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The Sending Forth of the Seventy
We have here a most important theme, The sending forth of the seventy. There are some things in general which we feel led to suggest here and then to take up, step by step, the particular ministry of the seventy.
1. All believers are sent of God. There is a verse which speaks of John the Baptist, saying, "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John." This should be just as truly said of any, and all of us.
The word "apostle" means "sent." All through the Old Testament there were people sent of God.
The Lord appeared unto Moses saying; "Come now, therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou may-est bring forth My people the Children of Israel out of Egypt."
The Lord said unto Isaiah, "Whom shall I send, and who will go?" Then said Isaiah, "Here am I; send me."
Unto Jeremiah the Lord came with the words, "Thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee."
The Lord Jesus Himself said of all of us, "As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you."
2. The Lord will back up those whom He sends forth. When Christ said, "Go ye into all the world," He also said, "All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth." He said again, "Lo, I am with you." Christ meant that He would back His servants, not alone with His presence, but with all the power invested in Him as risen, ascended, and seated Lord.
When the Lord sent forth His disciples as witnesses unto Him, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the ends of the earth, He promised them, saying, "Ye shall receive power."
No missionary or pastor or evangelist or personal worker is asked to go forth in his own name, and in his own strength. Paul very plainly said; "My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power."
3. All believers sent of God and backed up by God are sent to a designated task. Our life as Christians should not be a hit and miss testimony. It is all right to do whatsoever our hands find to do, but we should remember that the great and outstanding service to which we are called is a specified service. Jesus Christ said, "I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do."
Paul said, "I have finished my course." There were times in Paul's life when he sought to go to certain cities, but the Lord suffered him not. There was one time when Paul was given a vision of a man of Macedonia praying him, and saying, "Come over into Macedonia, and help us." Then Paul endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called him to preach the Gospel unto them.
I. SENT FORTH TWO BY TWO (Luke 10:1 )
The Lord Jesus, in sending forth the seventy, and also the Twelve, sent them forth two by two. Should we not learn from this the wisdom of associates in the work of the Lord? Paul first went forth with Barnabas; then it was Paul and Silas, and then, Paul and Timothy. There is something in this comradeship which increases power and insures success. Each needs the other, and both need God.
1. Teamwork assures power in prayer. Christ has said, "If two of you shall agree * * as touching any thing * * it shall be done for them."
He has also said, "Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst."
2. Teamwork assures mutual encouragement. One can hold up the hands of another; even as Aaron and Hur held up the hands of Moses. There come times when one might become fainthearted, but the touch of the hand, and the cheer of the voice of comradeship presses the disheartened on to victory.
3. Teamwork carries with it the sharing of responsibility. There are problems which are too great for one to bear. Moses felt this when he said unto the Lord; "I am not able to bear all this people alone." One may be able to discern what the other fails to see. Where one lacks the other may supply.
4. Teamwork adds force to testimony. In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word is established. In giving testimony to Christ, that testimony is augmented, and its weight greatly strengthened when a second party stands hard by the first.
5. Teamwork makes possible the accomplishment of a larger work. What one cannot do, two can do. Where one lacks, the other can supply. All gifts never belong to one person. To one is given the spirit of wisdom, to another the spirit of knowledge. To one is given faith, to another is given prophecy. Thank God for the possibilities of team work.
II. THE LIMITED SUPPLY OF LABORERS (Luke 10:2 )
As the seventy went forth, the Lord told them that the harvest was great, but the laborers were few. This is the very thing that always confronts the servants of the Lord. There is so much more to be done, than there are hands with which to do it. If every believer would go out into the harvest field, it would be different. However, most believers are loiterers instead of laborers.
1. Let us pray the Lord of the harvest for laborers. We need to carry the lack of harvesters to God. It is His work we are seeking to do. Besides this, it is God who knows not only the needs of the field, but the persons who are prepared to meet that need. We need to pray more about the personnel of laborers. He will send us help from the most unexpected sources.
2. Let us present the needs of the field to the people. There are some who have willing minds and ready hands, but they lack opportunity; they also lack generalship: they are willing to serve, but they need some one to open the doors unto them for service.
