On November 23, 2005, myself and a few other men embarked on a ten day missions trip to Gautier, Mississippi. This was a couple of months after Hurricane Katrina devastated so much of the gulf coast in that region. We were men on a mission, perceiving the call of God to go down and lend a hand. We were working through a Baptist church down there and had no idea of what we we’re going to be doing, what our sleeping conditions would be like or even what we would eat, or if we could even take showers. I think that on some level we expected to be roughing it, like we were camping in the middle of the woods or something. We expected to be heroes saving the day, but what we discovered is that we were only the tools. God was the hero there. Despite all our doubts, our poor finances and our erroneous thinking; we got to see first-hand how God was moving in this community. We got to see him pull up his people by the bootstraps and get them walking on solid ground. We got fed. We got good sleeping conditions. We got showers. Did I mention…we got fed really well, and not just our stomachs, but also our very souls too.
We went thinking that we would be the blessing to these Mississippians, when it is us who got blessed by God through the Mississippians.
One of these Mississippians –Mrs. Brodice is someone who showed us how God blesses in even the worse times, and how serving God is by far the greatest task we have to do. Mrs. Brodice was a married woman before hurricane Katrina struck. She was probably in her mid to late fifties when I met her. A few weeks before the hurricane her husband had a pacemaker put in. Then the hurricane hit. Where her home was the waters had risen five feet. When we went to see her home we could still see mark on the outside of the house where the water had risen. It had destroyed everything in her house. Due to complications from his surgery and the stress of the hurricane-Mrs. Brodice became a widow. It was just her and her 20 year old son living in a FEMA trailer. Finally as we were getting down there some three months after the hurricane -she was getting new floors and walls through the generous help of God’s Church throughout the United States and locally.
At one of the church services the Pastor asked if some of the ladies would be willing to help provide lunch for us workers. Mrs. Brodice was the first to say yes. She took a bunch of turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving and ground them up into a turkey salad. This woman had been through so much, had literally lost everything. But her heart was still focused on serving God. She took delight in serving him.
As we read in Luke chapter 10 Jesus sends out seventy of his disciples. The reference says that he sent them two by two into every city and place where he would also go. They were to act as heralds of his coming. Introducing Jesus to these people. They even had the authority to cast out demons, and to heal the sick. Now this is a great evangelical movement and what these disciples did was a good thing. But listen to what happened on their return. In verses seventeen thru twenty we read
“17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. 18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. 19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. “
These disciples returned with a wrong attitude and a wrong focus. Now I don’t think that it was just one or two pair, but rather all of them coming back, commenting on the same thing. They were so intent on what they had accomplished and the things that they could do, that they lost track of what was important. They lost track of their mission-to prepare people for Jesus’ coming. It kind of reminds me of a war strategy. Now I’m no soldier, so if I make a few mistakes here, please forgive me. You send your platoon in to take out the enemy and rescue the civilians. The soldiers return in a couple of days and are all excited about how well their weapons worked and how many of the enemy was taken down by the skills they had mastered with those weapons.
But. Their purpose of their mission wasn’t to destroy the enemy, even though they are equipped to do it, but rather to liberate those civilians. If those civilians weren’t in enemy territory. There would be no mission sent. Likewise, Jesus had not given those seventy any specific command to engage in a fight against evil forces. He just made sure that they were equipped to do battle, should battle ensue.
As a church and as an individual believer, our main task is not to declare war on Satan and his minions, but to be ready to do battle should an attack come. We should have the tools necessary to defend ourselves. Satan’s defeat is not our responsibility. Our responsibility, our main task is to carry out the will of our Lord.
In verse two Jesus told them that there was a harvest. This means that the time was right and the crops were ripe. And breaking that down even further. Jesus knew the hearts of the people he was sending the seventy to. He knew that they were ready for him. They were ready to hear and see the truth. But most importantly, they were ready to receive the Truth. Jesus sends these seventy to minister before him because they are waiting for him. Jesus isn’t sending the seventy out on a mission impossible.
He already knows who’s out there ready to receive him. He knows the need, and sends his ministers in to fill that need. With Jesus in charge we have no need to fear what he sends our way or where he sends us. He’s got it under control.
It’s interesting to think that the area Jesus sent these seventy disciples is a relatively small area with just a few villages and small populations. Now if you were to do some figuring you could see that the number of groups of people sent by Jesus made for a high ratio to the populations. Compared to today where this ratio is so much smaller and there just aren’t enough people ministering in the world to meet all the population.
Jesus gave them a mission-to prepare the people for his coming not to take his place. He sent them with authority as well. It’s interesting to note the meaning of the word send. Here in the Greek Jesus used the word apostello. This type of sending means that the authority that they had, they carried with them. It wasn’t given from afar. It was right there with them. It is as if Jesus had taken pieces of his own authority and given each disciple a piece to carry. It was in them to do the things of Christ through his own power.
