One day Jesus called together His twelve disciples Then He sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. “Take nothing for your journey,” He instructed them. “Don’t take a walking stick, a traveler’s bag, food, money, or even a change of clothes.Luke 9:1-3
The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places He planned to visit. . . . Don’t take any money with you, nor a traveler’s bag, nor an extra pair of sandals. And don’t stop to greet anyone on the road.Luke 10:1,4
Same Similar Different
As I said yesterday, most of us would make a list of the things to pack, not the things to leave out. This focus surely is remarkable. Jesus’ call for the disciples to travel light (not even carry-on luggage) stands out as unique. Are you traveling through this life light or are you gaining as much possessions as you can along the way? Some people are hoarders and some are not. Some find it so hard to get rid of anything. Others are able to free themselves of stuff. It is a major lesson we all need to learn, because one thing is for certain: when you make that final journey you won’t be taking ANYTHING with you. Jesus emissaries are encouraged to reduce the stuff we carry. As I indicated above, given the prohibitions Jesus places on the disciples, it leaves us without any carry on luggage, let alone check-in luggage. TAKE NOTHING FOR YOUR JOURNEY. NOT EVEN A CHANGE OF (UNDER) CLOTHES . . . NOT AN EXTRA PAIR OF SANDALS. NOTHING. It would be obvious if we have not done what Jesus asked His disciples to do. Don’t take a bag. Imagine if we appeared with our bag. “Oh it’s just a small one, Jesus. A tiny backpack is all. I got it cheap and it looks so cool. And see is has these hidden pockets . . . ” “But, Ian I told you no bag. What’s is that?” “It’s a bag Jesus.” “My point exactly. Get rid of it! And what is that in your hand?” “A pair of sandals Jesus. Well thongs actually. They are thongs. I got them in NZ, Jesus.” “And what did I say? Don’t carry an extra pair of sandals!” “Jesus, I am sorry. I just thought it wouldn’t hurt to take an extra pair of thongs. Lord I have to confess also I have an extra thong on under my trousers too.” “Ian, I told you no spare set of underwear. Do you trust Me or not?” “Yes I do trust You Lord, but . . . ”
There is no such thing as ‘Lord I trust You, but . . .’ We observed in Gem 896, 899 and 902 that the circumstance the 12 disciples found themselves in was arranged to teach the nature of deeper trust in Him, which led to a mind blowing experience of feeding 5000 plus family members. Before that they had wondered how the twelve of them were going to get what they needed. But that was a specific set of circumstances arranged to teach them to really trust Jesus with everything they had and needed. There is no hint that the lesson was the same for the seventy-two. For the seventy-two this was not an issue of faith. For the 12 it was a lesson to learn for them personally which was then extended in what followed. But even though they learned a deeper lesson, the benefit of it was lost in their attitudes and misunderstanding multiple times followed the things they learned. They were given the power to heal as well as authority over the demonic world. However when the father of the demoniac boy came to them they were powerless to help.
No word is given to the seventy-two concerning power over the demons but when they come back they report that they found they had the power anyway. (Luke 10:17). The prohibitions for the twelve disciples were all to do with their provisions. The prohibitions for the 72 seem to be more related to their call to preach the Kingdom of God. Note that for the 72, a staff, food and a change of underwear are not on the list of prohibitions. Rather it’s an extra pair of sandals and not greeting people on the road. Why the change? I can’t help but wonder if there is a connection to the “shoes shod with the gospel of peace” (Eph 6:15) and the fact that the shoes of the Israelites in the wilderness didn’t wear out. When “the 72” come back they are told not to rejoice that demons tremble at the name of Jesus, but rejoice that you have entered the Kingdom of Heaven. You are in guys. Your names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. This is all about the focus of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is not for some time in the future; it is now. The 72 are told twice to tell the people the Kingdom of God has come. It is now!
