Luke chapter 10 has the sending of the 70 or 72. There is debate as to whether it was 70 or 72 because some older manuscripts have one or the other. The table of nations in Genesis 10 records 70 nations. There is also 70 people who go to Egypt with Jacob in Genesis 46:27. 70 in the Bible is a number of completion. This has given rise to two interpretational theories. Some scholars suggest that Jesus sent 70 and others say that 72 is the correct number because it is a reference to the Table of Nations and to you and I. This interpretation leads to a symbolic idea that Jesus is saying everyone is included in the sending. This means you and I as well. We could spend more time here but the important thing for either number is that Jesus sent. I prefer the 72 and say this suggests we are, in a very real sense included in the mission. Not the exact mission but the broader mission as we will see below.
The 72 go out with purpose and intentionality. They have marching orders. They are called to a mission. Jesus sent them out. Just like in the calling of the Disciples it is Jesus who calls and Jesus who sends. The job of the disciple is to respond to the call of the Master. The disciples did not create this mission on their own, but they were sent. They were commissioned for a specific mission. But what is the mission they were sent on?
First, we can break this passage and sending into three parts. The first is the commissioning which we just looked at. The second is the instructions. In verses 2-6 we see the instructions Jesus gives the new missionaries. We see the plan of how they are to go out.
The first instruction is to pray. Jesus says the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers or workers are few. There is a great need in the world. In my area of New Orleans, there are nearly one million people. Most of them have no religious affiliation, attend no church, have no relationship with Christ, and have no eternal hope. In many other places around the globe, this is a common theme. People are lost and feed their lostness. They have an emptiness and they feed that emptiness. I think it was Pastor John Mark Comer who said people are looking for a savior in the culture, we just have to see it (paraphrased). People are looking to be saved so they turn to all sorts of things. Sports, sex, drugs, money, public service, helping the poor, good deeds, and so on. I recently spoke with a young man who was living in a gym in Mobile Alabama. He thought he could find help in Austin so he took the little money he had and flew to Austin where he knew no one just because he thought he could find help there. I met two young men one night in Knoxville that were recently homeless. They had everything they could carry and needed a ride so they could catch the public transportation. One of them told me “If we can just get to the KAT, we will be ok.” He was not only desperate but certain this was their salvation from the situation. People are looking for salvation. This is what Jesus means by the harvest is plentiful.
Because of this, we need to pray for workers. It is a command from Christ to pray for them. We must have more men and women who are willing to work the harvest. Too many are lost to the enemy. Too many walk around unknowing. Too many suffer needlessly. A great English preacher Charles Spurgeon said “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” We must pray for workers. We must pray. I was able to share the Gospel with the people in these stories but how many more countless stories like this exist without someone to share the Good News that sin, and death have been defeated by Christ on the cross and His empty grave?
The second instruction is to stay focused and be wise. The 72 and us are to be wise in a difficult and hard world. The task of carrying the Gospel requires wisdom and carefulness. Many are ok with you being a Christian as long as you stay lukewarm. The moment you begin to proclaim the Gospel you become an enemy to the world. This does not mean you need to be difficult. We must always be careful to ensure we are walking like our Lord, in grace and truth. One of the hardest things we can do is to be careful not to mix ourselves with the Gospel. If someone rejects the Gospel make sure they are rejecting it and not your presentation of it. The only way to do this is to be wise and stay prayerful.
In verse 4 Jesus tells the 72 and us to not worry about possessions or what we need. God will provide what is needed for the journey. We must stay focused and preserve. We are called to the mission not to worry about everything along the way. Faith is paramount!
The third instruction is to be on the lookout for a person of peace. A person of peace is someone God has primed for the Gospel. Someone who is ready and can take you in. In our Western world, this often means someone of influence who receives the Gospel and can then carry it to others you would not have the ability to reach. I know many persons of peace. I have seen what happens when a person of peace receives the Gospel. I have seen churches nearly double in size because one of these people receives the Gospel with joy. We should all be looking for and praying for a person of peace. It is a marvelous thing to behold. When you encounter a person of peace stay with them. Invest in them. Pour into them. Disciple them. Stick with them.
Some will reject you and the Gospel. This is sad but it will happen. When it does, don’t worry as long as you are presenting it with grace and truth you have done what you need to.
Next, we move on to the mission itself. Up to this point, we have looked at the commissioning and the instructions. Now we see the mission they were called to. We have alluded to it but to be clear it is to heal the sick and proclaim the Gospel. Healing the sick is something that can only be done by the filling, equipping, and power of the Holy Spirit. It is not something that we have within us on our own to do. The Holy Spirit is the one who does the healing, we are merely the tools He uses. Here we must deal with a difficult topic. The disciples were sent out to heal and I am saying that we are called to a similar mission. But we do not all have the gift of healing, so what do we do?
I have prayed for the gift of healing for years and it is not a gift a see active in my life. I desire the gift to glorify God and yet it is not active. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:29-30 that not all have all the gifts. He says a little further up that “the Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as he wills.” So, what am I do to do what are you to do? The first thing is that we are to pray for the gifts needed for the work God calls us to. There is a saying “God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” I cannot control the call of God or the gifting of God, but I can submit to the call, pray for the needed gifts, and welcome the Spirit in my life. I am commanded to respond to the call.
Maybe it is better if we ask who are the sick Jesus sent the disciples to and who are the sick in our day. First, there is the physically sick. There are many especially in our world who are sick from cancer, COVID, and many other illnesses. Some have mental disorders. Some have missing limbs, bad eyes, and so on. One article I read said there are roughly 10,000 diseases in the world, and while many are rare that is still a large number. Add in everything else that can cause a person to be sick or weak and we get the picture. When the disciples returned they said that even the devils responded to Jesus’ name. What we see then is that everything was subject to Jesus’ name and the disciples went out doing the work of God by the power of Jesus name.
So how do we go out and heal the sick if we do not all have the power of healing? In the same way, the disciples went out. They went out working in the name of Jesus! Maybe this means healing the sick maybe it is praying for those who need freedom in their minds, maybe casting off years of generational curses, maybe discernment. Whatever it is do it in Jesus name and let the Spirit work through you in the situation you are in.
Second, we have that Jesus commanded them to tell that the Kingdom of God is at hand. What is the kingdom of God? It is the rule and reign of God. Could there be a more Gospel-centric message? Jesus is the king and what we are to proclaim is the Kingdom of God. Jesus ruling and reigning. When we submit to Christ, we make Him Lord over everything. Part of the call of the Christian is to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to make it a reality. This is not a political kingdom but to allow the truth of God to permeate our lives. When we are called into the kingdom, we are called to be ambassadors of that kingdom here on earth (2 Cor 5:20).
This is the call Jesus gave to the 72, this is the call Jesus gives to us. We are called to heal the sick and announce the kingdom. To call people to repentance. To announce that Jesus has come, and freedom has come with Him. The Bible says where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Freedom in Jesus name! Freedom from sickness, freedom from sexual sin, freedom from addiction, freedom from past pain, freedom from whatever holds you in bondage! Freedom has come. You are free in Jesus name.
Just A thought,