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Luke 10:1-11; 16-20

An Abrasive Peaceable Kingdom

All is well and fine until the welcome runs out… In our gospel passage this week, we come face to face with the consequences of being on mission with God. We are told in living-color what to expect as ambassadors of peace.

According to Luke’s version of Jesus’ commissioning the apostles to carry a specific message and invitation with them, there are seventy-two who are sent. This is Luke’s cultural and theological hint indicating God’s salvation is for absolutely all of humanity. The number seventy-two in Hebrew implies “all nations of the world.” Messengers of the peaceable kingdom are sent ahead of Jesus to continue to prepare the way for Jesus’ arrival. In Luke’s retelling, Jesus time on earth is short and he is sending the seventy-two to prime the pump for the message of a new kingdom come to earth, the message of a peaceable justice and healing for all who chose to receive it. Jesus commissions the apostles with a specific set of instructions and a few stark warnings. The messengers are to live by reciprocal hospitality, intentional poverty, relational interdependence, expect rejection, practice detachment from religious and cultural norms, exercise the spiritual authority of Jesus, and serve according to the ethic of non-violence. The messenger and the message must both signal the heart of the message: healing has come, peace is possible, not even satan can inhibit full shalom.

There is always a both/and to the good news of God found, mirrored and proclaimed in the life of Jesus. This is an upside down gospel, a gospel of opposites, a gospel when placed before a mirror of societal values appears less than ideal. To be sent by your teacher as “lambs among wolves” must have been… intimidating? anxiety producing? bewildering? Yet it was this kind of stark real talk by which Jesus commissioned representatives of all the nations to take an urgent “get with it” message to all the people of all the nations who would listen. In the both/and invitation comes recognition that this peace is simultaneously encouraging and repulsive - both to the messenger and the receiver. The invitation to live peaceably is not always met peaceably. It evokes powerful forces to rise defensively against it, like that of snakes and scorpions. Like that of inhospitable hosts. Peace in context here is fully-orbed shalom - the flavor, atmosphere, currency and results of God’s dream realized among God’s people. We remember the prophetic worlds of racial justice activist, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as an echo of the kind of peace Jesus is instructing his apostles to carry with them. "True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice” (Stride Toward Freedom, 1958). This kind of peace