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Luke 10:1 . The Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two. This was after the twelve had returned, and brought reports of the eager cries of the people for the word of life. Some old copies of the Greek read, seventy two, which is followed by the Vulgate. Some rabbins persisted in writing seventy two for seventy, because Eldad and Medad had prophesied in the camp. He wisely sent them two and two, that one might the better assist the other; that they might the more edify the people, for one would generally be more acceptable than the other; and this mode of a travelling companion, we find was followed by Paul and Peter. Acts 15:36.
Luke 10:4 . Salute no man by the way. Elisha gave a similar command to his servant. 2 Kings 4:0. This intimates that we must dispense with worldly civilities, when they impede the work of the Lord.
Luke 10:16 . He that heareth you heareth me. All the virtue and power of my words shall accompany your sermons for the illumination of the world, and the regeneration of the heart; and he that despiseth you despiseth me. He who rejects the gospel rejects not man but God.
Luke 10:18 . I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. This idea is coincident with the apostrophe in Isaiah 14:12. How art thou fallen from heaven, oh Lucifer, son of the morning. He is so called because light attended his presence. The seventy having reported their success, when they met at some festival in Jerusalem, the Lord foretold the rapid diffusion of his gospel, that it would dart like lightning on a benighted world. The heathen temples would be deserted, the idols would be demolished, and the prince of this world no longer be allowed to reign in high places.
Luke 10:19 . I give you power to tread on serpents, as in Mark 16:18. Isaiah 11:8.
Luke 10:21 . In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, to hear of the success of the seventy disciples, for there is no joy to the Saviour, to angels, or to saints, like that of the repentance of sinners, and their turning to the Lord.
Luke 10:25 . Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? As a man of letters he knew the law. It is said in Leviticus 18:5, “Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and judgments, which if a man do, he shall live in them. I am the Lord.” Moses repeats the same promise in Deuteronomy 6:24-25. The lawyer evidently understood these promises of more than a temporal life. The pharisees also, like St. Paul, understood life eternal to be promised under the law, as stated on Deuteronomy 31:16.
Luke 10:29 . But he, willing to justify himself, said And who is my neighbour? How can I love the heathen as myself; they are unclean. How can I love the Samaritans; they are accursed and excommunicated. Thus the world make distinctions: Christ makes none. Allow but a single exception, and love exists no more. Whether our neighbour be rich or poor, whether he be haughty or affable, whether he be friend or foe, he is still our neighbour; and by consequence, if not the object of our esteem, he is at least the object of charity, active and sincere. Partial charity destroys the extension and universality of love; and is in fact, a confederation against the love of our neighbour.
The universal unity and extension of charity is the basis and glory of all true religion. He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit. Now, as we are all one by nature, let us all be one by charity. Let us seek, in conformity to his prayer, to be one with Christ, as he is one with the Father. Then, and only then, love which is divine in its principle, becomes universal in its object.
But let us not err in the grand basis and principle of charity. It is a grace of celestial birth, it is a love spiritual and pure. To love my neighbour as I ought, I must regard the relations in which he stands to his Maker. In this view, every man enjoying the favours of heaven, though, on certain points he may be hostile to me, yet I am bound to love him with good affection. The argument of his celestial relation to his Creator is most conclusive for charity. I cannot hate my neighbour without hating Him, to whom he is so closely related. This man, separately considered, may not merit my esteem; regarding him as a christian, he has every claim to that love from me which I expect from Christ. And can the fire of anger be subdued, but by the purer flame of love?
Nor should it escape remark, that our Lord has associated abundance of righteousness with the love of our neighbour, which this lawyer did not know, and which neither the priest nor the levite exemplified. We are bound to assist our neighbour in the time of trouble to the utmost of his need, according to our capacity. This is to love our neighbour in the Lord. But if we love men for their fine qualities, for their wit, their fortune and good offices, we in fact are loving our own concupiscence, and the sordid gratification of our passions. To love our neighbour in the Lord, and not merely for amiable qualities, is the only basis on which reciprocal charity can be permanent. If our love be built on good qualities, ah, how soon may our affection and esteem fluctuate. How soon may an insidious whisper divert our love to other objects, or cause it to burn with anger against the friend we once esteemed.
Charity being the grand principle on which religion is built, and on which its progress depends, we should cultivate it as the first of all graces; for he that loveth not his brother abideth in death. How was it that christianity, without money, without power, made so surprising a conquest of more than the Roman world, when jews and priests, and all the powers of darkness were leagued against it. It is replied, because it excelled all other religions in charity. How was it that the jews fell into general contempt. I answer, it was because they had no charity for the gentiles, except they became proselytes.
Just the contrary was the character of the early church. Every believer was a good Samaritan. He fed the hungry, and clothed the naked; he was a husband to the widow, and a father to the orphan. This is the charity that conquers all; for God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
Luke 10:30 . A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. “The whole of this road,” says Buckingham in his travels, “is held to be the most dangerous in Palestine; and indeed the very aspect of the scenery is sufficient, on the one hand, to tempt to robbery and murder; and on the other, to occasion terror in those who pass that way. The bold precipices of rocks, the dark shadows in which the scenery is involved below; the towering elevation of superior cliffs, and the revolting desolations which reign around, present a picture in harmony with itself. Wisely therefore did our Saviour choose these defiles to exhibit the calamities of the Hebrew traveller, and the compassion of the good Samaritan.
