When Jesus visited his home town with the goal of teaching and ministering to the needs of his family, neighbours and friends he discovered that they lacked an important element that would make it difficult for him to have a real impact in the community. The text says “and he marvelled at their unbelief” (Mark 6:6, ESV), another version calls it a lack of faith, making possible to heal a few sick people. However this lack of faith in Nazareth didn’t keep Jesus from moving on in his ministry.
Jesus was true to his own instructions when he left Nazareth going around from village to village teaching. Now he reaches a new stage in the training of the twelve when he sends his disciples out two by two to do the same. The twelve had heard him teach, watched as he healed the sick and witnessed him deliver people from demonic powers. Now it was their turn to go out and do the same. Jesus gave them clear instructions for their mission but most importantly he gave them the authority over evil spirits for their ministry. Any ministry without authority is destined to face failure, it’s a key to success. The ministry the twelve had is clearly stated. Mark 6:12-13 tells us they preached repentance, drove out demons, anointed the sick with oil and healed them.
The ministry Jesus sent the twelve out to do was not “lifestyle evangelism”. The twelve ministered directly to the needs of the people they encountered as they called them to repent of their sins against God. Their message of repentance was paralleled by a ministry to the physical and spiritual needs of their audience. This resulted in the news of Jesus ministry reaching the highest levels of Jewish society, King Herod’s court.
This text requires the disciples of Jesus Christ of all periods of history to question how they go about their ministry. Jesus wasn’t satisfied with teaching the twelve about the Kingdom of God and healing the sick. No, the disciples had to go from learners to practitioners if Jesus was going to see his ministry through to the end. Likewise disciples today can not only be learners we must be practitioners of the teaching and ministry of Jesus. Later on Jesus gave the same authority that he had given to the twelve to all his disciples (Matt. 28:18, Acts 1:8) that allows each of us who claim allegiance to him to teach and minister in the same as they did in the 1st Century. People need to repent before God of their sins and they need to see that the power and authority of Jesus is still as real today as it was in the days when it created such a wave of news that it right to the top levels of Jewish society.