Lord, Teach us to Pray

I am sure that if everyone reading this post were to answer honestly, they would admit that there were times when they struggled with their prayer life. Maybe you felt a lack of intimacy with God. Maybe you were steeped in sin and felt you could not approach the holy God. Maybe you just didn’t feel like praying. Whatever the reason, You had a hard time praying.

Or maybe you are reading this thinking to yourself that in all honesty, you don’t know how to pray. Or you don’t even know if you can pray to God. Or you simply don’t know what to say in prayer. Every been there? Ever ask these questions? I don’t claim to have all the answers nor do I intend to answer all the questions in this one post. But I know one thing: the disciples of Jesus had a problem with prayer.

The Problem

Jesus was in the custom of praying and Luke records that for us again and again (3.21; 5.16; 6.12; 9.18). Indeed, the pages of Luke are saturated with prayer (1.10, 13, 46-56, 64; 2.28-32, 37-38). Prayer is a major theme in the gospel of Luke. And nearing the middle of Luke we have this account of a problem facing the disciples. You see, they have been with Jesus for some time and they have seen him constantly engaged in prayer. They know he prays and that there is a certain level of intimacy that he shares with the Father that, I believe, they want to share in. In Luke 11 verse 1, Jesus is once again praying in certain place and when you can almost feel the tension between the disciples. Who will it be who asks the question? Jesus finishes praying and one of them can’t take it anymore and says, “Lord, teach us to pray…” A simple request which I think we can all identify with. We face, at times, the same problem these men faced: how can share in the intimate relationship of prayer and communicate my feelings and thoughts to the Father? Look no further than the one who came to reveal the Father, Jesus Christ.

Some have said that since they want a prayer “just as John taught his disciples” that there may be some pride within the disciples. Disciples were often known to be a disciple of someone based on the prayer they prayed in the open. When a person heard a disciple pray, they knew, “oh that must be John’s disciple” because he was praying the prayer John taught his disciples. This may be the same attitude the disciples have, wanting the attention and the identity as “Jesus’ disciples.” Certainly possible. But I think these were honest and sincere men who desperately were searching for a relationship with the Father, even a relationship like Jesus had with the Father.

The Prayer

Jesus gives them their request in v.2-4. That would have been enough right there. He gives them what they ask and it is indeed a prayer that is total and complete. It is refocusing in nature for it starts “Father,” drawing the disciples attention back to God as the holy one, the “hallowed” one who’s kingdom is coming. He is the supplier of daily needs (v.3), the forgiver of the sins of those who forgive and the one who keeps us and protects from the evil one (v.4). That is the prayer in total and if one were to say it to themselves it would take about 15 seconds.

Now think about that: this is the guy who spent a who night in prayer (6.12). Do you mean to tell us, Jesus, that the whole time you were in prayer you were praying this over and over again? No. I think this is the foundation of the prayer for the disciple and worshipper of God. I also think it is intentionally short and concise because it leads into the next part of this account.

The Parable

Not only does Jesus give the disciple the prayer, but now he engages in his favorite style of teaching: parable. And the parable is about a person (a disciple, i.e. “one of you”) who goes to a friends house and asks for food in the middle of the night. Now keep this in context: getting up and out of bed and moving around the house was no easy feat. The usually consisted of one room with one bed in which the entire family slept. Surrounding the bed on the floor were livestock which were brought in at night. So with this setting, it is no wonder the man does not want get out of bed. But Jesus says the friend will get up for one reason: boldness (or persistence).

The Persistence

And to reiterate the point of persistence, Jesus ventures into giving an example of persistence when he says “Ask…seek…knock…ask…seek…knock.” Six times Jesus says this to reinforce the point that those who are persistent will come out with what they need. The one who sticks with it in their prayer life will get what they need. Be persistent – as a friend asking another friend, as an asker, a seeker, a knocker. Why?

