Again this morning it's our opportunity to turn to the Word of God, worshiping the Lord not only in spirit, as we have been doing with our songs and hymns, also worshiping the Lord in truth as we turn to the Word of God and this is indeed His Word, His revelation to us. Luke 9, Luke 9, the motto of Grace Community Church, I think, is probably the motto of Grace To You, our radio ministry has developed a little motto, a little slogan, and it is this, "Unleashing God's truth one verse at a time." That really is what our ministry is all about and that is only a reflection of what we do here at the church where we unleash God's truth one verse at a time.
And so, we find ourselves in the ninth chapter of Luke's gospel looking at the first six verses. We began this look at this particular section last time, apologies to those of you who weren't here. We'll try to catch you up so that you can get a bit into the flow as we move through this text this morning. Let me read the opening six verses of Luke 9. "And He called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. And He sent them out to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to perform healing. And He said to them, 'Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money and do not even have two tunics apiece and whatever house you enter, stay there and take your leave from there. And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.' And departing, they began going about among the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere."
Now as we learned last time, this marks a significant transition of a crucial time in our Lord's ministry. This is the time, the first time, when the Lord sends the twelve out. Up to this point, He did all the preaching, He did all the teaching, He did all the healing of diseases, all the raising of the dead, all the casting out of demons. He answered all the questions. It was, in the truest sense, a one-man operation. But now we are 18 months from the cross, half way through His ministry. There is even less time for Galilee because Jesus will be soon leaving Galilee as verse 51 of this chapter indicates, He begins to set Himself toward Jerusalem. And so the time is short in Galilee. He wants to blitz, as it were, the Galilee region with the gospel of the Kingdom, supported by miraculous signs and wonders. And so He multiplies Himself by twelve and sends the apostles out to do exactly what He had been doing, preach the gospel of the Kingdom, heal, and cast out demons. This is an act of grace because Galilee has already become resistant to the message of Jesus. It isn't that they denied the miracles, they couldn't do that. They were too many, and too public. They knew He raised the dead. They knew He healed the sick. They knew He cast out demons. What they hated about Him was the fact that He indicted them as self-righteous sinners, under the condemnation of God who needed to repent. That was an intolerable indictment for self-righteous Jewish people. It was resentment for His message that hardened their hearts against Him.
Already the Jewish leaders are plotting His death. And they will find willing affirmation when the time comes from the people, people of the southern part of Israel, Judah, as well as people from the north, the Galilee. All of whom will gather to cry for His blood at Passover time in Jerusalem. Little time left then, 18 months. Little time left for the training of the twelve. It's time to send them out on their internship. This is the fourth phase, if you will, in their training. The first phase was when they were called to faith in Him. The second was when they were called to fill-time discipleship. The third was when they were identified as apostles, not just disciples which means learners, but apostles which means messengers. They were going to be the preachers. They were identified back in the sixth chapter of Luke, verses 12 through 16. Here in the fourth phase they are actually sent. It's a short-term operation. They go out for a while, a few weeks, and then come back, returning to report to Jesus what happened and further training ensues and then they move south to Jerusalem. This is a very, very important transitional time.
In the process of this sending out that we see in these six verses, we are given a profile of an apostle...a profile of a messenger of Jesus Christ. And while, as we said last time, the apostles are absolutely unique. There were twelve of them when Judas killed himself as a traitor. He was replaced immediately after that by a man named Mathias to keep the twelve intact. Later on there was a thirteenth added to the number and that would be the Apostle Paul who was an apostle of a unique order all himself, called also by Jesus Christ after He had risen from the dead and ascended into heaven. They are a unique group.
We are not trying to say that we can be apostles, or we can function like apostles, although we preach the same message they preached. But we can learn from the profile of an apostle some very transferable ideas and principles about our own ministry. One of the things we noted for you, and we'll note in any discussion of the apostles, is how ordinary they are. I just finished yesterday the final editing on the book I'm doing called Twelve Ordinary Men and again I am reminded of how ordinary these men were. And in that sense, ordinary men given an extraordinary ministry gives us wonderful hope for how God might use us. And that's going to be kind of the theme of the book...what God can do in your life, what He will do in your life if you're available to Him.
