(This is the last of the series about the Hard Sayings of Jesus. Thanks for all the comments and likes!)
We do not have the time to get into all the Hard Sayings Of Jesus, so this will be our last in this series. I hope by now you have the tools and the courage to tackle on your own the hard, even harsh things Jesus had to say. Simply because we don’t like them or do not want to deal with them doesn’t mean we have the luxury of simply ignoring them. Frankly, I do not want to face Him on the day of judgment and have Him ask me why I chose to ignore them. So let’s get to today’s passage found in Matthew 10:5-15 (NIV)
5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave.12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting.
13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
What exactly is Jesus saying here? There is a principle and a Truth that is guiding all the other messages we see and hear. And it is in Verses 14-15—If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. It will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. 2 things about this image:
- It was a sign of an unclean place. It’s what devout Jews would do if they ever had to go into a Gentile city or home.
- It was a sign that you were finished with that person or place, and you were not responsible for their decisions and actions. It was a sign of letting them know that God’s judgment was now upon them—no more excuses.
It seems that Jesus is saying that when people reject Him and His Kingdom, His disciples are to shake the dust off their shoes and move on, and that Sodom and Gomorrah will do better at judgment than them. But Where is the Grace and Mercy and patience of God? Well, let’s apply the process of the 2 questions:
- Is It Possible?
Jesus was in His hometown of Nazareth and in Mark 3:6 we read—“He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.” Obviously Jesus moved on. Now look at the second question:
- Is It Consistent With The Principles And Message Of The Kingdom?
In Acts 13, Paul and Barnabas go to Pisidian where the people began listening to them. But the religious leaders stirred up trouble and expelled them. And we read in Verse 51—So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium.
So the answer to both questions is clearly yes. If you can remember only 1 thing from this message, this is it: Nothing Is More Important Than The Mission Of God’s Kingdom. I am not more important than The Mission. You are not more important than The Mission. Our families are not more important than The Mission. This nation and its politics are not more important than The Mission. Your wants and wishes are not more important than The Mission. The church is not more important than The Mission. Nothing Is More Important Than The Mission Of God’s Kingdom.
So, how do we apply this authoritative word? Does it mean that we go up to someone and ask them, “Do you want to be a Christian?” and if they say “No”, we forget about them and ask the next person and the next and the next? Absolutely not. Putting this hard saying of Jesus into the right context is the key to the application of His Truth. This is The Pattern for how The Kingdom works and moves: Jesus SENDS! Jesus sends the First 12 Disciples, and He continues to send His Disciples.
This isn’t an Apostolic Age thing. The word apostle means one who is sent. Everyone is sent somewhere for the sake of the Kingdom of God. It may not be to a pulpit or foreign country, but you are sent nonetheless. Jesus is sending Disciples. They aren’t apostles (lowercase a) until they are sent. And notice where He sends them: Not to the Gentiles, not to the Samaritans—but to those He calls “the lost sheep of Israel”. Why?
Because The Kingdom Of God Should Begin Here! Before we can take the Kingdom of God into the world, it must be firmly rooted in our hearts. God has a Mission for Real Disciples. Those who attended the Small Group Training learned that it’s wrong to say the church has a mission. Truth is that God’s Mission has a church. We call it Missio Dei—the sending of God. God’s mission needs a church that will embrace and follow His Mission. I see at least 3, let’s call them Kingdom Principles, that Jesus demands from us if we are going to be more than Christian in name, but in heart and life.
1] The Mission Needs To Be Focused.
“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.”
God sends Disciples to the places that needs what only God provides. This passage, these words of Jesus, is where we need to focus. First focus on ourselves, then on others. Here’s where the focus needs to be rather than on all the external trimmings that we think give us our identity:
- Heal the sick—the word “heal”, means to serve. The word “sick” means those who are weak, powerless, without the strength to change their life
- Raise the dead—it means to wake up and cause people to stand in life, not the death that sin produces in us. The Walking Dead TV series isn’t original. There are the Walking Dead all around us. Not zombies, but broken and lifeless people.
- Cleanse those with leprosy—that word leprosy includes the disease of leprosy but was also applied to a variety of skin diseases. Spiritually it’s about those who are carrying around external labels that crush and destroy the human heart.
- Drive out demons—the devil is having a heyday and causing mayhem because the church has stopped fighting them and starting fighting people. The phrase here means with force and strength. This is the warfare that God calls us into.
Freely have you received, freely give—It’s about sharing the extravagant grace and mercy that God has shown you with others.
2] We Need To Give A Clear Message.
And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
The church can be really good at sending mixed messages. For example: Jesus can set you free—but to be with us, there are certain ways you need to act and a certain way of doing things. Here’s another: God has an unlimited supply of grace for you—but don’t be surprised if my supply of grace is limited. Oh, this is a good one: Christ makes all things new—just like they were 40 years ago.
The Greek word for “at hand” is eggizō (en-gē’-zō). It means: to join one thing to another. The Message of the Kingdom is to connect people to the Kingdom of God! The gospel message is not difficult. The Message Is Clear:
- Let’s be clear that brokenness persists in all of us. We are all broken somewhere. We are sinners in need of the Savior.
- Let’s be clear that Only by faith in Jesus can we be forgiven and set free from sin’s dominion over us.
- Let’s be clear that when we are forgiven we join in with what God is doing in the world.
Some people place the stained glass windows of tradition and liturgy in front of Christ and hide Him. Some are destroying the Good News of the Kingdom by replacing the authority of Scripture with the authority of how we feel and what WE want to believe. The apostles were to “go and preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ It’s about the Kingdom, not the local church. We are to keep the message of God clear—it’s all about Jesus and His Authority to rule us.
3] Do The Mission With Urgency.
If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. It will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. (vs. 14-15)
What I see missing in so many lives is The Passion for the Mission. Until we see and know how Urgent the Mission is, we will never have the Passion. Urgency Creates Passion. And that Passion motivates us to become apostles—people who are sent!
The Greek word for apostle is apostolos and it means a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders. It comes from the word apostellō—to order one to go to a place appointed. Real Christians Are Sent People. You Have Stopped Being A Sent People When You Become A Settled People. Me? I’m not going to be a settled person. I’m moving with God and with those moving with God and I’m shaking the dust off my shoes for those who have settled.
Without that sense of Urgency with Passion, then there is coming a time when those who are supposed to know—know the Truth and Live it in Urgency and with Passion—but have ignored and rejected The Kingdom—that God is going to shake the dust and judgement is going to be upon those people and churches. The judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah will not be as severe as those people and churches that reject God’s Kingdom for their own Kingdom.
Until you know how urgent the message and mission of the Kingdom is, you will never be a real Disciple of Jesus. People are hurting deeply all around us. Every day people are going into eternity without Jesus. Every day people are being deceived and believing the lies. Our work is urgent. Join in now before someone shakes the dust off the shoes towards you.