Passengers arriving at the O. R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, are greeted by a large mural that declares, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
That African proverb could be the caption on the picture Mark paints of Jesus sending his disciples out in pairs. He tells them to travel light, which is good advice for anyone going on a long journey. In contrast to his rejection in Nazareth, Jesus tells them to go where they are welcome. He commissions them to do what he was unable to do back home. Through them, the promise of the coming of the kingdom of God in the future becomes a reality in the present.
The shocking message is that ordinary disciples are commissioned to participate in the coming of the extraordinary promise of the kingdom of God. Jesus commissions us to live now in ways that are consistent with the way this world will be in that day when the vision of Mount Zion becomes a reality among us; when the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven; when God dwells with humankind; when there will be no more injustice, violence, suffering, or death; when God makes all things new. (See Revelation 21:1-6.)
If Jesus promised a quick fix to the brokenness of this world, we could make that journey alone. But because it’s a long road, we are sent out together. We cannot march to Zion alone. The good news is that we don’t have to! We are sent out in mission with other disciples to do what Jesus would be doing if he were physically present among us.
Lord, give us faith and strength the road to build, to see the promise of the day fulfilled, when war shall be no more, and strife shall cease upon the highway of the Prince of Peace (UMH, no. 567).
The readings from the Hebrew scriptures this week celebrate Jerusalem, the capital of the great King David, who united the ancient Israelites and built up the city. The psalmist praises Jerusalem using the image of Zion—a name used for earthly Jerusalem but also a gesture toward a future day when God’s people will abide in a heavenly city. In Second Corinthians, Paul explains that even though he is an apostle, he struggles like everyone else. Speculation surrounds the “thorn” that plagued Paul; but his point is that when he is weakest, God is strongest. In Mark, we see God’s power working through Jesus, who sent out others to expand God’s healing work.
Read 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10. What qualities of leadership are important in this reading? How do those qualities square with your experience with those in power?
Read Psalm 48. Bring to mind a place where you experience God’s presence. What is it about that place that makes you especially aware of God’s presence?
Read 2 Corinthians 12:2-10. When have you experienced weakness becoming a source of strength and power?
Read Mark 6:1-13. When have you discounted someone because of your assumptions about them?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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