Happy Dependence

July 7, 2019, Pastor Tim Dean

Today Jesus invites us to a healthy dose of dependence! We are just beginning our journey with Jesus to Jerusalem, the cross and the empty tomb. We are on the road accompanying Jesus in his mission to proclaim the reign of God. Jesus sends the 70 to homes, towns, villages along the way that he can’t get to on his own.

We don’t go alone

The first thing that I notice in our text is that Jesus sends disciples in pairs, or in teams. We don’t go alone. We are to depend on each other for encouragement when the way gets tough. When we are tempted to quit, our partner keeps us going. We rely on the gifts and presence of other followers as we share Jesus’ work. Jesus says, “See, I am sending you out like lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals…whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house’. They are to rely on the houses and people they visit for basic necessities. Jesus’ instructions on the road provide a picture of depending on others to get the job done.

Live simply and vulnerably

Depending on others is the way we engage in God’s mission. It’s the way God works. God works through us receiving humbly and vulnerably what is set before us by other people. And if the homes or villages are not receptive, the disciples are not to make a stink or fuss or call down fire. No vengeance. The disciples are simply to move on, and at the same time, proclaim that God’s reign is near. 

What is amazing is not what the 70 disciples accomplish. Not how many people they heal, nor how courageous they are when facing the wolves, or how transforming their preaching is. What is amazing is their willingness to be dependent on others, for the sake of Jesus’ mission. It’s the gift of humility and vulnerability that God speaks for us today, as we strive to act for and engage in God’s reign.

Christian life is communal

It’s partnership—in 2s and 3s, 70s and 80s, 100s and larger. That’s why you and I are here today—because this faith community is where we give and receive, where we are joined to the body of Christ, and where we participate in God’s mission. We rely on each other. We don’t act and speak alone. The basic point that Jesus emphasizes is that we are not alone in ministry, and are called to depend on each other and God’s help. Ministry happens when we recognize we are knit together as Christ’s body.

But we are here to proclaim that Jesus’ way is faithful dependence. Jesus sends us to be part of his mission to share God’s love in words and deeds—together, with many partners, here and throughout the world. Ultimately, all of us are dependent on God. Through worship, prayer and community, we come to realize that without the Holy Spirit, we can do nothing.

Rejoice that God knows you, and knows your needs and gifts. Rejoice that you are not walking this journey alone, but that God walks alongside of you. And out of a deep and abiding love for all of us, strengthens our bonds for the sake of sharing the good news of God’s reign come near. “Happy Dependence Day!” Rejoice that God promises to be with us forever, gives us partners to depend upon, and send us in mission together! We are never, ever, alone on this journey with Jesus!