Weekly Bible Reflection
Luke: Signs of the Kingdom
Fifth Sunday after Trinity
Text: Luke 10.1-11,16-20 "Mission of the Sheep Among Wolves"
Begin by using the Bible Study method as outlined
Do you have any memories of going into a new sphere of work, or into an unfamiliar culture? How did you feel before you set out for the first time?
Was anxiety matched by experience?
A Window on the Text
Jesus sends out his disciples ‘as sheep among wolves’. They would be vulnerable; the task inevitably involves risks. ‘Go just as you are’ is the sense of his instruction to ‘take no purse, no haversack’ – no money, no spare clothes, not even shoes. He expects them to live on their wits, accepting whatever people gave them on their way. Middle Eastern culture has always expected a duty of hospitality towards travellers. The disciples are to accept whatever is offered, and not to be choosy.
Where they were going, Jesus was already well known. He tells them, ‘Don’t get distracted. Chatting to friends and acquaintances, even strangers, will only delay you.’ (v4). (Middle Eastern greetings can be a lengthy!) This mission is too important and urgent and time is short. The disciples are offering a last chance to turn away from their headlong rush to disaster. Dissatisfaction with the political situation, the corrupt regime of Herod, and the Roman occupation was widespread; many felt that an armed uprising was the only answer. Jesus knew that would lead to catastrophe. To reject the messengers Jesus sends now amounts to rejection of God himself (v16). After this it will be too late!
(vv13-15) Capernaum was a city where Jesus had spent much of his time, and yet it remained largely ‘unmoved’. Its citizens evidently spoke about their city being ‘exalted to heaven’ - they had such a high opinion of themselves, but it was all a delusion. The reality would be very different - they would be brought down to nothing. Its fate would be worse than that suffered by the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19), but it would not be ‘fire from heaven’ but the ferocious Roman suppression of the uprising of AD 66-70 – vengeance that Rome always dealt out to rebellious subjects of the Empire.
(vv16-20) The disciples’ mission was a success and they were delighted, but Jesus warns them not to let it go to their heads. Status and pride have no place in the new society of the Kingdom of God. It is always God’s power given to them and not something they had by virtue of themselves.
Responding as a community
- To what extent does your Christian community need to learn the local culture (local, ethnic, youth, foreign) before attempting to ‘reach them’ for the gospel?
- Claiming to speak and act in the name of God is a serious matter. All authority rests in God (see Matt 28.16 and Acts 1.5-8) and Jesus promised that his power would be upon them. The new community of Christians are referred to as a Holy nation, a royal priesthood, etc’ (see 1 Peter 2.4-9). Who is it who has this ‘priestly representative role? Is it ‘us’ as church or is it just certain individuals within the church? Do you see evidence of the authority and power of Jesus at work today in your church/community?
- Is it harder or easier to engage in Christian mission working among people you know or who share your culture?
A single candle placed on a table is lit
C: The Lord is here.
All: His Spirit is with us
Silent reflection for 5 minutes
‘Through Him, we have access in one Spirit to the Father’ (Ephesians 2.18)
Through Jesus let us bring our prayer to the Father:
Prayers of intercession:
Local issues: eg different cultural/ethnic groups in your area; areas of service and ministry; the rising generation and work among young people; for vision and dedication
Tea lights/ candles may be lit for each petition
Conclusion – say together: The Lord’s Prayer