From:  Busy Person’s Guide to Luke 1 to 12                                   Return to Home 

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.  © 2019

 

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Busy Person’s Guide to the New Testament:

Quickly Understanding Luke

 

(Volume 1:  Chapters 10)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Ten

 

 

 

The Sending Out of a Total of Seventy Men in Two Man Sets [72 in the “Critical Text” Reading] to Prepare the Way for His Own Approaching Visits (Luke 10:1-12):  5 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him two by two into every town and place where he himself was about to go.  He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.

Go! I am sending you out like lambs surrounded by wolves.  Do not carry a money bag, a traveler’s bag, or sandals, and greet no one on the road.  Whenever you enter a house, first say, ‘May peace be on this house!’ 

And if a peace-loving person is there, your peace will remain on him, but if not, it will return to you.  Stay in that same house, eating and drinking what they give you, for the worker deserves his pay.  Do not move around from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and the people welcome you, eat what is set before you.  Heal the sick in that town and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come upon you!’ 

10 But whenever you enter a town and the people do not welcome you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you.  Nevertheless know this:  The kingdom of God has come.’  12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town!     --New English Translation (for comparison)

 

 

            10:1     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.  After the exchanges just narrated (9:57-62), Jesus selected a large group and sent them out in pairs of two into each community where He intended to travel next.  The majority of manuscripts give the number as seventy; “critical texts” regard seventy-two as more likely.  In either case, we are talking about at least thirty-five teams.  The similarity to the sending out of the Twelve on a teaching and healing tour will be obvious in their goals and behaviors while on the journey (9:1-6).  They are “seventy others”--not in contrast with some previous seventy but in contrast to the apostolic twelve who had been sent out earlier.  Nothing explicit is said whether all of them were sent out at one time or whether they were sent out in smaller groups and this number was the sum total of all these missionaries.      

 

            10:2     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.  Jesus’ explanation of this decision is that the potential “harvest” of new disciples was so great that they needed more laborers to accomplish it all--with the clear implication that even these seventy were not enough.  They were to be part of the answer, but even more were required.  So it was imperative for all of them to pray that God would find yet additional recruits to get it all done.

 

            10:3     Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves.   This mission held the potential for great danger.  Compared to their enemies, they were like “lambs” making their way in “wolf” infested territory.  This likely refers primarily to dangerous and unscrupulous spiritual opponents, but there was also abundant danger from robbers and thieves as well.

 

            10:4     Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road.  That the words sound so similar to the instructions given to the Twelve in the preceding chapter is quite natural:  The tasks were so very similar, it would be more odd if the instructions were drastically different.  They themselves were also to travel on a foundation of faith:  though the term is not used, the concept underlies the entire command to travel without a bag (for money, clothing, or food) and to have no extra sandals.  Nor were they to allow themselves to become distracted from their mission.  They were not even to take the time to greet others on the road.  (It would be a distraction from the urgency of their mission and, in light of the customs of the day, could result in long-winded delays.) 

            Sidebar:  Other translations are often inclined to assume that this is indeed just a “money bag” as found here, but a significant number take it more broadly as a “traveling bag” (as in Holman,  ISV, and NET) which could contain anything and everything.  

 

            10:5     But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’  Whenever they entered a home, they were to pronounce a blessing of Divine “peace” upon its residents.  It would be both courteous and, in light of the nature of their spiritual mission, the most relevant thing to say.  After all they were sharing the message of peace with God through His Son Jesus.

 

            10:6     And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you.  If a true “son of peace” were there--either the one seeking acceptance by God rather than just with other members of the community . . . or the one trying to live peacefully with others . . . or, even more likely, both--he would be deeply blessed.  But if there is hostility and rejection it will still do you no harm.  The blessing of peace you intended for them will be extended to you instead since you had made the best effort possible.

 

            10:7     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.  In that home they were to remain for the entire duration of their stay.  (No gadabouting from home to home to find better lodgings or a more socially important family!)  The blessing of food and lodging they received they were to count as a laborer’s wages.  They had earned it through their work and were “worthy” of receiving it because of their effort.  There  was no reason for them to be ashamed of not paying for it themselves.

            Sidebar:  The apostle Paul quotes “the laborer is worthy of his wages” not as a popular adage but as a statement found in “scripture” (1 Timothy 5:18).  Since it is only found here, that argues that Paul accepted Luke as not merely reliable but as inspired scripture as well.  The other passage he quotes in that verse comes from Deuteronomy 25:4.  This clearly shows that he uses “scripture” in the sense of something Divinely revealed from God:  Hence he regards Luke 10:7 just as much so.

