Mark 6:6b-13 (NIV): Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.
These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff–no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.”
They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
When Jesus sent out the 12, it was to multiply His ability to get His message out to the people quickly. Their main message was to be, “The kingdom of heaven is near,” (Matthew 10:7) the same message preached by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:2), and Jesus Himself (Matthew 4:17). As a concrete sign that this message was true, Jesus gave them authority over unclean spirits, as well as the ability to heal all kinds of diseases.
When Jesus taught His disciples, He told them that if they would seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, that He would provide everything that they truly needed (Matthew 6:31-33). So Jesus told them to take only the bare necessities with them, and to trust God for all the rest. After Jesus left the earth, these disciples, and those who would follow in their footsteps, would have to trust in God many times for their everyday needs. And these 12, right from the very beginning, would be able to testify to all the rest that God was really able to meet every need that they had when they relied completely on Him. In fact, on the night that Jesus was betrayed, He asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or (extra) sandals, did you lack anything?” And their response was immediate: “Nothing.” (Luke 22:35)
It is also important to note that the disciples were not traveling about on their own to bring the message of the kingdom to the people. They were doing it as representatives of Jesus, the Messiah Himself. The miracles and healings that they did were signs that they were legitimate representatives of God and the Messiah. Therefore, if they were rejected by people, those people were not merely rejecting them; they were rejecting Jesus and, by extension, God too! (cf. Luke 10:16) And so, any time they were rejected, the disciples were instructed to shake the dust of that town off their feet as a testimony that their judgment against God made them liable to God’s judgment against them!
Father, we are still Your representatives, Your agents, Your ministers of reconciliation (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20). And our message is even the same as that of those first disciples: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near!” Help us, Lord, every day to faithfully bring Your message to those all around us. Help us every day to rely on You to legitimize our message, even with miracles, healings, and the authority You have given us to stand against and defeat unclean spirits. And as we do the work of Your kingdom, help us to trust in You to supply every legitimate need. Amen.