Tony's Reflection 56 

 What do you think is the most popular TV game show in the UK?

One of the top 5 was The Price Is Right. It began in 1984 hosted by Leslie Crowther, with revivals under various hosts, right up until Alan Carr in 2021. Contestants won prizes by guessing how much they were worth, but perhaps the most unusual feature of this series was how the contestants were chosen.

At the start of the show, the audience would be whipped up into a frenzy by the host, as he read out random names from those watching in the studio. After each name the host would shout, “Come on down”. The “lucky” person would then assume an air of hysterical excitement, as they ran out of the audience seats and down to the contestants’ podium. What had begun as an evening watching a quiz show was going to end under the spotlights, in front of the cameras, taking part.

The chosen ones had been turned from spectators into participants.

The scene is set for one of those “spectator into participant” moments as we come to today’s episode in Mark’s biography (
Mark 6:7-13).

Jesus’ return to Nazareth had been a huge disappointment for the Twelve. There had been no accolades for the homecoming hero, just unbelief and cynicism.

They had gone back on the road again, touring around the villages. Jesus, of course was the star. Everyone wanted to see him, to find out for themselves what all the fuss was about.

Early mornings were the only time they weren’t jostled and pressed in upon by maddening throngs. That was when Jesus would bring the 12 together, for a peptalk and prayer. Those times were always so precious. That teaching, so clear and powerful and so directly from God was just for them. And when he prayed… the 12 felt like the doors of Heaven were being thrown open and they were being ushered into the very presence of God himself.

This morning, though, the 12 could tell there was something different in the air. As Jesus called them together, he seemed even more purposeful and focused than usual. The 12 sat around him, waiting to hear what village was next on the itinerary and looking forward to Jesus wowing the crowds there, as he always did.

“Okay guys,” said Jesus with an air of great enthusiasm, “it’s all change today. I’m staying here and you are going out. It’s your turn…”

Stony silence. Shock. Dismay. Fear.

It was his power and authority that made demons quake with fear. He was the one whose words had woken the dead girl as if she had been sleeping, calmed a ferocious storm in a moment and mesmerised the crowds in their thousands. He was one-of-a-kind. How on earth could they do stuff like that?

The 12 look at each other, incredulity all over their faces and panic in their eyes. Where were they going to find the power from, to deal with people like “the man” they had met at Decapolis, the one with all the demons?

Jesus knew what they were thinking. He began to call them forwards, two by two. At least he wasn’t sending them on their own. Each one would have backup. Someone to underscore that the amazing things they were claiming about this Jesus really were true. Someone to confide in and share courage when times got tough.

The first two nervously step forwards. The remaining 10 watch.

The two stand before Jesus, full of apprehension. He puts a hand on each one’s shoulder, looks straight at them and smiles that smile, bringing such warmth and confidence that even in that very moment their fears begin to melt away.

“I know this is scary,” he says, “but I’ve got something to give you that you’re going to need.” The tension visibly drains out of both of their bodies. At least he understands this is going to be difficult… but what could he possibly give them to make this do-able?

“You’re wondering how you are going to find the words to say, aren’t you? Where you’re going to get the power to heal the sick from? How will you confront the Enemy?”

Yes. That was exactly it. How were they going to do all those things? Jesus had such authority about him when he taught, when he healed, when he took down the Evil One. And where were they going to muster authority like that from?

Jesus read their thoughts and fixed his eyes upon them, full of fiery love for these nervous novices. He understood their fears. What could he give them? He would give them his own authority and power. Authority to heal the sick, to confront the Evil One, to teach the truth.

Jesus lifted his eyes towards heaven and prayed for the two. He prayed with warmth, with love, with assurance. He placed his authority upon them. The two were lifted in those moments before the throne of heaven. Confidence and peace pulsed through them. Yes, they could do this. Jesus himself had sent them.

The remaining 10 followed, two at a time. He spoke words of encouragement, personal and direct from God to each one, prayed them into heaven and gave each the same gift.

The 12 looked out over the hills surrounding them, towards the villages where they would go, full of newfound faith and enthusiasm. They walked away, into their next big adventure, ready to spread the good news about Jesus.

You have been through a window looking into a remarkable story. You have seen the 12 turn from spectators into participants.

Jesus, though, does the same with everyone who follows him. Now he looks to you and says, “Your turn, now…”
signed Tony