Close your eyes and picture Jesus and his followers together. Most likely people either picture Jesus sitting around with the twelve disciples or standing in the midst of thousands preaching and teaching. Yet in today’s gospel Jesus has seventy followers close enough that he trusts them to be sent out in pairs to heal the sick and announce that God has come near. Seventy trusted preachers. Thirty-five pairs of preachers telling the good news of God. So telling the story is clearly not to be limited to the twelve disciples. The good news is meant to be shared far and wide by those who trust Jesus and follow him.
This is a reminder to all of the followers of Jesus of every time and place. Sharing the good news is not just the responsibility of “professionals” like clergy. Sharing the good news is the calling of everyone who follows Jesus.
Consider the assignment Jesus gives to the ones he sends. First, they are sent to cure the sick. Second, they proclaim that “the kingdom of God has come near.” It has been said that “you don’t throw a drowning person a sandwich.” Jesus sends the seventy out with not only words of comfort but with acts of grace as well.
God’s people are sent out into the world to serve in the name of Jesus each time they gather for worship. In this gospel text we are again reminded that the gospel message is to be shared in more than just words. We share the message by welcoming others, sharing bread with the hungry, and offering compassion to the afflicted. Yet our baptism also reminds us that God has first come near to us in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ—a relationship that is like a mother comforting a child. The promise that God is near in Christ compels us to live faithfully and compassionately, wherever our journeys take us.
Gospel: Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
Jesus commissions harvesters and laborers to go where he would go and do what he would do. Risking hardship and danger in exchange for the experience of great joy, they offer peace and healing as signs that the reign of God is near.
1After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ 6And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 7Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’ ”
16“Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”
17The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” 18He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”