The notes this week have been provided by Mark. The passage can be read here.
The Lord is ramping it up. Here we get a glimpse of his authority and purpose as the Lord equips ordinary believing folk with extraordinary powers.
Their mission is simple yet hard – prepare people for Jesus as he is on his way to visit their towns. It requires his messengers to go on a road trip in absolute dependence on the Lord, and taking nothing for themselves.
How often have we done the keys/wallet/phone ‘pat dance’ after leaving the house? We hate the thought of not being able to get anywhere, speak to anyone or provide for our own needs, yet these 72 messengers were not to take any money or a bag with spare belongings or sandals (implying spares or extra comfort). The Lord’s work for them was to heal the sick and deliver a simple message all in a complete reliance on him, his provision and the provision of others.
The Lord describes them as “lambs among wolves” (v3), this remind us of the Lord’s values in the previous verses, that “the least among you will be greatest”?! Lambs are known for their vulnerability and weakness. We also, may seem weak to the outside world but it’s what’s happening on the inside that counts. “My dear children, you come from God and belong to God,…..for the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world.”(1John4v4)
The timetable of Jesus is again eluded too. Jesus now on his final approach to Jerusalem, is sending out messengers in pairs to prepare people for his arrival. They are not to take anything that would distract them from their mission, they were not to waste time in idle greetings or chit-chat or wander from house to house looking for the best offer of a B&B. They were to remain focused on preaching Jesus.
You can really get a sense of the speed and urgency that was attached to this mission and the parallel for Christians today is obvious.
Verses 10 – 16 are stern words from the Lord regarding the towns that didn’t welcome these messengers. The Lord remembers two towns, Korazin and Bethsaida that failed to accept him. They had witnessed more than their fair share of hearing Jesus’ teaching and seeing his miracles – but had still refused him. Jesus then mentions two other towns that would have been more open and accepting of him if they had the same opportunities.
The people in the towns that rejected Jesus will be more harshly judged than those people that never got to see him. This is still relevant today, we live in a society that has been exposed to Jesus and his teachings but rejects him. Do we come to church week after week but still reject him? There will come a time when the chance to ‘do church’ will pass. After that, judgment!
Let’s be aware of our calling to go out and preach Jesus at every opportunity, whether it is in work, school, college or any other circumstance we find ourselves in.
Let’s be thankful that we are in a ‘town’ that has heard of Jesus and is aware of his works and privy to his teachings.
Let’s also heed the Lord’s warning of a greater judgement when failing to act on what we have heard of Him.