JESUS SENDS OUT THE SEVENTY-TWO
key verse: 10:1&2
“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Today’s passage mentions harvesting. In our times harvesting doesn’t have an impact on our lives. It is because we have a global economy where food is shipped around the world and chemicals, and refrigeration that preserves food so it can be eaten year round. In ancient times harvest was so important and typically a matter of life and death. If there was not a good harvest it meant a tough and desperate winter season. On the other hand a large harvest meant celebration. But in order to celebrate harvesters were needed for gathering the crop.
In today’s passage we see Jesus’ view of the world like a plentiful harvest. But there weren’t many workers for the harvest. So, he taught his disciples they too should pray for sending workers. In our time Jesus also sees a plentiful harvest of many campus students who need the word of God too but there is a shortage of workers. Let’s learn how to participate in God’s harvest so we can experience the joy of spiritual harvest.
PART 1 SEND OUT HARVESTERS (1-7)
After teaching about the cost of discipleship in last week’s passage, what did Jesus do? Let’s read vs 1a. “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others.” Here the words, ‘after this’ mean, after Jesus left the Samaritan region and taught the cost of discipleship to his followers. As we learned last week Jesus faced many oppositions in Samaria. However, we also saw many who were willing to follow Jesus and he taught them the cost of discipleship which meant priority on the kingdom of God, commitment and proclaiming it’s good news. Then perhaps out of these Jesus appointed 72 others. Some other interpretations say 70. Anyhow those appointed in today’s message are different than the 12. The number 70 and 72 is significant in the Bible and has come to represent God’s world salvation work. It is because of a couple reasons. One is, in the Old Testament the number of Jacob’s family who went to Egypt during the famine was 70. They were supposed to represent the salvation of all the nations of the world. Second, was when Moses was working day and night helping the young Israelite nation once they left Egypt in the desert hard times. There were so many people to take care of Moses couldn’t do it alone. God agreed and gave his spirit to 70 elders, to help take care of the large flock. In this way Jesus appointed 72 others. So, we can see Jesus’ vision of taking care of the whole world. Where did he send them and why two by two? Let’s read vs 1b. “and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.”
According to Luke 9:51 Jesus resolutely headed to Jerusalem where he would die on the cross and rise from the grave. Jesus’ time wouldn’t be much longer on the earth. So, he sent them ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. Actually, the region where Jesus’ ministry was going to include an area called the Parean area. It is along the eastern side of the Jordan valley. Because of the mountain streams the land was famous for its fertile land, and fruits and vegetables specifically Olives and Tomatoes. Moreover, the time of his visit must also have coincided with harvest season. So Jesus and the disciples clearly had the picture of a plentiful harvest.
In our time we pray for world mission, and all the campuses of the world. But here at Washington we especially we pray for 256 east coast campuses. These campuses are like the fertile land. The students there work hard and have aspirations. They are noble and are good candidates like these 72 who could someday participate in God’s work. There are so many campuses and students who need someone sent to them by Jesus. Then Jesus’ ministry can be carried on from one generation to another. Moreover, many nations around the world like Zambia also need those sent to them.
Because Jesus was heading for the cross he must have been so concerned about his upcoming death. He was under immense pressure of his mission and leaving his precious disciples on earth. But he still appointed the 72 to continue on God’s ministry. Jesus was the good shepherd and concerned for every town and village he was about to go. In our time we see many problems around the world and our country. Including our own lives, we have troubles and are busy. It is easy to think someone else can help the people. But realistically there is a need for shepherds like Jesus that can rise above their own problems and use their time and effort to help others. May God help us to overcome ourselves as those sent by Jesus.
So for this last mission for Jesus paired up his disciples in teams to herald his coming. This would allow them to support each other on the way. According to the bible 2 is better than one. Ecc 4:9,10 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” and Mt 18:19 – “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”
Here we can see it is important to have Godly friends and coworkers. We need pairs of others because God’s work isn’t a one man show. On the other hand bad company can lead us astray and we can be hurt. With godly friends we can be victors in Jesus.
How did Jesus view the world into which he was sending them? Look at 2a. “2a He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”” Jesus had a vision of a plentiful harvest. When he looked around he saw many good crops when the word of God was planted like a seed. For example John the Baptist prepared some people. He taught them to repent and to welcome Jesus. And those whom Jesus taught could also personally welcome him. The 72 may be the best example of a good crop. Harvesting this crop was urgent at this time for Jesus because he wouldn’t be there much longer. It is also urgent in our time in order to carry on God’s work after our lives on earth. We need someone to continue the beautiful work of God’s kingdom.
