This whole chapter is all about important things priorities in our thinking if we like. It is good to witness at first hand the tremendous power of God as the seventy did. They witnessed a foretaste of coming power that will put down all evil but there is something more important than power demonstrated on earth be it a foretaste or, eventually, power that displaces evil such that righteousness reigns. The more important thing is that we are linked to heaven. This is that which is eternal power on earth can only ever last as long as earth exists. Presence in heaven lasts forever.
For the man who asked the question that prompted the story we know as the Good Samaritan then the important thing was not who is my neighbour? but that he acted neighbourly. It was good that he was thinking about being neighbourly but the Saviours command was that went out and acted neighbourly.
Finally it was good that Mary also sat at the Saviours feet but the better part was not to be so anxious about serving but to spend more time there.
Verses 1-16 Labourers sent
After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. 2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. 3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. 4 Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. 5 And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. 6 And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. 7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. 8 And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: 9 And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. 10 But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, 11 Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. 12 But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. 13 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. 15 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell. 16 He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
2 simple sections:
These notes are not verse-by-verse but simply working through the passage to pick out some points. Hopefully well all find something to take away from the short time weve got here.
The passage starts with after these things What things?
Ch. 9 is long lots of separate events
So it was after these things that the Lord took 70 disciples and sent them out.
v1 Luke uses the title Lord surprisingly rare in the gospels. People called Jesus Lord on plenty of occasions, but not the writer. Why was it used here? Lord is a title of authority. No coincidence that right after 3 potential disciples really deny Jesus lordship by not putting Him first the writer uses it. We dont know much about these 3 would-be disciples. It is implied that they chose not to follow Jesus at this point. These 70 being sent out must have accepted Him as Lord to go out. It is the same for us we will only be willing to serve Him if we have Him as our Lord. Put another way if we arent serving Him in some way then its a good sign that we really dont have Him as our Lord in practice. We must also remember that once we are saved then we can serve. Salvation comes first. Service is our whole point in being here. Thats our job, our purpose in being on earth. Calling Jesus Lord is very easy. For most Christians (in Brethren circles anyway!) would find it harder to call him Jesus that to call him the Lord Jesus Christ. And perhaps rightly so, we should be careful with the Lords name. But we should also mean what we say.
70 others other than the 12. We often picture Jesus on His own, with the 12, or with nondescript multitudes. He had many dedicated followers who stayed with Him for much of His ministry. John 6.66, Acts 1.15 show the large number of followers. It was from this group of dedicated disciples that He chose the 70. Why 70 (72 in some versions)? They went in pairs maybe there were just 35/6 places that needed to be visited? There are a few instances of the number 70 in the Old Testament. It occurs around the time of Israel going into Egypt, around Moses with his Elders, and Daniel in his prophesies.
These were sent along Jesus route into Jerusalem. It wasnt a straight path, He had a lot of people to see and places to go. He used every second of every day and missed no opportunity. The instructions given by Jesus to the 70 can be useful for those of us who want to spread the good news.
NOTE: none of these are exclusively for the guy who stands up the front. Spreading the good news should not be relegated to a 20 minute message every week. Every Christian should long to see the good news spread, and should be willing to participate in it. As we said before, service is our purpose. Accumulating money and possessions is for the world, that is their sole point in existing and that thinking can easily get into a Christians head too. There are a lot of points we could pick out of this passage but well just take a few for the sake of time.
They were no alone in their task, but nor was there an army of them. The support of fellow Christians in the Lords work is brilliant but we shouldnt expect or need much human support. The Lord has sent us so we go, even if its just a few of us involved.
Location not random, Jesus had told them where to go; He was directing. We might have some good ideas but we need to listen to what the Lord is saying.
Population City and place. Big and small. Preaching to the masses and to just a few people. There is no difference, not one message for one situation and a different one for another. Just had to go where they were sent and do their job.
3. Possibility / potential
The harvest truly is great there are people out there who can be saved. I hope you believe that. Perhaps the only reason they arent being saved is that they havent heard the message? Romans 10v14
Labourers are few This verse indicates that the limit of people being saved is the number of people preaching. The Lord can still save.
