Handing off responsibility or passing the baton characterize transitions that can be difficult to make. We Presbyterians have developed a whole class of pastors called "interim pastors" whose role is simply to prepare the way for the next permanent pastor. We learned that if you send a new pastor into a church without the transition, it tends to be a short pastorate; the changes brought on by the mere presence of this new person get rejected along with the pastor. Better to have someone go in temporarily, let people vent and adjust on her watch, and when ready after a year or so, then bring in the new permanent pastor.
Taking up the mantle as an expression comes from this story of Elijah silently commissioning Elisha to be his successor. Seeing what Elisha does in response makes it clear that there will be no turning back once he goes forward to follow the path that Elijah has set before him. It is a brief and rapid transition from farm owner to prophet-of-God-in-training. Soon enough, Elijah would be gone and Elisha would be on his own. That's another story.
Jesus has decided to point himself definitively toward Jerusalem which seems to be a good time to start field-training his disciples. They will soon need to be doing what he had been doing; healing the broken, casting out evil, and bringing new life to those who seem lost and hopeless.
They are treading on difficult terrain, and given some challenging instructions and limitations. The report afterward indicated that their mission was a success.
Beginning at Pentecost, the mantle of responsibility for the advancement of the Kingdom has come to us. We're empowered to do the miraculous. Find out about all of this in the sermon video below, and note the downloads below the video panel.