The Beginning of Men’s Radical Ministry
Luke 10:1-24 ESV
13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.
16 “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
17 The seventy- two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
23 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
We are continuing our short series on the theme “Radical”. As mentioned last week, the idea came from some reflections on the book Radical, but this is by no means a repetition of that book.
We are using the word radical in this way: Jesus came to bring people to a fundamental and extreme change in our relationship with God and our way of life before God. Last week we saw that true Christianity is based on the Radical Redeemer. And those who follow Christ Jesus get involved in his radical way of life. Today we want to look at a group of women who became radical in their relationship with God and in their way of life.
Today we continue a short series of messages on the theme “Radical”. The idea came from some reflections on the book Radical, but this series is by no means a repetition of that book. We are using the word radical in this way: Jesus came to bring people to a fundamental and extreme change in our relationship with God and our way of life before God. Here is a list of the subjects we have looked at from Luke’s Gospel to this point:
True Christianity is based on the Radical Redeemer – everything depends on Christ and the gospel
Women can be radical followers of Christ
Christ calls all his followers to radical faith
Following Christ’s example, we should use meals in radical ways
To fulfill our mission, we need radical love
Men also can and ought to be radical followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. In our text, we read of the Lord Christ’s calling and commissioning of a group of seventy-two men to serve him. This was a group separate from the apostles, yet also chosen by Jesus to participate in his mission. We are not told anything about the talents and skills of these men. What matters is that they came under the authority of Christ and were sent by him.
I. The authority that creates their mission (10:1-4)
A. Their place in the mission was appointed by Christ.
1. Jesus sent them and appointed them. They were not volunteers, regardless of how willing and happy they may have been. They were picked out and commissioned by the Lord. This gives them confidence for the mission: “The Lord wants me on his team doing this work.”
2. Jesus sent each man out with another man. The Lord put them on the unit or squad that he wanted them. This means that a man’s missional partner was also with him by the Lord’s choice. Jesus knows who will work together for mutual and maximum benefit.
3. Jesus sent them out in relation to his mission: “and place where he was about to go”. There was much work yet to be done in his earthly ministry, and so he sent them ahead as advance teams to prepare for his coming. This job required boldness, vision, and creativity.
B. An attitude of dependency was initiated by Christ. All that the Lord tells them is intended to create humility in these men. For example, most men don’t like being referred to as “lambs” while other men are called “wolves”. How many sports teams are called “the Lambs” and wear uniforms that convey the picture of softness? What convinces a man to depend on another is his plain, superiority. When you certainly know that Jesus is Lord of all, you can be convinced to depend on him.
1. An attitude of spiritual dependence for their mission – Jesus teaches them the need to pray, as they see the need while involved in their mission. Ask the Lord of the harvest for more laborers. Don’t shrink before the difficulties; pray!
2. An attitude of physical dependence during their mission – Jesus puts them in a dangerous position where they will have to trust him for protection. They will also depend on his plan for sustenance, since he denies them the use of means that could otherwise be used. They can’t take along extra provisions or scheme to get them.
Apply: Men, in our current situation, we must rely on the Lord. We need both more workers and more financial provision to carry on the work that the Lord Jesus has given us to do. Prayer is an activity in which men must become leaders. Jesus has put us here to prepare the way for his coming in grace and glory. The Lord is bringing the people groups of the world to our area for us to reach them. We are going to have to depend upon him to do this. It’s time for us men to get off our backsides and on to our knees and our feet to move forward.
Transition: So then, there is the authority that creates their mission, now let us think about…
II. The message of their mission (10:5-16)
A. A message of peace (10:5-8)
1. “Peace” in a biblical viewpoint means more than the absence of war; it means the fullness of blessing. They were to be Christ’s agents in spreading his blessing of peace to all. They were not to get involved in “pre-qualifying” people for God’s blessing. They were to proclaim it to all. Don’t try to prejudge who you think will respond. The Lord picks out those who are most unlikely. Don’t seek those whom you think will make the best contributors. The Lord calls the foolish, the weak, the lowly, and the despised for his purposes (cf. 1 Cor 1:26-29).