Notice the picture is of labourers. Someone who works hard physically. The picture is not of technicians, the work is not necessarily complicated but it may be hard work.
Spreading the good news about Jesus and seeing people saved will require effort and work. Dont forget your purpose in being here (this is not out time to rest that comes later).
Interesting, prayer is not for the peoples response (though that would still be valid) but it is for the labourers. It suggests again that getting people out there is the key. Do we pray for Gospel preachers?
Earnestly pray The added emphasis basically means we should pray and really care about it. This should be something we are interested in.
6. Plunge / Perform
Go your way DO IT. What are you waiting for? Do the thing. Youve prayed about it now go and actually do it. Esther 4 v 14 who knows, maybe this is your whole reason for being here think about it. You may be the only Christian who will ever interact with some of your friends or neighbours. If you dont witness to them who will?
Lambs among wolves Youll be lucky to get out alive.
We want to think a little about the so called Prosperity Gospel. The world hated Jesus. They rejected Him, beat Him and killed Him. Why would those who bear His name and spread His message be treated differently? The 12 disciples didnt exactly prosper did they? Didnt they have enough faith to claim Gods best for their lives. God wanted them to be healthy and wealthy did He?
No, the rich and famous life will not be the result of doing the Lords work.
v 9 Heal the sick During the time of Jesus and shortly after, the new way of God dealing with man was accompanied with physical signs to validate the message. These signs arent given for us today but that doesnt mean there is no power. God is still powerful. The Holy Spirit can still get into the hearts of someone as they hear the Bible being preached. The speaker will only ever do so much. God then takes that planted seed and can use it to bring a person to a new understanding of Gods truth Christian or non Christian.
v10-12. The Lord was warning these messengers that their message may be rejected. He tells them to tell the people they had their chance. The kingdom is near but you rejected the message.
People today should get the same prognosis. If you reject the message you may not get another chance. The kingdom is near. The day of salvation is here and now. Possibly not tomorrow?
Also note: In the face of rejection they were to issue a warning, not to change the message. People wont like being told they are sinners, leave that out? People wont like the idea of sin nowadays, drop that? Keep Gods love though. No, the message is the message if people accept it or not.
They (and we) are told to preach the message and then move on. No part of the Good news is up for negotiation. If we leave out the problem then the solution makes no sense.
Jesus is not an add-on to have a better life.
Could also have included provisions, popularity, payment.
To better understand this bit there is a helpful verse in Matthew 11 v 20. To understand the bible it helps to look at all the supporting passages.
These 3 cities, Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, were very privileged. Jesus had lived around these places and had done loads of miracles there but on the whole, He was rejected from these cities. They had a tremendous privilege but they wasted it. They didnt value the opportunity they had been given. We should remember that hearing the gospel preached just once is a privilege that many in the world will never get. Maybe some people have heard it hundreds of times.
v16. The final verse in this section is really powerful and one that is often forgotten by us all. Someone who is preaching the gospel or teaching the word of God correctly and faithfully is in the place of Jesus Himself here on earth. Big statement but the verse says that. Rejecting or ignoring the message they bring is really rejecting the Lord and that is rejecting God the Father. We all have favourite speakers and those who we just dont look forward to hearing. There are good and bad ones and different styles suit different people (which is why it is so important to not have a one man ministry) but we have to remember that the person preaching or teaching has a message from God. We need to be careful what we do with it. That goes for those of us yet to be saved and for those of us that have been saved a long time. I hope no one thinks that they are no longer in need of any teaching, that Gods word has nothing new left.
Verses 17-24 Labourers return
17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. 18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. 19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. 21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. 22 All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him. 23 And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: 24 For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
As we have seen in the first section of this chapter the seventy were to have power to heal the sick as well as have power to preach. On their return they do not mention these things but that, through His name (and this is most important to remember), demons were subject to them. Thus the Saviours power was demonstrated in an unexpected way and this caused great rejoicing. This was good as far as the completion of the task was concerned for there is nothing like positive thinking to get things done.
