July 18, 2021

Rev. Mark F. Bartels



Old Testament Lesson; Amos 7:10-15

Epistle Lesson; Ephesians 1:3-14

Psalm of the Day; Psalm 78                              

Sermon Text; Mark 6:7-13


The text we will look at is taken from Mark, chapter six, verses seven through thirteen.  This is in our Savior's name.


Jesus called the Twelve and began to send them out two by two.  He gave them authority over the unclean spirits.  He instructed them to take nothing for their journey except a staff – no bread, no bag, no money in their money belts.  They were to put on sandals but not to wear two coats.  He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that area.  Any place that will not receive you or listen to you, as you leave there, shake off the dust that is under your feet as a testimony against them.”  They went out and preached that people should repent.  They also drove out many demons.  They anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.


These are your words.  Heavenly Father, lead us in the way of truth.  Your Word is truth.



Recently, I was on the telephone with the new president of our synod, President Glenn Obenberger.  As he was wrapping up the conversation he was having with me, he said, “Oh by the way.  I have something that might be useful for the members of your congregation.”
I talked to him right after the Fourth of July.  If you remember, the Fourth of July happened to be a Sunday.  So, here is what he told me.  He said “On Sunday, the Fourth of July, I was down in northern Iowa.” 

He feels it is important to go to as many fellowship churches as he can, because he is the president of the synod.  So, he went to one of our ELS churches in northern Iowa. 

He looked at his watch, and realized he still had time after that church service was over, to go to a church not too far away, and also participate in their worship service.  It happened to be a Wisconsin Synod Church, a WELS church.  So, he said he went to church there.  As the service was ending, the pastor showed a video.  The video was of a WELS pastor who was starting a mission congregation, a home, mission congregation.  He was explaining how he would go, talk to people, and invite them to church.  Anyway, this is what President Obenberger focused on.  The mission pastor said, “I have found a question that is really, really helpful in inviting people to come to church.  Here is the question.  I ask people, 'Do you have a pastor?'  It is a simple question, and it gets people in to a really great discussion.”

President Obenberger said, “That is something you might want to share with your congregation.  That would be a simple question your congregation members could ask somebody who may not have a church home.  They could ask them, 'Do you have a pastor?'  That is a simple way to invite them to church, and a simple way to get in to a conversation about why it is important to have a pastor.”

Well, why is it important to have a pastor? 

You know, Jesus is the One who died on the cross to pay for people's sins.  In fact, if you look at what Jesus did, Jesus looks out over everybody in the world.  There is no exception to this.  Every soul in this world is a blood bought soul of Jesus.  Jesus paid the highest price He possibly could have, for every single person you come across, including yourself.  Jesus wants every one of those souls to know about Him, to believe in Him, because

God wants all people to be saved,

and come to a knowledge of the truth.

Jesus wants everyone to come to faith, or to have faith.  This is why our Lord Jesus instituted what we call, 'The Office of the Public Ministry'.  He assigns people the special job, or role, of taking God's Word, and God's Sacraments to each blood bought soul, and telling them, “Jesus did this for you.  Jesus loves you.  He paid for your sins.”, so that each individual hears that saving Gospel Message. 

-We call people who are in the public ministry, 'pastors'.  The actual word means, 'shepherds'. 

-We may also call them, 'ministers'.  The word 'minister', means 'a servant'. 

I really like the word that is a German word for 'pastor'.  It is the word 'seelsorger'.  It is actually made up of two words.  The word 'seel', is 'soul'.  The word 'sorger', means 'caretaker'.  So, Germans call pastors 'soul caretakers'. 

Jesus loves everyone, and He wants everyone to have somebody who is

-going to take care of their souls,

-who is going to see to it that they are fed, and called back, if they are straying, who sees to it they know about Jesus, and that God's Word is applied in every situation. 

And so, it is important for us to have pastors.

Let's look at what today's text says about pastors.  First of all, we see that The Bible tells us this first time Jesus sent out his disciples, He had been teaching, and instructing His disciples.  They had been with Him, during His ministry.  They had listened to Him preach, and teach.  They heard how He applied the Law, and how He applied the Gospel.  They saw how Jesus dealt with certain people, some people one way, and some people another way, and how He applied The Word given the situation.  Now it was time for Him to send them out.  He sends them out to be pastors.  They go out for a brief period of time to be pastors, before Jesus suffers and dies on the cross.

The Bible tells us He called His Apostles (so this is the twelve disciples) He called His Apostles, and sent them out two by two.  So they were called by Jesus, and they were sent out. 

