The battle lines had been drawn. For weeks, the troops had been training for their first mission. They would not be going out in a group, but rather, two at a time they would wage warfare. The strategy was clear: be bold, and attack. The battle seemed overwhelming, but these soldiers had seen their leader overcome the enemy on more than one occasion. The enemy was frightening. After seeing the arsenal that the enemy used, the troops were fearful.
Jesus armed His disciples as He prepared to send them out. “The unclean spirits will not be able to withstand you in my name.” After promising them victory, He instructed them, “And don’t take with you any extra money or extra clothes. On this trip, everything you need will be provided for you.”
Until now, they had just been able to follow around in His shadow (a very safe shadow to follow around in). But now, He was looking at them telling them that they must go out and minister. They must go out and face down the dark minions of Satan. They must wage spiritual warfare themselves. But even in this challenge, He did not send them alone. No, rather, He sent them out in pairs, that they might be able to encourage one another along the way.
And the fighting began. His disciples took their first journey, and they turned the region upside down. They preached repentance, they healed the sick, and they cast out many devils. They were now on dangerously invigorating ground. You see, Mark pauses for a moment to tell of John the Baptist who was recently executed for preaching a message of repentance to the King. Now the disciples were out preaching the same message, waging spiritual combat against the darkness of sin and of Satan.
And they prevailed. Through the power of Jesus, they were victorious. Verses 30 and 31 tell of the disciples return at the end of their journeys. All of them were absolutely energized. Jesus knowing the temptation of the heart of man looked to His disciples, and lest they be tempted with pride said, “Let’s go away for a few days and rest.” Rest and separation were needed lest they fall into temptation. Even at the end of victory, there was danger, and the Master knew that. His wisdom and power were immense. Not only could he personally overcome darkness, but even now, he had given his disciples that same power that they might overcome darkness.
Food For Thought: In Matthew 10, we find the parallel account to this story. Read verses 16-28 and write out some of the warnings that Jesus gives about the harrowing trip that lays ahead of His disciples.