The Saviours response was interesting. It is all well and good to get excited over demons being subject to humans through divine power but this was only a temporary triumph. The devil has not relinquished power just because a few of his emissaries have bowed the knee to a few missionaries. Men and women may have been reaped as harvest for the Saviour. Though sent as lambs among wolves (one would expect the wolves to tear lambs apart) they had returned with demons becoming to them. All this was Gods power being displayed. They had every right, as we in our day, at such displays of Gods power but they were not to get overexcited about this as the very next statement is the concerning Satan. He is very much alive.
The Lord Jesus looks to the future and speaks of it as though it is in the past. In other words He looked beyond the event and spoke of it as though it had happened. Such is the assurance of the words of the Lord Jesus. These things will happen. Satan, who has stood before the throne of judgment and accused the brethren and asked questions of the mighty men of God (Job 1), will be cast down to earth after the church is raised to heaven. Then his sphere of operation will be earth and earth alone. How he will work to make one final attempt to thwart the purposes of God. For three and a half years he will raise up the man of earth to war against the Lord from heaven but when the Lord returns then this power will be put down along with his henchman and the wicked one himself will be incarcerated in the abyss for a thousand years. There they will await the eternal judgment of the lake of fire. In those days iniquity will not prevail. Righteousness will reign even though it is not until the eternal state that righteous dwells. Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law? They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent blood. Psalm 94.20-21. This will not be allowed then but it is happening now. So Satan is not done yet. This power that had been seen by these seventy was remarkable in that it showed, in Satans domain with power of evil at work, the sort of power that will be manifest in its fullest in the 1000 year reign. At that time evil will be cast out (though sin will be present and summarily dealt with in perfect justice) and only briefly to rear its ugly head at the end of the thousand years before its final and eternal destruction.
For the present these were to have power to tread on serpents and the like. Not that we should test this in our age as some do and to their loss of life by wrapping poisonous snakes about our bodies and demanding that God do just what He said He would do here. How often have we encountered a poisonous snake in pursuit of everyday life? In such circumstances God would preserve His servants as He did with the apostle Paul in Acts 28 as his work on earth was by no means complete but to go out of our way to get hold of snakes to perform some stunt in front of a crowd is not the mind of God.
This temporary power as manifest in the lives of the seventy was a power on earth awaiting the full manifestation of the Saviours power (in the same way as the transfiguration in the previous chapter was a foretaste of the power that the Saviour is going to display on His return and in His kingdom). They were not to rejoice in this power as much (if at all according to the words of the Lord Jesus) as they were to rejoice that they were linked with heaven. To be partakers of the Saviours power on earth to do the things that they had done was something that astounded them but it was far more important to have their names written in heaven. The speaker told us that his name was written in heaven when he was 14 years old and asked if we, likewise, knew that our names were written in heaven. Our names may be written on a church roll but as one has said, It may as well be written on a sausage roll. What is of utmost importance is that our names are written in heaven. To get ourselves some reward such that our names go down in history on earth is of no importance but to get our names in the Lambs book of life is.
The speaker had been reading a little pamphlet about staying alive eating healthily, use your seat belt, when crossing the road use the Green Cross code and that sort of thing. The pamphlet went on to speak about a person who had paid 12,000 to be frozen such that when medical science had advanced he could be thawed and kick start his life. It was pointed out that he would need to be frozen at about 30 before deafness and arthritis and so on set in else he would be brought back to life (were this to become possible) with all his ailments. What was the point of saying all this? you may say as you do not have 12,000 anyway. True but there is the possibility of enjoying eternal life (not an extended life for cryopreservation does not promise eternal life) starting right now and for this to not cost a penny.
The matter of the blotting out the name from the book was mentioned (see Exodus 32.32, Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.) but this is considered to be another subject and is not included here. The important thing is to have record in heaven of my name being in Gods book and so the section of Gods book to turn to is the book of revelation and in particular 20.11-15, And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Make sure that our names are there for the consequences are too awful to contemplate.
