July 7, 2024: Two by Two

hand-holding over bible

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Two by Two

Today’s passage is immediately preceded by Jesus’ most stunning miracle so far: he walks into a home filled with weeping, and he raises a little girl from the dead. After this incredible feat, he goes to his own hometown, where one may expect him to be received with excitement and pride. Instead, he is rejected, and his teachings are discounted. In these few passages, we see the highs and lows of ministry in stark juxtaposition. Sometimes we expect to find only darkness in a place, and, against all odds, we leave filled with joy and praise. And sometimes we feel confident that our words are insightful and poignant, yet they fall on deaf ears.

So, in light of the highs and lows Jesus has just experienced, how does he prepare his disciples to approach their own ministry? First, he gives them someone to share it with, sending them out two by two. When I read this passage, I picture two disciples yoked to each together, carrying the weight of their call between them. As they walk away from one town, and the weight of unmet expectations and disappointment burdens one disciple so heavily that his strength is failing, the other disciple’s energy can carry them to the next town. And as one becomes too smug about his success, and his judgment is clouded by pride, the other can slow them down just enough to pay attention to the work before them.

Wherever we are called, the path will bring both unexpected joy and startling disappointment. Look toward the other side of your yoke . . . or to the mission-trip bus seat next to you . . . or at the other box on your Zoom screen . . . or across the coffee-shop table. Whom do you see?

Sylvie Hauser, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
director of communications and development for the Board of World Mission and communications consultant for the Northern Province