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The Seventy Sent Out
Although it is clear that the Lord goes to Jerusalem to be rejected and killed there, He continues His service. In this he engages even more workers than the twelve he has already sent. He extends the service further and thus increases His efforts to reach as many people as possible with the grace of God. He sees in the spirit the outcome of His work, the great harvest that results from it. The greater the rejection, the greater the effort to preach the gospel.
The Lord sends them in pairs. That underlines the testimony they give. It does not mean that we should not go alone, but together you are stronger against a powerful and cunning enemy. He sends them out before Him to all places where He Himself will come. He gives them a route description. On all these places they must announce His coming and preach repentance. The harvest is great, for the love, which is not cooled by sin, but rather aroused, keeps an eye on need through all external opposition. Unfortunately, few are touched by this need and are taking action.
Even though the Lord sends out another seventy, it is little in relation to the great harvest. Therefore, He calls upon those whom He sends, before He sends them, to pray above all to the Lord of the harvest for even more workers. It is precisely those who are in the Lord’s service, that are aware of all the work that needs to be done and that it is impossible for them to do all the work by themselves. All believers have a duty in the work of the Lord and they cannot do without one another. That is how He intended it (1 Corinthians 3:5-Ruth :).
He also tells them what kind of people they will meet. He no longer presents His people to whom He sends them, as lost sheep, but as wolves. They themselves are the lambs and as such a prey for the wolves. Going out for the Lord is not a victory march, but a dangerous undertaking that requires their whole dedication and full attention. He sends them like defenseless lambs under cruel, tearing wolves. He forbids them from making any provision to have a chance to survive. They are sent out completely defenseless by Him, so they will depend on what He works in people’s hearts.
They must be completely absorbed in their work and greet no one along the way, for time is pressing and the judgment is at hand. As they are thus sent out in a spirit of grace, exposed to the enmity of men, they may go into the full consciousness of His glory. They don’t need more, because all the more would only be unnecessary ballast. The danger is imminent, the duty is urgent.
They do not need to prepare for their departure and service, but can count on the power of the Name of Him Who will provide for their sustenance in Israel. He that sends them is the King, though men reject Him. There is also no time for comprehensive and time-consuming greetings. The Lord does not mean that they should be grumpy and unfriendly, but that they should not waste time on useless greeting ceremonies. Friendliness is all good and well for the earthly circumstances and the present time, but the servants must be aware of eternity, as the Lord is fully aware of it.
Sent and Received
In the absence of any provision for themselves, they will depend on the people to whom they go. At the same time, it will confront the people to whom they come with the choice of whether or not they will hospitably receive the messengers of the Messiah as such. If the messengers had had enough money to rent a hotel room, it would have been much easier for people to reject their message. They would not have to prove that they were open to the preaching by taking in the messengers of the Lord.
The message with which the Lord sends them is a message of “peace”. ‘Peace’ is the first word they must speak when they enter a house. It is the first word the Lord speaks to His disciples when He appears among them after His resurrection (Luke 24:36). They represent the Prince of Peace and pursue what serves peace (Romans 14:19; Hebrews 12:14).
Peace in a house is a blessing. To possess peace is the great desire of every human being in need. “A man of peace” [literally “a son of peace] is one who welcomes the messengers of peace into his home. He then receives not only the messengers of peace, but also peace itself. That peace shall rest upon him. His radiance will be peace and not war, because there is peace in his heart. A son of peace has peace as his father. He is conceived by peace, and everyone around him will notice that. His Father is God, Who is “the God of peace” (Romans 15:33; Romans 16:20).
If turns out that someone rejects that peace and chases away the messengers of the Lord, he will not receive the peace wished to him. Such a man will continue to live as an enemy of peace and turn against the lambs like a wolf.
If they are in the house of a man of peace, they should not make it difficult for themselves by going from one house to another for their food as if they were bothering their guesthouses. As true workers for the Lord, they are entitled to it on His behalf. They also have to watch out for greedy choosiness as far as themselves are concerned. They may entrust themselves wholeheartedly to the Messiah and accept what is offered to them. The Messiah recognizes the dignity of the worker by stating that the worker is worthy of his wages. Those who belong to the Messiah will notice His recognition and also acknowledge His servants.
