No More than Common Men (Mark 6:7-13)
The text today presents us with a wonderful opportunity to look at the words and works of this rag tag team of Christ picked men; The Twelve. The Apostles of Jesus!
These men have witnessed the Christ:
- Heralded in by John the Baptist
- Proclaiming the gospel message of repentance and faith in the Christ
- Displaying authority with His teaching
- Exhibiting power over spirits and affliction
- Validating His authority over sin
- Extending mercy to the undeserving
- Exposing the useless and merciless teaching of the self-righteous Pharisees
- Revealing He is the Lord of the Sabbath
- Calling and appointing them out of the crowd
- Teaching on His true family and kingdom
- Calming a raging sea
- Freeing a man captive to Satan
- Saving a helpless and separated woman
- Raising a dead girl
- Permitting people to remain in unbelief
We are not even half way through Mark, and already Peter’s statement in the book of Acts before the men of Israel rings loud and true:
“22 …Jesus the Nazarene, a Man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know – 23 This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.”
We see Jesus calling these men to Himself with the express purpose of sending them with His word, and with only some of His authority. Do not fail to notice that none of these men are called from the Scribes, Pharisees or Levitical Priests.
The Scripture says:
1 Corinthians 1:26-29
“26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,29 so that no man may boast before God.”
When speaking on the Apostles, Spurgeon says:
“The grandest era in the world’s history was ushered in by nobodies, by persons who, like their Leader, were despised and rejected of men.” With all of this in mind there are at least three critical questions that must be answered today:
Q.) What is an apostle?
Q.) Are there modern-day apostles?
Q.) What do we do with the Apostles of Christ?
By the way, once this first question is answered the other two will fall into place.
Let’s look to the Word of the Living God!
As we begin keep in mind these men have witnessed a body of people remain in unbelief after observing the words and works of Jesus.
After they leave Nazareth we see:
“7 And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs; and He was giving them authority over the unclean spirits.”
You may recall that Mark has already identified the twelve earlier in his narrative:
- James (Zebedee)
- Matthew (Levi)
- James (Son of Alphaeus)
- Thaddaeus (Judas, son of James)
- Judas (Iscariot)
Mark describes Jesus calling these men to Himself. Remember, Jesus has already chosen these men from among the sea of disciples prior to this point and distinguished them as His Apostles. It is imperative we maintain this distinction!
This means every follower of Jesus is a disciple, but not every disciple is an Apostle.
Q.) What is an Apostle?
The simplest definition of the Greek word Apostolos is “He that is sent.” It conveys the office of a delegate, which is someone sent to represent another. We are all to be ambassadors of Jesus Christ having been commissioned by Him to make disciples with His gospel message in the written Word. There is; however, a great chasm between our commissioned work as disciples and their delegated authority as Apostles.
As disciples, we teach what God has written. As Apostles, they taught what Christ was speaking.
Q.) How were people able to confirm they were actually speaking the words of Jesus?
A.) They did the exact works of Him!
Jesus’ words were validated by His miracles, so the message they spoke was proven by identical works. The author of Hebrews makes this explicitly clear:
“3 How will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4 God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.”
As we look at Matthew, Mark and Luke we see the Apostle’s main objective was to preach the gospel, just as Christ had made it His purpose. In order for their words to be validated, Jesus gives them the works necessary to do so.
Their task it is to proclaim and authenticate by:
- Casting out unclean spirits.
- Healing every kind of sickness and disease.
Jesus summoned them in order to send them.
“7 And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs…”
Send in Mark here is the word Apostello meaning to send out on a mission. Matthews gives great detail on their mission:
“5 These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; 6 but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.7 And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
Jesus sends them out in pairs for a few reasons:
- This would ensure a level of protection.
- It would keep with Mosaic Law calling for two or three witnesses to confirm a matter.
Jesus then provides instruction for this mission:
“8 And He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belt;9 but to wear sandals; and He added, ‘Do not put on two tunics.’10 And He said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town.11 And any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake off the dust from the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.’”