 

            10:8     Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you.  They were not to be finicky about what they ate.  In some places it might be quality food indeed; in other places it might be the far more modest rations of a financially strapped family.  It was not theirs to criticize and demand something better, but to be thankful for whatever they had.  (There may well be the implication that if the food does not quite seem “kosher” to their standards, to still consume it with courtesy rather than challenge since the intent was clearly one of good will.)

 

            10:9     And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’  Miracles and preaching went hand in hand, the supernatural interventions enhancing the credibility of their message.  The healings are presented, seems to be the internal logic of the verse, as evidence that the kingdom of God is unquestionably imminent.  In effect:  “You want evidence of its closeness--look at what has just been done!”

            Sidebar:  Healing the sick is mentioned but not the casting out of demons as was the case of the preaching tour undertaken earlier by the Twelve (9:1), but verse 17 shows that they had that power as well.  This vividly illustrates that the full truth is obtained not by choosing a single text alone to establish a scenario but by taking all relevant texts into consideration.

 

            10:10   But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say.  Jesus was the supreme realist and so should they be:  however much they deserve acceptance they will not always receive it.  Human preferences and prejudice are simply too deep.  In the more extreme cases it will be like this:  Not a case of some specific individuals rejecting what you have to say, but of no one willing to give it consideration.  

 

            10:11   ‘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.’  They couldn't force them to listen, but they could--quite visibly--shake off the dust of their feet . . . as if what they are leaving behind is no better than the worthless and contaminating dirt and sand that are on their sandaled feet.  Entering a home, you shook it off as a visible sign of courtesy and doing your part to keep the dust outside.  In this case it is done as a visible sign of rejection.

            Sidebar:  After suffering persecution in one town Paul and Barnabas did this (Acts 13:51).  In a later case Paul shook off his garments to convey the same message (Acts 18:6).   

 

            10:12   But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city.  Sodom was a traditional synonym for sin at its worst; the rejection of God at its most extreme.  And these folk were living in just such a community no matter how “pious” they claimed to be and how “God fearing.”  True spirituality and Divine acceptance is earned by meeting His standards rather than assuming that our own well intentioned ones will be sufficient.

 

 

He Warns the Seventy that Even Miracles Won’t Convince Some Places to Accept Their Teaching—Any More Than His Own (Luke 10:13-16):  13 Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!  For if the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment than for you!  15 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be thrown down to Hades! 

16 The one who listens to you listens to me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”     --New English Translation (for comparison)

 

 

            10:13   “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.  These two towns had been provided such major miracles, that even Tyre and Sidon would have put on “sackcloth and ashes” to demonstrate their sorrow over sin and determination to change for the better.  The reference may be to the contemporary Gentile dominated cities of Tyre and Sidon or to the ancient ones.  Either way, Jesus is saying that some Gentiles would be far easier to convince than the Jews had been in both Chorazin and Bethsaida.

            This is the only time that Chorazin enters the New Testament narrative and provides a reminder that only a modest fraction of what Jesus did has been preserved for us.  Luke implicitly acknowledges that here and John does so explicitly:  “Truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:30-31).

 

            10:14   But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you.  The implication is that none of these cities will like the result at that time, but that it will be even worse for the two Jewish ones.  They couldn’t plead the ignorance the way Gentile communities could.  These Jewish contemporaries insisted they were God’s people and obedient to Him; they couldn’t even claim ignorance of His will.  Whatever one may choose to deduce about “degrees of punishment” from this text--if anything--the wording still has to carry the implication that none of them are going to be happy with it.

 

            10:15   And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades.  Capernaum had been the site of much of Jesus’ work.  Yet it had done minimal permanent good among the locals.  In their own eyes, though, the community was so important that it was “exalted to heaven.”  So far as God was concerned the opposite was the reality:  it was going to be brought crashing “down to Hades.” 

            If one wishes to seek a temporal in addition to a spiritual reference point (or even just a temporal one), then the widespread devastation fits that was suffered during the Great Revolt ending in the destruction of the temple.  Proud and prosperous cities such as this were cast down into the chaos of thorough destruction.  As Josephus puts it of this region:  “insomuch that the misery was not only an object of commiseration to the Jews, but even to those that hated them and had been the authors of that misery.”  

