Sermon: Barry McWilliams Christ Church 94/09/25

" As Lambs among wolves" from Luke 10:1-16


Background: Jesus' "face set towards Jerusalem" - growing hostility, finished with Galilee, Samaria, the withdrawal ministry

I. The ones Jesus has sent.... WORKERS

A. The harvest is ready for workers

Luke 10:1-16 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

Matt 28:19; John 4:35 - 38 I've worked on a wheat farm - when the harvest is ripe - there is a rush to gather it - with everyone joining in - much hard work - long hours - need for more workers - Jesus suggests we ask the Lord of the harvest for more workers

Comparing the sending of the 12, and the sending of the 72. (some suggest this is symbolic of entire body?) instructions the same - a second generation of disciples being trained and sent out. (See With Christ in the School of Disciple Building by Wilson)

B. Jesus sends His disciples ahead of Him

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go... Go! I am sending you out
Going ahead of the Lord - as heralds of the kingdom - Preparing people to meet Him
Scope: to every town and place - the whole world
Urgency of the mission - do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
5 "When you enter a house (for hospitality) first say, "Peace to this house."'
6 If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.

(peace = prosperity at God's hands. i.e. His blessing)
God makes the provisions 7 "Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house." (rather move on to the next town)
8 "When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you." (Contentment)
The instructions pertain to actively and sensibly pressing on in the work. Harvesttime: Meals brought to the fields, the combining and hauling of the grain into town doesn's stop. No time to chat, nap, be distracted.

C. "Lambs and wolves and snakes and doves" Characteristics of the messengers and their audiences

3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.Vs. 3 [therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves Matt 10:16 song 5:2]
Helpless/ fearless/ shrewd/ innocent
Wolves - ravenous, bloodthirsty (hungry!) - Fierce resistance to Gospel; destructive - enemies of righteousness (fig. usage - False prophets - within devouring the flock - "Conversion" of wolves- Isaiah 11:6; 65:25
Lambs - nature of ministry - fear and weakness - God's strength - Jesus the Lamb of God sent
I am sending you out as lambs - Jesus, himself portrayed as the lamb of God - sent as a sheep to slaughter - to face "wolves" cf Isa 53:7ff, Acts 2:23
Nature of ministry: "snakes" and "doves"
"Snakes": compare garden of eden/ "Doves" Lev; refs as sacrifices
["shrewd" : insight into the nature of one's surroundings, circumspection, sanctified common sense, wisdom to do the right thing at the right time, a serious attempt to use the best means to achieve the highest goal; earnest effort to do the right thing - both immediately and ultimately - never implies compromise]
[Examples: Paul; David; Mordecai, Abigail]

II. Those to whom they have been sent: WOLVES

A. Regardless of its reception, the message is proclaimed

8 "When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you.
9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, `The kingdom of God is near you.'
10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say,
11 `Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you.
Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near."

"Heal the sick" Jesus' work continuing through them - accompanied by preaching. Healing only temporal - much more crucial the healing of hearts - and eternal life "the kingdom is near to you" The kingdom - 30 times in Luke - 7 times in Acts - God's rule - recognixed and operating in the lives of his people - bringing salvation, forming the church, redeeming the universe
Kingship implies the authority of the king and his servants - contrast "you" who welcome

The message remains the same whether welcomed or not!!

B. When the message is rejected ... faith is lacking

12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. 13 "Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. [Greek form of question implies no expected answer] (cf Matt 11:20)

Capernaum was the chief commercial and social center of region; Chorazin 2.5 miles n of Capernaum; Bethsaida also nearby - destruction of these cities was so complete their locations are disputed. Where do cities like Capernaum stand in proportion to priviledges they enjoyed
Not a matter of miracles - but of faith in Jesus' word and repentance. Jesus did more miracles in Capernaum than anywhere else.

C. Listen to Jesus' messengers or reject the Lord God.

16 "He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me."
John 4:39-42 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I ever did." 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers. 42 They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world." (NIV)- Matthew 10:40 "He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. (NIV); John 15:22-24 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. (NIV); John 12:44 Then Jesus cried out, "When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. (NIV); John 13:20 I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me." (NIV);1 Thessalonians 4:8 Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit. (NIV)

Romans 10:8-15 But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11 As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile -- the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" (NIV)

It is the duty of the messenger to carry the message whether it is welcomed or not; The consequences of receiving or rejecting the message lie solidly in the hands of those who hear it.

Saul of Tarsus was a "wolf" - he persecuted and tried to destroy the church. He stood by as Stephen was stoned - "like a lamb among wolves" - and he heard Stephen's testimony. When he encountered the Lord on the road to Damascus, a wolf became a lamb, and one of the Lamb's greatest missionaries. We must not be afraid to take the message of the Gospel to those who are "wolves".

© 1996 Barry McWilliams
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