Go like lambs (10:1-5)
Christian mission continues to need workers. But a special type of worker. Ones who serve with a lambs heart. Then their mission will be dependent on God and not on method, strategy, guilt, or fear. Mission can only happen when we are totally dependent on God. Mission is not about marketing.
Notice also that Jesus sends them out in twos. He could have got twice as much done by sending them alone. There is no place in the Kingdom for solo ministry, We need one another. This ensures the task of mission is done with accountability.
Every generation has to pick up the batten to reach their generation. Mission shaped church, mission shaped congregations, mission shaped cells look so different to those which have declined into just maintenance mode.
Engage with people (10:5-16)
Surprisingly, Jesus says very little about the method of mission or the messages to be delivered. He is much more interested in them ministering to need, revealing the power of God and sharing in their own words where that ministry and power comes from. This was how they were to do mission. This is how we should "do" mission.
That doesn’t mean our message, his message will always be accepted. He was and we will be rejected. Different approaches are needed for different situations. Travelling light is key to this. The minister deserves his wage (1 Tim 5:18). It is too easy to water down the message of the gospel to please the community, to earn a good reputation in the eyes of the authorities, to make a bob to two. Even in the UK we face these issues. Our dependence on Gift Aid is a classic example. Already we avoid grant aid because it comes from unacceptable sources (e.g. gambling), or unacceptable conditions (e.g. sexuality). How long before Gift Aid has the same restrictions?
In their houses (10:5-7) – speaking peace and living relationally for the long haul.
In their towns (10:8-16) – speaking judgement and living the kingdom.
But that is not to say that life and death are unimportant. Jesus was put to death so we might live. It’s that important. And that simple. God shows us his good faith by offering to us the blessings of his Kingdom now and for all eternity, we in return and in good faith simply have to embrace his gift, Jesus Christ.
This mission is simply about sharing the kingdom. But what does that mean, today? John Piper puts it this way:
1. The kingdom overcomes physical misery and brings healing.
In Luke 10:8-9 Jesus sends out the seventy disciples and tells them, "Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you; heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’" Note the connection between the coming of the kingdom and the healing of the sick. Heal and say the kingdom has come near.
This is a tremendously important part of Jesus’ ministry: he preached the kingdom and healed the sick again and again and again. This was his basic style of ministry; it was his modus operandi. You see this especially in the summary verses like Matthew 4:23, "He went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people" (cf. Matt. 9:35; 10:8; 11:2-6; Luke 4:16-20). Isn’t that amazing! Every disease and every infirmity!
2. The kingdom overcomes death and brings resurrection.
When Jesus sent out the twelve apostles it says in Matthew 10:7-8 that he told them, "Preach as you go saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead . . ." They were to preach, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand!" And they were to perform certain signs including raising the dead. So one of the ways the kingdom comes is by overcoming death and bringing resurrection.
But notice something very important. To our knowledge Jesus raised only three people from the dead during his earthly ministry (Matt. 9:18-26; Luke 7:11-17; John 11:38-44). In the book of Acts the apostles raised two people from the dead (Acts 9:36-43; 20:9-10).
Jesus healed people by the hundreds, or even thousands, but raised only three from the dead. Ultimately it comes down to this: in the overlap of this age and the age to come — in the "already" and the "not yet" of redemption, in the time of the mystery of the kingdom — God wills that some blessings of the age to come be experienced more fully than others. And he chooses as he wills which blessings we will have now and in what measure. I suspect that one reason Jesus raised so few people from the dead is that it is no great blessing to have to die twice.
We must always keep in mind that virtually all the people Jesus healed and raised got sick again and died. The blessings were temporary in this fallen age. They were signs — pointers, foretastes — of the great final resurrection and "the redemption of our bodies" (Romans 8:23). Sickness and death were not abolished with the coming of Jesus. His healings and resurrections were signs that in the final Kingdom they would be abolished.
3. The kingdom overcomes demonic oppression and brings deliverance.
In Luke 11:20 Jesus says, "If it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." So the arrival of the kingdom brings an unprecedented conflict with Satan and his demons. It is amazing to consider that in the whole Old Testament only about five of the 39 books even mention Satan. And no where does any prophet or priest or king or wise man cast out any demons. But as soon as Jesus is on the seen he is in conflict with Satan in the wilderness and his ministry involved casting out "many demons" (Mk. 1:34); and in Matthew 10:1 it says, "Jesus called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out . . .