Here are these ordinary men then, verse 1 says, the twelve apostles. They are identified as apostles by now because of chapter 6 where Jesus set them apart from the rest. They are called together. By this time they know each other. They didn't necessarily at first, although many of them knew each other, probably six or seven of them knew each other because they grew up in the fishing industry. It's very likely that at least six of them were fishermen, perhaps seven were fishermen. That's maybe even a more likely number. As fishermen they perhaps knew each other, fishing the Sea of Galilee. The other five are sort of assorted individuals. They therefore were in some way defused in the large group of hundreds, if not thousands of followers that Jesus had. But in chapter 6 He identified who the twelve would be and here He formally calls them together. By now, having known they were thus identified, they probably had met and were even hanging out a little bit up till this time. If you want to understand these men, the simplest way to understand them is that none of them was qualified in any sense for spiritual leadership...none of them. None of them belonged to the religious establishment whatsoever and yet they were given the most significant role of spiritual leadership that had ever been given to any person in history. They were the first line preachers of the gospel of the Kingdom, particularly called, assigned and empowered by the Messiah Himself. And so, we then meet the disciples at a very crucial transition point. They're called together.
It says in verse 1, "That at that time Jesus gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases." We also know they were given power to raise the dead, as I pointed out last time. That is to say, they were given the very same power that Jesus exhibited, miraculous power that no one had. They had never had it in their life, they were given it for a season, for a time. Why? Because as they preached the gospel of the kingdom, which verse 2 says they did, He sent them out to proclaim the Kingdom of God, proclaim the good news that the Kingdom was present, the Kingdom was in their midst, that the Savior was there and they could therefore enter into the Kingdom of God by repentance and trust in Him, as they preached the gospel of the Kingdom, they needed to verify that this was the true message. And as I said last time, if you preach a message, how does somebody know you're telling the truth? How does somebody know if it's a true message? One of the problems we have in our world today, people don't accept the Bible as an authority, therefore they have no standard by which to measure anything anybody says. How do you know when somebody's telling you the truth about the most important thing? Spiritual things? Eternal things? How do you know? If you don't have an authority against which to measure them?
Well, the New Testament hadn't been written yet so how was God going to verify that this was the true message from heaven? Answer: by giving them the ability to do the very same things that Jesus did which were unmistakably powered by God the Creator and therefore it was clear that God had given them the power to validate the message He had also given them. So they were given the power to do exactly what Jesus did, to preach exactly what Jesus preached. Today we have the same responsibility to preach exactly what Jesus preached, not to change the message at all, to preach the same message He preached. We don't have the miraculous power, we don't need that because our message can be measured as to its validity against the New Testament. Once the New Testament was complete, the need for those validating gifts passed away. It has always been a curiosity to me that in the modern Charismatic Movement, the modern healing movement, the modern signs and wonders movement, you have all of these people claiming to have the power of God, claiming to be able to knock people over, to heal people, to do all of these kinds of things, and the bizarre reality is that the doctrine of these people is, without exception, bad. They are the purveyors of an unbiblical theology. The wrongly divide the Word of God. They misrepresent doctrine. So ask yourself the question, if God was going to give gifts to validate the supernatural character of a preacher or a teacher, would God validate error? Answer: of course not...of course not. If anybody were given the ability to do miracles, it would be whoever has the purest, truest message. These people come along with a message that isn't historic, it isn't true to the Word of God. We can't for a moment believe that God would validate their error. God validated the apostles because they preached the true message of the Kingdom. Mark 6:7 says He went the twelve out two-by-two, they went in pairs, although each preached, they went together. And so, Jesus then multiplied His ministry. This was a necessary, necessary sort of transition in ministry, to reach Galilee in just a matter of a few weeks and spread the Word one more time in that area.
It was also very important as an internship for the twelve so they could go out and find out what it was going to be like when they did this, because when Jesus went back to heaven they were going to be absolutely on their own, doing the very same thing. So this was their internship. I told you last time the number twelve is important. There were twelve tribes in Israel and picking twelve apostles, not eight, not fourteen, not six, not seven, picking twelve as an indictment and a judgment on Israel. They were the true leaders of the true Israel of God. They represented true Israelites. That 's why Luke 22 says they will sit on thrones some day judging the twelve tribes of Israel. They were a judgment on the twelve tribes of Israel at that time, for the tribes were apostate, though religious, and they were the true Israel of God, the true Kingdom citizens.