           

            10:16   He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.”  The seventy were not originating new teaching; they were relaying what Jesus had already taught.  Hence, He assures them, that those who accept their teaching are accepting His own teaching as well for that is where they got it from.  Rejecting it meant the opposite--not so much a rejection of them personally but, really, of Jesus.  This fact is surely stressed so that so it will not be so emotionally devastating--they are simply walking in the steps of their Lord. 

            But the extent of the rejection is carried one step further as well:  It also involved the rejection of God who had commissioned Jesus and sent Him into this world.  And how could that possibly be unless the Father had also given Him the message to teach?  We have implied here the teaching found explicitly in John 12:

 

                        48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. 49 For I     have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a    command, what I should say and what I should speak. 50 And I know that His          command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has        told Me, so I speak.”

 

           

 

Their Miracles Were a Defeat for Satan (Luke 10:17-20):  17 Then the seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name!”  18 So he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.  19 Look, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions and on the full force of the enemy, and nothing will hurt you.  20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names stand written in heaven.”      --New English Translation (for comparison)

 

 

            10:17   Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”  Whatever concerns might have existed at the beginning of their journey--arising from never having done this before--have been cancelled out by the successes they had seen.  A good physician might be able to help a lot with many diseases but they had been able to fully heal them.  However demon possession was a horror manifestly far more difficult--and yet they had been able to repeatedly cast them out as well as disease.  Hence their “joy” was abundantly justified.

            There are two possibilities:  Is this ability specified because it was the one thing they had the most difficulty believing they could actually accomplish?  Or does it arise from the fact that it was an unexpected ability that had not been specifically mentioned in their commissioning . . . causing them to be jubilant over discovering they had this power as well as the other?

 

            10:18   And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.  In other words, a massive visible defeat.  This isn’t a commentary on the origin of Satan--of his being cast out of heaven at some now remote ancient date in time--but of the earthly collapse of his power to act and control--demons or anything else for that matter.  It had collapsed as suddenly and dramatically as lightning strikes out of nowhere.  They could see only a tangible fruit of that--the expelling of demons--while Jesus could “see” the blow at the underlying hostile, anti-human power that lay behind the demons. 

           

            10:19   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.  Even poisonous snakes and scorpions or anything else in the Devil’s arsenal would be able to harm them.  Strangely the parallel text using such language is of the apostles in particular (Mark 16:17-18) and has been used to argue that Christians should actively seek out these dangers.  This would be as much an abuse of God’s promise of protection as Jesus jumping from the height of the Temple would have been (Luke 4:9-12).

            The combination of “trample on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy” argues that the language is symbolic--representing anything and everything the Devil attempts to harm them with.  He uses extremely dangerous earthly examples to represent the multitude of other tools that can also be utilized but may not be as visibly obvious.  This “Christian optimism” means that even death itself can be faced with confidence.  Our eternal redemption is assured and nothing that happens on this earth is going to abort it.  Hence no matter how glorious the tangible earthly victories may be, their far greater pride should be in their heavenly destiny. . . .     

 

            10:20   Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”  In spite of their successes they should not let it go to their heads.  It was wonderful and something to be proud of, of course.  The defeat of Satan should always produce that kind of reaction.  But where their greatest pleasure should be is in the fact that “your names are written in heaven.”  They couldn’t see their eternal destiny visibly .  They couldn’t touch it.  But one day they would and it would prove far more important than the exorcisms they had performed on earth.

            “Written in heaven” conveys the idea, if you will, of a citizenship book, one that verifies that you are a member of the community and belong there.  The Old Testament had used this language of a book of those accepted by God, but warned that one could have the name removed as well (“Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of my book,” Exodus 32:33). 

            Jesus Himself likewise does the same, “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and [as the result] I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels” (Revelation 3:5).  The humble believer is assured of salvation; the arrogant believer who thinks he or she can follow their own preferences is a much different story.

 

 

Jesus Thanks God For His Disciples’ Willingness to Embrace His Will (Luke 10:21-24):  21 On that same occasion Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and revealed them to little children.  Yes, Father, for this was your gracious will.  22 All things have been given to me by my Father.  No one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son decides to reveal him.”