There is a lot of rejoicing going on this section. The Saviour Himself rejoiced in spirit (the RV puts in the Holy Spirit) in verse 21. Much of what the Saviour had revealed in this section was deep truth. Powerful men had not grasped these things. Evil men had not grasped them either mainly because they had not put themselves into a position to be able to grasp them. The Lord Jesus had a band of men, twelve and seventy in number, who had been prepared to hear His words and to do them and see the demonstration of His mighty power in the earth. True it was but an earthly thing but, nonetheless, it was something that they had rejoiced in and that the Saviour could rejoice in too. The important thing was to raise their thoughts heavenward and homeward but, for now, it was also pleasurable in the best sense of the word to rejoice in these things. These humble men had witnessed the power of God at first hand and now they were reminded of the more important things and things that had been reveled to them as those willing to hear. We may be clever; we may be powerful; we may be rich but these things, if not managed correctly, can keep us back from the enjoyment of the things that matter and that belong to eternity. Notice verse 23 was said privately. The things concerning heaven and home cannot be spoken about to everyone if they are not in the good of having their names recorded in heaven. The revelation of the joys of heaven may be spoken about in a general sense and as part of the gospel message but the real enjoyment of these things is only for those who have appropriated the Saviour by faith. To put ourselves in a position whereby we are exposed to the mention of things belonging to eternity is good but there must be faith for the name to be recorded and for the Saviour to reveal more of His purposes for those who in simplicity of trust have committed their lives and eternal futures to Him.
Verses 25-37 The Good Samaritan
25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. 28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. 29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? 30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. 36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
It is important to note that Luke, as he does so often in relation to others, referred to a certain lawyer, a certain man, a certain priest and a certain Samaritan. Though we are not given any names we are told that these were actual people who either met with the Lord or who took part in an actual and factual series of events. There were two people before the parable and then the parable speaks of five people (two main characters). By the way, at 43 occurrences, Luke uses the word certain more often than all the other gospel writers put together.
There are two main questions that are asked by the lawyer and two/three by the Lord Jesus how readest thou? Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour? Everything here hinges on these questions.
The passage before us, as the title to the section suggests, is the so-called parable of the Good Samaritan. We cannot but help notice the person and work of the Lord Jesus in that parable itself. The parable itself starts in verse 30. The parable is not just about being a good neighbour but about the Lord Jesus by picture even though it was the Lord Jesus who spoke the parable.
The lawyer actually existed and actually addressed the Lord Jesus. Perhaps there was no love for Him there as the Saviour was called Master in the same way as the scribes and Pharisees did (please note that the disciples often called the Lord Jesus by this name). The question he had in his mind was to do with eternal life. When we die we remain conscious (Cf. Luke 16.19-31 which is not a parable; please note that it is a certain rich man and a certain beggar in that section). We all have questions about the after life. Eternal life is a quality of life that can only come by being linked with the Lord Jesus. The lawyer asked what he had to do to inherit eternal life much in the same way that the ruler did in Luke 18. We need to be clear that eternal life is neither bequeathed nor merited and earned. The Lord Jesus would have been clear on that matter as well but the conversation developed in the way that it did. We must accept that as we read the passage. The first of the Saviours questions would have been the way the scribes and Pharisees would have asked a similar question what does the law say? What is written in the law? The Lord Jesus, however, did not want to know the content of the law for He was its author. He wanted to know the spirit of the law as suggested by the question, How readest thou? We may have come many times such that we have good head knowledge but the question remains how do we read? Are we affected by what we read? The answer given by the lawyer was the answer to the first question in that he repeated what was said in the law. The Saviours answer is interesting. The man had answered correctly by saying, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. The Lord Jesus then told him to do this and he would live, however, He knew fully that this man, as all apart from Himself, was unable to love God in such a way and to love ones neighbour as oneself. Perhaps it was that the man who had definitely come looking to do something for himself to merit eternal life needed to be told that if he were to rely upon his works then those works had to be perfect and without a flaw. The Lord Jesus just showed him that the only way he could merit eternal life was by absolute perfection and, without spelling it out for the man, the implication was that this was impossible to mere mortals.
