Jesus is the Cornerstone, and he has selected twelve Foundation Stones. To these he now adds seventy-two precious stones who become a part of his divine house. As ministers, our names are to be added to theirs, for we are his workmanship — precious stones selected, cut, shaped, buffed, and meticulously placed in his glorious Temple.
Jesus is the Apostle, and he has selected twelve Apostles. To them he adds seventy-two other apostles or “sent-ones.” As ministers, this is our calling and mission. We are men selected by the Master to go and do his royal bidding.
In Luke 10, we see the responsibility of all ministers. “Sent-ones” are to enjoy Jesus, love Jesus, obey Jesus, look like Jesus, sound like Jesus, serve like Jesus, and point people only to Jesus. This is our special calling.
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:1-20)
As ministers, we are appointed ones. We are those called from within and without. The Spirit constrains us from within and the congregation confirms from without. Therefore, while all men and women are summoned to serve the King, we are men summoned to serve differently. We are teachers, and we have a sacred commission to keep. Through our public ministry, we are to labor as fishers of men. While holding up God’s Word, we are to be lights on a hill. We are to minister within and without the walls of Christ’s local church. We are to be shepherds of the flock and salt removed from the salt-shaker. Let us not forget the “Go” in Gospel.
As ministers, we are appointed to serve in partnership with others. Jesus sends out the seventy-two in groups of two. This ideal is presented throughout the New Testament as we see Christ’s Spirit establishing plural elders in each individual church. Plurality of leadership is a virtue to the King. He endorses connection, accountability, and mutual support. Jesus intends to lead his people through teams of leaders.
As ministers, we are to be engaged in advertising. We are to be shining the spotlight on the Wonderful Counselor. In the text, the specific calling of the seventy-two is to go “ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was to go.” Like John the Baptist, they were to prepare the way of the Lord. Men, this is our calling. We are to consistently point people away from ourselves and to the only true Messiah. He must be consistently increasing, and we must be consistently decreasing. In the words of John the Baptist, “We are not the Christ!”
As ministers, we are to always have kingdom expansion and leadership development before our eyes. This is to be a chief component of our prayer. Christ’s field is huge, and his harvest is plentiful. However, according to him, the number of current laborers is not sufficient. Therefore, as Christ made the Twelve, and as the Twelve were found making the seventy-two, so the seventy-two were to pray and endeavor to make many more missionaries. Friends, the harvest is still plentiful and the Lord’s laborers are few. Are we consistently praying for kingdom expansion and leadership multiplication? And if we are diligently praying for such, is this what we are prioritizing most in our ministry?
As ministers, we are to prepare ourselves for expensive and excruciating ministry. Ministry is costly, and we are to count and pay the price without whining. Never are we to be blindsided by opposition, persecution, tribulation, and martyrdom. Jesus was the perfect pastor and he was consistently troubled by those in the neighborhood — both within and without the church walls. Men, we are to hear again the words of Jesus and be both wise and realistic. We are lambs serving the Lamb, and we are serving him in the territory of ravenous wolves. Earthly health, wealth, and prosperity is not always the lot of those sent by the Lord. Sometimes ministry is materially fun and profitable. Sometimes it will take you to the poorhouse — emotionally, rationally, and materially.
As ministers, we are to maintain ministerial focus. Our primary focus must be sharing God’s common grace (Gospel deeds) in collaboration with his saving grace (Gospel words). We are to love, befriend, serve, preach, teach, pray, and develop leaders. We are to wear ourselves out doing the works of with pre-evangelism, evangelism, and the making of evangelists. Therefore, for this to be our driving focus, we must minimize distractions. We must take our gaze off idol conversation, moneybags, knapsacks, sandals, roadside greetings, or housing arrangements. We are team members of Christ striving to win the championship and the trophy. We are soldiers of Christ seeking to take Satan’s hill and take down Satan’s gates. We are special agents of the Son engaged in plundering Satan’s house. Therefore, let us labor to be light, mobile, and focused. Gospel deeds, Gospel words, persistent prayer, and leadership development, are to be our constant focus.
As ministers, we are to herald both Law and Gospel. To all men, we are to express the various woes of God. Bad news is the deserved wage of all those who do not perfectly keep the Law of God. Sodom-like damnation is over the horizon for the unrighteous and the self-righteous. However, alongside this true and terrible news, we are to preach the Good News of Christ’s undeserved peace. Therefore, since we speak for Christ, let us speak Christ’s message. Let us speak Christ’s entire message. Let’s not be selective in our proclamation. It is his message and not ours which we are delivering.
As ministers, we are to expect both reception and rejection. We must always keep in mind the words of our King, “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” Some will accept the message of peace we bring in the name of Jesus, while others will reject his leadership and love. Fathers and brothers, a good ministerial and evangelistic work ethic is our responsibility. However, the corresponding results of our work are the responsibility of the Holy Spirit. We speak to men’s heads and hearts. He opens men’s heads and hearts. Therefore, let us diligently sweat for Christ while confidently leaving the results to Christ. Let us be bold, humble, and relaxed. Consider this, we are not good enough ministers to convince anyone who is lost to join Christ’s Gospel movement. This is an impossible task. It is above our pay-grade. However, we are also not weak and foolish enough to keep any of Christ’s elect from realizing their predestined inheritance. God uses donkeys and rebellious evangelists to do his good will (Jonah); he can use us too. Therefore, despite our errors, some in our town will reject our message and our King. However, because God is sovereign, some in our town will do the impossible. They will see our love, hear our love, and become one with our Lover. God is the Sovereign Master of all men’s hearts and minds, and he loves drawing men and women through less than ideal ministers. Weak ministers like you and me often get to celebrate the Spirit’s movement, Satan’s falling, demons being subjected, converts being made, and the Kingdom of God marching on.
Finally, as ministers, let us find greater joy personal saving grace than in public ministry performance. Jesus said to the seventy-two, “Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Friends, it is great to meet people’s needs, see them come to know Christ, watch them be wet with the waters of baptism, see our membership rolls increase, and watch buildings grow. However, our largest shouts should come forth from what Christ has done for us and not what we have done for Christ. Therefore, regardless of whether we are experiencing ministerial failure or success, regardless of where we are in the church revitalization process, let us delight most in the fact that we:
- Are the elect whose names are written in the ancient book
- Are not those getting what we deserve
- Are not those left alone by the Holy Spirit to our own depraved free will
- Are not those justly suffering the woes of God
- Are those declared blameless, pure, holy, just, and righteous
- Are those with absolutely no condemnation left
- Are those found by Jesus, filled by Jesus, and married to Jesus
- Are those called saints and priests
- Are those guided by his Word and Spirit
- Are those whose sanctification is assured as he transforms us from the inside-out
- Are those Jesus cherishes, adores, comforts
- Are those for whom Jesus prays daily
- Are those with new bodies, new robes, and new crowns over the horizon
- Are those predestined to dwell in the house of God forever
- Are those whom Jesus will never leave or forsake
Oh fathers and brothers, oh weary ministers, I know not how your church is fairing today. However, this I know:
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.
Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!