Summary: God calls each follower to an effective and specific ministry; the priesthood of the believer.
Insights from Putting Up Hay
Mark 6:6-12, 30
Sermon #1 from the series “Life on the Farm”
Sermon Objective: God calls each follower to ministry and personal sacrifice.
We are beginning a sermon series today from Mark’s Gospel called “Life on the Farm.” It will focus on some of the basics of the Christian faith. Specifically, we will be looking at are some of the non-negotiables that define Biblical Christianity.
When I was growing up my family moved between two places; Conroe, Texas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma. There are plenty of big cattle ranchers in Texas and Oklahoma and summer work was always available. But summer work on a ranch was nothing short of back-breaking. Why? Because there was always plenty of shoveling (we’ll talk about manure in a week or two) and plenty of hay to be put away.
There are few farm chores more dreaded by a teen age boy that putting up hay. It is hot work; it is dirty work; it is heavy work; and it is long work. Personally, I find nothing romantic about this chore.
The average bale weighs 45 to 50 pounds. And most farmers pay you by the bale … the more you get out of the field and stocked in the barn the more money you make. It’s a fair day’s work for a fair wage; but you definitely earn every penny!
Looking at this farm chore from a distance affords you the luxury of seeing the parable within it. Of course, when you’re fifteen and doing it there are no lessons to be learned, but now I see the parable.
As we read from Mark 6, read with the imagery of baling hay in the back of your mind.
Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.
These were his instructions: "Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them."
They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
30The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.
I want to give you four words today that describe four transferable elements of from this modern day parable
These were his instructions:
THERE IS A CLEARLY DEFINED TASK TO BE DONE
It doesn’t take a genius to put up hay; just about any 15 year old with a modicum of muscle and a good back to tackle the task. And most farmers are more than happy to “farm this work out” to an extra set of hands.
You do not need a complex strategy to put up hay either. First, you stack it on the wagon. Second, you stack it securely in the barn.
It sounds so easy! And that’s one of the points from my parable of the hay … anybody can understand the mission … anybody can know when it is being accomplished.
There are saints and entire churches that seem to overlook this simple point. When Jesus sent his followers he made sure they knew what was to be done. It was not a hide-n-seek game. It was not to see if they had grasped the unwritten rules. Jesus makes his intentions clear.
Mark’s Gospel tends to be very succinct and does not bother with much detail. He begins Jesus’ charge with these words: “These were his instructions:”
Matthew and Luke often give us additional insight. In Matthew 10 we receive more clarity for the mission at hand:
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: ’The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.
You see what I mean? When Jesus gives a mission he makes it clear. That means that accomplishment is easy to detect. Sending the 12 out is an extension of what Jesus has been doing. They will be effective only as an extension of His work. They had no natural authority over evil spirits … only Jesus did.