In Luke 9, we read that Jesus sends out his chosen 12 disciples on a short-term mission trip to tell people that the kingdom of God has come. He also gave them the power and authority to heal the sick and defeat enemy forces. They return with joyful stories of how God worked through them in Jesus’ name. Sometime later, he sends out 72 of his followers to go ahead of him into the towns and villages he will visit to prepare the way. They, too, returned with stories of joy and miracles.
Though the twelve may have also been part of the second group, we don’t really have any idea who these people were. They were just 72 nobody followers of Jesus who obeyed him and through whom the Holy Spirit worked to prepare the way for Jesus. So how does that story apply to us?
We are nobody.
God delights to use his people to accomplish great things, but often no one knows who they are. God brings the harvest. God gets the glory. If we seek glory for ourselves through what God is doing in and through us, we open the door for pride and other sins to derail us. Proverbs 16:18 reminds us that pride leads to failure (pride goes before a fall). I think we can all recount stories of people God has used in great ways who later experienced a moral failure of some kind. There are wisdom and value in anonymity. God knows our weaknesses.
Jesus also addressed this. The religious leaders of the day were known to publicize their giving. Jesus told his disciples to give with the right hand, not knowing what the left hand was doing. That way, our reward is in heaven, where it will be protected from “thieves, rust, and moths.” (Matt 6:19) He knows that where we put value, that was where our hearts indeed are.
We are in the king’s family.
Though others may never know our names, it doesn’t make us any less important to the cause of the kingdom! Jesus values us. He trusts the health and growth of the kingdom to unknown people like us. We should follow in obedience with joy and perseverance no matter what lies ahead, knowing that Jesus loves us and is with us, even to the very end. Not only that, but he also wants us to move forward together. Jesus has not left us alone. He has given us the Holy Spirit to indwell, guide, and empower us.
But wait, there’s more.
Just as Jesus sent out his unknown workers two by two, he sends us out together with other workers as well. We can support each other, rejoice and suffer and love each other, just as Jesus loves us. Together we can be successful and accountable. He is sending us, and he is faithful!
Serve today with the awareness that though we may not be known to those around us in the world, we are fully understood by the one who made us, loves us, gave himself for us, and sends us out to love others.