The Naked Man – pt. 44


“Jesus summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits; and he instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belt; but to wear sandals; and he added, ‘Do not put on two tunics.'” Mark took a sip of wine before continuing. “When Jesus initially called the twelve to be with him, he told them he would send them out to preach and have authority over unclean spirits, and now the time had come to do just that.

“As they went, they would proclaim the same message as Jesus, and as John the baptizer before him: ‘Repent!’ Jesus’ instructions forced the disciples to rely on the hospitality of others. Take no bread, no money – not even a change of clothes. Jesus had been rejected by his own and from that point on relied upon the kindness of strangers, as would his disciples as he sent them out.

“And he said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town. And any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.'” Yiftach spoke up. “That sounds familiar. When we traveled with Simon bar Giora, we were always looking for safe houses – places we could stay overnight, with maybe a loaf of bread to share. People sympathetic to the cause. But we never stayed longer than a night, for fear of a neighbor turning us in to the Romans.”

Mark nodded. “I’m sure not everyone was pleased to see your band arrive in their village. And certainly not everyone welcomed the twelve – nor the message Jesus’ disciples carried. Occasionally no one could be found to host them, and Jesus was clear what they were to do when that happened: a visible break with that community – not even taking the dust of the place with them. But those villages where hospitality could be found became central to the mission of Jesus as he and his disciples traveled around Galilee over the years.

“And so the twelve went out and preached that people should repent. And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them. The kingdom of G_d was coming on earth as it is in heaven. Some were glad to see it – many were not. But always the threat of violence hung over their heads.” Why?” asked Ya’el. “I could see people refusing to host them. But doing violence to them?” Miryam sat forward. “It wasn’t the villagers that caused such concern. It was Herod.” “Herod? Why? How would he even know what they were doing?” Miryam replied somberly. “He may not have done. At least at first. But he had certainly heard about Jesus. And what Herod had done to John gave them cause for great concern.” Ya’el leaned in. “Why? What did Herod do to John?” Miryam turned towards Mark, who responded. “Perhaps we should save that story for when we gather tomorrow night…”

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