And so, Jesus sends them. And in sending t hem, He give us a profile of what a messenger is to do. Let's look at the first thing, we said it last time, we'll just review it. He proclaimed salvation...verse 2, to proclaim the Kingdom of God. This is the primary responsibility of the messenger of Jesus Christ, to proclaim salvation. This is exactly what Jesus did and they were to be faithful to the same message.
Do I have to sort of fill in the obvious here? I'll take a minute to do that. It amazes me how far off this responsibility, Christian ministry, gets. Jesus did not engage Himself in anything but preaching the Kingdom of God. That is, that God is King, He has a Kingdom, you can enter that Kingdom by repentance and faith, not by works and not by self-righteousness. That that Kingdom is available, that God will forgive all your sins if you come to Him and ask based upon the provision He will make through the death and resurrection of His Son. It's the gospel message. What Jesus preached, we saw that back in chapter 4 verse 43, back in chapter 8 verse 1, Jesus preached the gospel. He preached the poor, prisoners, blind and oppressed could be saved and rescued. Those under the judgment of God could come under the blessing of God. Those headed for eternal punishment could come into eternal blessing, those on the way to hell could have the hope of heaven. That's what they were supposed to preach. That's all they were supposed to preach. That's all Jesus ever preached. He didn't engage Himself politically. He didn't engage Himself in trying to amend things socially in the culture. He didn't engage Himself in some effort at altering public morality. He preached the Kingdom. He preached the Kingdom. He didn't focus His message on anything but the Kingdom. He didn't focus it on racial conciliation, which is a big issue and in some ways an important one. He focused on the Kingdom, knowing that people who enter the Kingdom find within the Kingdom principles and the Kingdom power of God that comes to dwell in them the resolution to all the other issues. Twelve preachers then now are sent to preach repentance. Twelve preachers are sent to preach faith in God for salvation. Twelve preachers sent to tell people they're not righteous before God, they're poor, prisoners, blind and oppressed, on their way to eternal judgment if they don't repent, cry out for mercy and grace. And this is still the purpose of all ministry. Ours is not a social message, it is not a political message, it is not a philanthropic message, it is not a moral message. It is a message of sin and salvation and forgiveness. Just think what would be happening across the world if Christian ministry was simplified to that.
You say, "Well why then don't you do that all the time and not...why do you teach the Bible?" Because the very obvious reality is that the Word of God is able to build people up and strong and mature believers live the kind of lives that make the message of the gospel believable. If you want to follow Christ as the twelve did, then preach the gospel, proclaim the gospel, give the gospel while you live the gospel.
Secondly, this is where we broke off last time, the profile of the messenger of Christ, he manifests compassion...he manifests compassion. Again I point out because it comes up so often, you've heard it from me a number of times, Jesus demonstrated divine power. He could have done it a lot of ways, but God chose to have Him demonstrate His power in ways which relieved people's suffering. There could have been a myriad of miracles, all kinds of miracles could have occurred that had nothing to do with people's suffering. But when Jesus came and cast out demons and healed the sick and raised the dead, all three of those categories dealt with people at the point of profound suffering. This then was not only a demonstration of power, but it was a demonstration of God's compassion, God's compassion. Here He gave them authority over all demons, that's all of them, because they didn't have anything less than Jesus, they didn't have any authority less than His, any power less than His because it was actually His power working through them. And that's why Matthew 10:8 says they even could raise the dead. This clearly was a demonstration of divine power that was staggering. More than that, it was a manifestation of divine compassion. And what it showed was that God has a message of salvation and God by nature is a Savior. He is a deliverer. The two go so wonderfully together.
How do you know God is a Savior? Because even on a temporal level, even on a physical level, even on an earthly level when God came into the world, He went around delivering people from the things that devastated and destroyed them...demons, diseases, and death. When 1 Timothy 4:10 says He's the Savior of all men, especially those that believe, that's such an important statement. He is the Savior of all men, especially those that believe. What does it mean He's the Savior of all men? Does that mean everybody on the planet is going to be saved and taken to heaven? No, He's the Savior of all men in some sense. What does that mean? Well in general it means God is by nature a Savior and you can see it in the way He treats everybody because the Bible says the wages of sin is...what?...death, the soul that sins, Ezekiel says, dies. God says to Adam, "In the day you eat, you're going to die." Adam eats, he doesn't die. Eve eats, she doesn't die. Why? What is that? God said you eat, you die. They ate, they didn't die immediately. The seeds of death, of course, replanted. They didn't die immediately and the point is, God by nature demonstrates that He is a Savior. And in the Old Testament, you know, people ask, "Oh, why do all those people die? Why does God kill all those people in the judgments and so forth? Why does God allow death?" That's not really the question. The question is why does anybody live because we all deserve death? As in Adam, all died. We all deserve death. The reason we live is because God by nature is a deliverer, that's why the rain falls on the just and the unjust, and the sun shines on everybody. That's why even sinners who reject Jesus Christ fall in love and enjoy a good meal and kiss a face of a baby and see a sunset. That's because God by nature is a deliverer. He's a deliverer by nature.