3. Let us back up with money and necessary preparation the laborers who are willing and ready to go.
[Many want to go to the mission field, but depend upon the wisdom of man instead of learning of the Lord Jesus (Matthew 11:29 ), and allowing the Holy Spirit to be their Teacher in all things (John 14:26 ; John 15:26 ; John 16:13-14 ; John 3:27 ). True, they need equipment; they need passage money; they need support, and the God who knows the need is also the Supplier of that need; directly, or through His children. M.] We must pray the Lord of the harvest to send them forth, but we must also supply the means necessary to send them.
III. SHEEP IN THE MIDST OF WOLVES (Luke 10:3 )
The seventy were told; "Behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves." This is still true. There are false prophets around us everywhere, who are ready to devour the lambs of God. These prophets are "wolves in sheep's clothing." Satan, their lord, is as a roaring lion; and he urges on these false teachers. The one who is true to the testimony of Christ will always find obstacles in the way.
1. The difficulties of service. The Apostle Paul was truly sent of God, but Satan withstood him at every turn. His pathway was not strewn with flowers. The fact that he was walking in the will of God, and filled with the Spirit of God, did not mean that he was carefree.
Paul has left on record that he was thrice beaten with rods, that once he was stoned, that thrice he suffered shipwreck. He said, "A night and a day I have been in the deep."
In the journeyings which Paul took he reports that he was, "In perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren."
2. The joy of suffering for Christ. The difficulties by the way should never hinder the true servant of Christ. He should count it all joy when he falls into diverse testings. Weariness and painfulness, hunger and thirst, cold and nakedness, should never dampen his ardor. Remember, Paul sang in the Philippian jail, with his feet fast in the stocks.
IV. SENT FORTH WITHOUT PURSE OR SCRIP (Luke 10:4 )
The seventy were to carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes. Money should never be the objective in the preacher's ministry.
1. God is the One who hires us, and He will reward us. Have we not read, "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus"? Why then should we be fearful as to what we should eat, or as to what we should drink, or as to wherewithal we should be clothed? Does not our Heavenly Father know that we have need of all these things? He who clothes the flower of the field; He who feeds the birds of the air, will surely feed us.
2. We should not serve for filthy lucre. The Bible distinctively states, in instructions to the ministry; "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, * * not for filthy lucre."
The words ring in our ears; "Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? neither do ye kindle fire on Mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of Hosts."
3. Those who reap Spiritual things should not hesitate imparting temporal things. There is an obligation which God has placed upon the people. He had said, "Freely ye have received, freely give." He has also ordained "that they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel." Paul commanded the saints who cared for him in his need. He said; "I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God."
V. THE RESPONSIBILITY UPON THE REJECTERS (Luke 10:10-11 )
Where the seventy were not received, they were instructed to wipe off the dust of their feet, as a testimony against their rejectors. On the other hand, those who received them, were to be blessed with peace. It is still true that a great responsibility falls on the individual, and the community, that has the ministry of a true servant of God.
1. The Lord reckons as against Himself everything which is done against His servant. Do we not remember how Christ spoke from Heaven unto Saul saying, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" Did not the Lord say to those on His left hand; "I was an hungered, and ye gave Me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me not in; naked, and ye clothed Me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited Me not"? Then when they asked Him as to when they had treated Him thus, He replied; "Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to Me."
2. The Lord demonstrated the right of His servants to shake the dust off of their feet against rejectors by a striking parallelism. It was by way of illustration, and of the enforcement of the meaning of His words, that Christ cried, "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." Then the Lord said, that it would be "more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment," than for them.
It is no small matter, therefore, for any city to reject the testimony of the servant of God.
3. The Lord gave a stirring conclusion: "He that heareth you heareth Me; and he that despiseth you despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me despiseth Him that sent Me."
VI. THE REPORT OF SERVICE RENDERED (Luke 10:17 )
1. The seventy returned again with joy, saying, "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy Name." There is no joy comparable to that which thrills the servants of Christ, when they see, through their labors, sinners delivered from Satan, and saved from the tyranny and power of sin!
It is always true that, "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing; bringing his sheaves with him."
