Matthew 10:12-13 As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.
When you visit someone, do you greet them or bless them?
What unworthiness would necessitate the withdrawal of a blessing? The immediate context appears to be hospitality or households refusing to take in the disciples (Mat 10:9-10), provide sustenance for them, and give tribute worthy of their meat (Mat 10:11). But what ministry from these messengers cause them to be worthy of the gift of meat? The Greek translation for the word peace is eirene, a unique peace that is more properly associated with justice and goods.
Note, the phrase peace to you in the scripture as a greeting, comes from the Lord after he has been resurrected (Luke 24:36, John 20:19-21, and John 20:26). Peace to you occurs only once in the Old Testament from the mouth of a servant to Joseph’s household, “Peace be to you, fear not…” (Gen 43:23). Without promoting a false understanding of prosperity, health, and riches, and the subsequent security that comes from financial provision, one can see plainly the provision God has given to the children of Jacob through the hand of Joseph, by means of Egypt, which is an interesting provision for Hebrews through justice and goods.
The Lord gives instruction for those who will not receive or hear the disciples’ words (Matthew 10:14) “shake off the dust of your feet”. Are their words simply a blessing or greeting given when one comes or goes in a household? As the Lord continues, where there is rejection, they are to shake the dust from their feet. When Jews would travel from Gentile lands back into the holy land, they would shake their dust from their feet because of its unworthiness to enter the land. But, it is the lost sheep of Israel that the Lord is sending the disciples to (Matthew 10:6).
Note, the phrase peace to you in the scripture as a greeting, come from the Lord after he has been resurrected…
The Lord then pronounces condemnation on the rejection they will inevitably receive on this mission. He says it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city (Matthew 10:15). Ultimately, they have rejected the Christ true justice and provision of goods in the Kingdom!
The peace being brought into these homes is the peace that Christ brought to the disciples when they were locked away in fear and trembling because of the Jews. This peace is the news that the Father has sent the Lord Jesus, as he sends us. This peace is the same that greeted the doubting Thomas who was convinced from witnessing the risen Lord.
The punishment Sodom and Gomorrah received was not due to their lack of hospitality, as some may have claimed. We know that they received punishment because of their wickedness, and received death the first time, and eternal punishment slated for the next. They however did not receive the peace of the gospel, the glorious news of a resurrected savior from the mouths of those who are witnesses thereof!
Looking at Mark 6:12 or Luke 9:5-6, we see the message the disciples brought, the peace given unto others in their homes and towns, was the message that men should repent. Whoever rejected this message, rejected the Messiah, the one who issued the command and who came with authority from on high. This rejection of the Christ is a testimony against them.
We preach Christ and him crucified. We rejoice in the power of him resurrected. And, we bring peace to those who receive it, believe it, and are brought into his body.