And He shows that in the way the miracles are sort of set in the paradigm of human suffering. And that's where they stayed. Even the miracle of the wind and the waves was to relieve human suffering. The miracle of casting the demons into the pigs was to eliminate human suffering. The miracle of the thousands was to eliminate the suffering of hunger. All the miracles find their way into demonstrating that God is by nature a compassionate Savior. That's why you can have Him in Jeremiah 13 looking over the world and weeping. That's why you can have Jesus sitting over the city of Jerusalem and weeping, weeping over the grave of Lazarus, as John records it. The tears of God are shed because He has compassion on the suffering of humanity. So if you're going to go out and represent Jesus Christ, if you're going to preach the Kingdom along the way, it's pretty important that you not only preach the message but that you demonstrate the compassion for the sinner.
I'm not going to take the time but you can go through lots of places in the Bible where you're going to find that God is a God of comfort, God is a God of compassion, dozens and dozens of places in the Psalms alone, as well as the prophets. God cares. The Scripture says He forgets not our suffering. He hears our cries. He delivers, protects, exalts, provides for those in need. That's just out of the Psalms. Psalm 14:6 says He's our refuge. We read Psalm 91 this morning, magnificent tribute to God's care and protection, covers us with His feathers, makes sure nothing causes us to stumble or to fall. This is in contrast to the gods of the nations. This is in contrast to the false gods of paganism who are brutal, vengeful, indifferent, hostile. And on the other hand, satanic false gods, false teachers, false teachers even within what on the surface is a true religion, false teachers in Israel, the Scripture says oppress the needy, vex the needy, sell the poor, crush them, grind their faces...that's Isaiah 3:15...persecute them, Psalm 10, defraud them, Amos 8:5 and 6, there's a number of those things in the book of Amos. So you've got the false teachers who do everything they can to harm people. You've got the false gods who are known by their hostility and their vengeance, their violence. Contrast, you've got the true and living God who is compassionate, tenderhearted, full of mercy and grace. False prophets are merciless, they are without compassion, they are abusive, they take advantage of people. They get filthy rich at the expense of those who suffer.
In the twelfth chapter of Mark, verse 38, "Beware of the scribes who like to lock...walk around in long robes, they like respectful greetings in the marketplaces. They like chief seats in the synagogues. They like places of honor at banquets." Listen to this, "Who devour widows' houses." Boy, nothing new, is there? Beware of those religious phonies who take all their money from widows, become rich, plot ways, clever strategies to get the money out of the purse of the widows. In contrast to that is the true messenger of Jesus Christ who preaches the gospel and with deep compassion, mercy and grace and kindness and tenderness, shows love for those who are the poor, prisoners, blind and oppressed.
Now we're going to move in to the very words of Jesus. Several other elements profile the messenger. If we're going to emulate these messengers of the Lord, we should be proclaiming salvation and manifesting compassion. And thirdly, maintaining trust...maintaining trust. Verse 3, "He said to them, 'Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money. Do not even have two tunics apiece.'" This is pretty interesting. Matthew 10:8 adds something else Jesus said. "Freely you have received, freely give."
