Sermon: Peace to this House

July 3, 2022

Galatians 6:1-16
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

by Eric Anderson

The Messiah had set his course. He was on his way to Jerusalem.

Jerusalem was the obvious and expected destination for someone claiming to be the Messiah. The Messiah, after all, would claim the monarchy, would cast out the representatives of the foreign empire, would remove as well those who claimed kingship over the Jewish people. Those in power were not descended from King David, after all. Their claim to the throne wasn’t legitimate.

Sending messengers ahead to prepare the way made sense as well. As well as echoing Isaiah 40’s pronouncement, “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD,” these messengers would also serve to gather followers to the Messiah’s ranks. A monarch needed followers, and servants, and supporters. Mostly, of course, a king needed an army.

Except that… Jesus didn’t tell his messengers to recruit an army.

As Mikeal Parsons writes at Working Preacher, “Rather than equipping the disciples for ‘Holy War’ against infidels, Jesus ‘de-equips’ them of the requisite travel paraphernalia: ‘Do not carry a wallet, a travel bag, or sandals; and greet no one along the way’ (Luke 10:3; cf. 9:3). The absence of standard traveling equipment indicates the total dependence of the disciples on the Sender… Jesus gives further instruction regarding the disciples’ behavior when entering a house: ‘Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if a peaceful person happens to be there, your peace will remain on him. If that is not the case, it will return to you’ (Luke 10:5-6). The command to greet householders with ‘peace’ is not only adopting common Jewish practice, but it characterizes the message of Jesus’ good news, fulfills the promise expressed in the infancy narrative (Luke 1:79; 2:14, 29), anticipates the greeting issued by the resurrected Christ to the disciples (Luke 24:36), and thus expresses a robust eschatological hope. The pronouncement of peace will find fulfillment if within the house there is a ‘peaceful person,’ literally, a ‘son of peace.’”

This is not how you lead a successful rebellion. On this Fourth of July weekend, I can’t help observing that it’s not how the United States gained its independence. Historically, most armed rebellions fail. Unarmed rebellions – protests that lead to governmental change or a new independent country – aren’t all that successful, either. As you think about the late 20th century and the early 21st century, though, I’m pretty sure you can think of more transitions accomplished through peaceful protest than through armed conflict.

Jesus, however, didn’t recruit a protest movement, either. Instead, his pairs of messengers were to say two things: “Peace be on this house,” and “the kingdom of God has come near to you.”

“Discipleship,” writes Cheryl Lindsay at, “comes by invitation not by force. The kindom is realized not by conquest or coercion but by choice and agency.”

Dr. Lindsay deliberately uses the word “kin-dom” rather than “kingdom” to emphasize the difference between a nation state ruled by a monarch and a community gathered by compassion and commitment.

You and I are the heirs both of the householders greeted with peace and of the messengers who brought that peace. Somewhere along the line, someone greeted you with this blessing, if not with these words: “Peace be upon this house.” Someone communicated to you the depth of God’s care, the comfort of God’s presence, the limitless extent of God’s love. Somewhere along the line, someone wished you peace, and peace rested on you.

You and I are also the heirs of the messengers. Our first task is to bless other people with peace. It still horrifies me that Christians have ever considered, let alone adopted, let alone justified, attempts to convert people by force. It is a complete reversal of Jesus’ instructions as well as Jesus’ own actions. As Amy G. Oden writes at Working Preacher, “Here again, Jesus does not instruct them to argue, convince, or threaten if they are not welcomed.”

Just… bring peace.


Because that shows that the kingdom, the kindom, the realm, the reign, the community of God has come near. God’s country is one of peace. God’s Messiah is Prince of Peace. God’s messengers are messengers of… peace.

Not war. Not threats. Not condemnation. Peace.

Dr. Oden continues, “He [Jesus] does advise them to signal their moving on by shaking dust off their shoes (verse 11). In this way, they are not weighed down by rejection, or paralyzed with trying to figure out what they did wrong or could have done differently to produce a different outcome. Instead, Jesus invites them to move forward in the confidence of these two proclamations, ‘Peace to this house!’ and ‘The kingdom of God has come near.’”

The world is as it has been for generations: It is full of turmoil. It is stressful enough to live the ordinary realities of life: the need to coax food from the ground and to create places of shelter. Our technical society adds a great many layers – transportation, medical care, social organization – to those basic needs, but don’t let anyone kid you: without that accumulated human labor, human life could not be sustained.

Then we add the problems of human-created stresses: conflicts, greed, violence, racism, sexism, nationalism. Why we insist on making life harder than it already is I really don’t know. Do we really think that selfishness has such a great track record? Do we really think it works for us?

In contrast, Jesus says to us, “Bring peace to those houses. Bring peace to those neighbors. Bring peace to the strangers. Bring peace and let it rest there. Bring peace, because in peace they will know this great truth: the realm of God has come near.”


Watch the Recorded Sermon

Pastor Eric sometimes makes changes from his prepared sermon text. Sometimes they’re intentional.

The image is a miniature in a 15th century Greek manuscript by an unknown artist. Public Domain,

Categories Sermons | Tags: | Posted on July 3, 2022

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