Jesus practices being Noah today while Sending Out the Twelve Apostles.
I say this because of the phrase, “send them out two by two.” Why does Jesus send them out in pairs? I think it’s intimately related to his understanding of OT law and Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. I mean, seriously, the passage is simply a list of reasons why it’s better to send people out in pairs instead of alone. Makes sense to me.
So, why shouldn’t you carry a staff, a bag, or extra shirts (unlike the inaccurate representation above?) For one, a traveler without these things appears vulnerable, and vulnerable people are more likely to be offered assistance, and more likely to be listened to by those who are also vulnerable.
For two, the bag could mean a beggar’s bag, and Jesus didn’t want them to appear to be asking for money or support. Their message was not for sale but should be given freely.
Why does Jesus tell them to stay in one house while in an area? The answer lies in the knowledge of the practice of religious philosophers at the time (like Diogenes above), who would go from house to house, begging for money and food for their teachings. This is very similar to the begging bag (as seen above), Jesus wanted their appearance to show that they were not the typical begging teachers, but were there for the benefit of others, not for themselves.
If a city rejects you, just shake it off and move on. You are ritually testifying that this town didn’t listen, but it’s more for the travelers than any onlookers. Unless they were extremely exaggerated with their shaking feet, who would be paying attention anyway?
The final mystery of this section stands thus: what are they preaching people should repent of? This goes back to my previous critique, Mark hasn’t told us what the good news is yet. What does that tell us? This story is like the previous, in that what Jesus is teaching isn’t as important as the authority he is using to teach it. This story is about the ability of the apostles to share in the authority that supports Jesus! They cast out demons and healed sick people!
That they used oil is interesting as this hasn’t been mentioned before. Maybe they needed a little ritual because they weren’t as confident as the master? Jesus has the authority of God and has now passed that authority on to others. How big will this movement get!? Let’s find out as we continue! Where are you going with this Mark?
Grace and Peace to you all.