Luke 10:1-16 - Prepare, Pursue, and Preach

Luke  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  32:19
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Many people today struggle with sharing the Gospel because they are concerned about the response of the hearer. What if they reject me? What if they persecute me? What if they refuse to hear me? What if they gossip about me and slander me?
This has been the best offensive move by Satan at hindering the spread of the Gospel. And it is so easy for him because he presses in on our naturally-born love of self.
You don’t have to teach a young child to have self love. From an early age they feel that they should have the biggest and best and not have to share. The natural inclination of man is to gratify the desires of the flesh.
But as followers of Christ we are called to not gratify the desires of the flesh. We are told instead to walk by the Spirit - look at Galatians 5:16:
Galatians 5:16 ESV
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
If we want to live by the Spirit, we must walk by the Spirit. Our fleshly desires of comfort and pleasure will melt away as we are filled with power from the Holy Spirit Who works in and through us.
And it is through this empowerment by the Holy Spirit that we are able to make an impact for the kingdom of God.
Today we will see three ways that disciples who are sent out make an impact for the kingdom of God. The first is…

I. Sent Out Disciples Prepare the Way for Christ (1)

Luke 10:1 ESV
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go.
Jesus sends out seventy-two followers of His out two-by-two - meaning there were 36 groups of people. And these followers were to go into every town where He was about to go. They were to prepare the way for the Lord.
It should be noted that some versions state 70 instead of 72 as there is a textual variant here that is debated. This is not a matter of great importance, but many commentators and translators seem to lean toward this actually being the sending of the 70 instead of the 72 when looking at the Old Testament examples of 70 such as Exodus 24 and Numbers 11:16.
We are told here why Jesus sent His followers out. They were sent out ahead of Him. They were to go and prepare the way for the Lord. This sounds similar to continuing the work of the late John the Baptist who was sent to prepare the way of the Lord. See Matthew 3:3 as he quotes the prophet Isaiah 40:3:
Matthew 3:3 ESV
For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’ ”
These followers were to get the areas ready for the Lord to come through and preach and teach. The time was short and they were to prepare the people for the Messiah to come.
But why does Jesus send these people out in groups of two? We saw Him do this at the beginning of chapter 9 when He sent out the 12 Apostles as well.
There are at least two good reasons He sends them out two-by-two.
Mutual Support
Legal Requirement
By mutual support, we see that the two were able to spur one another moving forward. This aided them in physical, emotional, and spiritual safety. The author of Ecclesiastes, Solomon, asserts:
Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 ESV
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
The two along with the Holy Spirit formed a three-fold cord moving forward as they prepared the way for Christ.
And secondly, we see a legal requirement that is met by these groups of two. We will see later that these pairs of followers that are sent out are given the power to pronounce judgment on the towns that refuse them. This judgment would require two witnesses as seen in Deuteronomy 19:15:
Deuteronomy 19:15 ESV
“A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.
We can take a couple of important notes here from Jesus’s preparation of these followers.
1. We need to be sure that we are doing ministry together.
The Christian life is not a solo life. We must be doing life with other believers as we are empowered by the Holy Spirit.
2. We must realize that our goal is to prepare the way for Jesus.
We do not save anyone. Our job is to share the Gospel so that Jesus can come and do His saving work in their lives. All power and authority are from Him and Him alone. We are only vessels that He chooses to use.
Thus far we have seen Jesus send these pairs of disciples into the world to prepare the way before Him. We also are sent out by Christ to prepare the way of the Lord - namely His Second coming. Be sure you are preparing the way well! Next we see that…
Scripture References: Galatians 5:16, Exodus 24, Numbers 11:16, Matthew 3:3, Isaiah 40:3, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

