“After 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.” (Luke 10:1)
I was just thinking about this passage the other day. While I was pondering it, I did not remember that it followed the incident where the Samaritan town rejected Jesus because he was journeying to Jerusalem. Remember beloved reader, he chastised his disciples for their anger at the rejection. Here are better instructions as to how to evangelize. And the rationale for evangelism. As I remember, I encouraged you beloved reader to be ready to follow Jesus when called. Not IF called, but when!
“He 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. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.“ (Verses 2 – 4)
That last part, “greet no one on the road”, is a little bit of a puzzlement to me. So I cautiously investigated with the biblical commentators, and was glad I did! Apparently meeting and greeting someone on the road was a prolonged exchange and giving proper honor to the other. It could take time, time that was needed to journey far to spread the gospel.
“Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.” (Verses 5 – 6)
Another curious thing; when one extends peace it is a thing of value and akin to a blessing. If the blessing it not properly or graciously received the giver will not be held liable for giving something of value. They have have done was right and proper, extending a gift and blessing for which they assumed the recipient was worthy.
“Remain 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. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ “ (Verses 7 – 9)
This one I understand. When you find hospitality, accept it graciously, however much the hospitality is pleasing and comfortable. Don’t “shop around” for the best place to stay. And do not withhold your services from anyone who desires it and accepts it.
“But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘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.’ “ (Verses 10 – 11)
This is the portion of the passage that I was thinking on – if you (the disciple) and the message you carry is not accepted, do not stay there to convince them but leave and take nothing from the place you visited. Not bad feelings, resentment, an attitude (as the disciples showed in the Samaritan town) or anything else. Now, that is not from the biblical commentators but from me. The biblical commentators’ perspective is/was that the new of Jesus Christ was true and valuable. And disbelief was not to sully or interfere with the truth of it’s Message and Sender. And that disciples were to be very clear what the inhabitants of the town/village was rejecting.
Now, as to why I was pondering this portion of the passage – I am not sure I remember! But thinking about it in this moment – I think I was thinking about it in terms of my past employment. Or more precisely (as I seek to recollect my thought process at the time) interviewing for jobs that I did not get. At the start of my job search I felt I had a great deal to offer in experience and knowledge. By the end of my job search I just hoped someone would hire me! And I have to wonder (now) if that is what Jesus was trying to prevent the disciples from feeling – the rejection of the message of Jesus and the Lord God making the disciples feel rejected and discouraged. After all, this was probably their first foray into evangelism. And as Jesus said, he is sending them out “like lambs in the midst of wolves”!
“Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” (Verse 16)
Although Jesus’ instructions to the disciple seem a little unusual, he really was looking out for their best interests!
“The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Verses 17 – 20)
During my job search I often wondered where I would end up working. In the beginning I did not want a job just for the sake of having a job and income. Toward the end I was very worried about getting any type of job. Being helpful and in the service of others for the sake of the Divine seemed to become a more and more distant hope. When I was finally hired I had to wonder what the Divine had in mind for me in this job. In my last job it seemed to clear what my calling was.
I am still discerning the call in my present job; some days it seems so clear. Other days it seems distant and shroud covered. But what I do know is this; the places that did not hire me – I left the dust of those places behind. NOT that they rejected the message of the Divine I might have carried; but that they obviously were no the places I should be. When you journey out into the world beloved reader, whether it be for a job or for a mission journey – apply the instructions of the Divine as it seems best. And may your journeying be blessed! Selah!