"Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits."
In the last passage, we were greatly moved by the "just believing" faith of a woman who had a bleeding problem. Humanly, she could not approach Jesus because of her smelly body due to her bleeding problem. But she came and touched the cloak of Jesus from behind, and she was healed. Also, Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, amazed us with his "just believing" faith. When he went to Jesus for his dying daughter, there were many hurdles in bringing Jesus to her. When Jesus came to his house to heal his daughter, she was already dead. But Jesus told him, "Don't be afraid; just believe" (5:36). He experienced spiritual victory by just believing Jesus' words, "Don't be afraid; just believe." Today's passage is the story about Jesus visiting his hometown again after he had done many great works of God. He felt mindful of his hometown people. So he was happy to visit his hometown. He visited and preached the gospel in the synagogue. Let's see how they responded to Jesus' preaching the kingdom of God. In this passage, we also learn of Jesus' sending out his disciples for fieldwork training. Let's think about Jesus' intention in sending them for fieldwork training.
I. Jesus was rejected by his hometown people (1-6)
As we have studied in Mark's Gospel, Jesus has preached the kingdom of God from the beginning. His message was mainly focused on the kingdom of God. Mark 1:15 says, "`The time has come,' he said. `The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!'" Up until now, Jesus mainly focused on healing the sick. At the outset of his Messianic ministry, he proclaimed the kingdom of God. Next, he called his disciples in order to establish them as future pillars of gospel ministry. Beside the Sea of Galilee, he called Simon and his brother Andrew when they were casting a net into the lake. Obviously they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said. "I will make you fishers of men" (1:16-17). Surprisingly, they left their nets and followed Jesus. Next, after he had gone a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat. Without delay Jesus called them to follow him. They followed him immediately (1:18-20). In 2:14, Jesus called Levi the tax collector, and he left everything and followed Jesus. It is indeed amazing that Jesus' main ministry was discipleship training. Our emphasis is on one-to-one Bible study. But through one-to-one Bible study we must raise the disciples of Jesus Christ. When we are going to raise disciples through one-to-one Bible study, we must first become the disciples of Jesus. To become the disciples of Jesus is to just believe Jesus' words concerning the kingdom of God.
At the beginning, Jesus mainly healed the sick. Jesus drove out an evil spirit from a young man who was possessed by 6,000 demons (5:13). Jesus also healed many sick people day and night (1:34;3:10). Jesus, out of his compassion, healed a man with leprosy (1:41). Jesus healed a paralytic (2:12). Then suddenly crowds of people began to follow Jesus day and night. So Jesus and his disciples did not have time to eat or sleep. They tried to cross the lake for a retreat (4:35). But on the way they met a storm (4:37). After the storm, they landed in a certain part of Gerasa. It was the graveyard where the Gerasene demoniac cried loudly, tormenting himself with a sharp stone. Jesus healed him by asking, "What is your name?" (Mk 5:9)
After healing a woman with a bleeding problem and Jairus' daughter (5:34,42), Jesus remembered his hometown people. He was very compassionate toward his hometown people. Actually, after his heavenly ordination from God Almighty and baptism in the Jordan River (1:10,11), Jesus wanted to visit his hometown people first. Immediately, however, he was crowded by sick people. As a result, his hometown visit was delayed. At last Jesus went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed (2).
At that time, the people of Israel were under the yoke of Roman rule and they were downtrodden and bleeding. What is more, a Roman puppet king, Herod, was randomly wielding his power and people were terrified and felt cooped up in their present situation. They were chosen people, but they could not remember God's word. Especially during the three hundred years before Jesus' coming to the world, there was no word of God through his prophets. So they were wandering in darkness even more. They were distressed by the torment of Satan and without the word of God. Jesus taught them the word of God, and especially proclaimed to them: "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" When they heard Jesus teaching the word, their oppression, distress and suffering subsided. Suddenly, joy and happiness overflowed in their hearts. During the time of Jesus' teaching they said many "Wow!"s. During the time of Jesus' teaching, they said many times "Amen!" and "Praise God!" During the time of Jesus' teaching the word, the atmosphere was full of joy and peace. The Bible says in short, they were amazed when they heard him.
