Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
Luke 10:1-24. Mission of the seventy disciples, and their return.
As our Lord‘s end approaches, the preparations for the establishment of the coming Kingdom are quickened and extended.
the Lord — a becoming title here, as this appointment was an act truly lordly [Bengel].
other seventy also — rather, “others (also in number), seventy”; probably with allusion to the seventy elders of Israel on whom the Spirit descended in the wilderness (Numbers 11:24, Numbers 11:25). The mission, unlike that of the Twelve, was evidently quite temporary. All the instructions are in keeping with a brief and hasty pioneering mission, intended to supply what of general preparation for coming events the Lord‘s own visit afterwards to the same “cities and places” (Luke 10:1) would not, from want of time, now suffice to accomplish; whereas the instructions to the Twelve, besides embracing all those to the Seventy, contemplate world-wide and permanent effects. Accordingly, after their return from this single missionary tour, we never again read of the Seventy.
The harvest, etc. — (See on Matthew 9:37).
pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest — (See on Matthew 9:38).
son of peace — inwardly prepared to embrace your message of peace. See note on “worthy,” (see on Matthew 10:13).
(See on Matthew 11:20-24).
for Sodom — Tyre and Sidon were ruined by commercial prosperity; Sodom sank through its vile pollutions: but the doom of otherwise correct persons who, amidst a blaze of light, reject the Savior, shall be less endurable than that of any of these.
returned — evidently not long away.
Lord, etc. — “Thou hast exceeded Thy promise, for ‹even the devils,‘” etc. The possession of such power, not being expressly in their commission, as in that to the Twelve (Luke 9:1), filled them with more astonishment and joy than all else.
through thy name — taking no credit to themselves, but feeling lifted into a region of unimagined superiority to the powers of evil simply through their connection with Christ.
I beheld — As much of the force of this glorious statement depends on the nice shade of sense indicated by the imperfect tense in the original, it should be brought out in the translation: “I was beholding Satan as lightning falling from heaven”; that is, “I followed you on your mission, and watched its triumphs; while you were wondering at the subjection to you of devils in My name, a grander spectacle was opening to My view; sudden as the darting of lightning from heaven to earth, lo! Satan was beheld falling from heaven!” How remarkable is this, that by that law of association which connects a part with the whole, those feeble triumphs of the Seventy seem to have not only brought vividly before the Redeemer the whole ultimate result of His mission, but compressed it into a moment and quickened it into the rapidity of lightning! Note. - The word rendered “devils,” is always used for those spiritual agents employed in demoniacal possessions - never for the ordinary agency of Satan in rational men. When therefore the Seventy say, “the devils [demons] are subject to us,” and Jesus replies, “Mine eye was beholding Satan falling,” it is plain that He meant to raise their minds not only from the particular to the general, but from a very temporary form of satanic operation to the entire kingdom of evil. (See John 12:31; and compare Isaiah 14:12).
Behold, I give you, etc. — not for any renewal of their mission, though probably many of them afterwards became ministers of Christ; but simply as disciples.
serpents and scorpions — the latter more venomous than the former: literally, in the first instance (Mark 16:17, Mark 16:18; Acts 28:5); but the next words, “and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you,” show that the glorious power of faith to “overcome the world” and “quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one,” by the communication and maintenance of which to His people He makes them innocuous, is what is meant (1 John 5:4; Ephesians 6:16).
rejoice not, etc. — that is, not so much. So far from forbidding it, He takes occasion from it to tell them what had been passing in His own mind. But as power over demons was after all intoxicating, He gives them a higher joy to balance it, the joy of having their names in Heaven‘s register (Philemon 4:3).
said, etc. — The very same sublime words were uttered by our Lord on a former similar occasion (see on Matthew 11:25-27); but (1) There we are merely told that He “answered and said” thus; here, He “rejoiced in spirit and said,” etc. (2) There it was merely “at that time” (or season) that He spoke thus, meaning with a general reference to the rejection of His gospel by the self-sufficient; here, “In that hour Jesus said,” with express reference probably to the humble class from which He had to draw the Seventy, and the similar class that had chiefly welcomed their message. “Rejoice” is too weak a word. It is “exulted in spirit” - evidently giving visible expression to His unusual emotions; while, at the same time, the words “in spirit” are meant to convey to the reader the depth of them. This is one of those rare cases in which the veil is lifted from off the Redeemer‘s inner man, that, angel-like, we may “look into it” for a moment (1 Peter 1:12). Let us gaze on it with reverential wonder, and as we perceive what it was that produced that mysterious ecstasy, we shall find rising in our hearts a still rapture - “Oh, the depths!”
Luke 10:25-37. Question of a lawyer and parable of the good Samaritan.
tempted him — “tested him”; in no hostile spirit, yet with no tender anxiety for light on that question of questions, but just to see what insight this great Galilean teacher had.
What is written in the law — apposite question to a doctor of the law, and putting him in turn to the test [Bengel].
Thou shalt, etc. — the answer Christ Himself gave to another lawyer. (See on Mark 12:29-33).
he said, etc. — “Right; THIS do, and life is thine” - laying such emphasis on “this” as to indicate, without expressing it, where the real difficulty to a sinner lay, and thus nonplussing the questioner himself.
willing — “wishing,” to get himself out of the difficulty, by throwing on Jesus the definition of “neighbor,” which the Jews interpreted very narrowly and technically, as excluding Samaritans and Gentiles [Alford].