If a farmer has a crop ready but can’t reap it in time his crop will be wasted. It would be tragic. But God didn’t let Jesus fail. God gave Jesus wisdom to send out the 72. Basically, finding or raising workers is humanly difficult or impossible task. Nobody wants to have a boss over them. We are all created in God’s image to rule according to Ge 1:26. It seemed there was nothing Jesus could do in this short time with the vision of harvesting the world salvation and his death impending. What prayer topic did he give them? Let’s read 2b-3. “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” The prayer Jesus gave them was that of asking God to send out workers into his harvest field. God had sent Jesus and Jesus was carrying his mission. But there were still many towns ahead and the future of his ministry. Jesus by himself or the 12 couldn’t invite as many people as the 72. So, Jesus taught them in this urgent situation they had to ask God to send out workers. People can’t force others into labor by human means if they do the people rebel. Rather, we should pray that God will send workers. When God calls someone or sends them they are going by his authority which can’t be revoked according to Ro 11:29.
Here the word send has the meaning being thrust or sent with authority and power. Jesus sent them saying, “Go!, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” Without trusting in God’s power, the Holy Spirit, Jesus couldn’t send out the 72. They seemed too innocent like lambs among wolves. But if he didn’t harvest and if they didn’t accept his prayer for them he would miss the crop and they couldn’t carry on his ministry. It seems surprising his sending abruptly. But Jesus knew when they were reaping God’s crop, God would protect them. To human eyes it seems uncertain but to the Lord it was possible. They would need to take over Jesus’ ministry on earth when he was gone. In 2 Timothy Apostle Paul writes to his Bible student Timothy, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”
God’s method of salvation is by sending out workers. It is a privilege to be sent by God. God wants to save the whole world including all USA campuses. But there are not many workers. We need to pray for Bible teachers to pioneer all campuses.
Our 20/20 vision team is our ministry’s prayer for the future kingdom workers. They are young and innocent. But God has his plan for them to become his people. And he will ensure they are victorious to do his will of bringing others to Jesus.
I came from a broken family and really wanted to follow in my dads’ footsteps. So when they divorced I was devastated. Before coming to Bible study I thought the world was just dark and I had no hope. I couldn’t find any peace in my wayward lifestyle or anyone to help me from my family, friends, counselors or TV idols. But God sent Korean Missionaries to work for God’s harvest here in America. I could study the bible and meet Jesus personally. I could have identity in Jesus and a mission from God. This made the world to make sense finally. I pray I may be a good worker in campus.
Likewise Jesus sent the 72 out with urgency to do his mission. What should they take and not take with them? Let’s read verse 4 “Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road” Basically, they should only take the clothes on their back. They shouldn’t take a purse, wallet, bag, suitcase or extra pairs of shoes. Moreover, they shouldn’t greet anyone on the road. What principles is he teaching? Basically, he wanted them to be workers. They needed to stay focused on the mission. If they brought material things or talked to strangers they may be sidetracked. And, they needed to trust God. No king would send his messenger without taking care of them. Maybe Abe Lee can agree he has good protection and support from the USA as a diplomat? Without these material things the disciples would have to be sincerely dedicated to working in the harvest. Like in the class room we have to turn our cell phones off. Because we will be distracted, miss what the instructor says and ultimately fail our tests. In the modern time we have many things to distract us like stock market prices going up and down, networking for our job and so on. But Jesus said in LK 9:58 “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the son of Man has no place to lay his head.” When they were sent in this way it made it urgent and imperative for the disciples find somewhere or someone that welcomed. If not they wouldn’t have anywhere to sleep or eat. So, Jesus didn’t give them much materials but Jesus did give them something. What gift do they bring to the home they enter? Let’s read vs 5&6. 5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.” Here we see the disciples aren’t going to the temples but to people’s homes. It seems Jesus’ ministry began in houses all around Israel. We call it house church ministry. We have similar experience at UBF with many people opening their homes to study the Bible and serve others. Maybe some of you began in a small ministry. We may even consider our ministry here relatively small compared to mass evangelism. But it is like the foundation of Christianity. And from it the whole world may be evangelized. We consider our church here as a house of prayer for all nations and have sent many missionaries. May God continue his work of making Bible teachers and sending out harvesters to American campuses and around the world.