The place was the synagogue. There must have been a ruler of the synagogue and some Pharisees. They were also amazed by Jesus' teaching and the wisdom that was given to him, that he even did miracles (2). But they were offended by his spiritual power and authority. As soon as they remembered that he was the son of a carpenter they said, "Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him (3). They were people waiting for the coming of the Messiah. Therefore, they should accept Jesus as the promised Messiah. But they saw Jesus humanly. They saw Jesus' family members, his brothers and sisters, wearing rugged clothes bought from a garage sale. They looked poor and hungry. The synagogue rulers and some Pharisees who were offended began to say to themselves, "Does he have a preaching license from the Pharisees' Seminary? Did he memorize the Torah? Did he study the Talmud? Does he know the washing ceremonies and all the traditions and rituals? He suddenly came into the synagogue and began to teach. He is a criminal because of house invasion." And they ground their teeth. But they could not open their mouths. The synagogue ruler and the Pharisees, whose stomachs stuck out during that time of national poverty, suddenly felt their blood pressure go up and they felt dizzy and had stomach upsets. At the word of Jesus they should have been happy. But they were helpless. It was because they saw Jesus with their superiority feeling, and not as the Messiah for whom they waited a long time. Here we learn that they had no spiritual insight. It is common sense that political leaders must have keen intuition and spiritual leaders must have keen spiritual insight. These spiritual leaders memorized a lot of regulations, but they lacked spiritual insight. In short, they didn't study the Bible from their hearts. As a result, they completely failed to recognize Jesus as the Messiah who came to the world.
How about the hometown people? The hometown people were amazed when they heard Jesus' teaching. They felt momentary happiness. They even went into euphoria due to their spiritual thirst. But soon they also began to see Jesus humanly because of the influence of the Pharisees. Probably, they expected a material gift from Jesus since Jesus was mighty. But Jesus did not give even a piece of a bagel to the people who were there. Jesus only taught the word of God and no more. In this way their expectation from Jesus to solve their immediate needs was not satisfied. They began to grumble: "Well, his words are marvelous, but he doesn't give us several boxes of bagels with cream cheese. What's the use of his words?"
They were disappointed by Jesus because they heard Jesus' teaching with their feelings. At first, they were very happy and felt euphoria. This feeling lasted for a time. But soon their feelings became as they were before they heard Jesus' word. They were people of rocky soil. They heard the word of God, but because their hearts were rocky ground, soon Satan snatched away the word from their hearts. It is very dangerous to hear the word with one's feelings. Once a servant of God visited a mission field. The church members were going to see a witch woman's clever demonstration. The witch woman told them that Jesus was coming after three months. She put some water on each one's forehead and predicted that all kinds of the best blessings would come upon them. Next, she demanded, "If you are going to receive all the blessings I spoke of, pledge an offering and bring it to me." People like flattery. Sometimes they know that it is wrong, but they like flattery and the promise of success. This is sinful human nature. About thirty of the church members went there and received water baptism on their foreheads and the prediction of blessing and success. They gave all their money to the woman. After one month the woman disappeared. The church that invited her also disappeared. It had been on Western Avenue. Those who were ordained by the witch woman suddenly became self-righteous. They began to dance in the darkness on the stage of our church. They looked like witch doctors. They were speaking what they did not know; some were foaming at the mouth; some acted like mental patients. So the servant of God drove them out, all thirty of them. Later, three young men from among them suddenly died of unknown diseases. One woman, who was asked to remain in the church as a prayer servant, ran away. One day, on her way home from work, she had a big car accident. Only her head has been alive for the last ten years. Human beings, who are both good and sinful, are liable to be addicted to evil things such as pornography and debauchery, especially in this despairing generation. Many are deceived by witch doctors. So many Christians have been changed into Satan worshipers. In one residential district of Chicago, Satan worshipers occupy five entire square blocks. They are not persecuted at all under the cover of religious freedom. But Christian gospel teachers are persecuted because the world is gradually turning anti-Christian. In Wales, our Missionary John Bird says Christian message broadcasting is forbidden by law. Once, Wales was a country where each family dedicated one son as a priest and one daughter as a nun. They were a sincere Christian nation. But now the anti-Christian forces are far stronger.
