At first Jesus seemed to be all alone in His ministry, but soon there were twelve that He sent out to overturn evil in Israel. In this chapter we read that “the Lord appointed seventy-two others” who went out “two by two.” Was that too many for the task? Not at all, for Jesus said to His ambassadors: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” Everyone was told to “pray earnestly” for the gift of more helpers.
These men not only preached, they were also to “heal the sick.” They discovered that “even the demons” were “subject” to them in the “name” of Jesus. Their ministry was very powerful, but their Captain insisted that they rejoice not in any supernatural gifting, but in the glorious truth that their names were “written in heaven.”
Jehovah was pleased to bring His Word to the Jews in such an important hour through people that were not seen by others as particularly important. They were called to “love” for God and “neighbor.” One religious expert, “desiring to justify himself,” had this question: “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered with a story about a “Samaritan,” a despised foreigner who was a beacon of God’s mercy to someone he did not even know. An Old Testament Jewish “priest” and a “Levite” failed to show the kindness of the Almighty, but a stranger to the Jewish traditions displayed the mercy of the Son of God.
Our Lord came from heaven as a most surprising good Samaritan. He saw us in our desperate need and He paid everything necessary for our wholeness. Nonetheless, God will bring “woe” upon any person who “rejects” Him.
Jesus is the “good portion” that Mary of Bethany chose when her sister Martha just wanted her to get to work with all the chores. Mary “sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching.” Valuing Jesus above all was essential. The Son of God would eventually send millions of people forth as agents of compassion to the world, but many who heard the gospel would be unable to accept the Messiah as the God of their salvation.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Sovereign Master, we pray to You as the Lord of the harvest. We ask that You would send forth laborers into Your vineyard. There is much service for You that can be done everywhere and at all times. We must call men to repent and believe, warn the complacent, and encourage all who would trust in Jesus. Your kingdom can defeat every power of the enemy. Whatever setbacks we face, evil snare we fall into, or foolishness we temporarily embrace, our names are written in heaven. You have revealed great truths to Your worshipers that even angels long to look into. Remove from us the impulse to justify ourselves. Our Redeemer saw us in our need and showed us mercy. Grant us peace within Your church as we serve You and others. Help us to choose the best portion of all, Your eternal Son.