“Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me” (Luke 10:16). Jesus’ words to his followers found in our gospel reading today play multiple roles. On the one hand, Jesus is speaking to those whom he “sent on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go” (v. 1). But Luke also has the responsibility of speaking to you and me, members of the contemporary church, who have also been sent into the world by our Savior to share the good news and to do ministry in his name. Placed in this context, Jesus’ words should become a great deal more compelling for us.
Imagine reading an email addressed to a stranger—or so you assume. It appears to be from someone in need of help, someone who is counting on assistance, someone who is waiting for a reply. The email is interesting, but not so much so that it makes an impression on you. But then imagine discovering that the email is in fact intended specifically for you, that the person in need of help is calling on you for that assistance, waiting for you to respond. Knowing yourself to be the intended recipient of the email may not lead you to take action in the matter, but you cannot pretend to be uninvolved. You are a part of what is going on here. In a similar way, reading Jesus’ words in Luke 10 as though they are meant solely for his original followers is to ignore the fact that Luke is speaking just as directly to us. We are every bit as engaged in the ministry of Jesus Christ, the evangelism and witness to which the disciples themselves were called. It is through us that others may or may not choose to listen to Jesus Christ, who may or may not accept him as Savior. We are a part of the story, and it is through us that the mission of the 70 continues to develop and to grow.
This is a major reason why the gospels were written in the first place, as an invitation to accept the Son of God in our own time and to follow where he leads us. The world has changed dramatically since Jesus first spoke these words, even since Luke recounted them, but the mission continues nonetheless because this has never been simply an interesting tale. It is a part of our day to day lives, instructions for us to follow as we live our calling to be the people of God.
Prayer: Lord, help us to hear your word with clarity and to respond with urgency, that the world may know the good news of Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.