So what He's saying to them is don't take anything with you and don't accept anything. Don't take any money and don't accept any. Don't charge anyone for what you're doing. Don't seek to be enriched from suffering people. You're going to go out, you're going to run into these people who are indwelt by demons and their lives are in a hellish, horrific condition. You're going to come across people who have all these diseases and are maimed and paralyzed, blind and deaf and dumb. You're going to come across families that have lost somebody and you're going to be at a funeral. You know, with the power you have you could really make a lot of money because people get rich who promise to do these things and can't do it. Freely you receive this power, I'm giving it to you and you're going to give it away freely as well. Never seek to be enriched from suffering people. False teachers have always done this, from phony healers to the psychic hot line, quacks, holistic practitioners, gurus, TV evangelists, you know that. Sick and suffering people will pay anything to someone they think can help them. The twelve actually could. Imagine being able to say, "How much is it worth to you for me to raise your dead son?" What is the...this is a principle, obviously, that's unique to them. Yeah, but there's a principle that drifts over to us too. Never put a price on your ministry. Just put yourself in a position to trust. Just put yourself in a position to trust. Just learn to operate on faith and let God give you what He chooses to give you.
So He said to them, and here are the rules for the road, if you will, "Take nothing for your journey, just whatever you've got on." And then He starts in on a little list, "Neither a staff," that's a walking stick. And you say, "Well, that's unreasonable. If you're going to be going up and down on dirt roads, and up and down places, a walking stick is really very helpful." These were young guys but even young guys could benefit from a stick that would be of help to them and maybe on some occasion defense.
Well that's interesting, I'm glad you brought that up that that seems unreasonable because in Mark 6:8 it says, "Take nothing except a mere staff."
And some people thought...Well, you know, Luke's passage says don't take a staff, and Mark's passage says take only a staff. The obvious solution to the dilemma is take no more than one. Don't take an extra staff, is what He means. It would be easy for a stick to break and it would be pretty typical to have a walking stick and then maybe put another stick through a bag. Sometimes they use a shorter stick as well for weapons against robbers and things. He says don't take any extra stick, just a mere staff."
"Nor a bag," don't take a backpack, knapsack, light travel bag, don't take that. There's some interesting historical documents about traveling itinerant teachers who carried what was called beggar bags and they were, you know, sort of like those fanny packs that people put around their waists and they could keep stuffing in the money that they got from the people as they went. You're not going to be collecting any money as you go, you don't need a bag.
"Don't take bread," which was often kept in that bag, sometimes strapped to the back or the waist, as I said. "And don't take money." Matthew 10:9 says, Jesus explicitly said, "Don't acquire gold or silver or copper for your money belt. Take no money with you, charge no money. Accept no money. Just trust Me. All your needs are going to be met. When it's time to eat, somebody will provide you food. When it's time to stay somewhere, somebody will provide you lodging. You're not going to need money and you're not going to need food. And you're not even going to need an extra stick to beat off robbers, I'm going to take care of you. You're not even going to break the one stick you take. You don't need a bag to put anything in because you're not going to accumulate anything."
You say, "This is...this is severely austere, isn't it?" Sure. But this is part of training. And what's the lesson here? Learn to...what?...trust cause the times are going to come in the future when you're going to be glad that you could look back at a time of absolute and total trust and know that I was there. You need this, don't even take two tunics. And Matthew adds, "Don't take extra sandals." Jesus said that too. What's the tunic? It's a shirt, that's how it's translated in Matthew 5:40, it's the inner garment, your shirt. Don't take two shirts. This is stripping down to the bare minimum. You've got the clothes on your back, you leave. And you're going to learn over these weeks when you're out there that you're going to have to be absolutely dependent on Me.
Now you say, "Are we supposed to live like that?" Well before you panic, turn over to Luke 22, turn over to Luke 22. This will help you feel better. Verse 35, Jesus is talking to the apostles, He says to them, "When I send you out without your purse and bag and sandals, you didn't lack anything, did you?" And what did they say? "No...what?...nothing." And He said to them, "But now, let him who has a purse take it along, likewise a bag...a bag would be for clothes, a purse obviously for money...let him who has no sword sell his sword (John meant robe here) and buy one." You're going to need a protection. This is the normal approach.
What was the difference? Well, this was training and the deprivation was to teach them that when they did have nothing, which would happen again, they could trust the Lord to provide everything. It's like Matthew chapter 6, "Take no thought for what you shall eat, or drink, or what you shall wear, just know this, you seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, everything else is going to be...what?...going to be added. I'm going to take care of you." He was teaching them that they could trust Him. He was teaching them dependence, such a marvelous thing to learn. A lot of our seminary students learn that. They eke out an existence getting through seminary, hand to mouth, and for the rest of their lives they know that when those times come God is there. This is extreme and yet later on He says, "That was for your training. And I was there, wasn't I?" I love what it says in verse 35, "Did you lack anything? No, nothing. Then you can trust Me." There are reasonable things, you have reasonable clothing when you travel. Take some reasonable amounts of money. Expect perhaps to receive some money, the servant is worthy of his hire. Those who preach the gospel can live of the gospel, put it in your bag. But you'll know for always that if you ever get in a situation where you have nothing, you have Me...you have Me.