The Point

Be persistent in prayer because God is a God who answers every prayer. Jesus reinforces this point by talking in human terms. A father will not give something harmful to his child, like a snake or something useless like a rock. Instead, he will give his child what he needs. And notice, Jesus says “though you are evil” (v.13). Compared to God, we are evil because of our sins. But God, a perfect and holy and righteous and just God, knows exactly what we need as our Father. And he gives the best gifts of all to those who ask. Every answer to prayer, be it a yes or a no or a wait or something better is a “good gift” from God. And notice, Jesus says he will give the “Holy Spirit” to those who ask. What a wonderful gift from the Father. The best gift he could give was his Son to die for us and he gave us Jesus (Rom 8.32). The second best thing he could give is his Holy Spirit and he can give us that as well.

First, let us acknowledge every answer to prayer as a “good gift.” God knows what we need and knows it better than we do. And when he answers with a no, let us not become discouraged or angry with God; it is a good gift from our heavenly Father. How about acknowledging that “no” answer with praise, thanking him for answering it that way. Thanking him that he even hears our prayers in the first place.

Second, James says “You have not because you ask not.” Could it be that we God is not or has not given because we have not asked? Or are we asking with right motives (James 4.2b-3)? And if we have asked and that with right motives, is God trying to teach me something? Is he trying to build some quality within me, like persistence or perseverance? The one thing we should never do is doubt that God does not hear us; never for a moment think that he has forgotten you or that he is ignoring you.

Sister vs. Sister

I have two sisters and they are very different. I suppose that is an understatement of the fact; they are as different as night and day. One is quiet and reserved; the other more boisterous. My mother has nicknamed each of her children (no one ask what my nickname is) and she calls one “bunnie” and the other was “the hurricane.” Certainly you can see the difference between the two in that vivid contrast. Their personalities, characteristics, etc. are all different and these differences spill over into their Christian walks: each serves the Lord in different capacities. One service is not greater or above anothers, they are just different.

In Luke 10.38-42, we have the account of two very different sisters. And each renders a service to Jesus in their own capacity. Martha offers the service of hospitaity and Mary the service of homage. Luke tells us this account took place in “a village” (v.38), a very vague description which is uncommon for the precise historian. We can venture to guess that this may have been Bethany since Martha and Mary as said to have lived there in John 11.1. Martha opens her home to the Lord and the scene is set for a sibling scuffle.

Martha’s Complaint

When Jesus has fully settled in at the home, Mary takes her place at the feet of the Lord. Notice, these are the Lord’s feet; that is, she recognizes his authority and lordship of her life. This is the proper place for her to be. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Martha is busy with all the preparations. I picture a lady with serveral pots on the stove, many about to boil over. Countertop space is devoted to different aspects to an elegant meal. Notice this: Martha too recognizes the lorship of Jesus. However, the manifestation of this recognition is in devoted service. Indeed the word used here in the Greek is diakonian, from which we get our English word “deacon” but is perhaps better translated as “service, ministry.” These are what “Martha’s” in the church are: servants and ministers. And we need Marthas in the church. But what we don’t need are Marthas who exhibit a Martha complex.

Martha’s Complex

What happens when Martha sees her sister Mary sitting around with Jesus, not helping with the preparations. Well, I think there are some feelings of resentment, anger, frustration. These are expressed in her statement in v.40 where she commands the Lord to demand her sister get in the kitchen with me. Literally, Martha asks for Jesus to tell her sister to “take hold of” the burden of service she is bearing. The Martha complex is when a minister of the Lord’s church (and I am not just talking about the “pastor” or the Preacher) sees a Mary and diminishes their service to the Lord. As Jesus will point out, Mary has chosen some thing that is good. Therefore, don’t take away from it. Paul says it this way in Romans 12.6, “We have different gifts according to grace given us.” Hence, the manifestation those gifts are expressed differently in different people.

