Luke 10 – The Sending of the Seventy
A. Instructing the seventy disciples at their departure.
1. (1-3) Seventy disciples are appointed and sent out.
After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves.”
a. After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also: Jesus knew that the time was short before His crucifixion, and that there were still many villages that had not yet heard His message. Jesus turned to this larger group of His disciples to be His messengers, to prepare these places ahead of Him (where He Himself was about to go).
i. This reminds us that there was a larger group of interested followers of Jesus beyond the 12 He chose as disciples and apostles. From among this larger group Jesus appointed seventy others to do His work. There are a few reasons why He chose seventy.
· Perhaps seventy was simply the wise number that made the most effective use of the people at hand.
· Perhaps seventy suggested a connection with the seventy elders who went up with Moses on Sinai and saw the glory of God (Exodus 24:1, 9). Jesus chose these seventy to see the glory of God in action as they served and represented Him.
· Perhaps seventy suggested a connection with the seventy members of the Sanhedrin, and Jesus showed He had established a new order, a new leadership.
· Perhaps seventy suggested a connection with the seventy translators of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, the Septuagint, and Jesus showed these were the ones to “translate” His word into everyday life.
ii. “Better to be one of the unnamed seventy, who did their work and were very happy in it, and whose names are only known to God. Better: perhaps safer too. There was a Judas in the twelve: we never read of one among the seventy.” (Morrison)
iii. Sent them two by two: “These Christ sent by two and two: 1. To teach them the necessity of concord among the ministers of righteousness. 2. That in the mouths of two witnesses every thing might be established. And, 3. That they might comfort and support each other in their difficult labour.” (Clarke)
iv. Where He Himself was about to go: “What a mercy it is when the preacher knows that his Master is coming after him, when he can hear the sound of his Master’s feet behind him! What courage it gives him! He knows that, though it is very little that he can do, he is the thin end of the wedge preparing the way for One who can do everything.” (Spurgeon)
b. The harvest truly is great: Using the analogy of a ripe field of grain, Jesus explained why He felt an increased urgency about His work. He considered the multitude of humanity to be like a harvest field ready for gathering. He thought of the greatness of human need, and saw it as an opportunity.
i. Using the picture suggested by Jesus, we can say that the field itself is large, and the ready harvest is also large. This wasn’t the only time Jesus said this; some time before and at a different place Jesus said basically the same thing (Matthew 9:37-38). Perhaps this was almost a proverbial statement of Jesus, something He observed and said often.
ii. This is still true. If we believe that it is but a short time until Jesus comes back, we should make the principles of Jesus’ commission to the seventy our own.
iii. “Can you picture the distress of a farmer when he sees his fields golden with harvest, and there are no servants to gather that harvest in? It was such an agony that filled the heart of Jesus as He looked out on His harvest field.” (Morrison)
c. The laborers are few: This means not only that there must be more workers, but also that those engaged in the work must have appropriate focus on their work. When there is a lot of work and few workers, one must be busy about the work.
i. This is a harvest that needs laborers. The good of a harvest can go to waste if there are no laborers to take advantage of the bounty. Jesus warned us that opportunities to meet human need and bring people into His kingdom may be wasted because of a shortage of laborers.
d. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest: Jesus commanded them to pray; the work before them was great and could not be accomplished without much prayer. Specifically, they were to ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. This speaks powerfully to:
· The need for prayer in the work of evangelism (therefore pray).
· The maker of the harvest (the Lord of the harvest).
· The need for workers in the work of evangelism (laborers).
· The calling of God for the work of the harvest (to send out).
· The nature of harvest participation, work (laborers).
· The need to recognize Whom the harvest belongs to (His harvest).
i. We are to pray that the Lord would send out laborers: “Now the Greek is much more forcible, it is that he would push them forward, and thrust them out; it is the same word which is used for the expulsion of a devil from a man possessed. It takes great power to drive a devil out, it will need equal power from God to drive a minister out to his work.” (Spurgeon)
e. Go your way: Jesus commanded them to go, because God would use them to answer their own prayers. Praying, “Lord, send out workers to Your harvest” is just the kind of prayer that builds a harvest-interest within the one who prays.
f. I send you out as lambs among wolves: Jesus commanded them to go with a certain kind of heart, trusting God and not seeking to abuse and manipulate others. Going as lambs among wolves doesn’t sound very attractive; yet, it was exactly how Jesus was sent, and how the power of God worked through Him mightily.
i. “After all, the mission of sheep to wolves is a hopeful one, since we see in the natural world that the sheep, though so feeble, by far outnumber the wolves who are so fierce. The day will come when persecutors will be as scarce as wolves, and saints as numerous as sheep.” (Spurgeon)
2. (4-8) Specific guidelines for their ministry.
“Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road. But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you.”
a. Carry neither money bag, sack, nor sandals: First Jesus told them to pray; then He told them to go; then He told them how to go. Jesus gave the seventy specific instructions that were to display a particular attitude for their work in representing Jesus and His message.
· They were not to be distracted either by material concerns (Carry neither money bag, sack, nor sandals).
· They were not to be distracted by tedious ceremonies of etiquette (greet no one along the road).
i. “In the East greetings are so tedious, so full of flattery, so certain to lead on to wayside gossip, that men who are out on a work of life and death must run the risk of seeming unsocial sometimes.” (Morrison)
b. Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house”: The customs of that time meant that they would likely stay in the home of hospitable people (inns, if available, were often houses of prostitution and unsuitable for godly messengers). They were instructed to bring a blessing of peace to each house, if the home would receive it.
i. If a son of peace is there: “In the Jewish style, a man who has any good or bad quality is called the son of it…Son of peace in the text not only means a peaceable, quiet man, but one also of good report for his uprightness and benevolence. It would have been a dishonour to this mission, had the missionaries taken up their lodgings with those who had not a good report among them who were without.” (Clarke)
c. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give: They were to trust that God would provide for them through the generosity of others, and they were to thankfully receive what was offered to them – without begging from house to house.
d. For the laborer is worthy of his wages: Jesus told His disciples to not regard the support given to them as charity, but as proper payment for their work on behalf of God’s kingdom.
3. (9) What Jesus wanted the seventy to do: to heal and to preach.
“And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’”
a. And heal the sick: The healing was important because it showed that the Kingdom of God had come with power (as everyone expected it would), yet the power was evident in acts of mercy and kindness (which was not expected).
b. Say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you”: This meant that the healing was a part of their preaching. As part of healing the sick, they described what the kingdom of God was about from what Jesus had taught and shown them.
i. Come near to you: According to Pate, this ancient Greek word engiken can mean “arrived” in the sense of already present, or it can mean “drawn near” in the sense of about to appear. It may be that the remarkable display of God’s power in the work of the seventy was meant to prepare people for the ultimate revelation of God’s power and kingdom in the soon death and resurrection of Jesus.
4. (10-16) What would happen to those who would reject the message of the seventy.
“But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.’ But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city. Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades. He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.”
a. The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you: Jesus told His disciples to publicly say this in the streets of any city that rejected the seventy messengers and their message. It was important that those cities knew the price of rejecting Jesus and His kingdom.
b. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you: Their message and the evidence of the kingdom’s power was to be clear enough that they could say this publicly to a city that rejected them.
i. A sad commentary on much work that is done among Christian people today is that they could not credibly say to those who might reject them and their message, “Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.”
c. It will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city: The cities of Sodom and Tyre and Sidon were notoriously sinful. Jesus said that the cities that rejected His message were in more trouble before God than these, because they saw a greater work of God than any of those sinful cities did; yet they still rejected Him.
i. The more we hear God’s truth and the more we see Him move, the more we are accountable for. Since the people of Chorazin and Bethsaida and Capernaum had received such convincing signs, they were held to greater account for what they have seen.
ii. They would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes: The cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida and Capernaum received much but repented little. It is a great mystery why some receive so many chances and such clear help, yet refuse to repent.
iii. Capernaum especially was exalted to heaven, because it was the adopted home of Jesus during the days of His Galilean ministry, hearing much of His teaching and seeing many of His miracles.
iv. Jesus said that it would be more tolerable for some in the day of judgment than for others. This leads us to believe that on that day, some will receive worse judgment than others. No one will have it good in hell, but some will have it worse than others.