And I think it was really so important then as well because Jesus didn't need to be accused of taking advantage of suffering people to make money. That's the last thing His apostles needed to do. Jesus would never do that. But the apostles might. And so by giving them virtually zero options, He guaranteed that there wouldn't be any corruption of the enterprise by men who were far from perfect. So they were going like in ancient times, the rabbis used to go to the temple with no staff, no money and no shoes. This was boot camp stuff. This was to learn. Plus, there wasn't a lot of time to assemble certain things, they had to go immediately.
The profile of a messenger, he proclaimed salvation, he manifests compassion, and he maintains trust. Never, ever, ever put a price on your ministry, I don't care who you are or where you are. Be content with what you have. Make reasonable provision for your life and then let God give you what He chooses to give you, and then be a steward of it. Don't ever put a price on your ministry, ever.
Four, he demonstrates contentment...he demonstrates contentment, talking further about the messenger who represents Jesus Christ, verse 4, "Whatever house you enter, stay there. Take your leave from there."
I've had experiences like this in my travels in the world. I remember one time when I went into a city in America, I won't say where. They put me in a really terrible place to stay. I mean, it was really...just really not a good place to stay. And a few days later in the week I met a very wealthy man who had a really big beautiful house. And I...in my flesh...wanted to move out of the crummy place I was into that...that's what He's talking about...I stayed where I was because I knew this verse. Even more importantly, they knew this verse. I mean, it's here for everybody to read, right? I mean, that's the bottom line. When you go to town and somebody opens their hearts and takes you in, stay there. There were no...there was no such thing as a hotel, did you know that? There were only brothels, no hotel. You stayed with people. There was no such thing as a hotel. Inns along the road were brothels. When you go, whoever says "stay here," stay there, be content.
Traveling false teachers wanted to stay just long enough to get money out of a family and then go to the next place, and the next place, and the next place, and the next place. Keep moving up the ladder, collecting more money from everybody they could because the more people they could get close to, the more people they could get into the homes, the more money they could get. Jesus says just go to one place, stay there the whole time, you start there and you leave from there. This is about being content. This is about doing nothing to better your situation. Paul says, "I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, of having an abundance and suffering need, and I can do all things to Him who strengthens me." Godliness with contentment is great gain. First Timothy 6:8 also says, "If we have food and covering, be content."
You know, this is a...this is the mark of a true servant of Christ. He demonstrates, or she demonstrates contentment...contentment. Doesn't have to have something better all the time. Doesn't use people for personal gain. Content to let the Lord meet needs.
Number...what...five. He exercises discernment...he exercises discernment. This is the last one and then kind of the PS in verse 6...he exercises discernment. This is really a very important thing. Verse 5, "As far as those who do not receive you," that's obviously something they would want to know about, what about when they don't want us? What about when they want to throw us out of their house or out of their town after they've heard us? What do we do? "As for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them." That's pretty strong language and that's a very, very understandable, recognizable and offensive gesture. Back in Matthew 10, Matthew's account of this same event, Matthew adds further things Jesus said, "As you enter the house, give it your greeting. If the house is worthy, that is they respond to the message, let your greeting of peace come upon it. If it's not worthy, let your greeting of peace return to you. Whoever doesn't receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake off the dust of your feet. Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than in that city." Wow. Sodom and Gomorrah....they got it big, didn't they? Buried under fire and brimstone. And Jesus said, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah are more tolerable to Me than some house, family, or some town that doesn't receive you.