His servants should not go from house to house. That would impair His glory because they could be accused of giving in to selfishness. They would make a restless impression, and that does not fit in with their message of peace and rest. They must always be aware that they represent a Lord Who claims the service of His people. They represent Him and must avoid giving a false impression of Him by giving the impression that they are seeking their own advantage and not that of those to whom they have been sent to announce the Messiah.
They may underline their message of peace by healing the sick in the house where they have come. With the healing they must also preach that the kingdom of God has come near to them. The Lord’s footsteps resound as if He was behind them. The kingdom of God is near because He is near. When they receive Him, they are part of the kingdom of God and share in all the blessings that that kingdom brings.
The Lord also suggests to the seventy that there are cities where they are not welcome, where there is no son of peace who opens his house. Then they have to go outside, on the streets and testify against that city. They must give the strongest testimony to such a city that they do not want to have anything to do with it. If they are not allowed to eat there, they don’t even want to carry the dust of that city on their feet. At the same time, the city must know that despite their refusal, the kingdom of God has come near and that it only makes their refusal more serious because they reject what has come so near.
The Lord connects a heavy judgment to the rejection of His disciples; for he who rejects them rejects Him Who has sent them. Rejecting their words, means rejecting His words. They have testified that the kingdom of God is near to them.
Nothing like it has ever before been presented to the people. Others, like the prophets, gave testimony about it, but as the prophets themselves knew, it was from afar. But now that it is near, it really is very dangerous to despise those who announce it. That is like despising the Lord Jesus and God Himself. Conversely, listening to the disciples is the good way to honor the Lord Jesus.
Such testimony is never addressed to Sodom. Although that city is fully responsible for all the crimes it has committed, Sodom is less responsible than the city that rejects the messengers announcing the direct coming of the Messiah. This will be reflected in the severity of the judgment with which God will strike both Sodom and the city that rejects the Lord.
‘Woe’ to the Galilean Cities
The Lord says “woe to” Chorazin and Bethsaida because these cities have seen so many of His miracles and yet have not repented. He has proven time and again to be the Messiah, but they continue to refuse to accept Him. With this they sink deeper into their sins than Tyre and Sidon who, in the Lord’s judgment, would have repented long ago if He had done those miracles there.
The question may arise why He did not do so, for then those cities would have repented. The answer is that God has an appropriate testimony for every occasion in every period. He approached Tyre and Sidon with a testimony that exactly suited them and could be understand by them, but that they consciously rejected.
It is important to hold on to the sovereignty of God Who knows much better what is in man than we do. He knows what He can ask of a person and takes into account the circumstances in which that person finds himself. According to that knowledge He measures the responsibility of man and tests him therein it by the message He sends to him. That message is exactly what is needed for that person.
Thus He has always acted, and therefore His judgment is also perfectly righteous. Never will a person be able to sue Him why He didn’t treat him in another way. Every human being will realize that God has approached him in a perfect fitting manner, but that he has rejected Him.
The most severe punishments come therefore over those who are most favored by Him, those who He has taken nearest to Himself, or to whom He has come in Christ. Therefore it will be more tolerable for the heathen cities of Tyre and Sidon in judgment than for the cities of Israel. The cities of Israel are visited by God Himself in Christ and they have rejected God revealed in the flesh.
And what does Capernaum, the city where the Lord Jesus lived for a long time, think? Does the abode of the Son of God in their midst mean the exaltation of the city to heaven? That could have been if they had accepted Him. But the abode of the Son of God in their midst remains without any effect on their hearts and conscience. That only makes their guilt bigger and their rejection of Him worse. The city will be brought down into Hades.
The Lord connects Himself at the closest to the message that the seventy will bring to the cities. It is therefore essentially His message. They do not bring their own words, but His words. Therefore, to hear and accept their words is in reality to hear and accept the Lord’s words. With rejecting the messengers it is the other way around. He who does so, rejects Christ and with Him also the Father who sent Him.
