Luke 10:1-16 Bet You’ll Only Eat One…Maybe.
The danger of sending students and campus ministry leaders overseas during the summer lies in the foodies among them running amok. One popped up on my Facebook news feed waving her latest culinary find. Here it is. Lay’s Potato Chips bet we couldn’t eat just one. One might be a stretch. South Africans love the sauce, I’m told, and monkeys aren’t harmed or even made organ donors in making it. I’m curious enough to try it but not enough to extinguish caution.
That’s what Jesus did in sending seventy out in front as He threaded His way south toward Jerusalem for the last time – sent them out into spiritually new territory with some cautions and instructions that would jerk them out beyond the walls of whatever faith they had.
Jesus sent out seventy (some say seventy-two). Lapsing into Pittsburghese, “Who were yinz guys?” Who indeed. Where did they come from? How were they connected to Jesus to where He would select them for this? What ever happened to them? Jesus didn’t, and wouldn’t, say, “Hey, none of you guys know Me but who wants to volunteer and do something really cool?” I don’t know who they were but I do know this; God has people we don’t know about and they’re a lot closer than we think. Harold Carter, a Baptist pastor in Baltimore, said, “I’m a Baptist, a saved Baptist, a Holy Ghost filled Baptist and I’ll be one till I die. But I’m not a foolish Baptist…cause I know God got some people what ain’t Baptist!” Jesus got some people what ain’t the twelve. During our summer or on our campus where we feel like a minority, God has people around us we may not know about right now. The Bible bristles with them like Anna and Simeon on the backside of the Christmas story or the mentions in Paul of Christians all the way up into Caesar’s household. Pray for eyes to see the invisible, the hidden people of God who surround, and often support us unawares.
And what about Jesus drew these seventy (or seventy-two)? These people didn’t know about the cross or the resurrection (as far as we know). Pentecost hadn’t come. The New Testament had not been written. And yet something of the love, truth, power, holiness and beauty of Jesus captivated and drew them. No matter how lonely the summer may have been. No matter how small and outgunned we may feel on campus. Never doubt the power and draw of the Gospel of Jesus. He said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself.” (John 12:32) He sucks ’em right in. Look at Pentecost with 120 people in that room. Again, who were they? Start with the disciples, Jesus’ family and a few women and we’re left with around a hundred more gathered together when it’s flat-out dangerous to be lining up with Jesus. A Yale historian said that if all Christian groups could be wiped off campus overnight, it wouldn’t be long before they reappeared like mushrooms springing out of the ground. With campus groups being pressured over inclusiveness issues, remember that Jesus Christ can never be thrown out of anywhere or silenced. He speaks and the seventy wait to spring out of the ground.
He throws three more quick ones at them. First, going out like sheep among wolves. Jesus didn’t say this to the twelve disciples when He sent them out but He says it now. He’s heading for the Jerusalem and things are starting to get hot and hostile; someone’s going to get crucified. Knowing Him will start to cost them friends and add enemies. In Band of Brothers, the 101st Airborne rushes to secure a crossroads at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge in WW 2. Anyone going there will be surrounded and cut off. Capt. Dick Winters takes a page from Jesus here. We’re followers of Jesus in a world not ruled by grace; there will always be more wolves than sheep, more lions than Christians. On campus, we will probably always be surrounded. So? That’s just the wallpaper of where we live.
No spare clothes, shoes, spending cash or motel reservations. Following Jesus means detaching from old securities and/or comforts that may once have been the fabric of life but now must be left behind. Yesterday’s faith will not carry us through tomorrow. The next step in the Kingdom of God always feels insecure, like we’re cast onto our weaknesses at every new step. And stay with whomever takes you in, with men of peace, and eat whatever they put before you. (You knew another monkey gland sauce blast was coming.) And in eating, we may meet our nasty selves. Heading south, some of those men of peace might be Samaritans. Stay there? Jesus can’t mean that. Not Samaritans! Jews hate them (Haters always think they have a good reason.) Eating wasn’t just gulp and run; it took hours, hours where we interact. And what if the food wasn’t kosher. Even if Samaritans tried, what do a bunch of blaspheming heretics like them know about cooking kosher? Cooking!? That means some Samaritan woman will have her hands on my supper? I’d eat worms first. Jesus will show us that some people we can’t stand love Him more than we do. Sometimes the people we rule out of the Kingdom in our pride make it snap, crackle and pop.
Summer’s almost gone. I hope it’s been good. Soon we’ll be heading back to campus. Somewhere along the line, we’ll exchange the wolves at home for the wolves on campus. Wolves on campus often use bigger words than the ones at home but they’re still just wolves. And since Jesus still is Jesus, many of them may well love and serve Him alongside us before this new year is over.
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