23 Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see!  24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

--New English Translation (for comparison)

 

 

            10:21   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.  The truths Jesus had taught them and which they had shared were “hidden” from “the wise and prudent”--think Sadducees and Pharisees and the bulk of rabbis--due to their pride and prejudices.  They already knew the truth and that settled it.  “Please don’t disturb my mind with facts I don’t want to think about--even if you have scriptural evidence for it!”

            Those who were, in comparison, but “babes”--the spiritually unlearned and the newly repentant--had embraced these truths.  Those who, in the past, had seemed to know everything were blinded to the new truths they desperately needed.  Who would have guessed it?  In contrast, those previously hostile to moral truth were now willing to embrace it.  Who could have anticipated it?  Is it any wonder that Luke describes it as causing Jesus to “rejoice” within Himself?

            But it is not merely joy but intense joy:  “Exulted, a much stronger word, and most valuable as recording one element — the element of exultant joy—in the life of our Lord, on which the Evangelists so rarely touch. . . .”  (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges).  “Rejoiced greatly” (NASB); “filled with joy” (GNT); “rapturous joy” (Weymouth)

 

            10:22   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.  “All things” is true in two different but interlocking ways:  (1)  “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and earth” (Matthew 28:18); and (2) all teaching humanity needs to live by and be saved has also been reliably passed on to us through the work of Jesus:  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (verses 19-20).  That teaching ministry would be extended after His death by Jesus working through the Holy Spirit, passing on to the apostles whatever additional information they needed to know (John 16:12-15).

            Furthermore, the relationship between Father and Son is unique.  No one “knows”--fully comprehends--the nature and character of the Son except the Father and vice versa.  But there is a proviso added:  those willing to accept the truths Jesus “reveal[s]” could, thereby, have a similar insight into both Father and Son.  

 

            10:23   Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see.  In the abstract all He just said was true of everyone who heard the teaching by and about the Lord, but all this was even more so to a narrower group of people--His “disciples” who had stayed and learned through both times of praise and times of hardship.  They were specially “blessed” because they had “seen[n] the things you see.” 

            Others would ultimately base their belief on the testimony of such eyewitnesses, but they were “blessed” because they were those eyewitnesses.  Others might dream of having seen it, but they had witnessed it.

 

            10:24   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.  Ancient prophets and rulers--note the “many” and not merely “some” . . . it was a widespread phenomena--had dreamt of the coming of the Messiah and the liberation of Israel, but had not been blessed with seeing it.  They had.  The ancients had dreamt of hearing the words spoken by Him, but they didn’t live at a time when they could.  In contrast, these men had.  Times might get rough for them in the future, but they had special memories that giants of the past could never claim to have had.  They themselves could dream of the joy of listening to King David as he first delivered his psalms to the people.  But they could personally remember what the Messiah David had predicted had taught and done.

 

 

To Illustrate the Meaning of Love of Neighbor, Jesus Provides the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37):  25 Now an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  26 He said to him, “What is written in the law?  How do you understand it?” 27 The expert answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”  28 Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But the expert, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him up, and went off, leaving him half dead.  31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, but when he saw the injured man he passed by on the other side.  32 So too a Levite, when he came up to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 

33 But a Samaritan who was traveling came to where the injured man was, and when he saw him, he felt compassion for him.  34 He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them.  Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever else you spend, I will repay you when I come back this way.’ 

36  Which of these three do you think became a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”  37 The expert in religious law said, “The one who showed mercy to him.”  So Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”     --New English Translation (for comparison)

 

 

            10:25   And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  The question itself takes for granted (and goes unchallenged by Jesus) that there is part of a mortal that survives death itself.  Since a time of unending pain and anguish would be “eternal misery,” it could hardly be described as “eternal life”--the word “life” surely conveys the ideas of happiness, pleasantness, and joy.  Something to be looked forward to.  Again, Jesus does not challenge the assumption that there is a place where it will be available.  He accepts the validity of these assumptions.

            The question, however, was not asked out of good will:  It was a challenge to His analytical and reasoning ability.  Hence the expression “tested Him.”  Perhaps this is not surprising since he was a religious “lawyer,” i.e., a specialist and expert on its interpretation.  The modern term “theologian” may well describe his view of his role in life.

 

            10:26   He said to him, “What is written in the law?  What is your reading of it?  Since the Jewish Torah was still authoritative and since this lawyer had his expertise in that source, Jesus naturally pointed Him in that direction for an answer.  In effect Jesus says, “Let’s begin with your understanding of the subject and compare it with Mine:  In your judgment what is the teaching of the Law on this?”  They are to work from the questioner’s base of knowledge and discover what else might need to be added to it.