The lawyer, however, was up for some cross examination. He was testing the Lord Jesus; probing His understanding of the Torah to determine how much He knew. How solid was He in His scholarship? Is this someone worth engaging in a discussion? He still felt that he could justify himself or, as some translate this phrase, be strictly observant. There was no possibility of a zero offence rate as far as the law was concerned but he felt that could save himself or strictly obey the law such his offence rate was zero. Who is my neighbour? is the next question so that the Saviour was prompted to tell his story which resulted in there being no more questions from the clever lawyer. He may well have come with a good desire to probe the Saviour in the filed in which he was expert but he had come up against the author and all his law keeping was not going to get him any nearer to salvation. The answers that the Lord Jesus gave reflect the attitude, though not outrageous, of the inquisitor. To pursue the adherence to the law at the expense of relationship with the Saviour is to mean no eternal life. If all the lawyer (by lawyer is meant someone expert in the law of Moses) wanted to do was to test the Saviours credentials to be a Teacher (better translation than Master) then, after the test and having not wanted to acknowledge Him as Lord, then he must be left to his own devices. There was no affirmative statement, there was no that is correct, by the Lord Jesus to the lawyers second answer. All He said was that he was to go and do likewise.
The story was told of a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho. Whilst this is a descent from some 3000 feet to below sea level it is believed that the Saviour had more than just a physical descent in mind. Jerusalem was the place of the name. Jericho was the place of the curse. He left the place of Gods choosing and blessing to head towards the place of the curse and that, surely, is a morally downward step in whatever context we care to think of. There was an altercation and the man was mugged and left to die in the sun. The man hovered between life and death such is the force of the words translated as half dead in the KJV. There are a number of words (10-12), by the way, that are unique to Lukes account and that appear in this section. Hovering between life and death is one way to describe mans condition from the moment that he/she is born. A person who is not saved is in that position in a spiritual sense. There was a man who said on one occasion, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. Almost is to be lost.
By chance a certain priest walked by that way. No doubt the incident took place close to Jerusalem and this man was on his way to the city to do his duty. This man intentionally remained out of reach. Perhaps he considered that the man was already dead after he saw him and that by coming near a dead man he would be ceremoniously unclean.
The Levite came and looked on him. An effort was made to see the situation at close quarters but he, too, was busy and, no doubt, busy in Gods service. The priest represented worship and the Levite represented service. Neither of these things can save a man. Worship and service can neither save the person who indulges in them nor anyone else like the man who was beaten up.
The man who did help and save was the one we call the Good Samaritan. We always give the person a title with capital letters as this one speaks, in picture, of one far greater than he. He speaks of the Lord Jesus. He stopped to tend to the man as he journeyed. The Lord Jesus left heaven above to come on a journey and a sojourn that meant that He came to where we are. He came alongside us in our need and desperate condition to bring relief from all that had brought us low. He left heaven to bear us above as we cannot reach heaven on our own.
The Samaritan had compassion (lovingkindness) on the man. The Samaritan did not ask who his neighbour was but acted in grace and compassion. It mattered not to him of what nation he was from. The Lord Jesus came from above to demonstrate lovingkindness as far the broken human race was concerned. He came to do us all good. He did not pass by on the other side. He saw our plight and came to us where we are. He did not send someone else. He came Himself and right to the place of need. The Samaritan bound up the mans wounds (his trauma; the Greek word is actually trauma). The Saviour came to bind up that which was broken and needed mending. The bandage that was applied was not just to protect but to bring about healing and comfort. The Samaritan applied oil and wine and lifted him up and set him on his own beast.. The Saviour became our companion in the same way that the Samaritan became companion to the broken man. The attack had been vicious. The man had been left in a helpless state and left for too long would have died. Oil and wine were poured into the wounds. Surely these have spiritual significance when we think of this incident as representing what the Saviour has done for us in our lost and helpless condition. Wine is that which gladdens the heart of man (Psalm 104.15). Oil makes his face to shine (same verse) and speaks of the Holy Spirit. Thinking of the sorry state as being one which is spiritual and not merely physical, it is delightful to think that what the Saviour has done and looks to do for the helpless is to bring them eternal relief from the sorry state that they find themselves in and to bring present cheer and power in the gift of the Spirit to cause their faces to shine.
