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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Luke 10

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-16

CRITICAL NOTES

Luk . The mission of the seventy is peculiar to St. Luke. We need not be surprised at the silence of the other evangelists, as the office to which these men were called was not a permanent one. They were simply to prepare the people for Christ's approaching visit, and as it were for His last appeal to them. The instructions given to them correspond to those given to the apostles (see Matthew 10), so far as concerns present duties. In contradistinction to the temporary character of the mission of the seventy is that of the apostles, which, as the above charge given to them, indicates "an office and ministry co-extensive with the world, both in space and duration" (Alford).

Seventy also—Rather, "seventy others," i.e. in addition to the twelve. The number seventy may have had reference to the elders of Israel (Exo ; Num 11:16). Some MSS. read "seventy-two," which has been conjectured to be a traditional correction to make the number correspond to that of the members of the Sanhedrim. Two and two.—For mutual helpfulness, as in the case of the twelve (Mar 6:7). Would come.—Rather, "was about to come" (R.V.).

Luk . Send forth.—The word in the original may imply the ideas of urgency and haste; it is literally "drive forth," but may have lost this special force of meaning in course of time.

Luk . Neither purse, etc.—Cf. chap. Luk 9:1-6. Salute no man.—Not to waste time upon secondary matters. Cf. 2Ki 4:29. Eastern salutations are, all from accounts, elaborate and ceremonious.

Luk . Son of peace.—I.e. one capable of receiving their message. "The meaning here is that the disciples were to communicate their message of peace, as the prophet of old was to communicate his message of warning (Eze 3:17-21), to all, whether ‘worthy' or not. And it is promised to them that even if their message falls on inattentive ears or stubborn hearts, yet it shall not be fruitless, since the duty performed shall bring peace to themselves—‘it shall turn to you again'" (Speaker's Commentary).

Luk . City.—The previous instructions evidently had in view villages and detached houses. Eat such things, etc.—The reference probably is to the scruples felt by strict Jews about eating with the Samaritans. Our Lord had no such scruple: see Joh 4:8. St. Paul gives the precept a wider scope by extending it to food in the houses of Gentiles: see 1Co 10:27.

Luk . More tolerable.—The principle on which judgment proceeds is given in chap. Luk 12:47-48.

Luk . Woe unto thee, Chorazin, etc.—These words were evidently spoken by Christ more than once: we find them in another connection in Mat 11:21-24. They derive more force here from having been spoken when Christ was at a distance away from them: the guilt they had incurred by rejecting Him was like a burden upon His mind. Chorazin has been identified with the ruined town two miles north of Capernaum (Tell Hum). There is no record in the Gospels, apart from these references, of Christ's work in Chorazin. Bethsaida—on the western side of the Lake of Gennesaret, not far from Capernaum; the birthplace of Peter, Andrew, and Philip.

Luk . Capernaum exalted to heaven.—As being made the headquarters of Christ's ministry. Hell.—In the original, Hades, as the antithesis to heaven; the lowest as contrasted with the highest position. A better reading (followed in the R.V.) is, "Shalt thou be exalted unto heaven? Thou shalt be brought down to Hades."

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Luk

The Heralds of the King.—The true preparation for work for Christ is the clear sight and deep feeling of the immensity of the field, the consequent pressure of need, and the small supply of labourers. These seventy had but a few villages in a little strip of country. We have the world brought within arm's length, by steam and electricity, by commerce and rule. Seventy messengers to the people of Southern Palestine in our Lord's time was a far larger proportion than all Christian missionaries bear to the population of the world. Such a realisation of the immensity of the work will first send a man to prayer. God is the Lord of the harvest, and the fact that it is "His" is the strongest argument in the mouth of the faithful petitioner. Surely He will take means to secure His own property. The inspiration to go forth must come from Him; but, note, that the man who prays must be ready to go himself, if he is sent. To tell men that they are to be as sheep among wolves is strange encouragement to begin work with. But "I send you" is safety. He will take care of His servants going on His errands.

I. Outfit.—They are to travel light and to trust. This provision was expressly declared by Christ to apply only to the present case (chap. Luk ); but the principle underlying it is of perpetual validity. They who would do Christ's work must be unencumbered, and should be free from anxiety.

II. Conduct on the road.—Eastern salutations were and are long-winded affairs, and hollow to boot. Courtesy is not waste of time; but much conventionality has to be brushed aside when a man is in haste and pressed by some great duty. We ought to be misers of time in Christ's service, and not allow social ceremonies to rob us of too much of it.

III. Lodgings and entertainment.—Christ's emissary is not to pick out the best-looking house in the village, but take the first he comes to. A courteous greeting is in place there, and prepares the way for the message. An obvious desire for the welfare of those to whom we carry the gospel is the indispensable condition of success. We must win confidence for ourselves before we can win a higher trust for Jesus. But the messenger is not to expect that his greeting will always be taken as he meant it. "The son of peace," of course, means one who has a nature akin to the peace invoked. Only such will receive the blessing. If the lips to which it is offered will not drink, it shall not be as water spilled on the ground, but will flow back to the source. No Christian work is lost. It produces reflex blessedness in the doer. Kindly feelings, even when spurned, warm the heart where they are kindled. Once in the house, the messenger is to stop there, whether the accommodation be good or bad. There must be a plain disregard of personal advantage, if any good is to be done. "The labourer is worthy of his hire"; but he has "no purse," so he cannot take money; and if he gets enough to eat, so that he can work, he is to stay where he is, however plain the fare. If once the suspicion is raised that selfish motives actuate the messenger of Christ, he may as well stop work. If the labourer deserves his hire, it is equally true that the hire deserves labour, and binds to toil, not to indolence.

IV. The work to be done.—The power of miraculous healing is given, and the rousing message is to be delivered. Both work and word apply especially to the seventy, but both point to present duties. Care for physical well-being is part of the Christian's work, and will help to get a hearing for his proper message, as medical missionaries have proved.

V. The responsibilities incurred by those who rejected the message.—The solemn command to leave the rejecting city with a last, repeated testimony closes this charge. Wiping off the dust of the city was meant to symbolise the rupture of all connection with it; but even after that the message was to be repeated, if, perchance, some might hear at that last moment. How the yearning of the Divine love speaks in that command! Unbelief makes no difference to the fact. The kingdom will come all the same, but the aspect of its coming changes. It no longer comes as a blessing, but as a foe. The seventy had but little time for their work; for Jesus was close behind them, and they had to leave unproductive fields more quickly than we are allowed to do. But even for us times occasionally come when we have to give up efforts, and try whether withdrawal may do more than continuance. The charge passes into the awful declarations of judgment, first on the rejecting city, and then on the seats of our Lord's ministry in Galilee, which was now closed. Note the clear recognition of degrees in criminality and retribution, measured by degrees of light. Note the selection of the Gentile cities of worst fame: Sodom with her crimes, Tyre and Sidon—the very emblems, in the Prophets, of proud enmity to God. And these sties of lust and greed are to have a lighter doom than the cities of Israel. Why? Because to reject Christ is the worst of sins, containing in its most unmingled form the essence of all sin, and auguring such alienation and a version from the light as could only come from love of darkness. What must He have thought of Himself who said that not to accept Him was the sin deserving the deepest condemnation? Note, too, the deep pathos of this lament, drawn like a sob from the heart of Jesus. The Judge weeps over the criminals, but His tears do not make Him falter in His judgment. Though Christ would—did—give His life to avert the ruin, He cannot, when He sits on the great white throne, turn the sentence away from those who have dragged it down on themselves by turning away from Him, proclaimed in their unbelieving ears.—Maclaren.

SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON Luk

Luk . Lessons from the Seventy.

I. Unknown workers.—They were the first band of that vast army of unknown Christian workers whose names, though written in heaven, have been scarcely known and never preserved on earth.

II. Instructions for Christian workers.—

1. They were to go "two and two." A hint that Christian workers should work in sympathy and harmony.

2. "Before His face." All true Christian work is that of preparing the way for Christ. He must follow, or our work is vain.

3. Prayer for the work itself, especially for "labourers." Do we thus pray daily? Or are we merely content with working ourselves, as though we could accomplish all?

4. Courage—still needed, for some will mock, others will misrepresent our aim, and question our sincerity and zeal.

5. Simplicity of aim. Christian workers have not to study their own pleasure or convenience or profit, but to work with a single eye to God's glory in the salvation of souls.

III. The end of Christian work.—We cannot heal the sick, but we can discourage all which hurts the bodily health of man. The great end, however, is to bring nigh to men "the kingdom of God."

IV. Some sources of consolation for workers.—

1. Success. Christ does not tell us not to value success, nor forbid us to rejoice at it; but He tells us not to rejoice in success as the result of our own efforts or gifts. Lest success should make us vain, He tells us that it is better to rejoice most of all in our relations to God, that by His mercy our "names are written in heaven."

2. Safety. "Nothing shall by any means hurt you." All things will work together for our good.

3. Christ as our refuge and support. He rejoices in our success. All things we need are in Him. He will make us see and hear things which many saint of old have in vain desired.—Taylor.

The Mission of the Seventy.—It is remarkable that the comparative abortiveness of the first evangelistic movement by the twelve did not prevent Jesus from repeating the experiment some time after on a still more extensive scale.

I. The motive of this second mission.—The motive was the same as in the case of the first, as were also the instructions to the missionaries. Jesus still felt deep compassion for the multitudes, and, hoping against hope, made a new attempt to save the lost sheep. He would have all men called at least to the fellowship of the kingdom, even though few should be chosen to it.

II. The results.—The immediate results were promising. Christ was gratified at this, albeit knowing from past experience, as well as by Divine insight, that the faith and repentance of many were only too likely to be evanescent as the early dew. When the seventy returned to report their great success, He hailed it as an omen of the downfall of Satan's kingdom, and rejoiced in spirit.

III. Christ's warning.—After congratulating His disciples on their success, and expressing His own satisfaction with the facts reported, Jesus spoke a warning word. He gave a timely caution against elation and vanity. It is a word in season to all who are very zealous in the work of evangelism, especially such as are crude in knowledge and grace. It hints at the possibility of their own spiritual health being injured by their very zeal in seeking the salvation of others. This may happen in many ways. Success may make the evangelists vain, and they may begin to sacrifice unto their own net. They may fall under the dominion of the devil through their very joy that he is subject unto them. They may despise those who have been less successful, or denounce them as deficient in zeal. They may fall into carnal security respecting their own spiritual state, deeming it impossible that anything can go wrong with those who are so devoted, and whom God has so greatly owned: an obvious as well as dangerous mistake; for Judas doubtless took part in the Galilæan mission, and, for aught we know, was as successful as his fellow-disciples in casting out devils. Graceless men may be employed for a season as agents in promoting the work of grace in the hearts of others. Usefulness does not necessarily imply goodness. Christ's solemn warning is not meant to discourage or discountenance zeal, but suggest the need of watchfulness and self-examination.—Bruce.

The Need of the Mission.—There was need for such a mission, as the district on the east of Jordan had been little visited by Jesus hitherto. These men are sent as lambs among wolves, but two by two, for mutual support. Much is made here of the visible means they were to employ in their mission.

I. Their message was urgent.—"The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you."

II. Their manner of life was the simplest.—"Remain, eating and drinking such things as they give."

III. Their commission was authoritative—"They receive you not … it shall be more tolerable for Sodom." This is a most impressive point. To hear the gospel preached is not only a great privilege, but a great responsibility.—Hastings.

The Character of the Mission.—Notice—

I. Its place in the Gospel.—The three "studies," as we might call them, of the varieties of would-be ministers, are set, surely not by accident, immediately before the mission of the seventy.

II. The tenderness, the humanity, of the "two and two."—If it were possible, we would always have it so. What strength, what comfort, is in the not solitary but sympathetic ministry! What have some of us not owed to the fellowship and the communion of a brother!

III. The destination of the seventy.—It is a parable for all ministers. The seventy were not Christ's substitutes—they were His forerunners. They were not sent instead of Him—they were sent whither He would come. Has this trait of ministry been prominent in our own? There is a ministry—it is no imaginary thing—which has no feature in it of the precursorship of Jesus Christ. It has no note of the voice, "There cometh One after me." There is more of parable still.

IV. The spirit of the seventy is a spirit of intentness.—"This one thing I do." His heart is in his work. He has no time for salutations. "The King's business requireth haste." Despatch, not loitering—and, in order to this, a thorough faith in his message, a deep conviction of its truth, its urgency, and its power—the very opposite of that uncertainty, of that suspense, which the modern evangelist too often counts the proof of intelligence and wide reading, and an open mind. Thus intent upon one thing—

V. The messenger is not fastidious as to his quarters, his company, or his fare.—There is a lesson in all this for the ministry of our own age. How prone it is to resent and exaggerate inconveniences—to see the dark side, which there ever must be, of the place assigned, and of the circumstances surrounding! How rash, sometimes, is the first choice—how incessant, sometimes, the restlessness afterwards!

VI. The message.—

1. It is a message of peace. We are to bring peace into homes by bringing peace into hearts. All that vexing and harassing self-torture, which is, being interpreted, the heart at war with its God, and therefore at war with itself and with its brother—we bring the cure of it, and it is the very reason of our coming.

2. The other word put into our mouth is "kingdom"—God's kingdom. To carry into a great lawless earth the idea of a rule and the tidings of a Ruler—to be witnesses to an order and a harmony, a will and a hand out of sight, so that we can tell not only of a rest after death, and a hope laid up in heaven, but even realise it now,—what an office, what a dignity, is this of Christ's seventy, that they should go into homes, that they should commune with human beings, in the tone not of conjecture but of certainty, and as speaking not of remote possibilities but of instant and present realities concerning a kingdom that is already ruling over all and shall one day "come"—come into sight, and come in glory! This is the office of the evangelist of the nineteenth age, as it was of the seventy in the earliest.

VII. We are not overlooking the supernatural endowments of the seventy for their peculiar and exceptional mission. Miraculous gifts were then and are no longer the accompaniments of the ministerial office. What then? We go on our way unencumbered by what would be to us mere impediments and hindrances, diverting the eyes of men from the spiritual to the carnal, and contributing nothing to the real enterprise, which is the turning from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. These things are more than miracles; they are "signs" of Jesus Christ, finger-posts pointing to the invisible, coruscations of a world out of sight, of a kingdom "nigh" and "to come."—Vaughan.

Luk . "Seventy."—It may be that the number "seventy" had reference to the popular Jewish idea of there being that number of nations and languages in the world—an idea founded on the enumeration of nations in Genesis 10. In that case as the number of the apostles corresponds to that of the tribes of Israel, the choice of the seventy would prefigure the evangelisation of the world. "The seventy disciples are to be regarded as a net of love which the Lord threw out in Israel" (Riggenbach).

"Two and two before His face."—It is remarkable how little stress has been laid on this statement. All we know, however, is—

I. Their errand; and—

II. The fact that they were held worthy, through their prompt and obedient discipleship to the Master, to be made forerunners of His own ministry.—On what they actually did or how they were received, on their after-history, there is absolute silence. But this single sentence contains two or three principles of the Christian life in man.

1. In order to the full reign of Christ anywhere there must be necessary preparation. All our approaches to religious truth, to spiritual power or holiness or peace, are gradual. The best are not best at once, any more than the very bad are worst at once.

2. All personal efforts for extending truth and increasing righteousness in the world are really parts of the Lord's work, and are dependent on His spiritual power.—Huntington.

The Significance of the Number.—As the number of the twelve apostles appears to have reference to the number of the patriarchs, so do these seventy disciples recall the number of the elders who were called up into Mount Sinai to behold the wondrous vision of God, and to eat and drink in His presence—who, moreover, assisted Moses to govern the people.—Burgon.

"Two and two."—As they were to bear witness of Christ, they would fulfil the legal requirement, "At the mouth of two or three witnesses," etc. Where two are associated together in the name of Jesus, there is a "threefold cord which is not quickly broken" (see Ecc ).

"Whither He Himself would come."—The seventy were sent to prepare the inhabitants of towns and villages throughout the land for the coming of Christ. They were

(1) to give information concerning Him, and

(2) to excite longing for His presence: preparation of both mind and heart.

Luk . "The harvest truly is great."

I. The inclination and desire of multitudes to hear Divine truth is God's harvest.

II. It is only by manifold kinds of labour that this harvest can be gathered in.

III. Those only are effective workers who have been sent forth by the Lord of the harvest.

"Pray ye therefore."—This we do when we intelligently say, "Thy kingdom come." The very sending out of the seventy was of itself an answer to the prayer, which on the occasion of sending forth the twelve Jesus urged His disciples to offer.

Luk . Fireside Ministry.—These verses are the pith and substance of Christ's counsels to "the seventy." They were to go forth on a perilous but fruitful errand.

I. All really helpful human work must be rooted and grounded in loving friendship, and trust in the men it seeks to cleanse and ennoble.—Invite trust, win love, be not in a hurry, make your mission domestic, be sociable, friendly, and human. Stay long enough to gain affection and recognise brotherhood. This was our Lord's own method.

II. The next stage is that of compassionate healing.—Supply physical aid to meet the acutest domestic need. Display brotherly pity in the form of restorative help to the afflicted. No one can fail to trace the luminous personality of the Master here. Christianity, like its Author, is essentially healing.

III. But the crowning service of man to man is the interpretation of life in the light of Divine ministration.—The missioners did not reach the climax of their work till they said, "The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you." To this sympathetic ministry of interpretation of the work of the Spirit of God every disciple of Christ has received an authoritative call, and by the earnest discharge of its various duties the demons of doubt and despair are driven off the field, and the kingdom of God is established and extended.—Clifford.

Luk . Freedom from Anxiety.—These messengers were

(1) to have no fears concerning their own personal safety;

(2) no anxieties with regard to the supply of their material necessities;

(3) the ground of their confidence was to be their trust in Him who had sent them forth ("I" in Luk is emphatic).

Luk . Three Sins to be avoided.—Three forms of sin are to be specially avoided by the minister of Christ: avarice, luxury, and worldly anxiety.

Luk . Courtesy.

