Sunday, July 22, 2018

Send out the disciples

There was a group of people who wanted to establish a new Surf Life Savers Club on a new beach:

  • Between them they gathered enough funds for a building.
  • Turned up weekly to go inside and practice
    • Marching in straight lines,
    • Overhead line pass
    • Brought in specialists. Famous names.
    • Taught the theory of swimmingSwimming while holding another afloat
    • Talking calmly to others to let them know that the shoreline isn’t too far away.

Months of training. Years of training. Yet they didn’t enter the water once, and people kept drowning. 

In the reading today we hear Jesus equipping and sending out his disciples:

Mark 6:6-8  Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts

Jesus’ instructions seem to be an odd way to equip your followers. No food (not even a lunchbox) no bag, no money. But he did equip them with spiritual power. The authority over demons was the main tool needed for this journey. The rest is not a concern right now. It will be provided when the time comes. Have faith. The point is to go. Right now. 2 by 2.

And they should have had faith. By this time they had been with Jesus for about a year. They had seen him start off his ministry and drive out impure spirits, then go on to heal the sick, then those with Leprosy, even the paralysed. They had front row seats to see Jesus exercising his authority.

So did they Go? Yes, yes they did.

Mark 6:12-13 They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

That authority was real and evident in them.

So what about us disciples gathered here in the present. Do we feel trained and ready? Do we feel confident to step outside in faith? Or are we more like the surf life saving club afraid of the water?

If these services each Sunday were training sessions, how many would you need to feel ready? Here’s an experiment. Close your eyes and think how many years you have been a Christian. A rough guess is fine. Now half that number (divide by 2), then multiply by 100. That’s roughly how many hours spent in church.

Not only that we have the bible with us. An instruction book that even tells us how it’s going end.

Yet sometimes it feels like we’re strangely inadequate (myself included), unable to head out in faith, to seek and save the lost.

There was a period where the disciples from Mark’s gospel faltered. They watched their source of power be falsely accused, be stripped and humiliated, and laid bare on the cross. They ran away, their faith all but gone.

But Jesus wasn’t done with them, and he’s not done with us. Rising again Jesus not only claimed authority over death, but authority over everything. When ascending up to heaven he repeated the sending out:

Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”