Let’s break this up into several portions:
- Rejection Protocol
They received strict instruction on materials:
“8 And He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belt;9 but to wear sandals; and He added, ‘Do not put on two tunics.’10
The clearest purpose of this instruction was so these men could learn complete dependence on God. Just as Jesus lived dependently upon the Father, Jesus’ Apostles were to depend on Him as well. Now this is not a prescriptive text, so do not reduce yourself to a staff, sandals and tunic. Understand; however, we are called to a life of dependence on the Father as well.
Jesus makes it very clear in Matthew 6 that we are not to worry about the needs of this life if we seek the kingdom and righteousness of our Father. Christ will later instruct them to bring things on their journeys, but not until He asks:
“35 …When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?’ They said, ‘No, nothing.’”
They learned true dependence on God. Several theologians have also suggested Jesus’ instruction on provisions may also serve as a parallel to the Passover. On the night of the Exodus, Israelites were too hastily eat their meal with “loins girded, sandals on feet, and staff in hand.”
John Macarthur poses this thought:
“The parallel with the Passover may have been intended to demonstrate that a new era in redemptive history was about to begin, starting with an exodus of God’s true people from apostasy.”
This is certainly plausible since Jesus’ teachings have demonstrated His gospel is incompatible with the self-righteous teachings of the Pharisees. Jesus has not only tasked these men with teaching this very message, but given them His authority to authenticate it among surrounding villages.
This brings up the instruction on lodging:
“10 And He said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town.’”
If Jesus attracted serious attention with His works, these men are certainly going to attract attention. This instruction forced the Apostle’s “Yes” to be “yes”, and “No” to be “no”. Say they enter the house of a poor individual, they are then forbidden to go elsewhere because some other person offered them more money.
I have come to understand this was for two aims:
- It taught them contentment in all situations.
- It set them apart from false teachers that went from house to house preying on the weak.
It thus prevented them from abusing the power
There obedience to Christ was not to be a means of financial gain, but a matter of producing an inner quality satisfied with every provision of the Father.
We too are to learn contentment in all things:
- Through humble times and prosperous ones.
- Through being filled and going hungry.
- Through having abundance and suffering need.
This satisfaction should stem from our understanding of our eternal position in Christ, and what our Father has provided for us in Him.
As they are being equipped in dependence and contentment, they are to be prepared for rejection. The reality of unbelieving rejection should not surprise them since they just watched it with Jesus. This is what Jesus tells them to do:
“11 And any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake off the dust from the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.”
This is not another way of telling someone to let an issue roll off of their shoulders. Neither does this teach a severing of relationship over common relational problems.
The mission of the Apostles was to proclaim the gospel and perform confirming wonders. For someone to not receive them or even listen to them means they were rejecting the gospel, which had been verified with incomprehensible signs. Jesus commands His Jewish disciples to exercise a practice Jews employed only against the Gentiles after traveling in their lands. This action displayed disdain and symbolized the uncleanness of the heathen nations.
Jesus instructs His Apostles to treat unbelieving Jews as contaminated Gentiles as a sign of judgment. Notice Jesus says “for a testimony against them.”
“14 Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.”
Q.) What is the testimony to Israel?
A.) You have rejected your Christ; therefore you will face eternal destruction.
We see Paul and Barnabas do this to the opposing Jews in Pisidian Antioch:
“45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming.46 Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, ‘It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles…’50 But the Jews incited the devout women of prominence and the leading men of the city, and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district.51 But they shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.”
Remember, humanity is condemned already in sin and destined for God’s eternal wrath. God, being good, will see that justice is satisfied.
The good news is that humanity can be saved from the eternal wrath of God. The Word of God reveals The Godhead’s unfathomable and eternal plan of redemption where:
- God created man in His image.
- God commanded man not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or die.
Adam eats, thus deserving eternal death, and bringing this condemnation into humanity.
- God promised to provide a way for humanity to be saved from sins penalty.
A Man born of a woman who would be crushed while crushing Satan’s head.
- God fulfilled this promise by being that Man.
- God took humanities sin upon Himself.
- God shed His eternal blood to cover our sins.
- God died the death humanity deserves.
- God raised Himself on the third day.
Q.) Who de we serve?
Q.) Who do we sing to?
Q.) Who do we live for?
Q.) Do you desire to be saved from sins penalty, or perhaps desire others to be?
