Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 (GW)
…, the Lord appointed 70 other disciples to go ahead of Him to every city and place that He intended to go. They were to travel in pairs.
He told them, “The harvest is large, but the workers are few. So ask the Lord who gives this harvest to send workers to harvest His crops. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not carry a wallet, a traveling bag, or sandals, and do not stop to greet anyone on the way. Whenever you go into a house, greet the family right away with the words, ‘May there be peace in this house.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your greeting will be accepted. But if that is not the case, your greeting will be rejected. Stay with the family that accepts you. Eat and drink whatever they offer you. After all, the worker deserves his pay. Do not move around from one house to another. Whenever you go into a city and the people welcome you, eat whatever they serve you. Heal the sick that are there, and tell the people, ‘The kingdom of God is near you!’ …
“The person who hears you hears Me, and the person who rejects you rejects Me. The person who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.”
The 70 disciples came back very happy. They said, “Lord, even demons obey us when we use the power and authority of Your name!”
Jesus said to them, “I watched Satan fall from Heaven like lightning. I have given you the authority to trample snakes and scorpions and to destroy the enemy’s power. Nothing will hurt you. However, do not be happy that evil spirits obey you. Be happy that your names are written in heaven.”
I want to ask you to do something we do not do very easily in Lutheran churches. I would like you right now to shake the hand of a person sitting near you. You don’t have to make a big deal out of it. Just shake hands.
Now look that person in the eyes and ask yourself the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
What do you think? Are you the helper of that person sitting near to you?
In Genesis chapter 4 Cain asked God that very question when God asked Cain where was Abel. God’s answer to that question was answered most clearly through Jesus with a resounding Yes.
We are our brother’s keeper. We are to be concerned about others as God is concerned about us. Jesus loved us so much He was willing to go to the Cross and die for us. Through Christ, God looks at us with love. Through Christ God looks past our sins and sees us as His creation, His children. He loves us with an overwhelming love, a love that never ends, a love which keeps on loving like the kind of love a mother shows to her children in spite of their behavior.
An example of this kind of love is reflected in this story about a poor family that had little money but they wanted to get something everyone in the family could use. They decided on a mirror. When the mirror arrived each took a turn looking into it. The father frowned, the mother smiled, the baby giggled. A young son in this family looked and was taken back by what he saw. He did not know whether to frown or cry. The boy had been kicked by a mule when he was a baby. His face was distorted and scarred. He said in a shaky voice, “Mom, did you know all this time that I looked like this?”
The mother answered, “Yes, I knew.”
“And you still loved me?” the boy replied.
Yes, son, I still loved you. The face did not make any difference. I love you because you are mine.”
The young boy’s mom loved him no matter what. God’s love for us is like this, no matter how we are. And we in turn are to show love like this to our neighbor as a brother or sister in Christ. The bond of love which holds us to God as His children should also hold us to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.
But in reality, it does not always happen. We have a very difficult time answer Yes to the question “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Do we always reach out to others in love?
When you shook your neighbor’s hand, what did you think? Are you his/her keeper? The Bible Readings this morning speak about how a people in Christ should conduct themselves.
One way to begin is to look at yourself in the mirror. But when you examine yourself do not use the conduct of your neighbor as your standard, use Christ as the standard of your conduct. Paul writes that we are responsible for our own actions. Measure yourself compared to Christ. In Christ we see the kind of life He has called us to live. That is the life that says, “Yes. I AM my brother’s keeper!” We are to reach out with the hand of love. We are to share the Gospel of God’s love with those around us.
But sadly, many times we do not. We are all sinners and need the help of Jesus, but at the same time Jesus is counting on us to tell others about His saving grace in our lives. He wants us to tell others what difference it makes in our lives as we are affected by God’s undeserved love in our lives.
There is a story about a group of people who were having an outdoor picnic one afternoon. Suddenly a single ant appeared on the tablecloth making its way to a portion of sweet food. After eating some bits of sugar it carried a small bit away. The people watched it go off the cloth and disappear.
Not long afterward, it returned with several other ants. They marched along led by the first ant to the sweet food. After they had eaten their fill, they all departed, each with a small bit of sugar in their mouths. Not long later there was a swarm of ants that arrived to get some of that same sweet food.
Jesus wants us to be like that first ant. After we have experienced the love of Christ in our lives, He wants us to spread the news, calling others so that they may experience the Gospel in their lives also.
Often we feel that we do not know the right words to say. Notice in the Gospel Reading today that Jesus sent out 70 people to preach saying, ‘The kingdom of God is near you!’ So He sent them out to practice what they would be doing when He was not visibly with them.
Notice that Jesus did not say it was going to be easy witnessing for Him. He warned them about the wolves and those who would not accept what they were saying. The important thing is that He wanted them to go out and tell them about Jesus.
If we do not tell anyone about Jesus and the salvation He has won for us then this story might come true. A church member was asked at the gates of Heaven how many seeds of the Gospel he had planted on earth. He replied, “None. I just played it safe. I was afraid that some would think I was trying to look better than they were. I did not want to be called a hypocrite. Besides, I did not really know that much about the Bible to be telling others about it. Besides, isn’t that the Pastor’s job, to go out and plant those seeds?
As the person looked into Heaven he did not see as many people inside as he expected. The gatekeeper said, “Oh there were so few workers, so few seeds sown, that the harvest was meager.”
Let us ask God to strengthen us to respond when we hear that the harvest is plentiful and ready to be brought in Jesus’ name. Amen.