Many years ago, I heard a pastor tell about being out in a large boat, fishing with some men from his congregation. At one point, he gathered all of the men together and asked them, “Which is more like what Jesus did with His disciples – what we do in church on Sunday or what we’re doing right now?” I like that question! We often think of Jesus as a great Teacher but true discipleship took place as the disciples joined with Him doing ministry. In today’s passage we read about several of Jesus’ disciples as they go through some OJT or “on the job training.” Let’s listen to what Jesus wanted his disciples to know as He sent them out:
…the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. (Luke 10:1-3)
In this passage, Luke tells us that Jesus sent pairs of disciples on a short term mission with some specific instructions. We usually think of just twelve disciples, but in this passage we read that He sent seventy two of them. We read later about how they were to act in certain situations but essentially, they were to heal the sick and proclaim that “the kingdom of God has come near to you.” Let’s listen again to what Jesus told them in today’s passage: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Jesus says the harvest is ready – but it is often we who are not ready. He’s not telling these disciples to pray for a big harvest; He’s telling them the harvest is ready but that we need more workers in order to bring them in! Today’s passage ends with this command: “Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” Jesus isn’t calling us to reach out to the world from a position of strength and He’s not sending us into the world to be in charge of anyone. He sends us out into our world as “lambs among wolves” and from that position of vulnerability, we are to proclaim the Good News of Jesus. In places all around the world, people are being put to death for proclaiming the Good News of Jesus. Are you willing to be vulnerable? Are you willing to proclaim Jesus on His terms…and not on your terms?