A word of caution must go out, though. Marys of the church: do not abuse the service you render by making it an excuse to be lazy or skip out on work with Marthas. There is a time to bury the nose in a book or in the Word, but then there must be time where we physically do what Jesus has said to do. As the half-brother of Jesus says, “Do not merely be hearers of the word and so decieve yourself; do what it says” (James 1.22). There must be times when the Marys mobilize into situations where they roll up their sleeves and bear the burden of service with the Marthas.

Martha’s Chiding

Martha makes her complaint and the Lord gently chides her for the remark. Jesus repeating the name of Martha surely points to the gentleness. He says she is anxious or worried about many things. In few years from then, Paul would say “be anxious for nothing…” (Phil 4.6). She is also troubled in mind (upset) because of all the things she has going on. Jesus says there is only one thing that is needed, that is, it is not about having the best food. Jesus is digging deep into the root of the problem. Martha has an improper attitude behind the actions she is engaging in. Mary denomstrates the better spiritual perspective of the two. Martha had chosen to serve in hospitality and Mary in homage; both had correctly chosen and the Lord loved them for it. But what mars the service of Martha is her improper attitude concerning the service rendered by her sister. I think that is what the Mary’s service “what is better.”

Here is the challenge to every member of the Lord’s body and every congregation summed up by John Phillips: “Blessed is the congregation that has plenty of room for both types of people.” Let us learn to live with and respect one anothers ministry and service to the Lord. Let us avoid bickering and scuffling in the family of God. Let us be slow to anger, quick to listen and slow to speak. And let us not take away from our brother or sister what they have chosen in service to God, be they a busy Martha or a listening Mary.

How Readest Thou?

In 2004, Jerry Bruckheimer produced the movie National Treasure, a story of an intrepid treasure hunter deciphering complex and complicated clues which led to another clue until, at the end of the movie, they find the treasure (and if I just ruined the movie for you, sorry). There are several scenes in the movie where treasure hunter Benjamin Frankiln Gates (played by Nicolas Cage) finds a pair of special bifocals whose lenses are used to read the back of the Declaration of Independence for a certain clue. The bifocals reveal one clue with a certain combination of the lenses and another clue in another combination and still a third clue in yet another combination.

In Luke 10.25ff, we have Jesus confronting an expert in the law with a parable about three men who view life through a combination of lenses. Based upon their view, they each make a decision about how they will treat a man suffering on the side of the road. More importantly, Jesus is pointing the expert in the law (and indeed us) toward the true “Good Samaritan,” in whom is life and light and love.

The Proposition

An expert in the law (or Lawyer, NRSV) was, well, just that – an expert in the law. In the Greek, didaskale, from which we get our word “didactic.” He was a teacher, an interpretator of the law for Israel. Certainly, if anyone knew the answer to this question, it was he. He stands up to test Jesus. As one commentator put it, “in no hostile spirit, yet with no tender anxiety for light on that question of questions.” The KJV says he “tempted Jesus,” but the better translation would be that he tested Jesus. Really, he was setting a trap in this question for the Master, but it is will ultimately be the Master who springs the trap on this expert. The question is simple and is one many continue to ask today of the Lord: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” In one sense, the answer is nothing; there is nothing we can do that would make us worthy or deserving of the glories stored up for us in heaven. But in another sense, there are something we must do. As the lawyer points out, we must love God a certain way. Without love for God, one cannot inherit eternal life.

Jesus answers his question with another question: knowing this expert in the law would undoubtedly know the answer (or at least have formulated some kind of response to the question he has in mind), Jesus asks him what his interpretation of the Scriptures are. I like the way the KJV words it: “How readest thou?” “How do you read it” (NIV)? In other words, what has God already commanded from you. If you don’t have your head in the Scripture, there is no way you can know what the Lord’s will is for your life. The lawyer answers in v.27 – Love God, love your neighbor. Very simple. And Jesus says he nailed it, dead on. “Do this and you will live.” Inplied in the question, this statement by Jesus, and the next verse is the fact that this man was not doing this. He not only wanted to justify himself, he needed to justify himself. I mean, c’mon, he isamong the elites in Israel. How would it look if he failed to do this?

