To read the texts click on the texts: Job 19:21-27; Lk 10:1-12
Luke’s is the only Gospel in which we find the sending of the seventy-two. Matthew and Mark have only the sending of the Twelve, as does Luke. This then, is regarded as a doublet of the sending of the Twelve in Lk. 9:1-6.
The fact that seventy-two and not just twelve are sent indicates growth and movement. The kingdom of God is preached not just by Jesus or the Twelve, but also by many more.
In some manuscripts, the number is recorded as seventy. This is probably due to the list of nations in Genesis 10, where while the Hebrew text lists seventy nations, the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) lists seventy-two. This will mean that the commissioning of the seventy-two foreshadows the mission of the church to all nations.
In this sending, they are sent in pairs (not in the earlier sending of the Twelve in Lk. 9:1-6), and ahead of Jesus, in order to prepare the way before him. In this sense, they are called to be pre-cursors, forerunners like John the Baptist.
The instructions begin with a prayer to be made to God, because it is God's mission that they will be engaged in. At the outset they are warned that they will need to be on their guard at all times. The strategy proposed is detachment from things, persons and events. This detachment will help to proclaim the kingdom more efficaciously.
Three interconnected aspects of the mission are stressed. The missionaries are to eat what is set before them in order to show the same table fellowship that Jesus showed, they are to cure the sick and to proclaim the kingdom in order to show that the kingdom is not only spiritual but also very practical and touches every aspect of human life. They are to do and also to say.
It is sometimes mistakenly thought that only religious men and women are called to be missionaries. Some also think that only those who work in the villages are to be termed missionaries. However, the sending of the seventy-two corrects this misunderstanding.
Every Christian is sent on a mission and called to engage in mission, simply because mission is to be done where one is. The threefold mission task in these verses is a further confirmation of the fact that mission includes every aspect of life and so is not the responsibility of only a few, but every disciple of Jesus.