Mark 6:8 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.
The first phrase we notice in verse 8 is that “they should take nothing for their journey.” This seems odd. The purpose is evangelism, yet nothing should be taken. No gospels, no tracts, nothing.
From a physical stand put, these ministers were being commanded to be unprepared. Yet, those who have taken this journey will understand that Jesus was preparing them, arming them, if you will for a lifetime of ministry. They would receive the spiritual tools that would impact the world on this journey, so following instructions was imperative.
Let’s look at the specific things they were not to take: No bread – Bread is the symbol of sustenance. The disciples were specifically instructed not to take any sustenance. Everyone knows that we all need bread. Yet Jesus is requiring that the disciples not make provision for what “everybody needs.”
No bag – The bag represents “stuff”. Anyone who takes a trip anywhere knows the value of “stuff”. We’re not always sure what stuff to take on a trip (sometimes we can take the wrong stuff), but we always take something. Man’s stuff is like Linus’ blanket. We are not usually found without it. It is our security. It is our comfort. Yet here Jesus is clear, take no bag. Take no stuff.
No money – Money represents man’s power to have control over his circumstances. Enough money can accomplish just about anything. It is how we win and the tools of accomplishment. Jesus is specific when he says: “take no money.”
Why these instructions? Why are they so essential to the lesson of the journey? Because having experienced a time without them (the 3-legged stool of man’s limitedness), we can learn that God’s power is greater than our need. Learning that God can supply bread – our daily sustenance, our bag – the stuff we need to complete His work and the money – the power or control over our circumstances will change these twelve men forever. Jesus knows that if they can learn that He is Lord over all these three needs that they will become powerhouses in His kingdom.
Bread – Have you ever learned that God is the provider of your daily bread? It requires removing bread to learn it.
I experienced this in my own circumstances when someone stole my husband’s identity. A man got Ike’s Social Security number and began living high on the hog. (But it was our hog he was eating.) In trying to stop his efforts, we cancelled the overdraft protection on our checking account. After contacting every utility and credit card company, we eventually got all his transactions cleared off our credit report. But in the midst of the turmoil we experienced an interesting trial.
One Friday afternoon, the girls and I stopped to get some cash on our way to get an ice cream cone and a car wash. I was shocked, when for the first time in my life, the ATM wouldn’t give me any money. I tried to explain to the machine that we were in the middle of “identity theft” and that we had temporarily unlinked the overdraft protection on our account, but it just blinked back with a stern response: “no money for you.” I turned to the kids and said, “Well, if God wants us to have a car wash and an ice cream, He’ll have to provide it.” (God was listening to my conversation.)
The next day I went with friends to lead worship as a guest musician for a local church’s women’s event. When the day was over they thanked us with some unforgettable gifts. First, we each got a tube of mascara. (My friend Jim, who played guitar that day, really appreciated that one.) There were some little boxes of chocolate and some leftover door prizes in a bag given to our group. I let everyone else pick their gift and when they were done I looked inside the bag. Guess what was left. It was a free car wash coupon. But that wasn’t all that happened on this adventure with God.
That night my husband and I were treated to a beautiful dinner by the elders of our church in honor of Pastor Appreciation Month. At the dinner, they presented us with different gift certificates. Among them were several for Baskin Robbins Ice Cream. Isn’t God great? He wants Elijah, to know that He can meet every need. He wants us to know it as well.
If you have learned that GOD supplies your daily bread then you understand that you can go anywhere in the world if directed by God’s will and purposes, and eat. Elijah learned it when far away from any store…God sent food in the mouth of a bird. Once this truth is internalized a person is no longer dependent on man for his daily intake of food. Therefore he is not held in the power of man’s supply of it. He begins to rest solely on God’s supply
The second thing Jesus says they are not to take is a bag. A bag has no significance in itself. It’s what the bag carries that makes it so important. I’m not interested in knowing what was in the bag that Jesus instructed to be left at home. It does represent, though, whatever physical objects give us the security we need to complete ministry. When I married my husband, Ike, I came from a huge ministry in Orange County. I went from using the top of the line Xerox machine to a place that didn’t even own a typewriter. Suddenly all my “stuff” was gone. Was God still the God of the universe? I learned that God can produce effective ministry without any of the trappings I associated as “essential”, and I became independent from their control. We learned in many building as we planted a church that God could even show up without a sound system. He could work without pews or copy machines. This is the lesson Jesus was trying to teach when there was no wine. He could be depended on to provide all that was needed.
The last thing Jesus says to leave behind is their money. Now, they probably didn’t have too much of it anyway. But Jesus knew that on this journey even a quarter would inhibit learning. Every dime had to be left behind in order to learn that God is the God who is in control. He is the one who supplies every bit of control our lives require. He is the ATM machine that produces every time the need is real and withholds any time money would be destructive to our faith.
If these three pedestals can be removed and we find that the stool of ministry is still standing, then we are no longer held in the control of our dependency upon them. Hence, we are freed to minister anytime and anywhere using anything. This is exactly what Jesus wanted to accomplish in the disciples and in us.
These verses illustrate the idea of NO SAFETY NET.
Mark 6:9 but to wear sandals; and He added, "Do not put on two tunics."
Mark 6:10 And He said to them, "Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town.
God can control resource, sustenance and authority. As the disciples soon found out, the simple name of Jesus was all they needed to produce fruitful ministry. As they returned from the journey they had much to share with Jesus about what they had learned and what they had seen His power accomplish through them.
Mark 6:30 And the apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught.
If you want to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ, you too will be challenged to trust the Lord of all these things (at one time or another). I hope you will be willing to lay down your suitcase in order to find a treasure: a new understanding of the sufficient power of the Almighty God.
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I am so blessed by this. You have summarised a major point the Lord has been trying to get us to understand. 'We are not of this world'. Our sustenance, success, ability is not dependent on the systems of this world. The kingdom of God is inside us, we are sustained by the life of God in us. Thanks for this faith message!
This is an incredible article. I have a friend will be so encouraged by your writing. Thank you!
Bravo my sister in Christ, Bravo!!!
What an excellent message this was Sharon. Great use of example (and I just LOVED the illustration of the car wash and ice cream! Wow! God really does care about ALL our needs.) With love, Deb