Sunday, June 03, 2012

Luke 10:1-24 - Jesus Sends out the Seventy

The front side of folios 13 and 14 of a Greek ...
The front side of folios 13 and 14 of a Greek papyrus manuscript of the Gospel of Luke containing verses 11:50–12:12 and 13:6-24, P. Chester Beatty I (Gregory-Aland no. P 45 ). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Pray and Read:  Luke 10:1-24

Key Truth: Luke wrote Luke 10:1-24 to teach believers that Jesus sends us in victory into His harvest in the midst of opposition to find His blessing.

Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about the way Jesus sends us into the harvest.
Sermon Points:
1.   Jesus sends us in victory into His harvest (Luke 10:1-7)
2.   Jesus sends us in victory into His opposition (Luke 10:8-16)
3.   Jesus sends us in victory into His blessing  (Luke 10:17-24)

Contextual Notes:
After calling us to believe that Jesus is the Messiah who fulfills the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants (Luke 1-2) and to repent of our sin (Luke 3:1-20) through the sacrificial death (Luke 3:21-23a) of the true Son of God (Luke 3:23b-38), who has power to defeat the enemy (Luke 4:1-13), Luke unveils Jesus’ ministry in Galilee (Luke 4:14-9:50), powerfully contrasting belief and unbelief in a series of events.

Unbelief at the Nazareth synagogue (Luke 4:14-30) contrasts with the faith of the Capernaum synagogue (Luke 4:31-44). After Jesus’ first disciples follow him in faith (Luke 5:1-11), the religious leaders’ unbelief is offended when Jesus forgives sin (Luke 5:12-26). Levi’s faith (Luke 5:27-32) counterbalances the Pharisees’ unbelieving anger when Jesus dines with sinners (Luke 5:33-39). Contrasted with the unbelieving Pharisees’ Sabbath rules (Luke 6:1-11), Jesus appoints twelve believing apostles (Luke 6:12-16).

In his Sermon on the Plain, Jesus explains the blessings of faith and the woes of unbelief (Luke 6:17-26), urging us to put our faith into practice by developing Christ-like love (Luke 6:27-36), Christ-like integrity (Luke 6:37-42), Christ-like character (Luke 6:43-45), and Christ-like stability (Luke 6:46-49).

Then Luke demonstrates the astonishing faith of a Gentile centurion (Luke 7:1-10) and the astonishing resurrection of a widow’s son (Luke 7:11-17). Despite John the Baptizer’s doubt borne in faith (Luke 7:18-35), Luke demonstrates believing faith through a sinful woman in the home of a faithless Pharisee, whose doubts are a blunt denial of the clear evidence of Jesus Messiahship. (Luke 7:36-50).

Jesus begins a second preaching tour of Galilee (Luke 8:1-3) with the Parable of the Sower, teaching that listening faith (Luke 8:8) bears fruit (Luke 8:4-15), brings light (Luke 8:16-18), and practices God’s Word (Luke 8:19-21). In preparation for Peter’s confession of Jesus as the “Messiah of God” at Luke 9:20, one of the key statements in his Gospel, Luke shows us that Jesus has authority over the natural world (Luke 8:22-25), over the spirit world (Luke 8:26-39), and over disease and death (Luke 8:40-56). Here we see Jesus’ tenderness and compassion toward the marginalized and his preservation of their dignity.

We come to the end of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee in Luke 9, and Jesus opens a new phase of ministry, sending out the Twelve (Luke 9:1-9) feeding five thousand with just a few loaves of bread and fishes (Luke 9:10-17), revealing his identity and his mission to his men (Luke 9:18-22), and calling them to a life of surrender (Luke 9:23-27). The Transfiguration confirms Jesus’ identity and coming glory as Messiah (Luke 9:28-36), calling us to the true greatness of faith and servanthood (Luke 9:37-50).

A major shift in Luke’s Gospel occurs at Luke 9:51 (and goes to Luke 18:14), as Jesus turns his attention from ministry in Galilee to a resolute focus towards Jerusalem and his coming suffering. Despite opposition (Luke 9:51-56), Jesus calls for personal sacrifice, even of family responsibilities, in order to concentrate completely on serving the Lord (Luke 9:57-62). Accordingly as Jesus moves toward Judea and Jerusalem, he sends 72 disciples ahead with a warning that God’s Kingdom is near (Luke 10:1-12). Despite his great sadness toward those who have rejected it (Luke 10:13-16), Jesus focuses his joy over those who have received salvation (Luke 10:17-24).

