If you are a Christian, you are a witness of Jesus Christ. We are always being a witness to Christ, whether we think of it or not, because people are watching us. It’s been said that our lives are the only sermon some people will ever hear. That’s true. But sadly, it’s not enough. People need to hear the gospel. They need to hear, not just see, our testimonies. Why? Because “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
Even then, some Christians will say that is the job of missionaries and preachers. The rest are supposed to be examples to unbelievers and invite them to church to hear from the preacher. However, I think we can see in Luke 10:1-11 that Jesus did not intend for this to be the normal way of witnessing. It’s good to invite people to come to church, but it’s critical that we also go to them with the gospel.
And, we’ll see in this passage, that it’s ordinary Christians that go. Let’s look and see how Jesus sent seventy nobodies to go tell people about Him. There are several evangelism lessons that we can apply to our own lives today. First, we learn that it is helpful to…
1) GO WITH OTHERS (10:1)
Luke 10:1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.
Why did they go “two and two”? One reason is just plain and simple encouragement—and we’ll come back to that in a moment. But first, an important reason for going two at a time had to do with the Old Testament law:
…at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established. (Deuteronomy 19:15)
While this verse was talking about murder, the principle of two or three witnesses was a very important part of Jewish law. The testimony that the disciples gave about Jesus would conform to the requirements of the law because there would be two disciples. Thus, no one could dispute with them about the truthfulness of their claims. Even today, going with another Christian when witnessing can help people see the truthfulness of what is being said.
And, of course, it is a real encouragement to have a partner when talking to others about Jesus. It makes you bolder, for one thing. But as questions come up, it’s nice to have a partner to help you think through the answers with the person. Solomon wisely said in Ecclesiastes 4:9—
9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. (Ecclesiastes 4:9)
If you have a fear of witnessing…go with someone else. Maybe you are having coffee with a group of people. It’s a great encouragement to have a fellow Christian sitting beside you when the discussion turns to God. The two of you can help one another answer questions and present the gospel.
Go two by two and…
2) GO WITH PRAYER (10:2)
Luke 10:2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
The first thing that He tells them to do is to pray to “the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”
Notice three sovereign statements in that sentence:
“the Lord of the harvest”—The word “Lord” (kyrios) refers to someone who is in charge; who is in a position of authority. Who is ultimately in charge of the harvest? The Lord is. He is the one Who decides what fields will be harvested and who will go into what field.
What harvest field might the Lord be calling you to get into? Your family? Your coworkers? Your neighbors?
“he would send”—The Lord is the one who calls people to the field. Most missionaries will tell you that the Lord gave them a burden for a certain people. Somehow, out of all the people in the world, a missionary can get a burden for a specific people, even a specific tribe or city. That is how, at least one way, that the Lord sends workers into the harvest fields.
Who are you burdened for? It might be a family member or a group of inmates in a detention center or a nursing home resident. If you don’t feel burdened, then pray that the Lord would send workers into His harvest by burdening your heart for someone.
“his harvest”—What harvest? His harvest! It’s not the harvest (unless we are talking about “the Lord of the harvest”), but His harvest. It sounds like a small thing, why make a big deal of it? Because, by remembering it is His harvest, we remember that He should get the credit for any soul that is saved.
But also, this helps us with a common fear about witnessing—that we will do or say something wrong. Of course, we should do our best to prepare and become better at presenting the gospel, but our focus ought not to be on our abilities but on God’s power and authority over His harvest field.
Go into that field with prayer, because when you go, you will…
3) GO INTO DANGER (10:3)
Luke 10:3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.
We live in a post-Christian culture. As such, there are dangers to living a biblical lifestyle today. We don’t have to go far for examples of the danger:
Jack Philipps, the Colorado baker who refused to make a cake with a message that violated his conscience and won in the United States Supreme Court in June, is being taken to court again by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission over a similar situation.
Greg Laurie, an evangelist in California, had a billboard for a harvest crusade taken down because it was deemed offensive. It featured a picture of him holding up a non-descript black book—no markings whatsoever. The billboard had nothing about Jesus, the Bible, or anything else religious on it. It simply listed the dates of a crusade. Yet it was offensive.
Listen, as a Christian, you have to accept that we now live in a post-Christian culture. There will be risks to standing up for biblical morals and for talking about the gospel. We shouldn’t be surprised at this, because it’s exactly what the Bible describes as normal for the Christian.
13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. (1 John 3:13)
12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)
12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. (1 Peter 4:12–14)
Our attitude going into this danger should not be that of a wolf. It should be that of a lamb. What did Jesus say here? He said, “I send you forth as lambs among wolves.”
I think that the hatred some Christians spew towards people they don’t like causes more problems for Christians than it solves. It drives the unbeliever further away from Christ. Even that big-mouthed Peter learned to be a lamb. He said:
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1 Peter 3:15)
Go boldly into danger. But go as a lamb, just as your Savior was a lamb. And, also…
4) GO WITH URGENCY (10:4)
Luke 10:4 Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.
Can you see the urgency in this verse? Jesus is saying to them, “Travel light.” Why does someone travel light? Because speed and urgency are paramount. Eternal souls are at stake!
