Shake Off the Dust of Your Feet
Luke 10: 11 | By Rev Ed Visser
Have you ever had to make the painful decision to stop assisting someone? Have you thought to let them reach the bottom because that was the only way they’d realize their need for help? Recently our family went through a very painful situation like that. Sometimes we have to do it in the church, with church discipline being the final attempt to get someone to see the errors of his or her ways.
In Luke 10:6-12, Jesus warns the disciples that not all reactions to their Gospel message are going to result in the positive blessing of shalom (Verses 6-9) and they may have to walk away (10-12). He even suggests that “intervention” will be necessary for the “holy” cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum(13-15).
The way one did this in Israel was to “shake off the dust of your feet.” This acted parable was a ritual of renunciation, a custom the Pharisees used when leaving Gentile areas. It was God’s judgment on those who failed to receive God’s message; they did not want any dust of that place left on them. It is particularly striking that Jesus uses the Old Testament language of judgment on the pagans to refer to Israelite villages! This would have been shocking!
As we are sent into our community, Jesus warns us that some won’t welcome us and we may, painfully, have to shut off contact. Jesus is drawing a line in the sand, the dividing line being whether they welcome or listen to his message. As an ambassador of Jesus Christ, your reception is his reception, (like failing to welcome a US ambassador would be an affront to the US). For someone to reject his disciples, is to reject Jesus! Not everyone will accept us, and at a certain point, we can move on. We cannot do it flippantly, and hopefully this will get them to sit up and take notice. It is also a humbling and healthy reminder that salvation comes from God, not us. Perhaps the Holy Spirit will use others who could reach them better, but Jesus instructs us, there’s a time to shake the dust off your feet!
Is there someone who may need some distance from us? We can pray that the Spirit will use someone else to reach them.
Lord Jesus, give us humility to understand that you are in charge of salvation, and a willingness to follow your lead. Amen
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