Summary: As Jesus sent the twelve out to serve, He paired them according to His divine will and sent them out as He desired. They enjoyed His power and guidance. We too can rest in His power and provision as we seek to serve Him.
Separated and Sent to Serve
Mark 6: 7-13
Today we come to what must have been an exciting and yet anxious time in the life of the disciples. They have been walking with Jesus for some time now, watching and learning from Him. While they have experienced much in their time with the Lord, Jesus had primarily done all the work. This will be their first real opportunity for service. They have served as apprentices up to this point, and the time has come for them to step out in ministry.
As we have discussed previously, this was a very diverse group. Fortune 500 companies today would be looking for different qualifications than what the majority of these men possessed. They had not been formally trained in universities or seminaries. For the most part they were common, ordinary men that Jesus would use in extraordinary ways.
Our text provides encouragement and guidance for those who desire to serve the Lord today. While our culture and environment is much different, the aspects of service revealed are timeless. Hopefully we will be enlightened and better equipped to serve the Lord by considering the passage before us. I want to examine the aspects of service as we consider the thought: Separated and Sent to Serve.
I. The Commission of the Twelve (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. Mark reveals the calling and commission of the twelve for service. Notice:
A. Their Calling – And he called unto him the twelve. Jesus called each of these men to follow Him, promising to make them fishers of men. Now the time has come for them to take what they have learned and use it in Kingdom work. These men were called of the Lord for a specific task. They were all different in abilities and gifts, and yet the Lord had a place of service for each of them. He had called and He would choose the area of service for them.
Often this passage is looked at in light of a preacher or pastor’s calling. While I do not seek to minimize their calling, nor would I encourage entering ministry apart from a clear call from the Lord, every believer is called of the Lord to engage in Kingdom work. We all have a responsibility to share the Gospel and reach the lost. The specific giftedness we receive and the particular area of service comes from the Lord. Just as with the twelve, He has a specific work for each of us.
B. Their Pairing (7) – And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two. Jesus called the twelve unto Him collectively, and He began to send them out in pairs of two. Like the call to a specific area of service, the Lord also chose which two of the twelve would work together. He knew the men better than they knew themselves and paired them up according to His divine wisdom and will.
Some commentaries believe Matthew’s listing of the twelve reveals the order in which the men were sent out, and whom each one worked with. Matthew 10:1-4 – And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.  Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;  Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;  Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. John Butler states, "This final pair would be a most fitting pair. Simon the Canaanite was formerly a member of the Zealots ("Zelotes"—Luke 6:15) a radical and forceful political party. Judas Iscariot was the two-faced betrayer of our Lord who stole money from the treasury of which he was the keeper. Simon would be a good partner for Judas Iscariot; for Simon, a former Zealot would, more than any other disciple, be too tough for Judas Iscariot to manipulate or bully around." (i) (This practice of going out two by two remains the accepted means of visitation and ministry today.)
C. Their Equipping (7b) – and gave them power over unclean spirits. While these men were young in their faith and new to ministry, they were not expected to engage in these efforts within their own strength and wisdom. The Lord gave them power over the unclean spirits they would encounter. This particular word refers to “inherent power”. It has the idea of someone “possessing the right to do a thing and having the power to carry it out.” (ii)