The wisdom of Jesus’ advice to the disciples in Mark 6:8, “Take nothing for the journey,” then makes much sense. The principle behind His advice is material things can be burdens on the journey because they can get in the way of revealing God’s glory.
Prior to this order, Christ had taken time through (teaching) to prepare the disciples. They witnessed miracles and learned Christ’s way of doing things and now He was determined to use them and He sent them out two by two to heal, to serve and to preach.
Christians know study is needed before serving. Seminary prepares pastors to serve. In seminary we are taught to read scripture and find the “hermeneutic transfer” (what scriptures’ words mean today). For instance, two weeks ago, an article on physicists struck me and gave me a hermeneutic transfer for this article.
The article said physicists had discovered the Higgs boson, the scientific name for what is popularly known as the “God particle,” a new subatomic particle. One physicist theorized the “God particle” is at the center of all mass and it is so fundamental that without it nothing could exist.
This theory of the all-important particle has been around since the Scottish physicist Peter Higgs first hypothesized about it in 1964. Higgs said the standard model of physics had a hole in it, one that needed to be filled by a particle that gives everything its mass.
The so called “God particle” is so fundamental to the laws of nature that science now believes it will spawn a new era of technology and development – much like Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery of the laws of gravity did to the basic equations of mechanics, which made last century’s industrial revolution possible.
So now physicists have come to know what we Christians already know, that God is at the center of everything. People of faith know God is at the center of everything and He gives everything power, purpose and mission.
Christ, without saying any more than “take nothing for your journey,” sent out the disciples, armed with the real “God particle.” He empowered them to heal (move critical mass), rebuke unclean spirits (conquer invisible evil) and preach the gospel of repentance.
NOT IN THIS WORLD
Matthew Henry asserts the disciples were to “take nothing for the journey” – “so that they might appear, wherever they went, to be poor men, who were not of this world or its material things; therefore, they might better preach, teach and heal with more grace, and thereby be better equipped to call people of this world into the next.” Therefore, Jesus meant they were to, every step of the way, trust in God to supply their needs.
The physicist knew Higgs was right; every time they tested his theory they could see
its evidence. As they tried for decades to pin it down, the particle would disappear. It was like trying to capture a white tiger in the snow: hard to see it but you could always see its footprints. The “God particle,” for Christians, is like the Holy Spirit: it’s hard to pin down but you can always see its footprints.
It is clear to me that, from the very beginning, Christ wanted His disciples to know the Spirit of God, in order to help bring about better health to the body and eternal life to the soul. Christ’s aim was, and is, not only for our soul salvation but also for our whole salvation.
As we repent (change) from a completely selfish life, instinctively demanding and totally inconsiderate, we change from a self-centered journey to a God-centered journey. The discovery of the “God particle” at the center of everything was whimsical. Real disciples seek to bring people to the concrete knowledge that God is at the center of life and to lead all to repentance — which is to have a new heart and to live in a new way.
It all becomes clearer, as we get older and have more of the past to look back upon, that taking nothing for our journey to the center (God), we therein find, in all things, a peace and a trust in God to provide.
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door in Miami’s Liberty City community. He may be reached at 305-759-0373 or firstname.lastname@example.org.