Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: 4th Sun After Pentecost, Father's Day
Volume 8 No. 485 June 15, 2018
II. Lectionary Reflections on Luke 10:1-24

The 'Other' Jesus

by Dr. William R. Long

Gospel: Luke 10:1-12, 17-20

"After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2 He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house!' 6 And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9 cure the sick who are there, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.' 12 I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town....17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" 18 He said to them, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
-Luke 10:1-12, 17-20 (NRSV)


The Gospel of Luke presents two aspects of Jesus' personality. On the one hand he is the accepting, merciful Savior, the one who has tremendous patience with recalcitrant disciples, the one who will accept the poor, lame, blind and maimed (14:13) into his great feast, the one who stops and listens as concerns are brought to him. He is a Savior not only for the Jews but for the whole world. But, on the other hand, in this passage and other places he also has a sternness about him, a focus and an intensity that is almost a drivenness or, to use the language of our day, an obsession. We see this in 13:33, for example: "Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way..." Or, we see his sternness in his words to his disciples, "Whoever comes after me and does not hate (the other Gospels "soften" this word) father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes and even life itself, cannot be my disciple" (15:26).

The passage for the morning presents the "second" Jesus. In fact, our passage today is intimately related both to Jesus' words in 9:1-6, when he sends out the 12, and 9:51-62, where he rather harshly dismisses potential followers who have to "take care of things" before they follow Jesus. Now he sends out 70 (some texts have 72. The textual reading here is difficult, because both make sense and both are attested in good manuscripts. Thankfully, however, they both represent the same thing--the "number of nations" in the world. We see this in the pseudoepigraphic Letter of Aristeas and the apocalyptic 3rd Enoch. Thus, it symbolizes a mission which is, in Luke's language, "to the ends of the earth") with the same kind of focused intensity as he sent out the 12 in Luke 9.

It is significant to note that the disciples will receive a varied reaction to their word of peace (v. 6). What Luke is interested in showing for the rest of the Gospel is the divided reaction that people have to Jesus. This is already spoken about in 2:34, where Simeon prophesied to Mary, "This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed." Jesus' message, then, not only slices to the heart of her own soul (2:35), but also will slice people in half. Some will heed it; some will oppose it. Indeed, the life of discipleship is to live with the Word of God, which slices deeply into our heart, divining its thoughts and intentions (Heb. 4:12). Now, then, is division time. Now is the time where decision has to be made. Some of the miracles will continue, but very few; the parables continue, but they emphasize the need to choose. That is the point of this story.

And, of course, this is a relevant issue for us in the 21st century. The time comes for us to choose, not only a partner or a career, but whether Christ will be Lord, whether God will be a "ruling category" in our lives. We may have lots of knowledge or friends or money or good health, but we still have to make a choice with respect to God. This passage helps us focus on that choice.

If you are teaching/preaching on this passage, I would mention some of the foregoing, but I would also divide it up into three smaller points:

(1) the urgency of the disciples' task;
(2) the vulnerability of the disciples' lives;
(3) the unexpected joy of discipleship.

Let's consider each very briefly.

I. The Urgency of the Task

Jesus begins by using an agricultural metaphor. "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few." The disciples are to do two things in response. They pray for other laborers and they "go on your way" (v. 3). Commentator Joel Green say:

"When the fruit has ripened, only weeks sometimes only days, are allowed to bring in the crop, with the result that laborers are added to the normal workforce,"
- Gospel of Luke, p. 413.

The disciples therefore know that they, like Jesus, must be on their way. They have healings to do (the text doesn't tell us how they are to do the healings) and a kingdom to proclaim. We miss the nature of discipleship if the urgency dimension is missing. We arise each day and think that we are owed one more day of life, that our plans will materialize, that our expectations will be fulfilled. But Jesus puts the Gospel and its proclamation on an entirely different footing here; he would agree with the words of Paul, "necessity is laid upon me" (cf. I Cor 9:16).

Is there an urgency in your tasks today--in your proclamation, equipping of others, service to those in need, work in the world? We don't hear Jesus' words to us well if we don't hear the urgency that breathes through them.

