Series: The Outsiders
Title: The Traveler
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
September 16, 2018
Rev. Sandy Johnson
Prayer: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen
Traveling! It’s one of my favorite things to do. I know many of you love to travel too! I have traveled for work to Shanghai and Seoul, traveled for pleasure all across this country and to Italy, Spain and Israel. I’ve traveled to Oregon and Washington when family members have died, and I’ve traveled with my family on vacations to the beach and to the mountains. I love to travel. My dad loved to travel too.
I think I inherited my love of travel from him. I love nothing more than getting on an airplane and taking off to someplace new, exciting and learn about different cultures. My dad mostly liked to drive. He was famous for studying the map and then selecting the most direct route, even if it meant going off the main road. He was all about “the shortcuts!”
Now some of his shortcuts worked out really well. Most however, resulted in unmaintained roads that required us to slow way down and inevitably it took way more time to get where we were going. I don’t think my dad really cared. He loved seeing where the roads went, always hoping to discover a new and better route. Plus, he loved cars and driving!
Now if you were in the car with my dad, you knew that stopping was strongly discouraged. Even three little girls in the back-seat squirming, begging for a bathroom break wouldn’t deter my dad from his mission. Gotta get there!! He was singularly focused on arriving at our destination. The summer before my 9th grade year we drove from Eugene, Oregon to Adelphi, Maryland where my dad’s cousin lived. It was an epic adventure over four weeks and my dad was in his element. Driving 500 miles a day, he was in heaven!
I enjoyed that trip especially because we got to see parts of the country we’d never seen before. Of course, we didn’t stop much, but we did see it! When we got to Maryland we spent a week visiting the monuments, the Capital, the White House, the Smithsonian and Arlington. We saw it all! My parents planned for this trip for months, saving for the trip, pouring over the map, and scheduling each stop; making sure that we get there in one piece.
That’s what we do don’t we? Plan for trips? We figure out the route, the stops along the way, where we’re going to say, what we’re going to eat, how much will it cost for gas and hotel, and any sightseeing we might do. We plan for it, right? Imagine being asked by Jesus to take a trip, and then told not to bother to plan for it. Just get going. No luggage, no clothes, no map, no money nor shoes! Would you go? Or would you tell Jesus he was crazy? Find another sucker!
Well, that’s exactly what Jesus asked of his disciples. To leave home and go places they had never gone before and to do so without planning ahead or taking any provisions for the trip. Our lesson in Luke says that Jesus appointed 70 pairs to go ahead of him, toward Jerusalem to declare that the Kingdom of God has come near and to offer peace to the homes they visited. Jesus intended them to prepare the way for him in each of the villages they came to. They were perpetuating the role of John the Baptist. Jesus knew that this was his last trip to Jerusalem, he had one more shot to personally impact those along the way.
Jesus knew that their trip would be dangerous. He cautioned them to be aware of the wolves who would attempt to devour them, the lambs that they were; small, gentle, and vulnerable. But that wouldn’t stop them because they also had the power of the Holy Spirit upon them, such that they would perform miracles in the name of Jesus. Lives would be changed, illnesses healed, hope restored.
In our world today, many consider this type of missionary work to be reserved only for pastors or missionaries who are deployed to some far-off, exotic places. I know that some folks think it’s up to me alone to bring people into our church. I’m the evangelist of the group, after all I went to seminary! This scripture points out that it wasn’t only Jesus who was touching lives, and it wasn’t Jesus and his twelve disciples alone. No, it was seventy people. It was the whole darn church! They were ALL sent out to do God’s work.
Some churches are very purposeful in sending out everyone, the Latter-Day Saints each have the opportunity to spend two years on mission, in the United States and abroad. Jehovah’s Witnesses do the same, sending out members to share their faith, door to door. Most protestant churches have abandoned that practice. Just thinking about going door to door makes most of us squirm!
Jesus knew his mission and he prepared his followers to pick up that mission and travel the countryside fulfilling it. We know what our mission is, don’t we? Our local church’s mission is to “seek, nurture and send Christian disciples into the world to serve.” With that is our vision, that we are a place where all people can encounter and share the love of Jesus Christ through Open Hearts, Open Minds and Open Doors. Once we know our mission, it’s time to discern how we are to fulfill it. How can our specific gifts and talents serve that mission? It would be difficult for us to mimic Jesus and his disciples as they journeyed by foot to Jerusalem. In fact, the specific expression of the mission has changed, our activities and methods have changed over time, from generation to generation.
“In our own time, the challenges of a shrinking world, ease of travel and communication, multiculturalism, and religious pluralism require us to enter into dialogue regarding what we as American Christians have to offer to people of other cultures and faiths. The development of a world economy and the oppression of Third World countries require that we include in our awareness of the church’s mission, concerns for the end of economic exploitation of other people, alleviation of disease and hunger, and assurance of basic human rights. It is not that the mission of the church has become unnecessary or impractical, but simply that the changing conditions of the communities in which we live are forcing us to rethink the Gospel’s teaching about the mission of those who follow Jesus and to find avenues of obedience that are effective and appropriate for our times as well as faithful to Jesus’ teachings.
“Jesus’ commission to the disciples can serve as a guide for the new models of mission that each generation requires. This scripture in Luke 10 contains ten principles that we can learn from.
First, it affirms the world’s need for the church’s mission: “The harvest is plentiful.” There is more work to do, than laborers to do it.
Second, Jesus’ commission affirms the importance of prayer in support of the church’s mission: “Ask the lord of the harvest,” Jesus tells us.
Third, it insists on the active participation of each disciple: “Go on your way.” The work of the church is not merely the calling of a select few. Believers can contribute to it in their own way and in the context of their own spiritual journey.
Fourth, Jesus’ commission warns of the dangers believers will face and provides guidelines: “I am sending you out,” Jesus said, “like lambs into the midst of wolves.” By means of this metaphor, Jesus seems to be counseling innocence and sincerity, vulnerability and non-resistance as means of turning aside anger and danger.
Fifth, Jesus calls for singularity of purpose: “Greet no one on the road.”
Sixth, the commission specifies the purpose of the mission: “Say, ‘Peace to this house’ and ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ ” Disciples declare what God is doing and bring God’s peace to whomever receives them. Share table fellowship with whomever receives you.
Seventh, the host, not the guest, sets the context for the disciple’s witness: “Eat what is set before you.” The disciples do not seek to dictate the menu or impose their own cultural background on others. Instead they demonstrate respect for the hosts and express gratitude at what is offered.
Eighth, Jesus’ commission recognizes that the disciples will not always succeed: “[When] they do not welcome you. . . . ” Jesus knew that the disciples (and us) would meet resistance and rejection some of the time.
Ninth, Jesus admonished the disciples to persevere: Shake their dust from your feet.
Tenth, and finally, Jesus gives the disciples a word of assurance about the fulfillment of God’s redemptive mission: “Know this: the kingdom of God has come near.”
By principles such as these, the church can be guided in every generation. The context, means, and forms of the mission change continually, but its basis in God’s redemptive love, remains constant.”
Our response then is to step out in faith. When (not if) God calls us to travel, to volunteer, to help with a project, to do whatever it is he needs; he will absolutely supply all of your needs along the way. Whether you take the long way or the short cut, the important message I want you to hear is to answer the call, to follow Jesus, to become a traveler for Christ!