I think today, too many Christians are not so much concerned with what God’s word says as they are with how others see them, probably like this expert in the law. Oh, they have a loose interpretation of Scripture; yes, they know they aren’t supposed to kill anyone, lie, cheat, steal. They avoid the big ones…until suddenly they or their family member is rocked with scandal. A daughter/sister gets pregnant out of wedlock, obviously guilty of some sin be it public or secret (now no longer secret). And instead of the spiritual consequences tied to this event, the first question that pops into their heads are “How is this going to look to (fill in the blank)?” Am I going to lose face in some area of my life? How is my status going to be affected? And that is when we, like this lawyer, seek to justify ourself instead throwing ourself on the mercy of God and being justified by him. We are all guilty of this. And that is when the questions come: “Well, was this sin really a sin?” “Where in the bible does it say not to engage in this activity?” These are defense maneuvers by us to save face, to avoid humiliation. The “lawyer” in us comes out and says, “I know that is what Scripture says, but what about this?” The lawyer asked Jesus “Who is my neighbor?” And Jesus gives him a response.

The Parable

There are usually lots of details in parables, but they are not always intended to have a specific meaning. Every detail does not have meaning, but every detail is leads us to the meaning of the parable. And so Jerusalem: some have made a big deal out of this. What had he done in Jerusalem? Sacrifice? Maybe. What business has this man in Jericho? We don’t know. But some have interpreted this to mean that he is leaving the presence of God in order to go into the world and the world chewed him up and spit him out (this is the robber’s attack).

But I think there is significance in Jesus using a priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan. Each views this poor, pitiful pilgrim through a certain lens. The priest looks through the lens of death. That is, he had just enough love to pass on the other side and not show any love for this brother. The apostle John talks about this lack of love in 1 John 3.14: without love, one abides in death. His combination of lens produced death. The Levite looked through the lens of selfishness. He had enough love to come a little closer, it would seem, and “looked” upon him (see NJKV). The idea is that he studied him, implying a very “cool and calculating selfishness.” Do I have the resources to take care fo this man? No…sorry pal, but you are on your own. He “counted the cost” and the cost was too high. But there was one man who had the proper lens combination, who saw all the clues perfectly and followed them to the proper conclusion. A Samaritan stops and looks with the lens of compassion. He has “pity” (NIV) on the man and puts him on his own donkey, walks him to town and puts him up for as many days are as necessary.

The Point

Jesus, having told the parable, drops the bombshell with yet another question: “Who was a neighbor to the man?” And the answer, for the lawyer and for us, is obvious. Of course it is the one who had mercy, the Samaritan. There was no love in the other two, the priest and the Levite. Oly that dirty half-breed had love. And then Jesus makes one of the most profound conclusions in all his teaching. He sees this man has the head knowledge, knows what he should, therefore “Go and do likewise.” The question is how? How is he supposed to go and go likewise? The answer is standing before him. Notice, the Samaritan was the neighbor. The command was to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Hence, in accepting the Samaritans help, the wounded man is showing love. Imagine the audacity and arrogance of this man if he had refused the help: “No, thank you. Just give me a few minutes and I’ll be ok.” He would have died (after all, he was left for dead). There is no life outside of the invitation of the Samaritan. And indeed, there is no life for this wounded lawyer outside of the Great Physician who, like the Samaritan in the parable, offers to take him into town, pay all his medical bills, and nurse him back to health. Like the man in the parable, we have been attacked by “robbers” from the devil and left to die. Either we demonstrate love by accepting the gracious offer of the Savior or we arrogant and obstinately refuse it, abiding in death.

