1 The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit. 2 These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields. 3 Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves. 4 Don’t take any money with you, nor a traveler’s bag, nor an extra pair of sandals. And don’t stop to greet anyone on the road.
5 Whenever you enter someone’s home, first say, ‘May God’s peace be on this house.’ 6 If those who live there are peaceful, the blessing will stand; if they are not, the blessing will return to you. 7 Don’t move around from home to home. Stay in one place, eating and drinking what they provide. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve their pay.
8 If you enter a town and it welcomes you, eat whatever is set before you. 9 Heal the sick, and tell them, ‘The Kingdom of God is near you now.’ 10 But if a town refuses to welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘We wipe even the dust of your town from our feet to show that we have abandoned you to your fate. And know this—the Kingdom of God is near!’ 12 I assure you, even wicked Sodom will be better off than such a town on judgment day.
13 What sorrow awaits you, Korazin and Bethsaida! For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have repented of their sins long ago, clothing themselves in burlap and throwing ashes on their heads to show their remorse. 14 Yes, Tyre and Sidon will be better off on judgment day than you. 15 And you people of Capernaum, will you be honored in heaven? No, you will go down to the place of the dead.”
16 Then he said to the disciples, “Anyone who accepts your message is also accepting me. And anyone who rejects you is rejecting me. And anyone who rejects me is rejecting God, who sent me.”
17 When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!”
18 “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning! 19 Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. 20 But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”
Luke is the only Gospel writer to record the sending of the seventy-two. His preference as an editor is to consolidate material and eliminate duplicate or overly similar accounts. Yet in this case he adds a near duplicate sending to that of the Twelve in chapter 9. The main differences are the increased number of disciples sent, the location (we are in Samaria now, a region hostile to Jesus and his followers), and the potential for rejection (based on Jesus’ warnings, and this makes sense given the location). What remains the same is the work – healing sick people and proclaiming the kingdom of God, and the approach of the workers – travel light, accept hospitality and provision, but do not enrich yourselves.
Both of the sendings tell us a couple of things. One, the work of the kingdom belongs in the street, where the people are, not cloistered away or hidden from the people, but right in the heart of the village – where the people are. Second, the ones who are sent are sent in power. Among their primary duties are healing sick people and delivering people from demonic oppression. The kingdom of God grows when we locate ourselves where the people are and when we avail ourselves of the power of the Spirit that Jesus operated in and that Luke has built his entire Gospel around.
Having focused so much on power, Luke meant for the caveat in 10.18-20 to really get our attention. Jesus has given us all authority (this statement is repeated in Acts 1.8) and we are to operate in that power just as Jesus did. But the power itself is not our focus anymore than it was Jesus’ focus. Luke narrates the action in terms of the Spirit’s power, but Jesus rarely speaks of it. He focused on the people, their needs, and what teaching they needed to receive. The Spirit empowered Jesus to carry out the work he was focused on, not power for its own sake. Here again, Luke is preparing us for his Pentecost message. As someone who grew up Pentecostal, I can tell you that this warning is still something we need to hear.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.