Ascension Lutheran Church

Calgary, AB

Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

[1] 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. [2] 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. [3] Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. [4] Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. [5] Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ [6] And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. [7] 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. [8] Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; [9] cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ [10] But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, [11] ‘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.’ [16] “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” [17] The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” [18] He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. [19] 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. [20] Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

In this gospel lesson Jesus appoints seventy other disciples and sends them out in pairs ahead to the towns he intended to visit. Their job is to prepare the way for Jesus, proclaiming his message and readying the people to receive the Lord himself. It wasn’t going to be without its challenges and so Jesus instructs them on how to proceed and gives them the authority they need to carry out this work.

When the seventy return to Jesus, they are full of joy, excited that even the demons submitted to them in the authority Jesus provided. Their excitement is understandable—works of power are attention grabbing, especially if they were done through you. These events are evidence of God at work, confirmation for the seventy that they are doing as God desires.

Yet Jesus downplays these works. He cautions the seventy against celebrating too much and instead points them to something greater and grander. As wonderful as it was for the seventy to see the demons submit, that pales in comparison to the fact that their names are written in heaven i.e. they are known and named by God, recipients of His gift of eternal life. It’s this gift that defines them and not any of the works that may come from that gift.

This is a good reminder for us, to keep our focus on what’s most important. Whatever good things we may able to do by the power of God are still not as important as the gift of life and grace God has given us in our baptism.