Call To Duty

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MUSINGS

Message: Call To Duty

Luke 10:1-16

Jesus appointed seventy-two other people. These are not the twelve apostles that were the inner circle of his followers. Yet at the same time they were indeed followers that had been found fit to be his disciples.

He prepared to send them out, two by two, to every town and village where he intended to go.

To the Jewish people, all numbers carried special significance. It has been said that one in every five scriptural verses contain a number. The number one of course signifies the oneness of the Godhead. Hear O, Israel our God is one God. The number 7 signifies completeness, as in the seven days of creation.

Two is important because byJewish law a thing may be proven true or false by the witness of two. Deuteronomy 19:15

And Jesus enforced the law of two. In Matthew 18:19-20 Jesus said, “I can guarantee again that if two of you agree on anything here on earth, my Father in heaven will accept it. Where two or three have come together in my name, I am there among them.”

While the sending out of the 12 disciples earlier in Luke represents the ministry to God’s people – the twelve tribes of Israel, the ministry of the 72 was to the Gentiles – there were traditionally 72 Gentile nations.

Jesus’ public ministry was quickly coming to an end. But there were still so many places that the Lord had not yet visited with the Good News of God’s Kingdom. Jesus had earlier visited the regions of Galilee in the North and Samaria in the center Plains of Israel. But, he had not yet ministered in the towns and villages surrounding the Jordan River.

These 72 were the advance teams going to prepare the way of the Lord much in the same way that John the Baptist had gone before Jesus preaching a gospel of repentance and forgiveness.

During the six months or so before his crucifixion he ministered in this area. The people who lived in the towns and villages along the Jordan were treated with indifference by the Jewish religious leaders. That may have been the reason why Jesus sent out such a large delegation of disciples, so that they could reach as many people as possible in the short time that was left.

Many Gentiles lived in this area, and ceremonial purity was not practices as strictly as in Jerusalem. Jesus instructs his disciples not to waste time figuring out if the food set before them had gone through the proper process of purification. He said, “Eat and drink whatever they offer you.”

As the disciples teach and heal, those who receive and accept the message will be convinced that the Kingdom of God is indeed at hand.

He said to them, “The people who are ready to receive my message are like a field of grain that is ready to be harvested. But there are not many people to bring them to God. So pray and ask the Lord God to send more workers who will gather people together and teach them my message.

Teach them my message. What was the message Jesus taught?

In Luke 4:43 Jesus said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”

True there were may other teachings that Jesus brought to the people also. Teaching them about loving one another and serving one another.

And he certainly shed new light on understanding the law and the prophets. However at its core Jesus teachings were all about aligning the will of man with the will of God. And this is the gosple message that he sent these disciples to tell.

He warned these followers, “Go but remember that I am sending you out to tell my message to people who will try to get rid of you, you will be like lambs among wolves.

We have often heard the motivating words of Jesus: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Indeed, the field is ready for the harvest, and the Lord of the harvest wants you and me (everyone of us) out in the field. God wants us to take hold of the countless opportunities and challenges around us to bring Glory to the Lord of the harvest.

But, Christians sometimes take a lazy approach to reaching out to those who are searching for the deeper meaning of faith. After all it is the pastor’s job to share the Good News. That’s what he’s paid for.

Parable of a Lighthouse

  • On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was a once a crude little life-saving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves, they went out day or night tirelessly searching for the lost.

  • Many lives were saved by this wonderful little station, so that it became famous. Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding areas, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and money and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews were trained. The little life-saving station grew.

  • Some of the new members of the life-saving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and so poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea.

  • So they replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in an enlarged building. Now the life-saving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they re-decorated it beautifully and furnished it as a sort of club.

  • Less of the members were now interested in going to sea on life-saving missions, so they hired life boat crews to do this work.

  • The mission of life-saving was still given lip-service but most were too busy or lacked the necessary commitment to take part in the life-saving activities personally.

  • About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boat loads of cold, wet, and half-drowned people.

  • They were dirty and sick, and some of them had black skin, and some spoke a strange language, and the beautiful new club was considerably messed up. So the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.

  • At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s life-saving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal life pattern of the club.

  • But some members insisted that life-saving was their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a life-saving station. But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the life of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own life-saving station down the coast. They did.

  • As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. They evolved into a club and yet another life-saving station was founded.

  • If you visit the seacoast today you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are still frequent in those waters, only now most of the people drown.

The issue for today’s message is the witness of Christ’s disciples to the world.

One of the things that make the topic of Evangelism and Outreach difficult to understand is that we associate Evangelism mainly with the work of Missionaries overseas.

When, in truth, it it’s the duty of every Christian. You don’t need tho be the pastor, or head of the evangelism committee. You don’t need to ask permission or wait to be sent out by some church official. You have already been sent … by Jesus. Hear these words from an expanded version of Matthew 28:19-20

So go, and using my authority, teach my message to people of all ethnic groups so that they may become my disciples. Baptize them to be under the authority of my Father, and of me, his Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember that I will be with you always, until the end of this age.”

As with the 72, our journey of discipleship is an exercise in obedience and faithfulness to the will of God in Jesus Christ. The opportunities for reaching out are endless and literally right in our own back yard.

Jesus has sent us out as his disciples among the people we meet in our daily lives. Although we do not always know where our journey with Christ will lead us, he gives us the gifts we need for the tasks ahead and enables us to be part of a great adventure – namely the coming of God’s kingdom.

Being those who are sent out, is not easy. There is stress, tension, an element of risk, and great uncertainty.

Another thing the story tells us is that being sent out requires letting go of a lot of baggage.

Don’t carry a wallet, a traveling bag, or sandals,

We must be able to move quickly, without unnecessary hindrances.

Part of the excitement and anticipation of an adventure is that we aren’t sure how things are going to end, where the journey will lead, how things will turn out.

You and I, as disciples of Jesus Christ, are part of the mission to share the Good News of God’s Kingdom with others.

The Master has graciously chosen us to send out in his behalf.

We are privileged to be part of God’s way of reacbhing the whole world, of being part of the harvest team.

Donald Ewing of Wheeling, West Virginia says the following about taking risks: To laugh is to risk appearing the fool. To weep is to risk appearing sentimental. To reach out to another is to risk involvement. To expose feelings is to risk exposing our true self. To place your ideas and your dreams before the crowd is to risk loss. To love is to risk not being loved in return. To live is to risk dying. To hope is to risk despair. To try at all is to risk failure. But to risk we must, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The man, the woman, who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.

As we work to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, let us confess before God that the greatest barrier that hinders our witness is our misguided thinking that it is somebody else’s job.

May we be motivated by the passion and the sense of urgency that Jesus had for your and my salvation.

Now,as we come to the table of our Lord, we recognize our need for divine grace.

In humility, let us confess our sins before God and one another.

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