We get a little idea of how important the apostles were. You...you'd be better off not to welcome them into your house and then reject them and have a severer judgment than what was brought on Sodom and Gomorrah. You'd be better off to ignore them and never get near them. If the house doesn't deserve the blessing of peace, don't give it. If the house rejects you, or the city rejects you, as you go out from that city, shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them. This was an old Jewish custom. Whenever a Jew traveled into Gentile areas, Gentile lands, when they came back across the border into Israel, they shook all the dirt, all the Gentile dirt off their garments. Shook all the Gentile dirt out of their sandals, off their robe, off their shirt underneath. That was a symbol of disdain. They were about to bring pagan dirt into the holy land. It was then...it became a gesture or a symbol then of disdain, of the rankest kind of disdain. It really was a symbol of scorn. He says if you go into a house in Galilee and they don't hear your message and receive it, and if you go into a town and they don't receive it, treat them the way you would treat a pagan, Gentile place. Acts 13:50, the Jews aroused the devout women of prominence, Paul...of course...Paul and Barnabas preaching, and the Jews stirred up everybody against them, ignited a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, drove them out of the district. Verse 51, "They shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium." Paul did exactly what the Lord had told the other apostles to do. He shook the dust off. They would see that for what it was. That was a very scornful gesture, but it was a traditional Jewish way of expressing disdain toward outcasts, toward Gentiles. Treat them as unclean, Jesus said. Treat them as unclean.
You talk about the preaching of the gospel, you talk about a compassionate messenger, pleading with people, understanding them, caring that they hurt and they suffer, trying to alleviate their suffering, giving them the wonderful message of peace and reconciliation and forgiveness of sin, but I'll tell you what...if having heard that message they reject that message, there is a place for an appropriate gesture of scorn and judgment. This is one of the hard sayings of Jesus, but it is nonetheless a true one. "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ," 1 Corinthians 16 says, "let him be damned." Second Thessalonians 1 talks about how God is going to come with judgment and retribution out of heaven, against all those who believe not the gospel." Even a Jewish place, a Jewish house, a Jewish town, a Jewish village, if it refuses the gospel of the Kingdom, must be treated as pagan, treated as pagan. To be devoutly Jewish and reject Christ is to be wholly pagan. To be devoutly Jewish and reject Christ is to be no better than an idolater. It doesn't mean that the apostles didn't preach and call for repentance and faith. It doesn't mean that they didn't plead, that they didn't beg. But it does mean that when the rejection was fixed, nothing more to say. When the rejection is fixed, there isn't anything more to say, shake the dust, let them know that they are therefore rendered under judgment and leave.
It's not only a sign of judgment, but it's a matter of priority. There's so much time, there's so many people. You've got to move on. In Matthew 10 verse 15, I read you, "Truly it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city that rejects the message." Down in verse 20 of that same chapter 10, Jesus also said to the disciples, "It's not you who speak, it's the spirit of your father who speaks in you and brother will deliver up brother to death, a father his child to death, children will rise up against parents, cause them to be put to death." The gospel is going to cause slaughter inside families. And you'll be hated by all on account of My name. Whenever they persecute you, verse 23, whenever they persecute you in this city, flee to the next...run to the next because it's time to preach the gospel. Don't stay there and die, flee. Go to the next and the next, and the next. And you'll not finish going through the cities of Israel till the Son of Man comes.
So there comes a time when you flee. And when you flee, you shake the dust. And the reason is, because they have rejected the truth, heard and understood. You just need to treat them with disdain.
Now I want to show you one other passage that I think is really helpful in understanding this. Turn to Matthew 7:6, I had a couple more, but we'll just have time for Matthew 7:6. I know you'll remember the verse, it's in the Sermon on the Mount, of course. Jesus says, "Do not give what is holy to dogs. Do not throw your pearls before swine lest they trample them under their feet and turn and tear you to pieces."That's a fascinating verse.
I know, when you think of a dog, you think of your fluffy little lap dog, kind of dog, or your little, you know, fancy kind of dog that you walk around on a leash. In the time of Jesus, dogs weren't domesticated. They were very rarely household pets. They were used to work sheep but mostly they were half-breed and half wild mongrels, scavengers, dirty, greedy, snarling, diseased, dangerous living in the garbage dumps of the ancient cities. They were literally terrorizing people. People found them dangerous. And that's why Jesus uses the term dogs here. It was nothing more than a wild cur, eating filth in the streets. Do not give what is holy to dogs.