“One must really be amid those gloomy scenes of solitude, and fancy one’s self surrounded with a banditti, and feel the impatience of the traveller who rushes on to catch a new view at every pass and turn. One must feel palpitation and alarm at the sound of the horses’ hoofs, resounding through the cavernous rocks, and the frequent shouts of the footmen, scarcely less loud than the echoing thunder produced by the repeated discharges of their muskets. One must witness all these, produced upon the spot, before we can feel the full force, and perceive the beauty of our Saviour’s admirable story of the good Samaritan.”
Luke 10:31 . By chance a certain priest came that way. Κατα συγκυριαν , a word derived from κυριος , Lord. Better then to read, by divine providence, instead of by chance. A sparrow does not fall to the ground without our heavenly Father. Jericho was at this time the second city of Judea, and Herod had a palace there. Our Saviour’s remarks about the priest and the levite are appropriate; for twelve thousand of them are said in the talmud to have resided there.
Luke 10:35 . He took out two pense, two denarions, the exact sum which Hebrews paid for the redemption of their souls. Exodus 30:13. The denarion was the eighth part of an ounce of silver.
Luke 10:38 . He entered into a certain village. Bethany, called Beth-hene in Hebrew books, from the figtrees and the ancient gardens which supplied Jerusalem; famed also for its pool of water. It lay east of Jerusalem fifteen furlongs, and seems in our Saviour’s time, when the population of Jerusalem was dense, to have been adorned with villas of opulence.
And a certain woman named Martha received him, whose sister Mary sat at the Saviour’s feet. Luke names a woman of the city who was a sinner: Luke 7:37. He also mentions Mary Magdalene, as associated with religious women of Galilee: Luke 8:2. The three are given as distinct persons, and as dissimilar cases. Simon the pharisee, of the city, who doubted whether Christ were a prophet, and Simon the leper, a ruler whose country house was at Bethany, and whom the Saviour had cured, could not be, one would think, the same person. Where the gospels are silent, conjectures are irrelevant.
The philanthropy of the good Samaritan has been admired throughout all the ages of the church, and it is here held up as the model of christian imitation. Notwithstanding all the prejudice which had long subsisted between the jews and his nation, when he saw a fellow mortal lying in misery, he was moved with compassion; his heart acted with freedom, and he did all for his recovery which in the like situation he would have wished another to do for him. This action rises higher still, because providence had given the first offers of this honour to a priest, and then to a levite; but these ministers of charity, absorbed in sentiments of mean and selfish love, heard his groans and hasted home, being grateful for the escape of a similar calamity.
We learn hence many important lessons. One is, that charity is the character of true religion. Now abideth faith, hope, and charity; but the greatest of these is charity. To be employed in doing good is the fairest proof that we are the disciples of him who went about doing good.
Next, we should do good to men who are reputed our enemies, for every man is our neighbour who may occasionally need our help. To destroy enmity is godlike; to promote it is the work of a fiend. Happy is the man who prizes and improves a fair opportunity of this nature. This heals every wound, and makes the world a fraternity of love.
When it is in our power, we should do good to men as far as their miseries require. The Samaritan spoiled not his fine action by a scanty kindness, he put the wounded traveller in a fair way to be restored to his family. Here indeed the field is larger than the hand of benevolence can reap alone; but we may do what we can, and we may form institutions and establishments for the orphans, the widows, and the poor.
If we may follow some of the fathers, and regard this wounded man as a figure of Adam and his fallen children, who certainly are stripped of original righteousness, and wounded unto death by Satan, then how wretched must those ministers be who daily pass by poor sinners, look on, but never stop to bind up their wounds, and lead them into the pale of the church. There is yet covenant grace alive in their hearts, as Baxter calls it, or rather, good desires to reform, but they want the aid of Christ and his servants, to help their total weakness, and to save their souls from death.
In all disputations we must admire the divine wisdom of our blessed Lord. The subtlest lawyers who entered the list against him were covered with confusion of face. The questions which his adversaries put to him were often studied and insidious, and so much so, that whether he had answered yes or no, he would have erred in some way. Here also respecting the question, who is my neighbour; the reply is so apt and so conclusive, that it would be impious to ascribe it to a mere witty turn of thought. Oh teach us, Lord, to depend on thy counsel, and to follow thy example.
In the case of Mary and Martha we see that our Lord censures expensive dinners and feasts; and christians more especially should discountenance this. They occupy the thoughts, and engross the time which should be devoted to the Lord. When Christ entered a house, he did not take up their time with trifling and worldly conversation. Families can hear that from the world, and they expect to hear of better things from ministers. Those opportunities should neither be lost nor delayed. After a full indulgence in worldly discourse, it is not very easy to introduce the theme of religion.
His wisdom was so divine, his discourse so full of grace, and his aspect so irradiated of heaven, that Mary forgot the supper; and no wonder, for who could think of earth, while Christ was talking of heaven. Thus Peter, James, and John forgot their cares, and said, let us build tabernacles, when they saw the Saviour’s glory on the mount.
From our Lord’s reply to anxious Martha, we learn that religion, connected with the means of grace, is the one thing needful. Yes, it is needful at all times, and in every view; so much so, that Christ will justify us, though we should neglect some minute concerns of life to attend to our salvation.
This good part, this portion which shall not be taken away, must be chosen. The preference must also be decisive, that we shall count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. May we ever sit at the Redeemer’s feet, and hear his wisdom.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Luke 10". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30