Stewards Living with Purpose – 2 LSB #’s 388, 826, 837
Text – Luke 10:3
Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.
Be My Witnesses
In this 2nd message of the four-week program Stewards Living with Purpose, the Gospel message is this – Jesus the Son of God is sending you! This is God’s work God’s plan God’s provision. It is not your work nor is it your plan! God thought of it long before you.
Since our Lord Jesus walked the earth, at the time He was here & since, there have always been people attracted to Jesus. There have always been people curious about Jesus. There have always been people wanting to show respect & honor to Jesus. There have been people who believed that God’s Son is the One who saves us from our sins.
There have also been people unwilling to follow Jesus on His terms. In a general way we know what those terms are, but here are the specifics from Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself & take up his cross daily & follow Me.” Jesus said that to the people who were trailing after Him, hearing Him preach & seeing Him do miracles.
Not everyone was willing to take up their cross. Many of the curious, many of the attracted, many of those enthralled by Jesus, even many of those who believed in Jesus were not willing to abandon everything. The sinful nature in us sees it as a daunting invitation.
To say it’s the end of me & the beginning of You, to confess Jesus as Lord & follow Him wherever He went whatever it cost – not everyone was willing to do that. In Luke 9 we can read about some disciples who walked no more with Him because the stakes were too high; the price was more than they wanted to pay.
At the end of chapter 9, we encounter three would-be disciples. The 1st one said, “I will follow You wherever You go.” The Lord then said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, & birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Luke 9:57-58) Jesus meant that following Him was not going to be comfortable. It’s not about self-fulfillment. You are not guaranteed anything – not your health, wealth, or prosperity. In fact, you are guaranteed this: Christ’s purpose for you has little to do with anything in the material sense.
Jesus said then to another, “Follow Me.” The man replied, “Lord, let me first go & bury my father.” Maybe this man’s father had not yet died, so he wanted to go home & wait until that time. Then, he could gain his inheritance & be able to live the way he wanted to live while, at the same time, following Jesus.
Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go & proclaim the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:59-60)
Another also said, “I will follow You Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Perhaps he wanted to make sure he’d sorted out all his relationships & gotten his affairs in order. Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow & looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:61-62)
Here were three men, classified as disciples, who were to one degree or another drawn to Jesus, interested in Him, fascinated by Him. They were attracted to who He was, curious about what He taught, even to the point where they believed in Him & wanted to affirm that belief, but were they willing to follow on His terms?
On the other hand, there were some true disciples. In chapter 10 we meet 72 of them, sent by the Lord to prepare the way for His coming. They were willing to deny themselves by taking up their cross daily & following Him. They were the genuine true disciples who were willing to abandon everything in their own lives.
They submitted to the lordship of Christ, to do gladly whatever it is He would ask of
them, paying any price, even if it meant death. No excuses with the 72 genuine followers. From among the large group of disciples, learners, students, followers, Jesus picks 72. He’d already chosen Twelve that were uniquely to be the Apostles. Judas fell out. Mathias was added to take his place. Then there was that Apostle, out of season, by the name of the Paul.
These 72 are in addition to the Twelve. Genuine followers – sent by our Lord to be the 1st Kingdom missionaries. We can see ourselves in this group. Like the Apostles, they have no extraordinary human qualifications. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29,
“…not many of you were wise according to worldly standards; not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world …what is weak in the world …what is low & despised …so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” The advance of the Kingdom will never come about by human plan or power or wisdom.
Some of Jesus’ followers were just day trippers, who’d come & see Him when He was in town, but they were not committed. Out of the crowd of disciples with Jesus as He moved away from Galilee, He appointed 72 who were committed & then answered His call.
“And [Jesus] sent them on ahead of Him, two by two, into every town & place where He was about to go.” (Luke 10:1) Thirty-six pairs, they were the advance teams, the forward scouts who would go into a town & announce the arrival of the coming king. This was pretty much a traditional way to do that.
In ancient days, as a king was going to enter a town or village, heralds would go ahead, blowing horns, calling the town into the city square, making the announcement that the monarch was going to arrive. Jesus was going to spend the remaining months of His life going from town to town & village to village. He wanted people to be prepared for Him.
The 72 messengers are missionaries proclaiming the good news of salvation through the
King, the Messiah, the Savior. They are not unlike us. This is our responsibility as well; except we’re not telling people about a Messiah who is coming. We are telling people about a Messiah who has already arrive & accomplished His mission!
The ministry is the very same & the Messiah is also the same. We are among that force who go into all the world & preach the Gospel to every creature. We are among the force that goes & makes disciples of all nations. We are among those who go to Judea, Samaria & the uttermost parts of the earth.
Therefore, the instruction & interaction Jesus has with the 72 is helpful for us because we are called to the same purpose & responsibility. We are witnesses to Christ in our world. That’s the reason we’re still alive. We’ve been saved, & we enjoy fellowship with God & with each other, but the fellowship is imperfect here; it’s not satisfying to us nor to God.
We are saved to be obedient, but our obedience is limited; it’s neither satisfying to us nor to God. We are saved to worship, but the worship isn’t all it should be; it doesn’t satisfy our hearts or His. Why does He leave us here? Because there’s one thing you’ll never do in Heaven & that is “witness for Jesus.”
The primary purpose of the church is to reach people with the Gospel. That’s why we are here. We are, as it were, an extension of the 72. We can’t be Apostles, but we can be witnesses for Christ. The Apostles were all men, but there’s no gender distinction among witnesses.
