It can be difficult to discern how instructions given to early Christian missionaries might be applied to modern-day Christians. Mark’s description of this interaction between Jesus and his disciples is meant to inform and encourage early followers of Jesus who were convinced that Jesus would soon return in triumph, probably in their lifetime. The disciplines of traveling lightly, of accepting whatever hospitality was offered to them, and of impressing on their hearers the seriousness and urgency of their message were crucial to helping them stay focused on their important task.
But what do such instructions – to take no bread, no bag, no money; to wear sandals and a simple tunic – have to do with us, who seek to carry out the mission of God in the context of an institutional church embedded in an affluent society? What might these admonitions mean for us?