I. Courtesy is not to interfere with duty.

II. Courtesy is itself to be consecrated into duty (the salutation on entering a house).

Luk . "Peace."—

1. The heart of the believer is filled by a peace which the world can neither give nor take away.

2. The desire of the believer is to make others partakers of this peace.

Luk . "Peace be to this house."—The greeting of peace on the part of Christ's messenger is like a magnet which draws to itself what is of the same nature with it. Even when it is not received the blessing comes back to the giver—like the dove to the Ark. The Spirit seeks what is akin to itself, and where that is wanting finds no abode.

Luk . "Son of peace."—The formal benediction, like other means of grace, depends for its efficacy on the temper of those to whom it is given. The message of peace is not defeated even if it be rejected: the duty done in proclaiming it satisfies the conscience of the messenger and fills his heart with a deeper peace.

Luk . "The labourer," etc.—What the minister of Christ receives for his sustenance is not an alms: the message he brings entitles him to it. The minister of Christ is

(1) neither to seek for great temporal prosperity,

(2) nor from a false shame to refuse adequate sustenance from those whom he serves in spiritual things.

Luk . Words of Menace.—These menacing words concerning the towns which, without regard to the signs of the times, would reject His messengers lead Jesus to speak of those cities which have for so long enjoyed His presence without profiting by it. In leaving their neighbourhood for ever He addresses to them the warning that follows (Luk 10:13-16).—Godet.

Luk . "Is come nigh unto you."—The kingdom of God may come nigh to us, and yet we may be "far from the kingdom of God." In the former case we may remain passive or may offer resistance; in the latter we begin to yield to the Divine attraction and to co-operate with God's effort to save us.

Luk . "More tolerable … for Sodom."—Cf. Lam 4:6 : "For the iniquity of the daughter of My people is greater than the sin of Sodom" (R.V.).

Luk . "Sodom, Tyre, and Sidon."—The inhabitants of these cities had been exceedingly debased by sensual indulgences, but in two points the inhabitants of the Galilæan cities were worse than them.

1. Their consciences were seared and hardened by resistance to spiritual influences.

2. Their hearts were ossified by religious self-complacency and conceit.

Luk . "Sitting in sackcloth," etc.—After the manner of the older prophets Christ personifies Tyre and Sidon, and represents them as women clothed in sackcloth and besprinkled with ashes, and seated on the ground in sign of mourning.

Luk . Unrecorded labours of Christ.

I. Note the hint here given of the multiplicity of Christ's labours: these were cities in which, as St. Matthew says, "most of His mighty works were done," yet the Gospels preserve no record of any one of them. "Many other things Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that should be written" (Joh ).

II. The extent of Divine omniscience.—Christ speaks as knowing not only what has happened and what will happen, but what would have happened.

Luk . "More tolerable."—Some light is here cast upon the "intermediate state" of human souls. Temporal punishment had been inflicted on these guilty inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon; their final judgment was yet to come.

Luk . "Capernaum."—The indignation of Jesus takes a deeper tone as He thinks of the city which had been most highly favoured, and upon which His teaching and mighty works had produced so little effect. He had been so identified with Capernaum that it was called His city (Mat 9:1); He had made it the headquarters of His work, and had spared no pains to win its inhabitants to become His disciples. The responsibility incurred by refusal of His grace is proportioned to the greatness of love He had manifested.

Luk . The Disciples are Ambassadors of Christ.—As the disciples confined themselves to reproducing in their narratives the acts and teaching of Jesus, those who heard them virtually saw and heard Jesus Himself; the attitude, therefore, that was taken up towards the messengers was an attitude taken up towards Jesus Himself. In the same way as Jesus did that which the Father had shown Him, and taught that which He had received from the Father, acceptance or rejection of Him was equivalent to acceptance or rejection of God Himself: cf. Mat 10:40-42, and Joh 13:20, where the same thought is applied to the ministry of the twelve; and 1Th 4:8, where it is applied to the preachers of the gospel in general.—Godet.

"He that heareth you," etc.—We, too, should see in the messengers who come to us in Christ's stead (2Co ), not the men, but the office.

The Office of the Ministry.—This is a remarkable commendation of the outward ministry.

I. Nothing ought to be a stronger encouragement to us to embrace the doctrine of the gospel than to learn that this is the highest worship of God, and a sacrifice of the sweetest odour, to hear Him speaking by human lips, and to yield subjection to His word, which is brought to us by men, in the same manner as if He were descending from heaven, or making known His will to us by angels.

II. Our confidence is established, and all doubt is removed, when we learn that the testimony of our salvation, when delivered to us by men whom God has sent, is not less worthy of credit than if His voice resounded from heaven.—Calvin.


Verses 17-24

CRITICAL NOTES

Luk . Returned.—The mission may not have occupied more than a few days: probably a time and place of rendezvous had been appointed. Even the devils.—Their success had exceeded the promise; for the power over evil spirits had not been formally given to them. Perhaps in their words to Christ they laid more stress upon "subject to us" than "in Thy name."

Luk . I beheld.—It seems rather inadequate to understand by these words that Christ had witnessed with exultation the victories over evil spirits gained by the seventy during their mission. The comment of Alford on the passage is more in harmony with the remarkable character of this utterance of our Lord's: "The truth is that in this brief speech He sums up proleptically, as so often in the discourses in St. John, the whole great conflict with and defeat of the Power of evil, from the first even till accomplished by His own victory. ‘I beheld Satan,' etc., refers to the original fall of Satan when he lost his place as an angel of light, not keeping his first estate; which fall, however, had been proceeding ever since step by step, and shall do so, till all things be put under the feet of Jesus, who was made lower than the angels. And this ‘I beheld' belongs to the period before the foundation of the world when He abode in the bosom of the Father. He is to be (Luk 10:22) the great Victor over the adversary, and this victory began when Satan fell from heaven." As lightning.—The suddenness of the fall, and the brightness of the fallen angel.

Luk . I give.—Rather, "I have given" (R.V.). Power.—Rather, "authority" (R.V.); and this forbids our taking "serpents and scorpions" in a literal sense. The words doubtless are a reminiscence of Psa 91:13.

Luk . Rejoice not.—Success in doing Christ's work is less a ground of rejoicing than the consciousness of being His servants and of being saved by Him. Written in heaven.—Cf. Exo 32:32; Psa 69:28; Php 4:3; Rev 20:12.

Luk . Rejoiced.—Or, "exulted": this element of joy in the Saviour's life is but little touched upon by the evangelists, and this notice of it here is therefore all the more precious. In spirit.—Rather, "in the Holy Spirit" (R.V.). The vast preponderance of MSS. is in favour of this very peculiar phrase, which forms a notable addition to the classical passages in which the doctrine of the Trinity is referred to. That thou hast hid.—The idea of the passage is, "That though thou didst hide from the wise, thou hast revealed unto babes." The joy is not on account of truth being hid from some, but on account of its being revealed to those of susceptible hearts. Cf. Rom 6:17; Isa 12:1, for similar expressions which demand the same kind of interpretation. In Mat 11:25-27 we have the same words as here in Luk 10:21-22. It seems probable that Christ used these words on more than one occasion. Alford, who is not at all in favour of suggestions of the kind when used by harmonists to overcome difficulties, is emphatically of the opinion that the method in question is to be adopted here. The Johannine character of the passage, especially of Luk 10:22, is well worth noticing.

Luk . All things, etc.—As the margin indicates, some ancient MSS. preface the verse with the words, "And turning to His disciples He said." This reading is not followed by the R.V.

Luk . Many prophets and kings.—Jacob, Gen 49:18; Balaam, Num 24:17; David, 2Sa 23:1-5.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Luk

The Joy of the Disciples and the Joy of their Lord.—It is not easy to say whether it is for the convenience of his narrative that St. Luke omits various intermediate events and connects the return of the seventy directly with their sending forth, or whether some of them returned so speedily that the historian found nothing important to record as having happened in the interval. But, whether sooner or later, these ambassadors of Christ returned again with joy.

I. The cause of their exultation.—Our Lord had not given them, as He had given the twelve, a commission to cast out devils; but some tentative efforts of theirs, some ventures of faith in this direction, had been crowned with success. An acknowledgment that this surpassed at once their commission and their hopes seems to lie in their words: "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us." Such exultation was most natural; yet was there in it something of peril for those who entertained it, and for their own spiritual life. They lay, it is evident, more stress upon "are subject unto us" than upon "through Thy name." There is no more perilous moment for any man than that when he first discovers that he too can wield powers of the world to come—that these wait upon his beck; lest he should find in this a motive to self-elation, instead of giving all the glory to God. The disciples at the present moment were exposed to this temptation, as is evident from the earnest warning which the Lord presently addresses to them, suggesting to them a safer and a truer joy than that which they were now too incautiously entertaining.

II. The exultation of Jesus.—As Christ drew proofs of a victory over Satan, which must have been accomplished by Himself, from His own expelling of devils (Mat ), so He found proofs of the same victory in like works done by His disciples. The power of the strong man could not but indeed be broken, when not merely the Stronger Himself could spoil his goods at His pleasure, but the very weaklings among His servants could do the same. These successes of theirs were tokens, but nothing more, of the triumphant progress of the work This great triumph of the kingdom of good over the kingdom of evil in their respective heads, which Christ evermore in the spirit saw, at certain moments of His life He realised with intenser vividness than at others. And this moment of the return of the seventy was one of these solemn and festal moments of His life. He employs the imperfect tense, to make clear that He had foreseen the glorious issue even when He sent them forth. This which they now announce to Him is even as He had surely expected: "I saw, as I sent you forth, Satan fall like lightning from heaven." Already He beheld the whole idol worship of the heathen world, whereof Satan was the soul and informing principle, giving way, its splendour departing, its oracles dumb, and its temples forsaken.

