When you enter a house, first say, “Peace to this house.” If the head of the house loves peace, your peace will rest on that house; if not, it will return to you.” (>Luke 10:5-6)
Imagine you are going out traveling. You will be visiting in people’s houses, telling them of God and the teacher Jesus who is a devote man of God. As a good Jew, when you enter the house, you give a blessing to all who inhabit the house. But you give the blessing first, before you know if the people inside are good people and if they will be receptive to the message you bring. It is safe though to give this blessing because if they are not receptive to the message, the blessing will be returned to you. That is, the blessing only works when those in the house have the means and determination to fulfill it.
Based on this anecdotal context, this is an interesting scripture passage. First, that such blessings are considered to be like housewarming or hostess gifts. It is given not through a ritual or ceremony, but is likened to knocking on the door or ringing the doorbell. Second, the words or blessing used have a power and potency that is conferred on the people of the household. While not a ceremony, it is a passing on of something tangible from one person to another. Third, that just as it is given, it can be returned or revoked. The blessing, or at least the will and intent, can be taken back, and presumably bestowed on a place/people who are more worthy.
The blessing, it seems, is a matter of determining if there is a right relationships between between God and the chosen people, and amongst the people of the household. This setting and context as I have outlined it above may be a bit presumptuous, but remember that it is Jesus Christ who is giving these instructions, and moreover Lord Jesus Christ who is stipulating the conditions of the blessing. While some commentators see the blessing that Jesus tells his disciples to give as just a “usual form of blessing when entering a house as a guest” I think there is more to it than that. The “usual” would not return if it is not welcome. And Jesus would not send out his disciples without blessing them and equipping them. We can know this because in verse seventeen when the disciples returned they said, “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
There are some faiths, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witness are two I can name most readily, who take very seriously the traveling about to share the gospel. I had a professor in seminary who never turned away the opportunity of talking with them. That is not to see that he listened only to them, but he engaged them in conversation and I am sure evangelized to them as much as they did to him. I have also had some memorable conversations with them.
But we need not be traveling evangelists to give a blessing to those we visit. Neither do we need to limit ourselves to the usual “knock on the door” blessing. May you gentle reader bring a blessing of peace to each place you go, and may those who visit you bring blessings of peace. Selah!