We believe that no one should assume to themselves the responsibility of going out, “I am going to go out, and preach to that flock of people.  I am going to be a shepherd to that flock of people”, without being called, and sent by the Lord.  No one should assume that to themselves. 

Jesus called His disciples, and He sent them out.  He assigned them the job of preaching, and teaching.  He assigned them to certain flocks.  He sent them to certain cities, because He understood the needs of each city, and the abilities of each of the pastors.

We teach, also, that no one should assume the responsibility of being a pastor, of any given flock, unless they are called by the Holy Spirit to that role.  There is a Bible passage that says,

“How can they believe on the One

of whom they have not heard? 

How can they hear,

unless someone preaches to them? 

How can they preach,

unless they are sent (or called)?”

So, no one should be preaching, or teaching, unless they have been sent, or called by the Holy Spirit. 

It goes on, and says,

 “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message. 

And, the message is heard through The Word of Christ.”

That is the job of pastors to preach, and teach the Word of Christ, so that faith may come to people's hearts.

The Bible says this to pastors,

“Keep watch over the flock

over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.”

So, we believe it is the Holy Spirit who places someone in the position of being a caretaker of souls, a seelsorger.

So, how does He do that? 

In the circumstance of the twelve Apostles, Jesus called them directly.  He looked them in the eye, and said, “I am calling you to be a pastor, to go out, and preach, and teach.”

Today the Lord does that through the local congregation.  Through the congregation, God calls, the Holy Spirit calls pastors to that congregation. 

Why is that call process so important?  We would never want somebody to just come, and be a caretaker for your soul.  Think about the gravity of having somebody care take for your soul, or for your children's soul.  You never want anybody do that who was not qualified, and capable of doing that. 

Think about what is involved. 

-You certainly want somebody who understands correct doctrine.  If somebody does not understand correct doctrine, imagine what they could do to your soul, leading you astray from faith.  Here is a book we used in the seminary, back when I was in the seminary, years ago.  It had all of these different topics of being a pastor.  It says,

 - The pastor's concern for Christian Education. 

-The pastor visits the sheep. 

-The pastor seeks the straying sheep. 

-The pastor councils the troubled sheep. 

-The pastor reaches out to the un-churched. 

-The pastor trains in Christian stewardship. 

-The pastor is concerned for Christian marriage. 

-The pastor comforts the bereaved. 

And, it goes on. 

-But, you certainly want somebody, when they care for your soul, who knows how to apply God's Word in any, and every circumstance, and situation, whatever it may be, whatever you may be going through in life. 

That is why we have a seminary.  (By the way, this happens to be our seventy-fifth anniversary of our seminary.  In 1946 our seminary was formed.)  It is there to prepare people to be capable of being caretakers.  And so, through the congregation, the Holy Spirit calls men to come, and be caretakers of souls. 

The next thing Jesus says is He called them, and sent them out to teach, and to preach.  It says He sent them out, “two by two”.  That reminds us that pastors need pastors, too.  Pastors have sins.  Pastors have faults.  Pastors are weak.  Pastors need comfort.  Pastors need correction, sometimes.  Pastors need guidance, sometimes.  Pastors need council, sometimes.  And so, Jesus sent out these pastors two by two so they could minister to one another. 

It is a blessing to be here at Holy Cross where there are two pastors, and we can be pastors to one another. 

This is why our foreign mission board never, ever sends out a missionary to a foreign country all by himself.  There is always at least a second missionary there, because pastors need pastors, too.  We need God's Word, just as much as the rest of the congregation does. 

This is why our synod encourages pastors to get together in circuits, and have meetings, because if you are the only pastor at a congregation, you need somebody to talk to you, speak to you, and minister to you, as well.

So, it says He sent them out two by two, and then it says this. 

“He instructed them to take nothing for their journey except a staff-no bread, no bag, no money in their money belts.  They were to put on sandals, but not wear two coats.  He said to them, 'Wherever you enter a house, stay there until, you leave that area.'” 

The point is, Jesus is telling His pastors, “Don't worry about being taken care of.  You go out, and preach and teach, and you will be taken care of.  You will have food to eat, and clothes to wear.”  

He told them that whenever they were taken in to a house, just eat whatever was given to them at that house.  The point is they were to understand whatever flock they went to, that flock would care for their needs.  And so, scripture tells congregations,

“The worker is worthy of his wages.” 

In other words, “Congregations take care of their pastors.”