III. The enlarged commission.—"Behold, I give unto you power," etc. Hitherto He had not given them this power: they, as we have seen, had in faith anticipated some portion of it; and He, finding they were the men to make the right use of it, now imparts it to them in all its fulness, according to that law of His kingdom, "To him that hath shall be given." The poisonous adder and stinging scorpion are symbols and representatives of all that has most power and most will to hurt and to harm—of all forms of deadliest malice exercised by Satan and his servants against the faithful. Amid all this deadliest malice of the enemy they should go, themselves unharmed; and, shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, should tread it all under their feet; "and nothing shall by any means hurt you."

IV. The word of warning.—"Notwithstanding in this rejoice not," etc. They were not forbidden altogether to rejoice in these mighty powers as exercised by them—forbidden only to make them the chiefest matter of their joy. The reason is obvious. These a man might possess, and yet remain unsanctified still: for was there not a Judas among the twelve? These at best were the privilege only of a few; they could not therefore contain the essence of a Christian's joy. There was that wherein they might rejoice with a joy which should not separate them from any, the least of all their brethren—a joy which they had in common with all. There was that in which they might rejoice without fear—namely, in the eternal love of God, who had so loved as to ordain them unto everlasting life.

The Lord has administered, where He saw this was needed, a wholesome rebuke to that pride of which He detected the germs in His disciples; but this does not hinder Him from rejoicing in this new victory of the kingdom of light over the kingdom of darkness—a matter of the greater joy, that it was these "babes" by whose hands this victory had been won; they of the household were dividing the spoil. Christ here thanks His Father for two things: first, that He has hidden from the wise and prudent; and, secondly, that what He has hidden from them He has revealed to babes—the hiding and revealing being recognised by Him as alike His Father's work, and the judgment and the grace alike matters for which He renders thanks. For a moment, as His thoughts carry His mind up into heaven into the eternal counsels of the Father, He remains in rapt but serene meditation, and words break from His lips concerning the ineffable relations of the Father and the Son. Then turning to His disciples, He confides to them the secret that He Himself is that perfect revelation of the Father for whom all the sages and saints of the Old Testament had longed.

SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON Luk

Luk . The Return of the Seventy.—A beautiful and monitory conclusion to the history, full of warning, full of encouragement, for Christ's ministers of this generation.

I. I know not if we are in any danger from the particular feeling which was their snare.—Some few of us may have been privileged to see fruits of our ministry. There have been times when it was impossible to disguise the consciousness of something really done in the great war of good and evil, of Christ and Christ's foe, when the minister would have been an ungrateful rather than a humble man if he had not paused to thank God and take courage.

II. Christ recognises the blessed achievement, and sees in it a sure token of future triumph.—He does not correct their exultation by pointing to the small extent or the precarious nature of such successes. His word of correction takes a different turn.

III. He corrects the joy of success by the joy of safety.—Is there anything of selfishness here?—as though He said, "Care not for the sheep; think only of the shepherd: if his name is safe in the writing of the house of Israel, let the wolf wander at will, let the wolf come and seize and scatter"? Such a question may answer itself, and leave us free to read the gracious heart that spoke thus to His own. Is it not too true that these hearts and souls of ours are easily hurt and spoiled by the contemplation of even that which Christ Himself may have wrought by us? There is an enfeebling action in all standing still to erect trophies. Therefore, while his Lord recognises the work done, and goes beyond His servants in estimating its significance, He soon interposes His "notwithstanding," and with it His gracious reminder of a joy entirely wholesome—the joy of the personal safety, and of the name written in heaven. The reproof here is not for the thinking too much, but for the not thinking enough of the self's self of the man. It can never do us harm to dwell on what Christ has done for us. "He has written my name in heaven"—there is no self-righteousness, there is no self-complacency, in this thought. It is He who has written the name—it is He who bids me read it.

IV. But is my name written in heaven?—How am I to know it? These seventy were common men. But one thing they had, and it was their all. They had given themselves to Christ; they had left their all to follow Him. Our names were written in heaven when Christ shed for us His precious blood—when He caused us to be separately incorporated in His Church—when by the secret working of His Spirit He convinced us of sin and aroused us to flee from it. These were real acts. In all those ways the names were written. Rejoice in that writing, and it is written for you. Rejoice in it, and it is there still. Rejoice in it, and walk warily as well as thankfully in that joy.—Vaughan.

Luk . "Returned with joy."—Had they to report that their message had been everywhere favourably received? Alas! they were not thinking so much of that as of the glory they had won. Christ had given them power to heal the sick, without specially mentioning the casting out of devils. Apparently they had exceeded the letter of His instructions, and He had graciously given them success in their enterprise. The joy of the disciples, though it almost verged upon spiritual pride, is communicated to the heart of Jesus, where it takes a nobler and purer form.

Luk . "I beheld Satan … fall."—The victories of the disciples over Satanic power was a presage of the complete overthrow of the kingdom of evil. In the deliverance of the possessed Jesus beheld the beginning of the end, and spoke of the end as already in view. Not only would individual souls be delivered from oppression, but the nations sunk in bondage to the usurped authority of the evil one would be freed from the yoke.

"As lightning."—Wonder not that the devils are subject to you, for their prince is fallen from heaven. Although men saw not this, I saw it, who see what is invisible. He fell as lightning, because he was a bright archangel and Lucifer, and is plunged into darkness. If then he is fallen, what will not his servants (the inferior spirits) suffer!—Theophylact.

"From heaven."—I.e. from high estate.—Cf. Isa ; Mat 11:23; Rev 12:4.

Luk . "Serpents and scorpions."—These are ever connected in Holy Scripture with what is noxious to man. Cf. Gen 3:1; Rev 12:9; Rev 20:2; Num 21:6; Act 28:3; Psa 91:13; Rev 9:3-10, etc.

Luk . Two Kinds of Joy.—1 That inspired by a sense of power, by attainments in the spiritual life—a joy liable to be mixed with pride and self-seeking—and therefore dangerous.

2. That inspired by a sense of God's mercy and love in Christ—a joy in which there is no danger.

"Names written in heaven."—This mode of speech is often found in Scripture. It occurs in the law (Exo ), in the Psalms (Psa 69:28), in the prophets (Isa 4:3; Dan 12:1), and in the writings of the apostles (Php 4:3; Heb 12:23; Rev 13:8).

The Book of Life.—

1. There is a book of life: an election of grace.

2. There are names written in this book: it is an election of persons.

3. We may know that our names are written in it, otherwise we could not rejoice.

4. We should give all diligence to make sure of this cause of rejoicing.

Luk . "Hid from the wise."—The meaning is that no man can obtain faith by his own acuteness, but only by the secret illumination of the Spirit.

"Wise and prudent."—This reference suggests the thought that these evangelistic efforts were regarded with disfavour by the refined, fastidious classes of Jewish religious society. This is in itself probable. There are always men in the Church, intelligent, wise, and even good, to whom popular religious movements are distasteful. The noise, the excitement, the extravagances, the delusions, the misdirection of zeal, the rudeness of the agents, the instability of the converts—all these things offend them. The same class of minds would have taken offence at the evangelistic work of the twelve and the seventy, for undoubtedly it was accompanied with the same drawbacks. The agents were ignorant; they had few ideas in their heads; they understood little of Divine truth; their sole qualification was that they were earnest and could preach repentance well. Doubtless, also, there was plenty of noise and excitement among the multitudes who heard them preach; and we certainly know that their zeal was both ill-informed and short-lived.—Bruce.

"Thou hast hid … hast revealed."—This implies—

I. That all do not obey the gospel arises from no want of power on the part of God, who could easily have brought all the creatures into subjection to His government.

II. That some arrive at faith, while others remain hardened and obstinate, is accomplished by His free election; for drawing some, and passing by others, He alone makes a distinction among men, whose condition by nature is alike.—Calvin.

"Revealed … unto babes."—There is no hard-and-fast line between the two classes; some of the "wise and prudent" may by humility become as "babes," while some of those who are really poor and ignorant may, by being wise in their own conceit, shut themselves out from the revelation granted to "babes." Pride of intellect is condemned to blindness, but to the simplicity of heart which longs for the truth a revelation is given.

"Hid … revealed."—The first clause is a stepping-stone to the second. It is on the second that the Saviour's mind rests, as exhibiting the object which He really had in view when He praised His heavenly Father. He would have rejoiced still more if the wise and intellectual, as well as the babes, had recognised His character and accepted His claims. The sense of the passage is: "I thank Thee, that though Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent, Thou hast revealed them unto babes" (Morison).

Luk . "No man knoweth," etc.

I. It is the gift of the Father, that the Son is known, because by His Spirit He opens the eyes of our mind to discern the glory of Christ, which otherwise would have been hidden from us.

II. The Father, who dwells in inaccessible light, and is in Himself incomprehensible, is revealed to us by the Son, because the Son is the lively image of Him, so that it is in vain to seek for Him elsewhere.—Calvin.

Knowledge of the Father and of the Son.—I. There is in His existence as Son a mystery which the Father alone comprehends.

