By Tyson Thorne

December 12, 2013

The 72 large

Luke chapter 10 records an exercise Jesus gave to 72 of his faithful followers. He sent them out in pairs to prepare the surrounding towns for his arrival, giving each person the ability to heal the sick and exorcise demons. He gave them a short list of instructions, including that they were to take no food or money on their journey. They were to stay a day or two and return. It is recorded: Then the seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name!” There is a lot of theology packaged in these 20 verses, but that isn’t what I want us to focus on. Instead, I want us to notice what these extraordinary people did, and how it changes their lives forever.

Imagine being one of the 72 people Jesus chose to send out. After being paired up (the Bible doesn’t say how) each couple was given a town to visit and to prepare with a special message from God. These ordinary people, were suddenly thrust into the role of prophet, to be the very mouthpiece of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – the God who hadn’t been heard from in over a hundred years! Thrilling as that was, they were further given special abilities to heal illness and command demons.

As followers of Jesus we are expected to do many of the daily activities that he did. While raising the dead and healing the sick may be beyond our abilities, there is much we can do, including telling others about the grace of God. We can, and ought to do this, as long as we also recognize the dangers in doing so.

There is a reason Jesus sent the 72 out in pairs, their mission was a perilous one. Jesus was no stranger to conflict and violent opposition, and neither are his followers. By taking this message to local towns they risked persecution and perhaps even stoning for the crime of blasphemy. In such circumstances it is best to have someone by your side.

Out they went, however, regardless of the cost, and every one of them returned excited and elated. Sure they were astonished that they could heal the sick and that demons obeyed them, but the real excitement was what happened inside of them. For the first time they experienced the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Today we tend to take this for granted, as we are permanently filled from the moment we put our trust in Jesus, but back then it was something that came and went. It came to these people for the very first time, and it thrilled them.

This is an important lesson. By taking this challenge and trusting God with their physical lives they experienced God in a whole new way, and that experience created a connection between them and their Creator. What most of us miss in living the Christian life is building those connections with God. The more connections we build, the deeper our relationship with God becomes and the clearer we see the world and the right answers to life’s tough decisions. Our faith is strengthened and our lives find meaning.

If you have been reading this site for long I assume you have already put your trust in Jesus. That is only the first step forward into a remarkable life. If you have not built any more connections to God than this, you are in for a world of amazing experiences. But these experiences only come as we continue to build connection between ourselves and the Lord.

Most churches emphasize prayer and personal Bible study keys to living the Christian life. Through Prayer we let God know our concerns and joys, and through the Bible we learn what God wants us to know. But this is little different from following a celebrity on Twitter. Sure we read what they are doing and we might occasionally comment back what we think of their choices, but we don’t really know them. To know God means to trust him by stepping out and living for him. To know God means we are always building connections with him, to agree with him on the major issues, to struggle with him in the finer points, and to obey him even when it’s difficult – even dangerous – to do so.

Connecting with God looks different for each person, so I can’t tell you a magic formula for connecting with God. I can offer an example, however. Often, before publishing on this site, I will call my sister who lives several hundred miles away and ask her to read my work before it posts. This is not only extremely helpful for me and improves my writing tremendously, but it builds a connection between us. God is a person, and as such we can and should be building such connections with him in our life.

I encourage you to keep your eyes open for the opportunities we all have to do the work he has called us to do. When we follow this path our lives move from the ordinary, to the extraordinary. Take that step today. There is no better time than the Christmas season to start this adventure. More people are open to spiritual things this time of year than any other.

Will you be one of the 72? Or will you be one of the hundreds of others who never left home?

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