Reading: Luke 10:1-11; 16-20
I visited a dear brother in his early 90s this week. He told me that his grand daughter is going to Southern Africa as a missionary. We had a good laugh together – he thought it funny that she was going there when I had come here to New Zealand as a pastor from South Africa. The question we discussed was simple – can there ever be too many missionaries? God calls and sends people in all directions – and the message is received. Seeds are sown and people come to faith. It should be the norm, but sadly many people struggle to share their faith, or hope that others will do it for them. Here are some points from this passage today.
KEY THINGS IN THIS PASSAGE TODAY
1. Ministry is not limited to the 12. Who are these 70 or 72? They were ordinary people with a Mission. It’s not limited to professionals either today.
Luk 10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.
2. The agricultural image of the harvest lines up with other passages – for example Luke 8:10-15 the sowing of the seed which is the Word of God (vs.11)
Luk 10:2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.
We are not to coerce people into the job of labourers for this mission. Pray for the Lord of the harvest to raise them up! It is His mission.
3. The Lord of the harvest then sends them out – this is not about PR or marketing – this is a divinely appointed task to share the Word and plant the seed. Have a look at the next verses:
Luk 10:3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.
Luk 10:4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
They are to travel light, not weighed down by stuff (the church is often weighed down by stuff not central to its mission. For example, I spend a lot of time sorting out things that are not part of my calling). All of us spend a lot of time on non-essentials that don’t really build the kingdom of God.
Not greeting people is not being rude – it’s about not being side-tracked again by non-essential gossip and idle chit chat. It has been suggested that a formal cultural greeting in those days could take a couple of hours. You see this in other cultures – like traditional greetings or votes of thanks at Presbytery meetings to those who do the catering – in some cultures they are very long speeches indeed. (How do we allocate our words?? Word economy is an interesting idea.)
Luk 10:5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’
Luk 10:6 If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.
4. “Peace be with you” is like saying God be with you. At our recent citizenship ceremony, the Kaumata’s karakia – his prayer of blessing – began with “Peace be upon this gathering”).
Luke 10:6 If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you – this is key – our mission is to be to and with people who are people of peace – they are open to you and you invest in a relationship with them. Logically – you can’t build with those who don’t seek peace. They are certainly not open to the prince of peace or the Gospel.
If you don’t receive peace back – move on. You’ve got urgent business and only so much time, – don’t waste it with people who are not people of peace. In our lives we have only so many hours in the day and the week for relationships. Missional church people make this their main focus – on the people who are children of peace – who are more likely to open their homes to you.
5. In verses 7 and 8 we read this: Luk 10:7 Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
Luk 10:8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you.
Hospitality is inverted – the 72 are to receive hospitality. If you have to shake the dust off your feet it means that they haven’t done the job of hospitality – which included washing your feet. Otherwise there would be no dust!
Jesus tells them to stay in homes that welcome them (people of peace obviously). Hospitality is important in Mission. A number of key things happen in homes – look at Acts 10 and 11 Peter and Cornelius, Paul in Ananias’ house in Acts 9 – Lydia in Acts 16 – salvation involves belonging – giving of oneself and receiving of another – becoming part of a covenant community where people eat together – and when you eat with people you usually talk and share your lives more.
We are to go out and be guests to their hospitality, which is not easy for some whose kids embarrass them in peoples’ homes, who won’t eat their food and so on. Parents pray the kids will be okay and polite!
6. Luk 10:9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’
Like last week’s discussion, the key message is the Kingdom, and healing is a normal part of it. Logically enough – God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven means wholeness, healing, restoration, and a new way of living, and a new community.
Not everyone will accept this:
Luk 10:10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say,
Luk 10:11 “Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.’
7. The last passage is a warning that you should not worry about feeling rejected when sharing the gospel of God. It’s God they are rejecting. Listen again: Luk 10:16 “He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
8. The real battle is spiritual. That’s why we have to guard our unity. Listen again:
Luk 10:17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” Luk 10:18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Luk 10:19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
9. And of course don’t be to excited when you are successful: Listen to Jesus again: Luk 10:20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
I don’t think we are in great danger of getting over excited. But pride is a dangerous thing when we overrate ourselves. The real victory is Jesus over Satan – the cross remains the central place of power and success – paradoxically because it felt like a defeat.
So what about us?
The Missional church movement reminds us of the biblical mandate for Mission. God has a mission. God’s mission has a church.
The Matthew 28 great commission is “Go in to all the world” not “bring the world into the church building to hear the message”.
Perhaps that’s why Messy Church works.
- It’s not in a church.
- It is around food.
- It focusses on doing things together where there are conversations in which we get to know people and are included in their lives.
And still – there is a message – there is prayer – truth is presented which is the seed sown in the lives of the folk that come along.
It’s not just a time to keep kids busy.
Hospitality is shared, – given and received.
You could come along too.
And tomorrow you will be out there – the extension of the mission of the 72 – God’s mission has a church – and that’s you.