Reading: Luke 10.1-12
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 labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers 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 labourer 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.” I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town.’
Jesus’ core message in today’s reading is in the words: Peace to this house. This was yet another counter-cultural message from Jesus in first century Israel. The Jewish nation had felt the ill effects of oppression for centuries. The Jewish nation sought freedom from oppression. The Jewish nation looked forward to the promised Messiah who they believed would be a warrior king who would lead them to absolute victory over the hated Samaritans and Romans. Jesus, the real Messiah, had come into their midst preaching peace, love and service. Jesus could not have been more out of line with the culture of that time and place.
Just one chapter earlier in Luke’s gospel we read of the sending out of the twelve disciples. Now there seems to be a greater sense of urgency as the mission of the twelve is supplemented by the mission of the seventy. In both commissions we hear Jesus telling his followers to travel in peace and in faith. Jesus tells his followers to journey without the clutter with which we normally surround ourselves. He tells them to travel in faith and in the belief that there are many who want to hear the Good News that has been missing from their lives. He wants them to model the humility of the Christian life and he wants them to share the love and peace of the Christian calling.
As we read of the mission of Jesus’ believers we need to spend some time considering how Jesus is calling us and sending us out. In these times of a national pandemic with rising numbers of infections and deaths, there is uncertainty and fear. People feel oppressed as they try to find their way through the necessary restrictions that are in place to protect us. It is the Christian calling in these times, as it was in the days of Jesus’ human incarnation, to take the love and the peace of Christ into the lives of others. It is also the Christian calling to serve those in need and thereby ensure that the light of Christ is shining into the dark places of this world.