Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine

The story of the mission of the seventy is a second mission story. Jesus sends out the twelve earlier in the story and gives them instructions about what they are to do (Luke 9:1-6). The mission of the seventy is an extension of the mission of the twelve. One major difference is that this is a mission in Samaria. (See the commentary on Luke 9:51-62 for discussion on the relationship between Jews and Samaritans.) This is a peace mission among Samaritans who were often hostile to Jews in Galilee and Judea.

This story is a series of instructions by Jesus. The only exception is when the seventy return rejoicing and saying, "Lord, in your name, even the demons submit to us." There is excitement in their report and in their sharing with Jesus. Prior to that everything is a series of commands about what they are to do and a description of what this means.

Jesus is here speaking as a commander but the mission that he is sending them on is radically different than a military mission. It is different than David or Saul sending young men on a particular military task. Jesus gives his disciples commands with a kind of implicit military spirit, but he is giving the orders for a nonviolent peace mission against the powers of evil, not for war against human enemies.

The contrast between this mission of the seventy and the expectations of the Messiah is a contrast between a mission of war and a mission of nonviolent resistance to the powers of evil by establishing peace between enemies. In the background of this story are the instructions to the twelve about what they are to do, namely to heal the sick and to preach the Kingdom of God. This mission is implied but not explicitly stated in this story.

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