Reading Luke and Acts in 2020
Week 10 | Luke 10
Luke 10 Reflections and Questions
By Rev. Heather Jallad
I love when God repeats things. Sometimes that is exactly what I need. Like the refrain of “remember” found throughout God’s Word, I take notice. Luke 10 is one such circumstance in scripture that deserves our curiosity and attention. If we don’t pay close attention we might miss it. The synoptics report an almost identical story to the one found in Luke 10:1-20 that begins with the commissioning of the 72 (or 70 in some translations). The synoptics tell of sending of 12 while Luke 10 tells of an expansion and extension of this mission for the multiplication of the gospel message and its proclamation.
This is when a disciple becomes an apostle, in their sending (and going). An apostle, or sent one, is a vigorous, pioneering advocate of a particular policy, idea, or cause. In Luke’s gospel this is the start of a big plot shift. To this point Jesus has been the main focus and major actor. Now with his commissioning, the expansion and extension and invitation to participate in God’s rescue mission commences.
In verse one we are told he appointed 70 “others”. We don’t know exactly who but we do know they are additional disciple (followers) with no apostolic prep course or degree, save proximity and relationship to Jesus. They are anybody. There are no nobodies in the Kingdom of God. In my work in the Fresh Expressions movement this is something I am moved to remind folks of on a regular basis as they disqualify themselves from the proclamation of the good news, believing that work is reserved for professional clergy rather than the priesthood of all believers.
Where are we sent with this good news? It’s not a long trip. No need to pack a suitcase. Go to your neighborhoods and town, on foot. Go in the power of the Holy Spirit. Charles Spurgeon once said, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an impostor.” And this bears witness to this sentness. Ask and pray for companions as you go. The fields are ripe. People are ready for the message of love, grace, forgiveness, reconciliation. Do we believe that today?
The reality we share in all FX training is that being church in our current form will be successful in reaching about 20% of our communities. Another 20% might come if they were invited. Another 20% say they will but in reality don’t. These are likely our C and E Christians. That leaves 40% of our communities that will never participate in the church in its current form.
Yet, we live in sense of lack, play musical church members, make everything in “here” comfortable and predictable to the point of distraction from the world. We forget the world outside that desperately needs and wants Jesus but can’t name the hole they have been trying to fill or cover. These are the people to whom Jesus is sending messengers. His deep compassion is not due to their sickness but to their great spiritual need, lives with no center, existence seemingly aimless. These are the people to whom we are sent. Or to paraphrase the words of William Temple, “the church is the only organization that exists for the people that are not yet a part of it.”
The passage goes on in verses 13-16 to address those who are unrepentant and begs the question of all of us, “Am I allowing Jesus to make me his agent?” Paul says to the Roman church, “Faith comes by hearing.” (Romans 10:7) Our primary role as a disciple is to be God’s agent, to multiply and expand the rescue mission. The word of God was written primarily to be heard. And yet it is hard to listen if no one is speaking or speaks in a way that does not connect or relate to the person being shared with. We can no longer assume a Judeo-Christian framework or Christian memory. We must think of ourselves as cross-cultural missionaries and truly we are as Christians in post-Christendom. We must go.
Verses 17-20 report the return of the 72 and their amazement at their ability to do the things they had seen Jesus do. Like the disciples we are not accountable for the outcomes. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. Instead, we are responsible to be obedient.
Verses 21-24 Jesus rejoices in revelation. This prayer of Jesus marks the successful transferability of the authority of Jesus to others. This authority we have been afforded and given is one that bears the fruit of the Holy Spirit in divine revelation of the presence and power of God as we go into our neighborhoods and networks and show up.
Verses 25-37 is the familiar story of the Good Samaritan. Jesus does not take defense but instead states the obvious. The real question is not “Who is my neighbor?”, it is, “Am I a good neighbor?”
Verses 38-42 Mary and Martha-Martha is distracted by preparations. We could all say we have been distracted by many things lately in our church. There is a difference between attention and distraction. Hospitality can be about guest or about host.
It would seem that we live in a time of apostolic amnesia. How can we reawaken to our sentness? We have been created in the image of God. Created to reflect God’s love and grace. That love went so far for each of us that it left the heavenly realms to be with us, to rescue us……..in the image is sentness. I’ve heard it said that the gospel comes to us on way to someone else. In Christ we are restored to the image we were created to reflect and made a part of God’s rescue mission. In our baptism we are given a new identity, and a new citizenship, one of sentness, as apostles, sent like Jesus. May we remember the authority we have been given and use it responsibly for the building up of God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
Jesus began with 12, expanded the mission with the 72, expands the rescue mission again in the Great Commission, and wants to multiply the mission through all that believe. Sent and empowered. Ultimately Jesus staked his life on it, saying it was better that he went away.
Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” John 20:21
Daily reading and practice suggestions
Read and reflect on Luke 10 as a whole. What might God be saying to the Church today? Pray for the Fresh Expressions movement that seeks to take the church Jesus loves to the people Jesus loves and form church where they are.
Read Luke 10:1-12. Set an alarm on your phone for 10am/pm and 2pm and pray for those who labor in kingdom building and new laborers to join them.
Read Luke 10:13-16. Pray for the opportunity to share the story of God’s work in your life with someone and pray for the one who will hear.
Read Luke 10-17-20. Who is God sending you to? Pray for the responsible use of Christ’s authority and faithful witness.
Read Luke 10:21-24. Pray for continuous reminders and revelation of Christ’s authority that we have been afforded. Record and celebrate places where you see Christ’s authority being exercised and signs of the Kingdom being realized. How might you join the work?
Read Luke 10:25-37. Are you a good neighbor? Prayer walk your neighborhood, stopping to pray over each street, house and family. Bless a neighbor or neighbors anonymously by bringing in their garbage cans or newspaper from the street or leaving a bouquet or plant at their front door
Read Luke 10:38-42. Reflect on the difference between distractions and attention. Make a list of the top 10 things that are getting your attention. Are they distracting you from prioritizing your relationship with God or drawing you closer? Pray a prayer of repentance and return your attention to God.
Rev. Heather Jallad is the North Georgia Conference Fresh Expressions cultivator and she serves as Pastor of Community Engagement at Mount Pisgah UMC in Johns Creek.
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