Good Morning!As it is Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King day, I would begin with a quote from him, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
Then Jesus* called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. 3He said to them, ‘Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic. 4Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. 5Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.’ 6They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.
In the United Methodist Church, pastors who are to be Licensed Local Pastors, or Provisional Elders (one serves as a provisional elder for at least 3 years before being ordained), are commissioned at a service that takes place at our Annual Conference. Before a team is sent out on a mission, they are commissioned in the local church. In this scripture, Jesus is commissioning the 12 to go our to the community, to serve, to proclaim the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.
They are to go in total dependence upon God – they are intended to learn something here, that God is faithful and will provide. To accomplish that Jesus tells them to take nothing with them – no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money. Whatever community they enter, they rely on the hospitality and support of the people there. When they enter a village, they will preach the message of the kingdom of God, and heal the sick there. Then someone will invite them to their home – hospitality of that sort was important in the culture of the time. If a stranger came through a village, one invited them to a meal and offered a place to sleep. There would not have been inns in the small villages. But if the disciple were asked to stay in one place, and later learned that a wealthier person in the village was offering better accommodations, he was not to leave the first home and go to the other; he was to stay in the place that had first invited him. The point was to take the message and to heal the sick, and not to worry about their own comfort, but to trust to God’s provision. It would be a hard lesson.
But what if a community did not receive their message, and did not invite them home, and did not provide for their needs? Then they were to simply leave and go elsewhere, and as they leave, they were to shake the dust of that town off their feet as a testimony against that town or village. We’ve all heard that expression – shake the dust off your feet and move on – here is where it originated. Essentially, it means, if a group is not amenable to the message you have to bring, don’t waste your time, move on to those who are ready to receive it. The Holy Spirit prepares our hearts to receive the message of the kingdom of God; if people were not ready, if people today are not ready, perhaps we sow a seed and then move on. They may be ready for the next one who comes along.
And so, the disciples went on their way, going through the villages of the region, bringing the good news, and curing diseases everywhere! And so, we go on, in the towns and villages of today, bringing the good news of Christ Jesus and the Kingdom of God, and curing the diseases of anger, hatred and violence everywhere! The Kingdom of God is about love.