"Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master's return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants. (Lk 12:35-38)
Master has gone for a wedding party. When the party will end? No one knows. It could be at the end of the second watch (mid-night) or at the third watch (very early in the morning). Yes party can go on endlessly. Master’s concern is to be in the party and return when it ends only. He does not have to be concerned about the servants. Servants are no way in the reference for the coming back of the master.
Servants at home are awaiting the return of the master. Their main concern and only concern is to wait for the master. Servants should be only ready to receive him. (Not that they can wake up from their sleep and receive him when he returns). They should be dressed up as if he was coming soon and they should be with lamps as if his coming could be in the night (late). They should be ready as though it is ‘now’ and ‘not yet’.
The servants who are vigilant are blessed. Their reward is immediate. Strangely though, the roles are reversed. The mater waits on them and servants are made to sit and enjoy the meal (the master has had his party). Being vigilant is not only the duty done but also it brings with it the reward.
After this the Lord appointed seventy (-two) others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this household.' If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, 'The kingdom of God is at hand for you.' (Lk 10:1-9)
Jesus sent seventy (+two) ahead of him. They were sent to prepare for his visit. It is only a preparatory work. Hence they had no need to stay longer there and they did not have the need to take extra money and extra cloths etc. Their mission was urgent and hence they did not have the need to build up relationship with anyone greeting them etc. Their mission was only to announce the coming of Jesus and prepare for his visit. It had nothing to do with themselves.
Were there seventy or seventy two? There has been much discussion on this. It should have had some symbolic meaning. If Luke was seeing Jesus in the light of Moses then the symbolic meaning had an interesting result. Moses chose 70 elders to assist him and thy were given a share in God’s spirit (Numbers 11.16,25). The 70 were to assist Moses in leading the people (exodus). Here Jesus has begun a journey of New Exodus and hence the 70 were appointed to assist in this mission.
The message of the 70 was, 'Peace to this household’. But the Jews of the time of Jesus were for all out war against the Romans and Samaritans etc. They wanted justice to be done which would only mean destroying the enemy. But the kingdom that Jesus was ushering in was to reveal the love of God and that too a healing love of God. This healing love of God was seen in peace, peace with everyone. So the new exodus was leading people forward to the kingdom with peace and not looking backward (to Egypt for the people of Israel at the time of Moses) with violence and hatred towards enemies.