Mark 6:7 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.
First, Jesus very explicitly gave the disciples authority over unclean spirits. V.12-13 seems to suggest a subsequent connection between the invitation to repent of sins and deliverance from demons/healing. In other places in the bible Jesus will first forgive someone’s sins then, to demonstrate the authority to forgive sins (something it was believed only God could do) he would then heal their infirmity. Repentance then deliverance. Repentance then healing. Interesting.
Second, before sending the disciples on their way Jesus tells them to take nothing extra on the journey (v.8-9). This begs the question, why? Why would it matter if they have some extra food or not? Or a change of clothes? Or a little money – just in case? They were essentially sent with nothing but the clothes on their backs, completely dependent on the Father to provide for them as they went on their way.
There seems to be a connection between complete dependence on God and activation of the power of God in their ministry.
One day I was listening to a Christian evangelist from mainland China who was visiting the US. He ministered in the rural areas far from city centers and plagued with grinding poverty. He spoke of people desperate for help, who had no means to secure needed medical care or other kinds of services we take for granted in the US. And he told us of amazing miracles and works of God in their midst. When someone asked why such things are less frequently experienced in the West he told us we often have no need of God – we can depend on our worldly resources to address our needs. He didn’t say this as a criticism, just a fact.
People who tend to experience the miraculous power of God aren’t necessarily more faithful or spiritual or godly than others, it’s just that they have no other options available to them. Today’s passage has me thinking about this, reflecting on it, praying. Lord teach us to minister in your power. Amen.