Paul wrote of the Thessalonians, "What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His Coming?"
The workers in God's vineyard shall not only have a reward when Christ comes, but they will also have rejoicing, as they see those gathered around them, in the glory, whom they led to know and to trust in the Saviour.
2. The confession of the seventy. The seventy rejoiced in their labor, but they did not fail to give glory to God. They said, "Even the devils are subject unto us through Thy Name." They knew that the power in which they wrought was the power of His Name.
Let those of us who labor for the Lord learn this important lesson. If we are comely, we are so because of His comeliness which He hath put upon us. If we have done anything, we have done it all through Christ who strengtheneth us. Let us ever acknowledge, that, apart from Him we can do nothing.
Our magnificat must ever be, honor, and glory, and power, and praise, and dominion, unto Him, the Lamb who was slain.
VII. THE SATISFACTION OF THE SAVIOUR (Luke 10:18-21 )
1. The Saviour satisfied with the service of the seventy. As the seventy recounted to Christ what had been accomplished, and how the devils were subject to them, Christ said, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from Heaven." In their conquests, the Lord seemed to see the final overthrow of the enemy of souls.
Perhaps, even more striking, were the words of the Lord; "Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in Heaven." How striking are the words which follow: "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."
There were two great things in which Christ rejoiced: First, He rejoiced in the overthrow of Satan's dominion, and in the deliverance of those bound by him. Secondly, He rejoiced because His seventy had comprehended the very things which the wise and prudent, the scribes, the Pharisees, and the teachers of the Jews had neither seen nor known. It is still true, not many who are noble and mighty are called.
2. Saints should be satisfied pre-eminently in their heavenly recognition. The Lord told the seventy to rejoice because their names were written in Heaven. In other words, we are to be happy, not so much in what we have accomplished for Him, as in what He has accomplished for us.
Again, we are to rejoice, not because of the earthward results of our ministry, but because of the Heavenward results of our faith.
It is nice to know that God can use us during our so-journeying among men; but it is supremely glorious to know that we shall be forever with Him in Heaven.
It is blessed to consider that demons are subject unto us now, but it is exceedingly blessed to consider the joy which shall be ours when those whom we have led to Christ, shall become our "joy, and crown of rejoicing" in Heaven.
The story is told of a young lady who was preparing to go to a dance, and while she was putting on the finishing touches to her costume her little sister slipped into the room to speak to her.
The child, noticing how beautifully dressed her sister was, and how the brilliants glittered and gleamed in her hair, was almost speechless with wonder. As she stood gazing, her sister asked her how she thought she would look at the party, and if she didn't think the coronet she was wearing was beautiful.
The little sister had recently accepted the Lord as her Saviour, and she had been learning about Heaven, and how only those who were winners of souls, were to shine as the stars, and wear the glorious crown which was a token of their having been willing to suffer and to serve for His sake here on earth.
As she gazed and gazed at her sister in all of her splendor the scene seemed to change, and she began to wonder if her sister would ever wear the beautiful crown that is being prepared for all those who go outside the camp, bearing His reproach.
Big sister, noticing the thoughtful attitude, asked her what she was thinking so seriously about, she was surprised to hear her say, with deep concern in her little voice; "I was just wondering if you would have any stars in your crown when you get to Heaven."
Young people, how careful we need to be that we do not become so taken up with the pleasures of this world that we fail to lay up for ourselves treasures in Heaven!
The Message of the Jericho Road
1. THE MAN WHO MADE HIS BOAST OF THE LAW
A certain lawyer tempted Christ, asking Him what he should do to inherit eternal life. The Lord knew that the lawyer boasted himself concerning the Law, therefore, He asked him, "What is written in the Law? how readest thou?" The lawyer quickly replied; "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy hearts and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself."
The Lord Jesus accepted the lawyer's response and said; "This do, and thou shalt live."
The lawyer was not satisfied, however, and wanted to justify himself; therefore, he asked Christ; "Who is my neighbour?"
In answer to this question, Jesus gave the story of the stripped and wounded Jew who was left half dead on the Jericho road.
