Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

by Rev. Fr. Dr. V. C. Varghese

Gospel: St. Luke 10 : 1 - 16

Glory to the Triune God!

Beloved in Christ,

There are three wonderful scenes in this chapter (10) of St. Luke's gospel narratives, which illustrate the threefold ministry of every Christian believer, and they answer the question "What in the world does a Christian do?".

To begin with, we are the Lord's

(a) Ambassadors, sent to represent Him in this world (10:1-24).

(b) Neighbors, looking for opportunities to show mercy in the name of Christ(10:25-37).

But at the heart of all our ministry is devotion to Christ, so we must be

(c) worshipers who take time to listen to His Word and commune with Him (10:38-42).

Ambassadors:

This event should not be confused with the sending out of the Twelve (Matt. 10:5-15; Luke 9:1-11). There are similarities in the charges given, since the both groups were sent by the same Master. The Twelve Apostles ministered throughout Galilee, but these men were sent to Judea. And these men were not called Apostles but they were anonymous disciples ( The Eastern Orthodox church, Byzantine, remember those 70 on January 4 and their names with references are given in the Orthodox Study Bible, page 818).

Why is this event recorded only by Luke, and why did Jesus select Seventy men instead of some other number? ( Some text says Seventy two - I do not know exactly which manuscript, Peshitho?).

Just as the Twelve were associated in number with the twelve sons of Jacob and the twelve tribes of Israel, so the Seventy may be associated with the seventy nations listed in Genesis 10.

Luke's emphasis is on the universality of the Gospel message, so it seem reasonable that he would led by the Holy Spirit to include this event. It was a symbolic way of saying "Jesus wants the message spread to all nations". These men were not called 'Apostles' but they were still "sent with a commission' (apostello) to represent the Lord.

They were truly ambassadors of the King. It was a very difficult calling (Luke 10:2). Harvesting is hard work, even there are many people helping us, but these men were sent into a vast field with very few workers to help them to reap a great harvest. Instead of praying for an easier job, they were to pray for more laborers to join them. We need to pray today the same prayer. Please note that it is laborers, not spectators, who pray for more laborers. Too many of us are praying for somebody else to do a job that we are unwilling to do ourselves especially in the mission fields of our Church.

Their calling was a dangerous one as they invaded in the enemy territory (Luke 10:3,17). But as long as they relied on the Lord, they would win the battle. " Any man who takes Jesus Christ seriously becomes the target of the devil. Most church members do not give Satan enough trouble to arouse his opposition" (Vance Havner). It would require discipline and faith for them to do the job (Luke 10: 4-8). There was an urgency about the work, and the Lord did not want them to be overburdened with extra supplies or elaborate greetings. They had to trust God for their shelter and provisions. After all, they were laboring for the Lord and bringing blessings into the home, and the "laborer is worthy of his hire".

The special power Jesus gave to His Apostles (Luke 9:1) and to the Seventy is not ours to claim today. These two preaching missions were very special ministries and God did not promise to duplicate them in our age.

Lord's commission to us emphasizes the proclamation of the message, not the performance of miracles (Matt. 28:19-20 : Luke 24:46-49). Out Lord named three ancient cities that had been judged by God, Sodom (Gen.19); Tyre and Sidon ( Ezek.26-28; Isa. 23), and used them to warn three cities of His day: Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. These three cities had been given more privileges than the three ancient cities, and therefore they had more responsibility.

As Orthodox Christians, are we live up to the will of our Lord? The judgment is more severe for us if we neglect His Words. We are all Christ's ambassadors and indeed privileged lot. Our highest joy is not found in service or even in our salvation, but in being submitted to the sovereign will of the Heavenly Father, for this is the foundation for both service and salvation. May God bless us all.

See Also:

Sermons and Bible Commentaries for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost

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