When Jesus sent out the Seventy-two disciples, as recorded for us in Luke 10, he gave them simple instructions that represent principles of his commission to all followers of Jesus. Like them, all disciples of Christ are commissioned to go and spread the Good News of the Kingdom. He speaks of the opportunities for response as a “harvest.” There is an urgency for those of us who claim allegiance to Christ “to go!”
The Principles of Commission set out here for the Seventy-two and for us are these:
- Go in teams. Jesus sent them out in twos because there is strength in the fellowship of other believers. It’s evident in the Scriptures that so many of God’s agents worked in teams. Teams provide opportunity for mutual encouragement, for accountability, and for strengthening each other’s gifts. God’s work should never be done by lone rangers. Yes, there will be ones who are especially called and commissioned to preach and teach, but even then these ministries are best done in collaboration with others of like mind and heart.
- Go in dependence upon God’s grace. When I first read this passage recently, I was struck by the fact that he told them he was sending them out as lambs among wolves. What a contrast! How can lambs expect to survive among wolves except by the power and grace of God! As lambs among wolves we can expect lots of opposition and suffering. Going to preach the good news of the Kingdom is no picnic. But we cannot do it in our own strength. It is only by God’s power and authority that we survive and are absolutely victorious over Satan (Vs 19).
- Go in faith. We should go without thinking that we need to provide for ourselves along the way. This is a faith venture all the way. Don’t worry about daily provision. Seems Jesus talked about this in another place as well (Matthew 6). So many times we worry about whether we will have enough. He provides. That is all we need to know. One of the ways God will provide is through the hospitality of others. This is evident in verse 7. Hospitality should be freely received by those who are doing God’s work.
- Go with purpose. Verse 4 hints at the fact that those who are sent should not be distracted by other social encounters. As we go, we need to maintain a keen sense of priority. Yes, we are social beings, but we should be careful not to get side-tracked by other interests.
- Go to those who are receptive. We should not waste our time on ministries that are not well-received. And we shouldn’t take it personally when we are rejected from a potential ministry. If God has called us to do it, he will open doors of opportunity and give us a chance to be a blessing.
- Go with specific ministries in mind. Heal the sick and preach the Gospel of the kingdom, saying it is near. This is the Gospel. Jesus has come to defeat the works of Satan (Vs 18). He has paid the price in his own blood and been raised again from the dead. He is building his church and his kingdom. He has a plan. He is coming back. Speak and work in the Name of Jesus.
- Go leaving ultimate judgment in God’s hands. There is a time to depart and to leave people in their state of bondage. It is not up to us to make the decision as to whether people will receive the Good News. Some will, some won’t. Leave those matters with God. Don’t take credit for those who do respond, and don’t take it personally if they do not. Let God do his work in his way.
These are principles that we should keep in mind as we go about our lives and ministries as believers in Jesus Christ. We need to keep the picture clear and follow his direction. And our work will be rewarded — not only in what we see God doing through us now as Satan is conquered (Vs 17, 18), but also when we are finished the task and he calls us home to be with him.