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How do you want to be identified? not talking about pronouns.

American Idol is a television show where folks from all walks of life have a chance to showcase their singing talents and compete to be named the year’s “American Idol.” The coveted title will identify the person for years to come. As each artist comes on stage, his age, hometown, and occupation—statements of identity—are listed on screen. One young competitor in the current season is Zachariah Smith, identified as 19 years old, and a burger flipper from Mississippi. The guy is raw emotion on a talent stick and makes me smile every time the camera is on him. Ha, so if he wins his identity shifts from burger flipper to American Idol.

Identity. When Jesus called the twelve disciples, they were from the same backwoods area around the Galilee; they were simple and uneducated. Why, I have even heard them identified as rednecks! Among them were fishermen, a tax collector, and of course, a thief.

Chosen by Jesus, they were on the cusp of having the greatest on-the-job training program in all of history, which of course, radically changed them.

So far in the book of Mark, the disciples have not figured prominently, but Jesus is now going to commission and send them out in his authority to do his work. Little do they know that this is their first dress rehearsal for what is to come.

As you read (or listen) to the short passage, what strikes you?

Mark writes “Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.

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. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”

They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.” Mark 6.7-13

Here Jesus gives them a few instructions—go by twos, stay together, don’t take anything with you, give them the good news, do what you have seen me do, appreciate folks’ hospitality. If someone rejects you or your message, ‘shake the dust off your feet’ and keep moving. (They knew what that meant as it was a practice of the Jews to shake the dust off their feet when leaving Gentile territory.)

Identity. Just look how the identity of each of these men is changing as they spend time in the presence of Jesus.

Is there relevance for today? you ask. Certainly. We have just celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ and know that 40 days hence, Jesus ascended into Heaven, leaving these very men to take the good news of Jesus Christ to the world. Mark describes Jesus preparing them, giving them his authority to go out and do what He did. The rest of their lives would then be consumed by their monumental assignment, and we are testament that they took their jobs seriously.

Note how their identities were elevated and transformed.

Jesus always sees us as who we are meant to become.

Jesus envisions who his men will become when he is no longer on the scene, when Peter and James have started the first church right there in Jerusalem…

Imagine that you are there - you encounter Peter at the produce market in Jerusalem, his wife introduces you to him. “Shalom, Christine, this is my husband, Peter. I married him when he was a fisherman, but then he became a disciple of Jesus. Since our Messiah has returned to Heaven, my Peter has become a preacher, a leader in this powerful movement! You must come and hear the stories of his time with Jesus. Others who were with Jesus recall stories of his teaching, his miraculous works too. I have never experienced anything like it! Come, see for yourself, Christine. We eat supper together; we pray for each other and learn more about life in Jesus every time we are together. It is a most invigorating time and you are invited! O, do say you will come!”

Identity. Because of Jesus Christ, think of how the identity of Peter has changed! He goes from fisherman to disciple to leader to world changer.

As we live close to Jesus, we cannot help but grow into people who influence others for good. No matter what we have done or who we once were, Jesus always sees us as what we can become. How do you want to be identified?

Not sure? Find out how God identifies you~


The Footsteps of Jesus in the gospel of Mark, 19.

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