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. So, Jesus needs help getting the message out, and He turns to the larger group of His disciples.
i. The harvest is great: 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.
b. The laborers are few: This means not only that there needs to be more workers, but that we have to be about our work for the Lord. When there is a lot of work and few workers, you have to get busy.
c. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest: Jesus commands them to pray; the work in front of them is great and cannot be accomplished without much prayer.
d. Go your way: Jesus commands them to go, because God will use them to answer their own prayers.
e. I send you out as lambs among wolves: Jesus commands them to go with a certain kind of heart, that trusts in God and doesn't seek to abuse and manipulate people. Going as lambs among wolves doesn't sound very attractive to us! Yet, it is exactly as Jesus was sent, and how the power of God worked through Him mightily.
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. After Jesus got them praying, after He got them going; and after He put their hearts in the right place, He next gives them specific instructions for ministry. They were not to be distracted either by material concerns (Carry neither money bag, sack, nor sandals) or by tedious ceremonies of etiquette (greet no one along the road).
b. 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.
i. For the laborer is worthy of his wages: Jesus told His disciples to not regard the support given to them as charity, but as justified 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 though the Kingdom of God was coming with power (as everyone expected it would), and the power would be shown in acts of mercy and kindness (which was not expected).
b. Say to them, "The kingdom of God has come near to you": this means that the healing was a part of their preaching; they would then describe what the kingdom of God was all about, from what Jesus had taught and shown them.
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. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you: When we truly preach Jesus' message, and do what Jesus did, we can trust that if we are rejected, it is because they reject the message of Jesus instead of rejecting us.
i. Unfortunately, sometimes through our own obnoxious manner or lack of love, people reject Jesus because of us. This should never be the case.
b. Sodom . . . Tyre and Sidon: These were each notoriously sinful cities. Jesus says that the cities that reject His message are in more trouble before God, because they have seen a greater work of God than any of those sinful cities did, yet they still reject 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 are held to greater account for what they have seen.
ii. The Bible never specifically mentions Jesus' miracles in Chorazin. This is an indication that the gospels are 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).
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. Even the demons are subject to us in Your name: When we look carefully at the commission Jesus gave these seventy (Luke 10:9), we see that Jesus had not originally commissioned them to cast out demons (as He did the twelve disciples in Luke 9:1-2). Therefore, this was an unexpected blessing of their ministry.
i. When we step out and do what Jesus tells us to do, we should expect that He would bless us with even more than He told us to expect.
b. I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven: What is Jesus talking about? The Bible actually mentions four falls of Satan.
i. From glorified to profane (Ezekiel 28:14-16).
ii. From having access to heaven (Job 1:12, 1 Kings 22:21, Zechariah 3:1) to restriction to the earth (Revelation 12:9).
iii. From the earth to bondage in the bottomless pit for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:1-3).
iv. From the pit to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).
c. Here, Jesus speaks of Satan's "first" fall, from glorified to profane. What Jesus just saw in the disciples was evidence that Satan had already lost his position of power. He is a conquered enemy, and when we act in the name of Jesus, victory is assured.
d. In remembering the fall of Satan, Jesus also warns them against pride. After all, if Satan could fall like lightning from his place of high spiritual status and privilege, so could they.
e. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you: Jesus then warns them to rejoice in what God has done for them (because your names are written in heaven), not in what they had done for God (that the spirits are subject to you).
i. Some people get "drunk" on the idea of spiritual power. After God uses them in some way, they have an arrogance that is very impressed with all they do for God. God wants us to always see that what He has done for us always is far greater than what we could ever do for Him.
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 is genuinely excited here. Literally, the ancient Greek says He was thrilled with joy. God delights in using the weak and foolish things of this world to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).
i. Geldenhuys says that the ancient Greek word for rejoiced is "referring to exceptional rejoicing and exultation."
b. I thank You, Father: Jesus' joy makes Him break out into prayer. He praises God the Father for His wisdom, for His plan, and for His own unique relationship with God the Father.
c. In this prayer, Jesus highlights:
- His unity with the Father (All things have been delivered to Me by My Father).
- His special relationship with the Father (no one knows who the Son is but the Father, and who the Father is but the Son).
- How God allows us to have some part in that special relationship (and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him).