I have to say, Thank you, to Holy Cross!”  Holy Cross is so supportive of us pastors.  We don't have to worry, if we are going to have a house to live in, a car to drive, food to eat, or clothes to wear.  You are so supportive of your pastors, so we can devote our time to preaching, and teaching The Word.

Then it goes on, (and here is the main role of the pastor).  The Bible says Jesus sent them out.  And, here is what they did. 

“They went out and preached that people should repent.”

They preached repentance.  That was it.  They preached repentance. 

Now, in one of the other Gospels, which talks about this same account, it says,

“They preached the Gospel, the Good News.”  

So, here in Mark, when it says they preached repentance, we talk about repentance in the broad sense.  That means they talked about sin.  They pointed out sin, and then they pointed out Jesus, and the way of salvation.

I once heard a pastor who explained the role of pastors this way.  First of all he said this.  “First role of a pastor is to point out people's sin.  It is to explain to everybody, including myself, in our hearts it is like we have this 'box' that has 'a lid' on it.  It is treasured in our hearts.  In that 'box' we treasure certain sins that should not be in there.  Maybe in that 'box' that is hidden away in your heart, that nobody else sees except you and God, maybe it is antagonism toward somebody.  In your heart, you have just terrible thoughts about somebody else, and you are treasuring that sin in your heart.  You are holding it there, and it should not be there. 

“Maybe it is envy.  Maybe in that 'box' in your heart you are hanging on to envy.  You look at somebody, and you see their gifts, and their abilities, and in your heart you just want to pull them down, because you think they are better than you.  That is in that 'box' in your heart.  And, it should not be there.

“Maybe it is some sexual sin.  Maybe you have thoughts that are just there, and you cling to them, sometimes.  That should not be there.  That should not be there, at all.

“Maybe it is greed.  Maybe you just feel like you can't be happy, unless you have this, that, and the other thing.”

The Bible says, “Your Word is like a hammer.”  The pastor's job is to take The Word of God like a hammer, shatter that box, and point out the fact that we all have sin.  We ought to be condemned, because of that sin.  Until we see our sin, we will see no need for a Savior. 

Then, the job of the pastor, the next step for the pastor, is to show who our Savior is, what He has done for us, and speak that Word through which the Holy Spirit works to bring comfort.

Here is how the pastor that I mentioned earlier explained preaching the Gospel, that good news, to people.  He said, “The pastor always ought to tell people that what Jesus did, He did FOR YOU.” 

-When Jesus was born, sinless, He was born sinless for you, because you were born with a sinful nature. 

-When Jesus grew up in a home, and He obeyed His parents, He obeyed His parents for you, because we don't obey our parents the way we should, or those who are in authority. 

-When Jesus was a carpenter, before He became a preacher, He carried out His job as a carpenter perfectly for you, because you are not perfect at your job, and the way you look at your coworkers, but He did it for you.

-When Jesus went around healing the sick, and taking care of those in need, He did it for you, because you don't always look out for the needs of the sick.  Your heart doesn't even turn toward them, sometimes.

-When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He did it for you, so you know the grave is a place from which your loved ones in Christ, someday, are going to rise from the dead, and you are, too.  He did that for you. 

-When Jesus was betrayed with a kiss, He was betrayed for you, because of all of the people you betrayed, and that you ought to be betrayed.

-When Jesus instituted The Lord's Supper, He did it for you so that you know you have the body and blood of Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins.

-When Jesus was nailed to the cross, He was nailed for you, because He was paying for your sin.

-When Jesus said, “Father forgive them...”, as He hung on the cross, He said that for you, so that you know your sins are forgiven.

-When Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “Truly, truly, today you will be with me in Paradise”, He said that for you, so you know, “No matter what I have done, when I turn to faith in Christ, I have salvation.” 

-When Jesus said, “It is finished”, as He hung on the cross, He said that for you, so you know the work of salvation is completed, and every sin is paid for. 

-When Jesus died, He died for you. 

-He laid in the grave for your sins.  Now the grave is just an entryway into Heaven for us.  He did that for you.

-When Jesus rose from the dead, He rose for you, so you know your sins are paid for, and that some day you will be raised from the dead.

That is the job of the pastor, to take what Jesus did, and deliver it in to your hands through Word and Sacrament, to say, “This is for you”.  He is to be a caretaker of souls, a seelsorger, using Word and Sacrament to do that.

