Friday 1 July 2022

LUKE 10 V 1 /20

This Chapter is a story of Jesus sending out some of His followers on an evangelistic mission, ahead of His visiting the towns He intended to visit.

     Jesus sent out seventy two disciples in two’s, into Gentile territory where He Himself was planning to go. Two people working together can be most useful as they can complement each other, and this is in fact a practice from the Old Testament.

     Jesus calls for prayer for those He is sending out. Like to-day there was much to do, and few to do it.  The Bible states the prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective, and whilst a lot of people are not able to perform much physical work because of age and infirmity, they can pray for those physically able.

     The Bible tells how Moses and Aaron were physically restricted at one time so engaged in prayer, and when they did so the Israelites were successful.

     Jesus warned the men He was sending forth of the dangers they faced, saying they were like lambs going amongst wolves, meaning wolves eat lambs Jesus never called on anyone to act under false pretenses, but rather pointed out the possible cost.  He knew they faced danger, and so many in Christian ministries do today.  Churches in Nigeria, Pakistan, Indonesia, and even Canada, suffer attacks, and in numerous Eastern hemisphere nations are imprisoned, arrested and charged with offences, and murders too take place.  Not a lot of people want to hear of these brave men and women who face such ordeals in the service of teaching about Jesus.  They are often brilliant minded people, fully able to earn lucrative salaries in other occupations, but commit themselves willingly to serve the Lord.

     Jesus further stressed the need of devotion to their mission. This message is applicable to the Church at large, and whilst primarily to Ministers, applies to all Christians.  Jesus wanted them to concentrate on the purpose for which He was sending them, that is to preach the gospel.

     In modern times it has become fashionable to engage in profound theological debate, sometime questioning the veracity of Bible teaching, which is unlikely to win one soul for Christ.  All that is needed is simple and plain statements clearly and convincingly made, by people who truly believe in what they are teaching.  Simple gospel truths, leaving the Holy Spirit to complete the work.

     There next follows three things for the disciples to avoid. They are to travel light, must not be cluttered up with material natters.  It appears there is now a temptation for preachers to get involved with political and social issues, a craze to talk about climate change, or government schemes, especially by bishops who criticize without offering any alternative. These have no place in pulpits, especially as they tend to divide Christian worship.  The issues of the world should not transcend spiritual matters.

     The disciples are not to be over concerned for comfort, but place their trust in God to provide. We are all entitled to enjoy the luxuries of life, but not to become predominant. Since their business was urgent, they were mot to waste times in greetings, but concentrate on the task they were sent on.

     In eastern countries, the custom was to have long conversations on greeting someone, resulting in lost opportunity for what they were sent out for. This did not mean they were to be discourteous, nor seek attention, but that they should not linger when there was so much to be accomplished.

     Thirdly, the preacher should not seek personal gain from his Ministry, or other benefit. At that time it was ruled if a prophet stayed in one place without working for three days, he was a false prophet.  The labourer was worthy of his hire, but cannot be seeker of gain. It has to be faced, there are those in Christian ministry today more interested in enhancing their c.v. and promoting themselves, than promoting the gospel.

     I remember a wedding shown on television, where the Vicar after performing the ceremony, saying to the congregation, ‘let’s dance’, and then she led in what more resembled rather wild body shaking than dancing, with some of the congregation  standing on the pews to do so.  Whether intended or not, it enabled the Vicar to start on a television career, gathering her a collection of fans,- or the alternative. (N.b. The service is called, the Solemnization of Matrimony’)

     Jesus stated stay faithful, even in the face of rejection, warning His workers they would be rejected, something most Ministers have experienced. Since Jesus was Himself rejected, we should not be surprised. It has become more a badge of honour to be criticized or rejected, but experience has shown me the people who do complain are usually bullies who shy away when confronted and challenged. I remember one Vicar saying in frustrated tones to me after having had a hard time,’ well at least they can’t crucify me’

     Jesus makes clear in verse 16, what it means when His messages are rejected. He said, ‘he who rejects me, rejects the One who sent me’. He is warning those who do so, will be in great trouble. A person will be judged by what they had a chance to know. It is a terrible thing to reject God’s invitation, for it can lead to eternal condemnation.  God will not force Himself on anyone, We all have the freedom to respond or reject Him, and judgement will one day be meted out accordingly.  This is why coming to Church is a serious business, for every time we hear God’s Word we face the choice to heed or ignore.

