Two By Two

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
P Laceholder5 Women Talking Laura Boggess

And he called his twelve disciples together and began sending them out two by two, giving them authority to cast out evil spirits.

Mark 6:7

As Jesus moved about in Galilee, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God and demonstrating the presence of the kingdom through works of power, he sent out his disciples to share in his mission. Jesus gave them authority over demons, as well as the power to heal the sick (6:7,13). In this way, they were able to carry the message of the kingdom, with its call to repentance, just as Jesus did. According to Mark, Jesus sent his disciples out “two by two” (6:7). In effect, this cut in half the number of towns in which the ministry of the kingdom could be happening simultaneously. Why did Jesus send out the disciples in pairs, rather than individually?

Part of the answer lies in the Jewish tradition of “two witnesses.” The Old Testament law (see Deut. 19:15) stipulated that at least two witnesses were needed in order to convict someone of a crime. In the culture of Jesus, this legal requirement also underscored the commonsense idea that two witnesses are more reliable than one. So, when two of Jesus’ disciples proclaimed the presence of the kingdom, they would be more likely to receive a hearing. (Of course, it wouldn’t hurt their credibility if they cast out demons or healed the sick!)

There may be another reason why Jesus sent out his disciples in pairs. He may have been thinking of the power of shared ministry, the added impact when two or more people work together toward a shared goal. This co-laboring is not only effective, but also a reflective of the theological nature of ministry in the era of the new covenant. By sending his disciples out two by two, Jesus foreshadowed the collegiality that would become the hallmark of the Spirit-filled church.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Who are your colleagues in ministry? Are there places in your life where you feel alone in your effort to serve the Lord? Who might be available to share in this ministry with you?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, seeing how you sent out your disciples two by two, I’m reminded of those who have been my partners in ministry throughout my life. I think of Bill, who helped me when I was a high school student struggling to lead a junior high Bible study. I remember John, my partner in leadership of the Christian fellowship of my college. There are so many other partners, Lord, throughout the years, right down to this very day. I thank you for my colleagues at Laity Lodge and the Foundations for Laity Renewal, for my fellow laborers at church, for my wife and children, for friends in Christ with whom to dream, and for all who partner with me in the building up and renewal of your church.

Help me, Lord, not to be alone in my efforts to serve you. May I consistently share your work with those who can encourage me, support me, guide me, and hold me accountable. Most of all, may I never forget that this is your work, which you have graciously chosen to share with me. Even when I am alone, dear Lord, I am always “two by two” with you. Amen.