Highlighting Mark: Shake the Dust Off



Mark 6:8-11: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff– no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.  9 Wear sandals but not an extra tunic.  10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town.  11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.”

I will be honest; I have done this.

In August of 2006, I ceased being the pastor at one church and moved to another church in another state.  My four years at the church had been quite painful and the leadership of the church quite abusive.  After 4 years, I gave up.  I almost gave up ministry, but God had other plans.  I was driving our UHaul from one state to another.    I left our house and when I came to the edge of town I stopped the UHaul and got out.  I faced the town and shook out my pants and feet towards the direction of the previous church.  True story.

In my mind, this was a Christ-given middle finger to these folks who had hurt me so badly. 

What can I say?  I am not always good or nice.  Sometimes I like imprecatory Psalms.

What is the point of “shake the dust off your feet”?

Jesus told His disciples to do this when they had offered the Gospel and people had not listened.  In my opinion, it was a therapeutic way for the disciples to say “I did all I could do and it got nowhere.”  It is a personal judgment.

We should note two passages from Acts when we talk about this:

Acts 13:49-52 says“The word of the Lord spread through the whole region.  50 But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.  51 So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.  52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”

Spreading God’s Word.  Troubles.  Leaving.  Shake the dust.  Joy for the disciples. 

Acts 18:5-6 also says “When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.  6 But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

Spreading God’s Word.  Troubles.  Leaving.  Shake the dust.  Clearer purpose.

Shaking the dust off our feet is a physical action prescribed by Jesus and practiced by traveling evangelists when a situation did not go well and they had to leave because of hardship and abuse.  It happens.  It is a God-given way to physically communicate you are done with a situation and move on.


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