Later the Master selected seventy and sent them ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he intended to go.
He gave them this charge: "What a huge harvest! And how few the harvest hands. So on your knees; ask the God of the Harvest to send harvest hands.
"On your way! But be careful - this is hazardous work. You're like lambs in a wolf pack.
"Travel light. Comb and toothbrush and no extra luggage. "Don't loiter and make small talk with everyone you meet along the way.
"When you enter a home, greet the family, 'Peace.'
If your greeting is received, then it's a good place to stay. But if it's not received, take it back and get out. Don't impose yourself.
"Stay at one home, taking your meals there, for a worker deserves three square meals. Don't move from house to house, looking for the best cook in town.
"When you enter a town and are received, eat what they set before you,
heal anyone who is sick, and tell them, 'God's kingdom is right on your doorstep!'
"When you enter a town and are not received, go out in the street and say,
'The only thing we got from you is the dirt on our feet, and we're giving it back. Did you have any idea that God's kingdom was right on your doorstep?'
Sodom will have it better on Judgment Day than the town that rejects you.
"Doom, Chorazin! Doom, Bethsaida! If Tyre and Sidon had been given half the chances given you, they'd have been on their knees long ago, repenting and crying for mercy.
Tyre and Sidon will have it easy on Judgment Day compared to you.
"And you, Capernaum! Do you think you're about to be promoted to heaven? Think again. You're on a mud slide to hell.
"The one who listens to you, listens to me. The one who rejects you, rejects me. And rejecting me is the same as rejecting God, who sent me."
The seventy came back triumphant. "Master, even the demons danced to your tune!"
Jesus said, "I know. I saw Satan fall, a bolt of lightning out of the sky.
See what I've given you? Safe passage as you walk on snakes and scorpions, and protection from every assault of the Enemy. No one can put a hand on you.
All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God's authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you - that's the agenda for rejoicing."
At that, Jesus rejoiced, exuberant in the Holy Spirit. "I thank you, Father, Master of heaven and earth, that you hid these things from the know-it-alls and showed them to these innocent newcomers. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.
"I've been given it all by my Father! Only the Father knows who the Son is and only the Son knows who the Father is. The Son can introduce the Father to anyone he wants to."
He then turned in a private aside to his disciples. "Fortunate the eyes that see what you're seeing!
There are plenty of prophets and kings who would have given their right arm to see what you are seeing but never got so much as a glimpse, to hear what you are hearing but never got so much as a whisper." Defining "Neighbor"
Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. "Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?"
He answered, "What's written in God's Law? How do you interpret it?"
He said, "That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence - and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself."
"Good answer!" said Jesus. "Do it and you'll live."
Looking for a loophole, he asked, "And just how would you define 'neighbor'?"
Jesus answered by telling a story. "There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead.
Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side.
Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.
"A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man's condition, his heart went out to him.
He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable.
In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill - I'll pay you on my way back.'
"What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?"
"The one who treated him kindly," the religion scholar responded. Jesus said, "Go and do the same."
As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home.
She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said.
But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. "Master, don't you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand."
The Master said, "Martha, dear Martha, you're fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing.
One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it - it's the main course, and won't be taken from her."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)