Jesus went around teaching from village to village. 7 He called the 12 disciples to him. Then he began to send them out two by two. He gave them authority to drive out evil spirits. 8 Here is what he told them to do. “Take only a walking stick for your trip. Do not take bread or a bag. Take no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals. But do not take extra clothes. 10 When you are invited into a house, stay there until you leave town. 11 Some places may not welcome you or listen to you. If they don’t, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet. That will be a witness against the people living there.” 12 They went out. And they preached that people should turn away from their sins. 13 They drove out many demons. They poured olive oil on many sick people and healed them.
Shake it off!
A series of episodes where faith releases dramatic miracles (the woman healed of bleeding and Jairus’ daughter raised from the dead), and then in Nazareth Jesus meets such a refusal to believe that it prevented him performing miracles. This is his home town. This is where he should have expected a sympathetic reception. But the level of their unbelief shocks him.
I’d be having a bit of self-doubt at this point.
His disciples were there and saw it all. I’m guessing the experience would have left them feeling discouraged, perhaps less certain about Jesus.
But Jesus moves on to teach in other towns.
And he has a lesson for his disciples. He sends them out with authority to do what he has been doing: teaching and healing. He sends them in their most vulnerable: no food, no money, not even a change of clothes. They will be totally dependent on the reception they receive.
And he tells them what to do when they and their message are not welcome: Shake it off! Literally shake the dust off as a symbol that those people are left in the separation they asked for. And shake it off spiritually and emotionally: Go on to those who will welcome them.
When I get a bad reaction to the something I say about Jesus, I tend to get stuck at Nazareth. The dirt sticks. And I get stuck.
I need to hear the next bit. I need to not put my faith in the judgement of those who reject God. I need to put my faith in Jesus, and the overwhelming, life changing, life giving blessing that he is. I need to shake off that dirt and take him to whoever will welcome him.
That’s not often easy. But the disciples saw the miracles that happen when you do.
Written by David Cornell