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Sunday, July 2, 2017

posted Jul 3, 2017, 9:16 AM by Site Administrator

JESUS SENDS OUT THE SEVENTY-TWO

 

Luke 10:1-24

Key Verse 10:2

 

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."

 

            First, "The harvest is plentiful" (1-3). Look at verse 1. It reads: "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." In the past, Jesus sent out the Twelve on their mission journey; and now, Jesus mobilized 72 disciples and sent them out. This shows us how Jesus served God's work. His main focus was to preach the kingdom of God, and then, when people responded, he recruited them as his disciples, trained them, and sent them out to preach the gospel. In modern terms, three words describe his way of serving God's work - Evangelism, disciple-making, and then, sending them out as God's servants. This is how we must serve God's kingdom work as well - Evangelism through fishing and Bible studies, training them, and sending them out to do God's work.

 

Look at verse 2. Let’s read this verse together:

 

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.

 

            The harvest is plentiful. This was Jesus' view of people and the world. What did he mean when he said, "The harvest is plentiful"? It means that there are plenty of people who are ready to be saved. It means that there are plenty of people who look for God’s help and salvation earnestly. They are ripe for harvest. That was Jesus' view of the Jewish people - God-believing people. Then, how much more of unbelieving Gentiles? The fact that psychologists and psychiatrists make a lot of money proves that people have already hit the rock bottom in this world. The statistics shows that in America, every 18 minutes, one person commits suicide. People are sick and tired of their life in this world. "The harvest is plentiful." When the crops are ripe for harvest, we must harvest them asap, because, otherwise, they rot. While the harvest is plentiful, we must strive to harvest them above all other matters. Proverbs 24:11 reads: "Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter."

 

 "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." This is the reality. "The workers are few." Here, the workers are those who can go out and save souls. They are the ones who have a heart's desire for saving souls and, at the same time, who are willing to dedicate themselves to it by pouring out their time and energy. In Jesus' eyes, even if there were so many God-believing people, such workers were so rare. Today, it seems that there are so many Christians, but the workers are very rare; it is really hard to find those who have a heart's desire for God's kingdom business and thereby, who are willing to dedicate themselves to it. "The workers are few." When we think about this statement of Jesus, we realize what we must do - we must establish gospel workers from among young college students. At the same time, we can see that those workers are no ordinary people in Jesus' eyes - they are very precious and special. As we have dedicated ourselves to God's work through fishing and Bible studies, we are growing up as well experienced, well trained and skilled gospel workers. In Jesus' eyes, we are like his secret weapons to harvest souls. 

 

"The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." This is the real condition. So, what should we do? Jesus gives us a clear prayer topic, saying, "Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." We must establish harvest workers. Jesus describes God the Father as "the Lord of the harvest." This title is indeed right for God. Saving souls is what God has been doing for the past several thousand years - He is really dedicated to it; it is God's will and God's business, and we are serving Him. He is the Big Boss. So, simply we report our Boss that we have short staff, and ask Him to hire more workers. We can confidently pray to establish more disciples on each of our campuses. This prayer topic is according to God's will - we are sure that He will answer this prayer.

 

            Look at verse 3. Jesus says, "Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves." In Jesus' eyes, it was very dangerous for these young disciples to go into the world and struggle to save souls - they would wrestle with all kinds of people, especially, many vicious people; also, there would be many temptations. Certainly, the world was not a desirable place for these young and naive disciples; it would be much safer for Jesus to take them away from the world as soon as they accepted him as the Christ. But Jesus didn't do that. Instead, he sends them into the world to harvest souls. This shows the importance of this mission - it is an absolute mission, which must be done at any cost and at any danger. This is what Christians must do at any cost, and at any danger. This is what we must do. Jesus knows the danger; there may be some casualties. Yet, still Jesus sends us into the world so that we can harvest souls. Jesus prays in John 17, "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one." The very reason why we Christians are still here in this very dangerous world is for this - harvest souls. You don't have to say, "I don't know what God wants me to do." Harvest souls! This is God's will for you.