II. Jesus sends his twelve disciples for a fieldwork training (6b-13)
Jesus was dishonored by his hometown people. But Jesus didn't mind. He left his hometown and went around teaching from village to village. Through Jesus' teaching the word from village to village, we remember our LU ministry. Our two elders, Dr. Joseph Chung and Dr. John Lee, were once put in jail for soliciting students to study the Bible on campus. The judge dismissed their case. But because of this, LU ministry was hesitant. Now Pastor Abraham Lincoln and Missionary Andrew Park are penetrating into LU step by step. Now LU ministry is going on. NU students are from rich families and many are full of worldly things. We thought NU ministry was impossible. But since Missionary Esther Kim Jung has absolute faith in the word of God, NU ministry is marching on. In the past, Missionary Paul Chung was in charge of IIT. But he was harassed by the IIT chaplain, and IIT ministry was almost stopped since St. Kim went to heaven. But we learn that we must do our best to pioneer IIT all over again. While we were ignoring U of C, Wright College took over U of C ministry. So we are all pioneering second-class universities and Wright College is ministering to the first-class university.
While Jesus was teaching from village to village, he sent his twelve disciples out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits (6-7). Jesus wanted them to experience the power of God. Jesus also wanted them to learn the principles of an evangelistic campaign. Look at verses 8-11. "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 tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 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.'" Let's think about their evangelistic campaign and Jesus' instructions to them.
First, Jesus told them, "Take nothing for the journey except a staff–no bread, no bag, no money in your belts." Let's read verse 8. "Take nothing for the journey except a staff–no bread, no bag, no money in your belts." It appears to be a totally impossible mission. In order to go out for an evangelistic journey, at least they must carry minimum needs. But Jesus said, "Take nothing for the journey except a staff." It sounds like Jesus was sending them to feed sheep as shepherds–as Moses had fed his father-in-law's sheep in the Midianite wilderness. Why did Jesus not allow them to take anything but a staff? It seems that Jesus wanted them to have the attitude of a shepherd of olden times. Most of all, Jesus wanted them to depend on God absolutely; Jesus wanted them to depend on God for their supper, which they would need a few hours later. It seemed to be unreasonable. But Jesus taught them absolute faith in God. Without this attitude, we cannot do anything. Most servants of God in this generation worry about future security. So many churches are closed during the weekdays. On Sunday, several members come to church habitually, but they don't remember what they heard from the preacher.
Here we remember, in light of Jesus' instruction, not to take anything when we go out for an evangelistic journey. When Paul was appointed as an apostle for the Gentiles, he first went to the early Christians and made friends with them. Next, he went into Gentile territories and began to teach the gospel. There are many stories about his not taking anything for his missionary work. When he started on his second missionary journey, he came to Derbe and to Lystra. He and his company traveled through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they were at Troas, during the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us" (Ac 16:9). After Paul had seen the vision, they got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called them to preach the gospel there. Paul had a plan to evangelize Asian countries, where Satan was stomping all around the cities and countryside. So he decided to preach the gospel in Asian countries first. But God's plan was different. God wanted to conquer European countries through Rome. Rome was the unique world power nation with well-made roads to many countries of the world. So Paul didn't go to Asian countries; he changed his direction toward the European countries. The first city he visited in Europe was Philippi. As soon as they arrived, Paul's company didn't worry about dinner, but wanted to pray somewhere in a proper place. On the Sabbath their company went outside the city gate to the river where they expected to find a place of prayer. There Paul found a woman and taught the Bible to her. She listened and immediately accepted the gospel. Her name was Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira and a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message and let her provide all the necessary things for Paul's company. Lydia invited them to her home, saying, "If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house." And she persuaded them (Ac 16:6-15). Not only Paul, but all the early Christians had this same attitude of depending on God only. But these days the servants of God are security-centered. So to them, spiritual power and authority do not come.
