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By Derek Gentle
Luke 9:1-2; 10:1-20
"Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him
and that He might send them out to preach, and
to have power to heal sicknesses
and to cast out demons." - Mark 3:14-15
1. The Preeminent Work of the Disciple
"Then He said to them, "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." Vs. 2
Jesus addresses the greatness of the opportunity before us. The Harvest is great. If we could only see the opportunities before us from heaven's perspective! The opportunity presents a problem, however. The workers are too few. So Jesus tells us the solution. Pray! Before he tells the seventy a single thing to do, He tells them what to pray. Nothing is more important- it is the preeminent work of the disciple. Prayer can go ahead of even the advance men. Prayer can work inside a person. It has been said that we can do no more than pray until we have prayed.
Notice that we are to pray to the Lord of the harvest. It is the Lord's harvest. I am glad it is not mine; I'm not up to the job. He is in charge of it and is the one responsible for working conviction and regeneration. And he is the one responsible to make people willing to enter the work. Note again how that He will send workers into the harvest. The word is "thrust out". This is the same word used in the next chapter for Jesus casting demons out of people (11:20). The demons didn't want to go, and so often, we don't want to go. But the Lord has a way of getting us where He wants us.
2. The Peril of the Disciple's Work
"Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves"
Jesus was quite plain in telling His disciples that life as His disciple would not be easy. We are seeing that more and more in the United States as the Christian heritage and consensus becomes a fading memory. I heard a joke on a television news-talk show the other day: "Why did Australia have it better than the United States? They got the convicts and we got the Puritans." We used to sing of the "Land of the Pilgrim's pride". Now we reject them as something evil. If you have ever taken principled stand at the office, you know what it means to be a lamb among wolves. Jesus told us it would be this way, to brace ourselves, and to be ready.
3. The Place of the Disciple's Work
"Sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go." Vs. 1
Where exactly did Jesus send these thirty-five teams of two? To places where He was not. They were serving as His advance men; He was coming later, but He was not there yet. I love to be around God's people. I like to be around people who think like I think and who see the world the way I see it. I like to be around people who feel about God the way I feel about Him and who share my values. But that is not the kind of place God sends us to. He sends us where He is "about to go".
4. The Priority of the Disciple's Work
"Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road." Vs. 4
What Jesus is saying here is do not be distracted from the big work by trivialities. Not get too burdened down. He told them not to waste their time with the elaborate greetings customary of the day. These took time and often led to prolonged small talk afterward. Your mission, He says, is the priority, and is not to sidetracked.
5. The Proximity of the Disciple's Work
"And heal the sick there, and say to them, `The kingdom of God has come near to you. But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you." Vs. 9-11
There are two kinds of responses to the gospel described here by Jesus. First, a positive response where the gospel is welcomed. Here the message comes to a community with power. Even sick people are healed. The second kind of response is rejection. Both the message and the messengers are rejected. Jesus tells His messengers that when their message is rejected to wipe the dust off their feet as a testimony against them. But now notice that in both circumstances that they are instructed to tell the people the same thing: "The kingdom of God has come near to you". Where the message is welcomed, that has a thrilling ring - The Kingdom has come near! God was at work here, the Kingdom was so close we could almost touch it. Where rejected, it has the most ominous sound - of warning and rebuke - the kingdom came near and you turned your nose up at it. You are without excuse; you cannot say that you did not have your opportunity.
6. The Power of the Disciple's Work
"'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." And He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. "Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you." Vs. 16-19
By power, I refer to the power of authority. When a person of God, who is walking with God, in the Spirit of God, speaks the word of God, he speaks for God. And to reject that person or that message is to reject God Himself - "He who rejects you rejects Me".
The teams returned and reported how God had demonstrated His power among them. Jesus replied that He knew, that Satan's defeat was so great that the devil was slapped down to earth faster than lightning flies to the earth. Then Jesus told them of the authority of the believer to carry His message, mentioning snakes and scorpions. I hate snakes. I grew up having nightmares about them - and it didn't help that I had a striped bed-spread. But we are indestructible until God is through with us. Jesus tells that we are to put on our snake stomping shoes and to not let anything scary keep us from carrying out our mission. Because a real disciple is useful to his Master.
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