What is the significance of Jesus appointing seventy disciples to the ministry of the word? Seventy was a significant number in biblical times. Moses chose seventy elders to help him in the task of leading the people through the wilderness. The Jewish Sanhedrin, the governing council for the nation of Israel, was composed of seventy members. In Jesus‘ times seventy was held to be the number of nations throughout the world. Jesus commissioned the seventy to continue the mission of proclaiming the Reign of God. Jesus gave them instructions on how they were to carry out their ministry. They must go and serve as men guided by charity and peace, and lead a simple lifestyle. They must give their full attention to the proclamation of God‘s kingdom and not be diverted by other lesser things. They must travel light — only take what was essential and leave behind whatever would distract them — in order to concentrate on the task of speaking the word of God and heal those who are sick. They must do their work, not for what they can get out of it, but for what they can give freely to others, without expecting special privileges or reward. Simplicity of heart and having limited material resources help them to be less concerned about greed and possessions and make ample room for God‘s providence. The Lord wants his disciples to be dependent on him and not on themselves. Jesus ends his instructions with a warning: If people reject God‘s invitation and refuse his word, then they bring condemnation on themselves. When God gives us his word there comes with it the great responsibility to respond. Indifference will not do. We are either for or against God in how we respond to his word. God gives us his word that we may have life in him. He wills to work through and in each of us for his mission. God shares the word with us and he commissions us to speak it boldly and simply to others. Do you witness the truth and joy of the gospel by word and example to those around you?
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