The 72 likewise established Jesus’ church one home at a time until it spread throughout the world bringing the gift of peace. Peace isn’t something we can see in our hands. In our modern terms we think peace is the absence of war. But In Hebrew terms the word peace comes from the word ‘Shalom’. It has more to do with the peace of God. Inner peace and beauty. Peace with your family, neighbors and community. And peace that comes from God. It is primarily related to the kingdom of God. Fundamentally, the lack of peace comes from sin. Sin affects all people because the bible says all people sin. Sin gives a sense of guilt and shame, anxiety and fear. It ultimately destroys one life. Basically, sin is separation from God. When one person meets Jesus they meet God personally. Sinful man couldn’t come to God directly but through Jesus who is our sacrifice can bring our relationship with God together once again through the forgiveness of sin. The peace of Jesus is so important we want this peace to spread to all of our neighbors. Why not move around? Look at verse 7 “Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.” Jesus taught them to stay in one place and to eat and drink whatever they are given. For Jewish with strict eating laws this can be difficult because they may come to gentile houses. Even within the same culture people have different tastes. But when they arrive they should establish a headquarters for God’s ministry in a village. They should remain and live as a good example for the people of the home. In this way they can do the work of God and Jesus said they deserve a wage. Besides if they went from one house to another people may be hurt and doubt them. So, they should earn their wage from a house. Even the Levites those who prepared God’s temple didn’t have to work beyond the work they did at the temple and they were allowed to eat the sacrificed food. Therefore the 72 are growing as priests of Jesus and should have identity.
One of UBF’s key verse is Exodus 19:6 ‘you[a] will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ May we accept Jesus’ prayer for workers that we may become a kingdom of priests and holy nation.
PART II. RESPONSES TO THE INVIATION OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD (8-16)
What must disciples do in a town that welcomes them? Let’s read verse 8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you.” Here Jesus gave instructions to his disciples for what to do when entering a town that welcomes them. This is a towns’ good response to the gospel. When the disciples are welcomed the people will happily bring food for them as a sign of thankfulness. Jesus again reminded the young Jewish disciples how to behave in this situation. He helped them to be humble and thankful for the food that was provided to them. Actually, Jesus said finishing God’s work is his food. (Jn 4:36). When they are doing God’s work they will be satisfied by it. He was establishing his kingdom and worship. So, they could joyfully eat together with the towns people like the feast at the kingdom of God.
Perhaps it is like our lunch time after service. Each person has their own taste but I believe everyone is happy and enjoys delicious food because God encourages us with his words and good Holy conversations and joy. Likewise, the disciples should be thankful and find joy in their mission. And eat what is given to them.
What is their main message? Let’s read verse 9 “Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” The disciples’ had two missions in a town. First, heal the sick. The main audiences of the disciple’s message are the sick. Here God takes care of the immediate needs of the people. But this also includes not just the physically sick but those who confess their sins admit they are spiritually sick too. When we go to the doctor we tell them what is wrong. These types of people really welcome the spiritual doctor Jesus who sent the disciples. Secondly, their main message is that, “the kingdom of God has come near to you.” This is the similar message of Jesus in the beginning of MK 1:15. “Repent the kingdom of God is near.” Here we see Jesus’ disciples were sent as ambassadors of the king Jesus. They brought the message the kingdom of God is near. The kingdom of God is where God rules. God ruled these disciples and they obeyed him and he gave them salvation, protection, peace and wages.
