In recent weeks (years) Christians (in America) have often felt discouraged by the social setting in which we find ourselves. In this passage, the Greek makes it abundantly clear that Jesus sends out his disciples into a very difficult world, one that basically rejects him. Into this world, the disciples are sent out
A) in teams
B) to proclaim, call to repent, and heal
C) to move on from those who reject them (ie, not live in anger, but in hope for the next interaction!).
Sounds like good advice for the missionary church in the West today!
χειρων (from χειρ, meaning "hand", 6:2,5) Jesus does not just preach to people, he touches their lives. Even the disciples who go out proclaiming Christ use oil, suggesting they too touched people! The church is a mouth-house of the word, indeed, but proclamation is not separate from getting our hands dirty!
A trifecta of words Mark words uses to show just how bad it was for Jesus:
εσκανδαλιζοντο (from σκανδαλιζω, meaning, "to take offense", 6:3): The word comes into English as scandalized; the world was scandalized by the teachings of Jesus! Our goal is not to make the teachings of Jesus inoffensive to the world!
ελεγεν (imperfect of λεγω, 6:4) Jesus is repeatedly saying he has no honor! The imperfect tense means on-going action; Jesus did not say once, but continually was telling them he had no honor.
εθαυμαζεν...απιστιαν (amaze (θαυμαζω) and unbelief (απιστια), 6:6); In spite of the fact that the crowd is amazed at Jesus' teaching, they still are reluctant to believe.
In short, the environment in which Jesus sends out his disciples is one where
- Jesus teaching is offense, in spite of wisdom (σοφια, 6:2) and miracles!
- Jesus repeatedly acknowledges the difficulty he is facing
- Jesus is not recognized as Lord and Savior
εδυνατο...δυναμιν (both from the word power/ability, ie, dynamite; as a plural noun meaning miracles, 6:5) The word for "able" as in "able to cure them" is "dyna-mai" which in noun form is "dynamis," or power comes from. For those preaching the 2nd Corinthians Text, this is the same power that Paul talks about.
μαρτυριον (witness, 6:11) The testimony we are to offer is not necessary against them; the Greek is ambiguous. It could actually be as witness to or for them. Regardless, we are not supposed to exhaust our resources fighting those who do not accept Jesus.
εθεραπευον (from θεραπευω, to heal, 6.5 and 6.13) I wrote about this word in a previous blog post:
Basically, Jesus turns the Bible upside-down by actually doing the service toward people, something that did not happen in the Old Testament. Furthermore, he sends out his people into the world to serve (therapy) the world!