 

Second, "Do not take a purse or bag or sandals" (4-7). In verses 4 through 16, Jesus gives them a detailed instruction of how they should conduct themselves in this mission journey. Look at verse 4. Jesus says, "Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road." Jesus' point is not that the gospel workers should live as beggars, but that they must not rely on such things, but on God's help and provision in doing God's work. Jesus does not want the gospel workers to be bothered by such matters; instead, they would just focus on serving this very important mission by entrusting all such matters in God's hands.

 

Jesus also says, "Do not greet anyone on the road." "Greet" means to say, "Hello, how are you doing?" When we meet someone, we greet that person, saying, "Hi." But Jesus says that when we are on the road to God’s mission, we should not greet anyone. It means, even if you meet your parents, don’t say, "Hi mom." How would your mom respond when, at her greeting, you just do not pay attention to her or even do not greet her back? Probably, you would be in big trouble. Actually, this instruction does not mean that we should not say "Hello" to our parents or friends. Rather, his point is that we should take this mission of saving souls very seriously; no chit chat in shooting the breeze on the way to God’s mission; don’t take God’s mission casually, but very sincerely and seriously, completely focusing on serving and fulfilling God’s mission. In the book of Genesis, we studied about the servant of Abraham, who so intensely served and fulfilled the mission impossible. After about twenty days’ desert journey, he, instead of checking in a hotel, started his mission right away, at the sunset, praying for God’s help. When he was invited to Rebekah’s house, and food was offered, he refused to eat, saying, "I will not eat until I have told you what I have to say." (Gen 24:33) Then, the very next morning, he just took Rebekah and left for his master’s house. He was so mission-oriented, intense, and wholehearted. Thus, the mission impossible was completed successfully. How should we serve God’s mission? Jesus gives us a clear direction, saying, "Do not greet anyone on the road."

 

Modern day, Christians' problem is that they have lost this spirit of mission; as a result, their fellowship is merely human fellowship – talking and talking endlessly about this or that, stock market, real estate prices, computers, big screen TVs, cars, TV shows, even about their cats and dogs. Many people are frustrated greatly when they come to church, because in the church, they see only human fellowship again, which they have been sick and tired of in the world. While people talk about all these human things, while people just enjoy gossips, all kinds of bad things spread, and cripple God’s church. The apostle Paul talks about these people. 1 Tim 5:13 and 14 reads: "Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to." 2 Tim 2:16-18 also reads: 16Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18who have wandered away from the truth." Our fellowship in Christ Jesus should be spiritual, and our focus should be on serving God’s mission. Jesus called the temple, "a house of prayer for all nations." We must come to church to serve all nations through prayers and Bible studies. Let's pray that our church may be a house of prayer for all nations.

 

Look at verses 5 through 7. Let’s read these verses together:

 

5"When you enter a house, first say, 'Peace to this house.' 6If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. 7Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

 

            This is Jesus’ instruction about how they should respond when they are welcomed. If anyone accepts their message, God’s peace will be upon him. Then, this person would gladly welcome the disciples into his house, and the disciples should stay in his house, eating and drinking whatever the family offers them. This is how God provides food and lodging for his servants on their mission journey. Jesus says, "For the worker deserves his wages." But at that time, the disciples must be careful in two things. 1) Eat and drink whatever they give you; and 2) do not move around from house to house. Maybe, the food they offer is not what you like; or the house is not that big. Even though they offer somewhat strange food to you, don’t judge them according to your own cultural standard. As they accepted you as God's messenger, you show your acceptance by eating what they offer you. Modern day, many believers move around continually, from one mission field to another, looking for a more comfortable mission for them; hopping and hopping continually, from one church to another, looking for a more glamorous church. Jesus says, "Do not move around from house to house." Don’t look for a more convenient or luxurious place, but follow God’s guidance and stay where God designed you to stay. Don’t be like a grasshopper, but be like a tree that is planted by the streams of water, that yields its fruit in season.

 

            Third, "The kingdom of God is near you" (8-16). In verses 8 through 16, Jesus showed them how they should respond when they were welcomed and when they were not welcomed. Look at verses 8 and 9. "When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’" In those days, due to lack of medical knowledge, of medicine and of personal hygiene, people had a various kind of diseases; there was even no dentist either; everyone suffered from diseases. Thereby, helping them with such diseases was a very serious and urgent matter. Jesus gave a direction to his disciples to heal the sick when they were welcomed.

