The work of the seventy-two followers
1Later the Lord chose seventy-two other followers and sent them out two by two to every town and village where he was about to go.2He said to them:
A large crop is in the fields, but there are only a few workers. Ask the Lord in charge of the harvest to send out workers to bring it in.3Now go, but remember, I am sending you like lambs into a pack of wolves.4Don't take along a money bag or a travelling bag or sandals. And don't waste time greeting people on the road. 5As soon as you enter a home, say, “God bless this home with peace.”6If the people living there are peace-loving, your prayer for peace will bless them. But if they are not peace-loving, your prayer will return to you.7Stay with the same family, eating and drinking whatever they give you, because workers are worth what they earn. Don't move around from house to house.
8If the people of a town welcome you, eat whatever they offer.9Heal their sick and say, “God's kingdom will soon be here!”
10But if the people of a town refuse to welcome you, go out into the street and say,11“We are shaking the dust from our feet as a warning to you. And you can be sure that God's kingdom will soon be here!”12I tell you that on the day of judgment the people of Sodom will get off easier than the people of that town!
The unbelieving towns
13You people of Chorazin are in for trouble! You people of Bethsaida are also in for trouble! If the miracles that took place in your towns had happened in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have turned to God long ago. They would have dressed in sackcloth and put ashes on their heads. 14On the day of judgment the people of Tyre and Sidon will get off easier than you will.15People of Capernaum, do you think you will be honoured in heaven? Well, you will go down to hell!
16My followers, whoever listens to you is listening to me. Anyone who says “No” to you is saying “No” to me. And anyone who says “No” to me is really saying “No” to the one who sent me.
Somehow, in the last 2,000 years, the church lost its sense of urgency. Not many of us live like we have the pressing agenda outlined in today’s passage. Jesus’ words seem so strange. Maybe they belong in the past.
Yet, it’s a theme throughout the New Testament that time is short for spreading the gospel. It’s not just in this passage. Remember the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20): Go and make disciples of all the nations.
It’s still true, as Jesus said, “A large crop is in the fields, but there are only a few workers” (v 2). We know there is still much work to do … right here. Jesus gives some guidelines about how to share the good news of Christ: gently (like lambs—v 3) and peacefully (eat whatever they give you without complaining—v 8).
He’s saying people need the chance to see him through us, so that they understand the clear choice before them: “Anyone who says ‘No’ to you is saying ‘No’ to me. And anyone who says ‘No’ to me is really saying ‘No’ to the one who sent me” (v 16).
But before you break out in a sweat, this passage brings comfort. We are to do nothing to advance the gospel on our own strength. That’s the point of the commands given to the 72 disciples (be vulnerable: don’t take money or anything else helpful). Don’t be self-reliant and independent. We will have everything we need “for the journey.”
Wow … now that requires faith. Maybe that’s the point too. We need faith more than anything else, if we are to live as “sent” people, and if others are to see Christ in us.
Dear Heavenly Father, gracious and loving God, thank you for all you’ve done in our lives. We pray you will give us the faith and courage we need to tell others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.