Daily Devotion – June 28, 2021 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison

Mark 6:1-13
6:1 He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him.
6:2 On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands!
6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
6:4 Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.”
6:5 And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.
6:6 And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching.
6:7 He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.
6:8 He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts;
6:9 but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.
6:10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place.
6:11 If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.”
6:12 So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent.
6:13 They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Sometimes a big failure, if you reflect on it, can lead you to innovation. Jesus was a failure in his hometown. But he had some success in other villages. And he learned to multiply his effect by sending out his disciples two by two. That was an innovation. Besides, that practice of being sent out two by two would be good practice for the time when Jesus would no longer be going out physically with them.

Being sent two by two has a lot of benefits. First, if there are instructions to be followed, two people have the list. If there are directions to be followed, two people have the map. If there are people to be won over, two people have widely differing gifts of persuasion, of capacity for eye contact, of being good with children, and so on. A team of two can get a lot more done than a single person.

They can also encourage one another, talk over what went well and what didn’t. And if they are not accepted, they can courageously move on to the next place, knowing they are a team still at work.

Did it work, this sending of the 12 in pairs to many villages? It was a smashing success. So much a success that Jesus later sends out 70 others in the same way. He trusted the people and the Holy Spirit to connect with God’s beloved people and show them that God’s kingdom was coming near to them. Wouldn’t it have been amazing to be in one of those sent-out pairs, to be so trusted by the Lord?

But we are a part of God’s continuing mission.

How have you yourself been sent? Listen like Ezekiel or Samuel or Paul – how is God calling your name? How are you being sent? How is our local congregation sent even now to connect with our neighbors?

Gracious God, thank you for loving us. Thank you for trusting us with important chances to connect with the world you love. Help us to get up and go where you are sending us.  Amen.