Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

by Fr Jose Thomas

Text: St. Luke 10 : 1 - 16

Subject: The Mission of the Seventy

This passage tells us the wonderful mission and planned campaign of Jesus Christ. Relevance of this text lies in the challenges it offers to the Church, and especially its ministry in every generation.

St. Luke alone records that in addition to the Twelve sent out a further group to do mission work. It reminds us of the number of nations in Genesis 10 ( the 14 nations that came from Japheth plus the 30 from Ham and the 26 from Shem add up to 70; the multiple of 10 and 7, both numbers signifying completeness) or perhaps in anticipation of the 70 members of Jacob's family in Egypt or the number of elders who helped Moses in Exodus 24:1 (Numbers 11:16, 24). It probably symbolizes the nations to whom the message of Jesus would later be brought by the disciples. Anyhow, St. Luke highlighted and anticipated the universal mission of Jesus Christ, the Cosmic Man (Colossians 1:15-20). Three challenges can be seen in this assignment, i.e., the duties that are laid upon us: Prayer, Work and Preaching (pray for the missionaries, healing ministry and preaching the Gospel).

1. Jesus Christ sent the seventy out in pairs on this dangerous mission and gave them authority and power to preach and to heal the sick. The two together would provide support for one another and two witnesses were needed for the mission described (Numbers 35:30; 2 Corinthians 13:1). Jesus Christ sent them to reach many towns and villages that he had not yet been able to visit. He compared this work to a harvest. To have a harvest, however, one must have labourers in the field. The harvest is plentiful -- many people need to hear the Good News, but there are so few labourers willing to gather it in. Even as Jesus had sent the Twelve, and now seventy more, he told them to "pray the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest" (10:2). These labourers should pray for more labourers to be willing to work in the harvest. So we must constantly pray that He will send out labourers into His harvest field. The need is greater than the supply of labourers. In praying for labourers, we must be willing to go ourselves, obviously. In Christian service, there is no unemployment. God has work enough for everyone. No believer sits back and watch others work because the harvest is great. Therefore, pray to the Lord, He who calls and sends out the labourers.

2. Secondly, the ministry of healing, " Heal the sick who are there " (10:9a). Healing ministry and the Good News of the Kingdom of God are closely related. For Jesus Christ, healing ministry was a sign of the beginning of the Kingdom of God. A good part of His work was the healing of the sick and suffering (St. Matthew 4:23). When Jesus Christ sent out the seventy to different parts of the world, He authorized them to heal the sick. Today we do have t he same mission. That is, we have to be concerned with men's bodies as well as minds. Jesus Christ wished to bring health to the body and health to the soul. Christ's approach was holistic. It is also the responsibility of the members of the Church. Knowledge about the medicines and its application, the intelligence and ability of the people who are working in the field of health are the gift of God.

3. Thirdly, preaching the Good News. Those seventy men were sent out to represent Jesus Christ. Therefore those men came with one message, the great message of Jesus Christ: " The kingdom of God has come near to you" (10:9b). This "nearness" meant both "already here" and "soon to come." The Kingdom Jesus began would not overthrow physical oppression and bring universal peace right away. Instead, it was a Kingdom that began in people's hearts and was near as people's willingness to make Jesus Christ lord over their lives. One day Christ will return to set up His eternal Kingdom -- it may still be many years away, but it is certain to come, and it is as near as accepting Jesus' sacrifice for salvation. Therefore, we do have the mission to communicate the Gospel. It is the responsibility and the duty of every faithful member of the Church, to proclaim the Gospel to the world. The Christian profession is to be the herald of Jesus Christ.

We have to face these challenges. Therefore, are we taking our mission with anything like the seriousness indicated here? We may have many excuses. But the world, which those seventy were going, was not a pleasant place. The harvest was going to involve intensive labour and possibly danger. Jesus Christ commanded them to "go" and they obeyed. Remember, " the one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. " (1 Thess 5: 24).

See Also:

Sermons and Bible Commentaries for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost

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