What a statement. I mean, that's...any Jew who heard that statement would be just literally traumatized by that statement. What is holy...what is holy is something offered to whom? God. I mean, you would never go to the temple, offer a sacrifice to God. You remember when you offered your sacrifice, part went on the altar to God, part went to the priests to feed them, and some of the sacrifices provided for you to take some home to eat. But the part that was on the altar was the holy part, it had been set apart, consecrated, devoted to God as an act of obedience to His command to make a sacrifice for sin. No one would take that holy meat and throw it to dogs. That would be a severe desecration. That would be a blasphemous act. That would be to treat God with irreverence unimaginable. God's no better than a filthy street dog...nobody would do that...nobody.
And then He says, you wouldn't throw pearls in front of swine. Swine pigs are the epitome of uncleanness. The Old Testament forbid the Jews to eat them because God didn't want them getting the diseases that those kinds of animals carried. Jews didn't raise pigs at all. Any pigs roaming around in Israel were wild scavengers, the kind of pigs people hunt, wild pigs, vicious, dangerous. In fact, they would just as soon and tear you to pieces, those kinds of pigs. Not little pink, you know, pigs like your kid's bank, you know, the piggy bank or some Disney cartoon. This is a vicious, dangerous animal. If you had a pearl, you wouldn't give it to a filthy vicious wild pig, would you? Because pigs have no appreciation for what is precious. And dogs have no appreciation for what is holy. Wow.
Jesus is saying there can people who are nothing but pigs and dogs, filthy, unable to appreciate what is holy, unable to appreciate what is precious. They, you know, remember in Matthew 13 Jesus said, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a pearl which a man when he found it sold everything to purchase that pearl because he understood its value." So Jesus' point is that there are glories in the gospel, there is the glorious pearl of the gospel. There is the holiness of that marvelous message of salvation in the Kingdom. You just don't willfully feed that to dogs and you don't throw that to swine.
I guess the key is to find out when you got a dog or a swine on your hands, somebody who has disdain for the gospel. There have been a few occasions in my life, and I'm sure in yours, when I realized I was talking to a person who would be classified as a pig or a dog...utterly unable to appreciate the precious value of the pearl of the gospel, equally unable to accept what was holy. On the other hand, eager to rip into you, tear you to pieces. Now we're talking here about, this is the interesting part, religious people in Judaism. And that was what was so impossible to swallow. Gentiles were dogs. Gentiles were pigs. But Jesus is saying there are going to be people that you're going to run into who are religious Jews who fall into this category, all they want to do is turn and tear you to pieces. They have no ability to appreciate the treasure that you're offering or the holy message of the Kingdom.
When people get like this, the Lord says just move on, shake the dust, talk to them about judgment. Acts 18:6, "When they resisted and blasphemed, Paul shook his garments and said, 'Your blood be on your own heads.'" And he was talking to the Jews. "I'm clean from now on, I go to the Gentiles." He did exactly this, he shook his dust off in the face of the Jews, said your blood's on your own head, you're going to be condemned by God and you're going to bear the full responsibility of it. I'm clean, I've discharged my responsibility to give you the message. When people not only reject the gospel but insist on mocking it, offering scorn, reviling it, we're not to waste God's holy Word and His precious pearl on them. Leave them to the Lord. Pray for them. Go on to the next person.
The profile of a messenger, this is it...preaches salvation, manifests compassion, maintains trust, demonstrates compassion, exercises discernment. And the Twelve were obedient, verse 6, it tells us they did exactly what the Lord told them to do. Departing immediately without packing anything, they began going about among the villages proclaiming the gospel and healing everywhere. And Jesus had multiplied Himself twelve times.
Now, in closing, just a quick summary. They're unique but there's some applicable principles here. We have the Great Commission. Our responsibility is to go into all the world and preach the gospel, as was theirs. We are to call sinners to repent and believe in Christ. We are to tell them that the only way to enter God's Kingdom, enjoy forgiveness, spiritual blessings through all eternity, is to come to Christ. We are also to show lost sinners compassion, kindness, tender and mercy. We are to live lives that are constantly marked by trust so that no one ever, ever could assume that we do ministry for money. Getting rich at the expense of the people you're trying to reach is sinful. We are also to demonstrate that we live lives of complete contentment with God's sovereign control over our circumstances wherever we are. And as kind and loving and gracious and selfless as we are, we also have a responsibility to speak judgment where there is fixed rejection and a mocking of the truth and move on to open hearts.
Father, help us to be able to discern and apply these things that we might be faithful as these twelve went out and did what You said. May we do the same, in our Savior's name. Amen.