Jesus Sent Them out Two by Two

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Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe so you can follow along each day. We are reading through the life of Jesus Christ in 2019. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Mark 6:7–13 (ESV)

7 And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. 10 And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. 11 And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.

Parallel Text: Luke 9:1-6

Jesus the Carpenter

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Reading the Word

Mark 6:1–6 (ESV)

1 He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” 5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief.

And he went about among the villages teaching.

Parallel Text: Matthew 13:54-58

Understanding and Applying the Word

When Jesus went to his hometown he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath and began to teach. However, the people were not receptive. They were wondering who Jesus thought he was. The people knew Jesus’ family and that he was a carpenter. They did not think of him as someone who had the knowledge and authority to say the things he was saying. Instead of receiving his teaching, they took offense and rejected Jesus.

We read that Jesus could do not mighty work there, not because he was unable, but because the people were in no frame of mind to receive such demonstrations of power and they might have attributed them to the wrong source (cf. Mark 3:22). Jesus was rejected by his hometown people so he left and went elsewhere to teach to those who were more receptive.

This episode reminds us of the amazing way God chose to bring salvation to the world. The Father sent his Son into the world as a man. He was born to a young woman who was a relative nobody and poor. Why would God choose to work in this way? Would it not seem more appropriate for the Son of God to be born among the elite? But Jesus came into the world in the most humble of ways to make it clear that he was the Savior for all people, not just those at the top of the social ladder. Yet many rejected Jesus because he did not meet their preconceived ideas of how God should do things. We are once again called to make a decision on how we will respond to Jesus, the one born of Mary and who was known as a simple carpenter.

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Son of David

Matthew 219 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 9:27–34 (ESV)

27 And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” 28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” 29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” 30 And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” 31 But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.

32 As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. 33 And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” 34 But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses, Jesus heals two blind men and a man possessed by a demon. The Old Testament Scriptures told of a day when God would exercise his power and that the blind would see (cf. Isaiah 29:18; 35:5–6; 42:7). It is significant that the two blind men address Jesus as the “son of David.” In doing so, they were saying that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah who was a descendant of David. Jesus healed the blind men and also a man possessed by a demon that demonstrated that he truly was the son of David, the Messiah, and that God was at work in a powerful way.

The Pharisees, those who were looked at as religious leaders of the people, did not see Jesus in a positive light. They saw him as an enemy and even said that his mighty works were done through the power of the prince of demons, Satan!

Jesus’ life calls us to make a decision about who he is. Will we accept him as Lord, the promised Messiah, and Savior? Or will we reject him? In rejecting him, the Pharisees became opponents to what God was doing in the world. They rejected the Savior that the Father had sent on their behalf and sought to get rid of Jesus. Take the time to get to know the truth abut Jesus so that you too can know him as Savior.

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Power Over All Things

Mark 536 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Mark 5:21–43 (ESV)

21 And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” 24 And he went with him.
And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’ ” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Parallel Texts: Matthew 9:18-26; Luke 8:40-56

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses, we find the healing of two people. The first was a woman who had a “discharge of blood” for twelve years. The phrase “discharge of blood” was a euphemism for vaginal bleeding. Not only would this have been a medical issue for the woman, but a religious one as well. Such bleeding would have made her ceremonially unclean and a source of uncleanness for others. She sought Jesus so she could touch him and find healing, which is exactly what she received. Jesus’ words to her were, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

A twelve-year-old girl was the second healing. When Jesus went to her, she was already dead. The people were ready to let Jesus go on his way because it was too late for him to do anything, but Jesus told the girl to “arise.” Immediately, the girl got up and walked!

The past three days, we have looked at four miracles of Jesus: the calming of the storm, the casting out of demons, the healing of the woman with a discharge of blood, and the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead. Through these miracles, we have seen that Jesus has power over creation, the spirit world, disease, and even death! He is the source of all power, which is why the power went out “from him” when the woman touched him. Have you placed your faith in the one who exercises power and authority over all things?

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Begging Jesus to Go Away

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Reading the Word

Mark 5:1–20 (ESV)

1 They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. 2 And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. 3 He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 4 for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. 6 And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. 7 And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8 For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12 and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.

14 The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 16 And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 17 And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.

Parallel Texts: Matthew 8:28-34; Luke 8:26-39

Understanding and Applying the Word

When Jesus reached the shore he was met by a demoniac. The man was not only possessed, he was possessed by multiple demons. When Jesus asked his name, we are told that the reply was “Legion, for we are many.” We are also told that this man lived among the tombs and no one could bind him because he would just break the shackles.

This seems like a scary situation, but Jesus was not afraid. He was in charge and the demons knew it! When they were face-to-face with Jesus, they did not threaten him, but asked what he was going to do to them. The demon who spoke begged Jesus not to send them out of the country, but to send them into the herd of pigs instead. Jesus did as requested and the demons left the man and entered the pigs. Immediately, the pigs rushed over a bank and drowned in the sea.

The owners of the pigs, evidently not happy about the loss of their property, went to the city and spread the news of what happened. When the people heard the news, they went out to see Jesus. However, they did not go out to praise Jesus for such an amazing thing, but to ask him to leave their region. They did not want Jesus there! The man who had been healed by Jesus wanted to stay with Jesus, but Jesus told him to go tell others what had happened to him, which he did.

Jesus is a polarizing figure. He always has been. When confronted with who he is, there are really only two options: we can run away from him or we can embrace him. When the townspeople were face-to-face with the Son of the Most High God, they feared and wanted nothing to do with him. His presence was overwhelming to them. He was a threat. The man who had been freed from the demons did not see Jesus as a threat, but as his Savior. He did not want to leave Jesus’ side. When you are face-to face with Jesus, will you see him as a threat and one to be feared or will you see him as your Savior and the one you want to be with forever?

