. Jesus tells the disciples to basically travel empty-handed. All Jesus tells them they can take are the clothes they are currently wearing, a walking stick, and sandals for their feet. This would be equivalent to what someone might take if they were going for an afternoon walk, but not for a month-long or more trip. While near the end of Jesus’ time on earth, He tells the disciples to pack a little more when they travel from that point forward, I believe this first missionary-like trip emphasizes dependence and acceptance.

Jesus then tells the disciples to stay at one place in town as long as they are welcome, and to silently reject the towns that reject them. While shaking the dust off of their feet would be visible to those who are watching, this action is not disruptive or obnoxious in any way.

Similar to how Jesus had been rejected in Nazareth, Jesus emphasizes that some of the disciples would likely experience rejection in the towns they visited. It’s possible that depending on how many towns Jesus asked the disciples to travel to, all six pairs of disciples faced rejection at least once.

When reading this event and wondering about the territory that was covered in this evangelistic campaign, I am curious if there was no overlap between disciple pairs covering the town. In other words, I am curious if one pair of disciples was rejected at their first or second town, if later on, a different pair of disciples stopped to share at the same town and was met with success. Something I have noticed as I have traveled speaking is that different people respond differently to different people. It is possible that the former tax collector Matthew could have been rejected because of his reputation, but James, who was a fisherman before becoming a disciple, was accepted.

In this passage, we have no indication how long the disciples traveled and we have no indication how many towns Jesus asked them to visit. It is quite likely that Jesus gave these disciples this detail, but that these details are not relevant to the bigger themes that the disciples understood Jesus to be teaching.

However, just like what we saw that was amazing at the opening of our passage, we discover an amazing idea and truth at the close of our passage. At the opening of our passage, we discovered how Jesus gives His disciples the power to drive out evil spirits. At the close of this passage, we discover how their missionary journey was successful. Not only were the disciples able to drive evil spirits out, they preached a message of repentance, and they healed many sick people as well. In the lives of these disciples, in this event we see evidence of the Holy Spirit being with them while Jesus was alive on earth.

When reading the summary of what happened, it is amazing to see what is not said alongside what was said. While about half of the instructions Jesus shares with the disciples relates to responding when a town rejects the disciples, nothing is even indicated that any town rejected any pair of disciples. This either tells me that the instructions Jesus gave regarding this point were not needed, or more likely, that the disciples simply didn’t focus on or dwell on the rejection that they did face. Instead, the disciples focused on the towns and people they were able to help and bless, and this truth is a great point to remember.

While it is easy to remember and focus on the points when people rejected us in our past, remembering our rejection is never positive. Instead, we should remember the times when God has used us in powerful and/or significant ways, and seek to place ourselves in situations where God can work powerfully in us again. God used these disciples to bless the towns that accepted them, and God is more than willing to use us to bless our communities when we let Him lead our lives as well!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first in your life and choose to let His Holy Spirit guide and direct your steps. While it might seem that at times God is silent, during those times, I recommend living your life as a witness for God and to focus on growing your personal relationship with Him.

Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself. While pastors, speakers, authors, or even a random podcaster can give you ideas to think about, take everything you learn and discover and test it against the truth of the Bible. God has giving us everything we need to strengthen our spiritual lives in the pages of the Bible, and the Bible gives us many warnings about traps our spiritual lives can face. With prayer and study, we can learn from God how to best live for Him in a world that is opposed to God in almost every way imaginable.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or abandon where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

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