Great material today. The parable of the Good Samaritan – a classic! Jesus visits Mary and Martha, one has an issue with the other – which side is Jesus going to take? Chapter 10 starts with Jesus mobilizing a large group to assist him. There are lots of good insights today.
Jesus Sends Out Seventy-Two Messengers / 10:1-16
Luke is the only Gospel to record the sending out of seventy-two disciples. In this passage, Luke highlighted and anticipated the universal mission of Jesus—the gospel would go to all people.
10:1 Far more than twelve people had been following Jesus. According to 1 Corinthians 15:6, Jesus had at least five hundred followers by the time he had finished his ministry. A group of 120 of these followers went to Jerusalem to begin the church there (Acts 1:15). Here Jesus designated a group of seventy-two to prepare a number of towns for his later visit.
Jesus sent them out two by two for mutual encouragement and help. Jesus saw a tremendous need, a need so great that a great group of witnesses was needed.
The number 72 is significant for it was, according to Genesis 10, the traditional number of nations in the world, according to the Septuagint. By choosing and sending out seventy-two disciples, Jesus was symbolically showing that all nations in the world would one day hear the message. This would include the Gentiles—an important point for Luke’s Gentile audience.
10:2 Jesus was sending thirty-six teams of two to reach the many towns and villages that he had not yet been able to visit. Jesus compared this work to a harvest—the gathering of new believers into his Kingdom (see also John 4:35). To have a harvest, however, one must have workers in the field. So many people need to hear the message, but there are so few workers willing to gather it in. Even as Jesus had sent the Twelve, and now seventy-two more, he told them to ask the Lord to send out more workers for his fields. In Christ’s service, there is no unemployment. God has work enough for everyone. No believer should sit back and watch others work because the harvest is great.
- LIFE APPLICATION – PRAY FOR MORE HELP
- Jesus encouraged the disciples not just to do the work but also to pray for workers. Part of every missionary’s job is to pray for new workers and to help newcomers learn the ropes. Whatever your role in God’s work, pray today for more helpers. Believers are not always to work alone. God wants them to pray, recruit, and equip others to join them as they explore opportunities to serve Jesus. Some people, as soon as they understand the gospel, want to go to convert people immediately. Jesus gave a different approach: begin by mobilizing people to pray. And before praying for unsaved people, pray that other concerned disciples will join you in reaching out to them. God will lead you to an important responsibility, but prayer comes first.
10:3 The world into which these seventy-two were going was not a pleasant place. The harvest was going to involve intensive labor and possibly danger. Jesus commanded them to go, explaining that they were going out as lambs among wolves. The use of the word “lambs” refers to their vulnerability (see Isaiah 11:6; 65:25). But the important point is the four words, “I am sending you.” If Jesus were not sending them, then they would be attempting to go on their own plans, their own power, their own itinerary, being lambs among wolves would be like asking to be slaughtered. But because Jesus was sending them, they might face danger from the opposition. Their very defenselessness would cause them all the more to depend on God.
- LIFE APPLICATION – WOLVES
- Jesus warned against opposition. Wolf-like opposition comes in many forms. Some spiritual opponents will be direct and aggressively attack. Some opponents appear to be spiritual, but really want to undermine. Serving God today requires courage under fire and discernment among counterfeits. Pray for growth in both virtues. Find a way to become better educated about the opposition you face.
10:4 These instructions are basically the same as those given to the Twelve in 9:3-4. The reason was the same—they were to travel light, spend no time preparing for the trip, and depend upon God and those to whom they ministered to meet their basic needs. So urgent is their task that they are not to stop to greet anyone on the road. Jesus did not mean for them to be impolite to people whom they passed, but rather that they were not to spend precious time on dallying by the wayside. They had to remain focused on their task.
10:5-6 The home that a pair of disciples would enter would be the home from which they would receive hospitality during their stay in a particular town. When they entered a house, they should give the characteristic blessing. This blessing conveyed the messianic peace promised in the Old Testament and stressed the authority based on power from God that was behind the missionary. If the householders were worthy (had a proper attitude toward God), then the blessing would stand. Such people would be open to the gospel message. But if the people were not worthy, the blessing would return to the one who had given it.
10:7 Jesus had also directed the Twelve to remain with their original hosts in any town (9:4). This instruction avoided certain problems. For the two disciples to move around from home to home could offend the families who first took them in. In addition, by staying in one place, the disciples would not have to worry continually about getting good accommodations. They could settle down and do their appointed task. The disciples were to willingly eat and drink what their hosts provided because those who work deserve their pay. Jesus told his disciples to accept hospitality graciously because their work entitled them to it. Ministers of the gospel deserve to be supported, and it is believers’ responsibility to make sure they have what they need.
10:8-9 When the pairs of disciples entered a town, received a welcome, and entered a home, Jesus told them to eat whatever is set before them. It may well be that they would be welcomed into non-Jewish homes where the meals might not satisfy all the ceremonial laws of the Jews. Jesus told them not to be sidetracked about what they ate. Instead, they should do what they came to do—heal the sick (which was a signal that the Kingdom had arrived) and proclaim to the people that the Kingdom of God is near (see also 10:11; 21:31). This “nearness” meant both “already here” and “soon to come.” The Kingdom Jesus began on earth would not overthrow Roman oppression and bring universal peace right away. Instead, it was a Kingdom that began in people’s hearts and was as near as people’s willingness to make Jesus king over their lives.
10:10-11 Jesus also gave instructions if the disciples should enter a town and not be welcomed. He made it clear that they would face rejection in some places. But the rejection of their message would not change the message. Even if the people refused it, the Kingdom of God was still near, but those who refused it would miss it. Jesus repeated the instruction of wiping the dust of that town from their feet as a public announcement of their doom (9:5).
10:12 Sodom was a wicked city that God destroyed because of its great sinfulness (Genesis 19:24-28). The city’s name is often used to symbolize evil and immorality. Sodom will face God’s wrath at judgment day, but cities that rejected the Messiah and his Kingdom will face even worse wrath from God. A city as evil as Sodom would be better off than these towns because they had been given the opportunity to believe the Messiah—they had seen great miracles and had the Good News preached to them—but they had turned away and had refused salvation.
10:13-14 The mention of cities that might reject the Messiah (10:10-11) leads to a message of those who already had. Korazin and Bethsaida were cities near Capernaum, at the north end of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had concentrated his ministry in and around Capernaum, so he must have performed miracles in these cities. These miracles are not recorded in the Gospels—there is much about Jesus’ ministry that is unknown. Tyre and Sidon were pagan cities in Phoenicia, the territory north of Galilee. They had rebelled against God and had been judged and punished for their wickedness and opposition to God’s people (see Isaiah 23:1-18; Jeremiah 25:22; 47:4; Ezekiel 26–28; Joel 3:4-8; Amos 1:9-10). Yet Jesus explained that, though these people were evil and rebellious, if he had come to them and had done miracles, they would have sat in deep repentance. The mention of sackcloth and ashes depicts mourning and repentance. A person humbled himself or herself by wearing only this rough cloth made of goat hair and sitting in a pile of ashes. Tyre and Sidon had not had that opportunity, while Korazin and Bethsaida had been visited by the Messiah who had done miracles among them; yet they rejected him. The punishment these cities would suffer on the judgment day would be far worse than what Tyre and Sidon experienced.
10:15 Capernaum was Jesus’ base for his Galilean ministry (Matthew 4:13; Mark 2:1). Jesus had performed many miracles there, and apparently the people were feeling a certain amount of pride in their connection with Jesus. But many people of Capernaum did not understand Jesus’ miracles or believe his teaching. Instead of being exalted to heaven as they might have thought because Jesus chose to live among them, they would be brought down to the place of the dead because they had seen the Messiah and rejected him. The language is reminiscent of Isaiah 14:12-15, where the prideful attitude of the king of Babylon is condemned. The Greek word translated, “place of the dead,” is Hades, the dwelling place of the condemned wicked people (16:23; Revelation 20:13-14). This pictured fiery judgment on this city that rejected Christ. Today the site of ancient Capernaum is desolate—a stunning picture of Jesus’ words here.
10:16 Jesus’ messengers are important people. They are sent with authority. In ancient times, when a person dealt with a messenger, it was the same as dealing with the person who had sent him (for example, see 7:3 and commentary). Therefore, people who accepted the message of Jesus’ disciples were accepting Jesus. Likewise, people who rejected Jesus’ disciples’ message were rejecting Jesus. Because Jesus and God are one, anyone who rejects Jesus is rejecting God who sent him. These messengers could take their mission seriously because Jesus did—he was sending them out with his message and his authority.
The Seventy-Two Messengers Return / 10:17-24
This passage continues the theme of discipleship (started at 9:51). Here the seventy-two returned, rejoicing. Jesus rejoiced with them, praising God for the defeat of Satan and the fact that he had chosen to use these humble followers to advance his Kingdom.
10:17 Some time had passed between 10:16 and 10:17. The seventy-two disciples completed their mission to various towns and villages (10:1) and returned with joy. They had seen tremendous results as they ministered in Jesus’ name and with his authority. They were elated by the victories they had witnessed—that even the demons had submitted to them in Jesus’ name. Probably they were able to heal demon-possessed people, and this thrilled them.
10:18-19 This could mean that Jesus saw, as in a vision, Satan falling from heaven as a flash of lightning (that is, from a place of power) during the ministry of these disciples. Satan suffered a notable defeat as these thirty-six pairs of men went around the countryside casting out demons.
Satan might attempt to discourage and harm Jesus’ disciples, but when they were on this mission, nothing could harm them. Jesus had given them authority over all the power of the enemy. To walk among snakes and scorpions may allude to Psalm 91:13 where snakes are listed among dangerous creatures from which God protects the people of Israel. See also Deuteronomy 8:15 where scorpions and snakes are connected.
10:20 Such power and authority can be a heady experience, so the disciples were warned not to rejoice just because evil spirits had obeyed them. The main reason to rejoice was that their names were registered as citizens of heaven. Their ministry was not to become an experience of power leading to pride, but an experience of servanthood out of love for God and out of the desire for more people to join them in the Kingdom.
10:21 Jesus praised God, his Father, for making spiritual truth available to the childlike. Those who willingly submit themselves to God and do not depend upon their own wisdom will have the truth revealed to them. So often the wise and clever in this world refuse to submit themselves to God. They may not see their need for him, or they may think that their wisdom and learning have placed them in a separate class. These words of Jesus reveal God’s sovereignty and initiative regarding who will receive divine truth. God has chosen to hide it from those who refuse and reject it (see 8:10), and instead reveals it to those who may not seem wise and learned but have trusting hearts (like little children, 9:47-48).
- LIFE APPLICATION – GOD’S CHOICE: YOU
- How did you come to know about Christ? The deeper reason (the explanation behind those immediate reasons) is that God chose you to know about him.
- Why would He do that? It was by grace, a gift entirely based on love from God to you.
- What should you do? Thank Him in prayer; live each day for Christ; speak about Him; and show God’s love in generous concern for others. A great gift inspires a grateful response.
10:22 Jesus further identified his special and unique relationship with God the Father. So close and intimate, so completely trusting, that Jesus said, “My Father has given me authority over everything.” The Father and the Son have an exclusive relationship that humanity at large cannot fathom. (Luke brought it up again in 20:41-44; 22:69; Acts 2:29-38.) Jesus’ mission was to reveal God the Father to people. His words brought salvation down to earth. He explained God’s love through parables, teachings, and, most of all, his life. By examining Jesus’ actions, principles, and attitudes, those chosen by him are enabled to understand God more clearly. As used here, the word chooses does not refer to predestination; rather, it refers to Jesus’ divine status and authority to reveal saving knowledge to people.
10:23-24 Old Testament men of God such as David and the prophet Isaiah made many God-inspired predictions that Jesus fulfilled. As Peter later would write, these prophets wondered what their words meant and when they would be fulfilled (1 Peter 1:10-13). In Jesus’ words, they longed to see and hear what the disciples were seeing and hearing, but they could not. Despite their privileged positions as part of God’s people and God’s plan, many prophets and kings were not as blessed as this little band of disciples or all the “simple” people who came in faith to Jesus.
- LIFE APPLICATION – THE PRIVILEGED FEW
- The disciples had a fantastic opportunity—they were eyewitnesses of Christ, the Son of God. But for many months they took Jesus for granted, not really listening to him or obeying him. Believers today also have a privileged position, with knowledge of two thousand years of church history, availability of the Bible in hundreds of languages and translations, and access to many excellent pastors and speakers. Yet often Christians take these for granted. Remember, with privilege comes responsibility. Because you are privileged to know so much about Christ, you must be careful to follow him.
Jesus Tells the Parable of the Good Samaritan / 10:25-37
Jesus had just praised God for hiding the secrets of the Kingdom from the wise and learned (10:21). Next an expert in Old Testament law asked Jesus a question that revealed the lawyer’s profound ignorance about central issues of the faith—eternal life and the basic command to love one’s neighbor.
10:25 This expert in religious law was a man who had made it his business to know and understand the details of the Jewish religion. He had studied the Scriptures (the Old Testament—the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets). He also knew all the traditions. The fact that this man wanted to test Jesus does not necessarily indicate hostility. He wanted to know what he had to do to receive eternal life.
10:26-28 This expert in the law obviously would have known the law of Moses. In his answer, he quoted from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. He correctly understood that the law demanded total devotion to God and love for one’s neighbor. To love God in this way is to fulfill completely all the commandments regarding one’s “vertical” relationship. But another command from the law says to love your neighbor. This refers to “horizontal” relationships—among people. A person cannot maintain a good vertical relationship with God without also caring for his or her neighbor. The word “neighbor” refers to fellow human beings in general.
The expert in the law had it right. Jesus explained that people only needed to obey these commands; in doing so, they would fulfill all the rest of them. But with these abrupt words, Jesus was subtly making the point that no one can obey these commands. Do this and you will live sounds simple—in reality, however, those commands are impossible to keep in our human strength alone. This would be the lifestyle of Kingdom people—but they would not have to “do” it in order to be saved. Instead, they would be saved and then enabled by the Holy Spirit to obey these impossible demands. Jesus would show this to the man in the following story.
10:29 The expert in the law would not leave the encounter there. He wanted to justify his actions. It is unclear if he wanted to justify the question he had asked by asking the teacher to delve deeper into the topic, or whether he wanted Jesus to give an answer that he could then say he had fulfilled. He may have been attempting to pin down and limit the law’s demand, thereby limiting his responsibility. So he pressed Jesus further, “And who is my neighbor?”
10:30 Jesus answered this legal expert by telling a story. The rest of his listeners could easily picture this Jewish man who was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. The distance was about seventeen miles on a road that was notoriously dangerous because it curved through rocky and desolate terrain with many hiding places for bandits. As the listeners may have anticipated, the man in this story, who was traveling alone, was attacked and left half dead.
10:31-32 Jesus told a story about three different people, also traveling alone on this road. This priest served in the Temple and probably offered sacrifices. The Temple assistant also served in the Temple. Both of these servants of God saw the man lying there, but both passed by without helping. Perhaps it was concern over defilement, for a Jew would become “unclean” if he came into contact with a dead body. This would render him unable to worship. The man on the road may have appeared dead, so they did not want to risk defilement if there was nothing they could do. Either way, they deliberately refused to help.
10:33-35 The next person to come along was a despised Samaritan. Jews hated Samaritans, so when Jesus introduced this Samaritan man into the story, the Jewish listeners would not have expected him to help a Jewish man. But in great detail, Jesus described all that the Samaritan did for this man. This Samaritan is pictured as understanding what it meant to help someone in need, to be a neighbor, regardless of racial tensions.
