HE BEGAN TO SEND
Mark 6:7 And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; 8 And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: 9 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.
In verse one of this chapter we see that the Lord went out from Capernaum, never to minister there again in the same way as before. The judgment that he proclaims against it is recorded in Matthew 11:23, 24. Then that same verse states that he went back to his own country, which we know to be Nazareth. And his visit and ministry there is the very last one. Unlike Capernaum, he never returns there again.
And now, in our title verse (Mark 6:7), we see that as those things end, there is this which has its beginning. For he began to send them forth by two and two. They were now “witnesses!” They had seen and heard their Lord in the closing out of these two cities. And their gospel was to come from all that Jesus began both to do and teach, (Acts 1:1). Listen as he instructs them as recorded in the last chapter of the Book of Luke.
Luke 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
Their God-granted understanding (And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. 1John 5:20), was opened as they were made to see Christ as the fulfillment of all the written word. This made them, no long simply ‘disciples,’ but ‘witnesses!’ And then we see in Luke 24:46 that the sacrifice of Christ, as God’s Lamb, had to take place before they could begin at Jerusalem and preach from there unto all nations concerning repentance and remission of sins.
And that is why in this place in our study of Mark six, and of the same events as recorded in Matthew, we find it stated, These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 10:5). The atonement had not been accomplished! Therefore they could not preach repentance and remission of sins! These, on this one time mission throughout the boundaries of Israel, could only preach that the kingdom was at hand, evidenced by their power for miracles. Again, we point you back to Luke 24:46 (listed above) giving the only reason that the subject matter listed in verse 47 could be preached!
These twelve disciples were sent forth as a “beginning” of the gospel ministry of the church throughout the ages. But, since the middle wall of partition (Ephesians 2:14), was yet to be broken down, as Christ had not yet died, they were limited in the extent of their mission, and in the content of their message!
In Matthew 10:6 we read that the Lord instructed them to only go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And Matthew 9:36 gives us insight into the source of his compassion for these sheep. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. For they were not simply “lost sheep” due to the depravity of all sinners, as set forth in Isaiah 53:6. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
His compassion was due to the fact that he, as the Good, Great, and Chief Shepherd saw that their so called shepherds were no shepherds at all! Their religious leaders had no compassion on them! They just demanded obedience to themselves, using God as a threat over others, in order to make merchandise of their souls! Jeremiah 50:6 My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace. 2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. (Read also Ezekiel 34:1-6).
Consider our Lord’s words regarding these religious leaders whom these witnesses would have to face in this mission: Matthew 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; 23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.
It is sad when those offices whom our Lord has provided to care for the sheep actually contain those who are a scourge to the sheep. It was as the Lord said to Israel in Malachi 2:2: I will curse your blessings: That is a particularly difficult situation for the Lord’s people. For the sheep have to honor and obey the scriptures used by them, but avoid the example of these ‘pastors.’ Matthew 23:2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: 3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
This is a strong formula for the soul’s deception. Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. Titus 1:16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
Let us consider a verse that has been highly misunderstood, due to the strong delusion of Scofieldism and millennialism. Matthew 10:23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.
First, remember that this sending forth of these twelve witnesses was a one-time mission of introducing the nearness of the kingdom of God, accompanied by miracles. Secondly, remember that the atonement had not been accomplished, so these twelve witnesses were confined to Israel alone. The,“Go ye to all nations,” would only come when the atonement was accomplished, and the Holy Spirit had been sent to make His application to all believers, whether Jew or Gentile, male or female, slave or free. Therefore this Son of man’s coming is referring to his coming to Israel in judgment, pertaining to their relation to his gospel that had been preached by these who were here sent forth.
Now, biblically, – not just religious supposition, – how do we determine this? How do we determine that this coming of the Son of man was not the ‘second coming’ of Jesus at the end of the age? How do we know that it was not any physical appearance of Jesus Christ, but his sending forth of the divine wrath in a providential punishment to Israel? Read Luke 19:41-44!
Luke 19:41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, 42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. 43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, 44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.
Remember that the Lord told these twelve sent forth to Israel alone, prior to his crucifixion that they would not run out of cities in their country in which to flee persecution, before he revealed a coming of himself. And he instructs them that some of them would not taste of death before this happened! Matthew 16:28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. 24:34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Therefore this “coming of the Son of man” was accomplished by the Sovereign Christ, having all authority in heaven and in earth (Matt. 28:18), sending Titus, the Roman general, to destroy Jerusalem in the year of 70 A.D. Some in our day may not believe this, but the Pharisees in Christ’s day knew exactly what he was saying, and believed it enough to plot his murder! Matthew 21:41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. 46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.
And that “nation” to whom he referred in verse 43, (just listed), was that holy nation to which Peter refers in 1 Peter 2:9. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: That “nation” is the church. For they are those “which believe” in verse seven of 1 Peter two, and those who are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy, as listed in verse ten.
Therefore since the atonement and the ascension of the Lord Jesus, God has progressed from natural and national Israel, to the spiritual Israel, the organism of the church! Romans 9:6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Galatians 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. 16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
The Worthy House – Lastly let us notice that in Mark 6:10 the Lord instructs these twelve that they are to search out a worthy house for their stay in the cities to which they go preaching. And there they are to remain as long as the word is being received in that city. Christ is said to be the master of the house. Mark 13:34 For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. 35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: 36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
And that holy habitation wherein Christ does dwell is his church! Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. 1 Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
Sadly, Israel’s “house,” their temple, due to their refusal of their Messiah, was left unto them desolate by God, not to be inhabited by him again! Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. The glory left that once filled the physical temple (Ezekiel 10:4, 11:23), and would not return until sin could no longer defile God’s spiritual house (Ezekiel 43:1-9). Then he promises to dwell in the midst of them forever. Revelation 21:3 Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
Pastor Gene Breed, June 11, 2014