October 14 – Luke 10:1-24

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Luke 10:1-24 – The Seventy-Two

Jesus was very aware of the short period of time he had left on earth. The only way for him to work well was to send people ahead of him, preparing hearts and minds for his coming. John the Baptist had done a great deal of preparation work, but in these small communities on the way to Jerusalem, there would be many who had not heard the message.

The Twelve had traveled in and around the northern part of Galilee, but the trip through the southern region would require many more. The Twelve stayed close to Jesus this time, though, as he continued their training.

By the way, some translations have this number at seventy, while others read seventy-two. There is a discrepancy in the calculation of this number in early manuscripts.

In Luke 10:2, Jesus begins by telling these appointees of the greatness of their mission, the potential danger and risk and then finishes by giving them rules of conduct.  He tells them that their task is immense. There is so much need and there are so few of them to meet that need.

In terms of risk, they are to trust solely on God and his provision. When they encounter communities who do not welcome them, they are not to try to convince the people of their words, they are to leave.

The imagery of lambs and wolves comes from Isaiah 11:6, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.” It is found in Isaiah 65:25, “The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain.”

Israel identifies with the lamb and its leader as the shepherd. The imagery is more developed in the gospel of John (John 10:1-18), but it is familiar to Jesus’ listeners. They are protected by the shepherd, even when they are among wolves.

There is danger and there is urgency … the disciples must travel light and move fast (do not greet anyone on the road – Luke 10:4b) to their goal.

At Luke 10:13, Jesus is already receiving reports of cities which refuse to accept the disciples and he pronounces woe against them. Capernaum, the center of Jesus’ ministry is no better than Chorazin or Bethsaida. This was where Jesus had performed many miracles. They had seen the power of the Lord and yet in the end, they rejected him. They rejected the kingdom of God. They rejected the Savior … the Messiah.

Even with those communities who refused to welcome Jesus, the seventy-two return, excited and rejoicing. They felt the power that came from being one of Christ’s disciples. They understand the authority with which he speaks. Jesus reminds them that Satan fell from a great height. The ministry these people carry out signifies the end of his power on earth. He has been defeated with the coming of the Messiah and the arrival of the kingdom of God on earth.

The disciples are reminded that they are not to emphasize the gift of Jesus’ power, but the fact that they are now part of the kingdom in heaven. There is something greater than an exhibition of God’s power through them and that is their own salvation.

That salvation brings Jesus great joy. These men are not highly trained Pharisees or religious folk, but simple men … children, who wanted nothing more than to live as he taught them. There were many who would have given anything to be in their position, but their faith and love for God brought them to this moment.