Sunday July 3, 2016
A Reflection on Luke 10:1-12, 17-20, N.A.B.
By: Larry T
Jesus instructed his disciples to deliver this message to the people: “The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.” Did Jesus send seventy or seventy-two disciples to proclaim the arrival of the Kingdom? Since the only four complete ancient manuscripts in existence are evenly divided between seventy and seventy-two disciples, most bible editions put the [-two] in brackets, as does the New American Bible. However a good argument can be made for seventy disciples because that was the number of nations in the world at the time. Following this line of thinking, the reign of the Kingdom of God on earth commenced with the arrival of Jesus; this is the news that his disciples were to announce to the entire world.
1 After this the Lord appointed seventy [-two] others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit.
2 He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.
3 Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
4 Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way.
5 Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’
6 If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.
7 Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another.
8 Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you,
9 cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’
10 Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say,
11 ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’ Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand.
12 I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.
17 The seventy [-two] returned rejoicing, and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.”
18 Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.
19 Behold, I have given you the power ‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you.
20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
Jesus also told them, “Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’”
In biblical times, the Jews regarded Gentiles as idolaters or pagans, and when leaving Gentile lands and cities, pious Jews often ceremoniously shook the dust from their feet to show their separation from Gentile practices. In this Gospel reading Jesus ordered his disciples to shake off the dust of any Jewish town whose occupants rejected his message from their feet. Symbolically this act was meant to show the people that they were making a wrong choice.
Was Jesus telling his disciples to treat those Jews who rejected the news of the arrival of the Kingdom of God through him as pagans? It would seem so. In other words: take it or leave it. Was Jesus turning his back on disbelieving Jews? No. We know that God never abandons his people. Still yet, this seems uncharacteristically harsh, not something that Jesus would order his disciples to do, or at least not something some of us think Jesus would order his disciples to do. Furthermore, how would disbelieving Jews react to being treated as pagans by the disciples, fellow Jews? Wouldn’t they be offended?
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines being politically correct as: agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people. When was Jesus ever concerned with being politically correct? Wasn’t announcing the arrival of the Kingdom of God inherently politically incorrect? One of the greatest stumbling blocks of our time is our culture’s ongoing effort to make Jesus politically correct – to put words in His mouth - to make God more palatable.
In our role as disciples of Jesus when should we ever be concerned about being politically correct? As we discuss Holy Scripture and religion with our spouses, children, grand-children, friends, or associates do we strive to make a politically incorrect Jesus politically correct, and in doing so water down our faith? If a friend says, “I really don’t like what Jesus said in verse 12 about Sodom and Gomorrah.” Is my immediate reaction, let me try to explain that verse to you in a way that what Jesus said won’t offend you? I hope that I don’t actually do it, because if I do the Lord might well look at me and shake the dust from his feet. As we gather at a restaurant table for a meal and pray over our food before eating are we worried that our expression of faith might offend other restaurant patrons? Do our spines tingle in anticipation that someone might rush over to our table and bellow, “You people shouldn’t pray in public places.”? How many Christians, in our modern world, avoid reading the Old Testament because they are offended by some of God’s actions and laws?
Finally, nearly two-thousand years later what difference has the reign of God’s Kingdom on earth inaugurated by Jesus made? In what way has it influenced the way I live my life? Is it obvious to those around me that I am a disciple of the Lord? I hope so. And I hope this makes me politically incorrect because the very nature of being a follower of Jesus is to be politically incorrect – someone or some group is sure to be offended. Maybe this reflection is politically incorrect; I hope so.