Chapter 29 - Ordination of the Seventy at Magadan
ORDINATION OF THE SEVENTY AT MAGADAN
Jesus and the twelve began a course of intensive training for a special group of believers. From this well-trained and experienced aggregation of disciples the Master subsequently chose seventy teachers and sent them forth to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom.
Ordination of the Seventy
About two o'clock on this Sabbath afternoon, between showers of rain, a company of believers, augmented by the arrival of David and the majority of his messenger corps and numbering over four hundred, assembled on the shore of the lake of Galilee to witness the ordination of the seventy.
Addressing the seventy, he said:
- "The harvest is indeed plenteous, but the laborers are few. Therefore I exhort all of you to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send still other laborers into his harvest. I am about to set you apart as messengers of the kingdom. I am about to send you to Jew and gentile as lambs among wolves. As you go your ways, two and two, I instruct you to carry neither purse nor extra clothing, for you go forth on this first mission for only a short season. Salute no man by the way. Attend only to your work. Whenever you go to stay at a home, first say: Peace be to this household. If those who love peace live therein, you shall abide there. If not, then shall you depart. And having selected this home, remain there for your stay in that city, eating and drinking whatever is set before you. You do this because the laborer is worthy of his sustenance. Move not from house to house because a better lodging may be offered. Remember, as you go forth proclaiming peace on earth and good will among men, you must contend with bitter and self-deceived enemies. Therefore be as wise as serpents while you are also as harmless as doves.
- "And everywhere you go, preach, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand,'and minister to all who may be sick in either mind or body. Freely you have received of the good things of the kingdom; freely give. If the people of any city receive you, they shall find an abundant entrance into the Father's kingdom. But if the people of any city refuse to receive this gospel, still shall you proclaim your message as you depart from that unbelieving community. Say even as you leave, to those who reject your teaching: `Notwithstanding you reject the truth, it remains that the kingdom of God has come near you.' He who hears you hears me. And he who hears me hears Him who sent me. He who rejects your gospel message rejects me. And he who rejects me rejects Him who sent me.”
When Jesus had thus spoken to the seventy, he began with Abner, and as they knelt in a circle about him, laid his hands upon the head of every man.
The rich young Man and Others
One earnest disciple came to Jesus, saying:
- "Master, I would be one of your new apostles, but my father is very old and near death. Could I be permitted to return home to bury him?"
To this man Jesus said:
- "My son, the foxes have holes, and the birds of heaven have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. You are a faithful disciple, and you can remain such while you return home to minister to your loved ones, but not so with my gospel messengers. They have forsaken all to follow me and proclaim the kingdom. If you would be an ordained teacher, you must let others bury the dead while you go forth to publish the good news."
Another disciple came to the Master and said:
- "I would become an ordained messenger, but I would like to go to my home for a short while to comfort my family."
And Jesus replied:
- "If you would be ordained, you must be willing to forsake all. The gospel messengers cannot have divided affections. No man, having put his hand to the plough, if he turns back, is worthy to become a messenger of the kingdom."
Then Andrew brought to Jesus a certain rich young man who was a devout believer, and who desired to receive ordination. Jesus talked with Matadormus concerning the requirements of ordination and requested that he defer decision until after he had thought more fully about the matter.
Early the next morning, as Jesus was going for a walk, this young man accosted him and said:
- "Master, I would know from you the assurances of eternal life. Seeing that I have observed all the commandments from my youth, I would like to know what more I must do to gain eternal life?"
In answer to this question Jesus said:
- "If you keep all the commandments -- do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your parents -- you do well, but salvation is the reward of faith, not merely of works. Do you believe this gospel of the kingdom?"
And Matadormus answered:
- "Yes, Master, I do believe everything you and your apostles have taught me."
And Jesus said:
- "Then are you indeed my disciple and a child of the kingdom."
Then said the young man:
- "But, Master, I am not content to be your disciple; I would be one of your new messengers."
When Jesus heard this, he looked down upon him with a great love and said:
- "I will have you to be one of my messengers if you are willing to pay the price, if you will supply the one thing that you lack."
- "Master, I will do anything if I may be allowed to follow you."
Jesus, kissing the kneeling young man on the forehead, said:
- "If you would be my messenger, go and sell all that you have, and when you have bestowed the proceeds upon the poor or upon your brethren, come and follow me, and you shall have treasure in the kingdom of heaven."
When Matadormus heard this, his countenance fell. He arose and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
The Discussion about Wealth
By the time Jesus had finished talking with Matadormus, Peter and a number of the apostles had gathered about him, and as the rich young man was departing, Jesus turned around to face the apostles and said:
- "You see how difficult it is for those who have riches to enter fully into the kingdom of God! Spiritual worship cannot be shared with material devotions. No man can serve two masters. You have a saying that it is `easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the heathen to inherit eternal life.' And I declare that it is as easy for this camel to go through the needle's eye as for these self-satisfied rich ones to enter the kingdom of heaven."
When Peter and the apostles heard these words, they were astonished exceedingly, so much so that Peter said:
- "Who then, Lord, can be saved? Shall all who have riches be kept out of the kingdom?"
And Jesus replied:
- "No, Peter, but all who put their trust in riches shall hardly enter into the spiritual life that leads to eternal progress. But even then, much that is impossible to man is not beyond the reach of the Father in heaven. Rather should we recognize that with God all things are possible."
As they went off by themselves, Jesus was grieved that Matadormus did not remain with them, for he greatly loved him. And when they had walked down by the lake, they sat there beside the water, and Peter, speaking for the twelve (who were all present by this time), said:
- "We are troubled by your words to the rich young man. Shall we require those who would follow you to give up all their worldly goods?"