v. The Bible never specifically mentions Jesus’ miracles in Chorazin. This is an indication that the Gospels give us sketches of Jesus’ life, not full biographies. The Apostle John admitted this, saying it would be impossible to recount everything Jesus did (John 21:25).
d. He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me: As He sent His seventy disciples with the anticipation that some would reject them, Jesus also encouraged them with the thought that they were His representatives, and should not take their rejection (or acceptance) too personally. If others rejected the messengers, they rejected Jesus, and also rejected His Father (Him who sent Me).
i. It is helpful for all servants of God to not hold either praise or rejection too tightly. If they truly represent their Master, the success or rejection of their work is more due to Him than to them. Their greatest concern should not be with success or rejection, but with properly representing Jesus their Master.
B. Joy at the return of the Seventy.
1. (17-20) The joy of the seventy and Jesus’ warning.
Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
a. The seventy returned with joy: This was a good day. The disciples and followers of Jesus endured their share of confusion and hardship, but they also enjoyed some wonderful blessings of effective service.
i. All seventy returned. “Not one of the lambs had been eaten by the wolves.” (Spurgeon)
b. Even the demons are subject to us in Your name: A careful look at the instructions Jesus gave these seventy (Luke 10:9) shows that Jesus had not originally commissioned them to cast out demons (as He did the twelve disciples in Luke 9:1-2). Therefore, we might regard this as an unexpected blessing of their ministry.
i. These seventy disciples learned that when we boldly do what Jesus tells us to do, we can anticipate that He will bless us in ways beyond our expectation.
ii. In Your name shows they didn’t take the credit to themselves. They knew it was the power and authority of Jesus. “Be sure to rely, not on numbers or organization, but on the name of Jesus, used not as a charm, but as representing his living and ascended might.” (Meyer)
c. I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven: The success of these commissioned disciples – especially their authority over demonic spirits – caused Jesus to speak of the fall of Satan, when he fell as quick and dramatic as lightning from heaven.
i. The Bible actually mentions four falls of Satan:
· From glorified to profane (Ezekiel 28:14-16).
· From having access to heaven (Job 1:12, 1 Kings 22:21, Zechariah 3:1) to restriction to the earth (Revelation 12:9).
· From the earth to bondage in the bottomless pit for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:1-3).
· From the pit to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).
ii. Here Jesus spoke of Satan’s first fall, from glorified to profane. Fall like lightning from heaven doesn’t mean that Satan fell from heaven, but that his fall was as dramatic and sudden as a bolt of lightning from heaven. According to Job 1:12, 1 Kings 22:21, and Zechariah 3:1, Satan still has access to heaven. Yet the success of the disciples against demonic spirits was confirmation that Satan had fallen from his place of authority and power, and though was still powerful, was in an inferior place.
iii. Satan’s fall was God’s immediate judgment upon that rebellious spirit (though not complete judgment, which still awaits). Every time the kingdom of Jesus is presented in truth and power, it is like another judgment upon Satan and all who share his rebellious spirit. “So, where the gospel is preached with divine power, Satan comes down from his throne, in human hearts and human minds, as rapidly as the lightning-flash falls from heaven; and when we see his kingdom shaken, then, like Jesus, we rejoice in spirit.” (Spurgeon)
iv. In remembering the fall of Satan, Jesus also warned them against pride. After all, if Satan could fall like lightning from his place of high spiritual status and privilege, so could they. “In the most holy work there always lurks this danger of the glorification of the self-life.” (Morgan)
d. Behold, I give you the authority: Because Satan was fallen and the disciples were messengers of Jesus and His kingdom, they enjoyed the superior power of God over Satan.
i. “If you dare to live in the risen Christ, you share His empire and all the fruits of His victory over Satan.” (Meyer)
e. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you: Jesus warned them to rejoice in what God had done for them (because your names are written in heaven), more than in what they had done for God (that the spirits are subject to you).
i. It wasn’t wrong for them to rejoice in the success of their service; but they must have a greater joy in a greater miracle – the promise of their own salvation. “He did not mean in the present instance to censure their joy in their success, but only to make it subordinate to another rejoicing, and to prevent its growing to excess.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Some people get emotionally intoxicated after successful service or the display of spiritual power. After God uses them in some way, they are arrogantly impressed with all they did for God. God wants us to always see that what He did for us always is far greater than what we could ever do for Him. It’s good for us to be moderate in the joy we have over our talents, our gifts, and our success.
iii. Your names are written in heaven: “That you are enrolled burgesses of the new Jerusalem. Paul by his privilege of being a Roman escaped whipping; we by this escape damnation.” (Trapp)
iv. All God’s people share in this joy. By earth’s estimation some service is more successful than others, but this joy unites all believers.
