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Mark 083 - What to Pack

These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt.

Mark 6:8,9

I traveled a lot during my career. This made me do things to make it easier to pack, get on/off planes, go into and out of hotel rooms. I always had a bag with my toiletries in the suitcase. When I got home, it stayed in the suitcase. When winter approached, I put a pair of gloves in the suitcase so they would always be there if the weather was cold.

My backpack, that carried my laptop, was also pre-packed with lots of things. I never removed the power cord, thumb drive, or Wireless Presentation Remote Clicker with Laser Pointer. And, because I’m me, I also carried backup batteries for the clicker and laptop, just in case.

Yes, I am more than a little bit weird.

When Jesus says, “take nothing except,” it really simplifies their preparations, packing, and traveling. You throw out everything except the handful of items that Jesus specifically lists.

But to just make sure that they get it, there are a handful of items that he specifically says not to take.

  • No bread – they weren’t to bring along any food. No snacks, no coupons from any fast-food joints. They were to depend on God and his working through strangers that he was going to bring into their lives.

  • No bag – this was not a backpack or something to carry things with but was how people collected money in that day. Priests and beggars went around and used a “bag” to collect money. They were to again trust God to work through strangers that they ran into on their journey.

  • No money – this is not a prohibition against money as evil but was part of their faith journey. God was going to open doors and “throw open the floodgates of heaven[1],” providing for their needs as they went along the way.

  • No shirt – there wasn’t even a backup shirt. When I traveled, I always, always, always, packed at least one extra of all the clothing “essentials” of life. Let your imagination fill in the blanks for what I thought was an “essential.”

The call of Jesus always has a price to be paid. Following Jesus is not about getting everything we want, an easy life, things always going great. No, when Jesus calls and says, “Follow me,” there’s both a following and a throwing away. We are to replace him for all the things that we think can satisfy or keep us safe in this life.

The words and instructions of Jesus are in stark contrast to the hording, selfishness, stealing, and anger exhibited during the pandemic. How many times did you see shelves picked clean because of panic buying? I once had to go to 4 different stores, starting at 5:30 in the morning just to score some toilet paper.

It’s worth mentioning that they walked, which means that they had to carry everything they brought along. There was no overnight shipping to make it convenient. There was no concierge to help with their bags and travel arrangements. There was no wagon with a trunk. There wasn’t anything with wheels to make their traveling easier.

There were no extras, no backup plan. They were not to be self-sufficient, but God-sufficient. They were to be wholly dependent on God and the generosity of the people they came in contact with.

We love to be self-reliant. Able to figure it out, make it work, prevent problems, and provide for our families. And that’s OK to a point. We are told to provide for our families[2].

But this is different. This is not providing for your family. This is directed at his disciples, those right there with him. If you want to personally follow him, there is a price to be paid. And part of that price can include leaving financial stability behind.

There’s an abandonment component to following Jesus. Yes, it starts right where we are, but part of the following involves dropping all the things that might slow us down, distract us.

[1] Malachi 3:10,11 [2] 1 Timothy 5:8

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