“If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.” This is like salvation and other things: it’s God’s initiative, but our response still matters. Just like Eph. 2.8-9, and innumerable miracle stories: “Your faith has made you whole.” It’s also true of God’s promises and prophecies (Jer. 18.1-12). Our response matters a lot. Just like salvation: it’s a free gift, but you have to accept it.
This is a continuation of Luke 10.1-2, which was Jesus sending out 72, and I only did verses 1-2. So on we go.
Verse 3: “I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” Here we see the shadow of vulnerability as well as the danger of destruction. Either way we’re going to get chewed up and spit out, crushed, oppressed, abused, and persecuted. We’ll be mocked and scorned. Why would Jesus intentionally and knowingly send us into a situation so dangerous? (Does this comment on the problem of suffering??) Jesus has been well received at this point, but danger is growing even in his own life. The lives of the righteous who seek peace are always in danger at the hands of those who live by jealousy, scorn, and the punishment of others. In the world, power is more desirable than love. He sends us because the message of love can only be communicated through relationship, and love necessitates contact. There is no other choice for effectiveness. The value of the message outweighs the personal risk. All that matters is God’s will and God’s kingdom. So Jesus sends us out and lets us know up front: This will not be easy, and it won’t go well.
V. 4: “Do not take a purse or bag or sandals.” Though the issues could be dependence on God or because their trip would be short enough that they didn’t need extra things, to me it sounds more like an updated version of the Exodus (Ex. 12.11): the new children of Israel being sent out, not to possess the promised land in this case, but to show the way to it. It’s a preparation of haste because they need to go now to spread the word—to give away the new Promised Land. It’s also a picture of utter dependence, like Mt. 6.33: Seek first God’s kingdom, and all else will be provided. Jesus’ consistency is unflawed and unparalleled.
“…and do not greet anyone on the road.” What’s up with this? Don’t even let someone GREET you? What is this, New York City? The point is not to be rude or unfriendly, but “Don’t be distracted from your task. Your commission is what matters.” Again, it’s a message of haste—not of desperation or rudeness, but of importance.
v. 5: “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ ” The angels at Jesus’ birth prophesied that he would bring peace and goodwill to men. And Jesus is the prince of peace, so it’s only reasonable that the first message to the household is one of peace. It’s a gospel of peace. Most of us would pay a lot of money for a life of peace. Jesus gives it freely. Jn. 16.33: Peace I give to you…
v. 7: “Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.”
“Stay in that house.” Again, it’s like salvation, and what we’ve seen before: the Lord will stay where he is welcome. Anyone can invite him in, and he will stay there. As to the rest of the verse, two points come to mind. One, live with gratitude for what you are given. Freely it was given to you; freely receive it. Secondly, though, it’s okay to take money and receive benefits for ministry. What the minister does is worthy of payment and benefits just like the value that anyone else brings to society.
V. 8: “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you.” We are to respond with gratitude for what is given to us, and that even common things are gifts from God (even though we can’t tell, and it seems like they are coming from people). We should recognize God’s grace even in the small and trivial things, and be pleased for his blessings.
v. 9: “Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’ ” This must have shocked them. “How are we supposed to do that? That’s not something we’re capable of. What does he expect of us?” In every sense, it seems like an unreasonable request. How were they supposed to heal the sick? In that sense it was like Abraham: “Go to a land I will show you.” There were no directions as to where or how. The expectation is that you just go, and give it a try. Do what he says. You have to put your feet in the water before the waters part. Dip seven times before you’re healed. Walk around the city before the walls fall. A very consistent teaching in Scripture.
And tell them: “The kingdom of God is near you.” The kingdom of God was near them. The message of repentance was on the lips of their guest. The miracle worker was in their country. The signs of his deity were right in front of their eyes. His death and resurrection were right around the corner. If it was any closer it would bite ’em. Isn’t it astounding how many people miss what is right in front of their eyes?