2. (21-22) The joy of Jesus as He sees the work of God in His people.
In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”
a. In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit: Jesus was genuinely excited. Literally, the ancient Greek says He was thrilled with joy. This singular specific example of Jesus rejoicing was over the work of His servants. God delights in using the weak and foolish things of this world to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).
i. This is the only occasion in the gospels where it is specifically said that Jesus rejoiced. It stands alone; yet we should not think that Jesus never rejoiced other times. “We do not hear that he laughed, though it is thrice recorded that he wept; and here for once, as quite unique, we find the inspired assurance that he rejoiced.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Geldenhuys says that the ancient Greek word for rejoiced is “referring to exceptional rejoicing and exultation.” Jesus rejoiced strongly; but He also rejoiced deeply (in the Spirit).
iii. “This Man of Sorrows was often very joyful, but never more than in His friends’ success… Jesus exults when His nameless children prosper.” (Morrison)
iv. One reason Jesus was so happy is because every victory is important. “There is no victory won anywhere by any lonely disciple, or handful of disciples, that does not react on the entire battlefield.” (Meyer)
b. I thank You, Father: Jesus’ joy made Him break out into prayer. He praised God the Father for His wisdom, for His plan, and for His own unique relationship with God the Father.
· Jesus thanked the Father, not praising His own work.
· Jesus thanked the Father for His wise, sometimes unexpected plan.
· Jesus thanked the Father for the fellow servants in His midst.
· Jesus thanked the Father for the simplicity of His servants.
i. Jesus spoke of His unity with the Father (All things have been delivered to Me by My Father).
ii. Jesus spoke of His special relationship with the Father (no one knows who the Son is but the Father, and who the Father is but the Son).
iii. Jesus spoke of how God allows us to have some part in that special relationship (and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him).
c. That You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes: Jesus rejoiced that unlikely people were taught of God and used by Him. The babes were the seventy; simple believers who received real wisdom from the revelation of God.
· He had to send the simple, because the wise of this world would never go out as lambs among wolves.
· He had to send the simple, because they would not change the message.
· He had to send the simple, because He wanted to reach the simple.
· He had to send the simple, because they would do the work in His name.
· He had to send the simple, because they would rejoice over the work.
· He had to send the simple, because they would give the praise to Jesus.
3. (23-24) Jesus tells the disciples of the unique blessing they have.
Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.”
a. Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see: The disciples lived in a unique time, and it was good for them to realize that it was a special blessing for them to be part of the work of the Messiah.
i. “Jesus was the peak to which history had been climbing, the goal to which it had been marching, the dream which had ever haunted men of God.” (Barclay)
ii. “There is a similar saying to this among the rabbins, in Sohar. Genes., where it is said, ‘Blessed is that generation which the earth shall bear, when the King Messiah cometh.’” (Clarke)
b. Many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it: The great men of the Old Testament would have longed to see Jesus’ ministry and to minister for Him. One may consider how King David would have loved to see Jesus do the things He did, and how Isaiah would have longed to hear what Jesus said.
i. Our own age has special privileges, and it is good to see the blessings of our current time.
ii. Considering the work of the seventy disciples as described in Luke 10 shows ways that we can go forth to serve Jesus and spread His message.
· The harvest is great: We do the work knowing how big the job is.
· The laborers are few: We do the work knowing that we have a key job.
· Pray the Lord of the harvest: We do the work with a lot of prayer.
· Go your way: We are to actually go and do the work.
· Like lambs among wolves: We do the work making ourselves vulnerable, letting God be our strength.
· Carry neither: We do the work without reliance upon anything except the gospel and power of God.
· Greet no one: We do the work not allowing social obligations to hinder our work.
· Whatever house you enter: We do the work expecting that God will bring help and provision.
