And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” Mark 6:7-11
Mark recounts in his gospel not only the testimony of Peter but alludes to the history of the nation of Israel and their leader Moses. Chapter after chapter follow the footsteps of God’s people leaving Egypt. Story after story shares God’s power, provision and protection. The people were rescued (parting of Red Sea/calming the storm), the people were fed (manna from heaven/feeding 5,000), the people instructed (Jesus teaches on the mountainside/ten commandments given).
Jesus choosing the twelve and sending them out two by two bears the images of Deuteronomy 1:15 when Moses chose leaders over Israel and Deuteronomy 19:15 where two was the number needed to establish a witness. He charges the twelve to take nothing (as Israel was charged when leaving Egypt in haste). To wear only sandals and one tunic (to be in the same position as Israel to trust totally in God’s faithfulness for provision). But, the disciples are charged to take a staff, the symbol of authority. Moses carried one. Now, Jesus is giving his authority and power to them. He is inviting his disciples to lead others on a new kind of Exodus. On his journey, Jesus experienced rejection from family, church and state (Mark 2 and 3). Shaking the dust off the feet was a warning to those rejecting God (Isaiah 52:2, Nehemiah 5:14). When trials and rejection come, remember the great I AM is the Lord God.
Jesus gives us new life, new bread, a new Kingdom. He also gives us the same power and authority he gave his first disciples (Matthew 28:18-19). We are given the same assignment to show others the way out of the bondage of sin (1 Peter 2:9). God has equipped each believer in Jesus with spiritual gifts for the task (Hebrews 13:20-22). Take the spiritual gifts survey on South’s website to help find out what your gifts are or give you new insights on how to use them. For more about Mark following Israel’s narrative, check out the books by Joel Marcus, The Way of the Lord: Christological Exegesis of the Old Testament in the Gospel of Mark and Rikki E. Watts, Isaiah’s New Exodus in Mark.
By Donna Burns