Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two
Jesus recruited many disciples on his way to Jerusalem and after ensuring that they knew the cost of following him, sent them ahead of him with these instructions –
He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’… Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’”– Luke 10:2-9
Jesus wanted the disciples to completely depend on God, who is the ultimate provider and not waste time in letting better food or accommodation decide where they lodged in the city. The time constraint was clearly on Jesus’ mind as he did not want them to even waste time in greeting each other. The whole purpose of sending the seventy two disciples was that the time of the crucifixion was near, and there were not enough workers to spread the Gospel. Jesus did not want these trivial issues to be a distraction for their mission.
Jesus also gave sharp warnings to those who assume that they have bought their ‘inheritance of eternal life’ based on the righteousness of their ancestors. In the previous chapter we saw that unlike the disciples, Jesus did not harbor any anger towards the Samaritans who did not welcome Jesus. But here, Jesus curses the Jewish cities who even after knowing everything and seeing Jesus perform so many miracles refused to accept Jesus as their Savior. He likens their fate to that of Sodom and proclaimed that
“Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” – Luke 10:16
The ‘seventy-two’ returned with joy and recounted all the wondrous signs that they performed. Jesus reminded them that their happiness should be linked to their reward in heaven and not for human praises for the wondrous signs they could perform because of the Holy Spirit. Let us not work for human praise but pray that we have a humble heart to do the work of Christ that he has assigned to each one of us.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
The Parable of the Good Samaritan told in front of a Jewish audience, brought the Samaritan traveler in good light while shaming the Priest and Levite. No wonder this parable is only mentioned in Luke’s Gospel.
During one of Jesus’ sermons, a teacher of the law stood up (wanting to test Jesus) and asked what he had to do to ‘inherit’ eternal life. He already knew the answer for the question he had asked, probably copying the answer Jesus gave on another occasion (Mt 22:34-40; Mk 12:28-31), but wanted to trap Jesus by debating what he meant by neighbor.
He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” – Luke 10:27-29
Jesus knew the intent of this man and used the Samaritans as an example to show who should be our neighbors.
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.
A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.
The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ – Luke 10:30-35
The Priest and the Levite, both ignored the cries of their fellow countryman. Perhaps, they thought he was a lost cause or feared being ambushed themselves or were perhaps late for the mass at the synagogue. Not only did they choose to ignore the wounded man but crossed over to the other side and left him to die. But the Samaritan traveler took pity on this man and did everything possible to help this man get back his life.
The Jews despised the Samaritans as they counted them as unclean. Jesus’ response to the ‘Teacher of the Law’ who wanted to ‘inherit’ eternal life was to follow the example of the Samaritan traveler and love God and all his creations.
Often we restrict our kindness to our friends and families. We only put on our ‘kindness hats’ when entering our church. But God created the whole world and not just our churches. All are created by God in his likeness. Let us extend our love and kindness to all and not just to members in our community.
Martha and Mary
Upon reaching Bethany, Jesus visited the house of Martha and Mary. While Martha was distracted by all the preparations, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to his words. Martha came to Jesus and complained about Mary saying –
“Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” – Luke 10:41
In whatever way we have chosen to serve the Lord, let us not grumble or expect others to help us out. Martha could have just as easily chosen to sit at the Lord’s feet but she chose to get distracted by the preparations while Mary chose to sit at the Lord’s feet. Let us not go over the top with the preparations for our meetings that we forget to listen to the word.