II. The Vulnerability of the Disciples

It is sometimes even irresponsible just to have urgency about a task. Tasks need to be undertaken with due attention to risks involved. Just because we are told that the harvest is there, for the picking, doesn't mean that we have to head into the prickly fruit plants with no protection on our hands. The second theme for the morning emphasizes the perils of discipleship. When the disciples go out they will be vulnerable to rejection and persecution. Jesus says it most succinctly in v. 3:

"See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves."

Strict rules of engagement are given to the disciples principally because they/we are so vulnerable in the world. What is the nature of the disciples' vulnerability? Well, they bring a message of change and hope, but it is a message of realities that cannot be seen. People will sometimes do anything in order to keep from changing their lives. They will ignore you, attack you, ridicule you and dismiss you. In addition, because the message of the disciples is a rather abstract one (the Kingdom of God is coming is not a 'visible' concept), the disciples are open to additional ridicule and rejection. Surely the ministry of healing will be something for all to see, but if people are inclined against you they will say something like, 'he casts out demons by the prince of demons.'

Be aware of your vulnerabilities as you serve Christ. We often just focus on our equipment or capabilities and the urgency of the task. But Jesus not only tells them that they are vulnerable (sheep in the midst of wolves) but gives them such specific "rules of engagement" because otherwise the disciples might be discouraged, or worse, from the rejection.

III. The Unexpected Joy of Discipleship

The 70/72 return to Jesus after being sent. And, the last verses of the passage (vv. 17-20) are sandwiched by the concept of joy. They return with joy (v. 17), and Jesus urges them to "rejoice" that their names are written in heaven (v. 20). Often we associate urgency and vulnerability with a glumness or seriousness that has no room for joy. We hunker down to ride out some kind of storm. We grimly gather our resources to wait through the night. We sullenly lower our eyes and wonder how things could get any worse. But this isn't the spirit with which Jesus sends out the disciples, nor is it the one with which they return. They report that the demons submitted to them. We might use the language of demons and Satan today, but normally we use language such as "obstacles" being overcome. Nevertheless, in Jesus' mind and in the mind of the NT authors, the spiritual world is quite alive, being "peopled" with spirits good and bad. Paul is convinced that we are engaged in spiritual warfare as disciples of Jesus (Eph. 6:10ff.). Indeed, Jesus interprets the disciples' words about demons being subject to them in a proleptic manner. This means that he "foresees" the fall of Satan, the ultimate destruction of the powers of darkness. Thus, the joy of the disciples is real; words spoken, deeds done, lead to the fall of the influence of the evil one.


Therefore, there is a lot at stake in the sending of the disciples and in our mission today. The ultimate truth is that a spiritual reality is being played out beyond our field of vision. But this only happens if we have the courage and energy to see the urgency of the task and the vulnerability of our lives as disciples. Seeing this, however, will lead, more often than not, to the joy felt by the disciples. That is the Good News for today.

Proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom

by Rev. Bryan Findlayson

Gospel: Luke: 10:1-20


Luke's account of the mission of the 72 falls into three parts: instructions for the missioners v1-12 (similar to the sending out of the twelve, 9:1-6), woes upon unrepentant towns v13-16 (indicating that the mission was not successful in the sense of conversions), and the true nature of evangelistic success v17-20 , namely Satan's defeat.

The Passage

v1-3. Having selected the twelve apostles, Jesus now gathers 72 missioners to proclaim the coming kingdom to the people of Israel. The day of judgment (harvest) is close at hand so there is a need to look to the Lord to supply a full complement of missioners. The task of proclaiming the kingdom will not be easy for there will be opposition, but the missioners can depend on the protection of the "Lord", the Great Shepherd.

v4. The traveling instructions given by Jesus to the 72 are similar to those given to the twelve, 9:3ff, but note the change in 22:35ff. For Jews, this "dress code" serves to identify a wandering prophet, someone who should be given a hearing. The instruction that they do not greet anyone on the road serves as a similar prophetic sign.

v5-6. Although the greeting of "peace" is just good manners for a first century Jew, v6 shows that here the peace is an actual bestowal of God's eternal peace upon those who are sons of peace, ie. sons of the kingdom, those who repent on hearing the gospel, cf. v11. For those who reject the gospel the peace is withdrawn for reallocation.

v7-8. The missioners are to gracefully accept even the most humble hospitality on offer and are not to move around seeking better accommodation.

