Posted on Sun, Jul 7, 2013
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
July 7, 2013
7th Sunday after Pentecost
Gospel Text: Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 – “Ministry of All Believers”
The Mission of the Seventy
1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2 He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!” 6 And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9 cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.” 16 ‘Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.’
The Return of the Seventy
17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!’ 18 He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’
I really wonder what the disciples along with the other followers of Jesus were thinking when Jesus gathered them together to send them out to “cure people” and “proclaim the Kingdom of God has come near,” for the first time, ON THEIR OWN.
We aren’t even sure who these “70” appointed individuals were… surely, they were some of those who chose to follow Jesus and his band of chosen disciples, but Luke is keeping them rather anonymous.
The meaning of the number “70” or it could also be “72” according to other scripture sources is not really known. It could relate to the 70 or 72 nations in the world descended from Noah after the flood (Gen. 10); Or, it could be a direct connection with the 72 translators of the Scriptures into Greek, known as the Septuagint. It isn’t clear, but the point I think is important is that the group is much more than the 12 disciples, regular people, the ones that don’t get a piece of scripture named after them… maybe people just like you!
They are sent out totally depending on the goodness and hospitality of the people that would welcome them into their towns; the towns that Jesus would soon be arriving. No purse, no bag, no sandals and they weren’t even to greet anyone on the road. They were only to travel in Jesus’ name, announcing that the “The Kingdom of God has come near to you,” and they were simply ordered to ‘cure the sick who are there (in the villages to which they were sent). When they entered a house, they used the same words of arrival that King David’s servants used to welcome the Calebite clan that lived on the fringe of Israel: “Peace be to you and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have” (1 Samuel 25:6). This was a greeting meant to welcome those who lived on the outside of the Jewish community, but King David wanted to bring them back into the main group.
They were to proclaim the upcoming news that Jesus was coming to their town, THEREFORE Jesus was coming AS the “the Kingdom of God” in human form was actually coming to their town. They were to invite the people of the town to hear the words of the “One who has come in the name of the Lord,” the One in home many people have been healed, exorcised of demons and even raised from the dead.
This was not the normal invitation people would go out and say…
But as they went out, and as they were in Samaritan territory, some were sure to enter Samaritan or Gentile villages, not the just safe Jewish villages slightly up to the north.
Jesus had ordered them to go out into potentially unfriendly and even dangerous territory… but these are the exact people Jesus was trying to bring to faith… therefore, Jesus commanded them to go, and they went.
How do you think they felt being sent out in the first place? How do you think they felt being sent out just two by two, and not with Jesus to lead or protect them; All they really had were the stories of what they had seen Jesus do, and what they had heard him preach… but that is all one needs in order to do ministry.
Put yourself into the story, how would you feel when your master says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” And he then orders you and your fellow followers to: 3 Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road?
No purse? No bag? No sandals? Have you ever walked the trails in Palestine? There are rocks everywhere!!! No sandals? You better have tough feet!
Were they afraid? Of course they were afraid. Did they have doubts? There were many doubts. Did they think this was crazy? They weren’t dumb, they knew the risks were high and why they would go out two by two and not alone… the one thing they would need more than ever is FAITH.
But out they went, and when they came back, all of their fears, doubts and unbelief, were shattered by their amazingly POSITIVE experience! They were filled with fear, doubts and suspicion, but by simply to proclaiming the Kingdom of God was at hand, with Jesus, all things including all forms of healing were possible.
They used the expression, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!’ 18 He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you.”
Demons submitting? Satan falling? Authority to tread on snakes and scorpions? Power over all enemies? What is all of this about?
These are all fearful things? But when we are afraid, where does are fear really come from? It comes from within.
As people of that region, they knew how to handle snakes and scorpions, but what really struck fear in their hearts were Jesus’ words, “Go on your way.” The English is too wimpy, in the Greek it is said in the imperative, and it is a command!
It is safe and secure standing behind Jesus and just following, but Jesus is not about allowing his disciples and followers to just sit in safe and secure places.
Jesus didn't just sit in safe synagogues talking about Scripture; he went out to where the people were living and working and made the scriptures come alive in his preaching, teaching and healing!
The demons, Satan, snakes and scorpions were all the fears that they pictured in their minds causing them to be afraid and make up all sorts of reasons why they shouldn't go out… as lambs surrounded by wolves! But it was in the sharing of the Truth that the Kingdom of God has come near in the person of Jesus Christ, that all these fears, doubts and suspicions were conquered!
How often have we thought about great things our church should and need to do IN ORDER TO MAKE CHRIST KNOWN IN OUR WORLD? … But then there was some reason or excuse, based on fear or doubt, that caused us to not speak up, get involved or take the time to make it happen until completion?
On the other hand, how many times, have there been members of the church that thought of things we really need to do as Calvary by the Sea Lutheran Church, as a Body of Christ, and did them? It took the recognition that there are many people out there that are hurting and we need to train individuals to offer real care for them, with that insight, Stephen Ministry has became one central ministries of our church. It was a group of dedicated individuals and a strong and fearless person like Ivy Olson to recognize that in order for the church to be Christ in the World, we must feed and help those who just need a hand to get them back on track again, and bam! ANC has become and important place of grace and mercy where people can receive food, just because they are hungry, NO JUDGMENT! It took quiet wisdom and understanding by a few to help us realize we need to take care of our body and soul, and soon Yoga by the Sea has came to bless us! It was a group of forward thinking parents that understood we need to teach our children in a new and holistic way, and then our Montessori School was born. The list goes on, Performing Arts Calvary, Calvary IN the Sea, our vocal and handbell choirs, the fund and awareness raising concerts we do for the sake of so many needy people.
Now we face new issues, finding teachers for our Sunday School, creating a clear vision for the future of our buildings and programs on our campus… these aren’t easy issues to face, therefore they require faith and the Spirit of God to accomplish them.
The point is that Jesus is telling us that with the Command to go out and proclaim that through the Spirit of God, the “Kingdom of God has come near to us” each and everyone of us are important to make this Body Live. And the only way for us to grow and conquer our fears, is not by sitting back in a safe, beautiful and protected place, but by going out into the world in faith and sharing the Good News, comforting the afflicted, feeding the poor, standing up for the oppressed, working for justice and the powerless. Like I said before, Jesus didn't stay in the synagogues, when he did, he was kicked out of the building and almost killed by the people he offended when he told them that in his very being, as he quoted Isaiah 61:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’
Jesus came to: bring good news, proclaim release, recovery of sight, let the oppressed go free and proclaim the Lord’s favor…
As a church, you are the Body of Christ, we have been forgiven and strengthened not just to sit and enjoy the view, the fellowship and drink coffee… we are called to “GO OUT!” and boldly go out with a fear conquered through the Cross of Christ, and (upset the world!) proclaim Good News, trust in the wisdom of God to clear your eyes, ears and mind, free those who are oppressed for whatever reason, and most important of all, make sure all people of the world understand they are Children of Christ, redeemed and restored through the faithfulness of God’s Son. Amen
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