Thursday, November 08, 2012



We have come to chapter 10 of Luke's gospel. Each chapter is full of several amazing stories of Jesus in action. This first story in this chapter is one of my favorites. NOTE the fact that we have just finished with some very tough teaching on how costly it is to be a follower of Jesus. And now Jesus appoints 72 disciples other than the 12 and sends them on a mission.

The story is divided into two sections in the first 24 verses. The first is Jesus sending out two by two 72 disciples on a mission and the second section is an interesting time of debriefing. We'll handle the first today and the second tomorrow.
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. 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. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

There is a mixture of specific instructions for them in that particular mission and some universal principles for us today. Jesus' instructions not to carry a purse, bag or sandals was for that specific trip. However the sense of going two by two was carried out throughout the spreading movement of the fellowship of Jesus.

There is also an interesting statement about how plentiful the harvest is and yet the workers are few. Years ago I presented a message entitled, "Many Are Called, But Few Get Up." We have a serious addiction within the churches in this country. People are addicted to church attendance with a semblance of guilt if they miss, but participation is not part of the norm.

I think Christians do mission work the hard way, mainly attempting to "convert" people from whatever their culture is to become a member of the Christian culture. In the process we send the wrong message as to what the Jesus movement is all about. The goal of missions is not to set up Americanized churches full of spectators, but to encourage intimate touch and interaction about Jesus and the kingdom. NOTE what Jesus' strategic plan is.
"When you enter a house, first say, 'Peace to this house.' If the head of the house loves peace, your peace will rest on that house; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for workers deserve their wages. Do not move around from house to house.

This mission is all about "entering a house" and bringing peace with you on that house. Whether the head of the house receives it or not, the peace is still with you. He says something interesting, "Stay there in that house and don't move from house to house." This reminds me of what a friend said to me, "Be a fountain" and let people come to you. If you have brought the peace of God to this household, then it will be evident to the neighborhood and village.
"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 has come near to you.' But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and 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.' I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. NOTE what they are to do. Heal the sick and tell the people that the kingdom of God has come near to you. And if they refuse to welcome you and the peace you bring, then shake the dust off your feet. Then Jesus says, "Be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near." In other words, the kingdom of God has come near no matter the response.

Then Jesus curses the three cities in which He had performed many of His miracles. "Woe to you, Chorazin! 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. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? 
No, you will go down to the depths.

When you receive as much light as these cities have received and still are not particularly responsive to the message of the kingdom, you will be held responsible for that rejection.

Then Jesus says something that is most empowering for these disciples and for us, too: "Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me."
You and Jesus are united inseparably when you are on a mission in His name. Whoever listens to you is listening to Jesus and whoever rejects you is rejecting Jesus. You see, the key to appreciating the power of this statement is found back in the early part of sending the disciples out. The harvest is plentiful. There are so many who have ears to hear and eyes to see, because Jesus is the Lord of this harvest. So, we are to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send forth more workers to take His healing touch and the message of the kingdom of God to those who are ready to receive it. It's His harvest, His power, His message and His peace.

I've got one final thought for you. When you are praying for the Lord to send forth workers for His harvest, be sure that prayer includes you as one of the workers. Jesus will handle all of the details of the work. Just raise your hand and volunteer to be one of those workers.



Now we come to probably one of the most familiar stories ever told-the parable of the good Samaritan. The story emerges from a scene where a scholar is trying to test Jesus.

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"

Jesus turns the tables on this "expert of the law" by asking him two questions. First Jesus asks him what does the law say about the conditions for inheriting eternal life? He refers him right back to his own text-his own authoritative Scriptures. Then Jesus presses him further with another question, "How do you read the law in this case?" The "expert" trying to put Jesus to the test is now facing a major test of his own.
He answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

Now the "expert" couldn't let it rest here. But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" And with this Jesus has him pinned up against the wall. So, Jesus shares this story in response to the question: "Who is my neighbor?"
In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

We don't know much about this man who was attacked on this treacherous road. All we see is that he has been beaten and left for dead. The story has to do with the three men who came upon him. The first was a priest and the second a Levite. The priest has to do with the operations of the sacrifices and the Levites were the caretakers of the Temple. Both of them saw the man and passed by on the other side. Why? Because they were fearful of being unclean. They would be considered unclean if they were to touch a dead person and this guy was as good as dead. If they were to become unclean, they would need to go through the inconvenience of purification rights. They both chose not to get involved.

Then Jesus comes to the third person who came upon the beaten man-the Samaritan: But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

Jesus uses one of His common tactics of extreme examples to demonstrate His point. He picks the most perceptively moral people to represent the worst behavior, then He selects a Samaritan who is perceived to be the worst type of person to play the role of model behavior. The Jews viewed the Samaritans as half-breeds and they despised them, much worse than the gentiles.

However despised the Samaritan was, he was the only one who stopped, bandaged and treated his wounds, put him on his own donkey to take him to the inn, then paid the innkeeper for his care of the man. On top of this, he gave the innkeeper enough money to continue his care of this man.

When Jesus finished His story, He asked: "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

So here we are right back to the original question of the "expert" who was trying to test Jesus. WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR? The man had no room to move-no wiggle room to make himself look better. The only answer he could give was "the one who had mercy on him" was the neighbor and not the highly religious, super-spiritual leaders. NOTE the "expert" couldn't even say the word "Samaritan".

The emphasis is not on knowing, but on doing that which we know to do. So, here's the point. A neighbor can't be categorized. Your neighbor is anyone who is on the path who is in need. But here's the bottom-line of the story. To be a neighbor, you must be willing to go out of your way to help that person in need-to be wiling to step out of your comfort levels and conveniences in order to care for that person in need.

So, who is your neighbor? I was thinking. Jesus is your neighbor and He wants you to be a neighbor to someone else. GO AND DO LIKEWISE. NOTE when the "expert" quoted 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself," Jesus' response was DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE. Remember Jesus' words when He said it's not enough to talk a good game by calling Him Lord, Lord, but only those who DO the will of my Father will enter the kingdom of heaven. So, how are you DOING?