One day Jesus called together His twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases. Then He sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. “Take nothing for your journey,” He instructed them. “Don’t take a walking stick, a traveler’s bag, food, money, or even a change of clothes. Wherever you go, stay in the same house until you leave town. And if a town refuses to welcome you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.” So they began their circuit of the villages, preaching the Good News and healing the sick.Luke 9:1-6
The 12 have earlier received their commissioning before the Sermon on the Plateau, they have seen the power of God over sickness and the demonic demonstrated by Christ. Now is the time for them to go and do likewise. The time for a practical fieldwork assignment. But note they were instructed to “tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick”. Casting out demons was left out of their assignment as such. Note too that there had been a large number of disciples or followers attached to Jesus for quite a while. But this time the focus is on “the Twelve”. Clearly they were not all together so Jesus had to call them out from the crowd.
Take nothing. No walking stick, bag, food, money or change of clothes. Take nothing to hinder you or that you need to rely on and look after so you don’t lose it. It is amazing how many times our stuff and the need to look after it gets in the way of the Gospel. Learn to travel light.
Mark has a reading “nothing except a staff”. It is hard to harmonize these two different perspectives. The best solution is the suggestion that Mark’s [ei me] “save” and Luke’s [mete] “neither” represent two Aramaic words with two similar meanings which have been confused. But there is no definitive statement as to which one was meant.
Walking stick or staff
The rabdos was more a staff than a walking stick, although it could be used as a staff too. It was used for protection as well as assistance in walking.
The pera was a satchel used by travelers in which they put essential supplies of food and other things they would need for the journey. But it was also used by beggars to put coins they were given and items of food. It is interesting that these two items together, the rabdos and the pera were recognized as a badge of office for the traveling preachers of the day. Perhaps Jesus didn’t want the guys to be associated with the usual traveling preachers. Much like not wanting to look like a Morman evangelist these days. Or is Jesus saying, “Don’t look like beggars. I will take care of your every need.” You don’t need protection or handouts with Jesus around.
Normally the traveller would carry artos, a flat loaf of bread in the bag for emergency rations along the way. Don’t take the normal loaf with you. Rely on Me, the bread of life? Man shall not live by bread alone? But for a journey, especially a long one through the Judean wilderness, bread was essential. Do we have an analogy here to the wanderings in the wilderness where every need was provided supernaturally? [See Bible Gem 401] There is much debate over the purpose of these prohibited items.
Argurion refers to silver, or silver coins as small change for needs along the way. (Mark used a different word referring to the money belt filled with bronze coinage.) Either way, the message is clear, don’t take money with you either. No food and no money to buy it with. Now that throws you on the Lord for your basic needs. Maybe this was like those tests or adventure journeys these days when people have to travel the length or breadth of a country without money or resources to test their ability to cope. Whatever the case these twelve disciples had to rely on God to provide their needs, that’s for sure. The ultimate in faith missions. A kind of Spiritual Amazing Race, which I promise will be Amazing!
A Second Tunic
The chiton referred to the tunic or undergarment worn against the skin under the overcoat or robe. It was like long johns and stretched down to the feet. It was worn both for comfort and protection. Poor people or working people only had one. Here the reference is to taking two chiton. One as a spare when the other gets sweaty on the journey. A second was sometimes worn for added comfort and padding or for protection against the cold during the night. But in this case if no bag was taken then the extra chiton would have to be worn.
Pilar Petra wanted to figure out the why of the prohibitions for herself. Never mind what the commentators say. Pilar writes “Tunics were used not only for protection but also for status. Jesus taught humility to the disciples! By telling the disciples not to bring those 5 things Jesus taught the disciples to rely on God’s power, ability & provision alone! It means Jesus taught the disciples not to worry! Trust in His ability to provide miraculously (He fed 5,000 with five loaves & two fish!) Bag, bread, money was used for living! These are the areas which people are most worried or concerned about. The staff was used for protection n authority. It means Jesus taught the disciples to use His spiritual power for protection and authority.”
I have added Petra’s comments here in order to say when you ask the right questions and do some figuring for yourself you will solve many of the difficulties or nuances of the Bible text. Give it a go.
I will cover the remaining verses of this segment in the next Gem. This one has already grown longer than I intended just with the prohibitions.
You haven’t really trusted God til you’ve attempted something that can’t be done in your own strength.Rick Warren
Every miracle begins with a PROBLEM. Got a problem? Great. You’re a candidate for a miracle!Rick Godwin
When you feel like God is doing nothing, that’s probably when He is doing the most.Leticia Seviraneta