2. THE MAN WHO LEARNED A NEW MEANING GIVEN TO THE LAW
Christ had told the story of the stricken Jew, and of the priest and Levite, who had passed by, while the Good Samaritan rescued him and carried him to the inn. Then He asked the lawyer, "Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?"
The lawyer replied, "He that shewed mercy on him." Then said Jesus unto him, "Go, and do thou likewise."
The lawyer had no more to say. He doubtless realized a new depth, and a new meaning to the second great commandment.
1. Christ was not teaching that to love our neighbor was to show toward him more than kindly and humanitarian deeds. It is all right to give money, food, and clothing to the poor; it is all right to build hospitals, and schools, and public libraries for the needy; but that was not what the Lord desired pressed. It is all right to teach the fallen good morals, and to seek to create and enforce good laws in behalf of the downtrodden. All of these things and many more are right, in their place, and belong under the sphere of human betterment agencies.
2. Christ, however, had a far deeper meaning in. His conception of loving our neighbor. The Lord Jesus was not speaking along humanitarian lines at all. He was teaching us that, to love our neighbor was to go to the one who was left stripped, bruised and half dead on the roadside, and bind up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine. In this, would be fulfilling just what is written of Christ in Luke 4:18 : "He hath anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind." Isaiah adds, "To give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness."
I. WHERE OUR NEIGHBORS MAY BE FOUND (Luke 10:30 )
The lawyer asked Christ, saying, "Who is my neighbour?" The Lord gave the parable we are now about to consider, as His response. The opening verse, which we have just read, suggests three things about where we may search for our neighbor:
1. He may be found on the road that goeth down. Whatever we may think, the man who is in need of the Saviour is not on the way that leadeth up to life and Heaven and Home.
Hell is down in more ways than one; and the sinner is on the downward way, the hell-bound road.
2. He may be found, stripped, wounded, and half dead. Not ail men who are traveling the way to death are in so evident a plight; but sooner or later the tragedy of a sinful life will tell the same tale of sorrow and of shame. Sin robs men. It steals away all that is high and holy. It strips one of the garments of righteousness; it wounds, and then leaves the wounded on the roadside, half dead and deserted.
Where is he who can describe the wreckage of sin-driven men? The earth is a graveyard of blighted hopes, crushed hearts, and spoiled prospects.
3. He may be found deserted and alone. The prodigal boy was feasted and feted when he first arrived in the far country; but as soon as he had been sapped of his money, he was sent to the swine-herd. Then it was that he must have said, "No man careth for my soul."
The South American bat will hang over its sleeping victim, fanning him with his wings until he sees his victim is in soundest slumber. Then he will enter his beak, and, as he fans, he will suck away the lifeblood of his victim.
Satan and sin have no more heart toward the victims which they plunder. They will first destroy every prospect and every hope, and then leave their victim half dead without any ray of possible redemption.
II. THE HELPLESSNESS OF HUMAN RELIGION (Luke 10:32 )
The priest who passed by was the representative of Judaistic theology. What did he do? He came down by chance. He saw the stricken man, and he passed by on the other side.
1. A religion that does not seek for sinners is foreign to Christ. Churches are not established for mutual admiration. They are not meant to be a finely equipped pullman train, or a wonderfully prepared ocean liner, where people may lounge in all comfort on their Heavenly way.
The Church was commissioned to go into all the world, and to preach the Gospel to every creature. Out into the byways and hedges; out into the lanes of the city, she was to seek the lost.
A church that is not a soul-saving institution should write "Ichabod" over its door, and own itself forsaken.
2. A religion without solicitude for the smitten, is foreign to Christianity. When Christ saw the hungry multitude, He was moved with compassion, and He commanded His disciples, saying; "Give ye them to eat." When Christ saw the crowd at the last day of the feast, He cried, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink."
We imagine that we now hear the Lord saying, "Mark every one that sighs and cries for the lost."
3. A religion without succor for the half dead is a useless formality. The priest did not seek the sinner. He only found him by chance. He had no solicitude; for he passed by on the other side. He offered no succor, and gave none; for he went on his way.
There is a verse in the Epistle of John which says, "Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?"
May we not apply this also toward the lost sinner. The church that refuses to provide every possible aid to lost and dying men, knows nothing of the heart of their Lord, and is disobedient to His command.