 

            And Jesus also gave them the message to preach - "The kingdom of God is near you." Only one Bible study note! I am sure that all the disciples memorized this message completely. The point of this message is "The kingdom of God is Near you" - the "practicality" or "tangibility" or "accessibility" of the kingdom of God. The audience of this message were, of course, the Jews - God-believing people. They talked about the kingdom of God; they said that when they died, they would go to the kingdom of God, and enjoy a wonderful life with God. They said that in the resurrection, they would come back to life and live in the kingdom of God without sorrow, without tears and without pains. That was their dream. Yet, to them, even if they believed in God, even if they attended worship service every week, the kingdom of God was conceptual and theological; the idea of entering the kingdom of God after death just gave them some psychological comfort; it was not real to them. To them, the kingdom of God was far away, which they could not reach, which they would think about really in their death bed. As a result, their life of faith, their life of worship was not real; it was not life-giving; instead, at best, it was formal and religious, not really knowing God's love, not really enjoying a wonderful life in God. To these God-believing people, the disciples would preach the message, "The kingdom of God is near you." They would tell them how practical, how relevant and how real the kingdom of God was in their day to day life.

 

            The kingdom of God is near you. This is the message we must preach to all our students - both God-believing people and unbelieving people. The kingdom of God is the place where God rules as king. We all want to go to the kingdom of heaven. Why? Because the kingdom of heaven is the kingdom of God where God rules, and thereby, it is a wonderful place to live - no more sorrows, no more pains; instead, you enjoy a wonderful life, so happy and fulfilling. Once you go there, you don't want to come back to this world. It is all peoples' dream and desire to go to the kingdom of God and live there. Now the reality Jesus shows is: The kingdom of God where you can enjoy such a wonderful life is near you; the kingdom of God you have dreamed about entering and enjoying it is near you, within your reach, and thereby, you can enjoy its beauty and quality right now. That's what Jesus shows us. That's the main point Jesus preached from the beginning of his ministry. The kingdom of God, where you can enjoy a wonderful life is within your reach; if you want, you can enter it and enjoy its quality.

 

            Then, how can we enter it? Jesus says, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Mat 4:17) The reason why people fail to enter the kingdom of God is because, instead of valuing God and seeking God in their life, they give their hearts to other things in the world and pursue them; as a result, they cannot receive God's rule; they are actually, rejecting God's rule. Now one thing they must do to enter the kingdom of God is to repent of their pursuit of happiness and success in other things than God; they need to turn from the pursuit of things of this world to the life of seeking God. Only when people repent, letting go of their dreams and desires in this world and turn to God, they can enter the kingdom of God and enjoy a wonderful life. The kingdom of God is so near; how near? One repentance away! Christian life, the life of worshiping God is not the matter of doing all kind of Christian things, but the matter of having the entering the kingdom of God through repentance in Jesus Christ. This is what we must teach all our students. The kingdom of God is near you.

 

            Then, how should they respond when they were not welcomed? In verses 10 through 12, Jesus told them to wipe off the dust that sticks to their feet as a warning against them. This performance meant that, whatever would happen to them as the consequences of rejecting them, it would be their own responsibility and that the disciples were not responsible, because they did their portion, saying, "The kingdom of God is near you." Jesus says in verse 12, "I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town."

 

Look at verses 13 through 15. Let's read these verses together:       

 

13"Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! 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. 14But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths.

 

            These cities were the main focus of Jesus' ministry in Galilee. There, he taught them the word of God, and performed many miracles, proving who he was - the Promised Messiah. But they rejected him. By the way, why did these God-believing people reject Jesus? Jesus says in verse 15: "And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths." Because of their pride as God's chosen people, their self-righteousness due to their Bible knowledge and faithful worship service attendance, they thought that they didn't need to have any new teaching. Even if Jesus proved his identity as God's servant through his teaching, his life of mission, and his powerful miracles, still they were not willing to bend their pride. The real essence of the life of faith is to have the kingdom of God, not that kind of religious life. People must not rely on their own self-righteousness - their many years' faithful church attendance, their Bible knowledge, or their zeal for God; instead, they must check out whether they have the kingdom of God or not.

