you dig into a family history, you can usually find some unusual and
interesting people – some of whom were not quite as upright and dignified as
the old photographs make them look. Such a man was my great-grandfather’s
brother, known to us as “Uncle Bud.” Uncle Bud worked for a circus, which
doesn’t sound too bad today. He worked the carnival side, however – which at
the time was considered distinctly less than respectable.
Bud was an advance man – the guy who arrived about a month before the circus
did, just to make sure that everything was lined up correctly. For example,
would arrange lodging – not so much for the people of the circus but for
the animals. The average farmer was not too thrilled with hosting the
elephants, but somebody’s meadow was going to feed them.
also made sure of what we today would call publicity – articles in the
newspaper (carefully written by Uncle Bud); posters all over town and
handbills passed out at various occasions.
work also included smoothing and soothing the local authorities. The
civic leaders always got a generous number of tickets to hand out as
rewards for favors done.
this took money and (rumor had it) sometimes more persuasive tactics. The
circus was often opposed by at least some elements of the church; there was
always the possibility of the girl on the flying trapeze corrupting the local
youth with her tight fitting costume (in a time when proper ladies kept their
ankles and necks covered – and everything in between.) The job called for
ingenuity, persistence and a distinct style of conducting business at the edge
of the law. By way of example, Uncle Bud had at least five wives – some of
I had not noticed this before, but when Christ sent out the seventy they were
going out as his advance men:
Now after this the Lord appointed seventy
others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He
Himself was going to come. And He was saying to them, "The
harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of
the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. "Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of
(Luke 10:1-3 NASB)
we shall see a little later, they were to heal the sick and proclaim that the kingdom of God is near. Uncle Bud would have understood this clearly. What might have
dismayed Uncle Bud was the manner in which Christ sent them out. It was clear
to Bud that the advance man was entitled to such favors and perquisites as
might be available. Christ did quite the opposite:
these disciples were appointed, not volunteers. They are the obedient and
go two by two. One reason for this is that they shall be witnesses to
these cities; a single witness would simply not be heard.
the big difference is this: they go out as innocents in a world full of
Bud would have been shocked. Send out these innocent choirboys? In the hard
world of the advance man? This Jesus fellow must be out of his mind.
Jesus understood this quite well. These men are NOT capable of doing the job,
and Jesus knows it. They are outnumbered, to begin with. So Jesus tells them
to pray that God will send more laborers. The shortage has not, to my
knowledge, yet been cured.
"Carry no money belt, no bag, no
shoes; and greet no one on the way. "Whatever house
you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house.' "If a
man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return
to you. "Stay in that house, eating and
drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not
keep moving from house to house. "Whatever
city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.'
(Luke 10:4-9 NASB)
Uncle Bud arrived with a bag of tricks, these men arrived carrying practically
nothing. This produces certain results:
convinces those who see them that they are not “in it for the money.” If
you don’t collect an offering, you must have another motive. And if you
have no “bag” (as translated here) you can’t take an offering.
also convinces you that God will provide. He’d better; otherwise you’ll
starve. Making a public proclamation that you depend upon God is one
thing; following through is another.
to each house they were to bring the blessing of their peace. The concept of a
person having his own peace is somewhat foreign to us – but up through the
Middle Ages it would have been familiar enough. We may look at it in three
first was well known to the Jews of the time: it would be referred to as
a peace offering. If you wished to settle a dispute with someone, a part
of formally declaring the dispute to be finished was the peace offering.
The Jew would bring his offering to the Temple; after the priests took
what was their legal portion, the rest would be divided. This was a sign
that peace now reigned between you two. One’s peace was therefore an
offering in hand; their peace was the offering of Christ himself.
second way of seeing this is in the concept of the “king’s peace.” Every
man was said to have his own peace; that peace was greater for those who
were of higher rank. The king’s peace would, therefore, be the greatest.
It was a crime to “breach the peace” - a phrase we hear yet today. This
peace could be bestowed on various places; by so doing, the king (or
other nobleman) declared that place to be under his protection so that no
violence could be done in it.
passage also prefigures a concept that Paul amplifies: we are ambassadors
of reconciliation. Reconciliation is a part of the process of making
peace. These men were such ambassadors – they represented the Prince of
whatever sense you take it, the advance man of the kingdom of God comes not to proclaim entertainment but the coming of the Prince of Peace.
"But whatever city you enter and
they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you;
yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.' "I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for
Sodom than for that city. "Woe to you,
Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago, sitting in
sackcloth and ashes. "But it will be more
tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment than for you. "And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will
you? You will be brought down to Hades! "The
one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me;
and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me."
(Luke 10:10-16 NASB)
of the most difficult things for modern Americans to realize is this: Christ
is absolutely serious. There is such a thing as heaven; there is such a thing
as hell (though of course we don’t use that word from the pulpit; a
“Christless eternity” is the preferred phrase.) The very idea that accepting
or rejecting Christ could be important seems to have been lost, even upon the
church. As Vince Lombardi said in another context, “It’s not a matter of life
and death. It’s more important than that.” Indeed, it is a matter of eternal
life – or death.
it is no favor that we do when we soft pedal the Gospel. If you had a bomb in
your house, wouldn’t your friends warn you? If your dog bites, you’d at least
put up a “beware of dog” sign. So why, then, when the stakes are eternal life,
don’t we at least mention it to others?
afraid of being rejected. Beat us over the head with a stick; we will be
noble martyrs. Take our money to send the Gospel far away; it is a noble
sacrifice. Speak to our neighbors? What if they reject us?
they do, it’s “nothing personal” – at least, nothing personal to you. It is
the rejection of Christ and therefore the rejection of God. It’s serious – but
nothing personal. That doesn’t happen too often.
– suppose they accept what you say?
The seventy returned with joy, saying,
"Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." And He said
to them, "I was watching Satan fall from heaven
like lightning. "Behold, I have given you
authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the
enemy, and nothing will injure you. "Nevertheless
do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that
your names are recorded in heaven."
(Luke 10:17-20 NASB)
is it that invented the thought that Christians have to be the most sober faced
people in the world? Not when the Gospel is successful! Even if we’re not the
ones who are there at the moment of acceptance, it’s still a cause for
as you rejoice, remember just whose power is at work here. If they reject
you, they reject Christ. But acceptance likewise means acceptance of Christ.
It is his power that is displayed, not your own.
is also good to know why you rejoice. It’s not because you have somehow become
someone special; rather, God is telling you of your own salvation – because
you have carried the Gospel, you know that you are his child.
At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the
Holy Spirit, and said, "I praise You, O Father,
Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent
and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing
in Your sight. "All things have been handed
over to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and
who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him." Turning
to the disciples, He said privately, "Blessed are the eyes which see
the things you see, for I say to you, that many
prophets and kings wished to see the things which you see, and did not see them, and to hear the
things which you hear, and did not hear them."
(Luke 10:21-24 NASB)
“rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit.” Here is an attitude we can adopt with
we should rejoice in the Lord always. In ultimate things we are those who
triumph with Christ.
we should do so in unity – just as Christ is in unity with the Holy Spirit
and the Father.
in all these things we should praise God – the giver of every good and
why this rejoicing?
God has revealed the secret of the kingdom – and not to the guys with the
PhD in physics. Why? It is his intention to have fellowship with his
creation – and he doesn’t want an intellectual elite controlling that
access. He wants “whosoever will.”
Jesus has chosen the ones to whom it will be revealed. They have no merit
of their own; therefore they must accept it as a gift of grace.
gift of grace – too expensive to buy; it must be given away.