When we bring the kingdom near to people, we need to be entirely reliant on the presence and power of God and not ourselves, so that they see more of Jesus and less of us. Our eloquent speech and wise words are not required in sharing the hope of Jesus…
3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
Luke 10:3-4, 8-12, 16
When Jesus sent out the 72 on the missions trip, there was a clear message about accountability for what people did with the message of the Lord. Remember that just one chapter back in Luke Jesus had asked, “Who do the crowds say I am?”
There was a lot of talk about the identity of Jesus and there seemed to be many who followed and many who did not. Over time, when the teaching was clearly understood, the ones who followed were less and less. Jesus’ teaching about denying self and taking up one’s cross was too tough for most.
Jesus sent out his followers to share the gospel – the good news of Jesus – which was to repent from wrong-doing and follow him. And this is where it gets very powerful. The missions teams were to go with no purse or bag or sandals. They were to go entirely trusting upon God for all provision. This is important. Why?
The followers of Jesus must depend entirely on God and not on self when they go out with the gospel so that the response of the hearer is between that person and God.
In order for verse 16 to be true, our friends and neighbours need to hear from Jesus, and not from us. They need to listen to Jesus and not us. If they reject the message, they should be rejecting Jesus and the Father, and not us. If they are rejecting us, then perhaps they didn’t even hear Jesus.
Many people like Jesus and despise his followers. This is a big problem for the church. When the followers of Jesus are rejected even though people like Jesus, that means we are not representing Jesus properly. We have taken too much of our stuff and ourselves on our journey and we are relying on those assets instead of the Spirit of God.
For if we rely on God in the Holy Spirit to speak through us, we will not be the focus; Jesus will be the focus. Many people will find Jesus’ message offensive, yet if they find us offensive and love Jesus, we are way off course.
This is critical for the Christian to consider because in our sharing of God’s love and plan, we are bringing the kingdom of God near (vs. 9, 11) to our friends and neighbours. And what they do with the kingdom of God when it comes near has to do with their eternities. People will be held accountable for their answer to Jesus’ question, “What about you? Who do you say I am?” (Luke 9:20).
When we bring the kingdom near to people, we need to be entirely reliant on the presence and power of God and not ourselves, so that they see more of Jesus and less of us. And may our friends and neighbours respond to Christ Jesus with faith and hope.
If we are successful in our commitment as missionaries of God, we will be like Paul, who said this,
1 And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.