Now, we certainly pray that all of our members pick the good news up, make it their own, and cling to it by faith, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  But, Jesus tells us this in today's scripture reading.  He says,

“Any place that will not receive you or listen to you,

as you leave there,

shake off the dust that is under your feet

as a testimony against them.”

Not everybody who the disciples went and preached to, accepted the message.  It was delivered to them.  They heard about sin.  They were called to repent, be sorry, and trust in Christ, but not everybody believed it.  And, Jesus has some hard words here.  He said, “When you leave that place, shake the dust off of your feet, as a testimony against them.”  Even this is our loving Savior's heart.  It was a visible call to repentance to anyone who did not accept the message of those pastors who were preaching to them, sent by Christ.  In fact, this same account in the book of Luke has a little stronger detail, a little more detail what Jesus said to His disciples.  He said,

“If somebody doesn't accept what you are preaching,

shake the dust off of your feet as a testimony against them.”  

Then, He said this. 

“On the day of Judgment,

the people of Sodom and Gomorrah are going to rise up

in testimony

against those people who did not accept your preaching.” 

Those are pretty hard words.  But imagine someday, on Judgment Day, the people in Sodom and Gomorrah (you know, you know about Sodom and Gomorrah) are going to look at some people, and say, “How could you not have listened?” 

Some people, literally had the apostles of Jesus in their towns talking to them about Christ, and they did not listen. 

What about people who grew up going to church, but turned away.  On the last day, they may hear the people of Sodom and Gomorrah say, “You grew up in the church.  You heard The Word.  You heard about sin, and you heard about what Jesus did for you.  You had a caretaker for your soul, but you didn't listen.  How could you not have listened?”
This is why it is importance for us.  I really like what President Obenberger said.  It may be a wonderful opportunity for your members, when they meet somebody who is either straying away, or maybe has not had a church, to ask them the simple question, “Do you have a pastor?  Do you have a pastor?  Do you have somebody who is there, caring for your soul, telling you about Jesus?”

That is a great, great question to ask somebody.  It may lead you in to a great conversation.  It may give you an opportunity to invite them back to church, so they do have a caretaker for their souls.

You know, Jesus' disciples were given the ability, in today's scripture reading it says, they were to drive out demons.  They were able to heal people.  Pastors today can't do that.  In second Corinthians it actually tells us that was the mark of the apostles.  It says,

“The mark of the apostles were that they were able to do signs, wonders, and miracles.” 

Somebody who could do that, it was a sign they were an apostle of Christ, one of the twelve.  But today, pastors can't physically heal people, or drive out demons.  But, that doesn't mean that sicknesses, and troubles in people's lives are not opportunities to minister.  They are wonderful opportunities to minister, and care for souls.  In fact, it is often when people are sick, (if you know somebody who is sick, and they don't go to church), it may be a great time to ask that simple question, “Do you have a pastor?” 

They are starting to ask questions.  “Why is this happening?”  “Does God care about me?”  “What if I die?” 

What a great opportunity to ask them, “Do you have a pastor?”  When people are going through challenges in life, when they are having marriage troubles, or when their children may be rebelling against them, that is a great opportunity to ask the question, “Do you have a pastor?” 

We believe our Lord Jesus instituted what we call The Public Office of the Ministry, because He wants every individual to have somebody whose responsibility it is to care for their soul, to be a seelsorger, a soul care takerr, and to do that by applying Word and Sacrament to each individual soul.

Let's close by singing a hymn that is a prayer for pastors, and a prayer for congregation members.


Lord Jesus, You Have Come


Lord Jesus, you have come

A teacher sent from Heaven

And by both word and deed

God's truth to us have given.

You wisely have ordained

The holy ministry

That we, your flock, may know

The truth that sets us free.


O blessed ministry

Of reconciliation,

That shows the way to God

And brings to us salvation!

Lord, by your gospel pure,

You bless and keep your fold;

You call, enlighten, keep;

You comfort and uphold.


Preserve this ministry

While harvest days are keeping;

And since the fields are ripe

And hands are few for reaping,

Send workers forth, O Lord,

The sheaves to gather in

That not a soul be lost

Which you have come to win.


The servants you have called

And to your Church are giving

Preserve in doctrine pure

And holiness of living.

Your Spirit fill their hearts

And charge their words with pow'r,

What they should boldly speak,

Oh, give them in that hour!


Bring those into your fold

Who still to you are strangers;

Guard those who are within

Against offense and dangers.

Press onward with your Word

Till pastor and his fold

Through faith in you, O Christ,

Your glory shall behold.