Jesus Sends Out The Seventy-Two


The sending out of the seventy-two gives us a sense of the urgency in that Jesus wanted the good news told to as many people and in as many places as possible before He goes to the cross. This is a completely different mission from the one the apostles were given by Jesus in Matthew 10. The sending out of the seventy-two and all the teaching surrounding them being sent out is only found in Luke’s Gospel.

‘After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.’ Luke 10:1

Some early manuscripts and the KJV state that the Lord appointed ‘seventy’, whilst others state ‘seventy-two’ but this isn’t a problem, as it doesn’t affect the event or the teaching as a whole. We know that Jesus didn’t just prepare the twelve for preaching the Gospel, He also prepared other people for the task of preaching and here in Luke’s account, he tells us that these disciples were prepared not only to preach but also to heal the sick. Luke 10:9.

Why seventy or seventy-two?

Some scholars believe that the number was ‘seventy’ because of the symbolism involved with that number. For example, they suggest that the Jews believed that the Gentiles were made up of seventy nations and at the feast of Tabernacles, seventy young bulls were offered on behalf of the Gentile nations, to make atonement for them.

Why two by two?

Mainly for protection, we have to remember that Palestine could be a dangerous place and so, you are less lightly to get attacked if there were two of you. there’s also the encouragement side of being with someone, anyone involved in mission work knows how lonely it can be at times, and so encouragement is always needed for each other.

Another reason could be to increase their credibility, it’s one thing when someone alone proclaims one thing, but the proclamation is more credible if there are two people proclaiming the same thing.

Remember that Jesus’ earthly ministry is fast coming to an end, hence why He wanted the Gospel proclaimed in every town and every place before He went to the cross.

It’s also important to note that Jesus followed up their mission trip by personally going back to these places, which were mainly Gentile towns. Getting the word out that He was the Messiah was fundamental, in this way everyone who witnessed His crucifixion would come to realise what happened at the cross. Acts 2:41.

‘He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’ Luke 10:2

The disciples are told to pray for more workers because the harvest is plentiful, in other words, there are a lot of people to reach with the Gospel and they need as much help as possible. I find it interesting that most churches employ a single evangelist and expect him to go out alone into the harvest field.

The church as a whole will often pray about reaching the lost but doesn’t do much in terms of evangelism to actually do something to reach the lost. 1 Corinthians 3:9 / 2 Thessalonians 3:1. We must remember that the harvest is still plentiful even today, but it will take a congregational effort to really reach out to them.

‘Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. ‘When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.’ Luke 10:3-6

Their mission was going to be a dangerous one and Jesus was well aware that many would try to destroy the disciples. The reason for taking so little was because of the urgency to get the message out, they didn’t need any extra baggage slowing them down. Again, this is about putting their trust in God, to take care of their needs. Matthew 6:25- 34.

Notice again the sense of urgency in getting the Gospel proclaimed, Jesus told them not to greet anyone on the road, in other words, they haven’t got the time to chit chat to anyone, getting the message out needs to be priority. Jesus is basically saying, ‘just go as you are.’

‘Peace’ was the greeting which let the disciples know if they would be welcomed into a house and if they were welcomed, then God’s blessing would be upon those who live there. This is an area where some Christians struggle, fellowship is so important for every Christian, especially when it comes to preaching the Gospel. 3 John 1-8.

‘Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. ‘When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you.’ Luke 10:7-8

In today’s society, teenagers especially, have become very fussy about what they eat, maybe that’s because of the number of different choices we have these days. In Bible times when someone offered you something to eat, this was seen as an honour, but it would also be highly disrespectful to complain about the food being offered to you. Jesus tells the disciples they must accept and eat any food which has been offered to them and eat it with thankfulness.

They haven’t got time to be fussy about food, the message needs to be proclaimed. They were look upon their food as their wages, it’s important to note that teachers in Bible times were often paid for their teaching time and expected to be paid.

Here Jesus tells them that the hospitality they receive would be more than enough to pay for them. In the church where there is an evangelist, the church should support him in any way they can, and the evangelist should readily receive that support. Matthew 10:10 / 1 Corinthians 9:4-8 / 1 Timothy 5:18.

Now remember that these disciples were Jews who were about to go into Gentile areas, the Gentiles may offer them foods which were forbidden in the Old Testament law.

What were they to do in those circumstances?

In order not to cause any unnecessary trouble, they were to become all things to all men. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. They weren’t to move from one house to another as if they were some kind of convenience hotel where they could pick and choose the best accommodation, they were simply to accept what hospitality came their way. After all these food restrictions were soon to come to an end when Christ died on the cross. Colossians 2:14.

