Sunday, May 21, 2017


In this passage, Luke turns from Jesus’ teaching about prayer to his casting out a demon and encountering opposition. The emphasis is actually on the opposition. The telling of the miracle itself is brief. This is in keeping with the greater context of the narrative. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, where he will be arrested and killed. As he gets closer to Jerusalem, the opposition to him increases. This story demonstrates it.

This particular demon inhabited a man and made him mute. (14) Mute means not speaking or able to speak. It is interesting the this story appears right after Jesus taught about prayer. He said for his disciples to speak to God in prayer. He presented the prayer as one we might say together, as a congregation. This man was mute, so he was unable to do that. He could not speak either praise or petition to God.

When Jesus cast the demon out, the man spoke. His speech was proof to all that the demon was gone and that Jesus had cast him out, whether they could see the demon or not. No one questioned that he had cast out a demon.

Casting out demons was not a new thing for Jesus at this point in his ministry. He had encountered the devil in the wilderness and prevailed. (Luke 4) He had cast out demons on several occasions and cast out a legion of demons on one occasion. (Luke 8) 1 John 3:8 says the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

Most of the people marveled. But, there were some detractors in the crowd. They were antagonistic toward Jesus. They accused Jesus of casting out the demon through the power of the prince of demons. They called this demon “Beelzebul”. (Note: I am using the English Standard Version. The New American Standard Bible also refers to Beelzebull. If you use the New International Version, it refers to “Beelzebub”.)

In 2 Kings 1:2, King Ahaziah got sick and sent a messenger to Ekron to inquire of their god Baal-zebub” whether he would survive the illness. Ekron was a city of the Philistines at that time, but was an old Canaanite city. It had a sanctuary devoted to Baal.

The name of the god of Ekron was probably “Baal-zebul”. That means “Baal is exalted”. It is thought the Jews intentionally corrupted the name to Baal-zebub as an insult, for that name means “Lord of the Flies”. That is where William Golding go the name of his 1954 novel, Lord of the Flies.

By the time of Jesus, however, the name was applied to the so called Prince of Demons, Satan, the Devil. So, the accusation is that Jesus is casting out demons by the head demon.This of course is a terrible blasphemy. To accuse the Son of God to act in the power of Satan is a terrible insult to Jesus. It is also a clear rejection of Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God.

Jesus could have called down fire on the crowd, thus justly punishing this total disrespect for God and giving the sign from heaven that others wanted. Instead, he countered them with logic. He said that any kingdom or household that is divided will be conquered and fall. Therefore, Satan would not divide his kingdom by driving out his own demons. (18)

Jesus went on to condemn their inconsistency. There were Jews that had the power to cast out demons. When they did so, it was claimed to be the power of God. Jesus said, it is inconsistent to claim power from God in their case and the power of Satan in his case. Therefore, their own sons were their judges in this matter. (19)

Jesus also countered them by pointing out the consequences if what he claimed was true. If he cast out demons because he had the power of God, then the Kingdom of God had come upon them. (20) The saying “finger of God” is a way of saying the “power of God”.

All of the miracles of Jesus were signs that that the Kingdom of God had come. But the casting out of demons particularly showed that Christ had come to begin taking away the kingdom of Satan on earth, reclaiming it for God through the ministry of the Son of God. Each casting out of a demon was a defeat of Satan and a victory for Christ in the battle for earth and for humanity.

Jesus gave an example of this. He said a strong man with weapons guards his palace and protects his goods. (21) But, when a stronger man comes, that man defeat the first man, strip him of his armor and take his goods. (22) In this story, the devil is the strong man. There is another possible play on words here, for the Greek word for Beelzebul means “lord of the house”.

 Jesus is the stronger man. Satan is powerful; Jesus is more powerful.

The hymn written by Martin Luther is about this very battle. Here are the words.

A mighty fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing;
Our shelter He, amid the flood Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and pow’r are great, And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, The Man of God’s own choosing.

Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth is His name, From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And tho’ this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us;
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us
The prince of darkness grim — We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, For lo! his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly pow’rs — No thanks to them — abideth:
The Spirit and the gifts are ours Thro’ Him who with us sideth.

Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

After telling this story, Jesus added two warnings. The first one was that there can be no neutrality in this war. He said “whoever is not with me is agains me”. (23) You must choose Christ or you have chosen Satan. You must gather to Christ or be scattered away from him.

The second warning has to do with what happens after a demon is cast out, but the person does not fill himself with Christ. Jesus said the spirit may not find another place to dwell, so it returns to the person from whom it was cast out. But, he also brings with him seven other spirits who are even more evil and they all possess the person. This leaves that person more miserable than he or she was before.

I do not know if this saying is meant to be literal, or literal for every occasion. But it does point out that you cannot conquer sin simply by trying to get rid of it. You must have your soul filled with the Holy Spirit and you must fill your mind with the things of God.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


As we saw in our study of the Lord’s Prayer in the book of Luke, Jesus taught us to pray “Give us each day our daily bread”. (Luke 11:3) He wants us to trust God to provide for our daily needs and, trusting God, to ask for them. And, of course, at the end of the day, we should thank God for his faithfulness in providing for our needs.

Anxiety comes from lack of faith in God to provide. In contrast, trusting and asking result in mental peace. That is why Paul writes “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let our requests be known to God”. (Philippians 4:6)

God does not want you to worry! He wants you to ask and trust.

Once you have made your request known in faith, you can relax. You will have peace. Paul went on to say “And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 4:7)

The peace of God is supernatural. It “surpasses all understanding”. That is why some will question your peace. But this peace is a fact, it is a promise made in scripture.

Practice this and see that it is true. Ask, trust, and relax. 

And let the peace of God guard your mind from the attack of anxiety.

Sunday, May 14, 2017


After teaching the disciples the form of prayer, he went on to teach them about God’s response to prayer. He did this in a parable recorded at Luke 10:5-13. This parable only appears in Luke’s gospel.

In this parable a person has a friend arrive at his house around midnight. The friend likely traveled at night to avoid the heat. He may have had problems that caused him to arrive very late or even miscalculated how long the trip would take.

Even though the friend arrived very late, the duty of hospitality required the man to welcome him into his home. It also required him to provide food. The problem was, he had no food.

Since he had no food, the man went to his friend who lived nearby and knocked on the door. No one likes to have someone knock on their door at midnight. But he did knock and he asked to borrow three loaves of bread.

This story reminds me so much of my childhood, when most women stayed home with their children and, in our economic class at least, did not have cars. So, it was very common for a neighbor woman to knock at the door and ask for a cup of sugar or an egg or something like that. My own mother sent me on such errands several times.

On this occasion, though, the neighbor was already in bed. Probably, the big room was a family bedroom and the whole family was tucked in to sleep. If he got up to get the bread, the might wake up the children, which would mean then trying to get them back to sleep so he could go back to sleep himself. The man really did not want to get up. He gave two excuses: the door is shut and the children are asleep. It was not really that the man could not get up, but that he did not want to. It was inconvenient.

Jesus said the man would not normally get up and grant this request, but he would do it because of the man’s impudence. “Impudence” here means a lack of sensitivity to what is proper.

A parable normally has one main point. It often contains a comparison for emphasis. We do not look at every item of the parable for a symbol as we would with an allegory.

Since the context of the parable is Jesus’ teaching on prayer, we immediately understand that the man asleep with his children represents God the Father. This does not mean that God sleeps, or sleeps with his children, or is annoyed if we pray at night. Rather, it means that, as the neighbor has the means to provide for his friend, God has the means to provide for his disciples who ask.

Here is the comparison. The man only answered his friends’s request because the friend would not stop knocking on the door. God, however, is always available and always receptive to our prayers. And further, he gives good gifts. Jesus said, if we who are evil by nature give good gifts to our children, how much better gifts will God give? In fact, he will even give us the Holy Spirit.

