Maybe Luke 10 Isn’t The Best ‘Missional’ Text.

220px-70ApostlesNow after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come.  And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. “Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. “Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way. “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace [be] to this house.’ “If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. “Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house.  “Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ “But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off [in protest] against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ “I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. “But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment than for you. “And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will be brought down to Hades!  “The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.” (Luke 10:1-16)

Many models of evangelism/discipleship have been based on what’s commonly called a “Luke 10” approach.  We’ve used a similar approach, and for the most part, it seems wise.  It’s hard to tell if Jesus prescribed this methodology for all future generations or if it was simply a description of what happened then in that time.  Some missional folks, many of whom I admire, seem to have gotten stuck on various verses/ideas  in this passage to the exclusion of others.  

The Message Bible translates John 1:14 in this way, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”  The incarnation of Jesus wasn’t a phase or temporary situation.  He is still enfleshed and remains our mediator.  He is still the “man” Christ Jesus, (1 Timothy 2:5) as well as the eternal Son of the Father.

If there is a point of being missional which stands above other points currently, I’d have to say it’s the idea of “moving into the neighborhood,” becoming part of it, being salt & light, and catalyzing Kingdom transformation from within it.  I’ve personally seen a lot of this happening up close, and I think it’s great.  The commitments people are making by moving or staying and engaging the culture of their own neighborhood’s are encouraging.

But, that’s really not what Luke 10 is all about, is it?

Jesus had been traveling around with the 12 for a while before looping around and heading back towards Jerusalem.  After he had selected out 70 more people, in addition to his disciples, he gave them the message you just read above.  There seems to be an immediacy to the limited and temporary commission.  They were sent out as pioneers to prepare for the Lord’s own coming which was to follow them.  Jesus was to going, or about to come, to the same “cities and places” where he was sending these disciples. (Lu 10:1)  As Jesus’ time was drawing near to “fulfill all things,” the 70 enterd into an earnest and urgent period of activity.  Yes, they were to “stay” in a particular home for as long as was appropriate, but they had a trajectory.  They had an itinerary.  They were not to set up shop, move into the neighborhood, learn the distinct cultural nuances, or become residents.  They were, of course, on mission.  They were on the mission which Jesus designated.  Interestingly enough, after their return from this single missionary tour, we never again read of the Seventy.

So, maybe Luke 10 isn’t the best text to use for describing a missional life.  That being said, here are a few questions:

1.  What transferable principles can we draw from the Luke 10 passage that might apply to us today?

2.  What is the guiding biblical principle for determining how long we should stay on mission somewhere?

3.  Are there better biblical texts to describe being missional than Luke 10? 





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    1. I haven’t dismissed Luke 10 from the local “moved into the neighborhood” in that it records only the front end of what is more visible within the Acts of the Apostles — Acts as the ideal text/book regarding mission, if only for how it masterfully records non-methodological, Spirit-directed mission.

      the “principle” and “guiding principle”? Being directed by the Holy Spirit of God in every place, to every place.

    2. There is a certain stream in christianity, well really the world of attempting to find easily passed on principles and formulae that promise great results. Even better if books and conferences and speaking engagements are part of the package.
      Even if Luke 10 is prescriptive… at best it is just one of many ways to engage mission, beyond that I can assume people take it further because they have an agenda or want a formula.
      God cannot be contained in a guiding principle unless maybe we say we should stay as long as relationally wise… relationship with god, with the community, with our family, with our environment etc.
      The better text is the whole bible. If it could be said in fewer words it would have been. We’re not smarter than god.

    3. I think you’re right that it’s dangerous to assume too much from this passage. I also think this is one example of many throughout Jesus own ministry and the book of acts where the same principles show up, though. Principles like investing where people are not open and shaking the dust off where they’re not, accepting hospitality and entering into the life of others rather than expecting them to come to us, proclaiming that the kingdom is near and healing the sick, etc. I do agree with your basic premise, though, and I’ve seen a lot of tension show up in folks who are taught that this one passage is the handbook for apostolic mission.

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