The Seventy-Two Disciples

by Jun 14, 2018

I doubt seriously the number 70 or 72 (depending on your translation) ever popped in your mind when you heard the word “disciple.” Our tendency is to only think of the twelve disciples, not the three or the seventy-two.

If you read Luke chapter ten, you will quickly see that Jesus had a group of disciples that extended past the twelve. He clearly had a larger group of seventy something disciples that He was training and developing for his mission.

In Luke chapter ten, Jesus sends the seventy-two out on a mission trip to the towns that He would soon go to Himself. They were sent out to prepare the way for Jesus, but my hunch is that He was preparing them for something more for them as well. Let’s consider the following observations concerning the seventy-two.

The seventy-two are not random! Do not make the mistake of thinking that the seventy-two are just a random group of people Jesus sent on a mission trip. Rest assured – Jesus knew many if not all of them, and He had selected them for this mission. We may not know the names of these people, but that does not mean Jesus and the twelve didn’t. Jesus was strategically and intentionally building and developing an entire team of world changing disciples. We can only imagine who and how Jesus invested in some of the disciples that were part of the seventy-two.

They were receiving ministry training! I think one of the most important observations we see from the story of the seventy-two is that Jesus was clearly training them for ministry. It was more about doing than hearing. Jesus was not calling them to sit in a classroom, but rather to go into the harvest fields. In Luke 10:2, Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.” The hands-on training Jesus gave to the seventy-two is the model of disciple making we need today. Disciple Making is not about simply “going deeper” and mastering spiritual disciplines. It is about accomplishing the mission of making more disciples. Jesus was training the seventy-two so they could fulfill His mission not simply fill seats.

The seventy-two brought Jesus great joy! When the seventy-two reported back to Jesus in Luke 10:21, the Bible records an interesting statement. The NIV version states that Jesus was, “full of joy through the Holy Spirit” at that time. The reason Jesus was full of joy is because He knew His mission was going to be accomplished. Jesus was beginning to see multiple layers of disciples, and He knew that they would continue to reproduce and make more disciples. Jesus was starting to see the first ripples of a movement and that caused Him great joy.

Jesus did not leave His mission only in the hands of twelve men. He actually left it in the hands of seventy-two. Jesus was confident that these workers were ready to fulfill the mission of making disciples.

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