 

            By the way, what is Jesus talking about? Why suddenly, while he was instructing the seventy two disciples, talks about these cities? Jesus was showing his disciples how he dealt with rejection. He warned these cities that terrible judgment was waiting for them as the consequences of rejecting him; people in these cities were worse than the people in Tyre and Sidon, and thereby, they would be judged more severely. That's how Jesus dealt with rejection, and now Jesus taught them to deal with those who rejected them in the same way.

 

            When people reject our teaching, often, we condemn ourselves thinking that it is because we have not treated them properly, or because we have not taught them right. But Jesus never implies that it is our fault, but he makes very clear that those who reject us are responsible. His point is very clear. We simply preach, "The kingdom of God is near you." "You can have a real Christian life only if you repent and turn to God in Christ." If anyone accepts it, very good; that person will love us greatly, because we are God's personal messengers to them; that person will be happy to assist us and support us. That person is already in the kingdom of God. But if anyone rejects our message, we simply dust off of our feet, and move on, and God will deal with that person. This instruction of Jesus about how we should deal with those who reject our message shows us who we are as Jesus' disciples. We are simply God's messengers, God's servants doing his work. About this, as a conclusion, Jesus says, 16"He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me."

 

            Forth, "Rejoice that your names are written in heaven" (17-24). Look at verse 17. Their mission journey was a great success. The seventy-two returned with joy and said to Jesus, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name." They were so excited. Living as a disciple of Jesus was really cool. Then, Jesus told them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you." We praise Jesus who has given us such an awesome life – nothing will harm you. Nothing can bother you. When the disciples go out and do powerful work of God with authority, then, Satan feels so threatened that he quickly comes down to see what’s going on. The disciples become literally dangerous weapons for God like well trained Navy Seals. But Jesus added, "However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." "Your names are written in heaven" so that now everyone in heaven recognizes you. The angel Gabriel knows your name. The archangel Michael knows your name. Our father Abraham knows you. We become famous in heaven. By saying this, Jesus taught his disciples to pursue the recognition from God, instead of pursuing that kind of spectacular looking stuffs.  

 

            Look at verse 21. Because of their great evangelical work, Jesus was so happy. Full of joy through the Holy Spirit, Jesus thanked God in a loud voice, "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 was your good pleasure." The people of Korazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum were wise on their own, thinking that they too were worshiping God very well and that they didn’t need to listen to anyone, so God hid such glorious life of Jesus’ disciples from them. But the disciples were like little children. When they saw how God was working through Jesus, they were fascinated, completely believing that Jesus was from God; when they heard Jesus' message, they were so fascinated at the profound meaning of it, saying, "Wow!" They believed and followed and obeyed everything Jesus told them like little children so fascinated. As a result, they came to experience glorious things of God, having authority and driving out demons, and even their names written in heaven. God reveals these glorious things to people who respond to his message like little children, who are not so sophisticated, not so calculating, not so proud. Jesus said to them, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see." Look at verse 24. Let’s read this verse together.

 

"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 word of God we hear and study about is what these prophets wanted to know. The prophets always meditated on the Laws, saying, "How sweet is your laws to my heart; I meditate on them day and night." But, how happy they must be when they study Luke's gospel! Wow! Surely, they would have memorized the whole New Testament completely and everyday, recited one time. But, alas! The time had not yet come; they had to wait, and only rejoiced at the thought of it. But now this is what we are enjoying. What we do on our campus is what all the prophets and kings wanted to see in the Old Testament; they too wanted to work hard to find sheep and teach them the word of God to save their souls, but alas; the time had not yet come that they could not do - probably, the prophet Isaiah bit his tongue, saying, "If I were there, I would be the light for the Gentiles." The life of the disciples was really blessed and privileged. The disciples hear, see and experience the glorious things of God in their life.

 

One Word:       Blessed Are The Eyes That See What You See! 

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