Ready for a huge challenge? Jesus is on a mission, and he wants his followers to join him. The Gospel of Mark began with the announcement that this is the Good News about King Jesus, the Son of God. When Jesus began his ministry in Galilee, he announced “The kingdom of God is near!”
Jesus began to call disciples – people who would follow him and learn from him. First, he called five followers – the usual number for a rabbi. Then he called others to make twelve, the number of the tribes of the new Israel. Jesus taught them through parables and their explanations. He challenged them and showed them the power that is possible when the kingdom of God breaks into a person’s life. The sick are healed and people are freed from the powers of demons. Even the wind and the sea obey King Jesus, leading those around him to ask, “who is this?”
Now these same disciples who have struggled to fit Jesus into any of their categories are sent out by Jesus. They seem hardly ready for such a task. Yet Jesus gives them the authority that they need to announce the coming of the kingdom, cast out evil spirits and heal.
He gives them instructions as they head out. First, they are not alone, but are to travel with a friend. Followers of Jesus should never be alone. We should have a companion to encourage and support each other along the way. It is also important that the lifestyle of these wandering preachers should speak of the kingdom of God. Jesus was a wandering preacher without anywhere to lay his head. The disciples also should travel in freedom, taking only what is simple and essential. Take the clothes they are wearing, a staff to help them navigate over the rocky ground and sandals for their feet. All these things were common signs to mark a missionary disciple.
Jesus continues to invite us to go out and announce the kingdom. The only way that we will be a convincing witness of the gospel is to live as Jesus lived. If we only say that we are Christians but do not speak also with our lives, our message will not be heard. The only way that we can make Jesus present in the world is by responding totally to God as he sends us.
+ Lord Jesus, you are our king. Help us to fall so deeply in love with you that all that we are and all we do will speak of your kingdom. Amen.