     Jesus told His disciples to wipe the dust off their feet if they faced rejection, a symbolic action to signify the place is standing before God.  This becomes hard when those rejecting God’s Word are those closest to us personally. We long for them to accept Jesus as their Saviour, and shed tears at the thought of their eternal destiny.

     The Bible clearly states, as indeed Jesus clearly expresses here, that we have the chance and should take it before it is too late. We should therefore do all we can to make sure they hear the message, but we cannot believe for them.

     When the seventy two returned, Jesus told them to stay humble. Some were so excited with triumphs in winning people for Jesus. He warned them against pride and realised things fall away constantly.  When Billy Graham, conducted his Crusades in the years he was in England, many people attended and offered themselves to Christ, inspired by  glorious singing by massed choirs, and hearing the greatest and most successful preacher in Christian history. But when they returned to their local parishes, they often found indifference from Vicars who probably disliked Billy, and they showed little interest. People were so disillusioned they fell away,

     The Bible sees a world in open defiance against God, and those who stand for God

will be mocked and harassed.  The Bible calls for a different society, one which responds to the cry of a loving Saviour who wants people to turn to Him in repentance and faith.

The world is divided between those who choose the Kingdom of God and the light of Christ, and the other world of darkness led by evil, which will seek to destroy all that is good and holy. We each have to decide which side we are on.

     Some years past, one of the finest liners ever built, the Queen Mary, was taken out of active service, and was taken to Long Beach in California as a tourist attraction. She was as luxuriously made as could be, but during the 1939 war was converted into a troopship. She is now a museum. 

     Today, it seems that the Church is following a similar course; it sees itself in peacetime conditions, when in fact it is under sustained attack on all sides.  We expect the Christian life to be painless and easy, whereas the Bible teaches us that we are called upon to expect wartime conditions. The prospect is that the Church will become a museum as attendances are falling, and writers are already forecasting its demise within ten years.

     Jesus always made it clear that following Him would never be easy.  Indeed, He taught it would be very hard.  Jesus warned that we need to count the cost, before committing oneself as it meant carrying a cross and placing Him first in all considerations, above all else.

     We are in fact engaged in a war, and called upon to be soldiers of Christ.  Regrettably there are many within the Church, both lay and ordained, who wish to avoid all militaristic references and terms. We have the word soldier removed, and Onward Christian soldiers, one of the greatest hymns written, has now become in some Churches as  the ridiculous Onward Christian pilgrims, so vandalising such a beautiful hymn. Anyone so weak-minded, should avoid the hymn altogether if cannot accept the writer’s words.

     The fact is that the Bible often uses the term soldiers, and we sing Soldiers of Christ arise, and Stand up, stand up for Jesus ye soldiers of the Cross, the Apostle Paul used the term as an analogy, but it all seems to be an irrelevance to those who eulogise the word ‘love.’  We have to face reality, there is so much unlovely things and people, in this world. Turn to your Bible, you will see it speaks of God’s wrath, and you have to go into many Chapters before we start talking about love. We are engaged in a bitter war, with the world being a battlefield with aggressive activists, not a playground. 

     Our opponents do not believe Jesus is the only way to God; the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross; the definition of marriage; God’s Order of Creation, to mention just a sample of doctrine, which they challenge at every opportunity, and have campaigners within the Church aiding them.

     Jesus called for decisiveness and radical self-discipline and commitment.  This is in contrast to the readiness on some Christians part, to accept all that is hurled against them. 

In the previous chapter, Jesus had sent out His Apostles with specific instructions.  Here Jesus sends out 72, widening the net to indicate He is sending out His followers to all parts of the earth.  We can see what He expects from us. 

     All Christians should try and spread the gospel, and often this can be done in an easy manner by bringing your local Church to people’s notice. For many people, as we know to our own experiences, God is an irrelevance until they have a personal problem, there is no such human being who is a true atheist.

     We are called to be steadfast in our faith, and be assured God has given us all an individual gift that we can use for His purpose, it just takes time to realise what that gift is. The Bible spells out clearly there are so many gifts we can use in serving Him. One lady in my Church took  on the task of arranging the flowers which are placed in position each week, and her work was cherished by members who got so much pleasure and comfort as the meditated prior to and during the service. (probably a relief during some sermons) There are other similar tasks, think about yourself, may make Church more important to you personally and inspire others


May God bless His Word to us and guide us in service to Him.    


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