Since God is willing to answer our prayers and able to provide for us, we should not hesitate to ask. For us, impudence means something like “holy boldness”. It is not irreverent or demanding. Jesus has already said to pray that God’s name is “hallowed” and that his kingdom come. But, we do not have to be timid or “beat around the bush”. For example, once when we were really struggling, I asked God for a certain sum of money I needed to pay our bills. He answered my prayer by sending a man to pay back part of the money he owned me for work and had never paid.

Jesus tells us to ask and God will give it to us, to seek and we will find and to knock and it will be opened to us. This is a parallelism, saying the same thing three times: ask God and he will answer and provide for our needs.

A second message in the parable is that we should be persistent in prayer. We should pray until we have an answer. This is not about God changing his mind, it is about our earnestness. It is about caring. It is one thing to dash off a one sentence prayer and then forget about it.  That does not show that we care much about it. But when we pray continually about something until God answers, it shows we really do care about this thing and we really want God to answer.

God is there, he is approachable and he cares.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

God would not exhort us so earnestly to pray, unless he was ready to grant our petitions. Let us blush at our sloth: he is more ready to give than we are to receive. (St. Augustine)

Sunday, May 07, 2017


The Lord Teaches About Prayer
Luke 11:1-4

This passage begins with Jesus praying. This was common for him. Luke has already shown us six times Jesus prayed. This time the disciples were watching and listening. Evidently, the disciples were not know for their prayer lives at this point. Back in Luke 5:33, a Pharisee criticized them, saying “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink”.

One of the reasons the disciples did not pray often was that Jesus, the Son of God, was with them 24 hours every day and they talked to him all the time. He explained that to the Pharisee in Luke 5.

At least one of the disciples wanted more, though. He asked Jesus to teach them to pray as John taught his disciples. (1) The Pharisees disciples prayed Old Covenant prayers. John disciples likely learned Old Covenant prayers slanting toward the coming of the Messiah. This disciple wanted a prayer that was for Jesus’ disciples.

This prayer is commonly called the Lord’s Prayer, but you could call it the Disciples’ Prayer. It is a prayer the congregation of believers can pray and pray together in community.  It may also be prayed individually.

Another term used today for this prayer is The Model Prayer. The person teaching this will usually say something like this: this prayer is not meant to be recited as a chant, but is a model of how we pray. The version in Matthew does indeed record Jesus saying “pray then like this”. (Matthew 6:9) Luke writes that Jesus said “when you pray, say…”. (2)

They prayer is a good model, but it is more than that. It is a prayer Jesus gave to his followers. We should not chant it without thinking. That is true. But we can pray this prayer together. Notice the prayer uses the word “us”, not “I”. That is another evidence of this being a corporate prayer.

The first thing we see here is that Jesus says to address God as Father. Jesus is thought to have taught in Aramaic, the common language of the area. In Aramaic, the word for Father is “Abba”. In Greek, it is “Pater”. It is a term that acknowledges a loving, caring relationship between disciples and God. The Old Testament prayers do not usually address God as Father. This is, therefore, a significant change in prayer as the disciples had known it.

Jesus addressed God as Father, except once on the cross while he bore our sin. (There he said “my God.)  Jesus tells us to pray the same way, as God’s children. John 1:12 tells us that when we receive Christ, and believe on his name, he gives us the right to be called the children of God.

It is not a term of irreverence, however. Adults, as well as children, used the term referring to their fathers. God is still God, though he has allowed us great privilege in our relationship to him in Christ.

Reverence is shown by the next phrase, “hallowed be your name”. (2) In the Bible, the name of God refers to all that he is. It is not that God’s name is a magic word. It represents him. For example, when David said “we trust in the name of the Lord our God (Psalm 20:7), he did not mean he trusted that name as a word, but he trusted God.

This is a request that God and God’s name be held in reverence and honored. That is is because God is holy. I don’t know about you, but I am often grieved to hear people use the name of the Lord without reverence. In American, even Christian people can be heard to say “oh my God”, not as a prayer, but as an exclamation of surprise or excitement. Any use of God’s name outside of reverence is, as the Commandments would say, in vain. And so we pray that God’s name would be held in high esteem all over the earth.

