Riots, looting, stealing, killing, and destruction are happening across much of America. Calls to cancel citizens for simple opinions and to defund the police and civil authority continue. Due process, justice, and the rule of law are being cast aside for mob rule and anarchist activities. Some reports sound like the 1800s in the wild west before many of our territories became states. Bullies from the classrooms to the neighborhood gangs to the highest seats of power in Washington D. C. are pushing their will and way into every aspect of our lives and culture. Reason, the rule of law, civility and simple acts of kindness for our fellow man have, like the baby in the bath water, been thrown out the window by many.
During Jesus’ ministry many of the same things were happening in their culture. In Luke chapter ten, Jesus sends seventy-two disciples out with a message and a mission to spread the word that the kingdom of God has come near. Jesus sent these men two by two in peace and with power from the Lord – including the ability to heal the sick. Jesus told them that those who listened to them and received them were indeed listening to Jesus. In contrast, whoever didn’t listen to the disciple’s message and rejected it were rejecting Jesus.
I remember times as the oldest of four when my parents would send me to give a message to my siblings. Sometimes they listened to me, and sometimes they didn’t. My job was to take them the message. Their job was to receive the message and reply to it with what my parents told them to do. Sometimes I would be in trouble with my parents if my siblings didn’t acknowledge my parent’s message or authority. As a result, I felt like I would be held responsible if they didn’t “mind our parents.” Sometimes I tried to “make them” do my father’s or mother’s will. I cared that my siblings obeyed and didn’t get in trouble, but in actual fact, my siblings decisions to be obedient or not wasn’t my role or responsibility. My job was simply to communicate the message. It was their job to receive and respond or reject it. Sometimes this happens with evangelism. Sometimes we want better for others than they want for themselves. Sometimes we take on jobs and responsibilities that are not and can’t be ours. Can anyone identify with this?
In the story of the seventy-two sent out, Jesus said that if a city received and welcomed them, they were to stay and complete their mission. In contrast, Jesus also said that if a city rejected them or did not welcome them, they were to publicly say, “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.’” Jesus told them to leave those places that rejected his message. Jesus also went on to say that it will be more bearable for Sodom than for that town that rejected the men Jesus sent to them. That has to be terrible. Sodom was destroyed by a fire from heaven so intense that there is not even a trace of it left to this day.
Jesus told those he was sending out before they left that “whoever listens to you, listens to me: whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” (Luke 10) In my childhood example – when my siblings listened to me, they were listening to my parents. In contrast, when my siblings rejected me as a messenger from our parents and the message I brought, they were in deed rejecting not only my parents but the authority of God. This is a grave thing to reject God.
In the end of the story in Luke, Jesus’ disciples returned with joy at all those who received them and the message they brought from Jesus. They reported that “even the demons submit to us in your name.” That had to be something to see, but at the conclusion of this story, Jesus gives some perspective to the seventy-two. Jesus said, “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
So what about us today? What relevance can we get out of the story in Luke 10 today? Here are a few thoughts.
1. Like the seventy-two, Jesus sends us on a mission. Matthew 28:18-20 says, “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
2. As we go on our mission remember what Jesus told his disciples in Luke 10 about their approach to the cities they were sent to visit. In Romans 12:18 the writer commands Christians similarly, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
3. Like the seventy-two, we need to know our place and position on this earth. We need to trust in Jesus directions and leadership first and foremost knowing like Paul did in Philippians 4:12-13 “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. In I Timothy 6:6-8 we also see, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” When we have the right attitude and understand our place and position in this world, I think we can have the same joy the seventy-two described.
4. Keep in the forefront of our minds John 3:16 which says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Likewise in I Peter 1:8-9 we read, “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” God loves us so much. What a gift He gave and what a reward for faith in Christ!
5. Understand that we are not responsible for the response or lack of response someone makes or doesn’t make to Jesus. It is their responsibility to listen to God. It is also their right to choose to accept or reject Him and His authority. We will see and know what they choose by their actions. In I John 3:9 it says, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” Those who are rioting, looting, stealing, killing, and causing destruction in our world today are not born of God. We can lead a horse to water, but we can’t make him drink. The same thing is true of the offer of salvation.
6. For all that respond and accept Christ and like the seventy-two in Luke 10, we can be confident in our reward of eternal life with God. The Bible says in I John 5:11-13, “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”
7. Don’t worry so much about the little things and the things you can not control. When we work within our spheres of influence and with what we do control, we will often be better received and more effective. Let’s keep our focus on the main and important things. When we do, the little things will fit and fall into place. Have you seen the experiment with the putting rocks, gravel and sand in jars? If we fill our jar with sand, then try to add the gravel and big rocks, they won’t fit. If we put in the big rocks in the jar first, then the smaller gravel and the sand last, we will have our priorities right and be able to fit much more into our (jars) lives and in the right order and proportions. Philippians 3:20-21 says, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” Let’s think about this when life, circumstances, and the evening or all day long ‘news’ stories get us down. Better things are coming for those in Christ.
This is good news. This is important news. This is news worth sharing. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone heard about it?
I hope we can all learn some lessons from Luke 10 and live in the love the Lord provides as we think on these things….
Robin Robbins House ©️
Bible verses are used with permission from the NIV and ESV.