Mark: Why the Gospel is good news
Week 5: Kingdom Coming: Obedience and God's Provision. Mark 6:6b-12, 30-44
Sermon: Sun 7th February 2016
Start by reading Mark 6:6-12: (10mins)
You might like to try a creative reading of the text using the following method:
Pray for the Holy Spirit to illuminate the text as you read it
Read the text through once
Re-read the text and pause at any particular sentence(s) that strike you, taking time to let them sink in
Make a note of any questions that arise for you from the text
Re-read the text once more
Mark 6:6-12: ‘Then Jesus went about teaching from village to village. Calling the twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And 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.” They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.’
Coming to the Word:
We read here a typically short and to the point account from Mark – this time of Jesus sending out his 12 closest disciples on their first missionary journeys. Matthew 10:1ff picks up the same account but typically in a much more full and substantial way than Mark does.
In the flow of Marks Gospel we are now moving from material organised around the theme of ‘Jesus calls’ to material organised around the theme of ‘Jesus Sends’. These verses in Chapter 6 mark the point of transition.
From calling to sending:
It’s a transition that is familiar in the life of any disciple of Jesus. First comes the call to follow him, and then comes the call to go out for him.
Question for discussion: We’re used to articulating the story of being called to come to Christ, but what about our sense of being sent out for Him?
How did you first perceive that Christ is ‘Sending you out’?
How do you perceive and understand that call day by day?
The Risk of sending:
In sending out the 12 disciples Jesus is taking a significant risk. So far, if we’re honest, they’ve not passed the discipleship test with flying colours:
They don’t really understand his teaching (Mk4:10).
They don’t trust his power to protect them (Mk4:28).
They lack his extraordinary insight and perception (Mk5:31)
To most observers it would seem as though they are a long way off being ready to speak for Jesus and exercise his authority, preaching, healing and delivering. (from evil that is, not parcels).
Perhaps this risk is even more apparent to us in the 21st Century. In a culture obsessed with ‘training’ for every task or role it’s rare to see anyone launched out into a place of significant responsibility before they’ve completed the development and training course planned for them…but this is what Jesus does.
It is the ancient equivalent of Costa Coffee sending out a team of half trained baristas to open a new franchise in the full knowledge that they can’t yet make a proper Cappuccino and their chocolate sprinkling skills leave a lot to be desired. Well actually of course it is much more serious than that!
But this is what Jesus does.
Question for discussion: This I think leads us to interesting line of thought to reflect on:
What is the role of risk in the life of discipleship? How do we grow as disciples through taking risks?
Can you talk about a time when you were conscious of taking a risk as a disciple, of stepping out without feeling properly equipped or ready? Stepping out in faith, relying only on the grace and faithfulness of God?
If not, why not?
Mark seems to be suggesting that no matter how much time the disciples spent observing, listening or being with Jesus, it wouldn’t ever be enough to make them ready to be sent out.
Instead, the disciples would only be ready as they took a risk and stepped out. In the words of the commentator Donald English “They must risk themselves in dependence on the gospel and the power that accompanies it.”
Risk taking, getting on and getting out (being sent) is a vital part of the life of discipleship. In fact it is as we are sent out that growth in discipleship happens. We’re not discipled so that we can be missionaries, we discipled as we are missionaries! They myth is that we grow as disciples in church or house group so that eventually we’ll be ready to be sent out. But it’s not true, we grow as disciples in and through the sending out.
The thing is that so often we go for safety whilst claiming to follow a Lord who risked himself in the incarnation. We try to build up a sense of security whilst claiming to follow a Lord who embraced a path of peril and danger. We constantly say we need more training as though it is practical skills that will help us through when in reality it is the grace and power of God that carries us, not a 3 week crash course and focus groups. It just doesn’t quite add up.
Where do you see active growth in your life of discipleship as happening? In the safety of church or house-group or in the world outside of these places?
Does this episode in Mark’s Gospel challenge you?
If so, in what ways?
Can you share a testimony of a time in which you’ve been aware of growing as a disciple in being ‘sent out’.
Let me close with a handful of short quotes which have to do with being sent out as missionary disciples.
It might be worth reading each quote and then taking some time to reflect on and talk and pray over the groups response.
“In individual experience too many Christians have few, if any, non-Christian friends. We spend our days, whenever the choice is ours, with believers”. As a result we rarely put the gospel to the test as the disciples were having to do.
We see this In our churches ”…where our lives are so often centred on ourselves [corporately not just individually], albeit including the attempt to ‘bring people in’. This passage is about being sent out” Do we spend so long catering for our own life and trying to get people to come to us that we fail to be exposed to life outside of the church? Do we try to stay in the safety of the church rather than living in the world in the power of the gospel?
So many things in modern life are “…viewed by Christians as threats to be avoided, or issues to be involved with as little as possible.” Yet if we take Jesus’ ‘sending out’ seriously we see that these very issues and threats are the contexts for proclaiming the gospel.
Making it real:
And so, this week, where is Jesus ‘sending you out’?
This week, what are the contexts in which you will need to rely on the power and grace of Christ as you live and speak the gospel?
How might God be offering an opportunity to grow as a disciple this coming week as you are sent out?
This is where the rubber hits the road…so pray for one another as you are sent out...
Simon Butler, 30/11/2015