‘….. and do not greet anyone on the road.’ (Luke 10:4b)
And finally this week, the seemingly strange suffix on the end of verse 4. Jesus instructs the appointed sent ones or apostolic missionaries, to concentrate on their task; and particularly in this verse, to greet no one on the way.
Our first contextual reflection is found in 2 Kings 4:29 and refers to Elisha’s instruction to Gehazi. 29 Elisha said to Gehazi, “Tuck your cloak into your belt, take my staff in your hand and run. Don’t greet anyone you meet, and if anyone greets you, do not answer. Lay my staff on the boy’s face.”
This is not an instruction to discourtesy; but means that the God presence carrier must not turn aside or linger on the lesser things whilst the great things are calling him or her.
If we now look at this passage through the lens of the rest of the NT for more context, we see a similar burden for the urgency of followers of Jesus to prioritise the mission of God. Through every narrative of Acts, through every epistle, through Revelation we see urgent affirmations that we are the people of God, and we are encouraged, challenged, exhorted and at times even warned to make His mission the priority of our lives: whether it is our going, our praying, our giving, our partnering, our sending or our working to prioritize mission.
We need to separate ourselves from the filters we use to think about these things. The details of this word can trap us. What would have been quite distracting in a time and a location where hospitality was the key form of welcoming; in actual fact the core culture, could actually be a significant way to open doors and make relationship connections in our culture where human contact is at a premium. So, let us see past these things and into the heart and mind of Christ.
We will talk more specifically about this issue in the coming week but let’s recognize that one of the key ways Christ exhorted the appointed missionaries to engage the people they made contact with and see him add his presence toward kingdom advancement, was a specific instruction for them to knock on the doors of houses which represented households or people groups rather than occasional individuals. This is missionally strategic and a particular focus for equipping people for a task when just about everything but the job at hand will distract us.
We can justify pretty much any distraction as being in some way useful for sharing the gospel but knowing this human condition, Jesus sets the 72 a journey which from the very outset trusts in God’s provision, the Holy Spirit’s leadership and empowerment and Jesus’ knowledge of what’s required and doesn’t allow at all for human beings to respond in a way that reflects something they can construct or create as the 12 had actually done in the first phase of this equipping case study.
My amplified interpretation of Luke 10:3-4 is;
‘Go to where groups of people naturally are; don’t wait for people to come to you. Be alert and ready to fight for yours and others’ lives because this task is that important. Don’t rely on either your own resources, or back up knowledge, or doing things the way they’ve always been done but rely only on God’s provision and his direction. Stay focused on the plan. Where Jesus sends you, go and don’t take short cuts which may simply divert your attention to the affect that the task at hand remains incomplete.’
Reflection-Action 1 Reflect on what you truthfully thought when you first read the last part of Luke 10:4. Has this devotion helped you in any way?
Reflection-Action 2 Have you ever taken an inventory of the variety of things you actually do on a daily basis? In light of any calling you believe God has issued to you in particular, what things on your inventory are helpful to completing the task? What things are distractions to completion? What things should you just put aside so you can focus more specifically on the task God has called you to perform?
Reflection-Action 3 As an extra reflection if you have time, have you ever justified that something you do is important to the completion of your task when if you were truthful with yourself you would put is aside as not important?
Reflection-Action 4 It would be terrific if you could find someone to share and compare these reflections with and maybe once you have determined what each other’s God given responsibility is, boldly make some agreements about keeping each other accountable to the work.