Travel Light

Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure 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 shirt. 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, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet 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.

Mark 6:6b-13 (NIV)

There are a variety of ways people pack when going on a trip. If it is a business trip a person must pack business attire with a few casual outfits included. Packing for a vacation requires a much different type of clothing. Destination also impacts the choice of apparel as well. The amount of items packed varies among individuals. Mode of transportation will influence the number and weight of luggage chosen. Duration of stay is a variable in packing decisions. I usually monitor the weather forecast in the community to which I am traveling so I know the type of clothing to pack. I always take extra clothes in case I get something on what I plan to wear or if there is a delay with my return.

Jesus gives packing instructions to the Twelve disciples who he is sending to other villages. In Mark’s account, Jesus is traveling from village to village. He calls the Twelve and gives them authority to teach and heal. The Twelve are told to skip packing altogether. They are not to even take along a spare shirt. Jesus wants them to rely on the hospitality of a stranger. The disciples are vulnerable and dependent which would humble them. This would project a non-threatening image to the people. Such an image encourages open dialogue. Jesus tells the Twelve that if they encounter resistance, they are to leave that village behind and forget about it. Mark records that the disciples experienced much success.

A lesson can be learned from this story regarding how we are to approach others with the Gospel. We are to be humble and vulnerable in our approach. Vulnerability encourages openness since there is no sense of threat. Another important point is leaving baggage behind. We may be tempted to bring along all the trappings of our religious backgrounds. These can be overwhelming to those who we are approaching and can deter them from listening to us. The other message Jesus communicates here is not taking rejection personally but instead we are to move on and no longer be concerned about the one who rejects us. The Lord will choose what the next step is for them.

The Lord sends you, remember this lesson as you prepare to go.

Rejection

He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. 10 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. 12 He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.

13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’

14 “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

“What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

When the people heard this, they said, “God forbid!”

17 Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written:

“‘The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone’[a]?

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”

Luke 20:9-18 (NIV)

A great storyteller can communicate an idea or a message in a way which makes an impact on a listener. Some stories are told to communicate a moral lesson such as many of the fables told by Aesop on Hans Christian Andersen. Other stories are told to make a listener aware of how actions can lead to dire outcomes. A great storyteller not only transports the listener into the scene but can also captivate their attention for a period of time. Jesus was a great storyteller.

Jesus once again turns to telling a story in our passage today as a method to share a message. He is engaged in a power struggle with the Jewish leadership in the temple. The story which Jesus shares here involves a landowner, farmers who are renting his vineyard, three servants, and the man’s son. When the owner sends the servants individually to collect his portion of the harvest, the renters beat each one and send them back empty-handed. The man then sends his son because he thinks the farmers will respect the son’s authority. However, the renters see this as an opportunity to obtain the son’s inheritance so they kill him. Jesus asks what the landowner will now do and then answers his question. He tells the listeners that the landowner will go and kill the farmers then give the vineyard to others. After hearing this story, it becomes clear that the story is referencing the prophets and Jesus. The way the Jewish leadership had treated prophets over the years is how the owner’s servants were treated. The killing of the son parallels the future killing of Jesus by the Jewish leadership. Jesus points out that the one who is going to be rejected is the one who will crush the rejectors.

This is a good story which impacted the listeners of that time. What can it possibly say to us today since Jesus has already been rejected, killed, and arisen? There is a message for us in these words. This strong message involves rejection. We reject Jesus when we choose to hide our decision to follow him. We reject Jesus when we do not follow his example of communicating God’s love in actions and words. We also reject Jesus when we are too busy to be in conversation with him, learn about him by studying the Word, or offer our praise to him in acts of thanksgiving. When we do not listen to God’s messengers, or even treat them poorly, we reject Jesus.

As we continue to grow as followers of Christ, we learn that our choices and actions may have results we struggle to see, The story which Jesus uses to create an awareness among the Jews, can create an awareness among Christians. It is doubtful that any would purposely reject the Lord. When made aware, we likely would have a response like the Jews, “God forbid!” Yet few of us can say that we have not engaged in at least one form of rejection listed above.

Thank your Jesus for making us aware!

Everywhere But Home

53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.

But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”

58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Matthew 53-58 (NIV)

Growing up in a small town has advantages and disadvantages. Small towns provide a sense of safety and familiarity. While common sense in regards to caring for your personal property still is important, crime is not a major feature of a small town. The familiarity is a double-edged sword. You are easily recognized and trusted. At the same time, people tend to know more about you and your activities than you may like. When you leave the small town, people who remain always identify you with the characteristics and behaviors you exhibited when you lived there.

Our reading today comes at the point when Jesus has ended his most recent session of teaching and returns to his hometown. After he arrives, he starts going to the synagogue which is his custom in any town he enters. It only seems natural for him to teach the people while in the synagogue. They are amazed with his teaching. This is the general response he receives everywhere but here is a little different. When the people saw and heard Jesus in this synagogue, they saw and heard him filtered through the memories of the boy who had grown up there. They knew his parents and siblings well. They knew he had wisdom and power which he did not obtain in Nazareth. So they began to see him as someone trying to be something he did not have the background to be. As it states in the passage they were offended. You can almost hear someone ask, “Who do you think you are?” Jesus is aware of their disbelief so decides he will discontinue his work in Nazareth because they have failed to see who he really is.

How often do you fall into the same category as the people of Nazareth? Jesus seems to indicate with what he says that this is common with others, not just himself. It can be very easy to have preconceived notions of who a person is, especially if we have witnessed them growing up. Sometimes a person can also revert to their characteristics and behaviors from childhood when returning to their hometown. A message which seems to come from this passage is that we must realize that people change, discover new gifts and skills, and can offer more than we think they are capable. Trying to keep a person in the mold we saw created when we knew them before does a disservice to them and us.