Reflections for the Week of Sunday July 3, 2016 Seventh after Pentecost

Gospel: Luke 10.1-11, 16-20. This gospel narrative tells of Jesus appointing seventy disciples to go out to the people of Israel. He says, “The harvest is plentiful”–there are many who need to hear the good news and are ready to hear it. But many more ‘laborers’ (i.e., disciples) are needed to carry out the tasks of spreading the gospel. His disciples need to be focused on the task, which is to evangelize, teach the gospel, pray for healing, bring peace through love and faith to those in need. They don’t need much in the way of supplies; people will supply their needs. They should form relationships with those who are willing so they can minister to them. They can know that those who reject them have rejected the Lord. That is not their responsibility, and they are to move on. They know and are to say that the kingdom of God has come near to them. This is because the Messiah Jesus has brought the kingdom with Him to His disciples, to those who believe in Him and trust Him and His promises. The kingdom is where God reigns and this means those individuals or groups who trust His promises and know who He is. Spreading the gospel of the Messiah and God’s kingdom is why Jesus came from heaven and was incarnated. It is the fulfillment of the early promise that “the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent” (Gen 3.15) made by YHWH after the disobedience and fall of Adam and Eve. His coming is the fulfillment of the covenant promise made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in Gen 12, 15, 17, 22, 26, and 28 to restore fallen mankind to a loving relationship with God.

This is why God made us human beings, in order to have the abundant life (Jn 10.10) that comes from the covenant family membership with God. This is the fulfillment of Scripture as revealed by God. It is the reason God created mankind and is the meaning and purpose of life. Unfortunately the fallen world lies under the dominion of Satan who opposes God’s beneficent will and purpose by deceiving mankind and tempting them to rebel against God and deny Him. All of Scripture portrays man as hard-hearted and idolatrous (Rm 1.18-3.20). We tend to “come to ourself” (Lk 15.17) only when we have been overwhelmed by sin and misery (like the prodigal son), and even then few turn to God. The rest try to rely on themselves and other resources and are lost. When suffering has its intended effect and leads people to turn to God in repentance and submission, He can enter their hearts and give them faith, forgiveness of sin, and justification by means of the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. When this happens, Satan is defeated and Jesus sees him fall from the ‘heavens like a lightning flash’ (v. 18). His defeat is further described in Rev 12. Jesus promises that those who trust in Him will have their lives written in the Book of Life and that He will protect them from evil until they come to dwell with God in the new heaven and new earth. In the meantime He intends for His disciples to spread the gospel to a suffering world to the extent possible. This is our calling and purpose in life whatever our secular vocation may be. Our first responsibility to spread the gospel is to family members, and then to friends, and acquaintances, and then to those with whom we work; especially those who are suffering. We live in a secular society where people do not hear the good news in school any more, and many don’t go to church to hear it. Christianity requires that believers transmit the good news to those with whom they have meaningful contacts. One of the important purposes of church is to prepare us to carry out this Great Commission (Mt 28. 18-20).

Memory Verse: And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry (Eph 4.11-13).

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