Jesus sends the disciples out with essentially nothing. No extra food, clothing, no money (in case they get into a financial bind). They are only to take a walking staff to steady themselves along the way. They are, it would seem, at the mercy of the world. Jesus is not physically going with them; they are going to practice being disciples on their own, a trial run for the real thing, when Jesus is physically away for good. And we contrast it with the story of King David (2 Samuel 5), who has power and a royal see in Jerusalem. David, after becoming King of both Israel and Judah, has it all, including God’s favor. Jesus’ disciples are being sent out with the clothes on their backs.
Sometimes it seems that we are being asked to live out the good news of Jesus without much help. We may feel bereft of so many things in life. But, in my experience, it is often the people who have the least who are able to be the most faithful. The most joyful worship I have experienced has been in poor communities in the U.S., or in poorer communities in the Dominican Republic, Honduras, or ones I have heard of in sub-Saharan Africa. Sometimes, when we have nothing left to hold onto, we fall most fully into the arms of Jesus. God in Christ is a powerful force in the world, one that can bring light into the darkness of poverty, violence, and hopeless situations. Jesus’ disciples are not alone, after all, nor are they empty-handed, as He sends them out, two by two, to minister and heal. Our Lord always goes with us and, if we trust in His presence and power, we can experience joy and hope, even in the most trying of times. May our staff be our faith, as we go out into the world, whether we are wealthy or poor, sick or in health, to proclaim the news that Jesus loves us, no matter who we are.