Archive for the ‘Luke 10 Series’ Category

Each time I choose to use Luke 10 as a sermon text, I learn something new.  Just last Sunday, I used it once again as my text for the Sunday sermon in Columbus, Georgia, and a couple of very important lessons and applications jumped out at me for the first time as I prepared.

Of course, Luke 10 is the chapter that describes the sending out of the seventy-two disciples:

 “1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-twoothers and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.”

Who are these seventy-two people? In Chapter 9, Jesus sends out the Twelve and we know all their names! We even sing songs about them in Sunday school to help us remember their names. We call our sons Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Bart, Tom, Matthew—not so much Thaddeus, but there was a time when even that was a popular name. But who are the seventy-two?

In Chapter 9, the Twelve go out with the same basic instructions and have a successful mission trip. Later in the same chapter, however, they start arguing about who will be the greatest in the kingdom. They had returned in triumph, but Jesus had almost immediately started talking about His death—which to them must have meant defeat, not triumph.

They meet the man with the demon-possessed son and apparently have lost either the power or the faith to cast out the demon because they fail in their attempts, according to the father’s report to Jesus (9:40) Maybe Jesus had talked too much about His death.

Perhaps it was this failure on their part that caused their jealousy first of each other, then of other people who were casting out demons in the name of Jesus but were not one of the Appointed Twelve! Jesus has to first remind them that not high position but humility is of value and then that their appointment did not make them greater than the unappointed who worked in His name.

Then those same Twelve walked with Jesus into an unbelieving Samaritan village and just wanted to nuke all the unbelievers! Jesus rebukes them again for not having learned that mercy triumphs over judgment!

Who are these seventy-two people in Luke 10 then? Perhaps they were some of the followers left over from the 5000 that Jesus fed near Bethsaida (9:10). I wonder what the Twelve thought when Jesus started choosing some of these “loaves and fishes” disciples!  I wonder if they thought they were being replaced?

 I wonder if they secretly were hoping that the seventy-two failed in their mission. Schadenfreude lies hidden in many of our hearts.

The Twelve had so much to learn! Yes, Peter had just made the Great Confession, and, yes, witnessing the Transfiguration was a life-changing event, but they still had much to learn about following Jesus.

I know who the seventy-two were! They were just no-name people like you and me! Their names never surface; never is anyone later identified as one of the Seventy-Two! We don’t know what happened to them after the great experience recorded in Luke 10. I’d like to think that they continued to follow Jesus and were part of the 120 in Jerusalem after the resurrection, or part of the 500 to whom Jesus appeared after His death!

But there is a lesson to be learned: Jesus was not looking for first-round draft picks that would become celebrities! He was looking for people who could deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow him.

He was looking for people who did not let anything come between them and following him. Perhaps he had been calling those in Luke 9 for this second mission team, when they turned him down to bury their fathers and say good-by to their families, or because Jesus didn’t really have the proper arrangements for housing made yet (9:57-62).

Jesus was not looking for superstars, but for regular people who would go out in His name—lacking support, warned of rejection, no promise of success! He found seventy-two No-Name Disciples who were not looking for power positions or name recognition, but who were willing to go where they were sent, to talk about the kingdom, and to use their gifts for the good of those they met.

I believe Jesus still uses no-name people for great service in His kingdom in greater numbers than the group of those whose names we recognize.

Not being appointed to The Twelve is no disadvantage. Those who are have perhaps greater struggles, greater challenges, and harder roads. Most of us should be delighted to be chosen to the No-Name group.

In fact, all of us should be thankful to be chosen at all!


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17The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” 18He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”  21At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.

What a day of celebration when the seventy-two all returned!! Of course they returned with joy! What could be more joyful than to report the power they had seen displayed. They had survived! They had overcome the obstacles. The lambs had won! The wolves were cowering in their caves!

They had healed the sick, even those possessed by demons. They had exorcised the angels of darkness like none before them. They were amazed at what they had done—yes, at what they had done.

If they had had an LST EndMeeting before reporting to Jesus, we would have told them not to talk about themselves when they are reporting to the folks back home, but to talk about the people they had served. Jesus uses a  more sublime approach to re-setting their perspective, but tries to teach them the same lesson.

He does not rebuke them for their naïve, but not quite innocent enthusiasm for their own accomplishments. Instead he shares with them a bigger vision of what has happened. He says, yes, you experienced some of the joy of winning the little battle in the small corners where you were sent, but let me tell you that I can see what you have done as part of the total defeat of the Prince of Darkness. I see that what you have done has affected even the invisible world where spiritual warfare rages—and what you have done is part of the complete annihilation of the Enemy.

Yes, you should be happy; yes, celebrate . . . but maybe not so much over what YOU have done because what you accomplished is all by the authority that I gave you.  Instead, why don’t you just celebrate God’s victory!

I have a friend who is a football coach for a highly successful high school football team. When I was telling him my thoughts on this passage, he went into coach mode and immediately started repeating the things he and his staff drill into their footballers: “There is no I in Team,” “don’t celebrate yourself, just be glad you are on the team.” His words sounded very much like the words of Jesus to me.

The next words are very sweet. Jesus, the man of sorrows, the lamb slain before the foundation of the world, led silently to the slaughter, is rarely shown in celebration, but here He is “full of joy through the Holy Spirit.”  If the disciples were sensitive to Jesus, then they were happier than they had even been moments before. If they were His disciples and not out for themselves, then they were even more pleased that He was full of joy.

They had accomplished their tasks, they had learned to depend on God, they had faced both reception and rejection, and they had learned the power in the Name of Jesus. But the final lesson they learned is that when they submit their wills to His, when they go and heal and speak, then they make Jesus very happy!

I want to be one of those persons who fills Jesus with joy; I want to make Him smile.

Question:  What could you do that would contribute to the Victory and make Jesus smile?

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How do we act when we get there? What do we do?  What if they don’t like us? Sounds like questions we would get from LST teams in training. In this third part of our look at Luke 10, Jesus addresses these very questions for the Seventy-Two.

Part of the experience for these disciples was to be taken into the houses of strangers and discern whether they were friends or foes. Showing hospitality to travelers was part of their culture; hospitality was rarely denied, but was not necessarily given cheerfully. These workers were warned of cold receptions, but, strangely enough, not given permission to move around until they found a warmer reception.

No, they were told to “stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you.” It was not about their comfort or their full stomachs, and there was no mention of fulfilling their strategic purpose. It was an opportunity to prepare this house to receive the peace of God. If they moved from house to house to make themselves more comfortable or to get better meals, their motivation would appear to be less than singly  focused on preparing for Jesus to come.

Upon arrival in the town where they were sent, the disciples were given an apparently impossible task and a simple message to proclaim: “Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’”  Jesus’ first instructions were to prepare them for rejection.

What town in its right mind would reject a healing ministry, where the lame walk and the blind see? Christians are eager to go healing and feeding and building and restoring—all part of the plan to prepare for the coming of Jesus—but Jesus warned them of rejection they would receive, not because they were healing, but because they had a message to deliver alongside their healing ministry. If they had only healed, they would have not completed the task Jesus gave them; if they only preached, the same would be true. The warning about rejection makes it certain that Jesus assumed their healings would be followed by proclamation.

In fact, when they were rejected and after they dusted their feet of the sand of that town, even then they were to repeat the message! They were to be bold with their message, delivering it where it was received and where it would be rejected. Receptivity may have been an issue for deciding duration of the visit, but not the reason for the visit. The disciples were to go into the town because Jesus was getting ready to come, regardless of the receptivity.

Jesus affirms his participation in the process in verse 16, assuring the disciples that when they are heard, He is heard; when they are rejected. He is rejected. To give them even more fortitude, He draws God of Hosts into the covenant and says that those who reject Jesus are without God. No wonder the curses on Bethsaida, Korazim, and Capernaum sound so harsh too us—and perhaps even to the disciples then. Jesus was teaching them that the consequences of rejecting Jesus are terrible and frightening.  Those who go out must get the message to all who will hear, for the consequences of not listening are terrible.

Next: Mostly Jesus is pictured as the “man of sorrows,” but what story shows him with a great big smile?

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In the first post on Luke 10, we talked about the motivational instructions from Jesus to the seventy-two disciples, He was sending out ahead of him.  Following that in verse 4, he gives them very unusual logistical instructions—but why?

“Do not take a purse or bag or sandals,” but why not? Do not provide for yourself, but let God provide. The lesson in faith that you will experience is much greater than the discomfort you feel in the first insecure steps. Many adults who go with Let’s Start Talking are in a financial position where they can  write a check to cover all of their fund-raising obligations; however, it has long been our practice to discourage this, but rather to encourage them to send out letters to churches, family, and friends, just like our students who don’t own anything but their T-shirts.

Just recently, a couple in their forties, not wealthy but comfortable, intended to pay for their own trip, but finally agreed to follow our advice.  They raised all of their funds and more from friends who wanted to support them in their short-term mission effort. The couple came to us and thanked us for “forcing” them to do this, saying that what they experienced and learned about faith and generosity was already a big enough blessing if they got nothing else from their mission experience. Christians going out in their own strength are Christians who are departing powerless.

“And do not greet anyone on the road.” Perhaps Jesus was worried about distraction. It is really easy for workers going out to stop and chat with friends or those who are nearer or those who are easily addressed. After all, isn’t this person’s soul of equal value with those who are never confronted because we never arrive?

I’m quite sure Jesus would have conceded the equal value of the souls, but He would have asked us, “but didn’t I send you to . . . ? What about those people?  What distracted you? What kept you from arriving? The distraction may have seemed like something good—and maybe it was, but it was not what I sent YOU to do! That person was the task of another disciple . . . . ”

Jesus had just lost three potential disciples who refused to pay the price to follow Jesus without distraction (Luke 9:57-62). The one needed predictability to be secure; the next could not leave his parents in the hands of God; and the third had too many family responsibilities to think about Jesus. But they all were willing later . . . after they took care of these major distractions. “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”  (Luke 9:62) Not even greeting someone on the road is enough reason to suspend your focus on accomplishing His task.

Next: In the next verses, Jesus tells them how to work and what they will experience.  Sometimes a flashforward can be very discouraging. Was this a strategy for preparing disciples that we should imitate?

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I’ve always intended to write about the Word, but mostly I have been pretty topical. Today, I want to start a short series on one of the greatest chapters in the New Testament on being a disciple.  I hope you will enjoy sharing the journey with me into the Word!

From the beginning of His ministry, when Jesus refused to be a lecturing professor, he chose experiences over theories as the best way for his followers to learn what is true. Come-and-see discoveries turned fishermen into disciples, turned cowards into martyrs, and turned doubters into preachers of righteousness.  This description of Jesus sending out a group of seventy-two followers to prepare His way is the story of what He taught them, not what they taught others.

His opening instructions contained one of those paradoxes that Jesus often used to confound, then enlighten His disciples. He first sends them out two by two and then tells them that the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. If the latter describes accurately the conditions into which he was sending them, then why did he not send them out one by one and cover twice as much ground?  Did Jesus miss the lesson on “efficiencies”? Or was he teaching his disciples the importance of partnerships, relationships, and the necessity of shared experiences? This must be a reflection of Jesus’ teaching that where two or three are together in His name, that He is there with them. What power there is when two are going out, not only in the name of Jesus, but accompanied by Jesus!

Then He sent them out with a prayer on their lips, not for themselves, but for God to send out Workers into the harvest!  I have read this passage and preached it for years, heard it even more at every mission event ever held, yet never realized that Jesus’ intent was for those disciples standing in front of him to be the answer to the prayer! His first sentence is the command to “Ask” and his next sentence is the command to “Go!”  How often is it that we may be the answer to our own prayers, that God has put a burden on our hearts for some part of his world or some way of showing kindness. We pray, asking God to provide . . . when he has already provided through those of us praying.

And He doesn’t just send us to the protected and safe places in life; no, this first time out He sends them like “lambs among wolves!” But surely part of their confidence in going was that were going out two by two, they were going as an answer to prayer for Workers in the harvest, and they were going sent by Jesus himself.

Next:  Don’t take anything with you and don’t greet anyone on the road–strange commands for Jesus’ disciples! What was He thinking?

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