Summary: Jesus provides us with instructions so that we can become missionaries of His word
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
May the words of my mouth be acceptable to you, O Lord, and encourage us to be ‘sent out’. Amen.
We always talk about the twelve disciples, but today our Gospel reading points out that there were a lot more disciples than just the original twelve. If you look at the meaning of the word ‘disciple’, the dictionary defines it as:
One who is sent
So, we have additional disciples ‘sent out’ by Jesus to bring the good news to the people. In this reading we heard that Jesus sent out seventy disciples. However, depending on the various Greek source, there are two differing opinions as to the number of new disciples. The New International Version of the Bible indicates that there were 72 sent out; the New Revised Standard Version which we use says seventy. Noted theologians consider the seventy sent out by Jesus to be the New Testament equivalent of the seventy leaders appointed by Moses in the Old Testament.
By sending the disciples out, Jesus transferred His Spirit to them, so they would be equipped for leadership in the new faith. The seventy were to be the hands, feet, legs, hearts, and minds of Jesus. That is still true today. For Jesus to complete his mission in today’s world, He needs hands, feet, legs, hearts, and minds; he needs willing hands, willing hearts, willing minds and willing spirits. Jesus still gets work done today through his disciples. These were not religious professionals or rabbis, but common ordinary people.
Jesus sent all his disciples out two-by-two, just as He sent out the twelve:
The twelve were sent out two-by-two. The seventy were sent out two-by-two. (Mark 6:7)
Today, we think of young Mormon missionaries going out two-by-two. Why two-by-two? It gives courage, confidence and strength to go out with a partner. One reason Mormon missionaries are the most effective missionaries in the world today is because they are trained in missionary faith and then they are sent out together. Going together made for effective evangelism two thousand years ago and still works today.
Jesus gave these new disciples the following warnings:
• The work is urgent. There is not time to waste, for the harvest is ready.
• It won't be easy. In fact, sometimes you'll feel like you are like a lamb stalked by a wolf. Sometimes when you think the 'harvest is ready' it won't be --- there will be some who will be less than welcoming.
• You don't need to take much with you. No cash or credit cards. Not a change of clothes. Not an extra pair of shoes. Not your cell phone, your new used car, or your Facebook page.
• You're not in charge of how people respond. You are just the messenger, the one speaking on behalf of Jesus. You do not have any say about where and when you go. You will stay until it is time to go.
• You need to anticipate rejection by the world which is essentially hostile to the love of Christ. If a village does not return peace,
you must brush the dust off your sandals (Luke 10:11), -
leave and go somewhere else.
• You will need to be able to simply accept the gifts of those who welcome you. You will eat what you are served; usual dietary rules are to be abandoned, if you are a vegetarian, you must might have to eat meat.
On the other hand, He gave them the following assurances:
• You will have a companion with you; you will never be alone. You will have each other to help keep your eyes on the goal; help each other when things get tough.
• You have a simple message --- you are to declare peace wherever you go. You will be sent out with a declaration of the Kingdom and God's salvation and authority. It is a message of blessing.
What a simple message!
I think we often tend to make things far too complicated. When a new worshipper finds her way into this church through our website, advertisement, curiosity, or be invitation, public relations will only get us so far. If new worshipper isn’t welcomed at the door; if a long time member doesn’t extend kindness to them; if the worshipper doesn’t hear the Gospel preached simply... I don’t believe they will return.
All of these unique gifts – welcoming, inclusion, true preaching of the good news of Jesus and friendship, are like what the seventy offered so long ago. People are reached in the same way: with kindness and with a message of peace. It is not fancy, but it is still very effective.
Jesus wasn’t going to send his disciples into places where he himself was not intending to go. In Luke 10:1, we hear He: