Summary: Jesus sending seventy-two disciples on a short-term missions trip in Luke 10:1-16 gives us several principles regarding missions.
In the first nine chapters of The Gospel of Luke we were introduced to the identity of Jesus as the Messiah sent by God to seek and to save the lost. From Luke 9:51 onwards Luke introduces us to Jesus’ teaching on discipleship.
A disciple is simply a follower, a learner, a student. So, a disciple of Jesus is someone who follows Jesus, learns everything about him, and puts his teaching into practice in his or her own life.
Last time (in Luke 9:57-62) we saw Jesus interact with three would-be disciples. He taught them the cost of discipleship, and so far as we know none of them became a disciple of Jesus. Today, we see that Jesus had at least seventy-two disciples who did count the cost of discipleship. Jesus sent these seventy-two disciples on a short-term missions trip.
Let’s read about the mission of the seventy-two in Luke 10:1-16:
1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. 2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ 6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. 7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.
16 “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” (Luke 10:1-16)
In his book titled Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity Is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power David Aikman tells a story about the China Gospel Fellowship, also known as Tanghe. The Tanghe is a large network of Chinese house churches.
Early in 1994 the Tanghe began collecting money for a special missions trip. The Christians in the Tanghe were poor, but they gave sacrificially in order to support the missions trip. Some of them even gave money they had been saving for marriage. Regardless of the cost, they wanted God to be glorified in this missions trip.