Text: Luke 10:1-20
Gospel for Proper 9, Year C, RCL.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ga 1:3).
Imagine for a moment, you have to go to Service Ontario. Perhaps when you went there were, already a ton of people there. You sat there waiting for over half an hour in a hot office. When your number was finally called, it took the agent 30 seconds to tell you that you didn’t bring the right documentation, you’re going to have to go home through rush-hour traffic and bring it back and fill out this form and pay an obscene amount of money. And so how might you react? Sometimes, we get angry at the agent sitting behind the desk. Did you think to yourself afterward: why on earth did I get mad at them? It wasn’t their fault! “Don’t shoot the messenger,” they might have said back to you. It isn’t their fault is it? They are simply an agent, a representative of the provincial government, just doing their job.
I. The Peace of God’s Kingdom
On his final journey towards Jerusalem, Jesus chose and sent seventy-two disciples out among the towns. Those disciples were not chosen and sent to share their own personal thoughts on religion. Jesus had authorized them to proclaim a message of peace. They were representatives proclaiming his message, “The Kingdom of God has come near to you.” (Luke 10:9). These seventy-two were ambassadors of the Prince of Peace. They were sent to proclaim peace. “Peace be to this house.” “The peace of the Lord be with you.” This peace is much more than a fond wish or a cutesy Hallmark greeting. “I’ve got a peaceful, easy feeling.” It’s not that kind of peace. It’s a peace unlike anything we could ever dream of? Why?
Humanity is not at peace with God, instead we’re at war with him. The Devil has coaxed humanity into a silly and futile
rebellion against the Creator God. Now, we distrust God. We tend to love ourselves and our sin more than him. We question the Creator God’s right to tell us how to live our lives. Our rebellion and hostility with God overflows into our conflicts with others. There is no peace on earth among men because we do not have peace with God. We experience hostility in our relationships because we are hostile toward God. Despite our rebellion towards God and hostility towards each other, these seventy-two were sent by God with the message of peace. Our silly rebellion can end and instead, there’s the opportunity for reconciliation; a restoration of the relationship with God we were intended to have: peace with God.
This is a peace that the world cannot give, a peace that surpasses our understanding. Christ the King is offering peace to rebels. With the very peace of God comes healing of body and mind. “Heal the sick,” Jesus tells them. They are His deputies, they have His authority over disease and demons. They bear good news of Peace.
The kingdom of God has come near. Jesus walks into the territory Satan thought was his, and claims it all as his own. Any Israelites who received these seventy-two into their home were receiving the very peace of Jesus. “He who hears you hears me.” (Luke 10:16). When the seventy-two proclaim “peace”, when they heal the sick, and cast out demons, that is the Kingdom of God coming near. That is the gracious rule and reign of God being extended to those ensnared by the Devil. The devil’s reign is ended. “He’s judged. The deed is done. One little word can fell him.” The peace which God’s Kingdom brings is not from the seventy-two, it was given to them from Jesus to share with all those who would hear and listen.
Jesus warns that there will be those who would reject the seventy-two. Some would indeed “shoot the messengers.” They were sheep among wolves. Jesus underscores this with His warnings to the cities. Israelite cities had lots of Jesus. Even the city of Sodom, a city so filled with sin and evil that it was consumed by fire and brimstone, even that city does better than a city that rejects Jesus or his ambassadors. Those words ought to scare the daylights out of us. Having Jesus around all the time doesn’t help the cities if they still reject him. The way to judgment and woe is to refuse Jesus’ ambassadors. The way to condemnation is to refuse the gifts of God. To reject the men whom Jesus has chosen and sent is to reject Jesus himself. And to reject Jesus is to reject the Father who sent Him.
II. The Victory of God’s King
Jesus, who was sent from God the Father, was rejected. Jesus himself later notes this by applying Isaiah 53 to himself, “For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.” (Luke 22:37). Indeed, Jesus. “was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Is 53:3). Jesus was sent to us with a message of peace with God, and he was rejected. Humanity rejected Jesus, and rejecting Jesus, means also rejecting God. The ambassadors whom God has chosen and sent can declare “Peace to you” because “upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace.” Our sicknesses can be healed because “with his wounds we are healed.” (Is 53:5).
But, through that very scorn and rejection, Jesus Christ our Lord tread under all the power of the enemy. (Lk. 10:19). “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven,” Jesus observed. That is exactly why God sent Jesus into the world. He died for us so that he could make sure that the enemy could never hurt you. He is the king who establishes peace between God and men. The evil foe has no power over us because in this war, the decisive battle has been won. Satan has fallen. Christ through his bloody death, burial, and glorious resurrection, has tread upon and cast down Devil and all his forces. The victory has already been won. And now, God pardons us rebels. God pardons you. Hostilities have ceased. Instead of death and hell, God promises you eternal life for Jesus’ sake.
God sent his Son, and Jesus, in turn, sends others. Christ, through the Cross, has trampled the enemy and just like he commissioned those seventy-two disciples, so too he has commissioned pastors in the Church. So that we may obtain this peace which Jesus won for us, God has chosen and sent pastors into the world to declare and deliver it to us. To hear the men whom Jesus has chosen and sent is to hear Jesus Himself. You see, God hasn’t promised to speak through dreams. God doesn’t reveal his peace through nature. Your feelings and experiences are not a sure and certain guide to what God wants to tell you. The seventy-two spoke on behalf of Jesus. Pastors speak on behalf of Jesus. That is how God speaks to you: through his word delivered to you by those whom he has called and sent: through pastors.
Each week your pastor declares God’s peace to you from his Word. Each week your pastor gives you the peace of the Lord which is given in Christ’s true body and blood. When you see a baptism, that is a a rebel being pardoned and and the enemy being trampled We’re not at church because we like to talk about religion. We’re here because God speaks peace to us through the men he has chosen and sent. Having a pastor is a vital part of how the peace of God is brought to you. Those pastors who have been chosen and sent by God are preaching the Gospel of peace and that means that they are trampling the enemy and speaking on God’s behalf to you! You heard a bit of that in the beginning of the service. “I by virtue of my office as a called and ordained servant of the Word announce the grace of God unto all of you, and in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all of your sins.” He who hears you, hears Me. You have Jesus’ word on it.
Like an ambassador working on behalf of the Government, your pastor has been chosen and sent to you to speak on behalf, in the stead and by the command, of Christ. He has been chosen and sent to tell you that you have peace with God because Christ is crucified and risen for you. God has chosen and sent your pastor to pray for you and counsel you, and to be at your bed when you are sick because Christ is crucified and risen for you. God has chosen and sent him to make sure that God’s gifts are given to you so that you continue steadfast in the one true faith, unto life everlasting. Thanks be to God for giving such gifts in men. (Eph. 4:11-13). Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen. (Php 4:7).