Why shouldn’t they greet anyone on the way? Why wouldn’t they witness to those that they meet on the road? Part of this has to do with the customary long-winded sort of greetings that the Jews would do. It’s not that they weren’t supposed to smile and wave and be nice, it’s that they were to avoid long-winded diversions to their mission.
Jesus was conveying that their mission was urgent. If, along the way, they got into a discussion about Jesus and how the kingdom of God was near, that would be a good thing, because it was the mission. But don’t dilly-dally talking to fellow travelers about the weather and road conditions!
J.C. Ryle, a 19th century preacher, explained that these instructions from Jesus teach us that we should show unbelievers…
…that we find life too precious to be spent in perpetual feasting, and visiting, and calling, and the like, as if there were no death, or judgment, or life to come. By all means let us be courteous. But let us not make the courtesies of life an idol…
Let us declare plainly that we seek a country beyond the grave…
Let our principle be that of Nehemiah [building the wall of Jerusalem], “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down.” (Neh. 6:3.)
(J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke, vol. 1 [New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1879], 347–348.)
One application for us today is not to spend so much time building relationships and beating around the bush, especially with the people we meet in our travels and may never see again. Find a quick way to ask them about where they are spiritually. Here are some quick questions that could lead to fruitful discussions:
- Do you go to church?
- What do you think about Jesus?
- Do you think there is life after death?
- Why do you think we were put on earth?
- Is there right and wrong? How do we know?
Go with urgency, and…
5) GO WITH SUPPORT (10:5-8)
As the seventy disciples travelled to different cities, they would need to find a places to stay and food to eat. Jesus provided instructions for what they were to do to find that support.
Luke 10:5 And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.
To say “Peace be to this house” was a normal Hebrew greeting.
Luke 10:6 And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.
What does Jesus mean by “the son of peace”? To be a “son” of something to the Jew meant that you had characteristics of that something. From the context, it seems that this homeowner was a person who was either a believer or was willing to hear the gospel of peace with God.
If the person wasn’t a believer yet, but willing to hear the gospel preached by the disciples and receive it, then, you could say, that the same peace of God that the disciple had received had now come to “rest upon” the new believer.
Or, if the homeowner was already a believer, it would be the peace that comes from the fellowship between believers. That home would become their base of operations.
Luke 10:7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.
Luke 10:8 And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:
I’ve had people see me in grubby clothes and say, “Actually doing some work today, huh, preacher?” They are sooo funny!
Jesus says that ministry work is actual work, and deserves payment—“the labourer is worthy of his hire.” At the same time, however, they are not to go “from house to house,” seeking a better deal. A true preacher of the gospel would not be in it for the money.
The point of all this was that the disciples were to seek physical and spiritual support in the towns that they went to. Most of us today will not be traveling to different places like they did, but it’s still important for us to find support.
Where do we find our support today? Our local church! We gather together to hear God’s Word preached and sing songs to Him, but also to fellowship. To share our peace with one another. Let this be a time to talk about your adventures and your difficulties in witnessing. Speak less about politics and weather and more about souls needing saved. Seek encouragement and seek to encourage one another to be better and more frequent witnesses.
Go with support and also…
6) GO WITH A SIMPLE MESSAGE (10:9-11)
Jesus continues His instructions…
Luke 10:9 And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
Luke 10:10 But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say,
Luke 10:11 Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
Look at the message that they shared. It’s repeated twice: “the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” In what way was the “kingdom of God come nigh” unto the people? Simple…Jesus was walking the earth, preaching and healing as He went.
It’s not the same message as the gospel we preach. We preach that Jesus has come, has died, was buried, and He did rise again—all to secure for us the forgiveness of our sins (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
What was the message that they shared? It was a simple message, “the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” Jesus, the Messiah, is here! Certainly they said more than just that, but in the end, it was a simple message. And the gospel itself is simple:
- We are sinners who have rebelled against God (Romans 3:23).
- Our sin deserves the punishment of death in Hell forever (Romans 6:23).
- God, in His love, sent His Son to die in our place (Romans 5:8).
- If we declare our faith in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection, we shall be saved (Romans 10:9).
Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ to save you from the punishment for your sins? We really don’t have to share a great deal with people. It’s a simple message…start with our sin, go to our Savior, finish with faith.
At Bible camp, our camp dean instructed the counselors on what to do when the kids come for counseling after a call from the Evangelist. One of the things that he said was, “Don’t spend too much time with a camper, if you take longer than 15 minutes, you are probably doing something wrong. Share the gospel. Ask them if they want to respond in faith.”
This should be great relief to us. We don’t necessarily need to answer every question they have. We don’t need to meet every objection. We need to share a simple gospel.
One more point here. How many of the twelve disciples can you name? Peter, Andrew, James, John, etc. We have the names of all of them recorded. They have all been famous for two thousand years.
How many of the seventy can you name? None. Their names are lost to history. These were not apostles, they were ordinary believers.
I see that as an encouragement to us. A hundred years from now, no one will remember my name or yours, except for a distant relative looking through a genealogy.
But it’s a great encouragement that Jesus uses nobodies like you and I to share the gospel. You and I will be forgotten in this world. But we will be remembered forever by those to whom we witnessed and shared Jesus.
Jesus uses nobodies like us. Let’s go be used by Him.