Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Scripture #1: Luke 10: 1-11 NRSV

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. 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. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 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. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘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.’


  1. I've always been challenged by this account. Jesus sending his disciples out "like lambs into the midst of wolves." Jesus puts a tremendous amount of weight on the hospitality these households and towns demonstrate towards strangers. It's as if this is some sort of pretest for future faithfulness. This seems to me the reverse of how we function in the church today. We talk about hospitality in our churches, but then wait safely inside the doors of our church to be hospitable(or at least that's the hope) to anyone who dares enter. We aren't taught to look for those who demonstrate hospitality and then share how their hospitality demonstrates the way of our king Jesus.

    In Luke 10 the church is sent out "into the midst of wolves". So much for the protective walls of the church? They aren't even given a first aid kit for this dangerous journey. And it's up to "the wolves" to be receptive, not the faithful few in the church building. The wolves' hospitality towards the disciples seems to be understood as a sign that God's kingdom is near. As if God has been working amongst the wolves before the disciples got there. And so this mission has the disciples searching out where God's Spirit is/has been at work in these towns and households.

    As disciples of Jesus we are understand hospitality as a sign that God's Spirit is at work. If this is the case then Jesus sending the 72 out is really an invitation to participate in a sort of treasure hunt. Where is God's Spirit at work in this town? in this household? And if they were to be searching for hospitality amongst "the wolves" they needed to be prepared for all sorts of pleasant surprises.

    As a disciple of Jesus, is my challenge to be Christ's witness (Acts 1:8) really about accepting Jesus' call to the divine treasure hunt?
    - Jeff Kauffman

  2. I find the directive for the followers to stay put and not "move from house to house," interesting. Perhaps the point was to allow those dwelling in the towns the opportunity to REALLY practice hospitality and to build relationships. During an extended stay, there would be many chances for the followers to share the Good News with the household members and begin to disciple any new believers. Wonderful things can happen when we are in community with others!

  3. The setting for this “sending out” passage is after Jesus foretells of his death and “set his face to go to Jerusalem” (9:51). It is prior to multiple teaching through parables, and Jesus’ visit in their home with Mary and Martha. Jesus has just addressed would-be followers, listing the costs of being one of those who choose to proclaim the Kingdom.
    I’m thinking that this isn’t sounding like a lot of security, let alone fun. “Lambs in the midst of wolves”? “Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road”? Jesus just falls short of cursing the town that doesn’t welcome his followers.
    What message is there here for us at Zion? Are we one of the appointed, or one of those who might or might not offer hospitality? Might there be times when we are the wolves? This week a fine looking British woman rang the door bell at our house. She was kind and pleasant. And then I saw “The Watch Tower” in her hand. She was going on about the challenges of raising young children (did she notice that the few hairs that I have are grey?!) I told her that I didn’t have time for the discussion. She replied that she’d come back another time. Did she shake the dust from her shoes in my driveway? Will she come back?
    Something else struck me in this passage that I’ve not picked up on before. Jesus implore the 70 to “cure the sick and say to them the Kingdom of God has come near to you.” I’ve never noticed that they are connected. Why are they connected? Could healing be a prelude to God’s reign? And what kind of healing? I believe the healing then could be over sickness and demons, and that such healing explains that the Apostles have power over Satan. Or maybe it’s something else. What do you think?

  4. While at AMBS (Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary), Professor Willard Swartley offered an alternative project for anyone interested in “doing” rather than “taking” a test. He said that in lieu of an exam, he would welcome anyone to try out the scripture printed at the top of this blog, Luke 10:1-11. He wondered what that might say to us in the 21st century. Another student and I thought that would be much more interesting and probably less stressful than taking a test. So we volunteered.

    The requirements were quite simple: take no purse, no bag (no cell phone) and walk to various homes. (Contrary to the scripture, we were allowed to wear shoes, but we didn’t carry along an extra pair!) We walked down one of the poorest streets in Elkhart and one of the wealthiest suburbs of Elkhart.

    We noted a wide disparity in the ways we were received: among those people who seemed to have “nothing monetary to lose,” our “Peace” was generally accepted. Sometimes even prayer was requested. We felt good about our experiences on that street. Contrast that with those who seemed to be sitting very comfortably financially and physically. We noted that they either chose to not answer the door at all, even though we could tell they were home, OR they indicated they didn’t need our “Peace”. We even noted our own hesitancy as we approached those houses. Might we have hoped no one would care to converse?

    As I think about this scripture and recall that experience, I have to ask, what made the difference? Why was there more acceptance among one group of people than there was among the other? There seemed to be more transparency among those who had less materially than among the more wealthy. What might that say? In which category would we find ourselves? Do we need the Lord’s “Peace” or are we doing very well on our own, thank you very much!

    Mona Sauder