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. Many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it: How the great men of the Old Testament would have longed to see Jesus' ministry and to minister for Him! How David would have loved to see Jesus do the things He did, and how Isaiah would have longed to hear what Jesus said! We have these privileges, but they did not.
C. Summary of the work of the Seventy: how we go forth with the gospel.
1. The harvest is great: We do the work knowing how big the job is.
2. The laborers are few: We do the work knowing that we have a key job.
3. Pray the Lord of the harvest: We do the work with a lot of prayer.
4. Go your way: We are to actually go and do the work.
5. Like lambs among wolves: We do the work making ourselves vulnerable, letting God be our strength.
6. Carry neither: We do the work without reliance upon anything except the gospel and power of God.
7. Greet no one: We do the work not allowing social obligations to hinder our work.
8. Whatever house you enter: We do the work expecting that God will bring help and provision.
9. Eating and drinking such things as they give: We do the work not being hung up on minor points.
10. Heal the sick: We do the work looking to minister to the whole person with the power of God.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me: We do the work remembering whom we represent.
14. The seventy returned with joy: We do the work expecting God to do more than we expect.
15. Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit: We do the work knowing that Jesus has so much joy when we do His work.
D. 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? Eternal life, in the Biblical understanding of the idea, doesn't refer to duration of life, because every person is immortal, either in heaven or hell). It doesn't refer to a life that begins when we die. Eternal life is a particular quality of life, a life that comes from God, a life we can have right now.
c. Jesus points the lawyer back to What is written in the law. If the question is what shall I do to inherit eternal life, the answer is simple: keep the law of God, and keep it perfectly.
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 is the essence of the law. Now all the man has to do is to 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 exceeding difficult to do. 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 you 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, 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, much less in our daily living.
ii. His second mistake was in thinking that he could fulfil the commandment to love God with all he had and still possibly not fulfil 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 fulfills it. It all depends on how broad the definition is. The Jews in Jesus' day did believe that you had to love your neighbor; but they also taught 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 muggings. It wasn't surprising to Jesus' listeners that He set the story on this particular road.
b. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road: The priest and the Levite (both categories of religious officials) see their Jewish brother lying in his terrible state. But neither of them do anything. They both passed by on the other side.
i. 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, the probably expected Jesus to say that a common Jewish man came and helped, that the story would be another way Jesus showed the corruption of the religious leaders were in his day. But Jesus shocks them by saying that the man who helped was a Samaritan.
d. What was special about a 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 with a sacrificial love. He didn't wait to be asked, for to see the need right in front of him was enough to compel him to action. 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 would help to soothe the wounds, easing the pain. To set him on his own animal means that the Samaritan himself walked.
ii. He took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper: It seems that two denarii would have provided for the man's needs in the inn for at least two or three weeks.
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 mugged. But they didn't act like neighbors at all.
b. He who showed mercy on him: The lawyer can't even bring himself to say the name "Samaritan" was true neighbor to the hurting man. We might have expected to be an enemy, but he was instead a neighbor, the one 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 would go beyond what he wanted to think of as "neighbor."
c. Go and do likewise: So, who is my neighbor? Who is the one I have to love? My neighbor is he one who others might consider my enemy. My neighbor is the one with a need right in front of me.
i. 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.
ii. "The world would be a changed place if every Christian attended to the sorrows that are plain before him." (Maclaren)
4. What if you don't have this kind of love, either for God or for man?
a. Then you must stop trying to inherit 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.
b. When you receive eternal life - God's kind of life in you - God will give you the resources to love Him and other people as you should. You can't do it apart from having His life in you.
i. "Let it never be forgotten that what the law demands of us the gospel really produces in us." (Spurgeon)
E. 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. You can imagine how Martha wanted everything perfect when Jesus came to visit!
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 she also sat at Jesus' feet.
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. Distracted from whom? Distracted from Jesus.
i. There are many people who become crabby and irritable in their service for the Lord like Martha. It is easy to look at all we do and to criticize those who aren't doing 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.
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 read the love in Jesus' voice as He says this! Martha did good - she wanted to serve Jesus! But she had not added the one thing [that] is needed.
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)
b. This story shows us three types of Christians.
i. There are people like Mary: Those who know how to serve and also sit at Jesus' feet.
ii. 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.
iii. There are people who aren't doing either. They are not even in the house with Jesus, for they are too busy with their own pursuits.