When we read about Jesus sending the 72, we love the evangelistic fervor. We love the intentionality of being sent to every town and place. We love the inspirational call, the Go! Yet there is more here than just the activity of mission. There are important principles around how we do mission.
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. 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. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.
#1 We go together
This mission is so huge that it needs to involve everyone. It’s an all-play mission because the harvest is so plentiful. The “72” is a reference to the Table of Nations (Genesis 10), so being sent is not just for certain nations or for the 12 disciples.
All are needed to engage the five billion in the world who are still unchurched or unreached with the gospel.
All are needed to engage the two billion in poverty and needing healing in some tangible way.
Anyone can be a part of this missional community. Jesus is not sending only the confident, competent, superhero Christians, but also the faithless, complaining, weak, lamb-like people (Luke 10: 3). And they are going out to a very hostile, wolf-like world, which eats lamb for meals! Jesus’ mission is for everyone, not just the strong, not just clergy or trained evangelists, but everyone is on mission—new believers and the “I don’t quite have it all together” believers. We go together.
#2 We go naked
In our zeal to bring all our resources to impact the mission, Jesus says NOT to bring a purse or money. No bag of stuff, no bread. No extra clothes, no shoes. He essentially says, “Strip off everything that gives you security.” When you go on mission, go completely vulnerable, go completely naked.
Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
He told them: "Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic."
As we go together on mission, we will be embarrassed. We may need to leave our familiar language and familiar culture behind. We will feel naked.
So if we can't bring anything (naked), how is it possible to be effective? What can we possibly offer? The secret is found in what we are to take with us:
Authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
Jesus gave them power and authority to drive out demons and cure diseases.
Even though we may not have our purse, bag, or sandals; even though we may feel naked; even though we may be vulnerable like lambs among wolves, we do have God's power and authority. God's power and authority is all that we need on mission.
#3 We go deeply
Go deep in relationship. It's about being with your hosts. It's about sharing your life and learning about your new friend's life and his or her culture.
When you enter a house, first say, "Peace to this house." If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you.
Let's look at the verbs, stay, eat, and drink. If we knew that hanging out in people's homes and feasting was evangelism, we would jump at this opportunity!
Even more surprising about this is staying in one house. Couldn't the 72 have reached more people, covered more territory, if they moved from place to place? Jesus seems concerned about the 72 sharing their lives with a few people and eating what is given to them (he says it twice). By telling them to stay and eat in one home, Jesus is forcing them to engage the new cultures, to learn not just different foods, but languages, communication patterns, hobbies, and humor.
But we live in a world, however, that does not like to go deep.We're afraid to stay, we're afraid of engaging in differences, and we're afraid of what we might find. What would it look like to deeper with those around you?
#4 We go with joy
The 72 are so excited because with their own eyes they saw demons leave the bodies of the people. They saw people get healed miraculously. They saw their village transformed!
The seventy-two returned with joy and said, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name." He replied, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
Maybe the 72 are starting to get big heads, as they brag about the demons submitting. Whatever the case, Jesus shifts the focus away from their impact on other people, and focuses on the impact on themselves, toward their own relationship with God.
As people passionate about God's mission, let's remember the main thing: It's not about us. It's about our relationship with Christ. We go with joy because our names are written in heaven. We go with joy because being part of God's mission will change our relationship with God entirely.
How might God be challenging you to go together, to go naked, to go deeply, or to go with joy? How might our evangelistic efforts better reflect not just the activity of mission, but how Jesus does mission?
This article originally appeared as a blog post at www.evangel-vision.com.