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The Gospel of Luke
Chapter
10

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The Gospel of Luke Chapter Ten
Commentary by Timothy H. Burdick

Look with me at Chapter 10 of Luke, Verse 1 - “After this, the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two-by-two ahead of Him to every town and place where He was about to go.” It is important to not confuse the sending out of the apostles in Chapter 9, with the sending out of the seventy-two here. These were two different instances.

We can see here as-well-as in some other places that Jesus’ following wasn’t limited to the twelve apostles. It was broken-down in this way: first He had quite a large group of people who followed Him. There may have been hundreds in that group. Next there were the twelve disciples/apostles. Finally, there was the inner circle of Peter, James and John.

The seventy-two that were sent out to make the arrangements were Jesus’ ambassadors, making sure that everything was ready in each village where He was to stop. In this way, their role was similar to John the Baptist who made sure that everything was ready for the ministry of Jesus Christ. Compare this first with Matthew 3:3 - “This is He who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: a voice of one calling in the desert, prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.’”

We also learn from this verse that if we can, it is helpful to go out two-by-two for support. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.”

Luke goes on in the second verse of Chapter 10 to say, “He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest therefore to send out workers into His harvest field.’” Here Jesus admonishes His followers to tap into the power of prayer. This is something we need to take note of. Too many times we go out on a “mission for God” without first asking the “Lord of the harvest” to go before us. Look at what Jesus has to say about this in John 15:7-8 - “If you remain in Me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

Then Jesus said in Luke 10:3, “Go! I am sending you out, like lambs among wolves.” Our lifestyle is intended to be different from those around us. We are to be gentle, not having a ravenous desire to walk on others in order to achieve our goals. Jesus says in John 15:12-13, “My command is this, love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Next in Luke 10:4-11, Jesus gave the following instructions to seventy-two of His disciples: “do not take a purse, or bag, or sandals, and do not greet anyone on the road. When you enter a house, first say ‘peace’ to this house. If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him. If not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house-to-house. When you enter a town, and are welcomed, eat whatever is set before you. Heal the sick who are there, and tell them, ‘the kingdom of God is near you.’ But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, “even the dust of our town that sticks to our feet, we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this, ‘the Kingdom of God is near.’”

Jesus began in Verses 4-11 by giving similar instructions to those that He gave to His apostles in the last chapter. He made a point to the seventy-two He addressed, that they should give a greeting of peace (or say “shalom”) to each household where they would stay. Twice Jesus mentions that the seventy-two must eat what was provided for them. This is because what they were given was to be their payment, and also in that culture, hospitality was extremely important. Jesus didn’t want to offend these hosts unnecessarily.

The mission of the seventy-two who were sent-out by Jesus was three-fold as I see it. We have already talked about the first mission - preparing the way for Jesus. The second facet of their mission was one of comfort. They were to “heal the sick” (Verse 9) and let them know that “the Kingdom of God has come near.” We live in a broken world, and like the seventy-two, we need to back up what we say with our actions, but we also need words of encouragement to accompany our actions. Read with me what James has to say about putting our faith into action - ”Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18).

But the power of words cannot be dismissed either. There must be a balance between the two. While this can be hard to achieve, we need to strive towards saying the same thing in both word and action. Look with me at Proverbs 25:11 - “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Lastly, these people who went before Jesus were to speak out in word and action. They were not to compromise, and neither are we to water down the message of the gospel. In this vein, Jesus said, “I tell you it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town” (Verse 12). As stated in Verse 14, He is talking about the day of judgment.

So that we have a clear understanding of what Jesus is saying, let’s take a look and see what the Scriptures have to say about Sodom. One example would be found in Genesis13:13 - “Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.”

Then Jesus continued, “Woe to you Chorazin! Woe to you Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No you will go down to the depths” (Verses 13-15). Let’s take a brief look at each town listed.

Chorazin is now called Khirbet Kerazeh. It is about two miles north of Capernaum and has a view of the Sea of Galilee. While it was a thriving commercial center, it wasn’t as close to the lake called Galilee as some other towns that we will look at. “Bethsaida” means “house of fishing.” It may have been the fishing town adjoining Capernaum. Philip, Andrew and Peter all lived there. See John 1:40-44 - “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas’ which when translated is Peter. The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip He said to him ‘Follow Me.’ Philip like Andrew and Peter, was also from the town of Bethsaida.”

Now, let’s look at Tyre and Sidon, which were ancient seaport cities. As you can see in places like Verse 13 of Luke 10, the great seaport of Tyre was often linked to Sidon, which was about 25-miles to the north of Tyre. They both enjoyed immense prosperity and were both very wicked places. Isn’t it interesting that prosperity so often leads to evil lives?

Why then did Jesus say that Tyre and Sidon would have it easier in the judgment than Chorazin and Bethsaida? It was because they had seen the light of the Gospel In Christ. See how Jesus set forth this principal in Luke 12:48 - “But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

A lot of people ask – “How can Jesus be the only way to God?” There are so many differing religions they might add. Note that God is just, and those who have less understanding will be judged less strictly. So we can emphatically say that “God is love” (1 John 4:8) and Jesus is the only way to find Him (John 14:6).

