There is a sense of urgency in the Gospel today as Jesus sends out this group of seventy(-two) disciples to prepare the way for him as he continues to make his pilgrimage journey to Jerusalem. He had already sent out the twelve apostles on mission at the beginning of the previous chapter (Luke 9:1); only this gospel records this second larger sending out. Using the principle of first mention, we perhaps are able to see something of the significance of the number seventy. In Genesis 10, we are told the origins of all the nations of the world, which in the Hebrew scriptures are numbered as seventy, and in the Greek translation are numbered seventy-two. So it is very likely that the Gentile Luke wants us to connect the mission of the seventy-two with the mission of the whole church, no longer confined to the people of a single nation, but now extended to the very ends of the earth. Next, in Exodus 24 there is the description of a group of seventy elders in Israel who are able to share in the presence of God on the mountain – and that there so happened to be another two who were not present and yet shared in the outpouring of the spirit. Finally, there were seventy members of the Sanhedrin.
So what then does the Church ‘s mission actually look like? What lessons can we learn from the instructions that Jesus gives to us today?
Recorded at St Paul’s, 10am (9’41”)