‘Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ Luke 10:9

Here we see the purpose of healing and driving out demons, Luke 10:17, the purpose to proclaim the Gospel of the kingdom of God. Just as a side note they weren’t commanded to raise the dead as the twelve were in Matthew 10:8.

The kingdom of God had come near in the sense that Jesus, the King was on earth ministering among people, a little later He would ascend to the throne of David in heaven to receive all authority, Matthew 28:18 and His kingdom would be established, Acts 2.

‘But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ Luke 10:10-11

The disciples were to proclaim the good news that the kingdom of God was near and will soon be established. It was customary for the Jews to wipe off the dust of another land, a land which they considered to be polluted, Amos 7:17 / Ezekiel 45:1.

It was a symbol of rejection of all those who lived in that land. Here Jesus tells His disciples to do so as a symbol that the disciples themselves wouldn’t be responsible for those lands that would reject the Christ. Acts 13:51.

We must remember that Christians are only responsible for sharing the Gospel, Matthew 28:19-20 but Christians aren’t responsible for what the hearers do with the message. Jesus gave these Gentiles cities the chance to at least hear the Gospel, but the choice was theirs as to whether they would believe it and act upon it or not. We should never force someone to become a Christian, the choice must be their own.

‘I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.’ Luke 10:12

When we read through the Gospels we see that time and time again Israel as a nation had opportunities to repent whilst Christ was on Earth and it’s quite clear that their judgement would be greater because they rejected Christ.

The ‘that day’ statement is interesting, as some believe Jesus is referring to A.D. 70 when the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem and Israel as a nation would come. However, since Jesus is speaking about the Gentile cities, the ‘that day’ would make more sense in terms to mean Judgement Day, Hebrews 9:27 / 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.


When you mention the name Sodom to almost anyone, even today, most people know that this was a city which was famous for its sinful behaviour and some people are aware that it was destroyed by fire from heaven, Genesis 19:1-26.

But why would judgement day be more bearable for Sodom than these other towns?

Simply because these towns rejected the Christ, the good news, they had the opportunity to see the Christ, hear the Christ, and hear the good news about His kingdom, this is something that Sodom never had the opportunity of hearing and witnessing. In other words, these towns have got no excuse for not accepting Christ and believing His message.

‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgement than for you.’ Luke 10:13-14

Chorazin and Bethsaida

What I find interesting about these two cities is that there are no ‘miracles’, that is more than one miracle recorded anywhere in the New Testament that were done in these two cities. Yes, we have the healing of the blind man who lived in Bethsaida recorded in Mark 8:22 but that’s it, Chorazin is only mentioned in one other place, Matthew 11:21 but no miracle is recorded happening there.

Please note that just because they aren’t recorded, that doesn’t mean that they didn’t happen, John 20:30-31 / John 21:25.

Tyre and Sidon

Tyre and Sidon were Gentile cities, Genesis 10:15 / Genesis 49:13 / Isaiah 23 / Ezekiel 26-28 / Ezekiel 29:18. These cities just like Sodom were notorious for their sinful behaviour. Sackcloth was a very coarse material that was often made of goats’ hair and was black in colour, Revelation 6:12 and the Jews wore them for different purposes, Genesis 37:34 / 2 Samuel 3:31 / Nehemiah 9:1. Sitting in ashes was also seen as a sign of repentance, Job 2:8 / Jonah 3:6.

Jesus’ point is simply this, the cities of Tyre and Sidon would have repented if they had the opportunity the cities of Israel had during the personal ministry of Jesus. They would have repented because they would have recognised they were not right with God, Chorazin and Bethsaida believed they were already right with God and didn’t see their need to repent.

But why would judgement day be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon than these other towns?

Chorazin and Bethsaida heard the good news about Jesus’ kingdom, like Sodom, this is something that Tyre and Sidon never had the opportunity of hearing and witnessing. In other words, these towns have got no excuse for not accepting Christ and believing His message.

‘And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hell. ‘Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.’ Luke 10:15-16


Capernaum was a popular and busy city, people travelled back and from Palestine to the East and it had a strong Roman military presence. You may remember that it was in Capernaum that Jairus’ daughter was raised from the dead, it was here that the centurion’s son and servant were healed, and it was in this city that the nobleman’s son was healed of a fever.