II. The perfect knowledge of the Father is alone possessed by the Son.

III. No man can partake of this knowledge of the Father but by the Son.

"To whom the Son will reveal Him."—The future conquest of the world by Jesus and His disciples rests on the relation which He sustains to God, and with which He identifies His people. The perfect knowledge of God is, in the end, the sceptre of the universe.—Godet.

Luk . "Blessed are the eyes," etc.—Yet certain generations of Israel had seen very remarkable things: one had seen the wonders of the Exodus, and the sublimities connected with the law-giving at Sinai; another the miracles wrought by Elijah and Elisha; and successive generations had been privileged to listen to the not less wonderful oracles of God, spoken by David, Solomon, Isaiah, and the rest of the prophets. But the things witnessed by the twelve eclipsed the wonders of all bygone ages; for a greater than Moses, or Elijah, or David, or Solomon, or Isaiah, was here, and the promise to Nathanael was being fulfilled. Heaven had been opened, and the angels of God—the spirits of wisdom, and power, and love—were ascending and descending on the Son of man.—Bruce.

Luk . "Kings."—Such persons as David, Solomon, and Hezekiah, some of whom were both prophets and kings. Cf. Gen 49:18, and the last words of David, a royal prophecy of Christ; 2Sa 23:1-5, especially the close, "For this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although He make it not to grow." The blessing was not in what the disciples obtained, but in what they saw. The true knowledge of God the Father, and of Jesus Christ His Son, was the pledge of all other blessings.—Popular Commentary.


Verses 25-37

CRITICAL NOTES

Luk . A certain lawyer.—One whose business it was to teach the law. It was probably in Judæa that this conversation was held; as we read (Luk 10:38) that Jesus was on His way to Bethany. Tempted Him.—The word seems to mean nothing worse than putting His skill to full proof, i.e. consulting Him on difficult questions. He probably wished to see if Jesus would teach him anything new; and an air of self-conceit is manifest in what little is said of him (see Luk 10:29). What shall I do, etc.—This question was put to Christ more than once: see Luk 18:18; cf. with them Act 16:30-31.

Luk . How readest thou?—"A common Rabbinical formula for eliciting a text of Scripture. What? not how? i.e. to what purport" (Alford).

Luk . Thou shalt love, etc.—Deu 6:5; Deu 10:12; Lev 19:18. His answer was intelligent; his summary of duty such as Christ taught; it was in knowledge of himself that he came short.

Luk . This do, and thou shalt live.—"True in all cases: any one who can and does love God and his neighbour thus has already begun to live, has an earnest of eternal life" (Popular Commentary).

Luk . Willing to justify himself.—I.e. to declare his obedience to this summary of the law, unless some other definition of "neighbour" than that which he held could be given—his definition excluding Samaritans and Gentiles.

Luk . Answering, said.—Lit. "taking him up": it is perhaps not too much to say that the phrase implies that Christ did more than answer him—made the answer the basis of teaching which corrected his faulty ideas. A certain man.—We are to understand that he was a Jew; but no stress is laid on this. The Samaritan saw in him simply a wounded man. Perhaps this is not a fictitious story at all; it may be that the lawyer himself had been the traveller, had received kindness from a Samaritan, which he had not repaid, and which had not led him to form truer ideas as to who his neighbour was. Down from Jerusalem.—About twenty-one miles, Jericho lying on a much lower level than Jerusalem. The road here described was, and one might almost say is, haunted by robbers. Jerome says that in his time it was called "the bloody way," and that a Roman fort and garrison were needed there for the protection of travellers. Fell among thieves.—Rather, "robbers," "brigands": into the midst of them, they surrounded him. Wounded him.—Rather, "beat him" (R.V.), lit. "laying blows on him."

Luk . A certain priest.—Probably on his way home from duties in the Temple; for Jericho was a priestly city. That way.—"Rather, ‘on that road.' It is emphatically mentioned because there was another road to Jericho, which was safer, and therefore more frequently used" (Farrar). Passed by.—Without showing the mercy inculcated by the law and the prophets (see Exo 23:4-5; Deu 22:1-4; Isa 58:7).

Luk . The conduct of the Levite was rather worse than that of the priest.

Luk . Had compassion.—It was this feeling which differentiated him from the priest and the Levite; and from this feeling sprang his deeds and words of kindness to the wounded man.

Luk . Oil and wine.—The usual remedy for wounds in the East. His own beast.—Thereby depriving himself of the use of it. An inn.—Not a caravanserai, as in Luk 2:7, but a house for travellers kept by a host. Two different words are used in the respective passages.

Luk . Two pence.—The denarius was worth about eightpence halfpenny of our money, and was the day's wages of an ordinary labourer (see Mat 20:2). Probably the smallness of the sum named is intended to suggest that the Samaritan was a poor man, and thus to bring into clearer relief his generosity and kindness on this occasion.

Luk . Was neighbour.—Rather, "proved neighbour" (R.V.), lit. "became neighbour." "The neighbour Jews (priest and Levite) became strangers, the stranger Samaritan became neighbour, to the wounded traveller. It is not place, but love, which makes neighbourhood" (Wordsworth).

Luk . He that shewed mercy.—It may be that Pharisaic haughtiness led to this indirect answer, as though the lawyer disdained to use the hated name, "Samaritan." But no great stress need be laid on this. "The lawyer was taught how one really becomes the neighbour of another, namely, by active love, irrespective of nationality or religion. His question, ‘Who is my neighbour?' was answered: He to whom you ought thus to show mercy in order to become his neighbour is your neighbour. The question is answered once for all. All are our neighbours, when we have thus learned what we owe to man as ma?" (Popular Commentary). Go, and do thou likewise.—The question had doubtless been asked in the spirit of hair-splitting casuistry; Jesus gives the matter a practical bent.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Luk

Who is my Neighbour? versus Whose Neighbour am I?—This lawyer merely wished to test our Lord's orthodoxy. He was quite sure that he knew what to do to inherit eternal life. Christ shifts the question from intellect to conscience and practice, and that pinches. The scribe's wish to justify himself refers to his failure in conduct, which, though unaccused, he tacitly confesses. The obtuseness as well as sensitiveness of conscience is brought out by the fact that he evidently thinks that he has kept the first requirement of perfect and all-engrossing love to God, and is only sensible of defect in the second.

I. The question, meant to excuse, but really condemning.—"And who is my neighbour?" The lawyer pleads the vagueness of the precept, and wishes a clear definition of terms, that he may know whom he is bound to love as himself, and whom he is not. He fancies that love is only to run like a canal in a straight, artificial cutting. He will try to love all within the circle, but it must be clearly drawn; and, in the meantime, he does not feel any stirrings of love to anybody outside his own door. Is it not clear that to him love is simply a matter of obligation? and does not such a conception show that he has no notion of what it really is, nor has ever exercised it? "Tell me whom I must love" means, "Tell me whom I may escape the necessity of loving"; and he who says that has not a glimmer of what love is. In all matters of Christian living, the anxiety to have the bounds marked within which the action of the Christian spirit is to be confined, is a bad sign. It indicates latent reluctance and a total misconception of the free, spontaneous, all-embracing outgoings of the life which comes from Jesus.

II. The details of the lovely story.—It is not a parable which needs to be interpreted; but a story framed as an example, and needing not to be translated but copied. It gives three pictures—of the poor victim, the selfishly absorbed passers-by, and the compassionate helper. The sufferer is "a man," nothing more. The others are designated by profession or nationality, but he has no label round his neck to ticket him as "neighbour." That is the beginning of an answer to the lawyer. The picture of the man's desperate condition as he lay bleeding and insensible might well stir pity. What would the reality do? The two companion sketches of priest and Levite tell us. It does nothing. A glance, perhaps a thought of personal danger, but, at any rate, no stirrings of pity, and no pause, but, in the face of such a spectacle, they pass on. There is no sign that they were hindered by any pressure of time or duty from stopping to help. They did see, and it never struck them that they had anything to do in the matter. Is it an exaggerated picture of the conduct to which human nature is ever prone? How much less sorrow there would be in the world if we were not all guilty in this matter, and had not left misery which is forced on our notice to bleed or weep itself to death without lifting a finger to prevent it! The capacity for ignoring wretchedness and need is wonderful. Engrossment with self shuts eyes and heart to the piteous sights that fill the world. Christ might have taught His lesson without making the unsympathising pair a priest and a Levite. His boldness in thus weighing His story with unnecessary offence is striking. He sharpens it to a spear-point, and is careless about offending if He can reach the conscience. Toothless generalities offend nobody, and therefore do nobody good. "Thou art the man" needs to be pealed into the ears of culprits. But the lesson was not for the lawyer only. Formal religionists are always cold. It is possible to be so busy investigating the grounds and limits of religious duty as to forget to do it. So these heartless two teach us the terrible pitilessness of men, and its cause in self-absorption, and the special danger, in regard to it, of formal religion. The same boldness in bringing in causes of offence which might have been spared appears in making the rescuer a Samaritan. Note the details of his care. First, we have the source of all in compassion. He felt a shoot of love and pity in his heart to "the man," and that set all in motion. His conduct may be taken as a picture of what true love to the neighbour should be. It is prompt, thorough, spares no pains, acts with judgment, is generous and self-denying ("set him on his own beast," while he trudged by his side), provides for the future, and with all its liberality is not lavish, but thrifty and prudent. The lawyer had not asked, What is the love which I am bound to show? But Christ teaches him and us that it is not a mere lazy sentiment, but active, self-sacrificing, guided by common sense, and full of resources. It moves us to all kindly offices, and makes the needy sharers in our possessions, since they share our heart. But the nationality of the helper must not be passed by. Though the lesson could have been taught without it, it makes the lesson still more emphatic. It answers the question "Who?" by brushing away all national distinctions, all prejudices of race, all differences of creed, all enmities rooted in history. It is the first dawning of that great thought which nineteen centuries have been so slow to learn, the brotherhood of man. The very word "humanity" is Christian. The idea of "philanthropy" is Christian. And the practical realisation of the idea will only be attained when the great fact on which it rests is received. "One is your Master, … and all ye are brethren."

