Victor Hamilton on Genesis 10 and Luke 10

Luke is the only Gospel writer to mention a special sending out of seventy (-two) disciples by Jesus (Luke 10:1). The number of disciples is uncertain; the manuscript evidence is divided between reading ‘seventy’ and ‘seventy-two.’ The MT (Masoretic Text) numbers seventy nations, but the LXX (Septuagint) has seventy-two nations (Luke is following LXX?). The significance of the number has been traced to the number of the Sanhedrin or the number of elders in Israel (Exodus 24:1), but the most likely explanation is that Jesus is here reflecting on Genesis 10 with its listing of the seventy known nations of the then known world. Taken in this way, the number signifies that Jesus is sending his representatives into all the known nations of their day. The world he created he must also redeem.

Victor Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, p.348.

A Luke 10 Way of Life | Part Two

Part Two of a Four-Part Series  (Part One can be found here)

Luke 10:1-12 is a key text for those who want to live a sent life. Here are my presuppositions about this section. Living sent is not for a select few, for professional ministers only, for pastoral staff or missionaries or the extremely gifted. Jesus appointed seventy-two others, the laity, and sent them out to do what he did. With this passage Jesus is explaining how to go about finding the people that will become his disciples. I think this text is describing a way of life for every follower of Jesus. 

In Luke 10:3-4 Jesus gives a second directive for how we are to make disciples who make disciples. Jesus simply says, “Go!” Why? Because the fields are ripe for harvest. The crop is dangerously close to rotting in the field. And as we go he sends us with a sense of vulnerabilitydependency, and urgency

Origami Sheep and Wolf by Hideo Komatsu, Photographed by Lexar

Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road.

Go Vulnerably

Jesus sends his followers out as vulnerable baby sheep (lambs) among savage wolves. He likens the task of finding and making disciples to a high stakes mission where the sent one might get eaten. Why? Because making disciples is a dangerous proposition. However, sheep in the pen are in no danger or threat of being eaten by our enemy. So Jesus pushes us out of the fold to where his lost sheep are. But our vulnerability in the field isn’t a liability. It’s an opportunity to depend upon Jesus, “that Great Shepherd of the sheep who will equip you with everything good for doing his will,” as Hebrews 13:21 says. We may be vulnerable and powerless, but he isn’t.

Frequently I hear pastors bemoaning the lack of involvement of the men in their congregations. Maybe John Eldredge was right with his book Wild at Heart? Maybe more men aren’t engaged in disciple making because we’ve bored them with our picture of Christianity. Could our desire for a safe, suburban Christian experience have undermined our disciple making mission more than we realize? I have a hunch; recapture the dangerous urgency of the disciple making mission and men will follow. 

Go Dependently

Jesus also sends his followers out provisionless. “Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals.” Jesus stripped the seventy-two of the extra, ancillary things unnecessary to the disciple making task. In sending them out provisionless he was preparing them to be dependent on him.

Sometimes I think the wealth of resources available to us here in the West has hindered our disciple making more than it has helped. We’ve become dependent on our wealth, resources, curriculum, clever strategies, ministry fads and latest disciple making schemes so much so that we’ve forgotten how to depend upon the Great Shepherd himself. That Jesus sends his followers out provisionless, utterly dependent on Him for survival and success, tells us something about the disciple making task. He is the only provision we really need. Do you believe that? Does your disciple making activity prove that belief? 

Go Urgently

The disciple making task is such an urgent task that Jesus instructs his followers to forgo the lengthy, customary greeting of the day to get on with the business at hand. “Greet no one on the road.” These words scream urgency. Time is of the essence. The harvest fields are white!

Most wide-spread, spontaneous disciple making movements that I can think of off the top of my head have operated with this sense of urgency. Maybe one of the reasons we haven’t seen a disciple making movement in the West is because our churches and families have become urgent about the wrong things. I can think of a hundred other good, church related activities that, frankly, have become more urgent than my calling as a disciple maker.

