Jesus summoned His twelve apostles and imparted to them authority over every demon and the power to heal every disease. Then He commissioned them to preach God’s kingdom realm and to heal the sick to demonstrate that the kingdom had arrived. As He sent them out, He gave them these instructions: “Take nothing extra on your journey. Just go as you are. Don’t carry a staff, a backpack, food, money, not even a change of clothes. Whatever home welcomes you as a guest, remain there and make it your base of ministry. And wherever your ministry is rejected and not welcomed, you are to leave that town and shake the dust off your shoes as a testimony before them.” Luke 9: 1-5
Can you imagine the uproar if a young couple from your church announced that they were leaving for the mission field in the very same way that the apostles went out in the text above – no suitcase, no extra clothes, no money? Can’t you hear the gasps of disbelief? Why, they must be out of their minds!
Why in the world did Jesus tell His disciples to go on their first missions trip empty-handed?
Certainly He wanted them to walk in faith, trusting God for everything they would need.
But is there more here than meets the eye?
Without a purse you learn to rely on the Lord to fund what He desires. With a purse you check the extent of your own resources, not His.
With a backpack you depend upon the resources you’ve packed. Without a backpack, you have to depend upon the Lord. Why? To teach endurance and ingenuity that the well-equipped may never learn.
But really – no extra clothes? No underwear? “Travel light,” is the code word for this mission. The disciples are to go from town to town with just the barest of essentials, nothing more.
No staff? For this mission they aren’t even to take a walking stick for protection or comfort. They are to utterly rely on the Lord. There will be plenty of time later to get a staff for future journeys.
Jesus’ instructions to the Twelve to take nothing special for the trip, but just go, was a crash training course. Sometimes zealous but spiritually insensitive disciples move out before they are properly prepared. The result is usually not pretty.
However, let’s not use this Scripture passage as license to make no preparations for the Lord’s work. It is a training exercise before a live audience, not the last word from Jesus on mission preparedness.
The disciples are also told not to keep moving from one house to another in hopes of finding more comfortable lodgings and better food. They are to be content with the accommodations in the first home they come to, and then they are to get on with their mission of preaching and healing.
Being content with God’s provision is difficult sometimes. The Lord doesn’t always seem to provide what we “think” we absolutely have to have! Some of you may have faced a financial reversal or been faced with losing a job. Can you live in contentment rather than worry about food and shelter and clothing? Jesus calls us to do so. “The pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:32-33).
I am a disciple. You are a disciple. Sometimes disciples must endure hardness like good soldiers (2 Timothy 2:3). My prayer for myself is that I might get to the place that God brought Paul: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry,whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Phil. 4:11-13
Dear friends, has the discipleship training the Lord has brought you into been a place of hardship?
Learn the lesson Jesus would teach you, the secret of being content: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! Jesus imposed these curious mission rules to bring the Twelve to that realization.
Here is the truth of God’s Word: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
We like our imagined self-sufficiency; we like the illusion of being “self-made” or “self-reliant”. However, there is no such thing for the disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are dependent on Him for our very breath!
Teach us, Lord, to depend on You, to trust You, to find all our sufficiency in You. Deliver us from the delusion that we can do things on our own. We need you, Jesus. Come and take over; guide us, teach us, change us.
For even You said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.“ John 8:28