February 8, 2021 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Luke 10:1 (NRSV)
After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go.
We know that Jesus did many amazing, miraculous things. But Luke 10 shows us another side of Jesus. He was not just a preacher and healer. He was also an organizer, one who developed a solid plan for his messianic work and organized the work of others who would implement his plan. Thus, when we do mundane work, such as organizing stuff, we can do this both in imitation of Jesus and for his glory.
Today’s devotion is part of the series Following Jesus Today.
When you picture Jesus doing his God-given work, what do you envision? You might imagine Jesus announcing the kingdom of God, healing the sick, and casting out demons. In your vision of his work, perhaps Jesus calms a storm and feeds a large crowd from a box lunch. All of these actions show up in Luke’s Gospel as essential elements of Jesus’s kingdom-focused work.
But every now and then we catch a glimpse of another side of Jesus’s work, one that might seem more familiar and common, and therefore surprising. Seeing Jesus working in an ordinary way not only rounds out our understanding of him, but also encourages those of us whose work is rather less dramatic than storm-stilling and crowd-feeding.
Chapter 10 of Luke begins with this description of Jesus’s work: “After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go” (10:1). There is much in this verse that might feel unexpected. For one thing, it reveals that the group of people following Jesus was quite a bit larger than those in the inner circle, the 12 plus the women who traveled with them (Luke 8:1-3). Apparently, Jesus had been building this larger team for quite some time (see Luke 9:57-62), something that would have required quite a bit of intentionality and coordination.
Jesus appointed seventy (some versions say seventy-two) of those in the group beyond his inner circle “and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go” (Luke 10:1). Here we learn several things about Jesus that might be unexpected. One of these is that he had crafted a plan for his future travels. Jesus had already been clear about his final destination: Jerusalem (Luke 9:51). But now we learn that Jesus had worked out in detail “where he himself intended to go” (Luke 10:1). This enabled him to send seventy of his followers to those specific locations.
I find it fascinating to imagine how Jesus came up with this plan. I expect it was one of those things he worked out with his Heavenly Father when he spent the whole night in prayer (see 6:12). But it wouldn’t surprise me if Jesus also got input from his intimate circle of disciples, drawing from their knowledge of the areas through which they were going to travel. Perhaps others advised Jesus as well. My point is not to take away from the supernatural ways in which Jesus was guided in his ministry. Rather, I want to emphasize that he took this guidance and formed a plan of action.
Sometimes we think of spiritual people as being otherworldly, as living somewhere in the clouds, far above real human life. But that view of spirituality does not fit with Jesus, who was the most Spirit-guided person who ever lived. One can be deeply in touch with God and guided supernaturally while at the same time making down-to-earth plans. In fact, without translating divine guidance into plans, often what God intends doesn’t get done because of poor execution.
We are right to seek God’s guidance for our daily work, our careers, our families, and every other part of life. Jesus did this, sometimes spending all night in prayer. Yet the example of Jesus the planner also encourages us to translate God’s guidance into specific, executable plans.
What do you think of the idea that Jesus was a planner?
Are you stronger at seeking God’s guidance or translating that guidance into specific plans?
Do you have plans for your life that are motivated and shaped by God’s guidance for you? If so, what are these plans? If not, are you open to letting God help you move from inspiration to planning?
When might plans be unhelpful in life?
If you are sensing God’s guidance in some part of your life but you haven’t acted on this guidance, talk with God about how you might make a plan of action.
Lord Jesus, I find it fascinating to think about you as a planner. I wish I could have been with you as you took the guidance you received from your Heavenly Father and translated that into tangible plans. I expect I would have learned many things.
Lord, sometimes I make plans without even consulting you, running ahead of your guidance. My plans can almost become idols for me. Forgive me when I put my plans ahead of your sovereignty.
At other times, Lord, I don’t act on what you are revealing to me. I don’t translate your supernatural guidance into tangible plans. Forgive me for failing to act on what you have shown me. Help me, I pray, to formulate plans that honor you and your guidance of my life. Help me to act in response to your will for me. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Jesus Calls People at Work (Luke 5:1-11; 27-32)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.