Environmental Stewardship Commission (MEESC)

Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

Lectionary Reflection Gospel Lesson Year C, Proper 9

Luke 10:1-12,16-20

After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, `Peace to this house!' And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, `The kingdom of God has come near to you.' But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, `Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.' I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town. "Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me." The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" He said to them, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."

NRSV Copyright Statement
Reflection on Luke 10:1-12,16-20 by John Gibbs, PhD “The Way” began when Jesus made the decisive choice to head toward Jerusalem (Luke 9:51). “Journey” along the Way is a major motif in Luke’s 2-volume work. It is at the forefront of the special Luke material in 9:51-18:14 (not in Mark and Matthew). It is also at the forefront of the book of Acts, with its accounts of Paul’s journeys that led Church mission outward from Jerusalem toward (even if not to) “the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

There can be no doubt that for Luke, Jesus’ turn toward Jerusalem, the moment when “he set his face to go to Jerusalem,” was a critical turning point not only for Jesus, but also for the whole Christian movement that he inaugurated. Jesus and followers alike are thereby set upon their common fateful journey. Jesus’ pattern of self-giving for the sake of humanity initiates the pattern of discipleship that in centuries to come will be the shape of the Church’s reason for being. When Luke inserts into his material from Mark this long section (9:51-18:14), he signals the importance of that decisive turning point. Luke moves at 9:51 from the theme of Jesus’ identity as “Servant-Benefactor” (4:1-9:50) to the theme of Jesus’ journey toward Jerusalem. The first stage of that journey (9:51-13:21) will be echoed in the mission activity of Acts among Samaritans. [See Frederick W. Danker, Luke (Proclamation Commentary; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1976), pp. 106-08.] The manner in which Jesus journeyed toward Jerusalem is to shape the manner in which the Church moves outward from Jerusalem.

As if to emphasize the decisive nature of Jesus’ “setting his face” toward Jerusalem, Luke first underlined the urgency of disciples following without delay (9:57-62), then set forth the Mission of the Seventy to draw a sharp line between lambs and wolves (10:3), between “peace” and no peace (10:5—6), between “welcome” and rejection, between the “kingdom of God” (or sovereignty of God) and rejection of God’s rule, between “harvest” and destruction worse than that which came to Sodom.

Jesus’ turn toward Jerusalem was no less decisive for the disciples than it was for him. It is the same journey for them as for him, the same mission. “Whoever listens to you listens to me,,,” (10:16). The consequences of their mission are as decisive as was Jesus’ first move toward Jerusalem. “Like a flash of lightning” demons are undone and Satan “falls from heaven” (10:18). Order and “authority” are re-established (10:19) when the kingdom of God “has come near to you” (10:9, 11). Disciples of Jesus actually see and hear what the prophets could only long to see and hear (10:23-24). People love their neighbors as they love themselves (10:25-28). A foreign Samaritan has mercy on a stricken Jewish traveler, so “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:29-37).

Copyright Statement

To Reflections on other Readings for this Sunday:
Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Isaiah 66:10-16
no reflection available
Psalm 66 or 66:1-8
New Testament Galatians 6:(1-10)14-18
no reflection available
Gospel Luke 10:1-12,16-20
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Additional Reflections:
Last Sunday's Gospel
Next Sunday's
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John Gibbs, PhD, is a retired theologian, who attends Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN. He originally wrote this reflection in 2004. He and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
MEESC Holy Trinity Episcopal Church Box 65 Elk River, MN 55330-0065 USA

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