· Eating and drinking such things as they give: We do the work not being hung up on minor points.
· Heal the sick: We do the work looking to minister to the whole person with the power of God.
· Say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you”: We do the work preaching that the King and His kingdom are here.
· But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets: As we do the work, we don’t waste our time on those who are rejecting the gospel.
· He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me: We do the work remembering whom we represent.
· The seventy returned with joy: We do the work expecting God to do more than we expect.
· Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit: We do the work knowing that Jesus has so much joy when we do His work.
C. The story of the Good Samaritan.
1. (25-29) A lawyer asks a question.
And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
a. A certain lawyer stood up and tested Him: The lawyer(an expert in the Jewish Mosaic and rabbinical law) tested Jesus. The idea behind the ancient Greek word for tested isn’t necessarily mean or evil. This may have been a sincere question from a sincere seeker.
b. What shall I do to inherit eternal life? The Biblical understanding of eternal life doesn’t necessarily refer to duration of life, because every person is immortal, either in heaven or hell. It doesn’t refer to a life that begins only when we die. Eternal life is a particular quality of life; a life that comes from God, and a life we can have right now.
c. What is written in the law? Jesus pointed the lawyer back to the commandments of God. If the question was “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” then the answer was simple: keep the law of God, and keep it perfectly.
i. “The first part seemed mildly sarcastic, ‘What does the Law say?’ In other words, ‘You are the lawyer who interprets the Law; you tell me what it says.’” (Pate)
d. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,” and “your neighbor as yourself”: The lawyer was wise enough to know this was the essence of the law. Knowing the requirements of the law, now all he had to do was live it: do this and you will live.
i. It is clear enough what it means to love God with all we are, though it is impossible to do completely. But there has been much confusion about what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. This doesn’t mean that we must love ourselves before we can love anyone else; it means that in the same way we take care of ourselves and are concerned about our own interests, we should take care and have concern for the interests of others.
e. But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” The lawyer measured himself against both commands. He figured that he obeyed the first command well enough, but his keeping of the second commandment depended on how one defined “neighbor.”
i. His first and perhaps greatest mistake was in assuming that he had fulfilled the first commandment. When we really consider what the words mean, then who among us has loved God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind? It is easy for us to be distracted in any one of these areas even when we worship God; even more so in our daily living.
ii. His second mistake was in thinking that he could fulfill the commandment to love God with all he had and still possibly not fulfill the command to love his neighbor. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. (1 John 4:20-21)
iii. His third mistake was in the way that he wanted to narrowly define neighbor. If only our friends and those who are easy to love are our neighbors, then perhaps this man fulfilled it in an imperfect way. It all depends on how broad the definition is. The Jews in Jesus’ day did believe that you had to love your neighbor; but it was also taught among them that it was a duty before God to hate your enemy. It all depends on who your neighbor is and who your enemy is.
2. (30-35) Jesus defines neighbor with an illustration.
Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’”
a. A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves: The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was infamous for crime and robbery. It wasn’t surprising to Jesus’ listeners that He set the story on this particular road.
i. “That road was famous for its lurking dangers, especially robbers (see Josephus, J.W. 2.451-75).” (Pate)
ii. “He was an obviously reckless and foolhardy character. People seldom attempted the Jerusalem to Jericho road alone if they were carrying goods or valuables. Seeking safety in numbers, they travelled in convoys or caravans. This man had no one but himself to blame for the plight in which he found himself.” (Barclay)
b. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road: The priest and the Levite (both categories of religious officials) saw their Jewish brother lying in his terrible condition – but neither of them did anything. They both passed by on the other side.
i. “Priest and Levite are mentioned here, partly because they were the most frequent travellers on this road, and partly to show that these were the persons who, from the nature of their office, were most obliged to perform works of mercy; and from whom a person in distress had a right to expect immediate succour and comfort; and their inhuman conduct here was a flat breach of the law.” (Clarke)
ii. Think of all the excuses that they could have used:
· “This road is too dangerous for me to stop and help the man.”
· “He might be a decoy for an ambush.”
· “I’ve got to get to the temple and perform my service for the Lord.”
· “I’ve got to get home and see my family.”
· “Someone really should help that man.”