If you are a church leader here is where you can really model for your people the heart of Jesus. As much as you are able, prayerfully cultivate this sense of urgency. Help your people see what’s at stake. The Amber Alert has already been posted. Lost sheep are in danger of being eaten by wolves. So, sound the alarm but not in an alarmist kind of way. Rally the fold to the Shepherd who will then lead his sheep.

Go vulnerably. Go dependently. Go urgently. Does that describe how you go about making disciples? Live sent!

Coming soon…Part Three

(Part One can be found here)

A Luke 10 Way of Life | Part One

Part One of a Four-Part Series

Luke 10 is an incredibly important text for those who want to live a sent life.

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.

Here are my observations. 

Living sent is not for a select few, for the inner circle of disciples or even just the twelve. Living sent is not just for professional ministers or pastoral staff or missionaries or the extremely gifted. Jesus appointed 72 others, the laity if you will. If you call yourself a Christian this mission charge is for you. This text is describing a way of life for every follower of Jesus.

Jesus first models this Kingdom Way of Life in his own ministry. Having modeled it he instructs the twelve to do the same things he did (Luke 9). And then, in a masterstroke that harbingers the promise of the priesthood of all believers, he sends out the Average Joe, seventy-two others. In doing so we must see that he’s also sending us.

In Luke 10:2 Jesus gives his first directive for how every believer is to go about making disciples who make disciples. We are sent to pray fervently.

He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’

This is how we are to go about ministry in Jesus’ name. This is the work of ministry. The church will rise or fall, the mission of making disciples who make disciples will either succeed or fail on the strength or feebleness of our prayer life.

Jesus explains why prayer is essential. We pray because the task ahead of us is immense, the harvest is plentiful.

Predisposed by God for the reception of the Gospel, men are likened to a crop of fully ripened grain ready for harvest.

We know the harvest is plentiful. That’s a given. How we go about harvesting is another matter. There are a gazillion books out there that will give you a technique or model to follow in order to see a disciple making movement. In opposition to most of those Jesus says we should pray. We pray because it’s His harvest. Not ours. He owns the fields. He’s the Lord of the Harvest. 

If you are tired of trying to manufacture fruitfulness or going it alone then Jesus’ is commanding you to stop, repent of your hubris and self-importance, and begin by praying to him, the Lord of the Harvest. This is a command!  Beg the Lord of the Harvest. Plead with him to raise up workers. This is not some weak, half-hearted milquetoast prayer. Nor is it a prayer to raise up workers in some other part of the world for the task of foreign missions. This prayer is a powerful, intense, passionate plea to the Lord of the Harvest concerning the fields right under our noses, the fields we have been sent into. 

The unspoken consequences of not praying are clear. Without the hard work of prayer there will never be an adequate harvest, there will never be a sustained movement of reaping. The crop rots in the field. In other words, maybe the reason we haven’t seen a recent disciple-making movement here in the West is because we are trying to manufacture a work of God by means other than prayer. 

Last week I had a conversation with a young missionary to France working with Agape Europe. He told me the story of how some from their team had recently traveled to India to observe a church planting movement. Their team longed to see a fresh work of God in Western Europe so they were open to learning something new. What they learned humbled them. Before going to a new village to plant the Gospel, prior to doing anything in Jesus’ name, these simple Indian believers prayed for three months. They simply asked God to show them who he was sending them to.

We have tried to do something similar in our missional community. Instead of wearing ourselves out with activities trying to draw people in we’ve begun to funnel that energy into praying to the Lord of the Harvest. We fully realize that we are the answer to our own prayers. God is sending us out as workers. And we believe he will show us who he is sending us to in our neighborhood when we pray.

Jesus says in John 6:29,

The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.

I’m starting to realize that it really is a work of God when a person, a pastor, a church rejects all the church growth models out there to simply take Jesus at his word and pray fervently. May we be a people of prayer for the sake of the Kingdom and the harvest. Live sent!

Coming soon…Part Two