Catch this pearl of wisdom from Jesus: “Stay there until you leave the place.” I always loved that one. But seriously…
Immediately following Jesus’ rejection in his home town, we read how he is not really phased. The end of verse 6 says, “Then he went about among the villages teaching.” I hear that as, “Jesus shrugged it off and moved on with what God had him on this earth to do.” But after this, the movement takes a quick but important shift. “The 12” are no longer just students, following in his footsteps. Now they are sent. Jesus is sending the 12 out to do the work that Jesus has been doing. I once heard someone define “disciple” as “someone who does what their master does”.
That’s what we see here. A disciple is a learner or a student, to be sure. In fact the Greek word for disciple is μαθητεύω (mathēteuō). It’s where we get our word for “mathematics”, which speaks to studying, learning and in this case being a learner. But this learning is not for learning’s sake alone. It’s for doing. A disciple is one who sits at the feet of their master and learns what the master does for the sake of doing what the master does. For six chapters Jesus has been doing, and he will continue to being about doing. But he won’t be the only one. Here he sends the 12 to go out and do what he does.
This rag tag band of Jesus followers were not so long ago whiney little teenagers headed to Toshi station to pick up some power converters. Now they’re in the presence of the master, sent out to do the master’s work in the world. This is our call too. To be a disciple is to go and do what our master does. And in verse 12-13 we read that they did just that: “So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.” They did it. By the power of the Spirit within them, they cast out evil, just as Jesus did, and they healed the sick.
But they likely also didn’t. You see, just as Jesus was rejected, guess what? Very likely so too were the disciples. That’s why Jesus instructs on them what to do if they are not welcomed. We will, just as Jesus did prior to this call, heed his teaching in this call and “shake off the dust that is one our feet” and move on to continue with the hard but good work of doing what our master does. May the force be with you.