Whenever we hear God’s Word, we must be aware that we are not listening to a human being, but to God, where the test is not our feeling, but God’s Word. It is not about whether we like the messenger or the message, but about whether we are open to what God has to say through the messenger.
Return of the Seventy
Immediately after the sending out of the seventy, Luke mentions their return. They have carried out their task. Excited, they come to the Lord to tell Him how wonderful it was to exercise their authority over demons. They do not speak a word about their preaching and the result of it. The authority exercised has made a great impression on them. That is what they did, didn’t they? After all, every victory over satan is one.
The Lord tempers their enthusiasm. They don’t have to be so excited about their authority over demons. They do not have that authority of themselves. He tells them that in the spirit He saw satan fall from heaven like lightning (Revelation 12:9). For Him it is important that satan loses his place in heaven. He says He has seen much further than what they have done. They are impressed by the here and now, while He has seen the future and final defeat of satan. Every ‘partial victory’ over satan is advance on what awaits him.
As for their authority, the Lord has given it to them. If they can stand in victory over all the power of the enemy, it is because He protects them. The fact that the spirits are subject to them is not something to make a great fuss about.
What should really bring them, and us, to rejoice, is that their, and our, names are recorded in heaven. On earth our names are recorded in the place where we live. Here the Lord Jesus says that our names are recorded in heaven, which means that there is our home. We have a heavenly citizenship (Philippians 3:20). We can rejoice about that, more than about the exercise of authority on earth. Our names are removed from earthly registers when we die. Our names are never removed from the heavenly register. Heaven is our eternal home.
This joy can only be our part if we have certainty of faith. If we doubt our salvation, that joy is not there, but tormenting insecurity. This is not the work of the Holy Spirit, but of unbelief.
The Lord Jesus Praises the Father
When the Lord Jesus thinks of heaven and of all whose names are recorded there, He rejoices in the Holy Spirit. He sees the full result of His work. First He saw the end of all satan’s activity in heaven and communicated it to His disciples. Satan will be cast out of heaven (Revelation 12:9) and crushed under the feet of the believers (Romans 16:20). Then He sees all the names of those who will populate the heavens. These are things for which He praises the Father.
He praises the Father that these things have been revealed by Him to infants, to those who have no high pretensions. The great minds, the highly educated at theological faculties who boast of their religious knowledge, have no idea of these things. It has been the pleasure of the Father to do it this way.
The Lord Jesus knows that, despite the rejection that is His part and that awaits Him even more deeply, the Father has surrendered all things to Him. Only the appreciation of the Father counts for Him, not that of the people. If they reject Him, it is in order that the pleasure of the Father is done. We do not understand these things. We cannot understand that the Son, as a Man on earth, fulfills the pleasure of the Father by man’s rejection of Him. We would not have thought of using the height of man’s sin to carry out a plan for man’s benefit. That is the secret of the Son, a secret that only the Father knows.
The presence of the Son presents God in grace to man and reveals God’s pleasure in man. The Son’s presence also reveals the greatest possible corruption and hatred against that revealed grace, goodness and love in man. The presence of the Son and His rejection by men gloriously show the triumph of grace over evil.
The eternal Son became Man to reconcile as Man people with God. In His work on the cross He has brought all the corruption and hatred of men before God and God has judged Him for it. All God’s hatred of sin has burst forth over Him. At the same time, God’s pleasure went out in an unspeakable way to His Son Who accomplished this great work to His glorification. This miracle of the Son is only known by the Father. Here, all a believer has to do is to believe and worship.
Although we cannot know the Son in the miracle of His Being, we may know the Father in Him, for the Son has revealed the Father. The revelation of the Father in and through the Son is the joy and peace of faith. It is even true for infants. The little children, and not only the young men or the fathers, know the Father (1 John 2:13).
After His praise to the Father, the Lord speaks a word that only applies to the disciples. He declares “blessed” all who see what they see. It is a great privilege for them and the people to see Him personally, to be able to perceive his physical presence. In Him God is fulfilling all His promises.