This word for sending is also used by Jesus in the sending of the twelve in Matthew chapter 10 verse five“5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: ” In verse sixteen “16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” And in verse forty “40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. ”
Apostello is the same word that Jesus used to indicate His being sent by the Father in Luke 9:48 “48 And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great. (Luke 9:48)” and in Luke 10:16 “16 He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me. ”
This authority was specially granted to the twelve Apostles and the seventy disciples to establish the authenticity of the Gospel and of Jesus Christ. It was a show of God’s might and authority over man’s might and lack of authority.
It proved who Jesus was because no man could do these things by themselves. Only someone sent with God’s authority could do these things. Later on we read that this authority goes through a change. After Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus sends out everybody in John 20:21 “21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” Here Jesus uses a different word for send. He uses the Greek pempo which means that he is sending them out, not with his authority, but under his authority. Before with apostello the authority was given to the disciples, as if Jesus himself were there but with pempo the authority remains with Christ and the we are sent to do what he asks of us. I think the best way I can describe this so it makes more sense would be with a Walmart analogy. In our store we have a store manager. He is in charge of the entire store. All the people, all the merchandise, everything is under his authority. In comparison, we could compare him to God (please don’t tell him I said that).
Next we have a co-manager. His responsibilities are the same as the store manager’s. His authority is the same as the store manager. We could compare him to Jesus(again please don’t tell them I said this) His authority is apostello. Because he has the same authority as the store manager. Now we also have assistant managers. When the store manager and co-manager are not around then the assistant manager on duty usually has the authority of the store manager and co-manager as well. They take on the apostello. But when those two managers are there the assistant managers authority is deferred to the store and co-manager. But the assistants still have authority. Their authority comes from the store manager and they are subject to his directives. This is pempo.
Getting back to verse 20 we must ask why was the ability to cast out demons so impressive. They had seen Jesus do it so many times. It makes me wonder if they did have their priorities straight. We know that they were obedient to Jesus’ instruction to heal and preach, why then was the first thing they report to Jesus is the demons that “THEY” cast out in his name? I think they got a little full of themselves. They became amazed at what they could do.
And sought to praise themselves for the good things that they did and oh of course they added in Jesus’ name so it would seem like they weren’t taking all the glory for themselves.
To be sure, Jesus rebukes the seventy disciples and lets them know that their focus is wrong. He didn’t rebuke them because they did wrong, because they didn’t. They preached the gospel, they healed, and they cast out demons. Just like they were supposed to do. The things they did were right, but what matters most is what’s going on in your inner heart. Are you picking up selfish attitudes, are you putting your works before your faith? Because your works, the things you do to glorify and serve God. should illustrate your faith. A faithful life produces faithful works. What are you producing in your lives? Jesus rebukes them because they emphasized the wrong things. They were proud because they thought they had defeated the devil and his demons. Well we know that’s not true, just look at society today. Or even better yet read through the book of Revelations where we read of Satan’s final defeat by the words of Jesus’ mouth. Perhaps the disciples thought that casting out demons was their primary objective.
But that is not how you win over him. These disciples forgot the lessons from Ephesians (even though it wasn’t written yet). They forgot that if they preached and healed then when the devil did attack he would not prevail. The one weapon that Jesus gives us to fight off Satan’s attacks is a short curved sword called the sword of the spirit. This is the word of God.
There’s a couple of warnings here that we should pay attention to. The first is that when we are doing faithful works, be wary of pride. Because once pride steps into the picture. You’re no longer serving God rather you’re serving yourself. The more you serve yourself, the further away from God you get. Because in serving yourself you are putting yourself and your talents ahead of God and that is idol worship. The second warning is to use your time wisely. Don’t go chasing after all the demons in the world. Because the more you chase them, then the more they will lure you away from your fellowship with Christ. Why miss out on the blessings of God to chase after that we you have no right to try and defeat.
The proper attitude for the disciples should follow this excerpt from 3 John “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (3 John 4)” Nothing can be greater than someone giving their life over to Jesus Christ.
Jesus gave us all, every believer a commission. We are to “…Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”(Mark 16:15-18) That is our mission statement from Jesus. I think that some of us tend to get a little lazy, or a little scared , or maybe we don’t know what to say. But it has been put on us to tell others about the things that Jesus did on that cross for us. Are we so ashamed of the beatings and the ridicule and the crucifixion that Christ went through for us that we just hide at the mere mention of his name. Well let me tell you. It is time to stand up. It is time to proclaim the things that our Christ has done for us. It is not up to just the preacher. It is up to every Christian everywhere. Proclaim the name of Jesus. Proclaim the name of Jesus.