Today we hear about the mission of the seventy-two disciples. This is their first public mission. There is a difference between the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. In Matthew, the twelve Apostles were sent to the lost sheep of the Israel; while in Luke, the seventy two disciples were sent to everyone, including the gentiles. Luke gave the reason for the mission as 'The harvest is rich, but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest (10,2a)'. The mission field is an interesting place, because Jesus told them 'I am sending you like lambs among wolves' (v.3). There is a danger in the mission. There is challenge. Wolves are blood thirsty. Men of this type of behaviour are quickly irritated and familiar with violence. The mission would help the disciples to learn about their own ability, and their readiness to serve others in God's name. The mission would help them to experience firsthand how the public would receive the message of the Good News. Jesus gave them other instructions:
a/ that they need to travel light. 'Do not carry purse, extra clothing or even sandals'. It indicates that first, they were totally dependent on the people whom they were sent to serve for food and shelter. Second, they were totally dependent on God for guidance and had to trust in their Master, Jesus.
b/ that 'Greeting no one along the way', is understood as the urgency of their mission. They needed to stay focussed on their mission, and not allow other things to distract them from their task.
c/ that the greeting of 'peace' to a household they entered meant they were people of peace, furthermore they had the message of peace. Peace was the very first word, the first message with which the Risen Lord greeted the Apostles. Where there is peace, fear disappears because peace brings hope and offers a bright future.
d/ that table fellowship was the obvious sign of acceptance and hospitality from their hosts. In return, they help those in need by curing the sick and telling them about the coming of the kingdom. This instruction echoed the incident from the last week's reading; James and John wanted to burn the Samaritan village for not making Jesus welcome and Jesus stopped them.
e/ if they met people who rejected the message of peace, just simply to walk away. Shaking off dust from their feet meant the missionary received nothing from them. However they was generous enough to tell them that 'the kingdom of God is very near'( v.12).
The message seems to suggest that 'inhospitality' right now here on earth by humans would be met by the heavenly power in heaven. The seventy two returned with great joy. They said 'Lord, even the devils submit to us when we use your name v.17'. The word 'Lord' relates to the word 'Lord of the harvest' (v2) at the beginning of the reading. The seventy two had personal experience that the power of Jesus' name is acknowledged. When evil spirits hear Jesus' name they feel fearful.