The man was taken to an inn where, in picture, all were received. The Lord Jesus, as Samaritan, took and still takes great care of us. The Lord Jesus, as Samaritan, set us on His own beast (i.e. substitution Christ took our place in death and smiting). The Lord Jesus, as host, never refused anyone and still receives all who come to Him. The Lord Jesus, as the Samaritan, provided for the mans needs. He did not leave him comfortless. He did not leave him without hope. He gave the man a promise for he said that he would come again. He gave two pence (perhaps a picture of the word of God and the Spirit of God though it is difficult to see in what sense this could be repaid to the host; every picture, because, it is a picture, breaks down) until he returned. The Lord Jesus is coming back for all His own and He has not left us to fend for ourselves. Such words as spoken by the Lord Jesus in John 14 are words of comfort to the believer but to the unbeliever they should be words of warning. His coming for His own precedes His coming with His own (see Luke 9 and the picture from the mount of transfiguration) and between those appearances is ushered in Gods judgments. The question is this do we look off with joy in our hearts at the prospect of His return as most here do? Do we believe that He will return? Do we believe that He is true to his word? The man would have sat in that inn as he recovered wondering whether his benefactor would be coming back. Every promise that God has made has been kept. This is one purpose for the OT scriptures being written that we could see that god is a God who keeps His word. The Lord Jesus may not have returned as yet but He is faithful and He will keep His word. Do we believe that? Do we care? Are we ready? The apostle was ready (II Timothy 4).
The Saviour left telling His story. The lawyer was asked who he thought was the neighbour. He could not bring himself to say the word Samaritan such was the disdain that Jews had for Samaritans. How the very mention of a Samaritan in preference to the priest and the Levite must have stuck in the throat of the lawyer. He could not bring himself to acknowledge the kindness of the Samaritan as a Samaritan and perhaps he could not see the bigger picture concerning the one who had recounted this story. The Saviour instructed the lawyer to go and do just as the Samaritan had done. It was not a matter of going and thinking but going and doing.
Verses 38-42 Martha
38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. 40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
This story often raises a bit of a smile.
Notice the use of the word certain on two occasions here. The certain village we know from elsewhere to be Bethany (which is very close to Jerusalem look back to the comments on Luke 9.51). The certain woman is named. This is unusual for Luke normally uses the word to say that the village or the priest or the lawyer or the woman actually existed without giving a name.
There are three main phrases:
Sat at Jesus feet Matthew 27-33-36 tell of soldiers who sat at the foot of the cross; they were at rest.
What did they see? Brutality. Jealousy. For them it was another day at the office. They were used to seeing people being crucified.
What did they not see as they sat and watched him there? It was the man of sorrows who hung on that old rugged cross.
They, in general, did not see that He was the substitute. I Peter 3.18, For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
They did not see reconciliation. II Corinthians 5. 18-19, And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. We must remember that the Lord Jesus gave His life a ransom for all (I Timothy 2.6). The payment has been made but few take that payment to their own souls are saved (Matthew 7.13-14)
They did not see redemption. Galatians 3.13, Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
They did not see love. Love is absent in the world around us. This was un selfish love and unconditional love. This was love that expected nothing in return. This was true altruism.
Inscribed upon the cross we see in shining letters God is love.
John 15 says, Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. When the Lord Jesus died we were by no means His friends but His enemies and He still paid the price for enemies. He died but He rose again.
