Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

by Crossings

Luke 10:1-11
Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
(Proper 9–Sunday Between July 3 and July 9 Inclusive)
analysis by Jim Squire

1After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3Go on your way. See I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ 6And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 7Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11’Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’

DIAGNOSIS: In the midst of wolves

Step 1–Initial Diagnosis: Acting like wolves
More often than we care to admit, we are the wolves (v. 3) who resent the idea that someone else needs to pronounce the Peace of God upon us; for this very act implies that we don’t have it to begin with. We hear the pronouncement as an accusation. But the truth is, we don’t have peace, not any more. Nor can we deny that peace is lacking in our world. War reigns. Murder is commonplace. Politicians slander each other. Instead of peace, what we have is an abundance of anger, selfishness, and closed-mindedness. We don’t listen to each other. We don’t talk to each other, only at each other. Our practice is like the snapping jaws of snarling beasts.

Step 2–Advanced Diagnosis: Self-Belief
We can’t hear the message of peace because we can’t get past our own evil desire to be self-sufficient. Rather than repenting (see 10:13), we remain steadfast in our self-centered ways. But are we really at peace with ourselves when we act like wolves? One little phrase, “peace be with you,” with an extended hand to greet us, oddly enough, can make us feel so uncomfortable. It reveals just how unpeaceful things are inside of us. Our desire is to avoid any peace from the outside.

Step 3–Final Diagnosis: No Peace with God
Ultimately, peace is not a unilateral transaction. Rejecting the word of peace brought to us, that peace leaves us and returns to its sender (v. 6). God, through His messengers, lets us know how he regards our rejection: He leaves and goes to the next house (v. 11). After all, our rejection of God’s messenger is our rejection of God (10:16)–and for this transgression we are “brought down to Hades” (10:15). Such is the divine fait accompli for self-centered wolves.

PROGNOSIS: Living in the light of the Lamb

Step 4–Initial Prognosis: Peace where there was none
Although God’s peace is not unilateral, it is unconditional in the love of Jesus. That makes all the difference in the world. Jesus knew that the ones to whom he was bringing God’s peace were undeserving wolves. His messengers were not instructed to first extract some hint of acceptance. Quite the contrary. They were instructed to bring peace, period!, even to wolves who may be predisposed against it. In fact, that is the very paradoxical essence of Christ’s mission: to bring God’s peace to those who don’t have it and because they don’t deserve it. God’s peace, in Jesus the Lamb, is not only unconditional but also persistent. The Lamb goes out among wolves. The Lamb is on a determined mission, to give himself into death at the hands of the very wolves he comes to save–yet in order to feed and nurture them into good health–that is, bring them the peace of God. We are graced by this Lamb of God who wanders into our wilderness and brings God’s peace right to our doorstep (uninvited, no less). We never would have been able to find peace without this event.

Step 5–Advanced Prognosis: Belief in the Lamb
Through the peace of this Lamb, we are reborn into God’s peace. When the messengers enter a house and pronounce God’s peace upon it, it is the sons (and daughters) of peace who receive it (v. 6). “He who hears you, hears me” (10:16), and by extension hears the Father. Hearing is, thereby, rebirth. The message of peace brings about faith in its hearers. Moreover, our rebirth by faith is something that no one can take from us. The Lamb’s victory is complete for us and within us, and the Evil One can no longer lay any claim over us.

Step 6–Final Prognosis: Acting like Lambs
What is even more promising about this victory is that Jesus let it happen through his messengers who spread his Word. More than only having the victory that Jesus won for us and for all (v. 18), we are in mission to bring that message of peace to wolves around us. Moreover, we have been given authority over the wolves and every evil (v. 19)–the authority given us by Christ that allows up to prevail. So we don’t have to worry about being eaten alive (though that, too, may happen). The boldness of Christ prevails for us. Lest we think this task is too daunting, we are guided to “pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (v. 2). We are not alone. There are going to be others sent out in the same way, each into their own venue. Everywhere, God’s people are bringing peace where there is none, and none of us is expected to be everywhere. To our great comfort, we are free to concentrate primarily on those in our own daily work, home, and social environments. With that as our starting place we can begin to venture into new areas whenever they present themselves.


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