III. Note Christ's inversion of the lawyer's question.—It makes a vast difference whether we say, "Who is my neighbour?" or "Whose neighbour am I?" for although the relation is, of course, mutual, to approach it on the one side is selfishness, and on the other is love. The one fixes attention on men's claims on me, the other on my debts to them; and while these are the same, they have a very different aspect from the two ends. The truth, therefore, which Christ would have us learn is, that to be a true neighbour is to render help, and that we are neighbours to all men in such a sense that our compassion should go out to them all, and our practical aid be given, no matter what may be the barriers of race, or creed, or colour, or distance. True love to men will cut its own channels, will not wait to be commanded, nor ask how far it is bound to go, but spontaneously and universally will own its kinship with all the needy and sad, and will seek to be as wide and as deep as the love of God, of which it is a reflection:—Maclaren.

SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON Luk

Luk . Questions put to Christ.—Questions were sometimes put to Christ

(1) by meek, receptive hearers, like Nicodemus, prepared to drink the sincere milk of the word that they might grow thereby;

(2) by enemies, both of the Pharisaic and Sadducean parties, to ensnare and destroy Him; and

(3) as in this case, to put His skill and wisdom to the test.

"Do to inherit."—The question as the scribe intended was incongruous: to "do" does not fit in with "to inherit." It is as if one were to ask, What must I do to bring out sunshine? Without any bitterness, our Saviour takes up the question of the scribe in order to guide him to a knowledge of the fact that it was exactly that law of which he was so proud of keeping which condemned him. Our Lord wishes to teach him that if he only in real earnest will try to do, he will soon learn that he needs a Saviour who will do for him and in him what he himself cannot do.

"To inherit eternal life."—In Greece men sought for truth: in Israel the object of pursuit was salvation, and righteousness as the means of attaining it.—Godet.

"Inherit."—The phrase "inherit" alludes to possession of the land of Canaan, which the children of Israel had received as an inheritance from the hands of God, and which remained in Jewish thought as a type of Messianic happiness.

"What shall I do" etc.—Cf. the answer given by St. Paul after the Ascension (Act ).—Farrar.

Luk . "Thou shalt love," etc.—As this summary of duty is given by Christ Himself on another occasion in answer to a scribe, we may perhaps conclude that it had become in the Jewish schools an approved method of declaring the essence of the law. Otherwise it would be difficult to reconcile the enlightened and spiritual reply of this lawyer with the narrow and bigoted tone of mind which he manifested.

Two Great Commandments.—The two great commandments of the law.

I. The duty of love to God.—

1. A divinely implanted principle in the renewed hearts of believers.

2. It implies a high esteem of God.

3. It implies an earnest desire for communion with God and the enjoyment of Him.

4. It is a judicious principle, and not a blind enthusiastic feeling.

5. It is an active principle.

6. It is also a supreme love.

II. The duty of love to man.—

1. It is, too, a divinely implanted principle.

2. It implies benevolent dispositions towards our neighbour.

3. Speaking well of him.

4. Doing him all the good offices in our power.—Foots.

The Service of God and Man.

I. The Christian religion is one which most powerfully engages its disciples to service.—It does so in two ways:

(1) it gives them a sense of boundless obligation;

(2) it exalts a life of service as the highest ideal of human life.

II. The service to which the Christian religion engages its disciples is the service of man.

III. The Christian religion brings us a revelation which makes the service of man hopeful.—Brown.

"Thy heart," etc.—The "heart" in Scripture is the centre of the moral life; from it branch out the "soul" (the seat of feeling and emotion), the will (actual faculties), and the "mind" (the faculties of intelligence). Moral life proceeds from the heart, and displays itself in or by means of the other three forms of activity—emotion, energy (or "strength"), and knowledge.

Luk . "To justify himself."—Aware that the test of charity would prove unfavourable to him, he seeks concealment under the word "neighbour," that he may not be discovered to be a transgressor of the law. "But who accused him? Not the Lord. He had only said, ‘This do, and thou shalt live.' The man's own conscience was awakened and at work; well he knew at that moment that he had not done what his lips confessed he should do; he had not loved God with all his heart and his neighbour as himself" (Arnot)

"My neighbour."—The design of the parable of the good Samaritan is to explain the word "neighbour."

I. The explanation is rather the converse of what might have been expected.—We might have thought that the person who is beloved is the neighbour; in the narrative the "neighbour" is the person who loves. The fact is, the Samaritan and the traveller were "neighbours" equally, each to the other—the word being relative must be mutual; but the one who recognised the relationship is selected for the illustration, because there lay the example and the lesson. My "neighbour" then is every one who, in the providence of God, is brought into such connection with me, that I can and ought to affect him in some way for good.

II. The course of events is always being so ordered as to bring new persons within our circle, that we may act by them a neighbour's part.—There may be a nation on the other side of the earth with which to-day I have nothing whatever to do; but to-morrow, let a way of access be opened and presented to me, by which I could approach that nation, and let an occasion arise of doing it good which, in my conscience, I feel to be providential, and at once our neighbourhood is established and complete, and I am constrained to perform a neighbour's, i.e. a near one's, part, whether it be for their souls, or whether it be for their bodies.—Vaughan.

Luk . The Law gave no Definition of "Neighbour."—The scribe does not think there is danger of his not loving God, but thinks that the law is defective in giving no exact description of who is to be understood by one's neighbour.

Luk . The Good Samaritan.—This parable reveals in the brightest light—

I. The Christian's heart.—It is like the Samaritan's. It is full of compassion. In the priest and the Levite prudence conquered humanity; in the Samaritan humanity conquered prudence, prejudice, and everything else. We are weak and slow in Christ's work because we are weak in compassion. The religion of Jesus is the religion of humanity.

II. The Christian's hand.—It is the ready agent of a compassionate heart. First the heart, then the hand—that is the order in the kingdom. Watch the Samaritan's hand. It is not the hand of a sluggard. How quickly it moves! He did not linger till compassion was chilled by worldly prudence. First thoughts were best. I dare say he did not think of it at all; he just did it at once. Many a noble purpose dies of cold and decay in its infancy. It is not the hand of a weakling. It is not easily tired. It carries through what it begins, and leaves nothing half done, though the doing cost much. It is not the hand of a hireling. The Samaritan was not rich. He had one ass, and no servant. But he believed that it was more blessed to give than to receive. He could not be repaid, and knew it. Payment would have spoiled all his pleasure in the deed. He had reward enough in an approving conscience reflecting the smile of God. It is not the hand of earthly ambition. The Pharisees gave alms to be seen of men. Had the Samaritan been like them, he would have passed by on the other side. But there was nothing to feed the hunger for earthly applause in this adventure. And yet if he be a real man, if this is history as well as parable, what renown! Christ has immortalised him.

III. The Christian's sphere.—The lawyer made it very narrow. He loved his friends, and hated his enemies, and was sure that the Samaritans were no neighbours of his. But Christ teaches that there is no limit or exception to the love of man; and that the sphere of the Christian's heart is the whole world, and that the sphere of his hand embraces every one he can help. The Samaritan never asked, "And who is my neighbour?" Nearness and need constitute "neighbourhood." In every suffering stranger there is a God-sent candidate for your pity and aid. Be neighbourly in Christ's spirit. The home mission spirit is the very genius of the gospel. Be not content with sluggard sympathies. Be a good Samaritan among the needy in our land. Heathen lands too are near us now, and every year are coming nearer. The field of Christian service is the world.—Wells.

Luk . "A certain man."—This answers the question, "Who is my neighbour?" No mention is made of nation, tribe rank, or character; but "a certain man," some one or other. It is as men that we are related and owe love to one another.

Luk . "By chance."—There is a certain touch of irony in the phrase; it was certainly not by "chance" that the priest and the Levite came to figure in the parable.

Chance a Nickname.—God's unseen providence, by men nicknamed Chance.—Fuller.

Good Opportunities.—Many good opportunities work under things which seem fortuitous.—Bengel.

A Test of Character.—This is a very significant touch. The wounded man was not carried to the priest's door, or did not even call aloud for aid, or else it would have been morally impossible to refuse to help him. The chance encounter rendered it more easy to deny the claim; in other words, it served the more perfectly to test the real character of the priest—to show whether mercy was in his heart or not.