· “If I’m going to serve at the temple I can’t get my clothes bloody.”
· “I don’t know first aid.”
· “It’s a hopeless case.”
· “I’m only one person; the job is too big.”
· “I can pray for him.”
· “He brought it on himself, he should have never been alone on such a dangerous road.”
· “He never asked for help.”
ii. But all of these are simply excuses. “I never knew a man refuse to help the poor who failed to give at least one admirable excuse.” (Spurgeon)
c. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion: When Jesus’ listeners heard about the priest and the Levite, they probably expected Jesus to say next that a common Jewish man came and helped. If that happened, this story would be another way. Jesus showed the corruption of the religious leaders in that day. But Jesus shocked them by saying that the man who helped was a Samaritan.
d. A certain Samaritan: Generally speaking, Jews and Samaritans despised each other both racially and religiously. The culture gave the Samaritan plenty of reasons to hate this Jewish man and pass him by.
i. Some rabbis taught that a Jew was forbidden to help a Gentile woman who was in distress giving birth; because if they succeeded, all they did was to help one more Gentile come into the world. They often thought that Samaritans were worse than other Gentiles were.
e. He had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him: Instead of passing by, the Samaritan loved him sacrificially. He didn’t wait to be asked; to see the need right in front of him was enough to make him do something. He also gave freely of both his time and his resources.
i. The wine, containing alcohol, had an antiseptic effect on the man’s wounds. The oil helped to soothe the wounds, easing the pain. To set him on his own animal meant that the Samaritan himself walked.
ii. He took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper: It seems that two denarii would provide for the man’s needs in the inn for at least two or three weeks.
iii. There are many ways that the Samaritan was like Jesus.
· The Samaritan was an outsider, despised by many.
· The Samaritan came after others failed to meet the need.
· The Samaritan came before it was too late.
· The Samaritan came with everything necessary.
· The Samaritan came right to the afflicted man.
· The Samaritan gave tender care.
· The Samaritan provided for future needs.
3. (36-37) Jesus applies the parable.
“So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
a. Which of these three do you think was neighbor: According to the thinking of the day, the priest and the Levite were neighbor to the man who had been beaten and robbed. But they didn’t act like neighbors at all.
i. “We are arrested by the fact that He completely shifted the ground of the question, and by this reply said, in effect, that the question as to who is a neighbor was not so important as the question to whom he was a neighbor.” (Morgan)
b. He who showed mercy on him: The lawyer knew who the true neighbor was; yet he could not bring himself to say the name “Samaritan.” We might have expected him to be an enemy, but he was instead a neighbor who showed mercy on him.
i. Obviously the lawyer knew that he could no longer justify himself. He did not have this kind of love, a love that went beyond what he wanted to think of as “neighbor.”
c. Go and do likewise: Jesus allowed the parable to answer the lawyer’s question and guide the application. I am to love my neighbor, and my neighbor is the one who others might consider my enemy. My neighbor is the one with a need right in front of me.
i. Spurgeon wrote that “When we see innocent persons suffering as the result of the sin of others our pity should be excited.” He then gave examples of situations that should provoke pity in the believer:
· Children sick and starving because of a drunken father.
· Wives overworked and burdened because of lazy and cruel husbands.
· Workers oppressed in wages and working conditions, just to survive.
· Those afflicted from accidents and disease.
ii. This doesn’t mean running after every need that might present itself. After all, the Samaritan didn’t establish a hospital for unfortunate travelers. But it does mean a concern for the ones plain before us, in both social and spiritual needs. “The world would be a changed place if every Christian attended to the sorrows that are plain before him.” (Maclaren)
iii. Many – even most – people don’t have this kind of love for God or others. How then will they receive eternal life?
· First, by refusing to inherit eternal life by doing. Instead, believe on Jesus; trust God that Jesus paid the penalty you deserve for every time you have fallen short of loving God or loving others the way you should.
· Then, having received eternal life – God’s kind of life in you – God will give you the resources to love Him and other people in a much better way. You can’t do it apart from having His life in you.
iv. “Let it never be forgotten that what the law demands of us the gospel really produces in us.” (Spurgeon)
D. Mary and Martha.
1. (38-40) Martha’s appeal to Jesus.
