“Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.”
When Jesus sent His apostles out preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, He gave them specific instructions not to provide for their material needs. In Matthew’s account, He instructed them not to provide (literally, obtain or acquire) a staff. In Mark’s version, the Lord permitted the taking of a staff (6:8). Those eager to find a contradiction in the Bible invariably point to the apparent discrepancy between the two accounts. In reality, there is no contradiction. Matthew states that the apostles were forbidden from acquiring staffs for the journey; Mark states they were permitted to take staffs they already possessed. The critic’s argument is thus not only neutralized, but it is turned back on itself. This reconciled “contradiction” is now part of a positive case for the reliability of the biblical record. There is much more to this account, however. According to ancient Rabbinic literature, (Mishnah Berakhot 9:5) “One should not enter the Temple Mount with a staff, or with shoes on, or with a money belt, or with dusty feet…” These prohibitions sound similar to the Lord’s instructions in today’s passage. Is there a connection? I think so. The rabbis of old were concerned that those coming to the Temple to serve the Lord give no appearance of having any other business there. God will not share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8). Service to the Lord must not be diluted with lesser cares and intentions. The desire to know and serve God must of necessity eclipse every other desire. Similarly, Christ’s apostles were to look like men whose only purpose was to carry out their Lord’s instructions. What’s more, they were to display complete trust in God to provide for their material needs. In these ways, Christ’s evangelists were living object lessons to all who observed them and heard their words. Here were men whose only concern was to selflessly serve their Lord, to carry out His instructions to the letter, all the while trusting in God to provide what was needful (cf Matthew 6:33). As New Covenant priests in service to our Lord, may we show similar trust and devotion. May our witness to the world, in word and deed, be powerful, irresistible, to the glory of God. May these things be so today.
God bless you, dear church family,