Then he summoned the twelve and began sending them out in pairs – giving them the authority over impure spirits. (Mark 6:7)While this would appear the intent was about healing or exorcizing evil spirits, the passage after Jesus' statement focuses upon an intent to spread Jesus' teachings:
Then they went out and preached that one should change their heart. (Mark 6:12)
More disciples were sent
The event being described is also portrayed in Luke, but significantly more disciples were sent by Jesus:
After these events the Master commissioned seventy-two others and dispatched them in pairs... (Luke 10:1)While both Mark and Matthew indicate that Jesus is sending out only his 12 closest disciples - including Judas - to preach, Luke indicates that Jesus actually sent out some 72 students to teach on his behalf.
Certainly, there could be multiple occasions where Jesus sent out his students to teach. The Book of Luke along with many other passages throughout the four Gospels describes one or multiple events. These indicate that Jesus had many disciples and students, and they were asked to preach on his behalf.
No appointed preachers
Furthermore, these passages indicate that Jesus did not appoint any one person or any committee or group to represent him and teach on his behalf. Rather, Jesus wanted each and every one of his students to pass on his teachings to others. This is confirmed by the fact that Mary and her sister Martha also conveyed Jesus' teachings to others.
This latter point is evidenced by the mission that Mary Magdalene began in Southern France after her boat landed on a beach in France.
This is an important point because sectarian institutions like to teach that Jesus appointed certain people as successors. These institutions have now followed suit with elections and appointments to appoint their teachers.
The reality is that people do not decide who gets to represent God. God does not submit to a democratic process. Only the Supreme Being gets to decide who will represent Him. It is God who empowers someone to teach on His behalf. Therefore, the true preacher is one who may be passing on the teachings of his teacher but is ultimately being guided by and empowered by the Supreme Being.
This is why Jesus said at the end of his instructions in the Book of Matthew:
"But when they arrest you, do not worry about how or what you will speak; because it will be given to you in that moment what you should say. Because it will not be you who will speak, but the Spirit of your LORD who speaks through you." (Matt. 10:19-20)
"The sanctuary of God is readily available"
The passage from Luke above contains the instruction - "'the sanctuary of God is readily available.'" What is this? In sectarian translations, we find it has been translated to: "'The kingdom of God has come near to you.'" What does this mean? And why is Jesus asking his students to pass this instruction on?
In fact, Jesus asking them to pass on the same instruction taught by his own teacher, John the Baptist:
During this time John the Baptiser appeared, preaching in the wilderness of Judea – and teaching, “Change your heart, for the sanctuary of God is readily available.” (Matt. 3:1-2)Jesus then also taught this same instruction, following the murder of John the Baptist's physical body:
From that time, Jesus began to preach, and taught, “Change your heart, for the sanctuary of God is readily available.” (Matt. 4:17)Thus we find that Jesus is instructing his students to pass on the very same teaching that he taught, and his teacher John the Baptist taught. (We know John the Baptist was Jesus' teacher because Jesus accepted baptism from John - then he taught the same teachings that John taught.)
So what does this teaching mean? - “Change your heart, for the sanctuary of God is readily available.”
Let's break it down from the Greek translation. As discussed further below, the Greek word μετανοέω (metanoeō) has been translated to "change your heart."
The word "sanctuary" is often translated to "kingdom" in sectarian versions. But the Greek word βασιλεία (basileia) means, according to the lexicon, "not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom." It also states it means, "royal power, kingship, dominion, rule."
In other words, this is referring to recognizing the power and authority of the Supreme Being - which ultimately means to take shelter of His authority and power.
Furthermore, the Greek word translated to "heaven" - οὐρανός (ouranos) - relates to the spiritual realm: "the region above the sidereal heavens, the seat of order of things eternal and consummately perfect where God dwells and other heavenly beings."
And finally, we have the phrase, "is near" or "has come near" - which has been erroneously taken to mean that the end of the world is near. However, this is translated from the Greek phrase ἤγγικεν γὰρ ἡ. The Greek word ἤγγικεν means, according to the lexicon, "to bring near, to join one to another, to draw or come near to, to approach."
In other words, ἤγγικεν is not a time element - it is an element of closeness - being close by or nearby.
Thus, contrary to the mistranslations and misinterpretations of sectarian institutions and their teachers who proclaim that Jesus is threatening the end of the world - the more appropriate interpretation of this teaching relates to having a change of heart and taking shelter of the Supreme Being,
Thus we have a dynamically different orientation of the teachings of John, Jesus and Jesus' students: A teaching that portrays the fact that the Supreme Being is close to each of us, and we can each connect with Him personally from within - should we have a change of heart. This, of course, contrasts with the fanatical sectarian practice of threatening people with the end of the world.
The change of heartThe passage from Mark 6:12 above, and from the passage in Luke above both contain the phrase, change of heart. What is this? It relates to our current consciousness.
This phrase, "change of heart" (or "change their heart") - from the Greek term, μετανοέω (metanoeō) - is often translated to "repent" by sectarian translations. But this Greek word means, according to the lexicon, "to change one's mind" and "to change one's mind for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one's past sins."
This meaning significantly differs from the understanding or interpretation of the word "repent," which has been used in a threatening manner by sectarian teachers over the century.
Currently, most of us in the physical world are focused on our own personal welfare. We are thus self-centered. This consciousness of looking out for our welfare above all else creates greed and lust, leading to frustration as we are left with emptiness, which leads to anger and violence as self-centeredness plays out in the physical world.
As such, we have a world where these characteristics - lust, greed, frustration, anger and violence - are playing out within different scenarios. These lead to wars, murders, crimes and starvation for the citizens of the physical world.
But Jesus' teaching is requesting that we give up these inclinations and take shelter of the Supreme Being. That we give our lives to God - which means to love Him and serve Him.
In other words, Jesus' teachings are requesting that we have a change of heart from self-centeredness to a consciousness of God-centeredness. This God-centric consciousness - grounded in love - is described in Jesus' most important instruction:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)Each of us is a spirit-person residing within a physical body. The Supreme Being is also spiritual - but He is the Supreme Spirit-Person. As such, He expands Himself in order to be close by for each and every one of us in the form of the Holy Spirit.
Because of this closeness, Jesus' teachings tell us that we can turn to God from within at any time. We can turn to Him and give our lives to Him. This doesn't require joining any group or sect, or being a member of one religion or another. It also doesn't require anyone else knowing about our decision. It is a personal decision that can be made from within without any interference. Jesus described this personal and private relationship elsewhere:
"But you, when you pray, go into your closet and shut the door, and pray to your LORD who is in secret; and your LORD who sees what is done secretly shall reward you openly." (Matt. 6:6)
(The New Testament verses in this article are quoted from the Gospels of Jesus)