Thursday, June 13, 2013
“He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, ‘Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.’ And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.
Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.’”
So Jesus had just left the place where his powers had healed a woman and where he brought a girl back to life. He then ventured to his hometown, Nazareth, where he was definitely not given a warm and welcoming hometown greeting, to say the least. The people of Nazareth referred to him as a carpenter, the son of Mary, and a brother – all things that implied his humanness. Jesus also seemed to know that the people of Nazareth would do this. Then we read that Jesus “could do no need of power there, except laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.” We aren’t sure how much time passed while he was there, but he was able to at least heal a few sick people.
In other words, Jesus was able to lay his hands on a few ill folks and cure them, but those healings were just not enough?? I find myself wanting to shake them! Clearly Jesus was shocked, too! But this doesn’t stop Jesus because next we see that Jesus continues teaching among the villages. And then the 12 disciples are sent out by Jesus to extend his proclaiming of God’s kingdom in word and action. Because of the urgency of the mission, the disciples are told to disregard material and physical concerns to the task of preaching, just as Jesus does. Jesus tells them to stay once they enter a place, instead of trying to seek out better accommodation. Also, Jesus tells them to not waste their time on those who refuse to listen instead of trying to further elaborate or persuade. Just move on.
This section could easily be referenced for mission work or evangelical work. Don’t bring too many fancy things. Enter a place and stay. If people don’t welcome you or listen to you, just leave.
But, there’s something deeper at work in this passage. Worth mentioning is that Jesus knows people will turn down the disciples. See, he doesn’t say, “Go, preach, change lives!” Rather, he says, “Go, preach, change lives. But, know there will be difficulty in this task. And don’t let it stop you.”
The power of this account is that in our personal journeys we reach “places” where we don’t need to seek other accommodations. In these kinds of places, we find ourselves living faithfully and honorably. And in contrast, we also come across “places” where we feel unwelcomed or uncomfortable, and in those places we often find ourselves leaving that faith and that honor, whether slightly temporarily or permanently. In those “places,” we may be resisting God’s work in our lives.
So maybe there is some area – some regret we can’t get over, some grudge we can’t let go, some hurt that has come to define us, some addiction that imprisons us, some anger that has taken hold of us – that we are having difficulty entrusting to God. Similarly, maybe there is some opportunity we feel God might be inviting us to or some challenge God may be setting for us that we find difficult to embrace or entertain.
But, trust that there is always the “dusting off your feet” part. And note that this is not a, “I’m going to just dust off my feet and forget” type of thing. This is a, “I’m going to acknowledge what’s holding me back or acknowledge that ‘place’ and dust off my feet as a testimony” type of thing. And this kind of dusting off is necessary because we each have a specific role in impacting God’s kingdom.
Prayer: Lord, here are my hands and my feet. Make them yours. Amen.