It’s important to think through how and why Jesus sends you on mission.
It’s easy for someone to stand in a pulpit and ‘guilt’ you into doing evangelism. But if you’re going to be a true evangelist for Jesus you need a better motivation than just feeling guilty for not doing it!
These verses in Luke 10 are all about how and why Jesus sends you on mission.
- The aim here isn’t to burden you with a load.
- My hope is to free you and encourage you. Because we’re all rubbish at this – and yet there is, I think, a secret to great evangelism for us all.
See how and why Jesus sends you out (1-16)
We saw last time how Jesus has now set his face to go to Jerusalem, to the cross, to die.
- He wouldn’t be swayed or diverted. He left heaven’s glories to go to the cross to save you, and nothing will draw him aside.
- As he travelled, he sent messengers ahead. One Samaritan village didn’t welcome them, so they went to a different village.
His time is short. He’s focussed on Jerusalem, on the cross. He can’t “waste” time in villages that won’t receive him anyway. Read Luke 10:1.
- 36 pairs of disciples, going through towns, villages and hamlets, preparing the way ahead of Jesus.
- It seems he’ll avoid the places he’s not welcome, and he’d be much more effective in places that are expecting him.
So, the 72 are ready. First things first: Read Luke 10:2.
- I might have mentioned this before, but throughout Luke and Acts, before any big and significant moments, there’s always prayer (and usually corporate prayer at that).
- You’d be foolish to ignore that; it’s reckless not to pray.
Maybe one reason we’re sometimes afraid to pray is that we might be uncomfortable with the answer! Read Luke 10:3.
- Don’t miss the obvious: Pray for workers; go and work.
- Jesus knows he sends his workers out into hostility, and he sends us with vulnerabilities, like lambs among wolves.
So who did he choose?
Adverts in the Samaria & Judea Gazette? “Experienced evangelists wanted – must have all the answers, all the expertise, strong enough to go out like lambs among wolves”
- 72 people like Billy Graham, Roger Carswell, Rico Tice (don’t worry if you don’t know who they are).
Nothing of the sort.
He chose 72 of his disciples
In fact, he even made sure they didn’t have special tools or protections: Read Luke 10:4.
- Greetings on the road in that culture could take ages. Don’t waste time there, get to work.
- Don’t take stuff with you – learn dependence on Jesus to do Jesus’ work.
Read Luke 10:5-7.
- They were in pairs partly so that the news they carried would be told by “2 or 3 witnesses”, as people expected.
- The blessing “Peace to this household” is a kind of prayer, for the peace of God and peace with God – the peace on earth promised at Jesus’ birth.
But we have a question at this point. It’s clear that none of us are called to go and do evangelism like this. So is this really a model for us today?
- Firstly, it’s clear that some of these instructions were specific to that event, and some specific to that culture.
- Second, it is a model for paid Christian work in that Paul quotes Jesus’ words “the worker deserves his wages” in the context of pastors receiving payment / salary.
- Equally, they’re to stay where the Lord puts them, not shop around house to house for better lodging!
- But above all, we’ve seen a similar exercise just for the 12 apostles, and now here for 72 disciples, and this outward growth and mission carries on throughout Acts – and all believers are emphatically included in the mission. You.
Read Luke 10:8-12.
- Many of these communities would be tiny (36 pairs visiting them all).
- Notice that whether a place welcomes them or rejects them the same truth is told: “The kingdom of God has come near.”
- For some, that’s enormous blessing.
- For others, who reject it, it’s terrible curse.
Remember that in the last chapter Jesus didn’t enter the Samaritan village that rejected his messenger.
Likewise, he wouldn’t enter the villages that rejected the 72. So read Luke 10:13-16.
To reject the Good News of Jesus when it’s explained to you is to reject Christ himself.
- For the Christian who’s doing the telling, this is encouraging!
- When any of the 72 were rejected, they were never rebuked by Jesus as “failures” or “let downs”.
- The curse falls on those doing the rejecting.
- Which means if you’re someone who has rejected the good news of Jesus, Jesus has this to say to you: “Woe to you!”
- Woe, because you will be rejected by God if you reject the Son he sent to you. Be terribly afraid.
- Seek the Lord while he may be found; he’s calling.
So is all this still a model for Christians to evangelise today? Yes, not least because people are still rejecting and hellbound. Now:
Praise God and rejoice (17-24)
We’re not told how many places rejected the 72 or who did better than who. All we know is that they returned with joy! Read Luke 10:17.
- Notice the “in your name” bit at the end.
- That’s why they were sent out so under-equipped.
- They were forced to step out in faith and obedience, relying only on the Lord to do his work through them.
Jesus’ reply is enigmatic: Read Luke 10:18. When was that? It’s part of a wider picture of Christ’s victory over Satan.
- The decisive blow came at the cross; the point where it looked like Satan had defeated the Son of God was actually the place of Christ’s greatest victory over Satan, sin and death.
- But there are other victories along the way.