The second petition is “your kingdom come”. This can have two parts. First, we pray that the kingdom of God will be spread all over the earth by the preaching of the gospel. Each new believer is a citizen of God’s kingdom. Second, it is to pray for the consummation of the age that results in the visible rule of God. This is what John prayed at the end of the book of Revelation, when he said “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

The third petition turns to our needs. We pray “give us this day our daily bread”. (3) Even though most of us do not count on bread to be the major source of our nourishment, we pray for God to provide for all of our needs. Notice the use of “us”. When we pray this corporately, we not only ask God to provide for us individually, but for the needs of the whole congregation.

We show our trust in him by asking for provision for each day as it comes, not for enough to never want again.The example of this was shown in the wilderness when God provided manna every day and commanded the Israelites to only gather for one day except Friday, when they could gather for that day and the Sabbath. (Exodus 16)

The next petition is for forgiveness of sins. (4) This is not a prayer for salvation. Remember, this prayer is given to believing disciples. Rather it is a relational prayer. We confess our sins and ask for forgiveness daily to keep our close relationship with God. Sin always distances us from God.

1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” You may have heard someone says the Christian life is a life of repentance. This means that we constantly confess our sins to God, repent of them, and ask for forgiveness to stay in fellowship with him.

This petition is different than the others in that it is tied to something we must do. Verse 4 says “for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us”. This sounds like a condition to forgiveness. But, it is more of a fact statement. We forgive who sin against us as people who are forgiven for sinning against God. “Indebted to us” here is a synonym for “sinned against us”.  God granted us mercy; we extend mercy to others.

Forgiving others is difficult. I have struggled with it many times. But Jesus said to do it, so I will leave you with that. If you want to obey him, you must forgive. If you want to demonstrate his mercy to sinners, demonstrate mercy to sinners.

Finally, the prayer in Luke’s version asks that the Father not lead us into temptation. What does this mean?

James gave us very clear instruction on this issue. He wrote:
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, I am being tempted by God, for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:12-15)

So, if God does not tempt us to sin, what does the petition “lead us not into temptation” mean? It is a request for mercy. For, although God does not tempt us to sin, he certainly allows us to encounter difficult times that could cause us to sin. This prayer is asking God to mercifully help us to avoid those tests and to help us through them when we must go through them.

Jesus himself asked the Father if he could avoid the cross. He prayed “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me”. (Matthew 26:39) Yet, he did not sin, for he also prayed “nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will”.

We also know from scripture that God is always faithful to provide a way of escape from sin. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Look back on the times you have fallen and you will see there was a chance to avoid it, a way of escape. You just did not take it because you succumbed to the temptation.

Many churches start their service with a prayer of repentance or a prayer for forgiveness. The congregation prays that prayer together, out loud. It is a corporate prayer.

This prayer first addresses God’s holiness and sovereignty. It then addresses our needs. That is a good way to pray, whether you pray this prayer or use it as a mode.

Sunday, April 30, 2017


Jesus Rejoices

The context here is the return of the 72 disciples and their power over demons and sickness. After hearing their reports, Jesus rejoiced.

Notice that Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit. Here we see all of the members of the Trinity mentioned. Jesus rejoiced. He did so in the Holy Spirit. He and the Holy Spirit rejoiced at something the Father did. So, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all mentioned.

That is opposed to Modalism, the idea that God is one but reveals (manifests) himself at different times as Father, Son and Spirit. The best known modern Modalists are Oneness Pentecostals. But here, all three persons of the Godhead interact. There is rejoicing, delegation of authority, and relational knowledge. If there were not three persons, Jesus was misleading those around him.

Why did Jesus rejoice?

He rejoiced for two reasons: first, that the Father hid these things from the wise and understanding and second, he revealed them to little children. (21) What are “these things”?

Since Jesus had just told them to rejoice in their salvation, he must mean the gospel, the good news of salvation.

