Luke’s gospel reading promotes Jesus’ genius at recruiting, training, and sending out these first missionaries. All organizational commentary aside, the same motivation that spurred God to be quietly at work in Job’s journey of faith takes place with these seven dozen courageous men.
God shows himself to be remarkable at every turn. Though, apparently, very secretive.
Image by Ana Krach
By John Pearring
Today’s readings in Luke and Job are two significant historical and “veiled” moments of God. Events in scripture are similar to many historical happenings, though assuredly much more cosmic. However, the meaning of God’s cosmic injection of himself is not something everyone can understand.
Come to find out, if you didn’t know it already; God is secretive. He goes to great lengths to hide his intentions, his plans, and his purpose for our lives.
Jesus sent chosen followers “in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit.” (Luke 10:1) They took off with nothing, really. They entered strange towns as innocents. When the disciples’ returned, however, he took them aside to talk to them.
Turning to the disciples in private he said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
“In private.” Jesus drew his disciples to a separate place. Our minds concoct a closed club, a hand-picked crowd of 70 followers (or 72, depending on your gospel rendering). That’s not an intimate gathering like the 12 apostles or the trio of Peter, James, and John at the Transfiguration. Seventy people can’t fit in a residence, tent, or street shop. The temples were probably not available to him, so Jesus talked to his missionary team in a courtyard, field, or some beach setting. Keeping private a gathering of 70 people and likely lots of friends and family nearby piques the imagination.
Jesus explained to his disciples, only after they returned, that they experienced a relationship to God that others could not. God hid himself from the “prophets and kings.” During Job’s entire time suffering at the hands of evil, God did not explain what he was doing. He didn’t let anyone in on what was going on. At the end of Job’s suffering, however, the renewed lands and family given to him because he was faithful caused Job to say the following to God.
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be hindered.”
Jesus’ disciples, on their announcements that the Christ would be visiting their village, came to the same conclusion. The disciples found out that Jesus could do all the things he said through them. “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” (Luke 10:17) Like Job said, no purpose of Jesus would be hindered either.
Luke’s gospel reading promotes Jesus’ genius at recruiting, training, and sending out these first missionaries. All organizational commentary aside, the same motivation that spurred God to be quietly at work in Job’s journey of faith takes place with these seven dozen courageous men. God shows himself to be remarkable at every turn. Though, apparently, very secretive.
God restored everything to Job and more, but he told no one about his plans to have Job suffer. Jesus’ disciples drove out demons, healed the sick, and more. Again, with quiet backroom instructions. The recognition that God can do all things and that no purpose of his can be hindered is crucial to a successful evangelizing campaign and a successful story for the ages in Job. His methods are unique.
Job explained it well.
I had heard of you by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen you.
Why doesn’t everyone recognize his presence? The answer is not what we would expect.
“No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”
This verse leads to a more specific rendering of keeping his presence and words secret, explained in Luke 10, verse 24. Prophets and kings were not privy to Jesus’ divinity and teaching. His Father did not allow it. The same was true in Job. Job's friends did not know the reasoning behind their friend's suffering, veiled by God's hand.
For his disciples benefit, and ours, Jesus prayed openly to his Father giving insight into the process of God's revelations, telling only those he chooses to hear his voice and see him at work.
“I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.”
We usually think of childlike as immature and undisciplined. Jesus means childlike in another sense — trusting, non-judgmental, and grateful. Jesus kept mum about his plans with the opportunists, the critical, and the self-serving. Job argued with God that he did not deserve what was happening to him. God explained that his ways are beyond understanding.
Rather than question God and conclude he has made a mistake, and so limit God's capabilities, God wants us to collaborate, trust that he loves us, and let him do with us as he wills. This is our model for being brought into the fold of Jesus’ inner circle and how we know the Spirit leads us.
Your sufferings may last long. Your tasks may seem hard. Eventually, however, you’ll know you’ve been selected when you can say, "I had heard of you by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen you."