And Jesus said:
- "No, Peter, only those who would become apostles, and who desire to live with me as you do and as one family. But the Father requires that the affections of his children be pure and undivided. Whatever thing or person comes between you and the love of the truths of the kingdom must be surrendered. If one's wealth does not invade the precincts of the soul, it is of no consequence in the spiritual life of those who would enter the kingdom."
And then said Peter:
- "But, Master, we have left everything to follow you, what shall we have?"
And Jesus spoke to all of the twelve:
- "Verily, verily, I say to you, there is no man who has left wealth, home, wife, brethren, parents, or children for my sake and for the sake of the kingdom of heaven who shall not receive manifold more in this world, perhaps with some persecutions, and in the world to come eternal life. But many who are first shall be last, while the last shall often be first. The Father deals with his creatures in accordance with their needs and in obedience to his just laws of merciful and loving consideration for the welfare of a universe.
- "The kingdom of heaven is like a householder who was a large employer of men, and who went out early in the morning to hire laborers to work in his vineyard. When he had agreed with the laborers to pay them a denarius a day, he sent them into the vineyard. Then he went out about nine o'clock, and seeing others standing in the market place idle, he said to them: `Go you also to work in my vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will pay you.' And they went at once to work. Again he went out about twelve and about three and did likewise. And going to the market place about five in the afternoon, he found still others standing idle, and he inquired of them, `Why do you stand here idle all the day?' And the men answered, `Because nobody has hired us.' Then said the householder: `Go you also to work in my vineyard, and whatever is right I will pay you.'
- "When evening came, this owner of the vineyard said to his steward: `Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last hired and ending with the first.' When those who were hired about five o'clock came, they received a denarius each, and so it was with each of the other laborers. When the men who were hired at the beginning of the day saw how the later comers were paid, they expected to receive more than the amount agreed upon. But like the others every man received only a denarius. And when each had received his pay, they complained to the householder, saying: `These men who were hired last worked only one hour, and yet you have paid them the same as us who have borne the burden of the day in the scorching sun.’
- “Then answered the householder: `My friends, I do you no wrong. Did not each of you agree to work for a denarius a day? Take now that which is yours and go your way, for it is my desire to give to those who came last as much as I have given to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with my own? Or do you begrudge my generosity because I desire to be good and to show mercy?'"
The Return of the Seventy
On Friday, December 30, while Jesus was away in the near-by hills with Peter, James, and John, the seventy messengers were arriving by couples, accompanied by numerous believers, at the Pella headquarters.
When the seventy related how "even the devils were subject" to them, they referred to the wonderful cures they had wrought in the cases of victims of nervous disorders. Nevertheless, there had been a few cases of real spirit possession relieved by these ministers, and referring to these, Jesus said:
- "It is not strange that these disobedient minor spirits should be subject to you, seeing that I beheld Satan falling as lightning from heaven. But rejoice not so much over this, for I declare to you that, as soon as I return to my Father, we will send forth our spirits into the very minds of men so that no more can these few lost spirits enter the minds of unfortunate mortals. I rejoice with you that you have power with men, but be not lifted up because of this experience but the rather rejoice that your names are written on the rolls of heaven, and that you are thus to go forward in an endless career of spiritual conquest."
And it was at this time, just before partaking of the evening meal, that Jesus experienced one of those rare moments of emotional ecstasy that his followers had occasionally witnessed.
- "I thank you, my Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that, while this wonderful gospel was hidden from the wise and self-righteous, the spirit has revealed these spiritual glories to these children of the kingdom. Yes, my Father, it must have been pleasing in your sight to do this, and I rejoice to know that the good news will spread to all the world even after I shall have returned to you and the work that you have given me to perform. I am mightily moved as I realize you are about to deliver all authority into my hands, that only you really know who I am, and that only I really know you, and those to whom I have revealed you. And when I have finished this revelation to my brethren in the flesh, I will continue the revelation to your creatures on high."
When Jesus had thus spoken to the Father, he turned aside to speak to his apostles and ministers:
- "Blessed are the eyes that see and the ears that hear these things. Let me say to you that many prophets and many of the great men of the past ages have desired to behold what you now see, but it was not granted them. And many generations of the children of light yet to come will, when they hear of these things, envy you who have heard and seen them."
Then, speaking to all the disciples, he said:
- "You have heard how many cities and villages have received the good news of the kingdom, and how my ministers and teachers have been received by both the Jew and the gentile. And blessed indeed are these communities that have elected to believe the gospel of the kingdom. But woe upon the light-rejecting inhabitants of Chorazin, Bethsaida-Julias, and Capernaum, the cities that did not well receive these messengers. I declare that, if the mighty works done in these places had been done in Tyre and Sidon, the people of these so-called heathen cities would have long since repented in sackcloth and ashes. It shall indeed be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment."
The next day being the Sabbath, Jesus went apart with the seventy and said to them:
- "I did indeed rejoice with you when you came back bearing the good tidings of the reception of the gospel of the kingdom by so many people scattered throughout Galilee, Samaria, and Judea. But why were you so surprisingly elated? Did you not expect that your message would manifest power in its delivery? Did you go forth with so little faith in this gospel that you come back in surprise at its effectiveness? And now, while I would not quench your spirit of rejoicing, I would sternly warn you against the subtleties of pride, spiritual pride. If you could understand the downfall of Lucifer, the iniquitous one, you would solemnly shun all forms of spiritual pride.
- "You have entered upon this great work of teaching mortal man that he is a son of God. I have shown you the way. Go forth to do your duty and be not weary in well doing. To you and to all who shall follow in your steps down through the ages, let me say I always stand near, and my invitation-call is, and ever shall be: Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am true and loyal, and you shall find spiritual rest for your souls."
And they found the Master's words to be true when they put his promises to the test. And since that day countless thousands also have tested and proved the surety of these same promises.