v9. The missioners prime task is to proclaim the new age of God's coming kingdom in signs (miraculous healings, which for Luke include exorcisms) and word. They are to communicate, in word and sign, that the long promised new age of God's eternal reign is bursting in upon broken humanity.

v10-12. Rejection of the gospel brings judgement, symbolically expressed in the act of wiping the dust of the town from the missioners' feet. For Israel to reject such a clear promise of divine mercy is more serious than the evils of Sodom.

v13-15. Luke's placement of the "woes", at this point, implies that the people of Israel rejected the mission of the 72. Even Gentile communities such as Tyre and Sidon would not be so stupid. The repentance of Nineveh at the preaching of Jonah lies behind Jesus' words.

v16. To reject the gospel is to reject Jesus, and to reject Jesus is to reject the one who sent him.

v17. The 72 return, amazed at how the power of Christ's kingdom had overcome the powers of darkness (healings and the like).

v18-19. Jesus now interprets the missioners' experience. They have witnessed Messiah's defeat of Satan in that they are able to exercise authority over demonic powers ("snakes and scorpions" are symbols of Satan and his minions). The troubles of life will constantly pound Christ's followers, but Satanic powers can never get at us. Thus we can confidently pray "deliver us from evil."

v20. Finally, Jesus warns his disciples not to boast about their authority over the powers of darkness, but rather boast about their access to the free grace of God in Christ - the gift of life eternal.

Actualizing the Kingdom

At King Balshazzar's feast, the hand of doom wrote on the palace wall and yet the feast blithely continued while the Persians moved quietly in on the city. The end of the Babylonian empire was near and they knew it not. For the seventy two missioners, time was pressing in, the harvest now, and rejection final and damning. The Messiah's day had dawned, the blessing of peace a present reality, and the powers of darkness brought low. The kingdom was being realized both in Jesus and his disciples, but too few read the writing on the wall.

For Luke, the kingdom of God is an inaugurated reality, it is "near", it is upon us. That was so for Luke's day as it is for ours. The mission of the seventy remains the mission of the church today. Believers are Christ's empowered representatives - the new Israel empowered by the Spirit of the new Moses. We are to impinge the kingdom on our age both in sign and word - writing on a wall with a word of explanation. For the seventy two missioners the writing consisted of miraculous healings, while for us today, the writing consists of such things as the love of the brotherhood - "by this shall all men know that you are my disciples". For the seventy two missioners the word of explanation was a message about a coming kingdom communicated by wandering prophets, while for us today, the word is a message about eternity communicated on a church banner, a pamphlet, a TV advert, a free Bible distribution, a newspaper column, ........

The Spirit will do His work and darkness will retreat, but always mysteriously, as He wills. Yet, the writing on the wall and the word of explanation, is for us the love of the brotherhood and the communicated grace of God in Christ. Faced with the nearness of that dreadful day, let us hasten the effective communication of God's saving grace in Christ.


1. Where today do we find the "demons" submitting to Christ's name?

2. Discuss how you would explain to an unchurched person that the kingdom has come close to them?

Source: Lectionary Bible Studies and Sermons, Pumpkin Cottage Ministry Resources

Jesus Sends Out Seventy as Workers For The Harvest

by Dr. Sarah Dylan Breuer

Gospel: Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

This week, I'm going to build on my entry from three years ago. There's a great deal more that can be said about this passage, but one of the points I emphasized three years ago has struck me afresh in a slightly different way, and it stems from the question of why the number of apostles sent in this Sunday's gospel is significant.

And I'd like to start, as I did in 2004, by noting that this passage is one of many excellent reasons we shouldn't talk about "the twelve disciples," as if there were only twelve of them, or "the twelve apostles," as if the Twelve were the only ones Jesus sent out (which is what "apostle" means -- "one sent" by another as messenger, ambassador, or agent). The group of Jesus' followers and the group of those sent out by Jesus in his ministry prior to his death and resurrection included women as well as men; Luke 8:1, among other texts, goes out of its way to point out that Jesus' followers depended upon women among them as patrons and leaders. Luke and Acts make clear that the Twelve did not serve any function of governance for the church. Indeed, most of the Twelve aren't portrayed as prominent leaders among the disciples or the early church. The gospels don't even agree on their names -- just on there being twelve of them -- much as there are twelve baskets of leftovers from the "feeding of the five thousand," as Luke is careful to show in tandem with Jesus' sending the Twelve out on a mission in chapter 9 of his gospel.

