Summary: Today’s passage reminds us that with salvation comes the responsibility to join the task of sharing the good news with those who have not yet heard. Some will go great distances, others will share with friends and neighbors, but we are all called . . . .
Bringing Joy To The Lord’s Heart
Luke’s Gospel account is the only one that tells of the sending out of the seventy. It is also the only version that describes their joyous return and victory over the forces of darkness. These seventy men are not called apostles but they are still sent with a commission to represent the Lord. Today’s passage reminds us that with salvation comes the responsibility to join the task of sharing the good news with those who have not yet heard. Some will go great distances, others will share with friends and neighbors, but we are all called to do something.
Jesus did not leave the ministry to just the twelve. Neither does he today leave the ministry only to those who are pastors or staff members.
Something that is particularly powerful to me in this passage is that in verse twenty-one, Luke says Jesus “rejoiced” upon hearing the report of the results of the mission of the seventy. This is the only place in scripture where this particular word is used to describe the emotions of Jesus.
It is mind-boggling to me to realize that we have the capacity to make God rejoice by our faithful ministry. This morning I want to look at “How Can I Bring Joy To The Lord’s Heart?”
1. There Is A Call That Needs Answering (vv. 1-4)
”After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. (2) Then He said to them, "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. (3) Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. (4) Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road.”
Jesus recruited seventy additional soldiers for duty on the front-line. We are not told their names and we do not know how or when Jesus selected them. But we do know that when Jesus called they were ready to go. Jesus tells the seventy that there is much work to do, but not enough people to do the work (v.2), "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few.” He also tells them that this evangelistic mission will be dangerous (v.3), “I send you out as lambs among wolves.” Jesus knew that they would face opposition and danger in preaching this new message.
He also conveys a sense of urgency to the mission by telling them to travel light (v. 4); “Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road.” When he says, “greet no one along the road,” Jesus is not telling the disciples to be rude to people, he is warning them against engaging in the Jewish custom of long and elaborate time-consuming greetings when meeting people on the road. He is telling them to get on with what they have been called to do and not let anything turn them aside. “Don’t live cluttered lives or get so caught up in the social whirl that we forget the spiritual purpose of our existence!”
Jesus goes on to say in verse seven, “and remain in the same house … do not go from house to house,” that is that the disciples are not to go from house to house socializing. We need to realize that the urgency of carrying the message of Jesus has intensified not diminished with the passage of time. In fact the principles of traveling light and urgency of the task are timeless. I think that there is an important principle inherent in this passage that immobilizes us today from spreading the gospel. It is the notion that there is just too much work to do in God’s mission field, and I am only one person what difference can I make. There is no way that my efforts will make a difference. That notion is false.
“I recently read about an old man, walking the beach at dawn, who noticed a young man ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Catching up with the youth, he asked what he was doing. The answer was that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun. ‘But the beach goes on for miles and miles, and there are millions of starfish,’ countered the man. ‘How can your effort make any difference?’ The young man looked at the starfish in his hand and then threw it to safety in the waves. ‘It makes a difference to this one,’ he said.”
Jesus instructed these disciples, and in turn all believers, to ask God to send out more laborers (v.2), “… therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” The first thing to do is pray. Why must we pray? Because this is the Lord’s work. What is impossible with men is possible with God. If there is going to be a great reaping of the harvest it will be because of God. The harvest we want is impossible with us.