September 20, 2021

Jesus Shares His Ministry 04-07-2021

4th July 2021 Pentecost 6 (Sixth Sunday after Pentecost)
Jesus Shares His Ministry
(Scripture Reading: Mark 6:11-13)
By Heeyoung Lim
Mark 6 tells the story of Jesus’ hometown rejection and God’s mission through disciples’ teamwork. We are all individuals as well as members of groups or communities. A team player is someone who actively contributes to their group to complete tasks, achieve goals or win the games. Teamwork and team spirit are essential for all groups, communities, sports games, and nations. In many sports games, a good match or a win occurred when a team played well together, not when an individual does well alone. Team players listen to their co-workers and help other team members to achieve their common goals. They understand that their team’s success is their own success, and they share responsibility even when their team experiences difficulties.
Jesus spent most of his time in Nazareth before his public ministry. He went home to Nazareth with His disciples after many ministries, but he was rejected and mocked by his own people. It was not just family visiting, He was invited by a synagogue to teach. The listeners were offended, not at what Jesus said or what he did but at who he was. (3)
The people in his hometown considered Him as just Mary’s son, elder son, and carpenter’s son rather than the one who God sent. The power of God which Jesus possessed required the receptivity of faith, but they were in the absence of faith. It caused the hardening of people’s hearts against God. Verse 5 says, “He could do no mighty work there.” Lack of faith hinders Jesus’ power. Mark tells us about faith as a critical element in the healing mission of Jesus, but Jesus’s power and freedom cannot be limited by human faith. Jesus himself chooses when and how to use his power. He healed people through compassion not on demand or popularity. (5) One of theologian, Hendriksen said, “The spread of the gospel has the priority over personal likes and dislikes.” God’s mission has nothing to do with human popularity or demands, it has been given by God’s grace and love.
In Mark 6, Jesus sends out his disciples to travel the countryside and moves on the Gentile areas, to heal the sick, and to proclaim the need for repentance for the forgiveness of sins. In today’s text, Jesus tells His 12 disciples what not to take with them on their mission, rather than telling them what to take. The disciples were recognised for what they do not take with them on their journey. How about us? Many of us are probably interested in what we do take or possess rather than “lightness”. Jesus adds instructions on how they are to travel for their mission of testifying and healing. He tells them to travel light without bread, traveller’s bag, and money. The lightness of travel will show trust in the divine authority. (8-9)
If they meet the risk of hospitality and rejection in any place, they are requested to shake the dust from under their feet and then move on in accordance with Jesus’ commands. The experience of rejection from Jesus’ hometown could be a signal of what was to be faced in their work and ministry. Jesus prepared his disciples for potential rejection and extended His ministry first by sharing it with the disciples.
Jesus had already chosen the Twelve to be with Him, and to be sent out to proclaim the gospel, and to have authority to cast out demons. Now, he sends them out in pairs to be witnesses. Jesus sent them out in teams of two. The reason may be that in Israel, the law demanded two witnesses for any testimony. (Deut. 17:6) The sharing of a common mission by two people would help bind the disciples into a more cohesive group. The strength of two is more than doubled. They were Jesus’ beautiful teams.
Jesus gave the disciples authority over evil spirits. They did not go under their own authority but the power and authority of Jesus. The missions Jesus has given to them are inbreaking of the kingdom, empowering with Jesus’ authority to cast out demons, and anointing and healing the sick. Anointing with oil signifies the presence of the Holy Spirit. (12) It was a symbol of God’s grace being poured on them. It also signified that the one who applied the oil was a mouthpiece of God’s grace and healing power. The disciples’ mission was successful. (12-13) They carried out the command of Jesus. They brought first a message of repentance, forgiveness of sins, and the need for the people to turn to God. The second message they brought was that of physical healing. It was possible with Jesus.
Jesus calls us to follow Him. We go wherever He leads because He is leading us to a place where He is with us. And he has promised his presence even in the dark at times. The darkness, whether it be through difficulties or suffering, can be connected to the growth and the beauty of the life and faith within us. Jesus wants us to follow Him individually and collectively.
Jesus is aware of our needs and comes to us in our distress and our provisions always come from Him. Jesus calls us to be a part of His ministry to the world; He watches over us and prays for us. We may face the storms of life, but the waves will not overtake us because Jesus is with us. May we do not depend on worldly view but be confident in God’s power as Christians, disciples, leaders, stewards, and most importantly team members. Good stewardship demands that we do not waste God’s resources.
Our priority of mission is to tell people to repent and turn to God. May we also bind their wounds, feed their hunger, satisfy their thirst, and cast out demons. Do we have a “quiet place” to be with Jesus so He can restore our soul and help us cope with the burdens of ministry? There are hard decisions to make when we travel. How much luggage can we take? Some of us take too much luggage while we are traveling and living. But do we really need all that stuff? Do we have “lightness” on our faith journey? We are surrounded by the lack of faith and struggled between lightness and heaviness in our lives, but we do our roles and mission by taking care of people’s physical needs as well as their spiritual needs as team members.
Jesus extended his ministry by sending out the twelve disciples. Now, Jesus is on the move, and he calls us to move with Him. He is aware of our needs and comes to us in our suffering; He watches over us and prays for us. Jesus calls us to follow Him. May we be confident in God’s power as Christians, disciples, leaders, and team players.
God’s mission has given to us under God’s timetable, though crisis comes, and challenge is ongoing. Jesus is sharing of His mission with us, but if we are trapped by our past and current challenges, we will not be free to move forward into new ways of following Jesus. I expect Leighmoor Congregation can be identified as “Team Jesus” in the eyes of Jesus. May we be more beautiful and powerful team for the Lord. May we also rely on the strength and love of God in our all circumstances and always walk with Jesus with the name of “Team Jesus”.
Thanks be to God. Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)