Many of the most privileged persons before them, such as prophets and kings, have wished this great privilege. However, this privilege was not allowed to them. But those who see the Lord have been given this great privilege. This enormous grace cannot be described. It indeed is true that they behold God revealed in the flesh! A more impressive meeting cannot take place. The queen of Sheba was taken the breath when she saw the glory of Solomon (1 Kings 10:4-Deuteronomy :). And behold, more than Solomon is here (Luke 11:31)! Prophets have announced His coming to fulfill all they have prophesied about.
And we are allowed to see so much more than those who see and hear Christ at that moment. This is because of the Holy Spirit Who dwells in us and forms the church as a heavenly people who have already been connected in the closest possible way with the Lord Jesus. God already wants to introduce people into the atmosphere of heaven by bringing them to an inn on earth where the Holy Spirit is the Host. We see this in the next parable, that of the Good Samaritan.
A Lawyer Puts the Lord to the Test
After unfolding the glorious heavenly and eternal things about the Father and the Son, a lawyer stands up and takes the floor. He feels that the Lord Jesus is talking about things that cannot be fitted into the law. That is why he considers them to be in conflict with it. If the Lord says that He comes from God, He must surely maintain the law. That is why the lawyer sets up a trap. The Holy Spirit notes that the intention of the law scholar is to put the Lord to the test.
The question of the lawyer is what he must do to inherit eternal life. It is impossible for him to do this outside the law. In his judgment, the Lord would make Himself implausible in His claim that He is the Christ if He showed another way. And if He only referred to the law, He was not the merciful One whom He also pretended to be.
The lawyer does not ask: ‘What do I have to do to be saved’, but raises a subject for discussion with his question, to which he does have an answer with his knowledge of the law. His question is not really sincere, it’s just theory for him. He is not really concerned about the salvation of his soul and he has no understanding of his own state or of God.
The law does not assume that a sinner is hopelessly lost and does not present salvation to him. The law can only hold a person accountable for his responsibility, which he can never fulfil, because he is a sinner. The poor, desperate jailor in Philippi did ask how he could be saved (Acts 16:30). That is the question that fits a sinner much better.
In His response to the question, the Lord reverses the relationships. He asks the questions and the lawyer must answer Him. He asks him not only what is written in the law, but also how he reads. The Lord asks the lawyer the right question, for that man places himself on the basis of the law.
For him, inheriting eternal life was something you could achieve through your own efforts. He sought his salvation in fulfilling the law. The Lord answers in His wisdom the fool according to His folly (Proverbs 26:5). A fool thinks he can keep the law and thus inherit eternal life. With His question the Lord wants to convince him of the futility of all attempts to inherit eternal life on that basis.
The lawyer answers the question what is written in the law. Without being aware of it, he also answers the question of how he reads. He knows exactly what it says, but he reads it without his heart being involved. This is also how we can deal with Scripture. We know what it says and we know the right answers to biblical questions. However, it is only theory if not the whole of Scripture controls our hearts and lives. The lawyer controls the law with his mind, but the law does not control his heart and life.
The Lord says to the lawyer that he has answered correctly. He considers his answer to be correct. That is indeed what it says. That is how He had let it written down. If the lawyer abides by this, he will live, that is, he will receive eternal life as an inheritance.
The law scholar has answered the Lord’s question, but feels that he is defeated. He does not want to admit that. Immediately He has another question that connects to his own answer. He asks who his neighbor is. He also expects an answer to this question that is in line with the law. So it could only be someone from God’s people. If the Lord did not give that answer, He could not be the Christ. The man does not realize that he is challenging the wisdom of God and that he ties himself a snare.
The Good Samaritan
The Lord answers with a parable. This is a different kind of parable from the parables in the Gospel according to Matthew. There He pronounces the parables of the kingdom, while Luke records the parables of grace from the Lord’s mouth.
The Lord presents a man who descends from Jerusalem to Jericho. It means that it is a person who leaves the place where God dwells to go to the place of the curse. It is not only a literal going down, but also and above all a spiritual one. The man doesn’t reach Jericho because he falls among robbers. They do not spare him. They take away all his possessions from him, mistreat him and leave him half dead. His future looks bleak, death is what he can expect.