Twelve, as in the twelve tribes of Israel. It's a number representing all of Israel. Jesus' choosing twelve men to represent the twelve patriarchs of Israel shows his authority to reconstitute and restore the people of Israel. Jesus' feeding five (the number of books in the Pentateuch, the five books of Moses that all Israel accepted as scripture) thousand and there being enough fragments of bread to fill twelve baskets brings to mind the sojourn of God's people in the desert as the Hebrews were freed from the "narrow place" (as I blogged three years ago, that's what Mitzrayim, the Hebrew name for Egypt, means) of slavery and formed as a people, God's people. And much as the blessing of God's manna in the wilderness was of such abundance that none had need to hoard and all of God's people were fed, Jesus proclaims God's blessing on Creation such that all are fed with enough leftovers to feed all Israel all over again. Twelve baskets, twelve sent out.

This week, there are seventy sent out. Seventy, like the number of books in the Septuagint -- the translation of the wider collection of books the Pharisees, our spiritual ancestors as Christians, accepted as scripture, including the prophetic books such as Isaiah, into Greek so that the whole known world around the Mediterranean could hear the word of the God of Israel. Seventy, like the number of elders chosen to share Moses' spirit of prophesy and burden of leadership (Numbers 11:16-17). Seventy, like the number of times time seven that Jesus' followers are to forgive. Seventy, a number of completion, of wholeness.

Sisters and brothers, Jesus sends out seventy as workers for the harvest, to proclaim that God's rein has arrived, that the accuser of humanity has fallen. Jesus sends out seventy -- a number of fullness and wholeness -- to exercise authority over every spirit and every condition that oppresses God's children. I wish we included the whole passage through verse 24 in our lectionaries, so we could hear in worship the words that "I tell you, many prophets and kings desired to see the things you are seeing, and they did not see, and to hear the things you are hearing, but did not hear it."

I wish that we read those words because, as folks who were at the U2charist in Michigan a couple of weeks ago know, it has been pressed on my heart that we who are alive now are privileged with a particular opportunity, a particular resonance to Jesus words that "today the scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." We have an opportunity to see the end of extreme poverty, of people living on less than a dollar of day, of a child dying every three seconds of easily preventable diseases. We have an opportunity by 2015, in our lifetime, to see an end to suffering we're used to thinking of as infinite if we can bear to think of it at all. The Millennium Development Goals (or MDGs), people call it, the campaign to Make Poverty History, the ONE campaign. They don't entirely encompass the scope of God's mission, of the reach of God's limitless love for the world, but they're an excellent milestone on God's way of offering Good News for the poor. God's mission includes even more than the Millennium Development Goals -- so pay attention, anyone who (unlike many of the world's leading economists) thinks those are too ambitious! -- but they're a timely, if modest, expression of Good News for the poor, and Jesus' sending of the Seventy should give heart to those of us who want to hear what prophets and kings have desired to hear, those of us who want to experience firsthand a taste of the banquet on offer when "the scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

Because as much as we might be tempted to say that it would have been sufficient (I can't help but echo the Passover dayenu when I think of Jesus, Luke's "prophet like Moses," leading exodus from every "narrow place") for Christ to empower the Twelve, the tribes of Israel, to do what God is doing in the world, Christ empowers the Seventy. Those who read to the end of Luke's gospel and through part II of it, also known as the Acts of the Apostles, know that even more is to come, because God is granting Moses' wish, "would it were that all God's people were prophets," Joel's vision of the Spirit poured out upon all flesh.

And all God's people should pay attention, because this concerns us all. Those sent out aren't a tiny group of guys in bathrobes. It's all God's people. It's you and me, sisters and brothers, and everyone who will hear the call, as the workers are few indeed compared to the abundance of the harvest. Luke begins the story of Jesus' public ministry with Jesus' version of a 'mission statement,' delivered to his hometown synagogue in Nazareth:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.