 

            10:27   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.’   You start with God because He is our Creator.  The “lawyer” selects a text that does not stress the obeying of Him but the passion with which the commitment is to be carried out:  Not superficial love, but a comprehensive one that embraces all that one has--heart, soul, mind.  Full hearted commitment, “with all your strength.”  Without any effort to exclude part of your behavior or thinking, “with all your mind.”

            But you aren’t interacting “personally and visibly” with God every day so the bulk of the relationship goes unseen and, therefore, a large amount of it can be pretense.  It is far different with those around us.  In all their annoyance they are there daily and we cannot ignore them even if we passionately desire to do so.  Interactions are inevitable.  Hence the importance of expressing the alleged love in constructive ways--loving “your neighbor as yourself.”  With the same restraint, compassion, and generosity.  That kind of love is both visible to ourselves and others and its absence is quickly noticeable.

            James’ stress on faith and works fits in perfectly with what is being said.  In a very real sense it is easy to love God in an abstract way; far more challenging is for it to be publicly manifested so it shapes and alters how we act toward others.

              

            10:28   And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”  Jesus endorsed His answer and assured him that if he lived by this standard then he would, indeed, obtain the “eternal life” (verse 25) that he sought.  The answer to his question was right in front of him already--if he had just stopped to think it through.  (A concept that sometimes is very applicable to our own lives?)

            Jesus answers as if this were a “good faith” question rather than one hoping to gain a response that could be challenged.  However since this man had set out to “test” His insight (verse 25), this is unlikely to have been the case.  Regardless of the man’s motives in raising the matter, however, he still had given the right answer and Jesus happily embraces it.     

 

            10:29   But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  That “justify himself” sounds alarm bells to us for Jesus had said nothing overtly criticizing him:  There must be something haunting his thoughts where he knows that he is open to severe censure.  How else to explain responding back with a question that amounts to:  “What are the least number of people I can possibly apply this principle to?”  Although it is nothing but conjecture, it would superbly fit the current situation if it is the same kind of thing as in the parable Jesus proceeds to give--the lack of help to someone desperately in need.  And that could have come in a 1,001 ways far less “dramatic” than the incident Jesus narrates.   

 

            10:30   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.  Instead of a definition who a “neighbor” is, Jesus gives him a parable so that he can answer the question himself.  The highly dangerous twenty-one mile road descending from Jerusalem to Jericho offered many hiding points from which robbers could operate and had to be tread with caution even into the early twentieth century.  On this perilous route, this man was attacked and stripped even of his clothing.  Alive perhaps only by good fortune, he is left half-dead, with his life hanging in the balance.  (As late as at least 1820, a British traveler was similarly attacked, stripped of clothing, and killed upon this same road.) 

 

            10:31   Now by chance a certain priest came down that road.  And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  In spite of the danger this remained a heavily traveled road and a priest happened to be traveling it as well.  His way of “dealing with the problem” was to carefully pass on the side of the road furthest away from the body.  Since he was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, he was not fearing ceremonial contamination that would prevent him from partaking in his priestly role in the temple.  Whatever motivated him, it was something else entirely and, for the purpose of the story, it goes unmentioned because it is irrelevant.  What he did (or, rather, did not do) was the far more important thing.

 

            10:32   Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.  This was part of that group which functioned as priestly helpers.  The priest merely “saw him” (verse 31), while this man also took the time to “look.”  So he was at least a  bit more willing to be sure of what was going on--but that was as far as he took matters before passing along to complete his trip.  Based upon modern excuse making, we might easily expect that the internal rationale worked along this line:  Perhaps the Priest had been aware that a Levite was behind him, and left the trouble to him:  and perhaps the Levite said to himself that he need not do what the priest had not thought fit to do”--each using the other to justify his own inaction (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges).

 

            10:33   But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was.  And when he saw him, he had compassion.  Religiously, the Samaritans were regarded as heretics and as capable of any vile deed if it would annoy Jews.  Yet it was he who not only “looked” (cf. verse 32) but  felt the obligation to do whatever he could to assist.  Today we might convey the power of the argument by speaking in terms of “how would it be if your worst enemy, as he journeyed, went by and saw this”?

