What was the essential item that the disciples must carry with them when Jesus sent them out?
One of the striking aspects of last year was, of course, the Who Cares survey. But a lot of us felt reluctant to knock on the doors of our neighbours, to ask them to complete the one question survey. And I have to say I completely sympathised and having done about 100of the approaches myself, I can tell you that every time I had to summon up the courage to knock on that door, to start my patter: ‘We are from the church and we are conducting a one question anonymous survey would you be willing to take part?’, I was nervous about rejection; I was nervous about someone being gratuitously rude.
Summoning up the courage on each occasion was not easy and I had the dog collar on! Much more difficult for those brave people who did it without!
But here we hear about Jesus sending out his disciples two by two to do much more than just ask a one question survey. He was suggesting that they should just turn up in a village like Itchen Abbas, simply knock at the first door and expect to be invited in and to be hosted by the family with no means of reimbursing the cost; no money in their belts, no means of paying for accommodation, no second tunic, so no possibility of sleeping outside…
As long as they stayed in the community, Jesus wanted them to call upon people to repent and, in exchange for their keep, they would drive out demons and cure the sick.
Ah but that’s different, from us finding it difficult to knock on doors for Who Cares, you might be thinking: they had seen Jesus doing these things, there was a strong hospitality tradition to strangers in Ancient Judea and of course Jesus had given them authority over the unclean spirits verse 7.
But I wonder what they thought as they first encountered by themselves someone who was demonically possessed or sick, maybe with a crowd of people looking on waiting to laugh at them, waiting for them to fail. I should think that they were pretty frightened, worried that, despite Jesus giving them authority, that ‘it wouldn’t work’ that somehow they weren’t up to it. Would they really have the bottle to call on the demons to depart to call on the sick to be healed?
I heard one talk recently given by someone who has been involved a lot in healing ministry today in the United States. He says, ‘if you come across someone with a boil on their nose’and you are brave enough to ask them if you can pray to God that the boil will go and if you pray and it goes….then the next time you see someone with a boil on their nose, you will be a bit braver about asking if you can pray for it to be healed.
If then the boil goes again….then you will be positively looking for people with boils on their noses to heal! You gain confidence by success.
But still the first time the disciples needed, and we ourselves need, the one essential item that Jesus doesn’t mention but which is implied by the passage: trust: Trust in Jesus promises, trust in the authority Jesus gives us as his disciples.
If we are to be followers of Christ, if we are to do anything that he tells us to do, we have to trust him that all will be well and that he has our best interests at heart.
Trust is the one essential piece of equipment for the Christian journey, then for the disciples, now for us, as his followers. Trust is the foundation of faith; faith is trust…..
The Mission of the Twelve
Then he went about among the villages teaching. 7 He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9 but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. 10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 11 If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.”12 So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 13 They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.