Lastly on this list of cities named by Jesus, we have Capernaum. This city was the headquarters for Jesus’ earthly ministry. To see this, look with me at Matthew 4:13, where it says, “Leaving Nazareth, He went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulon and Naphtali. Capernaum was a little town and as Matthew just stated, it was situated on the shore of the lake. When Jesus said in Verse 15 that Capernaum was “exalted to heaven,” it means they were a proud and stiff-necked people.

Then Jesus told His followers something more that pertains to us today. Luke 10:16 says, “He who listens to you listens to Me; he who rejects you rejects Me; but he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.” Here we see a very specific chain of command. When people reject us for following Christ, they are not rejecting us, but Christ. And when they are rejecting Christ, they are also rejecting the Father. So, if people reject you for your faith, don’t take it personally. It’s between them and God.

Look at the seventy-two returning to Jesus in Luke 10:17-20 - “The seventy-two returned with joy” and said “Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name.” He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” I think that many times we are like the seventy-two. Many times we rejoice over manifestations of God’s power in the form of signs and wonders. It tells us here, however, that real rejoicing should be because we have been accepted by God and our names are written down in heaven.

Look with me now at Luke10:21-22 - “At that time, Jesus full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes Father, for this was Your good pleasure. All things have been committed to Me by My Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.’”

Take a minute and compare Jesus’ response with Verses 20-22. What is different about the joy that the seventy-two experienced, and that which Jesus had for them? To find the answer, look at John 15:10-11 - “If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” The key to lasting joy is not the victory of the moment, but it is to come to Jesus and remain in His love.

These verses also speak about God’s sovereignty. According to Verse 22 and its context, Jesus has chosen to reveal Himself, not only to the disciples, but also to you and me. You may ask, what about people who He doesn’t reveal Himself to? Many Scriptures speak of the love and justice of God. So when there are things that I don’t understand I have to rely on the goodness, the justice and love of God. We can TRUST Him. Isaiah 55:8 says about this -” For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. He continues, “My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). He sees more than we do and He KNOWS more as well. We can’t figure it all out because we aren’t smart enough, and so we should reasonably TRUST in the Lord.

Jesus spoke to us in Verses 23-24, though He was directly addressing the disciples at the moment. “Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, ‘blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.’” What we see and hear in the words of Jesus should amaze us, every minute of every day.

Next in Luke 10:25 and forward, we see Jesus being cross-examined by someone who knew far less than He did. Luke recorded the encounter this way - ”On one occasion an expert in the Law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘What must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘What is written in the Law?’ He replied. ‘How do you read it?’ He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and love your neighbor as yourself.’”

The first quote about loving God is taken from Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” The second quote about loving people comes from Leviticus 19:18 - “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”

Notice that when Jesus answers the man who is confronting Him, in Verse 26-28, He brings the man back to reading and applying the Scriptures, the Word of God. This is something that we need to remember when people try to argue with us about spiritual matters. Don’t get into philosophy. Stick to what it says in the Word.

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied in Verse 28. “Do this and you will live.” Luke 10:29 goes on, “But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” The cross-examination by this teacher of the Law continued. Notice that we have NOTHING to teach God, but He has EVERYTHING to teach us.

Then Jesus continued by telling a story, which we see in Luke 10:30-36 - “In reply Jesus said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’”

Jesus continued by asking in Verse 36, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” Notice that Jesus asked the man to answer the original question in their conversation. Verses 37 and 38 tell us that the expert in the Law replied, “the one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” God doesn’t grade us on our knowledge or cleverness. Rather He expects us to become people who are merciful.

Next, we have the story of Mary and Martha. We know that the village that Jesus entered was Bethany from the account in the Book of John. John 11:1 says, “Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.” Now that we have established this background where they were at the moment, let’s take a look at the story found in Luke 10:38-42.

“As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing Is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”

This story used to trouble me. I wondered why Jesus would react this way towards service apparently being selflessly performed. As I thought more about it, I began to see the answer. I knew that with all that Jesus said about service, He wasn’t saying that Martha shouldn’t serve. He wasn’t saying that Mary shouldn’t help at all either. What He was saying was that Martha the person was burdened down with many cares, some of which were unnecessary. These cares were keeping her from the “better part” which is listening to Jesus and learning from Him. When she did try to listen, she was not able to focus. Her mind wandered and she instead thought about the things she had to get done.

I would ask you in conclusion, are you ever like Martha? Do you let worries and cares get the upper hand in your life? Is this keeping you from fellowshipping at the feet of Jesus? If so, 1 Peter 5:7 has this to say, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” In the Law we read, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Deuteronomy 5:7). Your worries can become like little so-called “gods” that become barriers between you and the Lord.

Please join me next time for Luke Chapter 11. Thank you for participating with me.

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