The Gathering/ Pastor Barry Gospel of Mark (memoirs of a naked runner) Lesson 8
Two By Two Mark 6:6b-13, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Luke 10:1-2, 17-20
It has been said that two is company and that three is a crowd! Jesus sent out his disciples two by two (Mark 6:7). I can tell you first hand as a city council member that finding three in agreement can most definitely be a crowd of contention. Yes, two is certainly better for getting things done! King Solomon (in his old age) wrote about why two was such a good number (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). Interestingly enough King Solomon speaks fondly of “two” but then wraps up his illustration with the line “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken”. I would surmise that the two cords are two people working together with God being the third that strengthens the “rope”. In the same way, the six groups of two disciples each wouldn’t have had any success in their mission at all if it were not for the “authority” that Jesus gave them over impure spirits (demons). In fact their instruction was to “take nothing” for their journey except that authority (and a staff to walk with). The lesson here is life changing: To have a godly friend to walk with and the Spirit of God to lead you is more than food, money, clothes and a home. It is all you need for any journey when you are committed to Christ. What is it that messes up our journey in life? Is it not the friends we choose to walk with and the stuff we think we must take along the way? God alone and the authority he gives is enough! For even that disciple that got Judas as his traveling companion came back with a good report! If God be for us, than who can be against us? (Romans 8:31) So let me encourage you if I may today… Stop whining and get committed to Jesus!
Three Dog Night sang “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do” (Harry Nilsson). Jesus was well aware of this fact and that is why he selected 12 to send out in pairs to preach the gospel. It was so successful that he later sent out “seventy two” (Luke 10:1). This was God’s plan all along. His “disciples” (those “disciplined ones “who were committed to him and his teaching) would take his message out to the world. As modern day disciples we are to be doing the same thing today. He told those “seventy two” (or “seventy” as some manuscripts read) that “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send workers into his harvest field” During the time of Jesus about 300 million people inhabited the earth. Today there are over 7.5 billion people on the earth with a population increase of 83 million people per year. I would say that we should still be asking Jesus to send workers…how about you? Are you committed enough to go? (Stats from: http://www.worldometers.info/world-population)
There is one last lesson to glean from this block of scripture, both the twelve (Mark 6:12) and the “seventy two” (Luke 10:17) came back excitedly with great reports! Luke’s gospel clarifies that the “seventy two” were joyful over the fact that even the demons submitted to them when they used Jesus’ name. Jesus quickly reminds them that he actually watched their commander, Satan, fall from heaven so “don’t be a braggart!” As believers committed to the call, we will see the Lord do great and marvelous things, but we must never forget what we would be without his grace and gifted authority. We should not rejoice that the spirits (demons) submit to us, or that we have any spiritual gift from the Lord, but that our names are written in heaven! How much do you appreciate the gift of salvation? Do you hold onto it as your greatest possession? Is it your greatest joy? Does it make you a patriot for the kingdom? Does it make you pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done” (Matthew 6:10) or is it your will that charts your journey? God help us!
Commitment Personified Mark 6:14-29, Matthew 11:1-11a
Herod Antipas ruled Galilee when Jesus began His public ministry. He was a self-centered narcissist who had John the Baptist put in prison and later beheaded as payment for a sensual dance. Herod was extremely superstitious and believed that John had been resurrected as Jesus. (Ironically John’s resurrection would be in Jesus! ( John 11:25)
Matthew’s gospel tells us that after Jesus had instructed the twelve disciples and sent them out John inquired through his disciples if Jesus was the “one” (Messiah) or should he expect someone else. John had been committed to his call but because of his circumstances he was wondering if he had missed something. John needed encouragement and validation and Jesus sent that validation back in the form of facts. John was no doubt encouraged but was beheaded just the same. He would not rejoice that Herod would submit to him, but that his name, as a servant of God, was written in heaven. Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you.
John is praised by Jesus as the personification of commitment as he refers to him as one unswayed by the “winds” (persecution) of people. John is referred to as one who followed his call as a prophet to the masses and not to kings. One who gave up the comforts of life for the call of God. Jesus refers to John as scriptures fulfillment and says that there is none greater born of women (Jesus was born of God). What an honor to be praised by the one to whom all praise belongs! Like the parable Jesus told about the servants entrusted with talents. John’s master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful …Enter into the joy of your master!’ (Matthew 25:21). Could there be better words to hear from Jesus on the day we see him face to face?
“Greater Than He?” Matthew 11:11b, Matthew 28: 18-20
“Yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11b). How could this last sentence be true? How is it possible that you and I could be (should be) greater than John? Greater than “commitment personified?” What could Jesus have meant?
John was truly the greatest man who ever lived with the greatest call ever given up to that time. John introduced Jesus to the world; but John could only prophesy of Jesus and point the way to Jesus. He could not preach of Jesus’ grace, mercy and salvation. John would not witness the cross of Christ or his blood shed for our sin. The full mystery of God’s grace has been revealed to you and I and therefore even the very least in the kingdom of God has “greater” work to do than he. We have a greater mission… Will you labor in his harvest?