Let us now consider how the Lord Jesus trained His disciples. Luke 9 records His sending forth of the twelve disciples, and chapter ten records His sending forth of the seventy. Of the four Gospels, only Luke records the sending forth of the seventy. In sending forth the twelve, the Lord said, "Take nothing for the journey, neither a staff nor a bag nor bread nor money, nor have two tunics apiece" (9:3). The Lord told them to leave behind many things. When He commissioned the seventy, He said, "Do not carry a purse, nor a bag, nor sandals" (10:4). A common point in both cases is money. In other words, money should be a non-issue for a worker who sets out for his work. Later the Lord asked, "When I sent you without purse and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you? And they said, Nothing" (22:35). Following this the Lord said, "But now, let him who has a purse take it, likewise also a bag; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one" (v. 36). This is because the dispensation had changed. By that time the Lord Jesus had been rejected. While there was a chance for the Israelites to receive the Lord, there was no need for these things. The point to emphasize is that in carrying out his commission for the Lord, a worker should not pay attention to his wallet. His whole being should be given to the message, not to his wallet. We go out to testify that Jesus of Nazareth is God's appointed Lord. Our being is in the message, not in the purse. In other words, we are qualified to work only if we are completely free from money. If we go to every city and town to preach the gospel of the kingdom, we must not be like a camel. We cannot be a camel, stuck at the eye of the needle and barred from the kingdom, while telling others of the need to enter the kingdom by violence (Matt. 11:12). This is impossible.
What do the words do not carry mean? They tell us that the gospel principle contradicts the principle of the purse and the two tunics. When a man sets out to preach the gospel, he cannot set his mind on these things. For an ordinary journey, one needs a purse to hold his money, a staff for walking, and two tunics to change his clothes. All these things are necessary. This is the reason the Lord told His disciples to carry them in Luke 22. Why did He say that these are unnecessary when He sent out the twelve disciples in chapter nine and the seventy in chapter ten? He forbade these things because a gospel preacher should not set his mind on these things. When he is sent, he should go. He should go if there are two tunics, and he should go if there is only one tunic. He should go with or without a staff, with or without money, and with or without a purse to carry his money. This is what it means to be a gospel preacher. This is the basic training the Lord gave the disciples when He sent out the twelve and then the seventy for their work. Brothers and sisters, we have to be clear. If a man's heart is on the gospel, these minor things will not be an issue to him at all. If these things become an issue to him, it is better that he not go out at all. In order to preach the gospel, our clothing, our purse, and our staff must not be a concern to us. If they are, we cannot preach the gospel. The gospel requires that we focus absolutely on the gospel; it requires so much of our attention that these things should become inconsequential to us. The gospel is the only thing that should occupy our hearts. When we set out for our work, we should be happy with or without the availability of hospitality. We have to stand on God's side, and we should bear a glorious testimony for the Lord. This is why the Lord said, "Into whatever house you enter, first say, Peace to this house" (10:5). How dignified this is. A worker is one who dispenses peace to others. He should honor his own position before the Lord. He can be poor, but he can never lose his dignity. No worker can be so wrong as to give up his dignity. If we go to a place and the people there do not receive us, what should we do? The Lord said, "As many as do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake off the dust from your feet for a testimony against them" (9:5). Do you see the dignity of the servants of God? When they are turned away, they do not feel shamed and do not complain, saying, "What bad luck. We came to the wrong house." Instead, they shake off the dust from their feet. They do not even take a speck of dust from that city. God's servants must maintain their dignity. They can be poor, but they cannot lose their dignity. If our mind is not fully settled about this, we cannot have a share in God's work. As workers, we have to deal with the Lord properly regarding the matter of money. Otherwise, we cannot touch God's work, because mammon is a crucial matter.
We can find out more about the Lord's training of His disciples in the feeding of the five thousand and then the four thousand. On one of these occasions, He took His disciples with Him and preached to a large crowd of five thousand, not including women and children. Toward the close of the day the disciples came to Him and said, "This place is deserted and the hour is already late. Send the crowds away that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves. But Jesus said to them, They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat" (Matt. 14:15-16). The disciples had hoped that the Lord would send the crowds away to get their own food. But the Lord said, "You give them something to eat." When one disciple heard this, he was shocked, and said, "Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that each one may take a little" (John 6:7). While they were counting the two hundred denarii, the Lord said, "How many loaves do you have? Go and see" (Mark 6:38). When they brought Him five loaves and two fishes, the Lord performed a miracle and fed them all. Brothers and sisters, all those who are counting their two hundred denarii are not qualified to work for the Lord. If money means so much to us, we cannot touch God's work. The Lord shows us in these verses that every worker should be glad to give away what he has. If money means a great deal to us, we will always calculate profit. A worker should be delivered from the power of mammon. Money should not exert any power or influence upon a worker of the Lord. During the three and a half years the Lord was with the twelve disciples, He gave Himself to them. This was the way He trained the twelve disciples. He showed them that what should be spent should be spent. God's work has nothing to do with profitability. It is wrong to view God's work with a commercial eye. Those who are always counting their money are not God's slaves; they are mammon's slaves. We have to learn to rescue ourselves from the power of mammon.
The disciples did not learn this lesson immediately. In Matthew 15, we see another occasion with four thousand people, excluding women and children. This time the condition was more serious. The crowd had been there for three days. What could the disciples do under such circumstances? The Lord told them, "I am moved with compassion for the crowd, because for three days now they have remained with Me and they do not have anything to eat" (v. 32). The word "and" means that the Lord Himself was also without food for those three days. He went on, "And I am not willing to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way." But the disciples had not learned the lesson. They wondered how they could get enough food to feed the people. Man's concern is always where food will come from. But the Lord asked them, "How many loaves do you have? And they said, Seven, and a few small fish" (v. 34). They brought Him the seven loaves and the few fish, and the Lord performed another miracle and fed the four thousand.
The Lord repeated this miracle because the twelve disciples needed to be trained twice. Had the Lord not fed the five thousand and four thousand, the disciples probably would not have been able to handle the situation at Pentecost. If a man has never experienced the feeding of five thousand and four thousand in the Gospels, he could never know about caring for the three thousand and five thousand in Acts. Those who run away at the sight of bears and lions will surely run away at the sight of Goliath. Those who cannot shepherd sheep will surely not be able to shepherd Israel. Here was a group of people who learned the lesson of feeding the five thousand and the four thousand. As a consequence, they had no problem at Pentecost when they were called upon to take care of the poor. Brothers and sisters, we have to go through the same training. Our hearts have to be enlarged. We can hold back what we spend, but God does not want us to hold back His miracles. Many people are too concerned about money. They do not give others the impression that they are servants of God. They do not resemble those who have been trained by God. A trained person will not make money an issue; he will not be that concerned about the money in his hand. Brothers and sisters, the more we count, the more we deviate from God's mark, and the poorer we become. This is not God's principle towards money. We need the training that the twelve and the seventy disciples received. One of the twelve eventually became a thief, a robber; he stole money. He did not learn his lesson, and money became a major issue to him. When he saw Mary pouring the pure nard out of the alabaster flask on the Lord, he considered it a waste. He said, "Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" (John 12:5). To a calculating person, a flask of ointment can be sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor. But the Lord did not go along with this calculation. Instead, He said, "Truly I say to you, Wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what this woman has done shall also be told as a memorial of her" (Matt. 26:13). The consummate result of the gospel is the breaking of the alabaster flask and the anointing of the Lord Jesus with the ointment worth three hundred denarii. In other words, when a man receives the gospel and for Christ's sake does not count the cost of wasting everything on Him, it is a good thing in the Lord's sight. It is right even when he "wastes" himself on the Lord. Those who do not understand the gospel are always counting their money, but those who understand the gospel realize that it is right and proper to waste themselves on Him. It is right for the Lord to receive our "wasteful" sacrifice. Who was the one who considered it a waste? Judas. He was a man who never learned his lesson. His words were very reasonable. To man, there was no profit in spending three hundred denarii in this way! To Judas, three hundred denarii was enough to betray a man—he sold the Lord Jesus for a price of three hundred denarii. However, to him, the pouring out of the ointment was a waste, and he grieved over it. He wanted to gain something from it; he was a very calculating man. But those who have genuinely received the gospel and who are absolute for the Lord will sacrifice everything. Even if the sacrifice is too much in others' eyes, this sacrifice is made towards the Lord's gospel. Where the gospel is proclaimed, no one should bargain with the Lord. He said, "For the poor you have with you always, but you do not always have Me" (v. 11). The Lord was saying that there is nothing wrong about caring for the poor, but we cannot hold back anything when it comes to sacrificing for the Lord. Even if we overdo and go to the extreme, it is still not a waste to the Lord. A brother once said, "If a new believer tries to take the moderate way once he believes, he will have no spiritual future at all." Brothers and sisters, considerations of moderation can wait ten or twenty years, but when one first believes, he should waste himself on Him. If you are a new believer, you should offer everything you have to Him. You should pour out the entire alabaster flask of pure nard on the Lord. You have to sacrifice everything this way before you will have a way to go on. This was the training the disciples received. We have to learn to take up a little more suffering ourselves and waste more on the Lord and on others. As God's servants, we should be very generous towards money. We should go on, with or without money. Those who always count their money are not the right persons for the work.
In Acts 3:6 Peter said to the crippled man, "Silver and gold I do not possess." The Lord brought Peter and John to the point where they could claim, "Silver and gold I do not possess." Although we see much money being handled in chapter two, we find a testimony in chapter three: "Silver and gold I do not possess." What did Peter say to the crippled man? "What I have, this I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene rise up and walk." They were so trained that even though so much money passed through their hand, they could still say, "Silver and gold I do not possess." Brothers and sisters, if we engage ourselves in the work at all, we have to be firm with regard to money. Once we are weak in this matter, we will be weak in other matters as well. An underlying factor for strong and steady workers is our trustworthiness before God in the matter of money. God can entrust such persons.