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In Transit: Luke 10

In Summary: Luke 10 summarizes quickly: life as a disciple of Jesus cannot be focused in one place. The eyes of a disciple must look for the needs, whether they are physical, spiritual, or relational, and our behavior must work to meet those needs.

First, we see the 70 sent out to preach. They are told to go to the various towns and villages on behalf of Jesus, preaching the kingdom. The instructions are useful and will be the focus for today.

Second, we see Jesus put success in perspective. It is not the spiritual power—after all, He saw Satan fall, so you seeing one demon run away pales in comparison. Rejoice in grace, not in power.

Third, we see the woes on Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Capernaum. Why? For rejecting the message, which means they rejected the Messiah. Judgment comes from that, but the Judge is not joyful in that. He is sorrowful, but His law must be fulfilled.

Fourth, we see the Good Samaritan story. This one is familiar even to many non-Bible folks, so I’ll leave you to read it on your own.

In Focus: Consider the instructions given to the 70 that are sent out by Jesus. First, they are sent in pairs. They lost the large companionship of the disciple pack, but they retained at least one like-minded person to go with them.

Second, they are sent out to tell people that Jesus was coming (10:2). That is critical: the message was not about the travelers nor their desires. It was about the coming Messiah.

Third, they are told to be content with the provisions that come. They are not to go chasing better offers, nor to demand better treatment. The purpose is to spread the message of Christ. It is also worth noting that “being content” also kicks back against show-off style asceticism. If they were offered the fancier things of life, no protest of “oh, I’ll take something else…” was permitted.

Fourth, they are told to move on from those who reject the message. This sets up an interesting development: Jesus is still coming. The town, though, will have no preparation.

In Practice: Practically speaking, these four points come through plainly:

First, even the most prepared of disciples need support. These 70 had physically been with Jesus, were hand-selected by Him, and still needed to go in teams. Don’t go it alone. Take whatever companions are fit to the same task.

Second, focus on the message. Our message is about the finished first coming of Jesus and the anticipated second coming. Anything else is auxiliary to this mission.

In this, though, note the story of the Good Samaritan in this chapter. People matter more than schedules, so no matter how important you think you are, that person in the ditch needs you.

Third, be satisfied. This especially hits on my brethren engaged in ministry as a profession. Be content with what you get, and neither trumpet your mendicant status nor your wealth. You have what you have because the Lord sent you there—had He swapped the assignments, you’d be what you envy or disdain. Focus on who sent you, not what you get for going.

Fourth, move on. There comes a time to go on from a space where you are not being heard. Move ahead and find the next place to proclaim the message, and shake off the bitterness or frustration. The message needs to get to hearers so get it to hearers. All the stunts we pull to try and get an audience are nonsense, because they aren’t hearing the message, just watching the stunts.

In Nerdiness: A pair of nerd thoughts: you’ll see a footnote about whether 70 or 72 were sent out. Here we have the classic textual question: how do we decide which variant is appropriate? The typical methods leave us uncertain: external evidence (the number of manuscripts and the diversity of them) suggest 70 as the better reading; internal evidence (explaining why a scribe/copyist would make a change) suggests 72 as better. It’s the difference in 1 team of 2 disciples. I think 70 more likely, in part because of the connection to Genesis 10 and the table of nations…70 nations.

Second, note the use of “sent out” here. What does that matter? Apostle is a noun derived from the verb for “send out.” Rightly speaking, these 70 (72) are “apostles” in the simplest form of the word. We do reserve the word Apostle for the twelve named as such in Scripture, with Matthias replacing Judas and Paul being added. The key here is Jesus’ authority to send: send with power, send with instructions, send with accountability.


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