           

            10:34   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.  Hence he examined the man closely, saw there was life and bandaged the wounds with oil and wine--which were typically used for cleaning and healing purposes in cases of injury.  He sat him on his “animal”--in that age, almost certainly a donkey--and transported him to an “inn” and did what he could to take care of him during the night.

            Sidebar:  The word [for ‘inn’] is not the same as that in Luke 2:7, and implies the Western type of hostelry, where the landlord provides for his guests, while in the earlier passage we have the Eastern caravanserai, where the guests simply find shelter, and arrange their meals for themselves.”  (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers).  Cf. the next verse.

 

            10:35   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.’  Since it was time for him to move on, he made a deal with the innkeeper:  he gave him the equivalent of two days wages and agreed to reimburse him if his expenses exceeded that.  This shows that not only were there “inns” in the country that provided empty space on a per diem basis, but others that had adopted the Greek custom of providing additional services as well.

            Sidebar:  200 denarii could provide food for one meal for 5,000 (Mark 6:37); hence 2 denarii would provide nourishment for a considerable number of days for a single individual.   

 

            10:36   So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”  The story isn’t a long one.  Indeed the very brevity of it leaves no “side streets” into which one can try to divert the conversation away from uncomfortable conclusions.  So there is no hiding place from the obvious and unavoidable answer.

 

            10:37   And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”  The idea of Samaritans as role models was too embarrassing so the lawyer avoids the ethnic term.  He simply concedes that this man was the only one who exhibited true friendliness and helpfulness--i.e., the expressions of love in action rather than just in word.  Jesus replies that if he wishes to play the role of neighbor let him act in a similar manner, i.e., to any one who needs it, at any time they may need it, and at any place they may need it. 

            (The parable has absolutely nothing to do with giving to some charity that spends money half the world away.  Instead it is fulfilled when we personally and promptly help those we run into and who stand in need of something that we can help them with.  It is a lot more individual than abstract “charity giving”--i.e., giving to a charitable cause or organization; what is being described by Jesus is “doing charity.”  The other puts a distance between helped and helper, while this is “up close and personal.”)

 

 

Mary and Martha and the Question of Priorities (Luke 10:38-42):  38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him as a guest.  39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he said.  40 But Martha was distracted with all the preparations she had to make, so she came up to him and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work alone? Tell her to help me.” 

41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen the best part; it will not be taken away from her.”     --New English Translation (for comparison)

 

 

            10:38   Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.  This was in the village of Bethany (John 11:1) and it is perhaps left unnamed as a safety precaution to protect the family from the danger of petty revenge against them for their friendliness to the Lord.  In contrast those named “Mary” and “Martha” were too numerous to provide hints of location.  Since, in regard to Martha, it is described as “her house”--and there is no mention of any husband--he has presumably died by this point. 

 

            10:39   And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.  Martha saw a job to get done--serving the food--and proceeded to do it (verse 40).  Mary saw the opportunity to learn and took advantage of the opportunity by staying at His feet and listening to what He had to say.  The “also,” however, seems to argue that her sister was also doing it as much as “time permitted.”  However her householder status left her with pressing responsibilities that needed to be taken care of as well. . . .

 

            10:40   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.”  Martha’s sense of family obligations in providing food for the guests caused her to be “distracted” from the listening she wished to engage in.  At some point things reached a state where it annoyed her too much for her to remain silent.  So she asked Jesus--“implored” would probably cover her tone of voice--whether He didn’t care that Mary had abandoned her obligations in this regard and left everything on her shoulders alone.  The solution was easily:  “Tell her to help me,” she insisted.  We can almost hear the implicit:  “She won’t listen to me!”

 

            10:41   And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  Jesus implicitly concedes that she has a legitimate complaint for there were “many things” (responsibilities) on her shoulders.  But she still needed to keep things in perspective. . . .

 

            10:42   But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”  What Martha is doing is important; what Mary is doing is even more important.  Martha’s work is urgent but only for the moment; Mary’s work is of value forever.  Having to choose between “important” (food) and “urgent” (learning God's will) or between “important” (food) and “even more important” (learning) . . . the learning of spiritual truth took priority for that was the long term need.  The in depth spirituality that results “will not be taken away from her.”  It is an investment in her long term well-being.  It will be part of her permanently.

            The immediate lesson to Martha would seem to be:  “It would be fine for you also to take more time for listening and a lesser amount of time for food preparation and distribution.  If it is delayed there is no harm. . . . this is more important than even having a good meal!”