III. THE HOPELESSNESS OF LEGALIZED REDEMPTION (Luke 10:32 )
We do not know that our caption says just what we want it to say. What we want to express is the utter failure of the Levite, and the Law which he represents, to meet the sinner's need.
1. The province of the law. We do not contend that there is no place for the government and for Law. The Spirit teaches that the Law is a terror to evil workers, and that rulers are the avengers of God; however, the province of the Law is not the seeking, nor the saving of the lost. The Law speaks wrath and judgment, and vengeance. It has no place for mercy and peace and grace. The Law is loveless, joyless, hopeless, to those who are offended.
We do not wonder that the Levite passed by on the other side.
2. The failure of the law. The Law must always fail, so far as its power to redeem is concerned; because as we have just said, there is nothing in it that shows mercy. The Law is just, but not gracious. It is even good, if a man uses it lawfully. It protects the righteous, but it condemns the guilty.
There is, however, another and deeper reason why the Law must fail, in seeking to rescue the man who is stricken on the roadside. It is impossible for the Law to redeem the sinner, because it is impossible for the sinner to keep the Law. The Law's reason for failure lies in the fact that all men are sinners, and have broken the Law. There is not a just man on the face of the earth that doeth good and sinneth not.
3. The failure of the Law drives the sinner to Christ. The Law can reveal the fact of sin; it can deepen the sense of sin, and cause the sinner to see the depths of his depravity. All of this would leave the Law-breaker in utter distress, were it not for the fact that Christ, who alone perfectly kept the Law, was seen coming down the Jericho road in the form of the Good Samaritan. Upon this Christ the Law, unconsciously, casts the sinner.
IV. THE MISSION OF CHRIST (Luke 10:33-34 )
1. Christ came to seek the sinner. The priest and the Levite came by chance, or happened to pass by the place where the assaulted Jew lay half dead. The Samaritan, as he journeyed, came purposely to where he was.
The Lord Jesus did not accidentally come to earth. His coming was promised, announced, ordained. He came, sent by the Father. He came, seeking to save.
2. Christ came to save the sinner. When the Samaritan saw the smitten Jew, he had compassion upon him and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine. This is just what our Lord is doing, even unto this very hour. He is the Saviour of all who believe. He came to undo the works of the devil; He came to break the power of bonded sin; He came to preach deliverance to captives; the recovering of sight to the blind; to set at liberty them that were bruised.
The Lord Jesus has come to redeem the sinner from Satan's snare.
3. Christ came to succor the sinner. The Good Samaritan did more than to come to where the Jew lay bruised and half dead. He did more than to bind up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine. He also set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
Our Saviour, when He begins a good work, completes it. He who saves, also keeps. Christ is not satisfied with having the sinner saved; the child born. He wants the one who has been saved and begotten to be child-trained. He wants him to grow in the nurture of the Lord.
V. THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH (Luke 10:35 )
1. The Church is the inn, the refuge for saved sinners. We suppose that this thought had already come to your mind as you just heard of how the Good Samaritan took the stricken Jew to an inn. Even so, the Lord ordained that scattered here and there over the world, there should be inns erected, churches formed, where those who were saved from the Jericho road, might find a refuge, and a place for restoration, and for growth.
The Church has never fulfilled its God-given task until it goes out to bring in the lost.
The Church should not feel that it has fulfilled its task, however, when the lost have merely received an initiative church rite. The mother does not feel her duty done, her work completed, when a little one is born into the world; she feels that the child must be fed, and clothed, and trained. So, also, the Church should mother her children. New converts need to be taught the deeper things of God.
2. The Church is the inn, panoplied of God to care for saved sinners. The Good Samaritan gave the innkeeper two pence with which to care for the stricken Jew. The innkeeper was not to house the needy one upon his own resources; but upon the resources of the Samaritan.
The Church cannot undertake, in her own strength, to do for saved sinners that which needs to be done. Before the Lord Jesus went away, He told His Church that He would be with them. He also said: "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you." He likewise committed His precious Word unto their trust Thus it is, that until this hour we are serving the lost, and those saved from Satan's domain, through the Holy Ghost, an imparted power; and through the Word of God, an entrusted gift.
