Jesus sends His workers with authority
Sunday, July 11, 2021
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What is a vicar? At the third year in our seminary training, we were sent to congregations to get ‘hands on’ experience. We call this the vicar year. Vicar just simply means “In place of.” In place of an experienced pastor, you get a guy making one newbie, rookie mistake after another. And when he’s done with that year, he gets to walk away. I joke about the vicar year that way. But you have to learn how to be a pastor some time and some way. In the words we look at this morning the twelve disciples get to have some hands-on experience. But the biggest lesson they learn is trust. In Mark 6, we read: “7 Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. 8 These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town.” (Mark 6:7–10 NIV11-GKE)
In these words Jesus officially commissions and sends his twelve disciples. And notice that their call was limited. It was for a limited time. And it had a limited purpose. Their role was to drive out demons and share the gospel. But what is just as interesting as what he tells them to do is what he tells them not to do. No bread, no bag, no money, no extra clothing. Notice what Jesus was teaching them. He was teaching them trust. They had to trust him that they had no need of taking extra items along with them because the Lord would provide for them from the people that they preached God’s word to. But the trust went the other direction too. Notice that Jesus tells them “no” to moving around from once home to another. They were not supposed to take advantage of the people they were preaching to, being greedy and ‘mooching’ off of them.
Notice, that at the heart of sharing the gospel is trust. And it’s a two-way trust. It’s trust that the Lord will provide people who will take care of the preacher. And it’s trust from the people that the pastor will not use his authority to greedily exploit the people. And, while there are parts of these words that do not apply to us today, there are parts that do. None of you will have to worry about having a pair of apostles show up, asking to stay in your basement. But there are parts of these words that are true. God asks and invites his pastors and teachers still today to trust that those that they share the gospel with will provide for them. And still today, the people in the pews carve out money to give to the church, trusting that their pastors and teachers will provide for them spiritually.
And when you think this through, this is where it gets difficult. For there is always the temptation to conclude that the grass is greener on the other side. We had the pastors come over here for Prairie Whispers. And all of them asked what that door in my office led to. And I told them that I have my own bathroom. And you could just see the voices of envy, as if to say, “why cant I have my own bathroom in my office?” It starts out with little details like that. A guest preacher comes in to preach for lent or mission festival, and it’s easy to think, “wow, I wish that guy were our pastor.”
What is the solution to this temptation? First, we repent. We acknowledge the times our grass was green enough, but we wanted different and supposedly better. And just look at how good and gracious our Savior was. None of those twelve deserved to be an apostle. Each of them were frail and faltering. They made mistakes. They sinned. And yet the Lord still forgave them and sent them out. It reminds us of the words of the hymn we just sang:
Amazing Grace that chose us e’er the worlds were made.
Amazing Grace that sent your Son to save;
Amazing Grace that robed us in your righteousness
And taught our lips to sing glory and praise.
O faithful love that shepherded through faithless years.
Forgiving love that led us to your truth
Unyeilding love that would not let us turn from you
But sent us forth to speak pardon and peace.
There is not one pastor who has preached in this church who has been worthy of sharing that message. But it’s just as true that there has not been any one sitting in the pew who was worthy to hear that message preached. But look at our loving, caring Savior. Jesus forgives our sins. And then he teaches us to trust him. And we show that trust by receiving each other. That is how prepare to share the message. We trust when people listen to us. And what that trust looks like is receiving each other. But Jesus has more to say: “11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.” (Mark 6:11–13 NIV11-GKE)
Up to this point he has spoken about what do do when people listen to you. You receive them. That’s how you show your trust. But what if they do not listen to you? How do you show your trust then? And just as before, there’s a context in these words. Remember that when they came to a village they did not bring any extra food, money, or clothing. They were dependent on the people there to provide for them. But there would be villages what would say “no” to their message. And they would show that they were rejecting Jesus by neglecting the messengers he sent. So there was a double shock and sin. They despised the message and abused the messengers. How do you show your trust in Jesus what that happens?
Jesus gives us two answers: First, we shake the dust off of our feet. This is a very difficult phrase for us to understand today without some explanation. For big, huge, over-the-top sins, there needs to be witnesses. Even today, you cannot accuse anyone of murder and take that person to trial without witnesses. Rejecting the gospel of the Lord and despising his called workers is a massive sin. But what do you do when there are no witnesses? For on the last day there will need to be witnesses of this? This is such an important issue to our Lord that he will make the dust itself stand up as a witness against there despising and their sin.
That’s the first way we show our trust in the Lord. We shake the dust off of our feet. The second way is that we leave. The disciples didn’t stay and debate. They left. And it might have been a long, waterless hike to the next village. But he took care of them. And there will be times in our lives that we need to leave. There will be the times that we share the truth of God’s word. And we are despised and treated shamefully, the way we show our trust in the Lord is that we leave. And it takes trust to do that because when we are harmed or our Savior’s reputation is harmed right in front of us, we want the people to be judged and condemned right now. But God has other plans. He gives them time to repent now. But there will be a day, that if there is not repentance, there will be judgment. And that frees us, when you think about it. It frees us to go about our lives in peace. Because we know that either way, God is in control.
We might joke about the vicar year as being a time when we future pastors inflict as much damage as we can and then we move on. But, my dear friends, that time to make mistakes and learn from them is vital. It is vital for vicars so that they can learn how to trust. But it is also the same for you too. God prepares you to share. He does so by teaching us to receive each other who listen to God’s word. He does so by teaching us to leave those who refuse to listen. Amen.
Alleluia. A cloud covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” Alleluia.
Alleluia. Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Alleluia.
Alleluia. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Alleluia.