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They looked unprotected and liable to harm, with no provisions. They would likely be teased and rejected. Yet Jesus hailed them "blessed", the envy of kings and prophets!
The Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. He said to them, "The harvest is great; pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. I send you out as lambs among wolves. Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house.' Remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Heal the sick, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me."
Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." He said to them, "Do not rejoice that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven."
In that hour, Jesus said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him."
Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, "Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; for many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it."
Luke 10:1-24 NKJV, condensed
The Advance Team
Jesus called them lambs and babes and sent them out with no money or reservations to do cold calling, village to village and door to door! The password was "Peace!" Their message: The kingdom of God has come near, it's even at your gate and about to break in! The purpose of their mission was to prepare the townspeople to accept Jesus when he arrived. Although weak and beggarly in appearance, these messengers held one trump card that was sure to attract attention--the healing power of God.
Back in Galilee Jesus had sent his twelve disciples on a similar preaching mission. Now, twelve was not enough. He needed seventy. They traveled in pairs, so that made 35 groups and 35 regions Jesus planned to visit in just a few short months. That sounds like an ambitious goal.
The instructions are basically the same as before. Pray and then go. Take nothing with you. Stay in the same house for the duration of your visit and accept whatever they give you. Don't waste time looking for better accommodations. Even if the food does not meet Jewish dietary laws, eat it anyway. There's no time to quibble over religious traditions. You are there to heal the sick and preach the approaching reign of God.
They weren't allowed to stop and chat along the way--what a bummer! There was too much work to be done. They were on a mission; no time for tangents and small talk. If a town didn't accept them, they were to shake the dust off their feet and move on quickly to the next one.
These lambs and babes were completely dependent. First, on the Lord of the harvest. It was his field and he would have to provide and give inspiration and wisdom. Secondly, they were dependent on the villagers to share whatever they could with them. The seventy emissaries went out armed only with faith and expectation. They returned full and bursting with joy. How amazing is that?
They rejoiced that God had done some mighty deeds. But Jesus reminded them they have no power over the works of God. They should rejoice instead in what they do have a say, that their names are written in heaven. Suggesting the greatest miracle of all for any individual is to have their name written in God's book of life.
Jesus' heart was filled with joy and gratitude too. He was so proud of his workers, and thanked God for their trusting, child-like faith. They had survived the wolves, commanded demons, and returned to him victorious. How blessed they were to see and hear the things they did. Many throughout history who were considered much greater than these would be envious!
How did it happen that these seventy people who were much the same as you and I, could be sent on an urgent mission, faithfully carry it out, and return with such rejoicing? Quite simply, they heard the words of Jesus and obeyed. Like us, they were selfish at heart, prone to pride and arrogance, subject to hurt feelings, anger and depression. But despite all their fears and sinfulness, the great mystery of grace is that God chose them to be heralds of his salvation.
Certainly the Devil tried to convince them they were the healers, and the message and the star of the show. Which they were not. Jesus had established a mutuality criterion for his disciples, one of simplicity and dependence. No giving without receiving; no receiving without giving. That's how ministry works. Those who care for others must let others care for them.
No one knows who the Son really is except the Father; nobody knows who the Father really is except the Son and those to whom he chooses to reveal him! The Father becomes real to us as we follow Christ's directive to become vulnerable, like lambs and babes. So go out and share the story, God's good news. In the giving and in the receiving we learn who our heavenly Father is.
The kingdom of God exists wherever God reigns, the laws of life are followed and God's children live in humble faith. The reign of God has come, it is as close as we want it to be.
Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further study or reflection.
Icebreaker: Recall a time when you felt unprotected and liable to harm.
When have you been like a lamb in a pack of wolves? How did you survive?If you ever stood on a street corner or went door to door to spread your faith or solicit for a church, describe what that was like.
Jesus depicted his workers as "lambs among wolves" and as babes in contrast to the worldly wise. These don't seem like complimentary images, so why would he use them? Why does Jesus exalt weakness over strength? Would you want to be part of Jesus' advance team if he talked like that? Why or why not?
First pray, then go. Why does prayer come first? What does prayer do for you and for your endeavor?
Why would Jesus want his advance team to be completely dependent upon the hospitality of the townspeople they visited?
"The kingdom of God has come near to you." What does that phrase mean? Try saying it another way.
How do you explain all the joy when the Seventy returned, both on their part and also in Jesus? If you have had a personal experience which helps you understand their joy, please share it.Our text says that Jesus reveals the Father however he chooses to anyone he wants to. To reveal means to lift the veil, bring to light, disclose, provide inside information, expose, disclose. Let's assume God was revealed to the Seventy on their journey. What might they have discovered about God along the way?
Giving and receiving! Which do you prefer? Do like prefer one role better than the other? Why?When it comes to ministry, most of us are better givers than receivers. We would rather pray for someone else than ask others to pray for us. We want to care for others and hide our own needs, sins and brokenness. Why are we, in Jesus' name, eager to serve and reluctant to be served?How could Jesus' standard of mutuality help us be more real with each other?