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God’s Word for You

Luke 9:3-6 no staff, no bag, no bread, no money

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, April 24, 2018

3 He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money; don’t even take two coats.  4 Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave. 5 If they do not welcome you, shake the dust from your feet when you leave that town as a testimony against them.”

Jesus was teaching his disciples to trust in God for everything they would need. The first part of the lesson was about their physical needs. They didn’t need to make elaborate plans, or go to the shops first to get bread, nor even to run home to get money or an extra coat.

In both Matthew and Luke (cp. Matthew 10:10) Jesus specifically says “no staff,” but in Mark Jesus says, “Take nothing except a staff” (Mark 6:8). All three are recording the same incident. The commentators that see a problem with this are the same ones who doubt whether the evangelists named as authors (Matthew, Mark and Luke) really wrote their books. Taking things at face value we find this to be the case:

Matthew the Apostle wrote the Gospel of Matthew.
Mark, a boy at this time, later wrote down Peter’s account.
Luke, a physician, did research into these things and wrote down what he learned.

Since Luke agrees with Matthew about the “staff” detail, we find ourselves in the moment with this context: Speaking to his twelve disciples, Jesus told them not to go and make plans, but simply to go, then and there, and begin to preach. Jesus simply meant that if a disciple (such as Peter) was already holding a staff he could take it; he didn’t have to throw it away. But that if another disciple (such as Matthew) didn’t happen to have one, he shouldn’t bother to go and look for one.  He wanted them to go out just as they were. This seeming discrepancy about whether or not they could take along a staff is solved by the simple truth that Matthew and Peter were not the same man, and that after telling the group not to go get a staff, the Lord saw that Peter was already holding one, and told him he didn’t need to discard it. Jesus wasn’t sending them out as beggars, but he was teaching them to trust in him for their needs.

The next physical need—shelter—would also be provided. When they came to a town, they should accept whatever accommodation was offered without accepting any seemingly better offers. Nicer pillows and a higher thread count doesn’t necessarily mean a more ideal place to stay the night. When the disciples stayed with the first person to offer to open their home to them, it would be a testimony that this was the first family to hear the gospel of Christ with faith.

On the other hand, a village that gave no welcome at all would have another kind of testimony: the disciples were to shake the dust from their feet. This was a curse; by doing it, the disciples would be saying, “We don’t even want to carry the dust from your wretched town to another place.”

6 They set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

Besides learning to trust in God for physical needs like food, clothes and shelter, Jesus’ disciples needed to learn to trust in God for spiritual things, too. By demonstrating his own preaching, he gave them a pattern to follow. By giving them authority to heal, he gave them proof of his own authority to send them out to preach.

The main ten cities of Galilee between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean were: Bethsaida (really the twin cities of Bethsaida-Julius), Capernaum, Korazin (all on the north shore of the lake), Magdala and Tiberias along the western shore, and then Nain, Nazareth, Sepphoris and Cana in the hills beyond. Around each of these cities were smaller villages. For example, north of Cana were the villages of Jotapata, Chabulun, Saab, Selame and Sogane, all within a five-mile radius. If each pair of disciples visited one or two of the larger cities and the surrounding villages, they could have been out preaching for more than a month if they spent just a few days in each place. They carried the gospel out and drew a great number of people to hear the good news of the forgiveness of sins.

This preaching tour had incredible results. The people weren’t just going to stay in their towns, content that the Messiah had finally come and was living over in Capernaum. They began to go and tell their own family and friends, and they were going to go, as an enormous crowd of people, thousands upon thousands of them, to listen to Jesus and bring their sick to him, all together at the same time and in the same place. This preaching tour of the six pairs of disciples was going to lead to the most famous miracle Jesus performed: the Feeding of the Five Thousand.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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