II. Sent Out Disciples Pursue the Will of Christ (2-9)

Luke 10:2 ESV
And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.
Jesus asserts that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few, He urges His followers to pray to the Lord to give more laborers.
This is a prayer of mine for our church. There are so many that need to hear the Gospel. I cannot tell you how many people I have shared the Gospel with that thought they knew the Gospel but didn’t really understand it. We live in a world where many even in our churches cannot accurately explain the Gospel. Sadly, we live in a world where even many pastors cannot or at least will not preach the Biblical Gospel correctly!
They cannot articulate the need for humility by admitting that one is not good and that one is a sinner. They do not understand the need for repentance meaning turning away from one’s sins. They do not understand that the finished work of Christ on the cross through His death and resurrection was sufficient for our salvation and that our good works do not save us but instead are a sign that we are saved. And many do not understand the exclusivity of the Gospel - meaning that Christ is the only way to God (John 14:6). Study after study and research after research shows that there is a huge misunderstanding and knowledge deficit of the Gospel in our nation and in our world.
Brothers and sisters, we need more laborers sharing the good news with others in our area, our region, our country, and our world. As Jesus asserts here - pray that God sends out more laborers! Pray that we see more people join our church fellowship and lock arms with us as we continue to share the Gospel to our community and even unto the ends of the earth through our missionaries.
Now comes a stark and practical warning from Jesus…
Luke 10:3 ESV
Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.
These followers are being sent out as lambs among wolves. This is not an easy road. There will be opposition. And this metaphor of Satan, his demons, and those on earth that are influenced by them is a serious metaphor.
You see, wolves are incredible hunters. They sometimes follow their prey for days before making their strike. And during this time of stalking, they assess their prey well. They look for the ones with weaknesses that they might take down. They wait for just the right conditions before they strike as well.
We must know our enemy well.
If you recall when we discussed the sending out of the 12 Apostles in Luke 9:1-10, we quoted Matthew’s account in which he made the following statement:
Matthew 10:16 ESV
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
They were to be shrewd and wise but also innocent as they moved forward. As I stated a moment ago - we must know our enemy well in order to fight against him.
My friends, our world is no better today. We must be wise as we move forth as well. We must move forward with innocence yet with shrewd wisdom as we continue preaching the Gospel to a lost world.
Continuing His practical advice, He focuses in on relying on the Lord’s provision…
Luke 10:4–6 ESV
Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you.
They were to take nothing extra. No extra money, no spare sandals, and no traveling bed. Like the 12 Apostles sent out before they were to rely only on the providence of God. God would provide them with everything they would need. They needed to trust and obey Him.
Do we believe that God is our provider? Do we believe that God is our Jehovah-jireh - the God Who provides.
I pray that we trust Him for our provision as we serve Him.
Luke 10:4–6 ESV
Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you.
Getting back to our Scripture, Jesus also charges them not to greet anyone along the road. This doesn’t mean that they could not acknowledge someone by saying hello, but it spoke to not wasting time on something that was not their mission.
You see, greetings at this time were very formal and were very time consuming. They were not to spend countless hours going through formal rituals while there was work to be done and a mission to accomplish. They were to be focused on their job.
Upon arriving at their destination they were to enter a house as led by the Holy Spirit. They would seek to see if the house was a house of peace. This was not referring to the physical dwelling itself but instead to the people of the household. If the people were open and receptive to hearing and receiving the Gospel, then they were to remain there and the peace of God was upon that household. If not, they were to leave the house.
The peace that they brought with them was the peace of God. It was the message of salvation that shows us how one might have peace with God. It is only through our Lord Jesus Christ that we can have peace with God. See Romans 5:1:
Romans 5:1 ESV
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
These pairs of followers of Christ brought a very important message. It was a message of how to have peace with God.
And we bring this message as well. So many people want to experience peace in our world today. Yet peace continues to elude them.
We have the only message that can bring them peace - namely the Gospel.
Once arriving at their destination, Jesus commands them as follows:
Luke 10:7 ESV
And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house.
Verse seven shows us that they are to remain in the same house and be supported by the people of that home. As Paul later asserts in his writings - the laborer deserves his wages. See Galatians 6:6:
Galatians 6:6 ESV
Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.
Those who preach the Gospel should be cared for by those with whom they serve. These pairs of followers sent out were to be cared for by those with whom they shared the Gospel.
Just as Jesus had told His 12 disciples when they were sent out at the beginning of Luke Chapter 9, these pairs of followers are to stay in the same house as well. They are not to look for greener pastures elsewhere but to stay where they are.
His final instructions are found in verses 8-9:
Luke 10:8–9 ESV
Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
When they enter a town and are received in peace, they are to eat what is set before them. They are to appreciate the hospitality of their new brothers and sisters. They should not complain by being self-seeking but should appreciate what is given to them.
I am sure there are some parents in the room right now wanting to apply this verse to their homes around dinner-time!
And finally, Jesus commands them to also perform miracles by healing the sick as they proclaim the Gospel in telling them that the Kingdom of God has come near to you. Here we see God working miracles through even those who are not of the 12 Apostles. By preaching that the kingdom of God has come near to you, they were pointing to the Messiah. Jesus would be coming to that village in a matter of time. The kingdom of God had indeed already come with the appearance of the Messiah. Yet one day, we look forward to the full consummation of this kingdom where all wrongs are made right. Where God judges evil and rids the world of it for all eternity as He reigns with His people forever.
We who are in Christ look forward to that day - the Day of the Lord. Yet, for those who are not in Christ, that day will be a day of terror and great dread. Which brings us to our final point. Not only should we prepare the way for Christ’s Gospel and pursue the will of Christ as we do so, but as sent out disciples, we should… preach a warning from Christ.
Scripture References: John 14:6, Luke 9:1-10, Matthew 10:16, Romans 5:1, Galatians 6:6