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
a. A certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house: Martha and Mary, along with their brother Lazarus, were two dear friends of Jesus who lived in Bethany. It’s easy to imagine that Martha wanted everything perfect when Jesus came to visit.
i. A certain village: “If this village was Bethany, where Martha and Mary lived, [it was] at less than two miles’ distance from Jerusalem.” (Clarke)
b. Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word: Martha didn’t get the help she wanted from her sister Mary. It wasn’t that Mary was lazy – she prepared as well as Martha, but Mary also sat at Jesus’ feet.
i. “This was the posture of the Jewish scholars, while listening to the instructions of the rabbins. It is in this sense that St. Paul says he was brought up at the FEET of Gamaliel, Acts 22:3.” (Clarke)
c. Martha was distracted with much serving: Martha did nothing wrong in working hard for Jesus – that was good. Her problem was that she became distracted with much serving. She was distracted from Jesus.
i. There are many people who become crabby and irritable in their service for the Lord like Martha was. It is easy to look at all we do and to criticize those who don’t seem to do as much. But Martha’s real problem wasn’t Mary; it was Martha. She had become distracted and had taken her eyes off Jesus.
ii. Martha’s frustration is typical of those who diligently serve with good intent, but forget to also sit at Jesus’ feet. “The Martha spirit says, if the work is done, is not that all? The Mary spirit asks whether Jesus is well pleased or no? All must be done in his name and by his Spirit, or nothing is done.” (Spurgeon)
2. (41-42) Jesus’ reply to Martha.
And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
a. Martha, Martha: We can almost sense the love in Jesus’ voice as He said this. Martha did good – she wanted to serve Jesus; but she had not added the one thing[that] is needed. The Bible speaks of one thing.
i. One thing have I desired of the LORD, that I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple. (Psalm 27:4)
ii. When Jesus heard these things, he said to him, “You still lack one thing…come, follow Me.” (Luke 18:22)
iii. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)
iv. “The one thing needful evidently is that which Mary chose — that good part which should not be taken away from her. Very clearly this was to sit at Jesus’ feet, and hear his word.” (Spurgeon)
· To sit at the feet of Jesus implies readiness to accept and obey what Jesus teaches.
· To sit at the feet of Jesus implies submission to Jesus; rebellion is done with.
· To sit at the feet of Jesus implies faith in who Jesus is.
· To sit at the feet of Jesus implies discipleship.
· To sit at the feet of Jesus implies love.
v. “If we would be strong for service in the strength that prevents distraction and unrest, we must know what it is to find time amid all the duties of life to sit at His feet as disciples.” (Morgan)
vi. “The way to get the revival is to begin at the Master’s feet; you must go there with Mary and afterwards you may work with Martha.” (Spurgeon)
b. Mary has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her: Mary’s good part was her simple devotion to Jesus, loving Him by listening to His word. This was Mary’s chosen focus.
i. “Imagine not that to sit at Jesus’ feet is a very small, unmeaning thing. It means peace, for they who submit to Jesus find peace through his precious, blood. It means holiness, for those who learn of Jesus learn no sin, but are instructed in things lovely and of good repute. It means strength, for they that sit with Jesus, and feed upon him, are girded with his, strength; the joy of the Lord is their strength. It means wisdom, for they that learn of the Son of God understand more than the ancients, because they keep his statutes. It means zeal, for the love of Christ fires hearts that live upon it, and they that are much with Jesus become like Jesus, so that the zeal of the Lord’s house eats them up.” (Spurgeon)
· People say we need revival; we need to sit at the feet of Jesus and hear His word.
· People say we need unity; we need to sit at the feet of Jesus and hear His word.
· People say we need to win arguments; we need to sit at the feet of Jesus and hear His word.
· People say we need to reach the world; we need to sit at the feet of Jesus and hear His word.
ii. One might say that this account from the life of Jesus shows us three types of those who say they follow Jesus Christ.
· There are people like Mary: Those who know how to serve and also sit at Jesus’ feet.
· There are people like Martha: Those who diligently, and with the best intention serve God, but without adding the one thing – a continued focus on Jesus – and it results in great frustration.
· There are people who don’t do either. They are not even in the house with Jesus, for they are too busy with their own pursuits.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission