Thursday is for Discipleship
1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. 2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ 6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. 7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house.”
8 Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’
Jesus gave these instructions to the disciples just before sending out 72 of them to preach the gospel of the Kingdom. The broad features are clear:
One, the harvest is plentiful and workers are needed (v. 1).
Two, the mission is urgent and potentially dangerous (vv. 2-3).
Three, resources may not be important but zeal for the task is (v. 4).
Four, look for indications of receptivity to the message in the willingness of hearers to be hospitable (vv. 5-6a).
Five, assume you will be provided for and be thankful in your provisions (v. 6b-8).
Six, be both a healer and a herald (v. 9).
Seven, be confident in the message and speak with authority (vv. 10-11).
These instructions are often discussed simply as the procedures that Jesus set up for the next phase of his earthly ministry rather than as a model or example of how we might penetrate new communities with the gospel. I want to suggest that the instructions here are a good outline of what churches might do in every neighborhood in which God has placed them.
Jesus’ expectation, Paul’s expectation was that disciples, followers of Christ would all, without exception, be workers for the kingdom which means healers and heralds of the kingdom. Today, however, much of what we do in our churches is wait for people to come to us, or we invite them to come to our facility where a few highly gifted and engaged people try to put on worship services and programs that will present the story of the gospel and win people to Christ.
But Christ didn’t commission his disciples to be inviters to programs and facilities but to be fishers of men (Matt. 4:19). We are not fish processors but fishers of men. Fisherman on the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch™ don’t call the fish processors back at Dutch Harbor, fisherman. A fisherman has to go to the fish. He has to leave the dock. He doesn’t wait for fish to come to, or be brought to him. We need churches filled with missional/incarnational people who understand this distinction.