Exposition:   Note well,

a.   Jesus has previously sent out his twelve apostles to preach and heal (Luke 9:1-6). Now he sends out a larger group of 70 or 72. The earlier mission represents the gospel going out to Israel. This one points to the mission to the Gentiles while the target is still Israel. The harvest is plentiful, Jesus says in an end-times tone referring to Isaiah 27:12.
b.   Seventy or Seventy-two? The manuscripts differ whether seventy or seventy-two. Which was it?[1] Some scholars cite the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the OT, which says 72, and that number would indicate six from each tribe of Israel, like the number of translators of the Septuagint. Thus the number 72 would be symbolic of a translation of God’s truth for the nations. A stronger internal argument is that Genesis 10 lists 70 names in the table of nations, and Moses appointed seventy elders (Num 11:6f) from which the 70 members of the Sanhedrin came. The identification with the Table of Nations is also stronger symbolism for seventy.                   
c.   Luke 10:2, 21 - Notice that Jesus first calls his followers to prayer. The abundance of harvest, the lack of workers and the dangers show that God’s power is needed for the task.
d.   Luke 10:3 – Jesus intends to strip his emissaries of everything on which they would normally depend, extra money or clothing (similar to Mark 6:8-11; Matt 10:9-14).  But he sends them two-by-two[2], so that they can depend on each other and the Lord and by the testimony of two witness valid testimony is established (Num 35:30; Deut 19:15).
e.   APPLICATION: Only when we realize the blessedness of possessing nothing are we most likely to truly depend on God.
f.    Luke 10:4 – A similar command was given to Elisha’s servant Gehazi (2 Kings 4:29) when he sent him to place his staff on the face of the Shunammite’s dead son. Here we see the urgency of the task to go to the nations.
g.   Luke 10:5-6 – The offer of peace suggests a spiritual wholeness and the offer of the kingdom. A man/son of peace is one whose heart is ready to welcome the kingdom.
h.   Luke 10:7 – The worker deserves his wages: Paul quotes this proverb from Luke in 1 Tim 5:8. APPLICATION: Luke was considered inspired Scripture when it was written.
a.   Luke 10:9 – Heal the sick: In Isaiah, the healing of the sic is a sign of the dawn of the new age of the arrival of the Kingdom of God. Jesus is saying that the Kingdom has already arrived and is in some sense already present in Jesus’ person and work.
b.   Luke 10:12 – God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and burning sulfur (Gen 18:16-19:29). The sin and punishment for rejecting Jesus’ offer of salvation is even greater (cf. Luke 17:26-30).
c.   Luke 10:13-16 Korazin and Bethsaida/Tyre and Sidon: These cities stood at the north end of the Sea of Galilee near Capernaum[3], the area Jesus has left as he moves his ministry south. Jesus had spent most of his ministry in the Galilee, and he mourns over those cities which rejected his Good News, knowing the great consequences. Tyre and Sidon were Gentile cities farther north, the place from which the wicked Queen Jezebel had hailed. Sackcloth was a material used to make sacks and made of goats hair. Wearing that and being covered with ashes is a picture of devastation (Job 2:8) as though one’s life was like a burned down house. Even though Capernaum was Jesus’ base of operations, many there rejected him (Luke 4:31; Mark 2:1). Jesus here alludes to Isaiah’s prophecy of the destruction of the pride of Lucifer himself (Isaiah 14:12-15). The disciples in verse 16 are given the same authority as Jesus who sent them (more forceful than Matt 10:40).
d.   APPLICATION: If there will be a victory, and if you are to live in victory, then there must be some opposition. He cannot give you victory unless he brings you into a place of opposition. And He cannot use you until He has trained you in the midst of opposition. He really does prepare a table before you in the midst of your enemies. He cannot prepare the table unless there are enemies.
a.   Luke 10:17 – The returning disciples were enthusiastic over the things they accomplished: “Even the demons submit to us in your name,” more than they were initially sent to do (Luke 10:9).
b.   Luke 10:18 – It is no coincidence that Jesus says he saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven (Isaiah 14:12). Some view Jesus’ statement as his comment on what he saw while the 72 were out ministering the Kingdom.[4] But the grammar and the way Christians have interpreted Jesus’ statement over the centuries is different. Since the early sixth century, Gregory the Great saw Jesus’ statement as referring to Isaiah 14:12: “How you have fallen from heaven, O morning Star, son of the dawn!” Luke’s grammar follows the same construction: “I was watching Satan fallen” (I saw is in imperfect tense, and the participle fall is in the aorist).
c.   Luke 10:19 – Snakes and scorpions: They were symbols of extreme dangers in the OT. Trampling them shows the power of God over the enemy and divine protection (Psalm 91:13; Deut 8:15; Rev 9:3-4; Gen 3:15).
d.   Luke 10:20 Real joy: Luke contrasts sources of joy which are superficial and significant. The 72 are excited about their power over demons. Jesus directed their attention to something much more important: their names written in Heaven (Exod 32:32f; Psalm 87:6; Heb 12:23; Rev 3:5; 17:8).
e.   APPLICATION: No matter what happens, no one can take this ultimate source of joy from us. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, our names are written in glory. Jesus’ was overwhelmed with the joy of the Holy Spirit about those to whom God had revealed himself. The salvation of others is worth a shout.
f.    Luke 10:21: This passage is bookended by prayer. Here Jesus’ joy a the success of his disciples and the reception of the Good News results in a prayer of praise to the Father. God’s wisdom confounds the wise (Isaiah 29:14). The word for child (nepios) refers to one older than an infant but not more than three or four, a toddler. We see the spiritual need and the simple faith. Immature, in need of guidance, and their simple faith makes them open to instruction (Psalm 19:7; 116:6).
g.   Luke 10:22 -  The intimacy and perfect unity of relationship of the Father and Son here has a reference in Job 28:21, 23, where wisdom is hidden from the eyes, and God alone knows where it is and how to get to it. Jesus’ being full of joy in the Holy Spirit points back to Luke’s language in the first two chapters. Jesus delights that the Father has chosen babes, and there is perfect intimacy with him and the Father. Paul develops that idea in 1 Cor 1.
h.   Luke 10:23-24 – Jesus’ words have a strong end-time’s flavor. The apostles were witnessing the fulfillment of things the prophets had longed to see (Heb 11:13; 1 Peter 1:12).
i.    APPLICATION: The blessing does not come until the opposition has been encountered. When you face the opposition and walk through it with him in victory, then he can bring the blessing. The blessing comes as a result of the obstacles, the opposition.

[1] The UBS text (NASB, NIV, ESV, RSV, etc.) has seventy-two following Vaticanus (B). The Byzantine family (KJV, NKJV) has seventy.
[2] A.R.C. Leaney, 176.
[3] Korazin is not mentioned in Scripture or Josephus, but its remains have been found 2½ miles north of Capernaum.
[4] Plummer, 278.