The Book of Luke, The Sending of the Seventy, Part II - Lesson 131
Luke 10:1-16, After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. 2Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. 3Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. 4Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. 5And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. 6And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. 7And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. 8And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: 9And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. 10But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, 11Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. 12But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. 13Woe unto thee, Chorazin! (khor-ad-zin) woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. 15And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell. 16He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
In Chapter 9 of Luke we were told of the sending out of the twelve disciples into the Galilean region with power and authority over all devils and diseases.
But they were above all, sent to preach the kingdom of God. The Lord is coming.
They were told to take nothing for their journey which was meant to cause them to totally trust in Godís provision.
They did what they were told and we are given by Luke that they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere.
Later the Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed to his disciples that if any man intends to come after him he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow him.
Jesus Christ expects his disciples to lose their lives for him and not to save their lives for themselves for to do so, is in the end, to lose his life.
The principle is, keep your life for yourself and you are guaranteed to lose it.
We then went on to learn that disciples who do not depend on God but depend on themselves cannot perform Godís work.
They can perform their own work but cannot perform Godís work.
God has so ordained His work to be done in His power.
The lesson given is that powerless disciples cannot perform Godís work for Godís work is to be done though Godís power and not the discipleís own power.
Thinking that their group was the only one doing the Lordís work was also rebuked by Christ for he instructed them that he that is not against us is for us.
His Father given mission was also emphasized to them in the experience with the Samaritans when he told them he had not come to destroy menís lives.
But he had come to save men contrary to the disciples who wished to call down fire on those who opposed Christ.
And lastly we learned in clear terms that Christ and his ministry are preeminent over all other duties and responsibilities, even to the point of offending family and loved ones and harming or destroying relationships.
Through all that we have learned, we gain an understanding of the sense of urgency and priority in the work of Christ.
He was always about His Fatherís business and in this instruction he intends for his disciples to have that same sense of urgency.
Occupy till I come does not mean sitting around but it means being busy about the work of Christ.
It means putting the work of Christ first and foremost.
Now our passage in Luke 10 extends that sense of urgency as he now appoints 70 disciples, 35 pairs of men, to go ahead of him to the cities and towns to prepare for his coming.
For Jesus Christ intends to visit each of the places where his disciples have been received.
Verse 1, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.
He tells them that the harvest is great, but the laborers are few.
This means that those laborers that are engaged in the work will need to be busy because of the lack of laborers and must carry an extra load.
And part of being busy is to pray that the Lord of the harvest send more laborers into his harvest.
This is an interesting principle and reminds me of Martin Lutherís statement when he said he must spend an extra hour in prayer because he had so much to do today.
What do you suppose occupied his prayer.
Perhaps it was for the Lord of the Harvest to send forth more laborers into the harvest so that the load could be shared.
If we are too busy should not we do the same?
Now Matthew 9:37, uses the word plenteous instead of great which indicates the size of the harvest that the Lord was talking about.
We should remember that the word harvest can be a noun or it can be a verb.
The noun form of harvest speaks of the crop, the verb form of harvest speaks of the reaping of the crop.
We can understand this by looking at Matthew 13 where Christ speaks the parable of the man which sowed good seed in his field and while men slept his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat.
Should we work to pull up the tares, the question was asked?
Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
So in this passage in Matthew the word harvest describes the reaping but in our passage in Luke the word harvest describes the crop for the harvest is plenteous, the harvest is great.
And we know that the crop is the souls of men for the disciples were to go forth preaching the kingdom of God to the crop that was to be harvested.
After Jesus won the Samaritan woman to himself the disciples tried to get him to eat but Jesus had already eaten of the spiritual food and he was relishing the taste as he said to them:
My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. 35Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. 36And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. 37And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. 38I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.
So this was a time of reaping for the disciples and reaping is to be done quickly and hence we see the sense of urgency expressed in our Chapter nine and ten passages.
Here in our passage Christ tells the seventy that the harvest, that is, the crop, is great, is plenteous.
God knows that the crop is great, he knows that the crop is plenteous, and therefore he knows that many laborers will be needed to bring in the crop.