Capernaum must have thought that they were indestructible which is a glorious future, but Jesus says the opposite, He says it will be utterly destroyed because of its religious arrogance in rejecting Christ and His message. They think they will be exalted to the heavens, but Jesus says they will go down to Hell, which is the place of eternal punishment. Luke 16:19-31.

I believe it’s important to remember that rejection isn’t personal, people usually reject the message we’re proclaiming not you as an individual. Jesus takes this one step further by reminding the disciples if people reject them, they are actually rejecting Jesus Himself, likewise, if people accept them, they accept Jesus.

Remember when Saul was persecuting Christians, Jesus tells him he was actually persecuting Jesus Himself, Acts 22:8. Once again we’re reminded that we’re responsible for delivering the message but not responsible for how it’s received.

The seventy-two return

‘The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’ He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.’ Luke 10:17-18

The disciples seem to be really happy with their efforts, especially since the demons obeyed them because of the authority of Jesus. It’s important to remember that even the demons recognised Jesus’ authority and obeyed Him.

Jesus’ reply is an interesting one, to say the least, but it’s important to remember that He is speaking metaphorically. He isn’t focusing so much on Satan himself, but on the fall of his power, in other words, He’s speaking about how Satan was slowly but surely being disarmed by Jesus.

Satan’s power to influence people through sin would fall when Christ died on the cross, 1 Corinthians 15:3 and his power through physical death would fall through the resurrection of Jesus, 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 / Hebrews 2:14.

One commentator suggests that in Jesus’ reply we see Jesus reminiscing and prophesying. Satan had suffered some major defeats, notably in connection with Christ’s temptation but Jesus was also looking forward to Satan’s final fall, his complete defeat at Christ’s hands.

‘I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’ Luke 10:19-20

The authority Jesus gives these disciples speaks about the many victories they will have over the works of Satan. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 / Ephesians 6:10-18. By telling them that ‘nothing will harm them’ Jesus is giving them the much-needed confidence they will need to continue to preach the Gospel, especially after Jesus has died and gone back to the Father. Mark 16:15-20 / Matthew 28:19-20.

But Jesus also reminds them that this miraculous power they were given by Him wasn’t as important as their salvation which was given by Him, hence why their names are written in heaven. Philippians 4:3 / Hebrews 12:23 / Revelation 13:8 / Revelation 20:12. They must never forget that the victories they have over Satan are actually Jesus’ victories.

The hidden things

‘At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. ‘All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’ Luke 10:21-22

The joy in Jesus’ words can’t be missed here, as He rejoices through the Holy Spirit, meaning that they are in agreement. His rejoicing is simply an outpouring of thanks to the Father. It seems that God was revealing the mystery, that is the Gospel that had been hidden from mankind since the beginning of the world, Ephesians 3:8-13 / 1 Peter 1:10-12.

Jesus says that even though some people call themselves wise, the Gospel would be hidden from them, not because God hasn’t revealed it but because of their own arrogant attitude towards Jesus and His message. Romans 9:11-17 / 1 Corinthians 1:22-27.

Surely if a little child can understand the message, the wise and learned should be able to also. Mark 10:15-16.

As humans, we’re reminded that we’re not omniscient, all-knowing, and the truth is we didn’t really know the nature of the relationship between the Father and Son, John 1:18 / John 6:44-46. We didn’t really know all that God is, but this is why Christ came in the flesh, to reveal all these things to us, to reveal the Father to us. John 1:1-5 /John 17:6 / John 17:25-26.

‘Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.’ Luke 10:23-24


Imagine being one of those disciples, imagine what it would have been like to be in the presence of Jesus, imagine what it would have been like to heal the sick and have demons obey your word! Imagine what it would be like to live your life by fact and not by faith! What a blessing that would have been.

Today, however, we believe what they saw and wrote, but we’re more blessed than they are, why? Simply because of what Jesus told Thomas in John 20:29 ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’

Oh, how blessed they were! Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Solomon, David, Hezekiah, all those Old Testament prophets and kings didn’t receive the glorious revelations that these guys received through Christ. By faith they looked forward to the mystery, the Gospel, being revealed but they didn’t understand it. 1 Peter 1:10-12.


There is much need for workers today, saints who are zealous to get out there and share the good news with people. Yes, some will receive the message and we will rejoice with them and yes, some will reject the message but that’s not the Christian’s problem. We simply can’t be content with just having our own names written in the Lamb’s book of life, we must take great efforts to reach the lost, so that their names will be written there too.

We possess the Gospel, something which those Old Testament heroes didn’t have, the time to take that message out is now because Judgement Day is ever getting closer, the time for excuses for not sharing that message is over!