God has always been concerned about the little guy. In the Old Testaments, the prophets condemned oppression of the poor, of widows and orphans and aliens. The Bible is replete with condemnations of the proud. For example, Isaiah prophesied that “the haughty looks of man shall be brought low and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day”. (Isaiah 2:11)

When John’s disciples asked Jesus if he was the Messiah, Jesus said “go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.” (Luke 7:25)

God’s care for the poor and powerless carried forward into the ministry of Jesus. The gospel was primarily preached to the poor and the poor primarily responded to it. That is why Paul could tell the Corinthians to “consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)

God revealed the gospel to those who come to him in child-like faith. The disciples were those children, those who received Jesus and believed on him.

In contrast, the religious establishment, and the political establishment, did not understand and believe the gospel and rejected Jesus. God hid the secrets of the gospel from those who thought they were wise.

Although we receive Jesus, only God gets the glory for our salvation. That is why we are saved by grace and not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Jesus rejoiced and thanked God that he hid these things from those who were wise in the ways of the world. That may seem harsh to us, that God would hide understanding of the gospel from some. But Jesus said it was the Father’s gracious will. And Jesus always rejoiced when the Father’s will was done.

Since God is sovereign, he may reveal himself to whom he chooses. The passage says he handed that over to Jesus, the Son. And so no one knows the Father unless the Son chooses to reveal the Father to them. (22)

The Old Testament bears this out. God revealed himself to Abraham. As far as we know, he did not reveal himself to anyone else on the planet at that time. God revealed himself to Israel, but not Assyria or Egypt.

God does not have to reveal himself to anyone or save anyone. If he chooses to do so, it is an exercise of his grace.

Jesus told the disciples they were blessed to see what they saw and to hear what they heard. (23) He pointed out that prophets and kings in Old Testament days desired to see the coming of God’s salvation, but did not.

We are blessed as the disciples were. Although we did not see and hear Jesus in the flesh, he called us to himself and saved us. Then he gave us his Word to teach us more about him. We are most blessed and should, as Jesus instructed, rejoice that our names are written in heaven.

The Object Lesson: The Parable of the Good Samaritan

After teaching that God hid these things from the wise, Jesus gave them an object lesson. As he taught, a lawyer stood up and “put him to the test”. A lawyer in this context was a man who was educated in, and probably taught, the Old Covenant law.

The man asked Jesus a valid question, but evidently did so to argue with Jesus (to put him to the test). He asked “what shall I do to inherit eternal life”. (25)

Knowing the man was knowledgeable in the law, Jesus put the question back on the lawyer. Jesus asked what the law said in the opinion of the lawyer.

The lawyer knew the answer and gave it by quoting the Great Commandment: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your should and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. This “commandment” is a combination of Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. It is also a summary of the Ten Commandments. The first commandments tell us how we are to love God. The second set of commandments tell how we are to love our neighbors.

By giving that answer, the lawyer demonstrated his knowledge of the law and the requirements of the commandments, the requirements of God’s covenant with Israel. Jesus recognized this and said “you have answered correctly; do this and you will live”. (28) If the lawyer had stopped here, he would have come off looking good.

But the lawyer must have sensed something that New Testament believers know well: no one can keep the law. We all sin. So, the lawyer attempted to justify himself by narrowing the requirements. He wanted a list that made clear who were not neighbors. He asked “and who is my neighbor?”. (29)

And so the door is opened for Jesus to explain the law as God intended it to be obeyed. He told a story, a parable, to teach. In this story, a man traveled from Jericho to Jerusalem. Robbers attacked him, leaving him injured, mostly naked and half dead. (30)

Three people passed by the injured man. The first was a priest. He walked by on the other side of the road, like we often do when we see someone begging for money. A Levite did the same thing. Both of these men were special, chosen for service to God in the temple. But they did not help the injured man.

In contrast, someone very un-special came along, a Samaritan. Jews hated Samaritans. But this Samaritan had compassion on the man. He doctored his woulds, set him on his donkey and took him to an inn. There he paid for the man to stay and heal.

