8 Feb. Mark 6:6-13

8 Feb. Jesus sends his twelve disciples to preach and heal the sick

"Then Jesus went to other villages in that area and taught. He called his twelve followers together and got ready to send them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits."

"This is what Jesus commanded them: 'Take nothing for your trip except a walking stick. Take no bread, no bag and no money in your pockets. Wear sandals, but take only the clothes you are wearing.'"

"'When you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. If the people in a certain place refuse to welcome you or listen to you, leave that place. Shake its dust off your feet as a warning to them.'"

"So the followers went out and preached that people should change their hearts and lives. They forced many demons out and put olive oil on many sick people and healed them."

          (Mark 6:6-13)

 

 

Question. What can we learn from today's passage in Mark's gospel?

Answer. Context. Context. Context.

One of the most important things to consider when we read passages from the Bible is to place them in the historical context of the Jewish society in which they were written. So often we take Jesus's words and deeds in the gospels 'out of context' and sometimes justify actions which, today, are wholly inappropriate!

Today's story is set in the context of a Jewish Middle Eastern society where offering free meals and overnight hospitality to fellow Jewish travellers was the normal and accepted way of doing things.

Jews NEVER stayed in inns. Jews were forbidden to eat with Gentiles (see Acts 10:28), so only Romans and other Gentiles stayed overnight in non-Kosher inns (Greek: 'pandochaea') - like the one where the injured Jew was taken by the foreigner in the 'Parable of the Good Samaritan' (see Luke 10:34). The Greek word 'kataluma' often mistranslated 'inn' in the Christmas story (see Luke 2:7) actually means a 'guest room' (in a Jewish house). It's exactly the same word used in Luke 22:11 to describe the 'upper room' or 'guest room' where Jesus and his disciples celebrated their last supper together.

So when Jesus sent out his close followers and told them to "take nothing for your trip except a walking stick. Take no bread, no bag and no money in your pockets", this was perfectly normal and acceptable practice in the Jewish society of his day. There was no need to take food or money with you as your fellow Jews would willingly provide for all your needs until you were ready to move on. Indeed, taking money or an extra bag of spare clothes would only attract the sort of thieves and 'highway robbers' who attacked the Jewish man "on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho" in Jesus's story (see Luke 10:30).

So what can we learn from today's passage? It would be foolish in modern western societies such as the UK or USA to "take no bread, no bag and no money in your pockets" when you go on a journey, or to "wear sandals" if it was snowing! And 'shaking the dust off your feet' today as you leave a modern hotel in Paris or Toronto might easily be misinterpreted!

By all means pray with others for healing, and encourage people to 'change their hearts and lives', but don't necessarily take literally today what was appropriate in Middle Eastern Jewish society two thousand years ago!

The photo shows the partially-reconstructed remains of 1st century Jewish houses at Qasrin.

You can read more about Jesus's journeys in Galilee @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/…/jesus-crosses-the-sea-of-…


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