Summary: Jesus sends his followers out into the plentiful harvest. We along with the early disciples are called to prepare the way for Jesus and to carry out his ministry on earth--and in the United States.
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 “Sent Out”
Today is the 234th anniversary of signing of the Declaration of Independence the document that contains those immortal words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights. Among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” What a privilege it is to be able to live in a country where we can celebrate such wonderful personal freedoms. Our country becomes truly great, however, not when we are a nation of hundreds of millions of individuals seeking their personal rights, but rather when we are a nation—a community—of individuals helping each other experience these rights.
As Christians, we are in a unique position to help the people around us experience life, liberty and joy. We are, after all, disciples of Jesus Christ and witnesses to God’s steadfast love and abundant grace.
• Jesus said that he is the way the truth and the life. He also told his followers that he had come so that they could experience life and experience it abundantly.
• St. Paul asserts in his letter to Galatians that Christ has made us free, and he exhorts his readers to stand fast in their freedom.
• Christians emphasize joy rather than happiness (Joy comes from the inside, while happiness is often dependent on outward circumstances). The Psalmist proclaims that the joy of the Lord is his strength.
Our text today tells us how the early followers of Jesus accomplished their calling of ministering to the needs of other people and of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we read about their exploits, we learn what we can do to be witnesses to our faith and to help others experience life, liberty and joy in their lives through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
TAKE A RISK
Jesus sent seventy of his followers out into the countryside. When we read this, it is important for us to realize that traveling in Israel in the first in the first century AD was quite different from today. The very idea of being sent out involved risk. Highwaymen, robbers were common. The plight of the man helped by the Good Samaritan was frequently a real occurrence. So, travelers usually traveled in large groups. When Jesus sent them out two by two, he was asking them to take a risk. Traveling light by not taking any money, traveler’s bag or even extra sandals only added to the risk.
Taking a risk required faith—faith that God was with them, would protect them, and would some how use them. The followers of Jesus were called to express the faith that they confess in lives of action.
The first followers of Jesus were not the only one’s who Jesus called to take risks and to life in faith. Risk taking is required by us if we are to fulfilling our calling, also. Taking a risk is a step of faith as we move out of our comfort zone.
• We take a risk any time we allow our love of Jesus to be expressed beyond the walls of our place of worship. We take a step of faith trusting that Jesus will walk with us as we enter the community of Surprise and our world.
• We take a risk when we share our faith, not knowing how people will react and fearful that they might reject us or that we might offend them. Our faith trusts that somehow the Holy Spirit will use us and create faith within the people.
• We take a risk when we seek to help others. We might be used or taken advantage of. Our faith trusts that the Holy Spirit will work through our talents and abilities to touch the lives of others.
As the disciples traveled to the surrounding towns, Jesus told them that they should eat what was placed before them. In other words, those who Jesus sent out should experience the lives of others.
Faye and I were privileged to lead several travel groups to Europe, Scandinavia, The Holy Land and the Mediterranean. We quickly learned that there were two types of travelers. There were travelers who wanted to experience everything they could that was a part of the countries they were in. Others were constantly on the lookout for McDonalds and Burger Kings. Those who allowed themselves to be daring and to sample to food and culture of the places we visited and toured had a deeper, more meaningful experience than those who simply wanted to take the United States along with them wherever they went.
Being sent out involves experiencing the lives of others. We meet them on their turf and allow them to set the agenda. We seek to share the good news in a language the others can understand. In order to do this, we must first listen. It is necessary, also, for us to seek to understand their situation and their perspective on it. Only then can we engage them in a conversation, minister to their needs, and seek to help them make sense out of the life situations that they are experiencing.