Again Abraham L. may also relate that when he is in a foreign country as a representative of the USA although he is in another land with different laws he ultimately has to answer to America’s laws. It is diplomatic immunity. That means they keep and answer to American law not a foreign law. Likewise, these disciples were delivering the good news announcing freedom from sin and God’s rule to a people suffering under sin. Why is this message good news for those that welcome them? According to the law most sick people weren’t allowed to go to the temple to worship. They felt cut off from God and society. Likewise, in our time people without meeting Jesus personally are suffering in their sinful life. They cannot change it. It brings sadness, frustration and darkness. They need salvation but don’t have anyone to bring them to Jesus. But the disciples brought the good news the kingdom of heaven isn’t far away. Jesus, the Messiah, the savior king was near, on earth . All we have to do is repent and welcome Jesus. Then we can enter his kingdom and he will be our Lord and savior. Then we can live a life glorifying God. We can become harvesters. When we hear testimonies among us we have many examples of how accepting the message of the Gospel is good news for people’s lives. It truly is good news that the messengers were bringing whether they were welcomed or not. What should they do when they are not welcomed? Let’s read 10-12. “10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: 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.” As messengers of King Jesus they simply had to deliver the message. But the name of Jesus most likely was well known. So, the disciples had to be brave to preach in every town. Some of these towns may not welcome the name of Jesus. It would be difficult but they shouldn’t worry. Rather, they should wipe the dust from the town off their feet and tell them the kingdom of heaven has come near. This would be a warning to those so they may have a second chance to welcome Jesus. If they didn’t Jesus said it would be more torturous for that town than the ancient city of Sodom, that was destroyed by burning sulfur. That means a life without Jesus is torturous. Maybe this image stirred Jesus’ heart to lament of other cities that didn’t welcome him. What were the cities over which Jesus lamented? Let’s read verse 13a “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!” These were two towns in northern Israel near the home town of Jesus. Most likely these are the towns where Jesus spent most of his time. What do these cities have in common? 13b “For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.” Two of Jesus’ most well-known miracles were done near Bethsaida. The Healing of the blind man (MK 8:22-26) and feeding the 5000. (LK 9:10) But even with all of these miracles these two cities didn’t repent. Those who see and received God’s grace should respond to it. May we see the grace of Jesus through changed lives and repent to welcome Jesus’ invitation. How are they compared to Tyre, Sidon? Let’s read 14-15. “14 But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.” Capernaum and Bethsaida were not large cities like Tyre in Sidon. But the large port cities of Tyre and Sidon Jesus said would have repented while the small humble towns of Capernaum and Bethsaida wouldn’t. We shouldn’t be proud, especially God’s people, we too should repent based on God’s word. Why is one’s response to Jesus’ disciple a matter of one’s ultimate destiny? Let’s read verse 16. 16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” The 72 were acting on as Jesus’ ambassadors. When someone rejected them they were rejecting Jesus himself. In our life we have receive God’s words a lot. In many cases the seed has been planted. We have bible teachers and missionaries. Let’s be faithful to the invitation to the kingdom of God through repentance and prayer. Otherwise we will face the judgment of God like the people of Bethsaida or Capernaum.
PART III. ETERNAL JOY (17-24)
Why were the seventy-two so joyful upon their return? Let’s read vs 17 “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”” At the end of their short term mission journey they were joyful. But when they gave their mission report they only mentioned to Jesus they could drive out demons. What was the nature of their mission? Look at vs 18 “He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Jesus himself taught them he had seen Satan fall. Their mission was sent by Jesus as a spiritual mission. To begin to see more spiritually the kingdom of God and Satan. What was the reason for their success? Let’s read (19) “19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” Jesus sent them out equipped with his authority in order to defeat Satan, he had already won the battle for them. So, these battles weren’t their joy. What did Jesus teach them about the real joy? Let’s read vs (20) “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Jesus didn’t disagree that it was joyful for them to experience their victories. But he wanted the young disciples not to be concerned with temporary victories and instead experience heavenly and eternal joy. That of being God’s child. Because temporary victories and sometimes defeat will come and go. But having our names written in the book of life is eternal which no one can take away. What was Jesus’ source of joy? Look at 21-22. “21 At 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 is what you were pleased to do. 22 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Jesus’ joy came from the Holy Spirit. God’s spirit is eternal but invisible. The Bible says the Holy Spirit lives in us. Jesus’ joy was from within. People look for many kinds of Joy but true joy but it eludes them. It is because true joy isn’t given to the proud but to the humble. These are Jesus’ disciples. They will find true inner peace and joy that is eternal. Why are Jesus’ disciples blessed people? Let’s Read verses 23-24 “23 Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” The joy of the kingdom of God had been hidden since Adam’s fall. The patriarchs, prophets and kings of the bible had longed to see the fulfilling of God’s promise of world salvation but they could not. However, these humble disciples were blessed because they could see and know God in Jesus. They could see God’s work and participate in it as workers and praying for workers.
Thank God for the harvest. In today’s passage we see Jesus who sent out the 72 in order to continue God’s ministry. When they obeyed Jesus they were truly blessed. May we also see the plentiful harvest on our campuses? And participate in God’s work through praying for Bible teachers who can be sent and delegate God’s work. Then the kingdom of God may come in our hearts with true eternal joy.