The abrupt ending of this account leaves us to wonder whether this self-righteous lawyer swallowed his pride, fell before the Master in humility, and received life. I would like to think that he at least went away reevaluating his current position. However, we don’t know. What we do know is that the kind and generous hand of the Savior has been extended to us. Have we taken hold of it? Have we found life eternal in Jesus? Have we demonstrated our love for Him? Or do we continue to wallow is self-righteous death? The Scripture is plain. How readest thou?

Acknowledgements: Thanks to my good friend Justin White for your input and thoughts concerning this parable.

A Contrast in Joy

The background picture on my computer is a picture of a laughing Jesus. For some, it is a symbol of “offense,” inasmuch as they do not read in Scripture about the Lord laughing; they see it as turning Jesus into “a belly laughing jokester.” Really? Certainly, since Jesus, who was created in all points like as we are, at some point in his life he laughed. Jesus had some sort of sense of humor – he called his two best friends the “sons of thunder,” for crying out loud. At any rate, in Luke 10.17-24, Luke contrasts two very different joys: the joy of the returning seventy and the joy of Jesus.

The Joy of the Seventy

There are many places in Scripture where there is a period of time that lapses between two verses and in Luke 10.16-17 we have one of those occasions. We don’t know how long it was between the time the disciples left and returned, but there was a span of time. I suppose Jesus set a date when he could meet with all fo them at once to review how the trip went. Or he happened to meet them along the way as he was making his rounds to the various places he ahd sent them. Nevertheless, the report is unanimous: these disciples have a joy within them. The Greek word is charis, which is simply “gladness, a state of rejoicing, happiness” (Dictionary of Biblical Language). These men return from their mission glad, happy about the work they have done for the kingdom.

Jesus then lays down the hammer. Mind you, Jesus is not tryng to stop these men from having this joy or put a damper on their victory; on the contrary, I think he rejoices when we overcome the evil one. But he is trying to keep the disciples from allowing this joy to become pride, the very thing that led to Satan’s downfall (cf. 1 Timothy 3.6). It is ok to have joy and rejoice that you have come out of some trial or temptation (cf. James 1.2-4). But take heed lest that joy turn into pride. Jesus says he watched Satan “fall like lightning.” Many people think this refers to the pre-incarnate time when Jesus watched Satan fall from glory (heaven). However, another interpretation is that heaven refers to a position power and Jesus has been watching (Gk. “I was watching,” imperfect tense) as the gospel of the kingdom has been preached Satan’s power flash out like lightning as these disciple’s fulfilled their mission. As these disciples drove out demons, the kingdom of darkness was diminshed and the kingdom of God flourished.

Jesus tells the disciples that they should not so much rejoice that the spirits submi to them but they should rejoice over a greater thing: their names being written in heaven. Indeed, what a grand thought to think that in the registar of heaven, our can name be written and mentioned by God if we are under his reign and rule for our lives. The disciples will do great and grand things like trample serpents (Satan?) and scorpions and not be harmed, but ultimately our joy should come more from the fact that we are known by God in heaven.

The Joy of Jesus

We teach our children the song “I got the joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart…” Well, in this passage (v.21) Jesus has the joy down in his heart and he got it from the Holy Spirit. The NIV says he was “full of joy.” Other translations simply say he “rejoiced,” losing some of the translation. In the Greek it is all one word (egalliasato) and it means to be “extremely joyful, filled with delight,” also “to rejoice exceedingly.” This is a great joy, a lively joy. This word is usually used in reference to the joy a kingdom dweller experiences (cf. Matt 5.12; Luke 1.47; 1 Peter 1.6). Out of this joy, Jesus praises the Father (denoting compassion), the Lord of heaven and earth (denoting his sovreignty). Why? Because of the revelation of God of his grand scheme. “These things” are those things pertaining to the kingdom which the seventy have experienced in their mission. And it was not to the great, the wise, the learned whom God revealed these things to, not those who are “great” by human standards. Instead it is to the “little children.” Paul quotes from the Old Testament to drive this point home when he writes, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate” (1 Cor 1.19). This was all according to the pleasure of God.

