Derek Leman on the Resident Alien Disciples

Derek Leman was a Messianic rabbi, and I have been subscribing to his Daily D’var for years.  Now it is called the “Daily Portion.”

In the February 12, 2017 Daily Portion, Derek was addressing Mark 6:6b-13.  The passage (in the KJV) states:

6b And he went round about the villages, teaching.

And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;

And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse:

But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats.

10 And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place.

11 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

12 And they went out, and preached that men should repent.

13 And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.

Here are Derek’s comments:

NOTES: Curiosity about how to apply the teaching of this passage has led to dramatic movements in church history. Do readers of this gospel story need to imitate the disciples to forsake all income and live as itinerant preachers? Alternatively, could this be a special calling for some (“missionaries”)? The mendicant orders of the medieval Europe took vows of poverty and sought to live according to Yeshua’s instructions here to “take nothing” and to have “no bread, no bag, and no money” in their purses. Some even went further, forsaking sandals in order to outdo the poverty of the disciples on this mission (the discalced or barefoot orders of monks and nuns). The passage raises another important question: how much miraculous power did the disciples have? In many other texts Mark will emphasize their failure, but in this story they exorcise demons and heal people while preaching in imitation of John the Baptist and Yeshua. Are these the same Twelve of whom Yeshua said, “Have you no faith?” and “Are you of so little understanding?” Witherington sums up the contrast best: “They seem to be better at doing the ministry than understanding what it is all about.” If this is the case, then we might say that Yeshua is not satisfied even with proper deeds and good mission work. He also wants his disciples to have understanding of the apocalyptic secrets of the kingdom. Those who say, “If we love each other and do acts of kindness for each other and the world, we need not worry about studying the gospels or the Bible and finding the right theology” have a good point in that loving deeds are better than knowledge without deeds. But Yeshua does not wish to make missionary disciples who are ignorant of the hidden truths and great revelations of the mystery of the kingdom. Yeshua’s disciples are to come forth with both knowledge and deeds. For those who wish to study the contrast between two traditions of the sending can compare Luke 9:1-6, which is much the same as Mark’s account here, and Luke 10:1-12, which seems to preserve another sending tradition of the seventy, who are given very different instructions. Comparing and contrasting the two reinforces an important point here: the idea of a vow of poverty is not a universal principle either of discipleship or of mission. It is not the case that Yeshua commands all his followers to go without bread and money nor that he commands his special servants who go on mission to use this technique. The instructions to the Twelve here in Mark 6 are specific to this mission and have a specific purpose. What might that be? Witherington, citing Myer’s book, Binding the Strongman, says that these instructions are a prophetic message. The disciples are to become like sojourners (resident aliens) relying on the good will and kindness of the native Israelites. They are to become like people marginalized, since Yeshua will be marginalized. They are, essentially, to test the righteousness of the villages and people of Galilee. Will they be treated with hesed (lovingkindness) or rejected? Those who receive them are those who are willing to do what God requires to make his kingdom come on earth. Shared resources are the way of discipleship. On this mission, the disciples are to come as the poor. On others, they will use their own resources. Neither way is a universal command. But the message is clear: disciples of Yeshua will welcome those in need and support one another in the work of God.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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