So far all the work has been about Jesus. He’s done everything. Here in chapter nine he does an amazing thing: He sends others out to do the very work he’s been doing. He has called them, as he’s gone along the way he’s presumably equipped them, and now he’s sending them and doing so with very specific instructions. The overall message behind his instructions are “trust God and trust the hospitality of others to provide for you”. This is by no means the core of the message from this story, but this is what caught me in my reading: Jesus thinks pretty highly of humans. He’s been doing all the work, but here he is only nine chapters sending out “the 12” to go do the work. He believes in them. He trusts them with the very work of the Kingdom of God. Then he believes in the good will of others to provide for them. He simply expects that someone will provide them with food and shelter. Jesus believes in the goodness of humanity to watch out for one another and to do the work of the Kingdom.
But he’s also not naive. He also believes that some will reject them, and when they do, he says quite simply, “shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them” (9:5). To shake the dust off your shoes was a way shaking the uncleanness off of them (in all seriousness, it’s not too different than grabbing a stick and scraping the dog poop off your shoes). This is a harsh message towards those who reject them, but it is also Jesus telling them to not worry about it, to get over it, and move on when your message is rejected. In other words, “don’t be so quick to be offended. Just move on.” What an important word for us today as “Pitchfork Nation” seems to be rising up all around us. We are quick to be offended these days, and when we are, we fight back with a vengeance, some times even calling for people’s livelihoods.
As followers of Jesus, when we are offended, we would do well to shake the dust off our feet and move on. We do not need to defend and win the theology debate. We just don’t. God is bigger than our theology. God is bigger than our church. God is bigger than the culture war. Let’s not be a part of it. Let’s put the pitchforks down, let’s minister to those who are hurting, let’s rebuke evil when we are confronted with it (remembering that “our battle is not with flesh and blood”), and let’s proclaim the good news to those around us. And when we do, don’t be surprised of the “Herods” in our world suddenly get interested in what we’re doing.