To Jesus, God has committed “all things” pertaining to salvation and redemption. Hence, he is on earth to fulfill that grand plan to save man. And there are depths of the Son which the human followers cannot comprehend; only the Father knows them. On the other hand, the same is true of the Father to the Son. But those who are “chosen,” then Christ has revealed the Father to you. This points to the exclusivity of the kingdom; there is bu one way for a person to know the Father and that in Christ. Hence, if you are outside of Christ, you do not know the Father.

In private, Jesus sheds more light on the situation. There were many who sought to see what their eyes saw: prophets and kings. But only in their time has it now been “revealed” (Gk. apokalupsis, from which we get our word “apocalypse”), that is uncovered. Thus, the disciples are “blessed,” enjoying the state of bliss only the gods enjoy. Truly, they were engaged in something special.

How great a blessing for us to read and hear of all this wonderful things Christ has done! He has conquered sin, hell, and the grave in th cross. He has opened up a new and living way which we can enter into. We, like these disciples, are blessed to have all these things and so much more. We can enjoy the joy of our salvation. We can enjoy the joy which the Holy Spirit brings (see 1 Thess 1.6). We can experience the joy of knowing we are known by the Father in heaven. Let us do our best to praise God for what he has done and tell others of the blessed state of a disciple in the kingdom.

Seventy Sent into the Harvest

Every Christian, in one sense, is an apostle. Like the 72 found in this reading of Luke (Luke 10.1ff), we are “sent ones.” In the mose generic use of the term, we are apostles, sent ones, sent by the Lord “before his face” or “ahead of him” in order to prepare a people for the Lord. Indeed, the word used for “sent” in v.1 has its root in the word “apostle.” These are apostles, but not apostles like the Twelve for the Twelve are distinct from any other sent ones who have been or ever will be. So there is that distinction.

Jesus “appointed” these 70 or 72 (depending on translation). He hand selected these men from among other men to be ambassadors, preparing the places he was about to go. Now about this 70 or 72 business: which is it? It depends on which manuscripts you use. Some say 70, others 72. One commentator said that the “good” manuscripts have 70 (hence, the RSV reads 70). What number it is makes very little difference unless you are trying to make something of the numbers. For example, some say it was seventy for the seventy elders of Israel on whom the Spirit descended upon (Num 11.24, 25). Others say it has to do with the number of nations from the genealogical record in Genesis 10 where the Hebrew has 70 and the Septuagint has 72. Whatever significance it may have had, we know that Jesus had a busy itenerary before him, for these men went to the cities he was no doubt about to visit.

Their Assignment

The mission Jesus sends them on is great. First, they must pray for laborers. Jesus says the harvest (lit. the summer time, when the fields ripened) is plentiful (or excessive) but the workers are few. Hence, whom can we turn to for help? None other than the proprietor of said harvest: the Lord. Jesus warns, though, their mission will not be an easy one for there are many wolves. “The simile points to the danger and the helplessness” of the situation. The disciple cannot rely upon his own strength; instead, there must be full reliance upon God to take care of you, even in the wolves den. Also, he is the God who provides for the everyday needs. Therefore, there is no need to take equipment of any kind. No money bag (purse), or a clothing bag, or even sandals (probably an extra pair). What about not greeting people? Is Jesus advocating we not be friendly? Not at all. Instead, he is saying not to engage anyone with a long, drawn out greeting, such as was common for the Pharisees of his day. In a way, Jesus is condemning their practice by saying this (cf. Mark 12.37-40, esp. the part about being “greeted in the marketplace.”).

Second, the disciple has somoe business to take care when he arrives at a house. There is a blessing of peace upon the the house and those who live in the house. The “man of peace” is one who is “inwardly prepared to embrace the message of peace.” He is a peace-lover, one ready for the Messianic lordship of Jesus in their life. If there is no man of peace in the house, the peace bestowed on the house would return. I think the message is clear: these sent ones will not bless those who are not willing to receive it. If they do not want the blessing, then they won’t get the blessing. Jesus is very clear to stay with those whom these disciples have blessed, eat what they feed and he tacks on the principle of why this is acceptable: the worker deserves his wages. No need to move around a lot; just find a good place and stick with that family, the two parties enjoying the harmony in that house. Oh, a good principle to live by: eat what they feed you. But Jesus is digging deeper than that – he is saying don’t wrangle over the food set before you. Some of these disciples were probably headed for Gentile cities and some of the food set before them may not have met the rigorous standards they held. So Jesus is in essence saying what Paul said in Rom 14: don’t destroy the work of the kingdom over food.

Third, these disciples were to preach the good news of the kingdom. The confirmation of the word spoken (as always in Luke) was the miracles that were worked. Healing the sick, they preached the kingdom. However, if they were not welcomed, they were to shake the dust off of their feet as a testimony. And even if they did not accept the message, keep preaching it (v.11b). It is at verse 12 that Jesus begins to denounce these cities who would deny or had already rejected the message Jesus or his disciples had been preaching.

Even the wicked town of Sodom would have it easier than those who rejected the word of God at that time. This was serious business. Jesus pronounces woes upon them. If you recall the Sermon on the Plain study where Jesus used the same word, this is to say how horrible, dreadful it will be for them. These cities have been found wanting or lacking something (faith, it would appear, in this case) and thus they are to be considered a thing of horror. Korazin was a town north of Capernaum near the Sea of Galilee. Apparently “miracles” had been worked there presumably by Jesus. Also, Bethsaida is included in this woe. Interestingly named, Bethsaida means “house of fish” (or fishing) at it was here that Jesus fed five thousand (9.10ff). However, the house of fish refuses the one who fed them from the two fish and five loaves. If the miracles performed in these two cities alone (nevermind the rest of the marvelous things Jesus had elsewhere) had been performed for the cities of Tyre and Sidon, their inhabitants would have donned the garments of repentance and repented. On the day when the Lord comes in judgment, it will be much more devestating that what Tyre and Sidon had experienced. Indeed, this “judgment day” has come for these cities, for Korazin has been all but wiped from the planet, leaving nothing but a desolate lot of ground and some ruins. And Bethsaida is also in ruins, “completely destroyed.” Don’t forget Capernaum. The woe pronounced on this city by the Master was so severe that the site of this city has been disputed by scholars for some time. Only recently has it been identified as Tell Hum. Indeed, this city went down into Hades for their unbelief.

Their Authority

Certainly the miracles attested to the fact that these disciples had authority. But Jesus presses the issue more by saying that the words they speak are nothing short of the word of God. Jesus says that those who “hear you hear me.” Hence, those who reject Jesus, reject his word which is the Father’s word and by so doing they reject God. When Jesus authorizes someone tospeak on his behalf, that person speaks with divine authority. The responsibility of the disciple is to accurately and boldly proclaim the word of Christ. The responsiblity of the hearer is to respond appropriately to what he hears.

As disciples of the Lord today, we do not need to confirm the word ourselves; that word has been done by the seventy, by the Twelve and by the Lord himself. Hence, our responsibility to be ready to give a defense for the hope that is within us to anyne who asks (1 Peter 3.15). We have heard the word of Christ and it was as if Jesus spoke it directly to us. We heard his disciple which is to hear the the voice of the Lord. We have responded appropriately and now we seek to speak the word of the Lord, that others may experience the peace that is in our house and in our hearts. God has raised up to walk in newness of life and to be laborers, co-workers with him in the harvest. But this harvest is so great, we cannot do it alone. We need the Lord. We need to communicate to him our thoughts and feelings to him and express our need for more workers in the harvest field. And then rejoice when he answers that prayers.