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October 1, 1998 | Download Document

A Reflection on Congregation, Faith-Based Community Organizing by the Rev. Dr. Kendall Clark Baker.  Presented at the PICO National Clergy Caucus, Los Altos, California, October 1998

Luke 10: 1-11, 17-20 (NRSV):

After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. (2) He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. (3) Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.

(4) "Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. (5) Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!' (6) And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. (7) Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house.

(8) "Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; (9) cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.' (10) But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, (11) ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.'"

(17) The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" (18) He said to them, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning.

(19) See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. (20) Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."

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This story of the commissioning of the seventy is one of three texts identified by many Jesus scholars as the single most authentic source for presenting a picture of the historical Jesus. Although every verse in the New Testament is subjectively filtered through the eyes of resurrection faith, confessing Jesus as the Christ, there are occasional snapshots offered that reveal an objective picture of what actually must have taken place. This story is one such literary photo.