As I have discussed in the last two posts, there are times Jesus asks us to go minister to His church, which is full of wolves. (Luke 10: 1-16). But He does not send us on such a treacherous errand without teaching us how to survive the ordeal. Our first defense is loving the brethren unconditionally. The second tactic is remembering that the very blessings they reject, come back to us. The third great lesson in this passage is shaking the dust off our feet.
In verses ten and eleven, Jesus says, “But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you…” This symbolic action instructs us how to remove ourselves from the abuse heaped on us by our wolfy brethren. Firstly, we recognize the blessings we intended for them are not accepted. Then we need to stop helping them, because continuing to help a person who does not want to be helped is unreasonable.
Finally, we are to wipe their dust off our shoes.
But what does that mean?
The Biblical Meaning of Wiping Off the Dust
Dust is a form of punishment. God promised to send Israel dust as a curse if they were disobedient. (Deuteronomy 28:24).
Lesson: The curses the wolves pummel at us need to be removed.
Dust thrown at someone expresses hatred. (2 Samuel 16:13).
Lesson: The hatred communicated cannot be absorbed.
Dust is a component of deep mourning and affliction. (Joshua 7:6).
Lesson: The sorrow the experience causes can be forgotten.
Dust licked from someone’s feet is a sign of complete submission. (Psalms 72:9).
Lesson: The humility with which we have born the trial needs to give birth to the courage to remove ourselves from it.
As christian sheep we try to imitate the meek and lowly characteristics of Christ, but have a hard time donning His stronger attributes. And although we are to love unconditionally, we are not to accept abuse without question; Jesus never did.
“And all they… were filled with wrath, and rose up, and thrust Him out of the city, and led Him unto the brow of a hill… that they might cast him down headlong.
He passing through the midst of them went His way…” Luke 4: 28 – 30.
“Then took they up stones to cast at Him:
Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.” John 8: 59
“Therefore they sought again to take Him:
He escaped out of their hand.” John 10: 39
We are called to follow our Master.
A self-sacrificing lifestyle is our mandate. But self denial is not staying where we are unwanted. It is not being accessory to our own victimization. The law of liberty demands that we allow the wolves to howl. We are to love them, bless them and sorrow over their ultimate destruction. But when they choose to remain in the pack, we are to walk away in conscious innocence. And as the unrequited blessing returns to us, it heals our wounds.
So next time the howling wolves refuse to be tamed,
Start bleating like a lamb…
Defend the feeble…
Champion the faint hearted…
Forget their evil surmising…
Dismiss their accusations…
Ignore their rebellion…
Concentrate on the desire you had to bless them…
Focus on the commission you have been given…
Pray “Lord, help me bless the wolves.”
And like Jesus, when necessary, escape out of their hand.