Training for Missionary Service 1-16
This appointment of the seventy foreshadows the time when the followers of Jesus would be sent forth to all the nations. (Acts 1:8) There were seventy Gentile nations mentioned in the book of Genesis. (Genesis 10) The instructions of this passage apply to the seventy that Jesus sent out, but the principles apply to all missionary work.
One principle is that they must trust God. The missionary is to first pray for the laborers and the harvest will be in the hands of the Lord. It is essential to rely upon the Lord as missionaries will face hostility. They were to take no provisions and this would cause them to trust the Lord completely for their care. Jesus’ ambassadors of peace were to stay where they were welcomed and to accept whatever hospitality and provision they were given. Their mission was to declare the Kingdom of God by word and deed.
Shaking dust from one’s feet was a Jewish practice after leaving Gentile territory. In Jesus’ instructions He used this as a symbol of judgment to those places that rejected the Kingdom. Jesus mentioned the Galilean cites that had rejected Him and stated that if the Gentile cities of the past had the opportunity that they had they would have repented. Here we see the implication that the Gentile cities will have the opportunity to respond to the Gospel.
The seventy missionaries returned with joy in their hearts because of the success of their mission. Jesus shared in their joy and reminded them to also rejoice. They were to rejoice not only because God had empowered them for their service but primarily because they had been saved by God’s grace. Jesus rejoiced that the message of God had been accepted. Many of the important people who did not feel the need for God’s salvation missed the message, but the ordinary people accepted God’s revelation of Himself in Jesus. To the twelve disciples Jesus told them that they had been privileged to see and hear what the kings and prophets of old yearned to see and hear.
Part of the joy that Jesus had was because He had seen Satan’s defeat. In the name of Jesus the demons had been subjected and this was an incarnate victory over Satan. (Hebrews 2:14) Jesus also promised His servants that the power of Satan would not be able to harm them. Jesus assured them with this expression, “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you.” Satan could cause them much harm and even bring them to the point of death but he could not really hurt them. “But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated by all because of My name. “Yet not a hair of your head will perish.” (Luke 21:16-18)
Service and Prayer 10:25-11:13
Service and prayer go together. Our service without prayer would lack the proper motivation, direction, and power. On the other hand prayer without service is sterile and self-centered. The example of Jesus and His teaching linked the two in bond. Luke places the parable of the Good Samaritan in context with the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus along with what Jesus taught about prayer.
A Big Neighborhood 25-37
The lawyer had a proper concern for inheriting eternal life and gave the correct answer to Jesus’ question. On another occasion Jesus commended a scribe for recognizing a wholehearted love for God and a love for his neighbors. And Jesus told him that this summarized the heart of the law. (Mark 12:28-34) The lawyers question however shows that he had a limited view of love.
The lawyers question gave him away in that he had trouble with the command unless he could chose who his neighbor was. He probably did not see that all people were his neighbor. None the less he wanted his answer as to who was his neighbor to be adequate.
To the Jewish community this story of the Good Samaritan was a difficult one to be taken in. The Jews despised the Samaritan who was the hero of the story. While the priest and the Levite of the story were more respectable people they also had the same limited view of their neighbor as the layer. We do not know the race or nationality of the victim in this story but the assumption is that he was a Jew. The Samaritan did not see him as a Jew but as a fellow human being.
The priest and the Levite saw the victim only from the distance of the other side of the road to avoid having to give assistance. They could have rationalized their behavior in many ways. The man was unclean. They could be risking their lives if the robbers came back. They were on important missions that could not have been delayed. Someone else would help the man.
The Samaritan showed what love is by his actions. He brought his love into reality by his actions of compassion in his help for the man. Christian love is taking action for the good of others, whoever they are, wherever they are, whatever the cost, and however we may feel.
We also see that the lawyer had asked the wrong question to Jesus. He should have asked “whose neighbor can I be?” His concern was to protect his narrow view of the love commandment. His real question was who must I treat as my neighbor and who can I ignore? Jesus was trying to help the lawyer see that he should take the initiative and recognize everyone as his neighbor. We are to respond to the needs of everyone as our neighbor. The lawyer seems to not have really received the message, as he could not bring himself to admit that the Samaritan acted with true love for his neighbor greater that of the priest and the Levite. He did not recognize the Samaritan but only answered, “The one who showed mercy toward him.”
Choosing the Best 38-42
The parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us the importance of our service to others. Now we are to learn that we must receive from Jesus in order to adequately give of ourselves in service to others.
In the Gospel of John chapters 11 and 12 we are told that Mary and Martha lived in the town of Bethany and had a brother named Lazarus. The tone of Luke suggest that Jesus was not a stranger to May and Martha.
Martha’s service was a proper service and is commendable in many ways. However she was rebuked by Jesus because of her anxiety and distraction by her rebuke of her sister Mary. In this passage the word anxious is the same word that Jesus uses in warning against worry that results from not trusting God. (Luke 12:22-31; Matthew 6:25-34)
Martha was anxious about many things but Jesus told her that only one thing was needful. Jesus was saying that the good portion was that Mary chose to receive from the words of Jesus. Our service to Christ grows out of receiving His words of life. If we are to be as the Good Samaritan, we must follow Mary’s example to sit at Jesus’ feet. A life of good service is rooted in prayer, worship, and study of the Scriptures.
Mary, Martha, and Lazarus
The sisters Mary and Martha lived with their brother Lazarus in Bethany, near Jerusalem; Jesus loved and visited this family. They are mentioned only on the Gospel of Luke and John.
Luke’s account focuses on the contrast between Martha and Mary. When Jesus visited their home, Martha was busy in the kitchen and became upset with her sister for not helping her prepare the meal. Jesus defended Mary’s desire to simply sit and learn from Him as the most important thing.
John’s stories focus of Jesus’ act of raising Lazarus from the dead. (John 11:1-44; Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9) When Jesus arrived in Bethany, four days after Lazarus had died, the sisters expressed their dismay that Jesus had not come in time to heal their sick brother. Jesus deeply moved by the weeping of Lazarus’ friends, went to the tomb and ordered Lazarus to come out. To everyone’s astonishment, he did so, bound in the cloths he had been buried in. This amazing miracle exemplifies Jesus as the giver of eternal life. (John 11:25-26) Ironically, this act of restoring Lazarus’ life also galvanized the Jewish leaders to bring about Jesus’ death because so many people were responding to Jesus’ miracles. (John 11:47-53; John 12:10-11)
Soon thereafter, when the family invited Jesus for a celebration meal, Mary poured a bottle of extremely expensive perfume on Jesus as an expression of her gratitude. When people criticized her for what they considered an extravagant waste, Jesus defended her action, saying that it anticipated His coming death. (John 12:1-8)