Feb. 22, 2021

They went out and preached that men should repent.

Mark 6:1-29 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

Jesus went out from there and came into His hometown; and His disciples followed Him. When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief.

And He was going around the villages teaching.

And He 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.” 10 And He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town. 11 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.” 12 They went out and preached that men should repent. 13 And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them.

14 And King Herod heard of it, for His name had become well known; and people were saying, “John the Baptist has risen from the dead, and that is why these miraculous powers are at work in Him.” 15 But others were saying, “He is Elijah.” And others were saying, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he kept saying, “John, whom I beheaded, has risen!”

17 For Herod himself had sent and had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death and could not do so20 for Herod was afraid of John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. And when he heard him, he was very perplexed; but he used to enjoy listening to him. 21 A strategic day came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his lords and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee; 22 and when the daughter of Herodias herself came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you.” 23 And he swore to her, “Whatever you ask of me, I will give it to you; up to half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25 Immediately she came in a hurry to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And although the king was very sorry, yet because of his oaths and because of his dinner guests, he was unwilling to refuse her. 27 Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded him to bring back his head. And he went and had him beheaded in the prison, 28 and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard about this, they came and took away his body and laid it in a tomb.


Our culture and society believe that as Followers of Christ, we should embrace and tolerate whatever people choose to say, do or believe, that we should forgive and show unconditional love to everyone for everything. Yet, look what Jesus instructed His disciples to in today’s text:  “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.”  What was their message and their mission? Was it to embrace the culture and society of their day? The text says: They went out and preached that men should repent.  Repent is defined as:  to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one's life - to feel regret or contrition - to change one's mind.  Believers are not called to embrace the sin and darkness of society, we are called to preach that people should repent, that they should turn from sin; that they should change both their thoughts and their actions; the way they think and what they do. In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus says:  “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”  We call people to repentance both by our words and our actions. The testimony of our lives; of doing good and shining the light of Christ, shakes off the darkness of the world. In 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 Paul says:  You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.  

The world will call believers hypocrites if they do what Jesus instructed His disciples to do, if we testify against the sin and darkness of our culture. They say it does not reflect the love of God to speak against sin. The truth is, it is the love of God that they truly need to know. Romans 5:8 says:  God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  In John 3:16 Jesus says:  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  God’s love, His unconditional love, is demonstrated in that regardless of the sinfulness of people, Jesus died for their sins, not to tolerate or embrace their sin, but so that they could be redeemed from sin. We are called to love others, even our enemies unconditionally. But we are to love them not with tolerance of sin, but rather with a demonstration of the love of God that points them to the cross. Our message to the world should not focus as much on what Jesus will do for people, as what He has already done. On the cross in Luke 23:34 Jesus said: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”  In John 19:30 He said:  “It is finished!” 

In Mark 16:15-16, Jesus words to His disciples, before He ascended to heaven were:  “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”   We are not responsible for the results of our message. Each person must choose for themselves whether they will believe or disbelieve. We are only responsible for our testimony; that we demonstrate the love of God in the cross of Christ. What would be said of a person who embraced and celebrated cancer which causes physical pain and death. Surely, that would not be love. In the same way, it is not love if we tolerate and embrace the things that cause people to die spiritually. Rather, we should call them to repent and live.

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, may I live and speak as a testimony of Your love. May I be the light that shakes off the darkness of the world. May others hear You say “Father forgive them.” May they know the love of the finished work of the cross.  Amen.