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Homily

NOTES ON MARK 6:7-13: JESUS SENDS HIS DISCIPLES ON THE APPRENTICE MISSION
By Augustine Agwulonu
Thu, 04 Feb 2016

NOTES ON MARK 6:7-13: JESUS SENDS HIS DISCIPLES ON THE APPRENTICE MISSION

The Lord summoned and began to send his disciples... There is a sense of formality in the tone of this expression. Jesus exercised his coaching role over his disciples here. The task these followers of Jesus were to perform required that they put in all their efforts and be completely serious about it. Thus the use of the word "to summon." This is not just one such moments when the disciples were mere spectators to their Master's performance of the evangelical duties. Now, they themselves were to go and practice independently, what they had learnt from their Master.

Thus, Jesus "began to send" them. That was not to be the only sending. It was just the beginning of their actual participation in the mission and ministry of Jesus. This sending anticipated other ones. The life of Jesus's disciples were to be characterized by constant and repeated sending. In as much as there were people who needed God's intervention in their lives and experiences, the disciples would continue to be sent.

Jesus did not send his disciples on the mission empty! But rather he "gave them" something - "authority." This was, in principle, all that Jesus' disciples needed. It was to be the staff for their official duties in the name of Jesus Christ. This authority was to be their testimonial and key to their representation of Jesus in the power of words and miracle. The disciples were never going to speak or act in their own names, but in the name and power of Jesus Christ.

The Lord also instructed his disciples. He enjoined them to travel light. I wish to observe here some pragmatic dimensions to this text. Mark appears to be appealing to those who would encounter the disciples of Christ to receive and support them in their ministry. This will be for their own salvific benefit. No one who would read what Jesus said about shaking off the dust on the feet of the disciples as evidence against them would want to ignore the disciples. This is a way to point out the importance and value of the disciples' mission and ministry. On the one hand, the disciples must be ready to enjoy hospitality from those they minister to, thus they must stay in the house where they are welcomed. But on the other hand, those who would encounter them should be ready to assist them by providing the basic necessities of life for them. So, the foundation of Jesus' disciples' ministry was to be their faith in God and trust in the good will of those who would listen to them. However, should the hearers of the word still block their hearts to them, then they should only act accordingly. They should simply move on to preach the Gospel in other places.

Finally, Mark reports a successful evangelical outing for the disciples. Jesus' missionary instruction to his disciples were prescriptions that were result-oriented. Mark observes that once the disciples applied the Jesus' method, it was immediately fruitful. Mark is saying that obedience to Jesus' summon, faithfulness to his sending and missionary assignment, acting according to his prescriptions would surely produce the required result. So, the way of obedience to Jesus in missionary matters is the road to success in ministry.

As followers of Jesus we are his apprentices! Docility and obedience are all that are required of us. And we shall be missionary achievers, like the Master himself.

 

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