The Apostles were called to be preachers, but witnesses are simply to give testimony of the coming of Jesus Christ. All of us are in this group of the 72. We have been sent to proclaim the coming of the King, & if we’re going to do witnessing, we have to start with motive.
The necessary motive is compassion. The basis of all effective witnessing is not training. It is compassion – a deep profound sense of sympathy because of the desperate condition of the unconverted. It is a heart-wrenching concern over the lost, which is what moved Jesus’ heart. Matthew 9:36 tells us:
“When [Jesus] saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed & helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” In verses 37-38 Jesus then said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest, to send out laborers into His harvest.” The harvest is huge & the workers are few.
Everywhere the Lord went in His ministry, He was moved with compassion. Jesus moved through His ministry literally overcome with compassion. That’s where witnessing begins. You cannot be content to do nothing. How can you be content to sit idly by? The souls of our brothers & sisters are at stake. How can we not answer the call?
That leads to a 2nd essential step which is prayer. The Lord says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’” We are to pray that the Lord will raise up more missionaries, that the Lord will motivate more people to be His witnesses.
How often do you pray? How often are you on your knees pleading, “God send more, send more?” You can’t get on your knees & beseech the Lord to raise up more witnesses without your conscience strongly influencing you that you are the answer to your own prayer!
The third step is urgency. Jesus said, “Go! I am sending you…” (Luke 10:3) You say, “Well, wait a minute, how trained were they? Don’t we 1st need to have training in witnessing?”
Certainly, it’s helpful to know about the teachings of certain cults, world religions & how various people think. It’s nice to know the philosophies of our time in order to find entry points for the Gospel. But eventually, it comes down to the fact that you have a story to tell. You have a King to proclaim. Don’t shirk the duty because you feel you lack specific training. The Lord collects those who have denied themselves, taken up their crosses, & followed Him. They are genuine & true believers. They have entered into His Kingdom. That’s enough. Jesus said, “Go your way & tell them I’m coming.” The mission is immediate. It is urgent. If you are a Christian, start today with your ministry of evangelism. It is crucial.
Compassion, prayer, urgency, & now number four: vigilance – be on the alert. “I am sending you out as lambs among wolves.” (Luke 10:3) Jesus says, “You’re going to be like a lamb in a wolf pack. I want you to know that.” It’s not a great recruiting speech. If you want to figure out a way to sign people up, that probably would not be it.
It is, however, the honesty of Jesus; He never lowers the standard. He said, “Deny yourself, take up your cross, follow Me, be a lamb in the midst of a wolf pack.” He told it exactly the way it was &, as we all know, nearly all the apostles had a fate related to persecution, didn’t they? They were martyred.
You have no strength in yourself, so keep your eyes open. Be aware, be vigilant, be careful. There’s nothing wrong with being careful or thoughtful; nothing wrong with making wise choices, or avoiding unnecessary persecution & hostility, but be prepared to be hated by all. This kind of call demands the greatest level of commitment possible. Take up your cross.
Effective witnessing requires compassion, prayer, urgency, vigilance & trust. Jesus says, “Trust Me, because if you are going out like a lamb in a wolf pack, if you’re going to face a huge harvest with few laborers, if you’re going to realize the urgency of this, you are going to sense that you do not have the resources. That’s okay. You will have to trust Me for everything.”
Look at verse 4: “Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals…” This is the same kind of command Jesus gave to the Twelve recorded in Luke 9:3: “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; & do not have two tunics.” Why is this necessary? Are we supposed to be like the homeless? Bouncing from handout to handout? “What about eating?” we ask, & Jesus answers, “I’ll take care of it.” We counter, “Where am I going to sleep?” Again, Jesus assures us, “Don’t worry about that. I’ll take care of all of it. What I’m asking from you is that you go empty-handed in absolute trust.”
Like the 72, we are sent as lambs in the midst of wolves, but Jesus says we are to trust Him for protection, trust Him to equip us, trust Him to cause growth where we plant & water. (1 Corinthians 3:6-7) Jesus trusted His Father as He suffered & prayed in Gethsemane, as He went to the cross, & as He died there – “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46 ESV)
We follow Jesus & take up our cross not by our own power. It’s done through the almighty power of God the Holy Spirit. We witness to Christ’s love for us not because a sermon tells us to. We witness out of God’s power demonstrated to us as He rescues us from the chains of sin through His love.
As sinners who have been rescued by the blood of Christ, it is our nature to ‘sing’ to others about the glory of our heavenly Father. He could have destroyed us for our rebellion, but He destroyed His only begotten Son in our place. Then He raised Him from the dead & guaranteed our resurrection as well.
You & I are able to follow Jesus with joy & share that with others because we have been rescued from the despair & the evil of this world. We have even been rescued from our failure to be joyful in telling others. Amen.
If you cannot speak like angels, if you cannot preach like Paul, you can tell the love of Jesus, you can say He died for all. If you cannot rouse the wicked with the judgment’s dread alarms, you can lead the little children to the Savior’s waiting arms. If you cannot be a watchman, standing high on Zion’s wall, point out the path to heaven, offering life & peace to all, with your prayers & with your bounties you can do what God commands; you can be like faith Aaron, holding up the prophet’s hands. Amen. LSB 826:2-3.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet