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Thursday, December 25, 2014

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In previous chapters, Luke records the rapid growth of Jesus’ ministry.  He starts by Himself, recruits Peter and his fishing partners, calls Matthew, and then ends with His core group of twelve disciples.  Jesus mentors them and then sends them out to heal and teach.   In chapter 10, Luke describes another expansion of Jesus’ ministry.  He appoints seventy-two more evangelists to go two by two “into every city and place where He himself was about to go” (Luke 10:1). 

Jesus tells His new evangelists: “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2). Would Jesus say the same thing to us today?  As you read the results of Jesus’ evangelistic strategy in Luke 10:1-24, consider if we have imitated Jesus’ ministry to large crowds as well as His strategy of sending teams of two disciples to work door-door in small communities. 

The seventy-two evangelists returned to Jesus “with joy (Luke 10:17),” because of their success and “Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit” (Luke 10:21).  No joy on earth compares with the joy of seeing the Holy Spirit work through you to heal and save others.  If joy is the result of witnessing, what is our motivation to witness?  Luke’s answer comes from a lawyer who tried to test Jesus with this question:  “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25). Jesus replied with a question, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” (Luke 10:26).  The expert in the law quoted Deut. 6:5 and Lev. 19:18 as his answer:  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself“ (Luke 10:27).  Jesus approved the lawyer’s answer:  “you have answered rightly; do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28). 

Being convicted, the lawyer asks Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). In response, Jesus told the story of a Samaritan who rescued a half-dead robbery victim after a Priest and a Levite had refused to help him.  Then Jesus answered the lawyer’s question, “And who is my neighbor?”  by asking him, “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” (Luke 10:36).

The lawyer’s answer, “he who showed mercy on him” (Luke 10:37), tells us that being a good neighbor means being merciful to anyone in need of help.  Jesus was the good neighbor whose death and resurrection healed us from the effects of sin.  And as He heals us, Jesus sends us out to bring healing and the good news of God’s kingdom to everyone we meet.

Douglas Jacobs, D.Min.
Professor of Church Ministry and Homiletics
School of Religion, Southern Adventist University