Luke 10:1-20 (MSG)
10 1-2 Later the Master selected seventy and sent them ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he intended to go. He gave them this charge:
“What a huge harvest! And how few the harvest hands. So on your knees; ask the God of the Harvest to send harvest hands.
3 “On your way! But be careful—this is hazardous work. You’re like lambs in a wolf pack.
4 “Travel light. Comb and toothbrush and no extra luggage.
“Don’t loiter and make small talk with everyone you meet along the way.
5-6 “When you enter a home, greet the family, ‘Peace.’ If your greeting is received, then it’s a good place to stay. But if it’s not received, take it back and get out. Don’t impose yourself.
7 “Stay at one home, taking your meals there, for a worker deserves three square meals. Don’t move from house to house, looking for the best cook in town.
8-9 “When you enter a town and are received, eat what they set before you, heal anyone who is sick, and tell them, ‘God’s kingdom is right on your doorstep!’
10-12 “When you enter a town and are not received, go out in the street and say, ‘The only thing we got from you is the dirt on our feet, and we’re giving it back. Did you have any idea that God’s kingdom was right on your doorstep?’ Sodom will have it better on Judgment Day than the town that rejects you.
13-14 “Doom, Chorazin! Doom, Bethsaida! If Tyre and Sidon had been given half the chances given you, they’d have been on their knees long ago, repenting and crying for mercy. Tyre and Sidon will have it easy on Judgment Day compared to you.
15 “And you, Capernaum! Do you think you’re about to be promoted to heaven? Think again. You’re on a mudslide to hell.
16 “The one who listens to you, listens to me. The one who rejects you, rejects me. And rejecting me is the same as rejecting God, who sent me.”
17 The seventy came back triumphant. “Master, even the demons danced to your tune!”
18-20 Jesus said, “I know. I saw Satan fall, a bolt of lightning out of the sky. See what I’ve given you? Safe passage as you walk on snakes and scorpions, and protection from every assault of the Enemy. No one can put a hand on you. All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you—that’s the agenda for rejoicing.”
When I first knew that God was calling me to this church… I began disassembling our house and packing boxes. I packed boxes every day for three months and stacked them in the garage. Even with yard sale, many late night runs to various dumpsters, and trips to Good Will… I still had filled a large two car garage and stacked two and three boxes high.
I thought, for two people who had accumulated a lifetime of stuff… this wasn’t too bad —
Until the day the semi-trailer truck pulled into our little cul-de-sac for the move. The driver walked through the house and began putting yellow tags with numbers on everything….
Before he had come close to finishing… he said Oh, Oh..
Apparently the company contracted to estimate the load had been inaccurate… by 4000 pounds… (remember the estimate was made BEFORE sorting, selling, throwing and donating.
I asked if there was a problem, and he said there was. The estimate was for only ¾ of the trailer… and he was to pick up two more loads in route to Nebraska…He had to call his office in Michigan to have another truck sent for the other loads. I still could not believe our stuff would take up that much space in a semi-trailer…
Well, after eight hours of five men and two dollies loading the trailer to within inches of the roof… and front to back— they got it all loaded — but barely. And we didn’t bring washer and dryer or refrigerator. After preparing for this move – literally handling every possession we have… then packing the truck… I can now understand why it was that Jesus suggested to his followers that we ‘carry no purse, no bag, no sandals’….
Jesus understood how belongings can be a burden – how possessions divide our attention–how things divert our focus –how stuff can prevent progress
Jesus then sent these followers out in pairs, rather than one by one…We are not given his reasoning for this, Maybe Jesus thought it was more effective to send his followers out in pairs sharing diverse gifts.
They would be accountable to one another, They would be encouragement for one another, They would be safer traveling in pairs. But who were these followers?
Scripture just states that Jesus appointed seventy others…Not priests… not prophets… not scholars… not royalty…
Others sent to share God’s peace – cure the sick – cast out demons – and share God’s love..Contrary to popular belief these acts do not require professional religious leaders – to perform these acts requires trust in God’s reign. Sending out ordinary people shows us that everyone is called into God’s ministry….and can carry out that ministry in any number of ways.
Flannel blankets cut and tied are a ministry to children through Linus Project – and to those at the end of life in the hospital.
Some of these are tied by young people with mental illness; older people who still wish to contribute and everyone in between. Taking turns to serve breakfast to the homeless. Collecting household items for refugees Distributing necessities to panhandlers Picking up the tab for groceries for a struggling family. Collecting eye glasses for the poor Giving rides to dr appts Hospice House volunteer – ministry was to go room to room and clean the resident’s glasses.
These are ministries – that do not require professional training –Theological research Special skills Or money….Just time — and a desire to be part of God’s ministry…
The followers were sent out empty handed –
Another reason for this might have been so that these followers ministry to others would require them to depend on relationships to survive…It required them to help others learn to help themselves, rather than supplying for their need—or fixing the problem….
Is this story a good example of a successful ministry? It was seventy ordinary people – untrained – unskilled and sent out in pairs When it comes to having a successful ministry- it may not look like what we would expect –When the seventy returned excited at their ‘success’, Jesus reminded them that their success was because of him… and not they themselves…
Often, ministers measure the ‘successes of their ministry by the numbers in the pews… by the money in the plate If that is a legitimate way of measuring… then many churches are very UNSUCCESSFUL…
FACEBOOK Modern Religion Focuses on Filling Churches with People. The True Gospel Emphasizes Filling People With God.(www.revivial-library.com)
Jesus taught us to be more concerned with the health of the community not the size of it. Jesus knew the difference between CROWDS and followers…One who reads the gospel of Matthew quickly realizes there is a real difference between crowds and disciples.
So, it may be that the message we have here is The health of a church is not based upon the number of people who attend.
But whether the church is producing disciples.
So when we worry about church growth —Remember – we are healthy and successful Because
We are more concerned with growing disciples than numbers!