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The Wind and Sea Obey Him

Storm on the Sea of Galilee

Rembrandt’s “Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee” (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Mark 4:35–41 (ESV)

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Parallel Texts: Matthew 8:18-19, 23-27; Luke 8:22-25

Understanding and Applying the Word

The account of Jesus calming the storm is a well-known one. We often sit in judgment of how the disciples could have acted the way they did. Why were they so afraid? We forget that among the twelve were experienced fishermen. They would have been familiar with storms on the water and dealing with such things. The fact that they were afraid tells us something: this storm was severe! The disciples truly feared for their lives when they woke Jesus and said, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

Jesus arose from sleeping and commanded the wind and the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And they obeyed him! When the disciples witnessed this amazing act of Jesus, they were in awe. This is why the text reads that they were filled with great fear. They were in the presence of a power that they could not comprehend! They wondered, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Of course, the answer to the disciples question is that Jesus was God in the flesh. He was in complete control of all things. The Creator made a command to his creation and it obeyed. Jesus asked his disciples why they were so afraid. “Have you still no faith?” They had heard Jesus teach and witnessed many of his miracles, but they were still putting the pieces together about who Jesus was.

What about us? When we face difficulties in our lives, do we face them with strength and confidence knowing that our Lord is in complete control? Or, are we more like the disciples in the boat who were afraid for their lives and scrambling to save themselves. If that is our response to our circumstances, it is because we have forgotten that Jesus is the one who speaks and even the wind and the sea obey him. Lord, help us to trust you!

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Old and New Treasure

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Reading the Word

Matthew 13:51–52 (ESV)

51 “Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

The disciples went to Jesus in Matthew 13:36 and asked him to explain the Parable of the Weeds. He explained the parable to them and then told them three more shorts ones. After this he asked his disciples, “Have you understood all of these things?” They replied that they had. Jesus then called his disciples “scribes” who had been trained for the kingdom of heaven.

A scribe was an expert in the Old Testament Scriptures. Jesus often condemned the scribes of his day for not understanding the word of God. These verses tell us that Jesus was training up a new group of scribes who would truly know how to interpret the Scriptures to the people. These new scribes, Jesus’ disciples, would be able to teach both what was already written in the Old Testament and also the new teaching of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament and they would be able to explain how it all held together.

The Bible is one grand story of the redemption of mankind from sin. The Old Testament Scriptures point forward to Jesus coming into the world as the Messiah and Savior of all. The New Testament was written to reflect back on how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament promises and also the things Jesus said and did, especially the crucifixion and resurrection. We cannot read the Bible and understand it if we do not read it with our eyes fixed on Jesus.

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Separating Good from Bad

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Shaped by the Word is a daily- Bible-reading devotional. I do not write supplemental material for Sundays, but I do include a suggested reading from Scripture. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can continue to follow along each day. May God bless you as you read and reflect on his word.

Reading the Word

Matthew 13:47–50 (ESV)

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

What Do You Value?

Matthew 1344 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 13:44–46 (ESV)

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus continues to teach in parables, he tells his disciples that the kingdom of heaven is like treasure that a man finds in a field. The man hides the treasure and sells everything he has so he can buy the field and obtain the treasure. In saying this, Jesus emphasizes that there is nothing that we have that is of more value than obtaining the kingdom. It is worth far more than we can sacrifice or give up in order to belong to it.

Jesus goes on to compare the kingdom to a fine pearl that a merchant finds. When he found it, he sold all he had so he could purchase it. Again, Jesus emphasizes the surpassing worth of the kingdom. It is worth far more than anything we can give up for it.

In these parables, Jesus is not saying that we somehow merit the kingdom by giving things up for it. He is saying that the cost of following Christ and belonging to the kingdom is worth it. Belonging to Jesus may cost us fame, fortune, friends, power, reputation, personal freedom, and even our lives. If we understand the surpassing value of the kingdom of heaven, whatever losses we may suffer will pale in comparison. Do you value the kingdom more than anything else?

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Mustard Seeds and Leaven

mustard seed

Reading the Word

Matthew 13:31–33 (ESV)

31 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

33 He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”

Parallel Text: Mark 4:30-32

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus tells a parable using an illustration of a mustard seed to teach about the kingdom of heaven. In this parable, Jesus describes the mustard seed as “the smallest of all seeds.” Some critics like to point out that the mustard seed is not truly the smallest seed. There are smaller ones. This critique misses the point. Jesus was not making a scientific statement. He was making a statement that was familiar to his hearers. The mustard seed was the smallest of the seeds they were familiar with and used regularly. The mustard seed was popular in proverbial sayings to designate the smallest of things. His audience understood what he was saying.

The kingdom of heaven begins as a tiny and seemingly insignificant thing, but grows into a large plant. Jesus uses the term “tree” to emphasize its large size, especially in comparison to other herb plants in a garden. It would dwarf them!

Jesus also taught that the kingdom is like leaven. It does not take long before the leaven is worked throughout an entire lump of dough and the whole thing is affected. In the same way, the kingdom spreads and impacts all places and things.

As Jesus’ followers, we need to hear these words. We need to be reminded that the kingdom grows through what may seem small and insignificant. It happens through our small churches, our faithful sharing of the gospel with our neighbors and friends, and through the ordinary things we do each day. These things may seem meager and mostly meaningless, but in the end a kingdom is growing that includes people from every nation, tribe, and tongue to the glory of God. Praise God for his kingdom!

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