The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places He planned to visit. These were His instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to s end more workers into His fields. Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves.Luke 10:1-3
This is a portion that only Luke records. Take note of the above segments in orange. These are the differences. Matthew and Mark don’t have these portions; only Luke. Immediately after Jesus has chosen the 72 disciples and given them their instructions He sends them off in pairs to the towns and places He planned to visit. What places did He plan to visit? Well we know already that He planned at the outset to visit towns in Samaria but they refuse Him access. Interesting isn’t it, as with John 4:3-4 “So He left Judea and returned to Galilee. He had to go through Samaria on the way.” I love these verses. He had to go through Samaria. All other Jews by-passed Samaria. The normal way to go south from Galilee to Jerusalem was via Trans-Jordan, crossing close to Salim and coming back into Judea at the Ford of Jericho. No Jew wanted to go through Samaria.
But each time Jesus moves south he’d go right through the middle of Samaria. There is debate as to whether after the refusal in “the next samaritan village”, did they keep going through Samaria or do they go along the northern border of Samaria and across into Trans-Jordan, the normal way as seen in the map. It is hard to tell. I will let you make up your mind on the matter as we progress. But one thing is for sure Jesus chose a large band to spread the Good News and furthermore tells them this group is not enough given the task they face. Why? Is the task so large?
Yes, let me remind you.
You will be My witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.Acts 1:8
To the ends of the earth! A worldwide task. Doing what? Being witnesses; telling people about the Kingdom of God, preaching the gospel and demonstrating the arrival of the Kingdom. Notice the geographic focus. Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. The sense of this is Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and the outer most parts of the earth. Many in churches these days think it’s Jerusalem or Judea or Samaria or to the ends of the earth. No, its all inclusive, not “make a selection”; not “choose any one of the above”. To be a mission minded church and take Jesus’ command to heart is to work on all levels at once. So many churches and church leaders I have met over the years have the idea that because we are involved in “our Jerusalem”, namely “mission” to our city then we are exempt from the Great Commission. No, that is not the case. That is not Biblical. All . . . and, not either . . . or.
This indeed is one of my passions. The Word of God is my passion and mission is my passion. Joining Wycliffe amalgamated both elements for us. I could very easily turn this into a series of 7 Gems. Seven for perfection and enabling me to “push my barrow” or “get on my soap box”. But I will restrain myself. I will stick to the text before us and not use this verse as an opportunity to preach at you. I try hard to focus these Gems on that which sparkles in the Word of God and draw out the depth of the text of the Word of God as best I can. However going through each verse of Scripture as I am doing in each book I tackle means that the balance of the Word comes out with the emphasis that is biblical and not just simply what I may wish to speak about. However, now that I have arrived at this verse, it provides an opportunity to share my other passion with you. But I will stick to Luke and not digress into Matthew and use it as an excuse to talk about Matt 24:15 or Matt 28:18-20.
Note the inclusion of Samaria in this encounter. Is it any wonder on this occasion Jesus wanted the disciples to go through Samaria? Jesus tells the disciples in Acts 1:8 they are to include Samaria in the focus of their mission. He takes them to the heart of Samaritan country in the campaign of the 72. The clear message of the “Samaritan connection” is that we are to include “the despised” in our task as well. Yes focus on your city and those in it, focus on the surrounding region (even to the extent of your whole country) but focus on the despised and downtrodden as well. Include them! Don’t overlook a people group of any sort. You need to take the gospel to every group of people including the people you hate or despise. Take note of the Samaritan connection as we proceed. It is clear that Jesus deliberately took these Jewish men into the middle of Samaria “on assignment” even though it was uncomfortable for them. Whether or not they continued to go other Samaritan villages is debatable, but there is a clear message sent to the disciples that they are not to omit any group from the Great Commission for any reason.
“The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into His fields.” The workers are few for such a grand task as world evangelization. I would like to draw your attention to two issues related to our mission. No I don’t mean Tania’s and my mission, I mean OUR mission, we inclusive. You as well. Jesus gave the Great Commission to us all. For a number of years I have asked students at Bible Colleges and other people “in the know” what our mission actually is. Most often I am told it is church planting, world evangelization, global mission etc. But stop and look carefully at what Jesus said in the Great Commission. “Make disciples and teach them all that I have commanded you.” I have just one question to ask. How do you do that without the manual of life in their language? That’s why I am passionate about Wycliffe’s vision – that they might have the manual in their language and that they might use it. The thing we all need to take seriously is the task of ensuring the Bible is in the mother tongue of every people group on earth. To do other than that is to sell the Great Commission short. You may not be able to “go” for whatever reason but you ought to be praying for the Lord of the Harvest to send more workers. Jesus statements that there are not enough workers was true when He made it and is still true today. Pray that would change.
The second issue is the fact that the workers are unevenly distributed. Oh there are many people involved in “the Great Commission”. In fact since the concept of “the 10/40 Window” and “unreached people groups” world mission seems to be getting more aware of the reality. There is a major change coming over the world mission focus. More and more of those who are involved now in mission activities come from the countries who were once the recipients of mission endeavour and not the senders. That is great. The mission task is truly becoming global. But something that I find disturbing in the mission statistics that Barrett and others have highlighted is that the workers are very unevenly spread. The statistics still indicate that most people involved in mission activity go to the already reached. Only 1% of cross cultural Christian workers go to the truly unreached. It is our first-hand experience that “missionaries” pour into places around the world where there is already work going on. We seem to trip over ourselves in “reaching the reached” but still leaving undone the task that cries out to finished. Many of the groups still to be reached are those hard groups, difficult for other reasons than geographic ones.
It is summed up somehow in this concept of the Samaritan connection. The despised, the overlooked, the neglected groups. I would include in that list the Bibleless. Oh sure they may have access to the national language or to another related language. But they don’t yet have a Bible in their mother tongue. That is a neglected, over-looked task which is still to be done. I find it ironic that in Indonesia there are just on 400 languages still without the Word of God. Ironically there are over 500 translations in English available around the world. [That includes John Wycliffe’s original translation in English completed in 1384. As an English speaker in 2021, you would have difficulty reading that 1384 version in English) The fact remains there are over 500 versions in English available to you today, while for 400 languages of Indonesia there is nothing available in the mother tongue language of the people. And that is just one region of the world where the neglected are still neglected; the despised are still despised. Does that concern you? Are you disturbed by what I have told you? I hope it troubles you enough to make a difference. After all this time there are still people groups on earth without the Manual of Life in their language. It should shock us into action. I have only taken one Gem to share my heart burden. I think I have been very controlled. If you want to know more just simply type “Wycliffe Bible Translators” into your search engine and you will have all the information you want. http://wycliffenz.org/explore/deeper-bible/
He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.Jim Elliot, missionary martyr at the hand of the Waorani in Ecuador.
It is not at all incredible, that a book which has been so long in the possession of mankind should contain many truths as yet undiscovered.Bishop Butler
One of these days some simple soul will pick up the Book of God, read it, and believe it. Then the rest of us will be embarrassed.Leonard Ravenhill
The best translation is when you translate the Word of God into your daily life. You ought to be a living Bible.Rick Warren
I know my bias is showing today. We all have a bias. I freely admit mine. Passionate about the Bible, passionate about Bible Translation.Ian Vail