After this the Lord appointed seventy[a] others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town.
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But at the judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum,
will you be exalted to heaven?
No, you will be brought down to Hades.
“Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”
The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Wow, starting to get back into the hard stuff. Jesus’s message is clear: those who have heard the Gospel but ignored it will be worse off than Sodom, which was burned to the ground. This is where our notions of Hell enter in, because Jesus says that the people will be “sent down to Hades” rather than entering eternal life in Heaven. It’s easy to see how we’ve created a vision of eternal fire below the earth just from this passage. What Jesus really means by “sent down to Hades” I don’t know, but it sure does sound like it will be pretty bad.
Notice, however, that Jesus does NOT tell the 70 to condemn those cities and people who reject Him. He simply tells the 70 to go somewhere else, somewhere people will listen to them. He leaves God to judge them, though he predicts God’s judgement will be harsh. As followers of Jesus it is not our job to tell non-believers that they are going to Hell, that they are terrible people, or anything even along those lines. Our only job is to spread the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. That the end is coming, but it doesn’t have to come if you place your faith in Jesus and repent. That’s it! Let God tell them their fate. Move on. Don’t get fixated on trying to save one person when there are so many out there who need to hear His message.
Now, that’s not to say that the answer when dealing with a loved one or friend is to say “Well, I talked about it once and they didn’t want to hear about, so I guess I can never talk about it again.” Anyone who has been in this situation knows how difficult it is, reading what we read today, to accept that someone you care for is rejecting God. We want to help them believe! And I think Jesus wants us to do that too. So we can’t never talk about it. But in my very limited experience, those who have the most success with those endeavors are the one’s who let their lives and their relationship with God speak for them. If they see what a positive impact God is having in your life, they’ll listen when they’re ready. Wait until they’re ready.
I am in awe of the 70 who left with nothing, trusting the Lord to provide while they spread His message. Their faith was so great that not only were they provided for, but they did countless miracles, saved countless souls, and even tamed demons. But when they come back, Jesus tells them that their real accomplishment is their relationship with God. I mean, that really shows where our priories aught to be. I guess the relationship comes first, and everything else sort of falls naturally into place. Even that completely trusting faith that so eludes me.