"A certain priest."—Perhaps now on his way to Jerusalem, there to execute his office "in the order of his course" (chap. Luk ); or, having accomplished his turn of service, now returning home. But whether thus or not, he was one who had never learned what that meant, "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice"; who, whatever duties he might have been careful in fulfilling, had "omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith"—Trench.

"He passed by."

I. All priests were not thus cold and heartless.—Ministers are generally warm-hearted men. They ought all to be so; they ought to be like Christ. He was ever ready to help any in trouble. Many of the Jewish priests would be kind and generous. This one was not. One may occupy a very sacred place, and yet have a cold, hard heart. It is very sad when it is so.

II. This priest did not even stop to look at the sufferer.—Much less did he ask how he came to be injured, or to inquire what he could do for him. Perhaps he even pretended not to see the wounded man. He had doubtless excuses enough to satisfy his own mind. He was tired, or in a hurry, or it was a hopeless case, or he could not bear to look on suffering. But whatever his motives—

III. Let us avoid repeating his fault.—Do we never pass by human wants that we know well we ought to stop to relieve? Do we never keep out of the way of those who need our help? This verse is an ugly mirror, is it not? It shows us blemishes that we did not know we had.—Miller.

Excuses for Inhumanity.—Excuses for inhumanity are only too easily found. The priest might allege—

I. That he was in haste—that his business was urgent or sacred.

II. That the wounded man was past hope of recovery.

III. That the robbers were not far off, and that it was perilous to linger near the spot.

IV. That another was coming along the same road who might be able to render more efficient help.

Luk . Two Kinds of Holiness.—

1. The spurious holiness of priest and Levite—sanctity divorced from charity.

2. The genuine holiness of the Samaritan—holiness inspired by love.—Bruce.

Samaritans and Levites.—All Samaritans were not compassionate; all Levites were not hard-hearted. They were Samaritans who would not permit Jesus and His disciples, when they were weary, to pass the night in their village (Luk ); and he was a Levite (Act 4:36) who was named Son of Consolation, and sold his property that he might distribute the proceeds among the poor.

Luk . "A Levite."—The Levite in his turn may have thought with himself that it could not be incumbent on him to undertake a perilous office, from which the priest had just shrunk; duty it could not be, else that other would never have omitted it. For him to thrust himself upon it now would be a kind of affront to his superior, an implicit charging of him with inhumanity and hardness of heart. And so, by aid of these pleas, or pleas like them, they left their fellow-countryman to perish.—Trench.

"Looked on him."—There are very few of us who have yet learned to exert ourselves as we might do for the relief of the general misery and destitution which we cannot but see about us. The world is full of it; but it is not full of that heavenly compassion which it was meant to call forth.—Marriott.

Luk . "Samaritan."—He was one of a nation with whom the Jews had no dealings (Joh 4:9), whose name was a by-word of reproach (Joh 8:48), who were regarded by them as aliens and foreigners (Luk 17:18), and almost reckoned with the very heathen (Mat 10:5). The wounded traveller could have no claims on him; and many reasons might have been found for passing him by.

The Law written in the Heart.—This ignorant Samaritan possessed spontaneously ("by nature," Rom ) the light which the Rabbis had not found or had lost in their theological investigations. There is a remarkable agreement between the conduct attributed by Jesus to the Samaritan and the saying of St. Paul about the law "written in the heart" and its partial fulfilment by the heathen (Rom 2:14-16).—Godet.

Heterodoxy and Orthodoxy.—We have here heterodoxy with humanity, and orthodoxy without humanity. Our Lord has shown elsewhere, abundantly, that He has no thought of conniving at heterodoxy, or of disparaging orthodoxy. Only He teaches that humanity is better than orthodoxy, if only one may be had, and that inhumanity is worse than heterodoxy, if one must be endured.—Schaff.

"Had compassion."—Moved with pity as to the past, help for the present, considerate care for the future.—Stier.

A Mark of Genuine Love.—It is the characteristic mark of genuine love that it does not ask whether the neighbour deserves love, but whether he needs love.

Love of the Brethren and of One's Neighbour.—There is a special distinction to be made between Christian love of the brethren (Joh ) and the love of our neighbour.

I. Love of the brethren has for its object the fellow-believer, the love of Christ for its standard, and faith in Him as its condition.

II. Love of our neighbour embraces all men, loves them as one's self, and is grounded on the natural relation in which all sons and daughters of Adam stand to each other as members of one great family here on earth.—Van Oosterzee.

Luk . Characteristics of Love.—True love renders help

(1) with promptitude,

(2) with thoroughness,

(3) with self-denial,

(4) with unwearying patience,

(5) with tact,

(6) without sentimentality.

Luk . "Bound up his wounds," etc.—He leaves nothing undone to mitigate the miseries that excited his compassion.

I. He applies healing remedies to his wounds.

II. He is regardless of fatigue and danger in ministering to the sufferer.

III. He leaves him in good keeping.

IV. He supplies his immediate wants, leaves careful injunctions for his treatment in the inn, and generously promises to repay any expenses that may be incurred.

Luk . Manifestations of Love.—The attentive look, the compassionate heart, the helpful hand, the willing foot, the open purse.—Van Oosterzee.

Luk . "Take care of him.… 1 will repay."—After having brought the wounded man to the inn, the Samaritan might have regarded himself as free from all further responsibility in the matter—he might have left him to the kindness of his fellow-countrymen, and have said to them, "He is your neighbour rather than mine." But compassion, which has prompted him to begin, compels him to end.—Godet.

"When he departed."—This detail gives vividness to the story: we see him as it were already on horseback and busied with giving the host injunctions as to careful treatment of the invalid.

Luk . Love like the Light.—The Lord shows His questioner that love is like light: wherever it truly burns it shines forth in all directions, and falls on every object that lies in its way. Love that desires to limit its own exercise is not love. One of love's essential laws is expressed in those words of the Lord that the apostles fondly remembered after He had ascended, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."—Arnot.

"Which … was neighbour?"—The parable is a reply, not to the question, for to that it is no reply, but to the spirit out of which the question proceeded. "You inquire, Who is my neighbour? Behold a man who asked quite another question, To whom can I be a neighbour? and then be yourself the judge whether you or he have most of the mind of God—which is most truly the doer of His will, the imitator of His perfections."—Trench.

"Was neighbour."—Rather, "proved neighbour" (R.V.); literally, "became neighbour." "The neighbour Jews became strangers, the stranger Samaritan became neighbour, to the wounded traveller. It is not place but love which makes neighbourhood" (Wordsworth).

Luk . A Picture of Christ's Redeeming Work.—The older commentators find in this parable a typical representation of Christ's redeeming love. The wounded traveller is man disabled by sin; the priest and Levite represent the law, which exercises no healing power; the good Samaritan is Christ; the inn the Church, etc. The suggestion is an ingenious one, though the identification of some of the details leads to grotesque results. We may, however, see in the parable a faint and unintentional reflection of the Saviour's work. The wounds of the sick (Isa 1:6), which they who sat in Moses' seat left undressed, He whom they reviled as a Samaritan (Joh 8:48) bound up with oil and wine.

Luk . "He that shewed mercy."—He will not name the Samaritan by name, the haughty hypocrite!—Luther.

"Go, and do thou likewise."—The lesson derived from the parable by our Lord Himself is not that "every one who needs our mercy is to be taken for our neighbour." Nothing of the kind. Christ closes the conversation by proposing the conduct of the Samaritan—the active benevolence which he displayed even towards an enemy—as a model for imitation. Thus the practice of religion is revealed as the best help to the understanding of it. The attention is diverted from considering who is the fit object of love, and guided instead to the exercise of love itself. As in every other part of the Bible, the object proposed is to school the heart, not to inform the understanding.—Burgon.

A Reproof to our Shortcomings.—We should never read the story of the good Samaritan without thinking of it as a type of deeds of holy love done by many who may be grievously deficient in religious knowledge, and as a reproof to our shortcomings.

Love and its Reward.—Love of man is

(1) entirely unlimited;

(2) it reveals itself in unrestricted helpfulness; and

(3) its reward is in an approving conscience, the praise of those who witness it, and of the Lord Himself. It is true that mere kindness does not earn eternal life—that even if we perfectly fulfil the second table of the law, we are guilty of so many offences against the first table as to forfeit eternal life. But it is also true that he who violates the dictates of kindly feeling is not on the road that leads to faith and salvation (1Jn ).


Verses 38-42

CRITICAL NOTES

Luk . A certain village.—There can be no doubt that this was Bethany, and that the persons mentioned were sisters of Lazarus. The names are not only the same, but the words and actions of both are characteristic of the two sisters described in John 11; John 12. Bethany was an hour's walk from Jerusalem, and was a favourite resort of our Lord, when He was in the neighbourhood of the capital. Farrar considers that the phrases "a certain village" and "a certain woman" are obvious traces of a tendency to reticence about the family of Bethany which he thinks are to be found in the synoptic Gospels (Mat 26:6; Mar 14:3). Such reticence he attributes to the danger to which more special notice of the family might have exposed them—a danger which was probably long past when St. John wrote his Gospel. This idea seems, however, to be far-fetched and baseless. The notices in St. Matthew and St. Mark are definite enough; and here the vague phrase, "a certain woman," is followed by her name and the name of her sister. Probably Bethany was not a name as familiar to Theophilus as it is to us. Martha.—The name is Aramaic, meaning "lady." She may have been a widow or a married woman; but we have no information on the point.

