Thesis:The instructions of Jesus reveal the depth of the love of God.
Introduction:How long should someone beat his/her head against a brick wall? To what end is doomed persistence? What is the point of doing good to those who hate you?
The record of the text before us today is that the poison of vipers not only destroys those who are bitten, but it also destroys the viper doing the biting. To what point is "shaking the dust off of your feet" as a witness "against" them? In Acts 18:5-6 Paul "shook out his garments" and gave his opponents what they wanted. In Acts 13:50-51 Paul and Barnabas "shook off the dust of their feet against them" and gave them what they wanted. According to Matthew 10:4, Mark 6:11, our current text, and Luke 10:11, this was to be the standard response of those who proclaim the Gospel to those who reject it.
The question before us today is this: Why? What is the point of shaking the dust off of one's sandals when people refuse to respond to the Gospel with faith? To answer this, we shall consider ... .
I. The Reason For the Gospel.
A. Is revealed, first, by the association of it with the power of deliverance.
1. All of Jesus' empirical world activities were "revealing".
a. They revealed the hidden things of the supra-empirical-world.
b. They revealed the hidden things of the heart of God which no man can see except by reasoning backwards from the empirical world to the God behind it.
1) This is not fool-proof as those who argue from the presence of evil backwards to an evil "god" have often demonstrated.
2) But Paul argues dogmatically that this is a legitimate and necessary activity (Romans 1:20).
c. They revealed, but did not contradict verbal revelation: i.e., "empirical world activities" need "explanation" much of the time in order to be correctly understood.
2. All of Jesus' empirical world activites pressed one particular issue.
a. The activities of the daily norms made no particular impression.
b. But every time Jesus pushed an abnormal action into those daily norms, He was not only making people's focus center upon the abnormal, He was making those abnormals the reason for His normals.
1) There was no reason for Him to be here to simply participate in the norms.
2) He came to shatter those norms at their foundations (those foundations being the rationale for the norms).
a) Instead of "eating" in order to remain physically alive, His rationale was "eating" in order to do the will of Him that sent Him (John 4:34) and to use it as a way to bear witness to the Truth about God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
b) Instead of taking part in the daily norms as a way to pursue a personal agenda, His rationale was to offer, and be, a sacrifice to His Father in the pursuit of the Father's heart.
3) He came to empower others to shatter their norms so that they could be "saved".
3. All of Jesus' instruction to The Twelve was associated with His power to deliver.
a. It is a mockery of Christianity for people to profess to be "saved" while living in bondage (2 Timothy 3:5).
b. The major arenas of "deliverance" at that time in Israel were disease and demons (these are not the same arenas for the Church).
B. Is revealed, second, by the connection between the power of deliverance and the delivered.
1. The power of deliverance consisted of two basics.
a. The most basic was the proclamation of Truth.
b. The most secondary necessity was the validation of Truth.
2. The actual deliverance consisted of two basics.
a. No deliverance occurred where there was no awareness of the need.
b. No real deliverance occurred where there was no "embrace" of the Truth.
II. The Reason For the Healing.
A. There is an extremely potent resistance to the Truth in this fallen world.
1. Its potency is revealed by how little is actually accomplished by the proclamation and validation of the Truth.
2. Its potency is revealed by both the lethargy and the zeal (and all matters in between) of those who refuse the Truth.
B. The healings were designed to stymie the extremes of the zeal while prodding the extremes of the lethargy.
1. In order to get what was overtly seen to be the benefits of the power of deliverance (physical deliverance) those who were zealous to refute the proclamation of the Truth had to tone down their opposition.
2. Once one had participated in what was overtly seen to be the benefits of the power, there was a constant prod to the conscience of the lethargic (1 John 4:11).
III. The Reason for the Testimony "Upon" Them.
A. Jesus said, in effect, "If the zeal or lethargy of opposition gets the upper hand, shake off the very dust from your feet".
1. This was a visible and official declaration that there could be no "toleration" of those who reject the Truth.
a. The "dust" was the least "attachment" between those who live by the Truth and those who live in opposition to it.
b. The action of shaking off this least attachment was a declaration of a total unwillingness of those in the Truth to be attached to those opposed to it (those in opposition were not the only ones who were "zealous").
2. This was the disciple's affirmation of his purpose for existing (to embrace Jesus' shattering of the reasons for the norms).
B. Jesus' instruction included the words "unto a witness upon them".
1. There is a perfectly good Greek word for "against" that is not used here.
2. The point is that Jesus expected the "proclamation" to include a certain level of "pressure" to embrace the message.
3. In a very real sense, the visible and official declaration was for the purpose of elevating the level of "pressure".
C. Jesus' instruction came out of the depth of the heart of God.
1. There is no reason for the attempt to elevate the pressure upon those who reject except the anguish of love.
2. Even the condemnation, because it is elevated to the level of words and actions, is an expression of the difficulty God has in judgment.