A certain man — a Jew.
from Jerusalem to Jericho — a distance of nineteen miles northeast, a deep and very fertile hollow - “the Temple of Judea” [Trench].
thieves — “robbers.” The road, being rocky and desolate, was a notorious haunt of robbers, then and for ages after, and even to this day.
priest and a Levite — Jericho, the second city of Judea, was a city of the priests and Levites, and thousands of them lived there. The two here mentioned are supposed, apparently, to be returning from temple duties, but they had not learnt what that meaneth, ‹I will have mercy and not sacrifice‘ [Trench].
saw him — It was not inadvertently that he acted.
came and looked — a further aggravation.
passed by — although the law expressly required the opposite treatment even of the beast not only of their brethren, but of their enemy (Deuteronomy 22:4; Exodus 23:4, Exodus 23:5; compare Isaiah 58:7).
Samaritan — one excommunicated by the Jews, a byword among them, synonymous with heretic and devil (John 8:48; see on Luke 17:18).
had compassion — His best is mentioned first; for “He who gives outward things gives something external to himself, but he who imparts compassion and tears gives him something from his very self” [Gregory the Great, in Trench]. No doubt the priest and Levite had their excuses - It is not safe to be lingering here; besides, he‘s past recovery; and then, may not suspicion rest upon ourselves? So might the Samaritan have reasoned, but did not [Trench]. Nor did he say, He‘s a Jew, who would have had no dealings with me (John 4:9), and why should I with him?
oil and wine — the remedies used in such cases all over the East (Isaiah 1:6), and elsewhere; the wine to cleanse the wounds, the oil to assuage their smartings.
on his own beast — himself going on foot.
Which was neighbour? — a most dexterous way of putting the question: (1) Turning the question from, “Whom am I to love as my neighbor?” to “Who is the man that shows that love?” (2) Compelling the lawyer to give a reply very different from what he would like - not only condemning his own nation, but those of them who should be the most exemplary. (3) Making him commend one of a deeply hated race. And he does it, but it is almost extorted. For he does not answer, “The Samaritan” - that would have sounded heterodox, heretical - but “He that showed mercy on him.” It comes to the same thing, no doubt, but the circumlocution is significant.
Go, etc. — O exquisite, matchless teaching! What new fountains of charity has not this opened up in the human spirit - rivers in the wilderness, streams in the desert! What noble Christian institutions have not such words founded, all undreamed of till that wondrous One came to bless this heartless world of ours with His incomparable love - first in words, and then in deeds which have translated His words into flesh and blood, and poured the life of them through that humanity which He made His own! Was this parable, now, designed to magnify the law of love, and to show who fulfils it and who not? And who did this as never man did it, as our Brother Man, “our Neighbor?” The priests and Levites had not strengthened the diseased, nor bound up the broken (Ezekiel 34:4), while He bound up the brokenhearted (Isaiah 61:1), and poured into all wounded spirits the balm of sweetest consolation. All the Fathers saw through the thin veil of this noblest of stories, the Story of love, and never wearied of tracing the analogy (though sometimes fancifully enough) [Trench]. Exclaims Gregory Nazianzen (in the fourth century), “He hungered, but He fed thousands; He was weary, but He is the Rest of the weary; He is saluted ‹Samaritan‘ and ‹Demoniac,‘ but He saves him that went down from Jerusalem and fell among thieves,” etc.
Luke 10:38-42. Martha and Mary.
certain village — Bethany (John 11:1), which Luke so speaks of, having no farther occasion to notice it.
received him her house — The house belonged to her, and she appears throughout to be the older sister.
which also — “who for her part,” in contrast with Martha.
sat — “seated herself.” From the custom of sitting beneath an instructor, the phrase “sitting at one‘s feet” came to mean being a disciple of any one (Acts 22:3).
heard — rather, “kept listening” to His word.
cumbered — “distracted.”
came to him — “presented herself before Him,” as from another apartment, in which her sister had “left her to serve (or make preparation) alone.”
carest thou not my sister, etc. — “Lord, here am I with everything to do, and this sister of mine will not lay a hand to anything; thus I miss something from Thy lips, and Thou from our hands.”
bid her, etc. — She presumes not to stop Christ‘s teaching by calling her sister away, and thus leaving Him without His one auditor, nor did she hope perhaps to succeed if she had tried.
Martha, Martha — emphatically redoubling upon the name.
careful and cumbered — the one word expressing the inward worrying anxiety that her preparations should be worthy of her Lord; the other, the outward bustle of those preparations.
many things — “much service” (Luke 10:40); too elaborate preparation, which so engrossed her attention that she missed her Lord‘s teaching.
one thing, etc. — The idea of “Short work and little of it suffices for Me” is not so much the lower sense of these weighty words, as supposed in them, as the basis of something far loftier than any precept on economy. Underneath that idea is couched another, as to the littleness both of elaborate preparation for the present life and of that life itself, compared with another.
chosen the good part — not in the general sense of Moses‘ choice (Hebrews 11:25), and Joshua‘s (Joshua 24:15), and David‘s (Psalm 119:30); that is, of good in opposition to bad; but, of two good ways of serving and pleasing the Lord, choosing the better. Wherein, then, was Mary‘s better than Martha‘s? Hear what follows.
not be taken away — Martha‘s choice would be taken from her, for her services would die with her; Mary‘s never, being spiritual and eternal. Both were true-hearted disciples, but the one was absorbed in the higher, the other in the lower of two ways of honoring their common Lord. Yet neither despised, or would willingly neglect, the other‘s occupation. The one represents the contemplative, the other the active style of the Christian character. A Church full of Marys would perhaps be as great an evil as a Church full of Marthas. Both are needed, each to be the complement of the other.
Saturday, July 23rd, 2016
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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