God has blessed UBF for the last 40 years. All the servants of God in UBF knew how to depend on God's word absolutely and how to sacrifice themselves. When UBF was very young, UBF members were all students. Around thirty years ago, UBF students wanted to help the Bangladesh people, who had lost one hundred thousand people in a typhoon. Some died drinking sea water until their stomachs stuck out. Some died hung on trees by the wind. Some died crushed by the water. So, after an intensive campaign–visiting many generals and the secretaries of high government officials–they sent them $34,000 by U.S. dollars. God gave them a fearless spirit. God gave them the great compassion of Jesus to help the Bangladesh people. God made it possible for them to do so. As a result, God has blessed UBF abundantly, until our missionaries spread to 87 countries. It is the time when UBF people must maintain God's blessing. But some are not maintaining God's blessing; they are abusing God's blessing. When the people of Israel were in the Promised Land, they enjoyed flowing milk and honey and abandoned God. We pray that UBF may not be like the people of Israel in the Promised Land.
Jesus also instructed his disciples not to compromise. Read verses 9-11. "Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 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." In doing God's work we read non-Christians' minds too much. Of course, it is good to hear them so that we may know what they have in their minds. But we must not compromise gospel faith. If we are asked to compromise gospel faith, we must shake the dust off our shoes and leave them alone as a testimony against them. Christianity is based on the Bible. Bible-believing was absolute in the past. Paul believed the word of God absolutely. John Calvin believed the word of God absolutely. So he could defend Protestant people in France from the king's indiscriminate massacre. But now many servants of God are compromising the word of God with contemporary culture. One IVF leader came to Dr. Lee and said, "Those who do not compromise with modern culture are all cults." But Dr. Lee personally knew the founder of IVF, whose name was Stacy Woods. If he heard the IVF staff's words, he would rise from his grave and rebuke him. We suffer so much because we have absolute faith in the word of God. Do you know how to keep absolute faith? Wherever you stay, if they ask you to compromise your gospel faith, don't eat lunch with them. Stand up and shake the dust off your feet and leave that place as a testimony against them.
Now let's see how the disciples did. Look at 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." An amazing thing happened through the disciples' evangelistic journey. When they went out and preached that people should repent, people repented, beating their chests and crying, with their faces on the ground and their buttocks in the air. At this point, we don't know if the disciples had really repented, as those people were repenting at the word of God. Anyway, the disciples drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
Here we learn that we must be anointed by Jesus to have the power and authority of the word of God when we teach the Bible one-to-one. We are weak. We must know that we are weak, but God is strong. When we are clothed with God's power and authority people repent. We can even drive out many demons and heal the sick.
As servants of God, or as the future leaders of this country as Christians, we must experience the power and authority of God to make people repent; we must have power to cast out demons and to heal the sick. Without experiencing the power of God, one remains as a weak Christian person throughout his lifetime. A servant of God had T.B. when he started his ministry. He had T.B. because of malnutrition and at the same time, because of intensive reading. So one of the chief American missionaries recommended him to go to America and rest one year to cure his T.B. and after that, to study for a Ph.D. and then come back. It meant to stop UBF ministry. But the servant of God decided to die after nine months as the doctor had said he would if he continued to work hard. He worked hard and played table tennis for three hours a day. And he was full of spirit when he decided to die after nine months of doing the work of God intensively. After nine months, he had a check-up and his T.B. was completely healed, though the scar was left. Through this, he experienced the power of God. Later, he became a fearless servant of God.
Today we studied about hometown people. We should not be proud like the Pharisees or the synagogue rulers. We should not expect some special gift from Jesus. We should not accept the word of God with our feelings, but in our hearts. Moreover, when we evangelize we must depend on the word of God absolutely and not compromise.