III. Sent Out Disciples Preach a Warning from Christ (10-16)

Luke 10:10–12 ESV
But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
Yet if they enter a town and are not received, they are to proclaim that the Kingdom of God has indeed come near despite the rejection of the message, and they are to let them know their disgust at the response of the town.
They are to do this by wiping off the dust from that town off their feet. Note that this is even a little more intense than shaking the dust of one’s feet as we discussed in the sending of the 12. By wiping, they are signifying an even more symbolic act of displeasure with the people.
And Jesus drives this point home even more in the following verses.
Starting in verse 12, Jesus gives a grim warning in the cases of those cities that reject the Gospel.
He makes quite a claim by stating that it will be more bearable for Sodom than for the town that does not receive these followers that are sent out two by two. Obviously we know what happened to Sodom as seen in Genesis 19:24-28. The Lord rained down fire and sulfur upon Sodom and Gomorrah because of their grievous sin of sexual perversion and homosexuality (Jude 7).
Why would this judgment be even worse? Because Sodom had not heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ like these people were about to hear. So their rejection of this knowledge would lead to a judgment that would be even worse.
His woes and warnings of judgments are not done however.
Luke 10:13–14 ESV
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.
Verses 13 through 15 continue to discuss the curse of those who refuse to hear and respond to the Gospel.
He says woe to you which is a verdict of judgment pronounced ahead of time that expresses deep sorrow. It is an expression of deep regret and sadness at the hard hearts of those who refuse to repent.
And these first two woes are directed at Chorazin and Bethsaida.
As seen on the map here, these two areas were near-by towns of Capernaum which was Jesus’s ministry hub in Galilee. Bethsaida was around 5 miles from Capernaum and was the town where Andrew, Peter, and Philip were from.
It is clear that Jesus had done miracles in these two cities near Capernaum although it is also clear that we are not aware of many of Jesus’s miracles and works that He did on earth as we have no accounts of the ones done in Chorazin.
As John asserts at the end of his Gospel:
John 21:25 ESV
Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
Aren’t you excited to hear about all of these in heaven? I know I am!
Getting back to our verses:
Luke 10:13–14 ESV
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.
Jesus charges that if the works He did in Chorazin and Bethsaida had been done in Tyre and Sidon they would have repented long ago. This is an amazing assertion as Tyre and Sidon were not Jewish areas. These were, in fact, blatantly pagan areas off to the west of Capernaum. If you recall from 1 Kings 16:31, Jezebel - one of the most vile and evil people in the Bible - was from the area of Tyre and Sidon. And now we are being told that the judgment will be more bearable for these pagans than for those Jewish areas who refuse to respond to the Gospel.
We have mentioned this in passing before, but we see here that there are levels of judgment in Hell. Those who refuse to respond to the Gospel are judged more harshly than those who have never heard it. And those who twist the Gospel are judged more harshly than those who reject the Gospel (2 Peter 2, Jude). Let me be clear, the Bible is clear that all who are not in Christ will suffer in Hell. It will be unbearable for all. But for some it will be even worse than for others.
Finally, Jesus addresses Capernaum - his hub of ministry in Galilee:
Luke 10:15 ESV
And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.
After addressing the neighboring towns of Chorazin and Bethsaida, Jesus turns to address Capernaum. This was a city that was not overtly hostile to Jesus. If you recall, He actually performed much of His Galilean ministry there. After being run out of His hometown of Nazareth, Capernaum became His ministry hub as we have mentioned already.
This city was so pivotal to the life of Jesus that Matthew refers to it as Jesus’s own city in Matthew 9:1.
