Embracing our Dependency, Part 1

Embracing our Dependency, Part 1 July 10, 2024


Our title this week is Embracing our Dependency, and we are looking the lectionary reading last weekend from the gospel of Mark:

Jesus left there and 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. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 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. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

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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. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 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.”

They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.  (Mark 6:1-13)

This reading begins with the statement that a prophet is without honor among those most familiar with them. Most Jesus scholars believe this is one of the earliest statements actually made by the historical Jesus. Our reading states that Jesus wasn’t able to do many miracles in his home town because of their lack of faith. Did no one brought there sick to him as they had done in all the previous locations Mark described? The story doesn’t say. It only says that Jesus couldn’t do in his home area what he had done elsewhere. 

What really grabs my attention this week is Jesus’ instruction as he sends out the twelve disciples (Mark 6). This is not a plan of individualism, or a plan of self-reliance or self-sufficiency. This instruction makes the twelve completely dependent on the ones they will be ministering to. There is a lesson here for us today, and we’ll get to it in just a moment. But first, consider there are actually two versions of this instruction in the Jesus story. One version is here in Mark. Luke’s gospels contains both versions (Luke 9:1-6; Luke 10:1-12). Matthew’s gospel combines the two versions in Matthew 10:1-15.  

Again, this is a plan of dependence, and it may be difficult for us in our culture to get our heads around. We’ll unpack this a bit further, next.

(Read Part 2)


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About Herb Montgomery
Herb Montgomery, director of Renewed Heart Ministries, is an author and adult religious re-educator helping Christians explore the intersection of their faith with love, compassion, action, and societal justice. You can read more about the author here.

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