Why then were they told not to stop and greet people on the road? One would think that would be a good way of gossiping the Gospel but in fact they told not to do it. If the Kingdom of God has come and is here now, isn’t that the kind of news you would want to tell everyone you meet? That is exciting news to tell everyone but Jesus specifically tells them not to stop and greet everyone on the road. Why is that? There is much debate about it. Some commentators think it is because the process of greeting a fellow Jew, but a stranger on the road, was long and complicated and so would take a lot of time. Others think that is nonsense and the ritual is not all that time consuming. But if you consider how many people were on the move at any one time to and from Jerusalem that is a lot of people to stop and greet. People who had a special task or assignment to do were exempt from the greetings so that they could carry out their task. It seems that this is what is in focus. The time is short and the word needs to be got out to as many as possible. Hence Jesus’ reason for sending out 72. Notice that the disciples were not to engage the people on the road, at the first level of human interaction. At that level the information can be easily dismissed. It is better to engage people in their homes where the interaction can be significant. Hence the focus on that level with all 72 of them. Now that makes sense with something so important. Mmm perhaps the Mormans are on to something. So why do we dislike the visits of those pseudo-Christian cults to our doors? (Morman and Jehovah’s Witness). I think it is the manner in which they engage people. But I am not going to disclose what the problem is. I don’t want to help them to be more effective.
I have a funny true Ian story that happened with interaction with the JW’s. But I am only going to tell you if I have earned the right to tell you. Ten of you will have to respond and ask for the story to be told before I will tell it in the next Gem. If I don’t get that many then I will pass the story by. For those of you who know me too well, the problem is I have too many stories and need to be selective as to when I tell them. So those are the terms and conditions for this funny story.
I am a person on assignment and must not dally on the way. [Isn’t that the point] The essence here is found in rejoicing that “your names are written or registered in heaven” (Luke 10:20). We will deal with the details of this report back when we get to these verses in this chapter. Take note that both of these incidents of sending the different groups of disciples on assignment have a report back session. For the twelve as I have said already, their report back session is brief to almost non-existent because Jesus has another level to teach them as I have already explained (Gem 899). For that reason the debrief is almost a non-event in Jesus’ bid to take them to the next level – but wait there’s more guys. In the case of the 72 Jesus takes time to explain the priorities here, which we will look at the appropriate time.
The essence here is this section and the reason I think for the prohibitions is to ensure we travel light through this world in order to be most effective.
I think my greatest lesson in traveling light happened in Papua New Guinea when we were on a 6 week village living assignment. The truck had dropped us off with all our stuff, enough for a family of 4 to “survive” for a 6 week period. The villagers must have thought all the trappings of heaven had arrived with us. Talk about cargo cult. But my perspective of stuff and what was necessary, which after all is what this section is about, was further honed and focused in the following incident. Our village family told us one particular day that we were going to take a hike in the jungle and go over to visit our village mama’s family “over there” – pointing to a place several ridges away. We knew what that meant. Travel in PNG is on foot and the way to get from one ridge to another is to go down to the river and back up to the next ridge. A journey of several ridges can take all day. So we packed accordingly. We manage to fit it into one backpack. Water bottles for all four of us, some energy snack food for the journey and the camera, inevitably needed by us and the village family to record the moment. When we emerged ready to go on this tramp the family were surprised that we were taking a backpack. It became the topic of conversation for sometime. These people are amazing – they have so much STUFF. But we thought we were traveling light.
How are you going with the stuff you carry through life? Are you able to shed some of it? Living as we have done for the last 40 years has meant we have had regular clean outs of the stuff we keep. But we are aware of others who amass houses full of the baggage of life and seemingly never prune it or pare it down. Isn’t that what Jesus is saying here?
I realized that day in the PNG village that my stuff I carry through life can become a stumbling block both to me and others in the cause of the gospel. Don’t misunderstand me here. I am NOT telling what you have to do with your stuff. Your stuff is for you to deal with. You have to make decisions about what you carry through life and what you don’t. But one thing is for sure – you can’t take it with you when you go.
And furthermore maybe what is more important than the visible stuff we carry is the emotional baggage we carry through life. That needs to be examined and dealt with more intentionally and ruthlessly than the observable stuff. Food for thought, stuff for sorting and points for pondering.
Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.Charles Dudley Warner
Everyone that you meet comes with baggage. Find someone who loves you enough to help you unpack yours.Ian Vail
We all make mistakes. The wise admit & learn from them. The insecure deny them. The foolish repeat them. The godly forgive them.Rick Warren
To forgive is to set the prisoner free…and then discover the prisoner was you.
There are no luggage racks on hearses or trailers towed behind.Ian Vail
The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline baggage.Mark Russell.
“20 years ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs. Please don’t let Kevin Bacon die.”Bill Murray
I could revise Bill Murray’s to fit this Gem to read “no cash, no bacon, no thongs”. (Yes I am aware of the difference in English with the variation of meaning of the word “thongs” in different parts of the world. My usage is deliberate)