Then hope seems to dawn. A priest passes by, someone who knows God and knows how God is. He will help him, his fellow countryman. However, there is no friendliness in the heart of this priest, no intention to show love. Nor was he sent on a journey by God, but he is going his own way. He passes by there “by chance”. To him it a sad coincidence of circumstances for that poor man, but that is not his business. Seeing the man in his misery does not arouse any mercy in him. Thus the priest, the highest expression of God’s law, “when he saw him, he passed by on the other side“.
The priest did not know who his neighbor was, nor did the lawyer. Selfishness makes one blind. The law gives knowledge of sin, but does not encourage to help others in need. The law simply shows man his duty, and declares him guilty because he does not do it. On the other hand, the law does not forbid showing mercy.
When the priest has disappeared, a Levite passes by. According to the law, he is closest to the priest in his position. He also looks at the man, but like the priest he does not recognize his neighbor in the man.
Then a Samaritan arrives. If the man wasn’t half dead, he wouldn’t want to be helped by a Samaritan. But he doesn’t even have the strength to call someone to his aid. The Samaritan, despised by him, does not ask who his neighbor is. The love present in his heart makes him the neighbor of the man in need. This is what God Himself has done in Christ. Then all legal and carnal distinctions disappear.
The Samaritan does not pass by ‘by chance’. He is “on a journey”, he has a goal. On his way to that goal, he comes to the victim of the robbery. He sees him, and instead of turning away, he feels compassion. His compassion led him to go himself to the man. He does not send anyone else. He says nothing, he does not blame the man, but bandaged up his wounds after pouring oil and wine on them.
The Samaritan seems prepared for such an encounter because he has with him the things that are exactly needed for this man. He does not leave the man to his fate, but takes him with him. For this purpose he makes his own beast available. The man may sit on it and he walks next to it. He changes places with the man. That is what the Lord Jesus does with us. He was rich and became poor to make us who were poor rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).
In the oil, the wine and the beast we can also see a spiritual meaning. Oil is a picture of the Holy Spirit and wine is a picture of joy. His own riding animal is what carries us, in which we can see His righteousness through which we can live for God.
In that way he brings him to an inn. The Samaritan has to travel further, but his care for him doesn’t stop there. He passes on his cares to the innkeeper, whom he gives two denarii for that purpose. And still his care for him does not stop. He promises to come back to see how the man is doing. If it turns out that more was needed than the two denarii, the Samaritan will also repay him.
This is the full result of grace. Grace not only frees us from sins, but also brings us to an inn, a home, under the care of the Holy Spirit, of Whom we can see a picture in the innkeeper. In the innkeeper we can also see a picture of a believer who cares for others with the gift the Lord has given him through the Holy Spirit.
On His return, the Lord will repay all those who have cared for others for all the efforts they have made.
Application of the Parable
The Lord has painted an impressive illustration of charity. Now the lawyer may answer the question of who was the neighbor. Notice how the Lord reverses the question. The lawyer asked: Who is my neighbor? The Lord asks: Who shows himself to be a neighbor to others? My neighbor is he who comes to help me in my need. My neighbor is not the one to whom I must show love, but the neighbor is the one who takes care of me. This means that I see myself represented in the man who fell into the hands of robbers and that I depend on someone who wants to be my neighbor. For me, the Lord Jesus became the Neighbor.
In his answer the lawyer does not take the word ‘Samaritan’ in his mouth. Instead, without realizing it, he gave the beautiful description “the one who showed mercy toward him”. Then comes the answer from the Lord, which must have sounded like a thunderclap to him: “Go and do the same”. The Lord says that he should do as the Samaritan did. He sends him to do likewise.
The lawyer is finished talking. There is nothing to object to by law. Such an attitude is not found in the law. The law doesn’t say anything about it at all. The law does not condemn, but also does not encourage, such an attitude. Grace therefore goes far beyond the law. The Lord Jesus perfectly has done everything that is in the law, but He has done infinitely more than the law says. Like He is the Neighbor, so it is asked of us.