Heard His word Perhaps we have sat at His feet then let us hear His word. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Revelation 3.20 Perhaps we have heard His voice and His knocking on our hearts door then have we opened our heart to Him and let Him in? Of necessity our pride will be dented as we admit that we are not good enough for Gods heaven and even to receive Him. We do not dictate to God the terms on which I make an entrance into His home or He into the recesses of my heart. Are we enjoying the prospect of being in His home and enjoying His fellowship I will sup with him, and he with me down here on earth?
One thing is needful if the Lord Jesus the God of creation says that one thing is needful then we ought to obey. There is only one way to God. To get to Him we have to be born again. Perhaps the career, though important, is getting in the way. Perhaps the family, even more important, is getting in the way. One thing is needful. We have but one shot at life and one chance to make the right decision in relation to eternity.
Note that it says that Martha received the Lord Jesus into her house. She had a sister called Mary which also sat at Jesus feet. The also may refer to Mary being one who sat at the Saviours feet as well as being sister to Martha but methinks that it means that she, like Martha, sat at His feet and heard His word. Martha gets a hard time from the brethren but we feel the word of God says that she sat at the Saviours feet. Mary, we know, did the same but we often read the section as Mary alone sat at His feet. That is not the case. Here is Martha and she knows the blessing of spending time at the Saviours feet, learning of Him as she hears His word. She is not ignorant of that. She enjoyed that. Her service had not replaced rest and communion but displaced it. She loved to entertain the Lord and to be busy in ministering to Him (dare we suggest that such are the essentials of worship talking of the priests in Ezekiel 44 God says, They shall come near unto me to minister unto me.) Martha served and heard.
We no doubt appreciate that there are a number of Marys that appear in the NT record in fact six in all. Three of them are well known Mary the mother of the Lord Jesus, Mary the sister to Martha and Lazarus and Mary Magdalene. The others are Mary the mother of James or Joses, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Mary the mother of John Mark. It is clear from John 11.2 that it is Mary the sister to Martha and Lazarus who is mentioned in John 12 though it is strange that the detail given in chapter 11 in parenthesis is done so before record within the book is made of the actual event.
Now Mary does not live up to her name for Mary is the NT form of the Hebrew Miriam. Notice that the Qur'an refers to Mary (the mother of Jesus) as the sister of Aaron (i.e. Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron) and gets the two people confused such is the similarity in the names. Qur'an 19:27-28, At length she brought the (babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms). They said: 'O Mary! Truly an amazing thing hast thou brought! O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste! Miriam may mean wished for child but traditionally it means rebellious. If you trace the word back you will find that it is linked to Marah and Exodus 15. Ruth 1 teaches us that Marah means bitterness.
We notice that Mary is always associated with the feet of the Lord Jesus. Sitting at His feet in Luke 10 and then falling at His feet in John 11 and then anointing His feet in John 12. The first would speak of COMMUNION, the second of SUBMISSION and the third of ADORATION. Theres a progression there. Learning of Him, obedience to Him must precede worship of the Saviour.
Was it that Mary was lazy? We suggest that she wasnt but knew the mind of Christ far better than did her sister. It was not that Martha did not sit and listen but her priorities were all wrong. We feel sure that the Saviour did not want anything elaborate for it says much serving and that with anxiety. I am sure that the one who ever moved with a lack of haste but never allowed this to degenerate into a lack of interest did not desire to see anyone be anxious on His account.
We are able to observe that the majority of the work in any given assembly is carried out by the few. Sometimes, sadly, this is of necessity for there are but few. Sometimes the situation is self inflicted in larger assemblies in that there is a patent lack in the few to encourage the best out of fellow saints in order to see them progress and take up the work. So often we are found serving so much that the Lord, to whom our worshipful service is directed, is longing for our company in the quiet place to learn of Him. We are not saying that service is wrong it isnt. God give us more who are exercised about the work but the burden tonight is that everything should be kept in proportion. He longs for us to spend time in the secret place with Him. The Saviour never encouraged Mary out of the learning place with Him but on the contrary indicated that if it was for His needs then the service could wait.