I started this blog post last Wednesday, with every intent of trying to keep up some sort of blogging schedule during my last week of classes, but I failed miserably. Thankfully, there are some similarities in the Gospel lessons for Propers 8 and 9 in Year C, so I can use the title and two sentences.
Last Sunday’s gospel lesson marks the turning point in Luke’s story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Having been transfigured on the mountain, Jesus is now on a downhill journey to the cross. As he prepared for the long, arduous journey to Jerusalem, Jesus sent messengers ahead of him to prepare the way. In Greek, they are sent (apostolos) as messengers (angelos). They are sent as angels.
In the New Testament, the work of the angels is to speak on behalf of God. In Luke, they’ve been quite busy: announcing the birth of John the Baptist, declaring a pregnancy to the Virgin Mary, and announcing to the Shepherds good news of great joy, the birth of a Savior, Christ the Lord. Now it is the job of the disciples to take on the role of the bearers of good news.
This week, we again hear the story of Jesus sending people on ahead of him. This time, Luke tells us that it is “70 others” (heteros), or perhaps more literally, another 70 [messengers]. As Jesus continued his journey to the cross, he sent messengers (angelos) to every town he planned to visit. They went ahead, prepared a place, and began to lay the ground work for his arrival. They were sent to share the good news that the Kingdom of God had come near, but when they arrived at their destinations, they realized that their task was even greater than that. They were able to share not only in his proclamation, but in his ministry of healing and exorcism. They were sent as messengers, but arrived as angels through the power of the Spirit.