- Remember Jesus’ temptation, how he went out into the wilderness in the Holy Spirit to take Satan on. He burst into enemy territory to demonstrate he was here to destroy Satan.
- And the effectiveness of the 72 in driving out demons is another defeat for Satan.
- But get this: This time, Jesus is crushing Satan’s power by working through the 72 disciples.
- And that is very much a model for his church, us, today.
So read Luke 10:19-20.
Just as rejection doesn’t reflect badly on you, neither does acceptance glorify you – it’s all Christ’s work! The victory over Satan was Christ’s then and is now and will one day be completed when Satan is cast into the Lake of Fire. Jesus was sent by God the Father, and anointed as Messiah by the Holy Spirit at his baptism. Here he’s on the road to Jerusalem finally to achieve the salvation of his people.
And his people are experiencing the work of God in themselves.
So read Luke 10:21-22.
Rejoice if you grasp this in your own heart. Also, rejoice because it’s God himself who has revealed it to you. But if you’ve never come to him for forgiveness of sin and are just beginning to grasp it then know this: He’s calling you now.
Rejoice, because this is very good news indeed: Read Luke 10:23-24.
We’ve seen how we’re to go: In dependence on the Lord.
And we’ve seen why: Because people still reject the good news and are hellbound.
We’ve seen grounds to praise God and rejoice: He will win the victory over Satan and will work through his church. Ok, so if what we’ve read is truly a guide and model for us as Jesus’ church today, what are you to do?
Pray and go
There are four simple and practical things you and I can do, knowing that Jesus sends you on mission.
It seems obvious, but we really must pray. Not everything that opposes you can be seen.
The Lord himself works through you to do his work in the world. You have no grounds to expect any fruit for your labours if you don’t ask for his help.
Happily, the Lord has told you what to pray for! That should give some confidence that he will answer.
So pray for workers.
- The work is very much out there; people are sleepwalking into hell every day.
And remember that you are a worker; you are an answer to that prayer.
- I remember seeing a cartoon where a Christian man was praying, “Lord, please send someone to witness to the man next door.”
- It sound ridiculous, but I tell you we’ve probably all prayed something uncomfortably close.
So first, pray.
Go and tell people about your faith in Jesus.
“But I don’t have the gifts!”
- Did those 72 people? If anything, they were stripped of the few things they did have!
- So go in Jesus’ name, doing his work by the power of the Spirit in you. You’re absolutely not so weak he can’t use you. If you feel weak, then you are strong because that’s when you’ll really have to trust the Lord.
- Do you think he won’t enable you to do his work?
- This is very like the spies turning back from Canaan!
“I don’t know all the answers to hard questions!”
- No-one does. You need to get over that.
- So ask questions of your own. Ask more questions than give answers!
- If someone says, “You can’t trust the Bible,” you’re tempted to launch into some long defence (as best you can). Much easier (and much, much more helpful) is to ask, “Why do you say that?”
“I just don’t want to. It feels weird and awkward.”
- If you’re in the lifeboat and people are drowning in the water around you, will you head for shore or throw the lifebelt in?
“This is so much pressure! Can’t I just rest in Christ?”
- Let’s get the balance right: No-one is expecting you to be on every street corner, every bus stop, every family get together with a pocket full of tracts ready to dish out.
- No-one expects you to be giving huge gospel presentations to strangers every day (I know a man who does that and even Christians find it weird).
- But trust God to work in someone’s life. Trust his sovereignty. Be a simple stepping-stone.
- Wear your faith on your sleeve: “That’s an answer to prayer. I’ll pray for you. God is good. The best bit of the weekend was church.” Share verses online (winsome, invitational stuff).
So: Pray and go. Two more:
Guard your heart.
- Jesus has told you ahead of time: Expect rejection, and remember it’s Jesus they’re rejecting.
- Likewise, expect acceptance – and remember it’s Jesus they’re accepting.
- Don’t let rejection drive you to despair; don’t let acceptance drive you to pride.
- No-one will go to hell because of your sin or failure.
- No-one will go to heaven because you’ve saved them.
- Guard your heart by trusting the Lord to do his work. When you are weak, he is most glorified.
And if there’s a secret to evangelism, it’s this last one:
Fourthly, praise God and rejoice.
You know when a friend is clearly bubbling with something and you know they can’t wait to share it?
You look at them and just ask, “What?”
If there’s a secret to evangelism, it’s being that person, where the “thing” is your joy in the Lord.
Read Luke 10:20, 23-24.
Never lose sight of your own salvation and how astonishingly blessed you are.
Never lose sight of your saviour, and grow in your delight in him!
The more you are filled with him, the more you’ll be a giddy hopeless bride who just loves to talk about her bridegroom.
No-one will need to tell you to evangelise.
The less you are in love with him, the more evangelism will feel like an unwanted chore, and an obligation.
So, before you pray and go and evangelise, make sure you pray and go to Jesus; be filled with him, and tell everyone you can how amazing he is.