An ambitious mission statement, Christ's mission on earth. And we are the Body of Christ. Christ's mission is the mission we are called to engage in, as we are in Christ. So I'd like to say to y'all what I said to folks in Michigan a couple of weeks ago, one of the things I say to anyone who will listen whenever I have opportunity to say it when I'm awake in a context in which I think it could bear fruit:

Put this on your bathroom mirror to see when you brush your teeth at night and in the morning. Stick it on a post-it on your car's dashboard. Put it in your wallet to see whenever you pull out a credit card or some cash. Because you are a member of the Body of Christ, and Christ's mission statement is for you.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you, because God has anointed you to bring Good News to the poor.

Impossible? Under ordinary reckonings of human capacity, I guess so. But for the Body of Christ, the mission for which Christ was anointed cannot be impossible. In Baptism, you were made part of Christ's very Body on earth. The Spirit with which Christ was anointed has been poured out -- not just on the Twelve, not just on seventy, but on the whole of God's people.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you, because God has anointed YOU to bring Good News to the poor. And nothing is impossible with God's Spirit.

Thanks be to God!

Source: Dylan's Lectionary Blog

Jesus Sends out His Followers to Do Missionary Work

by Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas, Valiyaparambil

Gospel: Luke 10:1-11

Next Sunday is the fourth Sunday after Pentecost. Gospel reading for Sunday is from Luke 10:1-11.

Topic: "Jesus sends out his followers to do missionary work."

Gospel Reading: (Luke 10:1-11)

"1After 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. 2He 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. 3Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. 5"When you enter a house, first say, 'Peace to this house.' 6If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. 7Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. 8"When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. 9Heal the sick who are there and tell them, 'The kingdom of God is near you.' 10But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11'Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near."


During our younger ages, we usually spend years in schools and colleges for our education, develop social skills and talents. Later we use that knowledge for internships or on the job training to gain work experience. This training helps us to secure a job for livelihood and professional achievements

Today's gospel describes a similar situation of internships for the followers of Jesus. The time has come that they need to spread the message that Jesus had taught them and the miracles Jesus had performed.

Jesus commissions his followers to go out ahead of him and prepare the way for him by doing the same things he had undertaken.

Jesus sends the followers ahead of him with specific instructions:

First, they are to go in pairs. Christian service is a collective enterprise. The forces of evil and selfishness may destroy us if we do God's work alone and without the company of others. Together we can overcome those obstacles and transform the world. We must collectively hold ourselves accountable before God. It is important for us to work collectively.

Second, Christians should enter each household like a lamb walking in to the midst of wolves. They shall enter the house only with God in their hearts. Then only they are safe from the wolves. They should hold firmly to themselves in the love of God. They should always walk in faith.

Third, always travel light. Jesus asks them to focus on God instead of those who receive them as hosts. Jesus tells his followers to bring peace to their households, heal the sick, and proclaim that the Kingdom of God is at hand.

Jesus tells them that there is much work to do but not enough people to do the work. "The harvest is great but not enough laborers."

Jesus' ministry included both physical and spiritual healing. The concerns of the people were demons and sickness. People believed that layers of satanic or evil powers existed between God and humanity.

Today the situation is not different. The demons of alcohol, and drug abuse are amongst us today. We see in Oprah and Dr. Phil's shows the parade of the demons of domestic violence and abuse. In the Jerry Springer show we see the demons of drug addictions and oppression. Some of the demons have names and others don't. We all have our own demons we struggle with daily. The demons today are just as influential as they were in Jesus' time. There are so many of us who are spiritually sick today as they were back then.

We are left with a question. How to deal with the problems many of us experience? It is for sure that positive change will occur in us when we come to know God and share his plans for us. We need to overcome the evil in this world. For that God must live in our hearts. There is a world full of hurt people who are out there looking for some hope to get out of the troubles they face each day. God's grace can change them from the satanic influence. Jesus sent his followers to make a difference in the lives of many people. What really counts in the long run is, with the help of Jesus, we can get up again when we fall, and when we seem in despair, we can expect Jesus to help our problem.

The center of Jesus' teachings is that God is a God of love, so loved the world that he gave his only son to suffer and die for us so that we might have a new life.

Like Jesus' disciples, we can carry out the same ministry of Jesus Christ by sharing God's love with those people who are a part of our everyday lives. Such love will definitely change the world and the people around us.  


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