2. Christ’s messengers must act in a way consistent with proclaiming peace; that is, they must rely on God for their provision in that place where they proclaim “peace”. You cannot show that God is able to bring fullness of blessing unless you are demonstrating that you are living on his blessing. On the one hand, they must not think that they are somehow the objects of an undeserved charity. By proclaiming peace they are earning their wages. On the other hand, they must not be on a search for proverbial greener pastures. They must show contentment with what the Lord has provided for them. So they must eat what their hosts give them.
B. A message of God’s kingdom (10:9-11) – Remember that “kingdom” means God’s reign or ruling power acting in the human situation.
1. They are to announce God’s reign by performing the miraculous sign of healing. This would demonstrate that God was showing his authority over the human condition, in this case, weakness and illness. But they must also teach the significance of the healings. Here again we see the connection of redemptive event and redemptive message. Both would combine to testify to God’s authority.
2. If the people of a town do not receive them, they are simply to repeat the message of God’s reign. This shows confidence in the Lord’s authority. Regardless of the response of others, they know that God reigns.
C. A message of judgment (10:12-15)
1. People are responsible for their actions, like the people of Sodom were. Those in Sodom did not receive a message about God and his grace; judgment just came on them for their sinful behavior. But people are also responsible for how they respond to God’s word. Refusal to repent and believe the word about God’s reign would put those who refused into a more desperate condition than the people of Sodom.
2. The Lord reinforces this point to the men he is sending out by pronouncing judgment on the cities that had witnessed his miraculous signs. Jesus links their ministry with his. This is certainly encouraging. Jesus does not leave his followers out alone there somewhere, like David and Joab did to Uriah the Hittite. No, he will ultimately vindicate men who follow him. If you have faith in the final display of his glory, this means a lot.
D. A message of Christ’s final authority (10:16)
1. Since they were being sent by Christ, they would be ministering with his authority. To reject Christ’s ministers is to reject the Lord. This probably doesn’t sit well in our anti-authority age, but it is true anyway. True Christianity never makes progress if we soft petal its radical message.
2. Christ reminds them that he speaks with God’s final authority. To reject Christ is to reject God. He is the exclusive way to the Father (Jn 14:6; Ac 4:12).
Apply: What is your relationship to Christ? Are you in submission to his final authority?
Transition: We have considered the authority that creates their mission, and the message of their mission; now let us think about…
III. The results of their mission (10:17-24)
A. They had success (10:17)
1. They saw the Lord work through them in remarkable ways. Christ had talked about healing people, but they found that he also gave them authority over evil spirits. Those who trust and follow Jesus the Lord finds that he does much more than they expect.
2. But they needed to keep their thoughts on what was more important—their salvation. Seeing God act now is good, but being with God forever is better.
B. They needed instruction (10:18-24) – To do well never means that you have learned all that you need to know. Success is an opportunity to evaluate, to listen, and to grow. A winning sports team continues to learn from its coaches. If it thinks it knows it all, it is set up for dismal failure.
1. About their reason for joy (10:18-20) – They were excited about their success in their mission. Jesus wanted them to be glad about the grace of God that saved them. Note well the preeminence of saving grace over other matters. There is a serious problem when professing believers act bored about salvation. “Oh yeah, we’ve heard all this before,” is a sentiment that betrays a defective spirituality.
2. About God’s sovereign grace (10:21-22) – We all need a perpetual reminder about the source of success. It is not in our efforts, but lies fully in the power of God who alone can change hearts.
3. About their place in redemptive history (10:23-24) – To be in that place at that time was a special blessing. Everything before was insignificant to being in the presence of Jesus, who is the Lord of history. The Jews loved to glory in Abraham, Jacob, and David. But Christ is better, and we live in him in his better age!
Apply: Men, we need to apply ourselves to learning well the truths of God and his saving grace. Every follower of Christ should love theology. Are you studying it?
Apply: You can’t have a hunger for the truth about God unless you first know God through the Lord Jesus Christ, who died and was raised to life. Have you committed yourself to him?
Pastor Dave Frampton
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teachers and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.