We have already heard about the mission of the Twelve (Luke 9:1-6), now we have the mission of the Seventy (or is it 72?).
In all the Gospels it is an account that is only given by Luke although the charge referring to ‘the harvest being plenty and the labourers being few’ has its parallels . The commentaries make a number of useful points. Some texts give the number as seventy others seventy-two. The appointment of seventy elders is alluded to (Numbers 11:16,17). Then there is the list of the world’s nations, seventy in all (Genesis 10:2-31). So the mission of the seventy is thought by some to prefigure the mission to the Gentiles.
The mission to which the seventy are charged to go will be hard going. They will be facing hostility ‘like lambs in the midst of wolves’. They go without money, possessions and even without a decent pair of walking shoes. The way they are to live is much like the way Jesus and the twelve live dependant upon hospitality.
All that being said the story is a reminder that God’s mission is not only in the hands of the professionals (the twelve). It is about teamwork, the seventy go out in twos, so each is dependant on another, each are with the other sixty-nine, much like we are dependant upon each other in our churches today. we are disciples together. We are reminded that the success of the mission is dependant not only on the seventy that go out but also upon those who provide hospitality. As disciples today we have different tasks and responsibilities.
The mission is one of healing and service, churches remain healing and serving communities. We cannot however predict the outcome of our mission, that is dependant upon God alone.