Mission is about Jesus. In fact, as we have taken on board for the last couple of years in preparation for this missional season of endeavour, true mission starts with God the Father, is led by God the Holy Spirit and should look more and more like God the Son (Jesus).
So Jesus sends the 72. Many scholarly revelations over the years believe the number of workers sent is symbolically significant. Some associate the number with events recounted in Numbers 11:16 & 24 where Moses appoints 70 elders whom he gives a share of the Spirit so that they may share the burden of leading the people of God through the exodus experience.
Some have even suggested that this says something profound about the identity of Jesus himself. Jesus in His life, ministry, suffering, rejection, crucifixion and resurrection is leading the new exodus, rescuing people from being enslaved to the kingdom of this world and providing a new or renewed authority in God’s kingdom to which the ministry of the disciples clearly points.
Mission therefore is a journey and it could be said that we play our part by assisting Jesus to lead the new exodus. The implication being that our mission will be to carry and represent the presence of God like a cloud in the day and fire at night to guide people to the promised land – the Kingdom of God.
It should also be emphasized that the mission journey is not done by Lone Rangers but rather everything about the first two verses of Luke 10 is about groups, teams indeed community. Firstly and as we have already reflected, the sending of the 72 seeming nobodies is a signature of God’s way over and beyond our way. Even the disciples didn’t see this coming and we know now that Jesus was not only desirous of expanding the ministry beyond a select few, he was focused on ensuring that those who thought they were the only chosen ones would see that ANYONE who carries the presence of God will witness his kingdom coming.
He sent them in twos, he sent them ahead of him to every town he would visit and he commissioned us all for both the task AND to pray to God for more workers …. Nothing solo or individualistic about this call to mission; once again it is about relationship with God and relationship with each other. Together we carry all of what the cross represents; we share the burden and we carry each other so that there is support and encouragement and more importantly, people see more of Jesus and not less.
Reflection-Action 1 Read Numbers 11: 16-24 for yourself and then compare with Exodus 18:15-26. What lessons emerge out of these passages when compared with Luke 10? Right down any key issues that are highlighted for you as you read and reflect. What might be applicable to your current ministry involvement out of this if anything?
Reflection-Action 2 Luke 9:31 is unique in the four gospels’ versions of the Transfiguration. As you re-read this story in the context of the reflection we’ve been doing and revelation we’ve been seeking, is there anything that freshly stands out for you?
Reflection-Action 3 Reflect and pray about the spheres of life that you think God might have given you favour and responsibility for in the context of carrying and representing the kingdom of heaven. Who else do you know of (as you think about each sphere) could be a partner or partners in the work of the mission where you are? What lessons has God revealed to you that might help you engage with that person or persons? If not a partner in the work, is there a person you could pray with for God to release workers into that mission field?