Martha and Mary
In the section of Luke 10:38-11:13 the Lord makes His disciples familiar with the great means of blessing: the Word, prayer and the Holy Spirit. These three means make up the whole of the practical Christian life, in which it is about listening to God, going to Him as Father and entrusting oneself to the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit. That is what marks the atmosphere of the inn in the previous parable and through which a heavenly people on earth is formed that inhales the atmosphere of heaven.
It is remarkable that Luke speaks of “travelling”, as the Lord also said of the Samaritan that he was “on a journey” (Luke 10:33). The Lord Jesus and His disciples are not ‘by chance’ on the way, like the priest and the Levite. His goal is Jerusalem. On His way there He enters a village, where a woman, Martha, receives Him hospitably in her house. It is as it were the inn from the parable of the good Samaritan. There He is and there He speaks His word to those who are at His feet to listen to His word.
Martha has a sister. She is called Mary. Luke says of her that she “also” [Darby Translation] sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His word. The word ‘also’ is telling because it means that she not only sat and listened, but also helped Martha serve.
Mary appreciated the care the Samaritan gives her. We find her three times at the Lord’s feet. Here to listen to His word. The second time is when she brings her grief to the Lord’s feet because her brother has died (John 11:32). The third time is to anoint His feet as an expression of her worship in view of His death and burial (John 12:3). She has learnt to know Him as she listened to Him while sitting at His feet.
While Mary sits at the Lord’s feet, Martha is busy. It is no small thing to have to take care of thirteen men all of a sudden. It irritates her that her sister sits there so quietly and has left her to do all the serving alone. She also reproached the Lord for not encouraging Mary to help her. He sees how much there is to do, right?
There is nothing wrong with serving, but it must be the result of a sitting at the feet of the Lord. Serving the Lord at the same time subtracts Martha from the Lord. There are so many things that are not wrong in themselves, but that so easily subtract us from Him. That can be necessary, but also interesting things, things that fascinate us. If any work is not done only out of love for Him, we lose our joy in it and become critical of others. For Mary, all she can do for the Lord is nothing compared to what He has to tell her.
Martha is so occupied by her work that there is no place for anything else. Martha has too much work. Work in itself is not wrong, but it is if it takes away the sight on the Lord. Much is needed, but all that is needed can only go well if it comes from this one thing: sitting at the Lord’s feet. That is the one thing Mary has chosen. If we are seized by many things, as is the case with Martha, it means that we lose sight of the one thing that is needed.
There are more histories that show us the importance of “one thing”. Thus David asked “one thing” (Psalms 27:4), the Lord Jesus asked in connection with His Person “one thing” (Luke 20:3; Matthew 21:24; Mark 11:29), the blind-born man knew “one thing” when he had become seeing (John 9:25), the rich young man lacked “one thing” (Luke 18:22; Mark 10:21), and there was “one thing” that Paul did (Philippians 3:13).
Overactive commitment to the Lord means that we lose sight of Him and have no fellowship with Him in what concerns Him. In addition, He is in a time of crisis. He is on his journey, on his way to Jerusalem, the final destination for His walk in the flesh on earth. Then it is important to listen to His Word and to keep the other activities to a minimum.
The Lord praises Mary for having chosen “the good part”. The good part is the good ‘portion’ you get with a meal. Thus Joseph gave Benjamin the best portion of the food, five times that of his brothers (Genesis 43:34). Martha wanted to present the Lord with a good ‘portion’, while Mary has chosen the part that the Lord is presenting to her. Martha remained the hostess and the Lord the Guest, for Mary the Lord is the Host.
At the house of the two from Emmaus we also see that the Lord, after being invited as a Guest, takes the place of Host when He breaks the bread (Luke 24:29-Amos :). He seeks this place in our hearts and not that of a Guest. He knows from His own experience what the good part, the good portion is. That is the part that the Father gives Him: doing His will, for that was His food (John 4:34).
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Luke 10". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany