After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. 2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ 6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. 7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
A few points that hit me:
- We’re servants, not entrepreneurs for the Kingdom - the requirement is that we are faithful to our call, not that we do incredible things.
- We share the gospel, but we do it humbly (relying on God’s provision v3-4, accepting other people’s hospitality v7-8, not trying to prove we’re self-sufficient)
- Compassion is not an optional bolt-on (v9) People are people and we should care about their bodies as well as their souls.
- Announcing the gospel is the aim - which is not to say that the we feign interest in people in order to share the gospel with them, but rather that this is the most authentic way to share the gospel: humbly, compassionately and explicitly. Not a superstitious “I hope they’ll tell by the way I hold my knife and fork that I’m a Christian and then they’ll ask me about Jesus and I’ll be able to tell” approach: we have a message that everyone needs to hear but the people who need to know don’t realise they need to, because they don’t know what the message is. If they did, they wouldn’t need to know, because they’d already know. So we need to be prepared to volunteer the gospel.
- We’re not always going to be “successful.”
The contemporary church usually fails in one of three ways:
- We don’t go. We just sit in church and pray that God will honour our disobedience by sending people in to make our church bigger, so that we look successful and people think our church is a cool, hip place to be.
- We go like the “liberals.” We do humility, we do compassion. We are generous. But we never actually explain that Jesus has the answer.
- We go like the “fundamentalists.” We preach the gospel. We wag our fingers. We shout through megaphones, but we never get close enough to show compassion, or to demonstrate that we’re talking about good news.