Jesus called his twelve disciples together and began sending them out two by two, giving them authority to cast out evil spirits. 8 He told them to take nothing for their journey except a walking stick—no food, no traveler’s bag, no money. 9 He allowed them to wear sandals but not to take a change of clothes.
10 “Wherever you go,” he said, “stay in the same house until you leave town. 11 But if any place refuses to welcome you or listen to you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.”
12 So the disciples went out, telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God. 13 And they cast out many demons and healed many sick people, anointing them with olive oil. – Mark 6:7-13
Maybe you made wooden swords as a kid. Fought, or at least crashed swords against one another. Mine were little more than glorified sticks. Our kids would make swords out anything they could lay their hands on. There’s something about a sword.
But a real sword isn’t a toy. Even ceremonial swords convey a reality of wounding and fighting far beyond finely-choreographed movie scenes. They are meant to harm. They are meant to wound. They are meant to kill.
When the disciples are sent on this mission trip, they carry a two-edged sword. This one is meant not only to wound, but to heal. The two-edged nature is that division that comes in regard to our receiving (or not) of Jesus’ message and messagers.
Those who bring the message of God’s reign and rule matter to God. He has provided persons of peace to receive them. He has also provided a course of action if we are yet to discover them. That’s the rough part. Not everyone we meet will be a person of peace.
We need not take out an actual sword and strike them. When he was arrested Jesus rebuked Peter for drawing his sword and cutting off the servant’s ear. But there does come a sword that divides a disciple from those who will not receive their message. That sword – meant to defeat Satan and conquer the demons – sometimes cuts us off from those who do not believe.
“Shake the dust from your feet,” says Jesus, “if they will not receive you.” That’s a sad moment to be sure. But do not overlook those who do receive you, who do acknowledge Jesus’ true reign and rule of grace, power, and glory. Rejoice when you see the demons cast out. Thank God when his healing touch changes a person’s life.
Rely upon God all the while. It’s his mission. He is faithful. And truly good.