Pray: Humbly ask God to give you wisdom to understand this portion of the Bible and the faith to live out what He reveals to you.
Read: Mark 6:1-29
As a kid with a wild imagination and who loved pretending to be a secret agent Jedi Navy SEAL, I loved the Mission Impossible movies. All the thrilling stunts, exhilarating chase scenes, and state-of-the-art spy equipment Ethan Hunt used in the fast-paced action films meshed perfectly with my secret missions to save the world from Darth Joker or Two-Face Voldemort (I told you my imagination was wild).
Part of the reason for the success of action movies like Mission Impossible, James Bond, and all the Avenger movies is the widespread appeal of accomplishing a mission—some seemingly impossible task that involves danger and adventure. People across the world love movies like this because there is an inward desire in all people to be a part of a mission; an undertaking bigger than themselves. And through these three stories in Mark we learn something tremendous about the most glorious and satisfying mission in the entire universe, the mission of Christ.
The first six verses recount Jesus’ return to his hometown, Nazareth, where you might expect his friends and family to be eagerly awaiting the miracle-maker who casts out demons and is followed by the masses. However, unlike the crowds who watch in amazement at the teachings and miracles of Jesus, the small shanty-town where he lived for nearly 30 years does not receive Him, leaving Jesus in amazement of their disbelief (6:6).
Mark then jumps to a scene where Jesus is sending out his disciples, as teams of two, into nearby towns to declare that the kingdom of Heaven is at hand and that people everywhere must turn from their sins and towards God (6:7-13). This is followed by the famous beheading of John the Baptist (6:14-29). As readers, we should ask, what do these three stories tell us? Why did Mark order his gospel in this way?
Much like a good burger with a savory middle, the focal point of this passage is sandwiched between the stories of rejection and opposition. Jesus, for the first time in Mark’s gospel account, gives authority to his disciples to go out in His power and cast out demons and call people to repentance. These twelve disciples are the nucleus of the church and represent a community of followers living on mission.
Jesus gives them instruction and they obey, declaring the message of the coming Kingdom, healing many and casting out demonic forces (6:12-13). Certainly, Jesus was aware that not everyone would receive their message, as he had just experienced in his hometown (6:3). He was also aware that John the Baptist would be killed by Herod for speaking out against the sinful practices of Herodias. There has not been one moment where Jesus was surprised to learn the world he is sending his disciples into is hostile to the message of the gospel. He is aware sinful human nature is militantly opposed to a call of faith and repentance. Yet, still to this day, as new believers come to saving faith, Jesus sends them all into a world that hates them or at least marginalizes them.
We are sent into a conflicted world where the devil is adamantly opposed to the Heavenly Kingdom. But we take heart! Whatever opposition we face, the triumph of this mission is guaranteed and predetermined. Jesus wins! He sends the same Holy Spirit that empowered the disciples, into our hearts today. Jesus gave his Church a mission, propelled by his authority, to accomplish his sovereign will, which will never be thwarted. Kings may chop off heads and hometowns may stand in opposition, but very soon the God of peace will crush Satan and usher in a new eternity (Rom. 16:20). Therefore, Christian… go into your workplaces, your schools, and across cultural and language barriers and boldly proclaim the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In one sense, we can’t fail because Jesus will not loose. Mission Possible!
1) What is the true definition of success with regard to missions? What, then, is the nature of failure?
2) What are the advantages of working as a team in mission work? What are the dangers of going alone?
3) John spoke out against the unbiblical marriage practices of Herodias and was killed for it. Should Christians speak out against popular unbiblical practices in Tallahassee or across the country, even if persecution comes?
This week's devotional is written by Zach Jones. Zach is an FSU student and City Church Owner apprenticing to be a college City Group Leader.