God Has Already Prepared the Way

Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.

These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff–no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.”

They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
(Mark 6:7-13)

“God’s promises are like the stars; the darker the night, the brighter they shine.”
-David Nicholas
Here our Lord sends out His disciples–two by two–seemingly, to experience a little taste of what is to come! Thus far they have been privy merely to sit at His feet, listening to His teaching and seeing His miracles. Yet the Lord Jesus had blessed them to be a blessing. Now they are about to learn the valuable lesson that His power extends beyond His personal presence. Some knowledge can be learned better on a fieldtrip rather than in a classroom! The process of sending them out two by two allowed for mutual encouragement. Most assuredly, two are better than one.

“What is needed is not mere present professions, but perseverance to the end in the power of faith.”
-Ignatius of Antioch
Jesus sent them out to fulfill a specific special commission and His instructions were pertaining to that particular mission. These instructions were not to be taken as “Law” for all further mission assignments. He empowered them with His authority over evil spirits so that their message would be authenticated. They were to depend upon God to supply them with life’s necessities through the hospitality of others as God’s hand moved hearts to meet their needs. They were not to depend upon their own resources and strength. Much like the Israelites in the desert with the manna, they were to trust and depend upon God even in the smallest details of life.
I am reminded of our Lord’s words in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:25-30)

When Jesus sends us out on mission–be it overseas or to the grocery store–we can be assured He has prepared the way for us as well. It is His desire for us to bring Christ to our every encounter–as we go forth, Spirit led, in His all-achieving power. Remember Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians:

However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”–but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)

We can be conscious of God’s leading at all times as we listen to His still small voice. The Prophet Isaiah tells us:

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:20-21)

Take It to Heart

Much like John the Baptist, the disciples’ message was one of repentance–turning from sin in repentance to the One true God. The great goal of gospel preaching should be to bring people to repentance–to a new heart and a new way. They were not out to amuse the public with clever anecdotes, rather they plainly preached the necessity of turning back to God. The disciples were obedient to Jesus’ command and Scripture tells us they were blessed in their obedience–healing the sick and driving out demons. When we walk with Jesus we walk victoriously–whether we readily perceive it or not.

God’s promise to Moses in Exodus is true for us as well:

“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.” (Exodus 23:20)