Jesus has told his disciples that some have already sowed and some have watered but now the disciples are given the responsibility of bringing in the harvest.
38I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.
That was the mission of the disciples.
Preach the kingdom of God and preach that the king of the kingdom is coming.
The time was short, decisions were to be made, reaping was to take place.
Cities were to respond or they were not to respond.
Whatever the case the reaper was coming
Preach that the king is coming. Are you ready? Will you receive him?
And in so doing our Lord instructs them to go your way as lambs among wolves.
Your bed will not be a bed of ease but I intend it to be a bed of trust.
He desires to place them in a helpless situation as a lamb is in the midst of wolves.
What defense does a lamb have against a wolf?
A lambís defense is only found in his shepherd.
This is exactly what disciples of Christ are to do.
They are not to isolate themselves amongst the flock but are to go amongst the wolves and minister but with this qualification.
They are to remember that the shepherd is always with them to protect them and to keep them.
They are, as our pastor said of Peter in a recent message, to get out of the boat.
So much of the time Christians find their security among other Christians.
But the message here is clear, the ministry is among the wolves.
And the lambs are to go among the wolves but they are to find their security in the shepherd and not in the sheep or the other lambs.
Wolves like to eat many lambs and many sheep.
But in sending them out as lambs among wolves Jesus Christ is telling them that there is to be no security in hiding within the flock.
They are to trust and find security only in the shepherd as they minister among the wolves.
Because of the urgency and the small number of laborers they were not to worry about a purse, about money, or even shoes, and they were not to take precious time to chatter or swap gossip on the way as they met with passer Byers.
They were to remain in the same house that welcomed them and they were to eat the food that was set before them.
They were to heal the sick that were therein, and say unto them, the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
But those cities who did not receive them were to be left to the Lord Jesus Christ for he will remember them in the harvest and it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for that city at the judgment.
Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, to die.
He would then be raised from the dead and ascend to His Father.
When our Lord came to these towns on His way to Jerusalem, they must either receive Him as their King, or they must reject Him.
Time was short, the decision was crucial.
This passage in Luke tells us that this was a time for a bold, broad proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom of God.
It was to be a proclamation which reached as many people and as wide an area as possible, in a short period of time.
This was a time for public evangelism taking precedence over personal evangelism, hence the command to salute no man by the way.
This seems to be a lesson that is learned and acted upon in the book of Acts when the church comes on the scene.
In the sending out of the seventy we see a foreshadowing of the proclamation of the gospel of the grace of God in the book of Acts.
God intends to have a great harvest, a plenteous harvest.
In Isaiah 55:11 God tells us: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
God is the husbandman and the husbandman always determines the size of the crop that is to be harvested.
He chooses the ground, he chooses the time of sowing, the time of watering, and the time of reaping and he chooses the number of the laborers to engage in these functions.
Godís word will result in a harvest, a great harvest, a plenteous harvest and the sending out of the seventy with the instructions to pray for more laborers tells us that God will have a great harvest for he is in charge of the harvest.
I believe that instruction to the disciples to pray that the Lord of the harvest send forth laborers into his harvest still applies to us in the body of Christ.
We know that the gospel of the kingdom of God was rejected by the Jews at Christís first coming and that Christ was crucified.
But this did not stop the husbandman from pursuing his harvest and we see that in the book of Acts where Paul is given to reach the Gentiles and the church comes into existence.
So we could look at this going forth of the disciples in Luke 10 is a forerunner of what will take place in the book of Acts.
It is a time of teaching of the Lord that will be used in the formulation of the church.
The gospel of the kingdom of God of Luke 10 which was rejected turns into the gospel of the grace of God and is being more and more widely proclaimed in Acts, which was foreshadowed in Luke 10.
We also see in the book of Acts the thrust of evangelistic efforts is not just toward individuals, but also to the cities.
The guiding hand of the Holy Spirit can be seen not only in His leading apostles and missionaries to individuals, but also to the cities as the 70 disciples were sent to the cities.
All of this serves to underscore the fact that what Luke has recorded in chapter 10 of his gospel is preparatory and foundational to what is recorded in the book of Acts.