Kings and people in high positions have heralds, messengers who go before them on the way, to announce the coming of the king. In 2nd Samuel 15[:1] it says how “… Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him.” Again in Genesis 32[:3] “Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother in the land of Seir…” (see also 1 Ki 1:5; Jos 7:22, etc). So too our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the very prince of peace, He sends messengers before him to prepare the way. Make straight his paths, let the rough places be made plain, be warned and be welcome, that you know the time of your visitation (Is 40:4; Luke 19:44). In Malachi chapter 3[:1] it is prophecied ““Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me.” This refers to John the Baptist (Matt 11:10), sometimes called the ‘fore-runner’ of Christ Jesus, who we hear more about in the season of Advent. So also our Lord, in the days of His earthly ministry, had runners. Messengers. Heralds that His kingdom was come. It says in our gospel reading today: “1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go.” (c.f. Luke 9:52)
Why should he have runners? Because Christ Jesus is King. His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36, 19:11), but over all the world. The second person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God almighty, took on a human nature and was born among us, true God and true man. In His kingly work He goes to battle for His people, to save His people from sin and death and hell. In dying on the cross in our place under the Law, He pays in Himself every bit of what is needed to atone for, forgive our sins. In rising again He triumphs over sin and death and hell, and opens the way raise you who believe to life eternal with Him in His heavenly Kingdom. So that this righteousness and life may be obtained by us poor miserable sinners, He sends out messengers to proclaim the gospel: The good news that our King has come, His kingdom is near, that He commands repentance for the forgiveness of sins, that this righteousness is receive through faith alone (). Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. How can they hear unless someone is sent? (Rom 10:14-17, etc).
So it is that the Lord Jesus sends out messengers ahead of Him, to proclaim repentance and faith, as His kingdom is near. We ordinarily think of when Jesus sent out the 12 apostles, saying “go therefore make disciples of all nations,” and so on. Yet before that, in about the middle of His earthly ministry, He sent out the seventy-two. The 12 disciples we know – Peter and James and John and so forth – they were part of the 72. Yet along with them were 60 other people who had been following Jesus around since nearly the beginning of his ministry. We don’t know much about these others. A few of the particular people mentioned in the Epistle reading for today: Crescens, Titus, Tychicus, Carpus, and also St. Luke. St. Luke, whose feast day it is today, was likely one of those 72 who were sent out.
Saints are holy people, made holy by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. We remember them on feast days not to worship them or anything like that, but in order to learn: 1) to be encouraged in trusting God alone to forgive and save us, 2) to give thanks that He saves and helps His people, and also 3) to learn from their example in history, how we can be faithful and loving witnesses to Jesus in our own time. ”
God used St. Luke to proclaim the gospel. The Holy Spirit inspired him to write the ‘gospel according to Luke’ and also to write ‘the Acts of the Apostles.’ This accounts for about a third of the words the new Testament. St. Luke was the man for the job, too. He’s described as ‘our beloved physician,’ in Colossians 4[:14]. To be ‘beloved’ shows a good bedside manner, and to be a physician suggests a care for the whole person, and an attention to the details. St. Luke is usually pictured as an Ox, or with an Ox. It’s supposed to symbolize a methodical attention to detail, a diligence and thoroughness in his writing, as well as indicate the attention in St. Luke’s gospel to the character of Jesus as the sacrifice to atone for our sins. St. Luke gives details and particulars that we don’t hear about in the other gospels; He relays details from the mother of our Lord that no one else reported; has a fascination with the miracles of healing; it seems likely that he interviewed a great many of Hebrews and Greeks and Romans alike to get all the accounts put together in an impressive and orderly way.
All this goes to say that God is good, and He made sure that we have exactly what we need in order to hear the word, believe, and be saved. God can and does work miraculously. He also can and does use particular people to accomplish His will. You are a particular person, just like Tychicus and Cresens and the rest. God can use your particular talents and abilities, that you be a herald of His kingdom which is near. It might not be that you are one to record a gospel, or serve in the pastoral office, but every one of us can bear witness to Christ Jesus. We can comfort the brokenhearted, we can use whatever particular talents or abilities we have to help those in need. You who have ears to hear and mouths to speak you can declare the glory of God and the peace we have through Jesus Christ His Son.
No easy task, this. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” We cannot wait for someone else to share the good news with those we love. The called and ordained pastors are sent by Christ for specific responsibilities, yet it is you, in particular, who are best placed to talk to your own family and friends about Jesus. And He knows the task may be daunting, we who go out “as sheep among wolves” to proclaim the shepherd. Yet He will be with us, His rod and staff guide us and protect us. We need no special knapsack or moneybag as a protector or guide, for it is the Lord God whose peace we proclaim, and His work we do when we share God’s Word with others.
The point of all this is peace. “5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ 6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you.” Our great high King Christ Jesus has reconciled us to God in His own body on the cross. Your sins are forgiven. He has suffered and died and rose, that we might have peace before God. Peace in the resurrection. Restoration and wholeness in the Lord God Who heals all our ills. Jesus is the true physician of souls (Lk 4:23, 5:31), the king who heals His people. The 72 returned from their journey rejoicing at the power of the name of Jesus (Luke 10:17). He binds us up the brokenhearted in the forgiveness of sins. He gives us the on the medicine of immortality in the holy communion. For in this holy communion, our King is come near to us, present in body and blood. In the course of His holy rule over all the universe, He has set aside this sacrament as a gift, guarantee, and pledge of His peace. Peace be on our house, this holy house of God Christ is come near, and so too His kingdom. In + His name. Amen.