Christians are simultaneously disciples and apostles.
Compared with the Twelve,
we act as though we were sent out to be tourists
rather than disciples in the world.
We plan, pack, and go.
Rejection in His Hometown (6:1-6a)
Jesus’ initial cycle of teaching of his disciples has come to a conclusion and he sends them out as apostles. But first, he makes a stop in his hometown (probably Nazareth) where the people reject his teachings because they cannot believe that a hometown boy they’ve known all his life could possibly have wisdom (spiritual understanding), power, and authority beyond what even their authorized religious leaders have.
People cannot get beyond the shared assumptions and biases that stem from the most local of cultural institutions, the family and the village; one might as well be in Plato’s cave, where people mistake for reality the shadows they have always been familiar with.
They hear Jesus’ words and hear about his activities. They recognize that they are not mere human words and actions. But what then could be the source? Like the scribes that questioned the source of his authority earlier (3:22-30) Jesus’ family and neighbors may harbor dark suspicions. Jesus cannot openly perform “mighty works” in his own hometown because to do so might only deepen their suspicions and work to further alienate them from him.
The people of Nazareth are like the seed that fell beside the path; they never take root. Their opinions about who Jesus is stand in their way. Jesus 'combination of human ordinariness and divine power makes no sense to them.
Apostles Sent (6:6b-13)
The gospel demands judgment: either acceptance in faith, or rejection through disbelief. Jesus has experienced both and now he sends out his disciples with instruction to expect both kinds of response when they proclaim and act on behalf of his authority.
Jesus sends them out with what seem like extreme instructions: don’t take anything with you. Be at the mercy of those to whom you minister. Part of the reason may be that this was meant to be a short-term mission rather than a long-term lifestyle. Another is that the transparency with which they came, not seeking anything on their behalf but to simply be served with gratitude, shows that the apostles were not trying to manipulate their listeners.
Multiple commentaries note that these instructions were not meant to be prescriptive to all missionaries. Some, too, note the discrepancies in detail across the gospels in regards to these instructions and suggest that each gospel writer may be offering his own commentary on what was handed down as Jesus’ words. That said, we should also remain open to those times when God does call people to go without having time to prepare adequately.
What is most important is that Christians not stay confined inside their own bubbles, but to venture outside, to take risks that may be uncomfortable and challenge them. And while doing so to be vulnerable and transparent about their lives and motivations.
Our problem is that most of us would like to be disciples all our lives and never have to risk ourselves and our dignity by becoming apostles. We like the comforts of the cocoon rather than the uncertainties of the wider world.
Summary: Cycle Two
Success of an apostle is not measured by how many people accept the gospel. Success is measured by how faithful she is to Christ’s commission. The work of the apostle is to sow. God is responsible for the soil and growth.
When the gospel is sown, expect all kinds of responses. Some may be mere dismissal, but at other times it may be quite hostile, even to the point of death. The apostle should not be disheartened by the seeming lack of growth or fruit. The power of the gospel guarantees that it will be fruitful in the end, where it meets good soil.
Could it be that Mark intended the parable of the Sower and Jesus’ explanation of it (4:1–20) to serve as an interpretive guide for all of these problems of speaking and hearing about the kingdom of God?
 Feasting: Mark, location 6238.
 Feasting: Mark, location 5894.
 Reading Mark, 6:1-6.
 Exploring Mark, p. 131.
 Feasting: Mark, location 5888.