VI. THE FINAL RECKONING (Luke 10:35 )
1. We have here suggested the age service of the Church. The innkeeper was to take care of the smitten Jew from the time of the Samaritan's departure, and until He had come again. The Church is to occupy from the time that the Lord Jesus left from the Mount of Olives until the time of the rapture of the saints.
This thought is expressed to us in every remembrance of the Lord's Supper. The Word says: "As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till He come."
2. We have here suggested the rewards of the Church. "When I come again, I will repay thee." This is what the Good Samaritan said to the host at the inn. This is also what Christ has said unto us.
To the pastor Peter says; "Feed the flock of God * *. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory."
To saints as a whole Paul has said: "God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward His Name, in that ye have ministered to the saints."
Behold, He will come, and come quickly. Then shall everyone receive according as his work shall have been.
Recently two strangers visited a noted Chicago church. As they entered, they sensed not only a spiritual atmosphere, but a friendly spirit that seemed to reach out and draw them within its circle. As they took their seats, they felt at home; though far from familiar faces and scenes, they were among God's children. They lifted up their hearts in worship and gratitude, and went out better men because of the sweet fellowship they had experienced there.
How different is this kind of church from the one which the writer attended for two years in a certain college town. Students entered the church, were chilled by its unresponsive atmosphere, and went home again feeling a peculiar sense of loss. No one shook hands with them, invited them to come again, or seemed to care whether they existed. Yet, Sunday after Sunday, they sought this sanctum, longing for some spiritual contact. Is it a wonder that these same young people came to regard church-going as an irksome duty? It may take a little time, it may require a little energy, it may even involve going out of one's way to give that smile and to clasp the hand of the stranger. But those people who have tried it know the warm glow that floods the heart of the stranger and his own heart as well. Our Lord Jesus said, "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another."
Martha and Mary
1. We have before us the human Christ. When we say the human Christ, we do not mean that He was a continuation of the Adamic race and nature. Adam was the first man: Jesus Christ, the Second. Adam was the head of one race; Jesus Christ is the Head of another race. In Adam all die; in Christ all are made alive. Jesus Christ did not have a human nature in the sense that nature is defined in the dictionary as "belonging or relating to man." Christ's nature was that begotten of the Holy Ghost. It is spoken of in the Bible as the "Divine nature," the nature which we have in our second birth.
2. We have before us the human Christ seeking the refuge of a home. We read in the Word that He had no place to lay His head. The world was His for He had made it; the silver and the gold were His, and yet He had no home. Thus it was that we see Him entering the house of another. We feel that we can properly say that Christ entered the home of Martha and Mary in a homey way. He delighted to sit under their roof. He enjoyed the comforts of the home, its relaxation, and above all He enjoyed His relationship with the three who dwelt there.
I. AN APPRAISAL OF MARTHA'S CHARACTER (Luke 10:38 , l.c.)
There are many who give Martha anything but commendation. They see in her nothing that is good, or worthy of praise. If we would read the Scripture we would find that there is much in her which is worthy of praise.
1. Martha owned the home in which she dwelt. It is called "her" house. How she obtained this house, we may not know. She certainly was a woman of means. Mary, her sister, also had money. The spikenard with which she afterward anointed her Lord is abundant proof of this. In the home of Martha, Mary, who evidently was a younger sister, lived. There, also, dwelt Lazarus.
2. Martha received Christ into her house. She delighted to have the Lord with her. The word "received" does not express a mere formality, a coldhearted welcome. It carries with it the thought of cordiality and pleasure.
II. THE SISTER WHO WAS CALLED MARY (Luke 10:39 )
We now come to study a most beautiful character
1. Her simplicity and humility are seen in the fact that she quietly took her place at the feet of her Master. She knew nothing of the spirit of pride. She loved to sit down at Jesus' feet. Is not this the place that all of us should take? It was there that the Syrophenician came and fell as she made the request for her daughter. It was there that Jairus fell as he pleaded for his little girl. It was at the feet of Jesus that the rich young ruler prostrated himself. It was there that the demoniac sat, clothed and in his right mind.