Yet, here we see that although there was not much overt persecution of Jesus and His followers in Capernaum, there also was not support.
It is here that we see that indifference to the Savior is just as bad as overt persecution.
Today we see so many who are indifferent to the Gospel. Yes, there are those who overtly persecute the church across the world. Yet, in America it is more common for people to be indifferent to the church and to Jesus. They give it a head nod and go about their way.
Many even in the church do life this way! They are indifferent to the Lord. They put in their time by going to church here and there, but they live their lives like God doesn’t exist. They live their lives like there is no real eternity - like there is no true God who is just and is going to judge their every deed - like there really is no Gospel that needs to go out to the nations.
My friends, is that you? Do you live your life as a functional atheist?
I’m not saying that you deny the existence of God. But if someone where to look at your everyday life, would they have any clue that you were a follower of Christ? Would there be evidence of salvation in your life? Do you look any different than the atheist down the street?
Is your financial spending the same as them? Do you give as much to the cause of Christ and His church as the atheist down the road? Is your time management the same? Do you read the Bible as much as the atheist down the road? Are your entertainment choices the same? Are you sitting next to that atheist in the movie theater watching a movie that is not appropriate for a follower of Christ?
My friends, take heed of Christ’s warning here and spread it to those who may not be true followers of Christ as well.
Just because you have grown up in a Christian home that has accepted Christianity and been involved in the church does not mean that you are saved. Those who are not true followers will be brought down to Hades like Capernaum here. They will suffer eternal punishment in a literal place called Hell.
If you find yourself being described in this concept of a functional atheist, I beg you to repent and turn fully towards Christ. Don’t let another moment go by without making things right with Christ. You do this by repenting or turning away from your sins and placing your faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. Only those who humble themselves and admit they are a sinner can truly repent.
And for those of us who are saved, I pray that you are being sanctified by Christ. I pray that you are living boldly for Him. I pray that there is plenty of evidence to convict of you of treason to Satan and his demons in this world. I pray that there is plenty of evidence that declares you guilty of following Christ and being a born-again believer. May we all be so guilty in this world for being unapologetically dedicated to Christ and His cause. And may we spread that message to a lost world that needs to break away from the enemy of our souls - the devil.
But the outcome of our message and the results of our labor are not on us. They are on Christ.
Luke 10:16 ESV
“The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
(See also John 5:23b)
Finally we see in verse 16 that the one who hears these sent-out followers and receives the message are saved because of Christ’s work.
Yet those who reject them are not rejecting them personally. Their rejection is directed toward Jesus Christ Himself.
We do well to remember this as we share the Gospel with others. When you share the Gospel with someone and they are saved - it is only because of the work of Jesus in their life.
Yet if they refuse to acknowledge their sin and acknowledge the Savior, it is not you that they are rejecting. It is the Messiah. So often we can take this rejection personally. However it is Jesus Christ that they are really rejecting.
Scripture References: Genesis 19:24-28, Jude 7, 1 Kings 16:31, Matthew 9:1, John 5:23b
As we come to a close, it is important to remember that we are messengers sent out by God. But as messengers we must prepare the way for the Lord by preaching the Gospel, pursue the will of the Lord by doing ministry the way He commands us to do it, and preach the Word of warning from Christ to a lost and dying world.
May we all prepare, pursue, and preach as we glorify Christ with our lives.