At the conclusion of the story, Jesus asked who proved to be a neighbor to the injured man. Notice that Jesus has re-oriented the question. The lawyer asked who is his neighbor, who do I have to love. Jesus asked who acted as a neighbor, showing love.

The lawyer answered that the man who showed mercy proved himself to be a neighbor, thus fulfilling the commandment. Jesus agreed and said to go and do likewise. Jesus was not interested in limiting the field of those we minister to. He wants us to minister to those in need. This was the opposite of the answer the lawyer wanted. Instead of narrowing the requirements of the law, Jesus expanded them.

This is what Jesus did with the sermon on the mount. He stressed the spirit of the law where the Pharisees stressed the letter of the law. We cannot judge the lawyer too harshly, however, for we do the same. We are comfortable with people like us and uncomfortable with people who are different. We want to say we will not minister to some because they are not working, or addicts, or mentally ill. Yet, the command is to be a neighbor to those in need.

So, Jesus gave us good teaching on the spirit of the commandment. But he also gave us an object lesson. After saying that God hid the message of the kingdom from those who thought they were wise, he showed us one who thought he was wise, a man steeped in knowledge of the law but who did not understand spiritual things.

Believe in Jesus and be blessed with eternal life and spiritual understanding. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017


Sending the 72 Disciples: the 2nd mission trip.

After rebuffing some who wanted to follow him, Jesus appointed some from from among his disciples to send on a mission trip. Some versions say there were 72 disciples sent; some say 70. He sent them to the villages he would visit on his way to Jerusalem.

He sent them in pairs to support each other. He may also have had in mind the requirements of Deuteronomy 19:15, that a fact can only be established by two witnesses. The context of that rule was a criminal trial, but the concept seemed to have been expanded by the Jews to establish any fact. That is why the Jews accused Jesus of testifying to himself.

Jesus gave several instructions to these disciples.

First, he said to pray for laborers. Isn’t it interesting that he did not pray for people to receive him or for people to be saved. He said there were plenty of people. He used the metaphor of the harvest. He said the harvest is plentiful. (2) But the laborers are few. So, Jesus said to pray that God, the Lord of the harvest, would send out laborers. This seems to be a clear statement that the church is to go into the world and preach the gospel.

It also means God is in control of the harvest: he is Lord of the harvest.

This should be an encouragement to you. You are not a salesman charged with a quota of sales. You are a witness. Jesus will call to himself those he will save. He told Paul, as he approached the City of Corinth, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people”.  (Acts 18:9-10)

Who did Jesus have in Corinth? There were no Christians there. No Christian had gone there yet. Paul was the first. Jesus had the people he would call to himself through Paul’s preaching.

Years ago I went to Venezuela on a mission trip. My Spanish was weak. But I wanted the trip to count. I felt a burden for the lost in that country. I prayed for God to use me. One day in my quiet time, I came upon Acts 18. The Spirit led me to understand that God had people in Venezuela. He would use my witness to bring them to himself. And he did! By the time the week was over, I had led more than a dozen people to the Lord. It was amazing. There is a harvest out there. You are not a salesman. You are a harvester.  

The disciples would also go as lambs among wolves. (3) They were to be gentle and honest in sharing the gospel. They were not to employ worldly means of force, deception or guile. It should be the same with us. We are tempted always to attract people with a show in order for them to hear the gospel. But the apostle Paul wrote “For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)

But the presence of wolves also indicates danger. The Twelve were mostly executed as were many early Christians. Today in the Middle East, Christians have suffered and died in great numbers over the last few years. Right here in American, you may be opposed and ridiculed and, in certain places, beaten for sharing the gospel. There is a cost to proclaiming Jesus.

Second, Jesus instructed the disciples to travel light and accept the hospitality of those they encountered. They were not to carry extra money or shoes, no bag, and to refrain from greeting those they encountered on the road.

This instruction is a testimony that God will provide for those who go in his name. This was to be a quick trip for the disciples. It was important that they not get mired in thinking of their comfort.