2. Her intensity should also be marked. Mary sat at Jesus' feet and heard His words. She sat there eager to listen. How wonderful it must have been! The words which fell from the lips of our Lord were sweeter to her than honey. Every word was full of tender consideration and sublime wisdom. We think of the intensity of the disciples, sitting at Jesus' feet on the mountain as He opened His lips and taught them. His words flowed with the rhythm and the freedom of the babbling brook. Remember the expression in Acts, which says, "Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said." Every word was like an apple of gold in a picture of silver.
III. THE BUSY HOUSEKEEPER (Luke 10:40 )
1. Martha's difficulty was not serving, but much serving. Household service is a necessary part of life. We pity the woman who feels she must not soil her hands with such work. It is just as honorable for a woman to work in the home as it is for a man to work in the shop. We always like to get hold of a hand grimy with toil. We delight to meet a man who shows the effect of daily labor. In the Epistles we read that one who refuses to labor should not eat. The Bible also speaks of the fields of the slothful, how their fences had fallen down, and the weeds had taken the place. There is no excuse for laziness, or lounging in the Word of God. However, Martha was serving excessively.
2. Martha's difficulty was not serving, but being cumbered with service. She fretted over what she did. Serving was burdensome to her. No doubt, this was because she overdid her service. After all, we wonder what it is that our Lord really desires? Work or worship? Toil or prayer? Work or fellowship? That He wants, in moderation, the former in each case, we are sure; however the chief thing must be the latter, always. The latter is "that good part."
IV. THE SAD COMPLAINT (Luke 10:40 , m. c)
1. Martha complained against Mary. She said, "My sister hath left me to serve alone." How often it is that we not only neglect sitting at the feet of our Lord, but we hinder others in their worship. We not only stop our own spiritual growth, but we stop that of those whom we love. When we get tired, overwrought by much serving, we are sure to complain and to find fault. We want to be pitied. Had Martha not overdone the entertaining, she had not become so wrought up.
2. Martha complained against the Lord. Martha said, "Lord, dost Thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?" We can almost see our Master on another occasion. He lay asleep in the boat. The disciples were fearful lest a storm which had arisen might wreck the ship. Peter rushed over to the sleeping Saviour, and said, "Carest Thou not that we perish?"
V. THE HUMAN COMMANDING THE DIVINE (Luke 10:40 , l.c.)
The last clause of our verse reads, "Bid her therefore that she help me." These were the words of Martha to Christ.
1. The Christian should never give orders to God. Even Mary, the mother of Jesus, on the occasion of the wine being exhausted at Cana of Galilee, made no demand upon the Lord. She merely told the servants, "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it."
2. The Christian should in every prayer say, "Not my will but Thine be done." The basis of healing should be placed upon the prayer of faith. However, the prayer of faith is God-given, and that prayer will never even endeavor to get outside of the will of God.
VI. THE LORD'S AGITATED REBUKE (Luke 10:41 )
1. The meaning of the repetition of words. Jesus said, "Martha, Martha." The very fact that He repeated the word, "Martha," showed that He was deeply moved. Take, for instance, the expression, "Simon, Simon, * * Satan hath desired to have you." Take again the expression, "Moses, Moses. * * Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes." Take another, "Abraham, Abraham."
2. What is the good part? As Christ entered the home that day, Martha most cordially welcomed Him. Now, that He was within, what did He want? Did He desire food, more than fellowship? Work, more than words?
The Lord, at this moment, would far rather have us frequently at His side, than to have us toiling away from His presence. Did He not say, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God"?
VII. THE ONE THING NEEDFUL (Luke 10:42 )
1. "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God." This we have tried to emphasize already, but it needs special emphasis. Instead of seeking food, raiment, and things pertaining to the body, we should seek Him first of all. If we labor for earthly things, we labor for the things which perish. We are to set our affections on the spiritual, not the carnal; on the things above, not upon things beneath.
2. The supreme question. Christ said, "Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."
The Apostle Paul said, "This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before." Paul counted all things but loss that he might win Christ and know Him. He chose the better part the one thing needful.
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Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Luke 10". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Easter