Luk . The character of Mary is suggested with wonderful skill and simplicity by this description of her. Sat at Jesus' feet.—As a disciple; not while He was reclining at table for the meal was being prepared.

Luk . Cumbered.—Lit. "distracted," drawn this way and that by a multitude of things needing her personal supervision. Came to Him.—The word implies "suddenly appearing before Him," evidently coming from the room where the preparations were being made into that in which Jesus was. Probably the homely phrase "she flounced in" would best describe her action and mood

Luk . Martha, Martha.—Kindliness as well as reproof is indicated in the repetition of the name. Careful and troubled.—The one word indicates inward anxiety, the other outward bustle.

Luk . One thing is needful.—The food of the soul—feeding on the bread of life; this is "the good part"—the choice portion which Mary has chosen. A curious variation which is founded on good MS. authority is given in the margin of the R.V.—"but few things are needful or one." This evidently arises from a misunderstanding of Christ's words, as though by "the one thing needful" He meant one dish instead of Martha's more bountiful provision; i.e. "there is need for few things, indeed one would be sufficient." But apart from the evident mistake as to Christ's words, any reference of the kind to the literal food seems trivial.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Luk

Jesus in the Family Circle.—This is one of the few passages in the life of the Saviour in which we are admitted to view Him in the circle of His domestic life—in which we see Him as a guest and a friend, receiving hospitality, and by gentle words allaying the angry feelings which are so apt to spring up from the most trivial causes, and mar the peace of the home. He had arrived at Bethany perhaps unexpectedly, and evidently accompanied by some of His disciples, and thus occasioned some little stir in the household there. Martha was naturally anxious to provide fitting entertainment for such an honoured Guest. For a time, apparently, Mary had assisted her in making the needful preparations for the supper, but after a little had stolen away to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to His words. Probably she felt that there was a reasonable limit to the work of providing for material wants, and that it was making good use of the precious time of Christ's sojourn with them to allow Him to minister to them as well as to be ministered to by them.

I. Martha's complaint.—She is angry and put about by being left to serve alone, and in her hastiness she falls into various mistakes.

1. She attaches an undue importance to the kind of work she was engaged in.

2. She regards her sister's employment as mere waste of time.

3. She accuses the Saviour of unkindness in allowing her sister to shirk her share of the work. Specially censurable is her endeavour to get the Saviour to take her part in this difference with her sister. For it is always very embarrassing to a guest to be asked to take a side in a family dispute.

II. The reply of Jesus.—He reminded Martha that she was distressing and harassing herself about many trivial things, but that Mary's attention was fixed upon the one thing of supreme importance. The slight degree of blame implied in the answer, and in the repetition of her name, was no doubt robbed of its sting by the gentle tone of voice and the kindly air of the Speaker. For this was not an occasion when anything like severity was called for. Both sisters were friends and disciples of the Saviour; and He was as considerate to the weaknesses and foibles of the one, as pleased with the pure and intense devotion of the other. We have here both a warning against allowing our minds to be distracted and worried by passing trifles, and a statement of the secret of a true and lasting peace. Those that pursue various aims are drawn hither and thither by conflicting cares and duties: those that have the one true aim in view rise above all that is superficial and trifling, and enjoy a peace which the world can neither give nor take away.

SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON Luk

Luk . Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.—Let us regard this incident as illustrative of a few practical considerations. Observe—

I. The absence of all reference to Lazarus in this narrative.—Is this because he was younger than the sisters, and of least account in the household? In John's Gospel, too, Lazarus brings up the rear. Many think that he was the young ruler who came to Christ and went away sorrowing. Whatever be the truth on this point, Christ loved this "weak brother." He seems to have lacked force of character, decision, readiness to sacrifice for Christ's sake. Such a man may certainly be saved, but he misses much.

II. The distinguishing character of the two sisters, and our Lord's treatment of them.—We have the active Martha, who carries her peculiarities into her friendship with and her loyalty to Jesus Christ. This is quite right. Christ does not take from us our individuality. He does not want every one to be a Martha or every one to be a Mary. There was variety of character among the twelve. Varied services are needed. Jesus Christ needed food, and He needed willing learners. Martha was right in serving, Mary in listening. The danger is that one kind of worker thinks that the only service that should be rendered to Jesus Christ is the service he or she is rendering. Those who are active are apt to be hard upon those who are not so active as they are, or in the way which they approve. Christ taught Martha that all things are secondary to the one great thing—love to Himself. Let all learn the lesson of serving the Master in the sphere for which we are best fitted, and withal be tolerant, yea appreciative of those who serve Him in different ways.—Davies.

Three Faults of Martha.—Though the hospitality of Martha deserved commendation, and is commended, yet there were three faults in it which are pointed out by Christ.

I. Martha carried her activity beyond proper bounds; for Christ would rather have chosen to be entertained in a frugal manner, and at moderate expense, than that the holy woman should have submitted to so much toil.

II. Martha, by distracting her attention, and undertaking more labour than was necessary, deprived herself of the advantage of Christ's visit.

III. Martha was so delighted with her own bustling operations, as to despise her sister's pious eagerness to receive instruction. This example warns us that, in doing what is right, we must take care not to think more highly of ourselves than of others.—Calvin.

Luk . Activity and Contemplation.—We find in Martha the type of a life busily devoted to externals, such as is frequently exemplified in this passing world; in Mary, the type of quiet self-devotion to the Divine as the one thing needful. To a certain extent both tendencies will be combined in each believer, but it is not to be overlooked that there are different vocations, and many are better fitted for busy outward labour than an inward contemplative life, although the most active must be from the depths of his soul given up to the Lord, and the man of contemplation must consecrate his energies to the advancement of God's kingdom.—Olshausen.

Luk . An Answer to the Question as to inheriting Eternal Life.—This incident gives a clear and certain answer to the question of the scribe as to inheriting eternal life: it is to listen to the words of Jesus, and to choose by faith in Him "the good part, which shall not be taken away."

"Sat at Jesus' feet."—This is a living commentary on the words, "Yea, He loved the people; all His saints are in Thy hand: and they sat down at Thy feet; every one shall receive of Thy words" (Deu ).

Absence of Censoriousness.—Mary sits quiet and silent at His feet, and it never occurred to her to be discontented and to exclaim, "Master, tell my sister to come and listen too with me."

"Heard His word."—As the tender flowers love to open to the rays of the sun and silently absorb its light. Jesus had not come to be served, but to serve.

Luk . Characteristic Conduct of the Sisters.—The respective characters of the two sisters again come clearly into view on the visit recorded by St. John (Joh 12:2-3). There it is said that "Martha served," and that Mary "anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair."

The Judge becomes an Advocate.—Mary commits her cause to the Judge, and He becomes her Advocate.—Augustine.

Christ defending His Disciples.—The Gospels record various instances of Christ thus taking the part of them who trust their cause to Him. Cf. chaps, Luk ; Luk 7:39-40; Mat 26:10.

Pleasure of giving and of receiving.—With Martha the pleasure of giving much to Jesus is pre-eminent: Mary feels the necessity of receiving much.

Luk . "Many things … one thing."—Note the contrast between carefulness about many things and the needfulness of but one. When we possess God in Christ, we have the one thing needful to

(1) a true life,

(2) a true growth,

(3) a true service,

(4) a true happiness.

Luk . "But one thing is needful."—Needful for what? For rightly receiving the Saviour—the disposition which Mary was manifesting at this moment, the sitting at the feet of Jesus, the receptivity for hearing and laying up the words of eternal life.—Van Oosterzee.

"That good part."—Why was Mary's choice better? Because "it shall not be taken away from her." From thee the burden of business shall one time be taken away; for when thou comest into the heavenly country, thou wilt find no stranger to receive with hospitality. But for thy good it shall be taken away, that what is better may be given thee. Trouble shall be taken away, that rest may be given thee. But in the meantime thou art yet at sea; thy sister is in port.—Augustine.

"The good part."—Mary's choice is commended. The object of her choice is characterised and commended as "the one thing needful," "the good part." True religion is—

I. Indispensably needful.

II. Perfectly good.

III. Absolutely inalienable.

Its claims are paramount. Heaven is gained; hell is avoided. It is not only "good" in name, but in reality. It wears, lasts, satisfies. It is the only possession that is inalienable. Honour, wealth, reason, health, home, friends, all may go. This abides.—Morris.

I. The essence of the Christian religion is that it is a religion of receiving.—Martha desired to give, Mary to receive. Mary was praised; Martha was reproved. The leading trait of a Christian is that he sits at Christ's feet. Those please God most who take in most.

II. Mary's spirit rested.—Martha worked anxiously. The difference between them was greatest, not so much in what they did, as in the spirit in which they did it. Drink in God's peace. Be a little child.

III. Mary had learnt to concentrate her mind.—Martha could not do this. Mary gathered all to a single point, and that point was Christ. Martha was full of distracting and unnecessary cares. Too many of God's dear children are the same. What vain solicitudes! What is the use of it all? What is the remedy? Simplify. Throw out what is wrong, what is trivial, what is underweight. "One thing" is all that will be left. To find, to love, and to enjoy the Saviour. There is nothing else. This is "the good part."—Vaughan.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Luke 10:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/luke-10.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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