Evangelism Explosion (Luke 10:1-12)
We have just finished the story of three individuals who were reluctant to follow Jesus. Each of them offered their best excuse for not being available at that time. Here, we see a group of 72 disciples who immediately respond in obedience. Luke is the only gospel witness to record this episode. It seems perfectly suited to balance the previous section.
Evangelism exists because worship does not. Evangelism is needed because unbelief is rampant. Jesus was already beginning to send disciples to do the work that he will eventually commission the twelve to do (Matt. 28:19). God responds to a rebellious, unbelieving, and fallen world by giving his Son, and then commissioning his followers to share that good news with others. Jesus instructs his disciples in the essentials of evangelistic ministry before sending them out.
Unbelief still exists. It appears to be just as active as it ever way. Thus, we should assume some parallel application (though not identical) from this text to our modern opportunity in this gospel age. We ought to consider our own involvement in this critical mission.
The first step in making disciples is participating in the evangelization of unbelievers. We want to know Christ ourselves so that we might make him known to others.
In The Vine Project, Colin Marshall and Tony Payne argue that,
The gathering of all nations around the throne of God in Revelation is not so much a celebration of cultural diversity as a celebration of how God has overcome the one foundational problem that all the nations share—that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
So evangelism is a means of magnifying the grace and glory of our God. And that is our primary motivation in going out.
Read Luke 10:1-12
I. How to Go (1-4)
We should notice that these disciples are not part of the twelve (1 – “seventy-two others”), but they were especially appointed and called to the task. Evangelism may not look exactly like this in your life, but you should be involved in some way with the task of evangelism. It is not something reserved for the leadership, but for all the redeemed. Those who are disciples ought to be about the task of making disciples.
The value of partnership (1): The courage needed and the ease of which discouragement can set in makes partnerships essential. This seems to follow a pattern of wisdom in the New Testament (Mk. 6:7). The book of Acts is full of examples of the disciples operating in teams: Peter and John (3:1). Barnabas and Saul (13:2), Judas and Silas (15:27), Paul and Silas (15:40), Timothy and Silas (17:14), and Timothy and Erastus (19:22).
They would have been able to encourage each other (Eccl 4:9) as well as serve as valid witnesses to anything they saw (Deut. 17:6). Partnerships also provide accountability. Leaders who have no accountability to others ought to be avoided.
The foundation of prayer (2): God is sovereign, but we still have a responsibility to engage ourselves in fervent prayer (James 5:16).
Hendriksen Laborers…not loafers. Let every minister, evangelist, missionary, etc., take note!
The need for perspective (3): Expect to face opposition. Don’t be blindsided by the devil’s tactics. Opponents of the gospel will want to drown out the words of the evangelist. But we should also be on guard about challenges from within the church. Satan will take every opportunity to introduce confusion and misdirection in order to establish a sustained indifference toward outsiders.
The lack of possessions (4): They were to leave behind any excess baggage. They were to be entirely dependent upon God. Their task was so urgent they did not have time to dawdle in idle chat.
Ryle Our Lord did not intend His disciples to neglect common courtesy. The very next verse enjoins the use of a courteous salutation on visiting a house.
Rather, he tells them not to stop for pleasantries in order to emphasize the urgency of their mission. They could not be delayed by elaborate customs. When the Shunammite’s Son died, Elisha sent his servant Gehazi to the boy to lay Elisha’s staff on the boy’s face. He was not to stop for any greetings, but to hurry past any travelers until he reached the boy (2 Ki 4:29).
The task remains urgent for us today because none of us have any idea how much longer we have. This might be your last opportunity to share the gospel with a loved one.
From how to go, he transitions to…
II. Where to Stay (5-9)
Offer Peace (5-6): This instruction has been turned into a very elaborate strategy that employs unbelievers in the work of church planting. As ridiculous as that sounds, it is quite common for missionaries to base their whole strategy upon finding a “person of peace”.
But the peaceful cooperation of unbelievers is not what Jesus is referring to. He is offering to bring the peace of his presence to those who respond to his message of peace.
Isa 52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
Receive their Provisions (7-8): It’s important to note that most, if not all, of these men were Jewish. Now entering Gentile territory, we can assume they would have faced dietary dilemmas. They are encouraged to eat whatever, without question. This only makes sense under the new covenant (Mark 7:14, 15, 19; 1 Cor. 10:25, 27). And it creates a question for Messianic Jews who contend that dietary restrictions remain in effect for Jewish believers today.
Jesus expects there to be an offer of hospitality in response to salvation. Wherever the gospel spread in the early church, hospitality proves to thrive. We see this time and time again in the book of Acts.
Ryle We must beware of thinking too much about our meals, and our furniture, and our houses, and all those many things which concern the life of the body… Blessed are they who feel like pilgrims and strangers in this life, and whose best things are all to come!
Do ministry (9): Heal and speak. Compassion involves both our acts of mercy and the peace that is only found in the gospel (Eph. 2:13-17). And he continues to bring that offer of peace through is missionaries today.
Do you offer peace? Do you offer hospitality in response to the peace you have received? How are you ministering to others?
Not everyone will receive the message with joy. So we need to know…
III. When to Leave (10-12)
Stand in public (10): When a town is unwilling to receive the disciples they were to find a place in the public streets where they could be clearly seen and heard.
Rebuke them and warn them (11): Like many of the Old Testament prophets, these evangelists were expected to act out the Lord’s rejection of them.
Their judgment will be severe (12): This promise would add to the impassioned plea of the disciples as they departed. Even the inhospitable nature of Sodom was better than those who reject the free offer of the gospel. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel all refer to Sodom when describing God’s just judgment.
Hendriksen As there are degrees of glory (1 Cor. 15:41, 42), so there are also degrees of punishment (Luke 12:47, 48).
This may be the most dreaded aspect of evangelism and the primary element that causes us to remain silent. Are you willing to rebuke and warn those who reject the gospel?
Ryle Let us lay these things to heart, and beware of unbelief. It is not open sin and flagrant profligacy alone which ruin souls. We have only to sit still and do nothing, when the Gospel is pressed on our acceptance, and we shall find ourselves one day in the pit. We need no run into any excess of riot. We need not openly oppose true religion. We have only to remain cold, careless, indifferent, unmoved, and unaffected, and our end will be in hell.
We should take into account Jesus’ instructions regarding how they were to go. They should go with a partner as much as possible. We should pray before, during, and after our evangelistic opportunities. We should especially pray for more laborers. We should expect opposition and do our best to not be hindered by an obsession with possessions.
Our first task to to offer the peace that surpasses understanding and be ready to receive hospitality. As the recipients of peace, we ought to be hospitable to others as we minister to them.
And finally, we should be willing to rebuke and warn those who reject our offer.