"The joy in following Jesus is NOT in the results; the joy is in our relationship with him."
Season of Pentecost
Sunday Between July 3 to July 9 Inclusive
Proper 9, Ordinary Time 14
July 4, 2010, Sixth Sunday After Pentecost
Click here, Luke 10:1-11, 16-20, for an easy to print or email Adobe PDF version of this note.
Instead of Trinity Sunday, I wish the designers of the Lectionary had used this text and its variations to follow Pentecost Sunday - and called it, "Discipling Sunday," or some such thing. This seems like a more natural follow up text to Pentecost than preaching about the Trinity. But maybe that's just me.
In any case, Verses 1-11 give us a snap-shot into the life of an itinerant preacher-teacher-healer at the time of Jesus.
Verse 2. A classic, often used, recruiting slogan. Note that the harvest is already owned. That is, we are not winning souls for Jesus. Our souls already belong to God. The work to be done is to bring to God what already belongs to God.
Verse 3. A classic, often used, recruiting slogan. Often quoted by ministers and pastors after a particularly difficult church meeting. And a common-sense precaution not to be naive about the world.
Verses 4 to 11. These verses give a snap-shot of the lifestyle of a travelling teacher-preacher-healer.
Travelling without personal possessions was an indicator of one's humility and possible holiness. It also made one wholly dependent on the hospitality of strangers.
The interplay between the offering of hospitality and the offering of peace, providing healing, and proclaiming that the Kingdom of God has come near is what is detailed in these verses. Where there is hospitable receptivity - blessings can be offered. Where there is no welcome, there can be no blessings offered.
Taking back your greeting of peace, and shaking the dust off one's feet would be felt as extremely insulting rebukes - the modern day equivalent of giving someone "the finger."
Verse 16. This sounds like Luke is quoting a passage from John. What it does do is emphasize the reality of the close, inter-personal bond of trust and loyalty that is expected between Jesus and his followers - the same bond that already exists between Jesus and the One who sent him.
The bond that is spoken of here is a crucial prerequisite for being sent out, and for the results that are reported in the following verses.
Verse 17. "In your name" does not mean simply speaking Jesus' name out loud. It means, "in your honour," or, "worthy of you." That is to say, "By being loyal and true to the bond between us, we have done deeds that are worthy of you."
Verse 18. The whole cosmos is changed when as few as 72 people are loyal to Jesus and do what is worthy of him. Deceit, temptation, and testing lose their power.
Verses 19 and 20. Do not read Verse 19 without going on to read the, "Nevertheless;" the, "But," that begins Verse 20. That is, Verse 19 is not the point. Verse 20 is.
And the point of Verse 20 is: The joy in following Jesus is NOT in the results; the joy is in our relationship with him.
Yes, Jesus has given us a mission. But don't lose your focus. If there is no welcoming receptivity, the mission cannot succeed. And if the mission does succeed, it is because of the authority / power / honour of Jesus working through you, not you. So don't get distracted by "success." The credit for that all belongs to God anyways. Instead, stay focused on your relationship with God who has written your name on the palm of His hand.
* Link to Amazon.com Bibliography for Bruce Malina, et. al., Social Science Commentary on ... The Synoptic Gospels; The Gospel of John; The Book of Acts; The Letters of Paul; The Book of Revelation; and others.
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