Dependence and Kingdom Authority…

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Mark 6:6–13 (NRSV): Then he went about among the villages teaching. 7 He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9 but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. 10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 11 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.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 13 They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Today I’m noticing two dynamics at work in the passage and thinking about their relationship to one another. First, there is the call for Jesus’ disciples to go out in pairs with “authority over unclean spirits”. In verse 13 it says they “cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them”. The disciples only had the authority Jesus gave them, but it was enough. It’s one thing to talk about God’s kingdom. It’s another to demonstrate the power of the kingdom in miraculous fashion. By this time in their journey they’d seen Jesus do this sort of thing many times so they would have had confidence that such things were possible. For Jesus. It’s something else to see the kingdom work through one’s own hands. I can imagine their level of faith going through the roof! How exciting!

The second dynamic at work is the companion command from Jesus. Yes, they were given authority over unclean spirits and such, but they were also called to be completely dependent on God for their provision along the way. And I mean COMPLETELY dependent. They couldn’t take food or extra clothes or even lunch money. Nothing but the clothes on their backs and a walking stick.

My question: how are the two connected?

I’m thinking the posture of humility and dependence upon God created in the disciples a vessel through which God’s kingdom could manifest with power. It’s a form of kingdom paradox. They have nothing, yet they have everything. Reminds me of the words in 2 Corinthians in which the apostle Paul writes, “God’s power is made perfect in weakness”.

Lord, don’t allow the abundant resources in our world get in the way of our faith in you. Teach us to empty ourselves that we might be filled with your authority. We pray this in your holy name. Amen.

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