by Revd Uwe Hesse, Ev Church of Kurhessen-Waldeck, Germany
The text describes the sending of the disciples, 72 in number (70 according to other witnesses), and sets out the standards of conduct to be followed during missionary journeys. These include not only simplicity and restraint in dealings and in the demands made, but also the need for urgency (the advice „greet nobody on the way“ in v.4, see 2 Kings 4:29, can only be understood that way). The disciples are commissioned to heal the sick and proclaim the closeness of the kingdom of God. A synoptic comparison, also takes into consideration the call to penitence in Mathew‘s Gospel, which he sets out as the basis, not only of John the Baptist‘s proclamation (Matt. 3.2) but also of Jesus Christ himself (Matt. 4.17). These are set out in various central passages. In Matt. 10 and Lk 10.17 there is also reference to the casting out of evil spirits by the Disciples.
The passage, which is at it were, the basis of Christian proclamation and Christian commissioning, speaks for itself about the related issue of sustainability. First, a message is proclaimed, which despite considerable resistance (see the whole book of Acts!) cannot be stopped, but finds its way to the very heart of the former Roman Empire, the city of Rome itself.
The reason for this triumphal procession of the Gospel is despite the heavy losses – due to the inner conviction of the faithful.
In addition, the message is connected to the message of peace, as well as to salvation and healing. At the same time, the text is full of dynamic and intensity. It is fair to say that it shouldn’t be too difficult to discern through this text that, for example, the principles of sustainable economic activity, the commitment to the care of creation, social justice and the protection and assertion of human rights, are the issues on which we are called to bring the light of the Gospel to shine in this age.
All in all, a text which encourages us during frustrating times, when for example an act of commitment is thwarted or where nationally or internationally, setbacks are experienced – such as the drafting of the agenda for the upcoming conference of the UN on sustainable development in Rio in 2020!
Not least, the text portrays the disciples, who were sent out in pairs, happily reporting what they have achieved. Although maybe seemingly only small successes, they were shown that it had been worth all their efforts. A sermon could point to the fact that we all work in the areas suited to our gifts and that many tasks can be mastered and carried out with enthusiasm.
by Uwe Hesse, Germany, translated by Elizabeth Bussmann-Morton