Jesus’ Packing Instructions

Excerpt from Matthew 10:5-15

“Do not take gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff, for the laborer deserves his food.”

Reflection by Martin B. Copenhaver

People have different philosophies of packing.

Some like to travel light.  They take a bare minimum of items with them.  They count the number of days they will be away and bring just that number of pairs of socks—no more, no less.

Others have an “in case” attitude toward packing.  They might pack a rain coat, a down parka, and a bathing suit just “in case” the weather changes.

Clearly, Jesus is in the former category.  In fact, he is the ultimate light packer.  When sending his disciples on their first journey without him, he gave very explicit packing instructions:  Don’t take any money, or a change of clothes.  In fact, leave your suitcase home.  Don’t take anything but the shirt on your back.

Talk about traveling light!  What is Jesus up to here?

Perhaps Jesus gives this advice so his disciples will learn trust.  It is Jesus’ way of encouraging them to engage with the people they meet.  After all, when you don’t have enough to go on, you have to turn to those around you.

But there is another possible explanation.  The items Jesus tells his disciples to leave behind are just the kinds of things that worshipers were told to leave outside the temple before they entered.  People were to divest themselves of these things before stepping on holy ground.

So when Jesus tells his disciples to travel light, he is encouraging them to approach the whole world as if it is holy ground, a place where you can expect to encounter God.

What would it mean for you to enter your day in this way?


God, give me the “eyes of the heart enlightened” so I might be prepared to see the holy in the everyday.

About the Author
Martin B. Copenhaver is Senior Pastor, Wellesley Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Wellesley, Massachusetts. He is the author, with Lillian Daniel, of This Odd and Wondrous Calling: the Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers.