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Bible: What Does Luke 10 Teach Us About "The Seventy," The Rich Young Ruler, The Good Samaritan, and Mary and Martha?
Jesus and His Disciples
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Sending Out the Seventy
Recording a mission different from that of "the twelve" (Luke 9:1-6), Luke notes a more ambitious enterprise that sends out seventy (NU; seventy-two) other disciples into the harvest field.
Each couple (“two by two) appears before Jesus for commissioning purposes, and then travels into a surrounding city to herald the kingdom and its King (v. 1).
Christ reiterates to the seventy much of the same instruction about missionary deportment that He gave to the twelve.
Luke first records the assertion that acknowledged the challenging task before the seventy and then the command that told them to pray for God to send more helpers to join them in gathering in the harvest—the one Matthew penned before Jesus commissioned the twelve (9:37-38).
He then partially quotes a statement that introduces a later passage (from the same instructions in Matthew) that warns of persecution (v. 3; cf. 10:16).
Jesus employs the same basic directions, choosing much of the same language He used to send out the Twelve (with notable differences).
First, in Matthew the Lord commands the twelve to go to the “lost sheep of Israel” (10:6); here, He omits that guidance.
[The seventy probably still ministered to Jews only, but Luke does not mention this particular command as part of Christ’s directive.]
Second, after intimating the short-term, urgent nature of their mission (“Carry neither money . . . sandals; and greet no one along the road”) [v. 4; cf. Mt. 10:9-10], Jesus then emphasizes the proper way that they should conduct themselves while lodging with “a son of peace” (vv. 5-9).
He anticipates their possible objections to the local cuisine, and warns them to accept whatever their hosts serve (to avoid giving offense) [vv. 7-8].
Third, while He sets the apostles’ ministry tasks before them immediately in Matthew (10:7-8), in Luke Christ delays telling the seventy about the nature of their work.
When He does inform them, He limits their labors to healing the sick and proclaiming the message (v. 9).
Fourth, Luke’s Jesus tells the apostles to exhibit God’s displeasure with inhospitable cities in a more vocal way than does Matthew’s.
Not only should they “shake off the dust from your feet” (Matt. 10:14), but they should also buttress this symbolic action (that indicates that they want no further association with even the least part of that city) by verbally announcing the people’s culpability before God for rejecting His kingdom (vv. 10-11).
Fifth, Luke deletes a few words—specifically, “of judgment” and “the land of . . . Gomorrah” (v. 12)—that Matthew includes, but he also immediately records additional railings against other disobedient cities (vv. 13-16).
[Matthew later inserts Jesus’ words of judgment against these cities (cf. 11:20-24).]
Satan Expelled From Heaven
Chorazin and Bethsaida must endure a greater degree of God’s wrath than Tyre and Sidon, because they refused to repent even when given more evidence of God’s power (“mighty works”) [vv. 13-14].
Likewise, Capernaum, a much favored city (for Jesus had settled there in the beginning of His ministry [cf. Mt. 4:13]), will suffer hellish judgment, because it rejected not only the seventy but also the Son and the Father as the consequence of that rejection (vv. 15-16).
An unstated time later, the seventy return to Jesus with a joyful report, exclaiming how wonderful it was that they could cast out demons as Christ’s ambassadors (“in Your name”) [v. 17].
The fall of Satan from heaven—Jesus does not specify when He saw this judgment occur—correlates directly with the success of the seventy who have received the Lord’s power over the devil, an authority that extends to protection from demonic forces (vv. 18-19).
[Did Jesus grant this power to all believers for all time, or was it only for those in the apostolic period? Cf. Mark 16:17-18.]
Jesus, however, redirects their focus away from having such miraculous power as the source of joy to their possessing personal salvation (v. 20).
Broaching the topic of heaven/salvation leads the Lord to praise what He sees as the Father’s good pleasure: concealing salvific wisdom from the “wise” and revealing it to “babes” (v. 21; cf. 1 Cor. 1:27-29; Eph. 1:9; Matt. 16:17).
Piggybacking off this truth, the Son (the heir) reflects upon His prerogative to reveal the Father to whomsoever He wills (v. 22).
[Both the Father and the Son reveal salvific truth to those whom They choose through Their sovereign will.]
With great joy, Christ addresses His disciples privately—just the Twelve, the seventy, or others?—, and pronounces them “Blessed,” because they have received the high privilege of seeing and hearing Him in person—a privilege that many great men of OT Israel did not enjoy (vv. 23-24).
[While this statement sounds boastful, it is not. Christ’s selflessness prevents it from originating from pride.
Besides, hearing truth directly from the mouth of the Incarnate God constitutes the most wonderful advantage that He can afford mankind.]
Jesus and Rich Young Ruler
Whether Luke intends the next episode to have any relationship to the context, or he merely decides to insert an interesting story here is moot.
It does seem incongruous (though not inconceivable) that a lawyer (an expert in the law) should mingle among the seventy when his unbelieving status is evident from the test question he asked Jesus (v. 25).
[His query must have been a common one in that day, for the “rich young ruler” asked a very similar one (cf. Mark 10:17; Matt. 19:16).]
Instead of immediately satisfying the lawyer’s desire for instant gratification, Christ probes him for his understanding of what he must do to “inherit eternal life” (v. 26).
[While guarding against a possible attack, Jesus was also testing the man’s sincerity. It is fascinating to see how easily the “Testee” transformed Himself into the “Testor.”
A question arises: What does “inherit eternal life” mean? Jews, according to their belief, can inherit eternal life.
They historically regarded the Land promised to the partriarchs as their inheritance. Therefore, could possessing the Land forever be the same thing as “eternal life” to them?]
The scribe quotes a verse from the Sh’ma and even adds Leviticus 19:18 to it, showing his familiarity with Jesus’ teaching, since only the Lord had ever combined both verses as “a summary of the law” (Ryrie, commenting on Matthew 22:39-40, on page 48).
Once He hears the lawyer’s correct answer (vv. 27-28a), Christ continues testing him, concluding His counsel with “do this and you will live” (v. 28).
Already believing that he fulfilled the first commandment to love God (his first error), the man seeks to “justify himself” by inquiring about the identity of “my neighbor” (v. 29).
The Good Samaritan
From this introduction, Jesus seamlessly segues into His so-called “Parable of the Good Samaritan” (vv. 30-36).
This account relates how robbers severely beat and then steal from a man as he walks to Jericho from Jerusalem (v. 30).
Three other travelers—a priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan—separately encounter this wounded fellow lying on the road.
Fearing possible ritual uncleanness if they touched a dead man and not desiring to become involved, the former two religious folks keep their distance and “pass by on the other side” (vv. 31-32).
The Samaritan—a member of a half-breed community much hated by the Jews—portrays a different attitude, showing compassion to the injured man (v. 33; see Ryrie’s historical note [New Testament Study Bible 129]).
Not only does he perform first-aid on the man’s wounds (v. 34a), and then use his own “vehicle” to take him to a lodging place where he himself cares for him (v. 34b), the Samaritan also pays the motel manager a sum to cover the injured’s recuperation, and promises to repay the innkeeper any extra he spends to get the man well (v. 35).
Then Jesus asks, “Which one of the three travelers is the victim’s ‘neighbor’ ” (v. 36)?
Obviously the Samaritan alone qualifies, so Jesus commands the lawyer to emulate this man’s example (v. 37).
[Therefore, your neighbor (whom you must love as yourself in order to obey God’s commandment) is the one whom your group despises; in other words, your mortal enemy.
What is Jesus’ point? If you can love your enemy as yourself, you can inherit eternal life.
However, sinful human beings cannot accomplish this feat.
Therefore, Jesus undoubtedly hoped that the lawyer would see himself as a failure in this area, realize that he could not inherit eternal life by his own law-keeping, and turn to Him for grace.
The rich, young ruler willfully chose to hold on to his wealth as his god; Luke leaves undisclosed the lawyer’s decision on this matter.]
Jesus, Mary, and Martha
Next, Jesus encounters hospitable, but distracted Martha and her reverent sister Mary (vv. 38-42).
[From John 11:1, we learn that Martha and Mary live in Bethany (“a certain village,” v. 38), and that Lazarus is their brother.
John 12:2-3 records Martha serving again, but Mary anointing Jesus’ feet with spikenard and wiping them with her hair.]
[Is this Mary the “sinful woman” who performed the same task earlier? (See Lk. 7:37-50).]
Overwrought while serving the Lord a meal, Martha, feeling quite justified to be bold, interrupts her work to complain to Jesus.
Not only does she wonder aloud if He cares that Mary is not helping her—Mary, by the way, is sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to His word (v. 39)—but she also demands that He command her to lend a hand (v. 40).
Christ gently, but firmly, corrects Martha’s manner (“worried and troubled about many things,” v. 41), then informs her that “one simple dish for the meal is all that is necessary" (129; v. 42a).
As for Mary’s chosen activity (what the Lord called “that good part”), Jesus permits and encourages its continuance (v. 42b).
© 2013 glynch1