- LIFE APPLICATION – GENEROSITY
- In this story, the Samaritan was extremely generous, and Jesus highlighted his helpful actions. Generosity inspired by God does more than what’s expected. Extend yourself. When you see a job to do, go overboard. Do it to show just an ounce of what God’s care for you is like. Do it with all the joy God has put in your heart.
10:36-37 Having finished the story, Jesus asked the expert in the law who had been a neighbor to the wounded man. The legal expert had no choice but to answer that the one who showed him mercy—the Samaritan—had been the true “neighbor.” The Samaritan traveler and the Jewish man were far apart in distance and spiritual heritage, but the Samaritan had loved his neighbor far better than the hurt man’s own religious leaders. Jesus said that the legal expert had answered correctly and should go and do the same. Jesus taught that love is shown by action, that it must not be limited by its object, and that at times it is costly.
Jesus Visits Martha and Mary / 10:38-42
This short story follows the parable of the good Samaritan because it involves another reversal. Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to his teaching, while Martha was busying herself fixing a meal. Although intently listening to Jesus was Mary’s way of expressing her love and devotion to God, in the first century, this would be quite unusual for a woman. Learning at a rabbi’s feet was a privilege typically reserved for young men. Thus, Martha assumed that Jesus would honor her request that he rebuke Mary. Instead, Jesus commended Mary, welcoming her to learn from him.
10:38 The village where these people lived was Bethany, located about two miles outside of Jerusalem. Martha had a sister named Mary (10:39, who was probably younger because this home is described as belonging to Martha) and a brother named Lazarus (whom Jesus later raised from the dead, John 11).
10:39-40 Jesus did not come alone—he had twelve disciples with him who all needed to have their feet washed, to be made comfortable, and to have a meal prepared for them. A respectable hostess in the ancient world would extend all of these courtesies to his or her guests. The impression here, however, is that Martha was overdoing it. She wanted something extra special for the Master, but she let herself get to the point where she was worrying, overworked, and unable to enjoy these guests. In attempting to serve Jesus, she did not understand or attend to Jesus’ reason for being there. Mary, however, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. She was taking advantage of the opportunity to hear Jesus. Martha, for her part, wanted to give her guests the royal treatment—and she should not be criticized for that. However, she allowed her worry to turn to irritation. She went to Jesus and asked him to tell Mary to get up and get to work. There is a touch of reproach in her words.
- LIFE APPLICATION – TASK ORIENTED BE CAREFUL
- Note three potential problems if we act like Martha :
- 1. While asking for help (a legitimate request), we point to our own accomplishments (prideful).
- 2. While calling Jesus “Lord” (certainly appropriate), we question his judgment with implied criticism that he is not directing his team effectively (suggesting we are a better chief than he).
- 3. While acknowledging our relationship to another person (Martha referred to her sister), we criticize that person for failing to follow our lead (imposing our will as right and good just because it’s productive).
- A better way: Never assume our own greatness. Support others in their special roles. Ask Jesus first; then get to work.
*We ought to take our work seriously, but not ourselves. We ruin our service when we overestimate our importance. Martha attempted to force Mary to serve Christ her way.
10:41-42 Jesus did not blame Martha for being concerned about preparing the meal, nor did he scold her for attempting to make him and his disciples welcome. But he did want her to understand that because she was so upset, she was not making time for what was most important, shown in Mary’s attitude. Jesus wanted Martha to rearrange her priorities. It is possible for service to Christ to degenerate into mere busywork that is no longer full of devotion to God. There was nothing wrong with Martha’s desire to serve—someone had to do it or no one would have eaten. Perhaps she could have laid out a less lavish feast so that she too could have had time to sit at Jesus’ feet and digest his teaching. But Jesus was not going to send Mary away to attend to housework. She had chosen to be at Jesus’ feet, and Jesus knew that he would not be on this earth forever. His time would be short, and he would not send away those who wanted to listen and learn.
Sources: Life Application Bible Commentary, Life Application Concise New Testament Commentary, Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible Commentary, Preaching the Word
For more information about The Ridge Fellowship or Darrell Koop see www.ridgefellowship.com