09 Mar

Text and image by Rick McVicar 

     Jesus wants you to get out of your car and walk.  

       After all, he sends his disciples out on long walks to preach and cast out evil spirits in Mark 6:6b-13. They would not be riding camels. Jesus tells his disciples to travel light, taking only a staff with no bag or money (v. 8). So what is the point of this staff? 

     The Mirriam-Webster Dictionary defines a staff as a walking stick.đź‘Ł

     That makes sense for this story in Mark, as disciples are sent out two-by-two to travel to several villages. A walking stick would be very useful in their journeys. 

     However, when an Internet search is conducted with the words “Jesus staff,” a shepherd’s staff with a hook for catching sheep pops up. Presumably, it is a reference to the metaphor of Jesus being a good shepherd tending his sheep. 

     The shepherd's staff is such an iconic symbol that it is a key element in the logo for the Christian Church in Ohio. As part of writing this story, I contacted the Rev. Allen Harris, Ohio Regional Minister for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), through email and Facebook messaging.  

     I wrote in my email that the region’s logo might not be biblically accurate. Jesus’ staff should be a walking stick rather than a shepherd’s staff. I asked for the Rev. Harris to respond. He did so by giving a Facebook thumbs up in my messenger. 

     The walking stick interpretation makes more sense in this story in Mark than a shepherd's staff. If disciples find resistance along their journeys, they are to “shake the dust” off their feet as a sign of disgust (v. 11). Jesus is expecting his disciples to collect plenty of dirt on their feet because of their long journeys. đź‘Ł A walking stick would come in handy. 

     A shepherd’s staff would not be much use, as it would be heavy and cumbersome for a long walk. Disciples would need something light to help them along.  

     If a walking stick is used as a Christian symbol, rather than a shepherds’ staff, then the Christian faith would be leading the way in combating climate change. Decrease your carbon footprint by walking. And by creating walkable villages, towns and cities. 

     As you take your walk today, may you have artful health.  

     Thanks to the NIV Greek and English New Testament, Zondervan, 2012. You can reach the Rev. Harris at   https://www.ccinoh.com/           .                                            

A face with a walking figure in the middle.

                        "A Walker's Guide" Click on image to go "Jesus Sends Disciples" YouTube video.

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