Realize there is only way to be saved and it is through trusting in the finished work of Jesus. There has only been, and ever will be, One thing throughout all time that has ever satisfied the wrath of God; God the Son, Jesus the Christ. In order to escape that wrath you must put on the One by which it was appeased, Jesus.
Q.) How does one do that?
A.) Repent and believe the good news!
This is the very message the Apostles have been chosen for to witness, proclaim and confirm.
As we bring our focus back to Mark we see the Apostles were obedient to their first mission:
“12 And they went out and preached that men should repent.13 And they were casting out demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them.”
They proclaimed Jesus’ message and validated it! Understand that after the death, burial and resurrection these men will be tasked with not only teaching repentance, but redemption in Christ alone.
Jesus tells them in Luke:
“46…Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.48 You are witnesses of these things.”
He then promised to give them the Holy Spirit, Who confirmed their words with His works. We are here today, because of the faithful obedience of the Apostles to Jesus’ gospel.
Q.) Are there modern-day Apostles?
A.) No, there are not.
This is evident based on qualification and purpose.
First, the biblical qualifications of an Apostle are:
- You had to be personally appointed by Christ.
- You had to be an eye witness of Jesus from His baptism all the way to His ascension.
- You had to be able to authentic your apostleship with signs and wonders.
There has not been a single person capable of meeting these requirements since the death of the apostle John in the first century.
Second, Scripture is quite clear the purpose of the Apostles and prophets was for the foundation of the church, Jesus Christ being the very cornerstone. By the way a foundation is only laid once.
Q.) How did that foundation get placed?
A.) Jesus spoke and confirmed through them.
God eventually, through divine inspiration, wrote down the foundation that was laid.
Q.) What then do we do with The Apostles of Christ?
The Word gives us five things to do with them:
- Devote yourself to their teaching.
- Retain what you are taught by them.
- Guard what you have they have entrusted.
- Contend for the faith they delivered.
- Entrust the Word to other faithful men.
The baton has been passed!
Q.) What will we do with it?
They were no more than common men, yet appointed for an extraordinary work. They were found faithful.
Just as they were faithful to Christ, may we be faithful to Him in obedience to the foundation He established through them.
 Matthew 3:1-17; Mark 1:1-11; Luke 3:1-22; John 1:19-34
 Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:14-15
 Matthew 7:28-29; Mark 1:21-22; Luke 4:31-32
 Mark 1:23-45
 Mark 2:1-13
 Mark 2:14-17
 Mark 2:18-3:6
 Mark 2:23-3:6
 Mark 3:13-19
 Mark 3:31-4:34
 Mark 4:35-41
 Mark 5:1-20
 Mark 5:21-34
 Mark 5:35-43; Only Peter, James and John witnessed this.
 Mark 6:1-6
 Acts 3:13
 2 Corinthians 12:9
 The Treasury of The New Testament, Charles Spurgeon; 1:793
 Mark 3:13-19
 Luke 6:12-16
 Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance; NT Number:652
 Matthew 10:7; Mark 3:14; Luke 9:2
 Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:14-15
 Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance; NT Number:649
 Deuteronomy 19:15
 Matthew 6:25-34
 Exodus 12:11
 The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, John MacArthur; Page 289
 Mark 2:18-22
 Matthew 5:37
 2 Timothy 3:6
 Philippians 4:11-13
 John 3:16-18, 36; Ephesians 2:1-3; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9
 Genesis 1:26-28
 Genesis 2:16-17; 3:6; 5:1-3; Romans 5:19; 1 Corinthians 15:22
 Genesis 3:15
 Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Philippians 2:5-8
 2 Corinthians 5:20-21
 Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3; 9:11-12
 John 16:5-15; Acts 1:8
 Mark 3:14; Luke 6:13; Acts 1:2,24; 10:41; Galatians 1:1
 Acts 1:21-22; 10:39-41; 1 Corinthians 9:1; 15:7-8
 Matthew 10:1-2; Acts 1:5-8; 2:43; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews :2:3-4
 Ephesians 2:20-22
 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21
 Acts 2:42
 2 Timothy 1:13
 2 Timothy 1:14
 Jude 3
 2 Timothy 2:2