As the twelve assembled for their instructions, they were likely filled with anticipation. Jesus was sending them out with power and authority. They were going to do the things Jesus had done, and everyone knew that what Jesus did was very exciting. Perhaps they felt as if they were on the brink of fame, of becoming first century "superstar" evangelists. People were going to receive them and provide for them, just like they did for Jesus. This journey business was going to be fun!
Everything sounded good until Jesus added a little postscript. "And about those who reject you..." He said. Reject us? What happened to those receiving us? "About those who do not receive you," Jesus went on to explain. It turned out that not everyone would embrace the twelve, nor the truth they hoped to share. Some people would actually reject them. Considering what happened to first century people labeled as heretics, they probably thought, "This might not go so well."
The response Jesus recommended to rejection was a little surprising. They were not to stay and argue with the rejecters. They were to leave that town and shake the dust off their feet as they left in symbolic testimony against them. Jesus had given them power over demons but not every battle, not even every spiritual battle, was theirs to fight. Sometimes, they were to walk away.
There is a tendency to feel a sense of relief that the twelve were not required to stay and suffer through the rejection and humiliation it could bring. It gives us hope for avoiding similar situations, doesn't it? If we aren't careful, though, our relief will cause us to overlook a tragic fact. The rejecters were costly to their town. When the twelve encountered those who rejected them, they were to leave. When they left, no one else in the town would hear them preach the truth of Jesus. No one else would experience the healing they had come to give. They might find His truth elsewhere, but it would not be from the messengers Jesus had sent.
When you consider the implications, the price of their rejection of Jesus is heartbreaking! We see this and are appalled that a few could cost the rest such an important gift, but do we stop to consider what our own rejection of truth costs us? What it costs those around us? When we embrace the truth of Christ, it changes us and makes us more like Him. When we reject His truth, even portions of it, it changes us, too. Forgiving your enemies is not optional for believers, but it is a principle that is often rejected. When we live a life of unforgiveness, it affects everyone around us.
A careful Holy-Spirit-powered inspection of our lives is in order. Let us carefully consider the ways in which we reject truth, the ways in which we fail to live as Christ would live. As we consider our own rejections, let us not lose sight of the price those rejections of truth will exact for the ones most dear to us. May we embrace the truth of our Lord and demonstrate it by the purity of our lives so that all those who know us will be drawn to Him.
Let us live "the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth, so help me, God."