And into whatever house you enter, first say, Peace be to this house.…
These missioners were pioneers going in advance to waken thought, create expectation, inspire confidence, and announce the nearness of the revealing Christ. They took their orders from His lips and their methods from His life. The Master's charge to them is still vital; it has sterling and perennial value for us men in the midst of our accumulated social evils, our hoary and deep-seated social vices. Stripped of Oriental accident and incident, and expressed in the English of the hour, it supplies an invaluable recipe for the healing of our sick and diseased human life, and for the guidance of our Churches in their home missionary activities. Go to the people, get close to them, enter their houses and their hearts, make your mission domestic, be social and sociable, friendly and human, go not from house to house in a hurry, as though figures were redeemed souls, but stay long enough to win love; invite trust, and do nothing to thwart expectation; make men feel your tenderness is instinctive, and your desires real; prove that you work and speak on the common ground of manhood, and then you will have a right to say, "The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you," and the heart will feel the presence of that unseen rule, and the conscience confess its august authority.
1. According to the mind of our Teacher all really helpful human work must be rooted and grounded in loving friendship, and energized by an unhesitating trust in the men it seeks to cleanse and ennoble. Renan has said that the fireside preaching of the seventy missioners was one of the capital causes of the success of early Christianity. And surely, not even in our Lord's day, was this policy of making friends first, converts afterwards, more needed than in our own time.
2. The next stags in the work of the seventy, beyond the ministry of friendship, is that of compassionate healing. Christianity, like its Author, is essentially healing.
3. But the crowning service of man to man is the interpretation of life in the light of Divine ministration. The priests of friendship and healing have free course and are glorified only when they acknowledge God's sovereignty over the heart and soul. The supreme good is not a perfectly healthy body. The missioners did not reach the climax of their work until they said, "The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you." This is fireside preaching at its best.
(1) This saying is a pertinent and necessary sermon on a physical text. "Do not stop at the healing of the body. Trace out the Divine handwriting on the renovated body, and say, 'See here, the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.'" That is a blessed if difficult task. But(2) this unique declaration has this additional significance, that Christ Himself was on His way to these healed folks, and that their physical salvation was only an earnest bestowed by His advanced couriers of what He was also to give if only they would welcome Him.
(J. Clifford, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.