Posted on Thu, Jul 7, 2016
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
July 3, 2016
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 “Take It, It’s Free!”
The Mission of the Seventy
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 know we all have calendars with fixed events on our schedules, deadlines and people that depend upon us to get things done on time according to their schedule. Does that bring us life? What happens when there is some kind of curveball or unexpected glitch in our day… like Fridays power outage? Some people say, “children thrive on routine;” but when I watch a child in our Montessori School, which is NOT regimented, get so excited about another new discovery made by making a simple change, or with a new book, instrument, art form, or bug, I begin to wonder how routine opens us up to surprises and new healthy experiences.
When I wake up, I have my devotions, before my feet even hit the floor. If I make the mistake of first looking at my schedule before I do my devotions, I have to start the day over, take a deep breath, try to forget the image of the schedule in my mind, and begin again with my ‘Jesus Calling’ app by Sarah Young with prayer, and do my breathing exercises. Only after I have been reassured of Jesus’ presence and promise to be with me on this new day, do I even dare to put my feet on the floor … No matter what my dog is demanding me to do… I do this so that I will be able to welcome surprises, curveballs, emergencies and such which to are to be expected in my vocation.
The point is that in my short 55 years, I have begun to really believe that without hearing and believing that Jesus is walking with me, holding me, encouraging me, forgiving me, introducing me to new people, thoughts and experiences, my life would feel incomplete. Jesus calls us first to follow Him, and then sends us out into the world for our sake. Jesus knows the amazing world in which we live and the incredible people and experiences waiting for us each morning we wake up. The issue is whether we allow our faith to open our eyes, ears, heart and brain to the blessings of God showers upon us everyday. We may be totally controlled by those schedules and expectations that seem to rule our very lives.
Today’s text is all about the life that Jesus desires us to live, a life full of “ahaa” experiences, a life anticipating the joy of serving and caring for people, the meaningfulness of striving making the world Pono and just. A life with hearts that see other people as Children of God, and the world around as God’s garden where we are the stewards of that Garden. Our lives are short and precious, not a breath or second is to be wasted, every moment given to us is given to help us grow and to make the Kingdom of God known to all people.
Jesus begins his commissioning of the 70, or 72, disciples with a foreboding truth, “3 Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.” It is a matter of fact, and a reflection on or world. If you were commissioned as a missionary of the Division for Global Mission as I was, you would have heard the similar words. People of Jesus day are no different that today. I lost one colleague to an ambush by bandits in West Africa, and many others were forced to evacuate Liberia because of violence, and if I remember correctly some others had to evacuate Panama before the US invasion to overthrow the dictator Manuel Noriega. Some of my colleagues remained in Panama to make document the results of that short but brutal war. But all the missionaries that were forced to leave because of violence and personal danger constantly prayed so that they could go back to their assignments to continue to care for and minister to the people they were sent to preach the Good News of God’s Presence, love, hope, and mercy.
Every two years we had to report to a missionary conference in the Midwest with many of our other global colleagues. The information, videos and stories that were shared all came first hand, and most of the time, none of the suffering and realities of life the missionaries were called to serve, would ever be in the news. Our Prayer Circles would become very intense and passionate. The most amazing prayers were the prayers of thankfulness that we were sent into those oftentimes difficult situations; Why? Because that is where life was really lived in its deepest form. Life on the cusp of survival, life where joy could be found in completing a new well that would provide drinking water to a village; Life where real hope was birthed through the construction of a new hospital or clinic no matter how primitive in the middle of poverty; Life where relief could be realized when teachers taught better ways to take care of cattle, plant rice, or protect their children from mosquitoes, parasites and other dangers that surrounded the people. These were the stories we shared, and these were the stores many of my colleagues lived and found deep meaning in fulfilling their call.
Jesus sends out his 70 or so ‘others’ to go out and do what Jesus had been doing. Their orders and calling were simple, go out and announce to the world that, “the Kingdom of God was at hand!” Some people would refuse to listen, and would be left behind. Jesus had instructions for those kinds of situations, ‘move on,’ and go to people with ears to hear, and eyes to see. If someone has made their mind up not to listen, even to ‘good news,’ their hearts and minds are set in stone, and there will be no changing of their minds. Their hearts and minds may not be shattered until only after they are forced to experience an event that will shatter their heart and allow the reality of life to penetrate their reality. The sad reality is that the entire time they push back the Good News of God’s love, God’s love for them will have never changed.
The disciples go off to the places where Jesus was intending to go, meaning that Jesus had not been to these villages yet. The people only may have heard stories about what Jesus had done, but they had yet to met Jesus face to face. I don't have to wonder what they might have felt when Jesus sent them out two by two. I’ve been there, but look at what Luke writes about their experiences, “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.’”
Don’t focus on scorpions and snakes, God gave us brains but still gives venom to snakes… the point is that upon hearing the Good News of God’s Promise and Mercy, people responded! Eyes were opened, hope was restored, people asked for forgiveness and people forgave! Even the evil that gripped people was conquered! (You can define “evil” in any way you want, it comes in all shapes and sizes!) They came back totally transformed and blown away because they witnessed first hand the power of God’s mercy and love. The Good News that in reality, all people are longing to hear.
Jesus didn't command them to go out and minister for God’s sake … God is just fine thank you very much, Jesus sent them out for the sake of maturing their faith, opening their eyes, ears and hearts to the power of love, grace, mercy, joy and hope through service and proclamation.
This Gospel for today clearly tells the church that our focus is also out in the places and neighborhoods that have yet to hear that God loves them. In order for us to be blessed to be a blessing, we must always be asking ourselves, how can we better serve our neighbors as Redeemed Children of God? We are the 70 in today’s Gospel Text. Many of us have experienced those amazing “AHAA! God Moments!” But the work continues. Don’t let your schedule, title, or even lack of one hold you back when we are called to go out and serve. We have been called and redeemed, let us give thanks by opening our eyes, ears and hearts and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us into new and wonderful ministries. Amen.
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