Imagine that Jesus did a supernatural act and revealed himself to a small group of church people and taught them truth straight from his mouth. He then told this small group to go into the Bible Belt of America and proclaim his teaching there. He also empowered them by his Holy Spirit to do all kinds of crazy phenomena: raise the dead, heal the sick, cast out demons, and so on.
Now imagine the Christians of the Bible Belt shunning this small group. Though they should have been able to recognize the teaching of Christ and the touch of the Holy Spirit upon their lives, they didn’t. Instead of allowing them into their homes, they kick them out on the streets, telling them to never come back.
How could this happen in the Bible Belt? These people are Christians. Don’t they get it? Don’t they recognize what’s happening? Don’t the Scriptures make sense to them? How could they have missed it?
Something like this happens in Jesus’ time. He raises up disciples and sends them out into the “Bible Belt” of his time to preach the gospel to God-followers. If they’ve really studied the Scriptures, they should recognize the teaching. If they have really sat in the prophecies of old, they should be able to catch onto the truth hidden in its words. If they remember the kinds of things the Holy Spirit did through the anointed leaders of their faith, they should be able to recognize the same power in these disciples.
But some did not, and Jesus was harsh on these rejectors. In ancient times, the Jews were supposed to dust their feet off after going to Palestine so as to not pollute the holy land with the dust of unholy land. This is the same kind of thinking that Jesus gave to his disciples: “If you go to a house or town that doesn’t accept you, shake the dust off your feet. It will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.”
Wow. More bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah? So it seems. Apparently, from Jesus’ perspective, claiming to follow God when you don’t even recognize him is worse than being a blatant sinner. The standards for the God-follower are high.
Let us keep our eyes on Jesus and recognize him when we see him. For if we do not pay attention, we may find ourselves shunning the very God we love and serve.
*This devotional was created out of the themes of Matthew 9:35-10:15 found in today’s reading at CommonPrayer.net. Below are the various AI-created pictures I typed into existence via Mid Journeyto mock up artwork for today’s post.