Pentecost 8 + July 12 & 15, 2018 + Pr. Dale Reckzin Download PDF
Text: Mark 6:7-13
On October 2nd, 1843, Saint John’s was officially founded. But our congregation was active well before that date. Our church founders actually gathered for worship several years before 1843. But they did not have their own pastor. Instead, so-called “circuit riders” served them. These circuit riders usually came from European mission societies. These societies recruited and trained preachers. Then they sent them off to America.
Now, these circuit riders went on horseback from one small community to another. Wherever they stopped, these frontier preachers held a worship service, taught catechism, baptized newborns, and performed marriages and funerals. But they would only spend a few days in one place. Then they would be off to the next village and do the same thing there for a few days. They didn’t get paid much, if at all. But, whenever a circuit rider showed up, it was expected that someone would give him a place to stay and meals to eat.
That sounds a lot like what our text describes. Listen again: "Calling the Twelve to him, [Jesus] 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… Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town.' They went out and preached that people should repent." (v 7-13)
This mission trip took place early in Christ’s ministry. So, the twelve disciples were raw recruits. They did not have thorough training. But they did have what every preacher needs. They knew Jesus. They had God’s Word. They had authority to preach on behalf of Jesus. These mission teams even had the power over Satan himself. God’s Word shows us: Christ sends his preachers out - Satan's demons are driven out.
Now, if you translate the English words, “sent out,” into ancient Greek, and then translate them back again into modern English, you would get the word Apostles. Apostle literally means, “one who is sent out.” In the narrow definition of that word, it refers only to these twelve men in our text.
But in a wider sense of the term, “apostle” can refer to any church worker whom Jesus sends out to do his work. These workers include pastors, missionaries, teachers, and anyone who speaks the Word of God to others.
In the widest sense of the term, “apostle,” can mean any Christian. That’s because Jesus has called every believer to faith. Part of believing in Jesus is also proclaiming Jesus to others. Saint Paul writes in 2 Corinthians, “I believed, therefore I have spoken.” (II Cor 4:13)
So, you have faith in Jesus. That makes you an apostle. Like the apostles in our text, you might not have extensive training. But you do have the most important training and the most basic authority of all. You know Jesus and you have God’s Word. The power of God’s Word does for you what it did for those twelve new apostles on their first mission trip. Our text said, "They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them." (v 12-13)
Proclaiming God’s Word gives you power to drive out demons. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? But as exciting as that is, not many church members are excited to do it. Ask the typical member of a Lutheran Church, “Are you excited to share the good news of Jesus with other people?” This is a typical answer: “Well, evangelism is important. Our church should share the good news of Jesus in our community. But I don’t feel comfortable talking about Jesus with other people. Evangelism is important, but it’s not my thing.”
Well, to be blunt, that is just cowardly, excuse making. It fails to take Jesus at his word. It fails to trust Jesus. But Jesus calls us to trust him. Jesus said to his first apostles, "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.” (v 8-9)
Jesus told his apostles to trust him for their food, clothing, and shelter while they were going from town to town preaching God’s Word. Now, certainly, you already have food, clothing, and shelter. Jesus provides that for you. But the point is this: to share Jesus is to dare to trust in Jesus.
That lack of daring trust is a demon that Jesus needs to drive out of us. Yes, we fail to trust the power of God’s Word. We fail to trust Christ’s promise that he is with us always. We fail to trust God’s promise that his Word does the work. We don’t need to dress up God’s Word with our fancy speaking. All we need to do speak his Word. God does everything else. Jesus even said in the Gospel of Matthew, "do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time, you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. " (Matt 10:19-20)
So, to share God’s Word with others, we need to trust Jesus and his promises. We also need to stop worrying about how people will react to our message. Fear is another demon that Jesus needs to drive out of us. That fear-demon makes us think, I don’t want to share God’s Word because I am afraid of rejection. What if somebody doesn’t like what I say? What if I lose a friend or alienate a relative because I talk about Jesus too much?
Well, certainly, people can and people do reject you for speaking the good news of Jesus. Jesus even knew that was going to happen to his apostles on that first mission journey. He told them, "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." (v 11) When it comes to accepting or rejecting God’s Word, it’s not the judgment of others that matters. It’s your judgment of them that matters. “To shake the dust off your feet when you leave” means you are saying to them, I did my duty. I told you the good news of Jesus. I gave you the only message that gives faith in Jesus, and faith gives you forgiveness and eternal life in heaven. If you don’t listen to me and the message of Jesus, you are only dooming yourself to eternal damnation.
So quit worrying about what other people think about you or say to you. Quit being afraid of that. And start focusing on what really matters. Give your full attention to sharing that good news of Jesus with others. And appreciate why this work is so vitally important. Our text says, "They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them."(v 12-13)
Now, today we do not have that miraculous power of healing. But we do have the power to help people. We can generous to the poor. We can be kind, friendly, and understanding the hurting, the lonely, and the discouraged. But healing the sick and helping the poor were never and are never the main work of the church. Preaching that people should repent – that will always be the work of the church, whether it’s Bible times, the year 1843, or the year 2018. The proclamation of God’s Word leads people to repent of their sins. The good news of Jesus and his holy, precious blood turns repentance into faith. Faith brings forgiveness of sins, a new life of holy living, and the gift of eternal life in heaven. In other words, preaching the repentance of sins and forgiveness of sins in the name of Jesus—this, and this alone drives out Satan and all his demons.
So whenever you fail to do your duty of sharing God’s Word—and you and I fail so many times—but when you fail, drive out those demons of laziness, fear, and excuse making. Drive them out by repenting of your sins. Drive out those wicked henchmen of Satan by trusting in Jesus. Jesus forgives you. Jesus empowers you. Jesus will always bless your work. So, trust in Jesus. Then speak about Jesus. May God give all of us this spirit of faith and power.