St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

Jesus Reaches Sinners Through His Messengers

Sermon on Mark 6:7-13
 
 
Text: Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.
     8 These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff–no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 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.”
     12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
 
 
     Before the days of radio, television, telephone, Internet and other means of mass communication, you had to rely on a messenger to spread news about something.  Back in colonial days, every town had a town crier who spread the local news by shouting it to the residents.  If a general wanted the king to know how the battle was going, he would send messengers at regular intervals with updates.  Messengers played vital roles in the people’s lives, for without them, they would not know of anything beyond the walls of their towns.  Messengers spread the news.  It was the same way in the early days of the church.  If news about Jesus was to be spread, messengers would have to be employed.  This morning we hear of messengers being sent out to spread the news.  We watch as JESUS REACHES SINNERS THROUGH HIS MESSENGERS.  1. He Sends His Messengers.  2. He Instructs Them and 3. He Blesses Them.
 
     Jesus had been teaching his disciples for some time now.  They were in training to be his messengers.  This would be their life’s calling.  Remember, for example, when Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John.  He told them that they would be fishers of men.  Before they went out, however, Jesus taught them.  We note that this was Jesus’ decision to send the disciples on their first preaching tour.  The disciples didn’t decide that they had learned enough and could strike out on their own.  It says in verse one, “Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out.”  Jesus decided to send them out and he did so in groups of two.  This would be beneficial for them.  They could offer support to each other when they faced opposition.  This was to be a training mission and the two disciples could boost each other up when they were down and fill in what they were lacking.  Jesus sent them out to be his messengers.
 
     Today God’s messengers are also sent out.  When a pastor or teacher accepts his first Call, he does not do so of his own accord.  He doesn’t decide that he’s learned enough and can go out on his own.  Rather, he allows those whom the church has appointed to decide if he is ready to go out to be a messenger for Jesus.  He believes that this is the method that Jesus uses to place him where he wants him.  This is comforting to the messenger, because he is confident that this is where Jesus wants him to be at this time.  This shores up the pastor or teacher when they are down.  It strengthens them when they are weak and encourages them to go forward.  They know that they have been sent to be a messenger.
 
     This is not just true for pastors or teachers.  Every member of the church has been sent to be Jesus’ messengers.  It is part of every believer’s job description.  Jesus promised his disciples, and us as well, “you will be my witnesses. . . to the ends of the earth.”  Note that this is not a command.  Jesus didn’t say, “You MUST be my witnesses.”  Rather, it is a promise that we will share in this task of spreading the news of Jesus Christ as our Savior from sin.  It is not a burden, but a privilege that we have been given.  We are sent out by Christ to be the salt of the earth.  We are to let our light shine before men.  We have been put on this earth to be one of Jesus’ messengers to reach unbelievers.  This is the task that we are to be about, while our Master is in heaven.
 
     Some might be thinking, ‘I don’t have the training to be one of Jesus’ messengers.  Leave that to those who are better trained.’  Jesus doesn’t send us out to be his messengers without instruction, any more than he would send his disciples out without training them first.  Jesus instructs his messengers.
 
     Before Jesus sent out the disciples, he gave them some 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.”  They were to take nothing along to support themselves while they were preaching.  They were not to take along extra food, nor a bag in which they might pack supplies for the journey.  They were not to take along extra money.  They were to take along only one tunic.  Travelers often would take along two so that they might cover up with one at night.  Why would Jesus give these instructions?  He wanted to teach the disciples that he would take care of them while they proclaimed the message.
 
     How would they survive?  Jesus promised that they would be taken care of in verse 10, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town.”  Those who heard the message would support those who brought them the message.  They would want to share with those who brought them the message of salvation.  Jesus also offered a word of admonition to the disciples.  They were to stay at that particular house while they were in that town.  They were not to go from house to house, until they found one that catered to their likes and dislikes.  They were to accept the hospitality that was offered to them.  To go from house to house would give the impression that they were just doing the job for what they could get out of it.  But, if they were satisfied with what was given them, they would show that delivering the message was of first priority.
 
     Jesus wanted the disciples to be aware of the fact that they would not always be well received.  He tells them in verse 11, “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.”  If any city or house refused to listen to them, they were to shake the dust off their feet.  This shaking of the dust from the feet comes from the custom of the Jews who had been in a foreign land.  Before they would enter the Promised Land, they would shake the dust from their feet and beat it from their clothes, lest it make the land ceremonially unclean.  When the disciples shook the dust from their feet, they were saying that these places were as good as pagan lands.  It was done with the hope that the people would repent of their refusal to listen to the disciples.  It also testified to the fact that they had heard the message and refused to believe.  Jesus gave his disciples very specific instructions before they were sent out.
 
     Today’s messengers are also instructed, before they are sent out.  The pastor has at least eight years of specialized study.  The teacher has at least four.  However, the average person in the pew is also instructed in all that he needs to know about being a messenger of Jesus.  He receives his instruction from the pages of the Bible.  In the Bible he sees himself in the light of God’s law.  He sees that he has failed miserably to live up to God’s perfect standards.  There he reads that all are deserving of eternal punishment and he knows that he, too, deserves this punishment.  But, also in the pages of Scriptures, he also sees how God promised a Savior.  He sees Jesus as the one whom God sent to take away the sins of the world.  He sees that Jesus suffered and died on the cross to pay for every sin that he has committed.  This is the basic message that every messenger can spread.  He doesn’t need to be worried about not being trained in all of the theological studies.  He merely witnesses to the faith in his heart.  If he doesn’t know what to say, he has been promised that the Holy Spirit will give him the proper words to say.  All the instruction we need is found in the Bible.  Jesus uses his Word to instruct his modern day messengers.
 
     After the disciples were instructed, they went out to carry out their task of spreading the news.  We are told in verses 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.”  They went out to carry out their task and God blessed their work.  They were able to perform miracles, which showed that they had been given power from God.  They also preached the message of repentance.  God blessed their message.  He worked through their words and brought some to faith.  Some rejected, but some came to believe in Jesus as the promised Messiah.  God blessed the message of his disciples.
 
     God also promises to bless our message, as well.  After Jesus ascended into heaven, Peter and the others spoke ten days later and 3,000 people were brought to faith.  We will probably never see such results when we are God’s messengers.  Yet, God will bless our message.  He will work through our message to accomplish what he wishes.  We are merely God’s mouthpieces.  He works through us.  He has promised us in Isaiah 55:11, “my word . . . will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”  We do not do the converting.  That is the Holy Spirit’s work.  We are witnesses to our faith.  We may be a messenger of comfort to a fellow Christian who is down.  We may be used to call others to repentance.  We may also be used to bring the sweet comfort of the gospel.  God promises to bless the message we bring to others.  God uses us to spread his message to sinners.
 
     God could have entrusted the message of salvation to angels.  But he didn’t.  He gave the message to his church.  We are to be his messengers.  God has chosen us.  He has instructed us and he promises to bless our message.  May God give us strength for the task.  May he help us when we are down.  May we be messengers spreading the good news of salvation to all.  Amen.