The ‘God’s presence’ carrying missionary should not to be cluttered up with material things; they should travel light. It is easy to get distracted, even entangled in the busyness and the business of the everyday things of this life. It is recorded that Dr. S. Lewis Johnson, after seeing through a great castle and its beautifully manicured surrounds, remarked grimly, “These are the things which make it difficult to die.”
The seeming grandeur and satisfaction of Earth must never blot out the unsurpassed, life transforming wonder that is the kingdom of heaven, which, it should be noted was the shaper of all that we enjoy on earth. So, the creation should never be seen as greater or more worthy than the creator.
Luke cleverly gives us some context for chapter 10 verses 3 and 4 back in chapter 9 verses 57 to 62 so let’s take a look at these verses.
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
It has been wisely written that a leader should never require more of those who follow than they themselves are prepared to do. When Jesus instructs the 72 no name missionaries about what they are to do and how they should do it, he is scrupulously honest. He sets the bar as high as it can be set so that anyone who sets out to do what Jesus asks of them will know without a doubt what will be required. Jesus sends them out as lambs among wolves, as one who will need to be very alert to all that’s happening around them. He then asks them not to take even the basic travel rations that any and all itinerant travelers would be expected to possess so that they are NEVER a burden on anyone’s hospitality.
In Luke 9 Jesus gives us some clues based upon his own journey being sent by his Father in heaven. Before you follow me he says to the would be followers, count the cost; act right when your heart is stirred or you most likely won’t ever do it and if you are going to move forward for the sake of the kingdom, don’t keep longing and looking for the good old days because if you do you will never find the fullness and completion that comes only as you journey alongside Jesus for a life time.
These are not harsh words to people who are trying to do the right thing, they are kind and supportive words that ensure that good intentions actually become transforming and life enriching actions.
The price for our life of mistakes and false starts has already been paid by Jesus; the cost of following him is simply to trust that he not only knows what is required to start the race, he has done all that is required to ensure that it is finished.
Reflection-Action 1 Take some time to think about your possessions. If Jesus said to you as he said to the rich young ruler, “Go, give away all you have to the poor and follow me” make a list of your reactions, thoughts, hopes and intentions, desires and actions and then offer them to God as a prayer, seeking new and fresh clarity about what is actually in the way of you representing Jesus to the people groups you are connected to, if anything.
Reflection-Action 2 Have you at any time, read this passage and genuinely thought, Jesus was talking to people who had nothing to lose, and he wasn’t talking to people who live and work in modern society? This time and the way society operates is nothing like it was in Jesus’ time so there must be principles at work here that apply to our context. If you have had thoughts like these, write down how God is speaking to you now as you reflect on that. Even if you haven’t thought the above thoughts, what are the principles of doing the work Jesus has called you to complete that you can see as you read through these verses in Luke 9 and 10? Has God called you to complete a task?
Reflection-Action 3 Have you ever been stirred in your heart to do something like write someone a get well card or an encouragement or let someone know you are thinking of them or praying for them and you didn’t act on that stirring straight away and ended up not doing it? During this devotional series, what, if anything, has God’s spirit been stirring you to do and will you put that off to the point of not doing it or will you journal right now the steps you will take to respond positively and quickly to ensure the stirring becomes a journey? Share this with someone and pray together about it.
Reflection-Action 4 Prayerfully reflect on the following quote and then write down your feelings about it and whether it challenges you or not. Make sure you journal why it challenges you OR why it doesn’t.
“It may well be that we ‘the church’ have done a great dis-service to the communities we live and work in by not being honest like Jesus and letting people think that following Jesus shouldn’t demand much of their time and their lives. Rather we have preferred to tell people that following Jesus simply means they can have all the benefits of what Jesus has done for them if they just do what we think is a minimum requirement for church membership.”