“Whither He Himself would Come”
“After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.” (Luke 10:1-7)
“After these things” — After the Lord Jesus had told his disciples plainly that he must go to Jerusalem and be delivered into the hands of wicked men (9:44), — After he had steadfastly set his face to go up to Jerusalem to die as our Substitute (9:51), — After the Master corrected some of the errors of his disciples and showed them what was required of those who follow him (9:43-62), — After exposing their pride and ambition and teaching them the necessity of childlike humility (9:47-48), — After correcting their censorious spirit (9:49-50), — After he rebuked them for wanting to call down fire from heaven upon the Samaritans (9:52-55), — After the Lord Jesus again declared his mission as the Son of man (9:56), — After the Master had demonstrated the necessity of whole hearted consecration and devotion to him (9:57-62), — “After these things” the Lord Jesus sent out seventy men in pairs of two to preach the gospel.
Luke here records for our learning an incident that is not mentioned by the other gospel writers. He here describes our Lord’s commission of the seventy to go before his face preaching the gospel in every city and place to which he himself would come. We do not know who these men were. Their names are nowhere given. The subsequent history of their labors is not revealed. But the instructions set before us in these seven verses of Inspiration are very instructive and set before us lessons that demand our careful attention.
The things revealed in these verses are matters which primarily concern gospel preachers. Some of the statements in this passage cannot be strictly applied to any except these seventy men. However, it is a serious mistake to think that because these things were spoken to these men specifically, or because they are specifically instructions for preachers, they therefore have no meaningful relevance to other believers. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Pastors, elders, missionaries and teachers of the gospel ought in all things to be exemplary standards for all believers to follow. But faithful gospel preachers are, first and foremost, believers, sinners saved by the grace of God, just like all God’s saints. Gospel preachers, like you, are Christ’s disciples, people who follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth, and, like other believers, the servants of God. What our Lord here tells us is required of all who preach the gospel, he also requires of all who follow him.
Are you a believer? Are you one of Christ’s disciples? Are you redeemed by his blood, forgiven, justified, accepted in the Beloved? Are you born of God, an heir of eternal life, a possessor of God’s great salvation? If you are, the instructions here given are instructions for you. The lessons of this passage are lessons for you and me to learn, lay to heart, and follow all the days of our lives. May God the Holy Spirit teach us the lessons here revealed and give us grace to govern our lives by them for the glory of God.
“After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come” (v. 1). — These seventy men were appointed by the Lord Jesus himself to preach the gospel. The word translated “appointed” is a word that is used in only one other place in the New Testament (Acts 1:24). It means to “show” or “demonstrate.” It has the idea of marking out distinctly, appointing to an office or work, by an obvious sign. A very similar derivative of the word is found back in Luke 1:80, where Luke describes the showing of John the Baptist to Israel. As John the Baptist was distinctly and manifestly appointed as God’s prophet, so every God called, gospel preacher is made manifest as a man called of God by the gifts God gives him to preach the gospel.
These men appointed by Christ to preach the gospel were sent by him in pairs, two by two. They were sent in pairs because two are better than one. If the one falls, the other will pick him up. The lesson here should be obvious. — Believers need one another. We cannot serve Christ alone. And preachers need the aide, encouragement and strength of other faithful men.
Our Lord did not merely send these men out like we might send a child outside to play. The words “sent forth” in verse two are very forceful. They mean “to send forth with force.”
Why does Luke use that particular expression? He did so because, though every proud heart loves attention and wants to be in the spotlight (Lots of men want to stand in the pulpit and preach and wear the title of a pastor or a preacher!), nothing will ever cause a man to give himself to the work of the gospel, nothing will ever cause a man to go forth as a laborer in God’s vineyard, except the constraint of God’s omnipotent grace and irresistible call. Bible colleges, seminaries and personal ambition put multitudes of men in pulpits. But only God can make a preacher. Only God can send forth laborers into his vineyard. Many run who are not sent; but they run in vain. Those who are sent forth by God never run in vain or never labor in vain (Isaiah 55:11; 1 Corinthians 15:58).
Before His Face
Those men sent forth by Christ into his vineyard are sent forth “before his face!” I cannot imagine a more awesome, more sobering, more weighty thought. We labor not before the faces of men, but before the face of God! All that we do, we do before his face!
Be sure you do not miss the last line of verse one. -- “After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.” — Forceful as our English translation is, the original language is even more forceful. Luke is quite literally saying that our Lord sent these men into every city and place into which he himself was about to come.
Wherever the Son of God sends a gospel preacher, he himself comes! This is how the Lord God comes to men and women by his Spirit. He comes in by and through the preaching of the gospel (Romans 10:14-17; Titus 1:1-3; 2 Timothy 1:9-10; 1 Peter 1:23-25; Hebrews 4:12-13). Look at Luke 10:16 and get some idea of the seriousness with which the gospel is to be heard. If the Lord Jesus is pleased to speak to you by the gospel, you dare not receive the grace of God in vain. — “He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.”
Men of Prayer
“Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest” (v. 2). — If we would serve Christ, honor God and serve the souls of men while we live in this world, we must be men of prayer (v. 2). This is the leading thought with which our Lord sends these men out to preach the gospel. Before he tells them what is required of them, before he tells them of the dangers they must face, before he bids them go, he says, “pray!” Prayer is the most powerful weapon we have in this world, with which and by which to serve our God (James 5:16). Prayer is the one thing in which all believers can engage. Children of God, pray for one another. Pray for God’s servants. Pray for the success of the gospel. Pray that the Lord of the harvest would send forth laborers into his vineyard.
Men in Peril
“Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves” (v. 3). — If we would follow Christ, serve his cause and proclaim the gospel of his grace, we must be prepared, as we go through this world, to live as men in peril (v. 3). Like those earliest disciples, we live in perilous times. If we would follow Christ, if we would serve the souls of men, if we would live for the glory of God, if we would serve the interests of his kingdom, if we would make known to men the gospel of the grace of God, we must not expect to be treated any different than our Lord and his disciples were treated (1 Peter 3:18; 2 Timothy 3:12; 1 John 3:13).
The plain fact is, the offense of the cross has not ceased, and will not cease while the world stands (Galatians 5:11). As Cain hated Abel because of Abel’s faith in Christ, so the children of Cain will hate and persecute the sons of Abel until the end of the world. As Martin Luther put it, “Cain will murder Abel, if he can, to the very end of the world.”
Men of Purpose
“Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again” (vv. 4-6)
If we would serve our God and the souls of eternity bound men and women, we must be men of purpose. Like David, we must know the cause we serve is God’s cause, the cause of his Kingdom and the cause of his glory; and serve it with determination.
Those who preach the gospel are not to provide for themselves. Money and material matters must not to be matters of concern to us (Nehemiah 6:3). God’s servants are to provide nothing for themselves. Those who preach the gospel are to live by the gospel, by the generosity of God’s people.
And God’s servants must not court men. If we would follow Christ, we must be thoroughly devoted to him. Gospel preachers, in particular, must behave as men who have no time to waste on trivial matters. Let all who serve God give honor to whom honor is due. Let us ever be thoughtful, kind and courteous. But God’s servants must not court men. Though we live by the free generosity of faithful men and women, we must never court the favor of any.
God’s servants are to be messengers of peace. Our message is the gospel of peace. We are servants of the Prince of Peace. We show men and women the path of peace. We guide people with the counsel of peace. We promote peace. And wherever Christ, the Son of Peace is, God’s people and God’s servants are received.
Men of Plainness
If we would live in this world for the glory of God and lead others to do so, we must be men of plainness. — “And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house” (v. 7).
We must strive to live as, indeed, we must strive to be men and women whose first thoughts are about Christ, his glory, heaven, eternity, our own souls and the souls of others. These are matters of first, primary importance.
This admonition is especially applicable to all who seek to set before men and women the weighty matters of eternity. If ever a preacher becomes thought of as a man who seeks wealth, luxury and earthly pleasure, his usefulness as a preacher is at an end. It does not matter how vehemently I urge eternity bound men and women to seek the unseen world of eternity (Colossians 3:1-7; 2 Corinthians 4:15-18), if by my actions I lead them to seek those things that are seen.
The Master commands his servants to be content with the place where he sends them and with the provision he gives them, eating what is set before them. Assuring us that the laborer is worthy of his hire, he tells his servants never to go from house to house begging. The King of Glory provides well for his own. Begging, groveling, discontent preachers are a reproach to themselves, a reproach to the gospel, a reproach to God’s people and a reproach to the King!
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