January 16, 2024
Monday Bible Study on the Gospel Mark 6:7-13
Good morning, dear friends.
Last week I sent out the Bible Study on Wednesday, however, the plan is to give you two studies in two consecutive days on the Gospel of Mark, and then to share a study of Ezra on Thursdays each week. As we all look forward to a warm-up this week, and for at least the next 10 days, we need to remember in our prayers all of the people in our nation who are suffering with extreme cold, winter wind, and snow. My boys think that it has been terribly cold here. They all grew up in Tucson of course. I plan to get back into my swimming on Wednesday morning at an open-air pool. I try to spend an hour in the water doing aerobic style swimming. The boys would only go to the hot tub if they were to come with me. I pray that yesterday you were attentive to MLK Day, giving thanks for the ministry of the Gospel and the social justice in the name of Christ that he worked so tirelessly to teach. I have been in MLK's church before it became a national park in Atlanta. I stood in his pulpit, put my hands on his much-worn Bible, and then with the rest of the World Ecumenical Council, was served dinner in the church basement by the women of the congregation. Today, you can only glance into the church, but in addition there is a bronze which portrays an integration march in the south with life-size bronze people, and you can pause, or choose to walk in the midst of this amazing sculpture. I was there with our youth group at the Atlanta National Youth Gathering for the ELCA. I was so happy that my daughter Rachel and my son Jeremiah were able to be there for that whole event as counselors, and my son Joshua was there as a participant along with 30,000 plus youth from all over the U.S.
Today we continue in chapter six of Mark, and this amazing sending of the disciples into the communities of Israel to preach Christ's message, and to offer the power of Christ's healing love for those whose lives were laden with illness and disease. We are told in this passage that Jesus gave the power to do these things to the disciples who He began to send out in pairs. It seems obvious from the usage here that not everyone went at the same time; after all, in every situation in which people are going to become more independent to do their difficult work, some will be ready before others. In the case of the disciples, the real issue is one of having enough faith to get prepared, and then to receive the Spirit with confidence in the Spirit's presence to give them all of the strength and courage necessary to do the work for which they were sent.
There is the issue of how the disciples were to go forward on this journey for the Master. Every one of the disciples very likely had five pieces of apparel.
1. The garment closest to the skin was called a chilon or sindon. It was a single long piece of cloth sewn on one side after it was folded over. It was long enough to reach to the ankles, or just above the ankles. It was really little more than a cloth sack with holes cut into it for arms and head.
2. The outer garment was called the himation. It was used as a cloak by day, and as a blanket at night. It was often sewn from two pieces of cloth seven feet from left to right, and four- and one-half feet from top to bottom. For most people it was made from two strips of cloth, but if made very carefully, it could be made of one piece, like the one which Jesus wore. This outer garment was the main part of the clothing which a person wore.
3. There was also the girdle which was worn over the first two garments mentioned above. It was generally 18 inches wide folded-in half-lengthwise, making a kind of pocket in which a person could carry money.
4. There was also a headdress. It was a piece of linen or cotton about a square yard, folded in a variety of ways, but its purpose was to protect the wearer's neck and face from the sun.
5. The one piece which we are still missing is the sandals. They were merely soles made of leather, wood, or grass. They were attached to the feet by means of a thong.
Jesus' direction to take no money or food, and only one tunic might seem strange, yet their dress was to make it clear to others that they were not thieves who were trying cover the things that they had stolen along the way to their destinations. The disciples of Jesus were to not collect for themselves, they were to give freely of what they had, and receive with gratitude the hospitality of the communities in which they ministered.
In addition to the above, when a man entered the temple, he was supposed to leave all the material things of the world behind, taking off sandals, leaving behind his bag or purse, and leaving his staff behind as well. All of the ordinary things of the world were to be left behind because of the holiness of the Temple. Perhaps Christ is trying to help is disciples see that every humble home they enter into is as holy as the Temple in Jerusalem. He is certainly telling them that they are meant to be completely dependent on the hospitality and goodwill of the people who receive them, and their teaching and healing.
In Mark 6:12,13 we discover the great success of the disciples in this undertaking and ministry for Jesus. They are not to get creative with their messaging. They are to teach exactly what they have learned from Jesus. They were to bring only God's Truth. That Truth for all people was that everyone needed to repent and have a change of heart, a metanoia. However, the disciples not only came bearing God's Truth, but they also came bearing the King's Mercy. They were able to heal diseases and bring the hope of God's caring Love and Mercy for everyone. They came with the Word and Action to show how the Word is meant to change lives because of God's compassion. This to the same today for the message that is received through confession, prayer, hymns, the reading of Scripture, and sermons. The model of the Church still remains true to this pattern if it is truly going to find the success of the Gospel alive in the midst of all people.
REMINDER: on Sunday at 9AM I will offer a Bible Centered learning opportunity and discussion on the hospitality of the Church (our church) for all people.
With the Love of Christ in our hearts, Pastor Kim