daily biblical sermons

Jesus sends his disciples to evangelize, to preach the good news of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Monday, 29th Week of the Year, October 18, 2021
2 Timothy 4:10-17, Psalm 144, Luke 10:1-9

Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted




“After this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come. And he said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute 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 shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you. 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. 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”’” (Luke 10:1-9).



The Church is missionary by nature. It is the community of those who have been saved by Jesus Christ through their faith in him. Their mission is to bring this good news to others so that they too might put their faith in Jesus and also experience his salvation.



Today is the feast of St. Luke, one of the four evangelists. He wrote a biography of Jesus, namely the gospel of Luke, and he also wrote a history of the early Church, the Acts of the Apostles. The material in these two books, together with the letters of St. Paul and the other New Testament writings provides us with our New Testament Scriptures, which are the word of God, divine Revelation in written form, presenting Christ and Christianity in a normative way for all Christians. The information that St. Luke has provided us with, together with the other three gospels and the other New Testament writings as well as the Old Testament, provides us with the material we need to evangelize.



To evangelize is to preach the gospel, which is the good news about God’s salvation in Jesus Christ. So basically, we are to preach salvation. In the very center of each of the four gospels – and the longest part of them – is the account of Jesus’ death on the cross. This is also the central topic of St. Paul’s epistles. St. Paul bases his theology of salvation primarily on the death of Christ. And we have all the necessary historical details about his death in the four gospels.



The theology of salvation is called soteriology. It deals primarily with the death of Jesus Christ, which is the death of the Son of God himself made man, equal to the Father in divinity. This last sentence shows us why Jesus’ death on the cross is so central to Christian soteriology, that is, to Christian salvation. God had a Son and he saved the human race by sending his Son into the world as a man to teach us his doctrine and his morality, to give us the example of his life, and ultimately to be put to death at the instigation of the Jewish authorities, in vicarious punishment for our sins (Isaiah 53:5-6; 1 Peter 2:24).



This is no minor point, namely that God’s divine Son was put to death at the instigation of God’s chosen people in order to save us from our sins – “Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3). This is clearly the center of the Christian soteriology – the theology of salvation.



God is an all-just God. That means he must punish all sins or else he will no longer be all just. He is also all merciful. But these two attributes seem to contradict each other. An all-merciful God would not want to punish anyone. He would simply want to forgive everyone that repents. But he can’t do that, because he is also all just, and if he were to do that, he would no longer be all just, that is, he would no longer be an all-just God, which is part of his nature, and God cannot change his nature.



So, the way God gets around this contradiction is to come on earth himself in the person of his Son, who is equal in divinity with the Father and is one essence with him, and take our place and suffer our punishment for our sins for us on the cross by dying in vicarious punishment for them. All our sins were put upon Christ – “The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5) – and had them punished in his flesh on the cross (Romans 8:3-4).



But where do we come in? What do we have to do to be justified and saved from our sins. We have to repent and put our trusting faith in Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross in vicarious punishment for our sins. That means that we have to believe and trust that our sins were completely and justly punished in his flesh on the cross for all who genuinely repent and put their faith in him.



When we do this – when we believe in this – God declares us ungodly sinners righteous; that is, he justifies us. This is how we ungodly sinners are saved from our sins and become righteous before God. It is through faith, which contains genuine repentance, not through any works of ours. All the work that was done to justify us was done by Jesus Christ in his death on the cross.



In this way God remains perfectly just, because all our sins are justly punished, and at the same time he remains perfectly merciful, for every one who repents and puts his faith in Christ is forgiven and not sent to eternal punishment, for Christ has suffered this for us.



In today’s gospel Jesus sends out seventy missionary disciples to go ahead of him on his journey from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are sent to preach in all the villages that Jesus himself would pass through on his way to Jerusalem. They were to prepare the way for him.



All of this soteriology that I spoke of was not yet revealed to them, even though Jesus often predicted that he would be put to death at the instigation of the Jewish leaders. But after his saving death finally took place and Jesus rose triumphant from the tomb and sent his Holy Spirit upon the Church, they finally became illuminated and understood Christian soteriology; that is, Christian salvation. Then they went out with the power of the Holy Spirit to preach this good news, this gospel, this salvation, this soteriology.



They were not to clearly preach this full gospel dispensation until after Pentecost. But at this early time in Jesus ministry, when his disciples still understood so little of who Jesus was and how he was going to save the world and what his kingdom was going to be like, they could only preach in a preliminary sort of way by miraculously healing the sick in each town and saying to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you” (Luke 10:9).



“The kingdom of God” was shorthand for everything that the Jews were longing for. Jesus tried to purify their worldly ideas of the kingdom of God, by teaching that it would be a kingdom of forgiveness of sins and grace, not an earthly kingdom of military conquest. So, this missionary tour of the seventy disciples is a preliminary missionary endeavor.



Jesus starts out by instructing them about their missionary tour, saying, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2). As then, there are also today many that are longing to hear the ultimate good news of salvation that Jesus was sent to proclaim. Many want to hear this good news properly and powerfully preached with faith, conviction, and certainty, bringing them a message of hope, new life, and salvation, but those capable of preaching this way are too few. So, we should pray for more laborers.



Next Jesus tells them that they will be persecuted, “Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves” (Luke 10:3). Not everyone will like our preaching. Many will oppose us.



“So long as the Church stands, believers must expect to be like ‘lambs among wolves.’ They must make up their minds to be hated, and persecuted, and ill treated – by those who have no real religion” (JC Ryle, 1816-1900).



Next Jesus tells his disciples, “Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute no one on the road” (Luke 10:4). We are to go out in simplicity and evangelical poverty. Note that Jesus says, “Carry … no sandals.” He does not say wear no sandals. So presumably if they are wearing sandals, that’s fine, but they are not to carry an extra pair.



They are not to bring food, extra clothing, or money to buy food. Rather they are to depend on the hospitality of those that they will preach to. The people will see that they have nothing with them and that they are staying several days to preach to them, and so they will provide them with food and lodging. They are not to be particular about their food and not to go around looking for better accommodations and better meals elsewhere, but rather, “Remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages; do not go from house to house … Eat what is set before you” (Luke 10:7-8). This is for traveling missionaries carrying no luggage and staying only a few days in each village. Then they will return back to their home base.



As they enter a house, they are to say “Peace be to this house! (Luke 10:5). This is the normal Jewish greeting, but they are to say it in a more formal and deliberate way, for they are bringing the source of true peace, peace with God, peace with themselves, peace with their conscience, peace of heart, and peace with one another. This is the gift that Christian missionaries bring.



Then Jesus tells them, “Heal the sick in it [the town] and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you’” (Luke 10:9). They are to miraculously heal the sick with the power that Jesus gave them to do so. This will verify the truth and divine origin of their teaching, for no human being can miraculously and instantaneously cure sick people, especially the blind, lepers, and the lame. This will open the people up to listen to what they have to say. They are not just uneducated fishermen but have been divinely commissioned and given divine powers and authority to preach the gospel to them.



This is what they are to say, “The kingdom of God has come near to you” (Luke 10:9b). They themselves don’t yet know much about this kingdom. It hasn’t come yet. It was beginning to come in Jesus and will come in power after his saving death, resurrection, and Pentecost. But the people are being prepared by this preliminary preaching so that when Jesus comes, they will be ready to receive him with faith.


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