4. The kingdom overcomes rebellion and brings conversion.
Jesus made clear that no one enters the kingdom without being converted. In Matthew 18:3 he says, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn (be converted!) and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
When the rich young ruler turns away from Jesus and Jesus says, "It will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven," the disciples are amazed and say, "Who then can be saved?" To this Jesus responds, "With men this is impossible (to enter the kingdom and be saved), but with God all things are possible." (Matt. 19:23-26). Being converted and entering the kingdom is not merely the work of man. With men it is impossible to enter the kingdom and be saved. But not with God. God can convert people and bring them into the kingdom.
5. The kingdom overcomes condemnation and brings forgiveness.
The kingdom of heaven is like a king who called his debtors to account, and when one of them pleads for mercy concerning a million dollar debt, the king has pity and forgives him everything he owes. The kingdom overcomes condemnation and brings forgiveness. And we know from this side of the cross how the King did it!
6. The kingdom overcomes wrongdoing and brings ri
Where the kingdom of God comes the will of God is done — justice and righteousness abound. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God," Jesus said, "and his righteousness . . . in the Holy Spirit." When the kingdom of God comes, it comes with righteousness. Paul said in Romans 14:17, "The kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness . . ."
7. The kingdom overcomes sadness and brings joy.
It’s obvious that if the kingdom brings life and healing and deliverance and conversion and forgiveness and righteousness, it would also bring great joy. But Paul makes the point explicit in Romans 14:17 when he says, "The kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness joy and peace in the Holy Spirit." And Jesus made it just as plain when he said, "Blessed — happy — are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:10). The kingdom overcomes sadness and brings joy — even in the midst of suffering.
8. The kingdom overcomes aimless futility and brings purposeful ministry.
Revelation 1:6. John says, "[Jesus] has made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." What the kingdom creates when it draws men and women into its power is a priesthood of believers. And priests are above all ministers. If you belong to the kingdom of God, you belong to a "royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2:9). You are a priest. Your calling is to draw near to God with the burdens of people, and to draw near to people with the blessings of God. That’s what it means to be a priest.
Return with joy (10:17)
Kingdom mission may start with prayer and ends, as Piper points out, with joy. A cosmic battle happens when God’s people are engaged in sharing the gospel. This is the true place of spiritual warfare. The battle is being waged now, but the victory was one on Calvary’s cross. These 72 were the first foot soldiers in a battle which we join in today. But we, at the same moment, experience the joy of victory. What joy when another name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. What joy when we see the presence of evil defeated.
Reflect in the Spirit (10:18-24, Is 14:12)
How you have fallen from heaven,
O morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!
Always important to seek to understand what is happening in the Kingdom. Reflecting afterwards more important that working it out before.
1. Jesus shows the returning mission workers that the impact of their human mission has cosmic significance. The power to deliver from Satan’s power has started to work itself out in history and amongst humans.
2. Simple faith, not learning, brings the blessing of God (1 Cor 1:25-31)
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: "Let those who boast boast in the Lord."
3. Real joy, is not about the battle with Satan, but people entering the kingdom.
1. What kind of qualifications do you think the people Jesus sent out had? College degree? Preaching, teaching or missionary experience? Business management? What does this suggest about the kinds of people Jesus wants to work for him?
2. In 10:2, what did Jesus instruct the 72 disciples to do? Is this something that you could or should do today?
3. Why did Jesus not want his disciples to greet people along the road? (10:4) Why did Jesus not want his disciples to move from one house to another? (10:7) There are two messages for us here: one as a worker and one as a host; what are they?
4. In 10:11, Jesus refers to Sodom. What happened there? Why did Jesus say that a town that rejected his disciples would suffer even more than Sodom? (Genesis 19) And why would it be worse for Chorazin and Bethsaida than Tyre and Sidon? (Matt 11:20-24)
5. The town of Capernaum was Jesus’ base for his Galilean ministry. It was an important crossroad for traders and the Roman army so what happened there and was said there would spread far. Why did Jesus say that it would “go down to the depths?” (10:15)
6. What in the disciples report gave Jesus reason for joy? (10:21)
7. What does Jesus mean by his blessing in 10:23? Do you feel blessed because you know Jesus? Do you feel you are in a privileged position today? What comes along with the privilege of knowing Christ?
Going deeper (57-62)
1. In 10:20, why did Jesus tell his disciples “do not rejoice that spirits submit to you?” Hint: there are two major reasons. (Proverbs 8:13, 16:18, 29:23, Exodus 32:32, Ezekiel 13:9, Daniel 12:1, Philippians 4:3, Revelation 3:5, 13:8, 17:8, 20:12, 20:15, 21:27)
2. In 10:21, Jesus seems to be opposed to wisdom and learning. Why? What is he saying in this verse?