Jesus said to accept the hospitality of the first home that welcomed them. (7) They were not to go home to home or to seek better accommodations. They were to eat whatever they were given. (8) This is often a challenge for missionaries. But, again, Jesus wanted them to focus on their mission, not on their food or their mattress.

In return for hospitality, they were to declare peace on the house. That peace would remain on those who welcomed them. In other words, God would reward those who showed hospitality to the disciples by bringing peace to their household. But if the person rejected them, the peace would not remain with the household.

This acceptance was tied to the message of the kingdom, the gospel. Those who accepted the message, and thus the disciples, were sons of peace. They received peace with God. Those who rejected the disciples and their message, brought judgment on themselves rather than peace.

The same is true today. When you knock on a door and share the gospel with the person living there, they are put into a dilemma. They may accept Jesus, his message and his messenger. If so, peace with God in eternal life is theirs. If not, the reject Jesus and face judgment for that rejection.

Third, Jesus said not to greet anyone on the road. Greetings in that culture and time could be lengthy. Jesus again established priorities: getting to the villages and preaching was their priority. It was their mission. They should let nothing get in the way of that.

Fourth, they were to heal the sick and preach the coming of the kingdom of God. The advent of Christ’s righteous rule was coming and the villagers needed to be ready to receive Christ. In addition to preaching, the disciples were to minister through healing. The disciples had been given the authority we saw in 9:1, to heal the sick and to drive out demons.

The healings blessed all of those who suffered with diseases. The healings were also signs that God was at work and that the kingdom was coming. It confirmed the truth of the disciples’ message. In fact, upon healing a person, the disciple was to say “the kingdom of God has come near to you”. These people would think, if Jesus’ disciples can do these things, they must represent God and his Anointed One, the Messiah or Christ.

People experience the kingdom of God by hearing the word of God preached. They also experience the kingdom of God through the ministry of believers who love them and care for them. Sometimes it is the act of loving service that creates the willingness to hear the gospel.

Fifth, Jesus had a special instruction regarding towns who did not receive the disciples. They were to wipe the dust of that town off their feet, showing they, and Jesus whom they represented, had nothing to do with the town. It was a judgment. Indeed, Jesus said that they rejected the kingdom of god and would receive a judgment worse that that of Sodom.

Jesus singled out two cities for this judgment for what they had already done. These cities were Chorazin and Bethsaida. (13) Jesus said they would be judged more severely than Tyre and Sidon, two pagan cities in Lebanon. Those cities, which were destroyed, would have repented had they seen the miracles of the disciples. Likewise Capernaum. Jesus had healed and driven out demons there, and fed the 5,000 near there, but had been rejected. Judgment will be harsh for those who have seen and heard, but rejected Christ.

As Jesus said, those who rejected the disciples rejected Jesus. And those who rejected Jesus rejected the Father. (16) Being Jewish would not save them. They were condemned for rejected Jesus. In John 3:18, Jesus said “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God”. That condemnation comes to final fruition at the judgment. (14)

The Return of the Missionaries

When the disciples returned, they were joyful. They were especially impressed that the demons were subject to them in Jesus’ name. Jesus acknowledged the defeat of Satan. He said he saw him fall like lightning from heaven. (18) This could also be translated as “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning”. The New American Standard Bible translates it that way.

The Greek verb translated as “I saw” or “I was watching” is “theoreo” It means to look closely at something, to make a careful observation of the details. It is used in connection with a meaningful even where you want to get an accurate view so you will understand the meaning of it.

What did Jesus mean? He could have meant several things. But he at least meant he saw the swift (as lightning) defeat of Satan and his power over people. Jesus had given them authority over all the power of the enemy, who is Satan. (10:19; 9:1)

Yet, as exciting as this was, Jesus told them not to dwell on it. They should instead rejoice in their salvation, that their names are written in heaven. (20)

Jesus' mission was to save people to eternal life. It is our mission to spread this message. Our salvation is also the most important thing we have. All else is secondary. Rejoice in your salvation!