Our Lord was about to send out seventy disciples to preach the gospel. He had already chosen his twelve apostles; now there must be seventy disciples, something like Moses had seventy elders to serve under him. Some have fancifully likened these two sets of men to the twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees at Elim; and certainly they were for the refreshment of the people.
Luke 10:1. After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.
They were to go before Christ, and be his heralds. What a mercy it is when the preacher knows that his Master is coming after him, when he can hear the sound of his Master’s feet behind him! What courage it gives him! He knows that, though it is very little that he can do, be is the thin end of the wedge preparing the way for One who can do everything.
Luke 10:2. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are Jew: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
The seventy were very few compared with the many that were needed. There were many loiterers about then as there are now; but the labourers were few. There were preachers of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and they were not worth a penny a hundred; but the true labourers, who watched for souls, and preached Christ with all their hearts, were very few. It is the same today; and therefore we are to pray for more labourers. A good minister always desires to see more good ministers. In a trade, every tradesman would be glad if those of the same trade as himself would move to another parish; but in the profession of a Christian minister, the more the merrier. “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”
Luke 10:3. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.
“Defenceless, harmless, into the midst of those who would devour you if I did not send you. It would be foolhardiness to go on your own account; but I send you; and he who sends his lambs among wolves will take care of them.” As I have often reminded you, the lambs and the sheep are very defenceless; and yet, after all, there are more sheep in the world than there are wolves; and although it looked as if the wolves would soon devour the sheep, the wolves are extirpated in many a country, and the sheep are still prized; and it will be so till the end.
Luke 10:4. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes:
This time, when Christ sent out the seventy, he bade them take no provision, for they might depend upon the kindness of the people. Afterwards, when he was about to leave his disciples, he bade them take both purse and scrip, for they were going among an unfriendly people; but on this first mission be knew that there was a kindly feeling towards them, so he said, “Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes.”
Luke 10:4. And salute no man by the way.
Eastern salutations by the way took up a very long time, the people saying a lot of fine nothings to one another. Christian ministers ought to be excused from many of the lengthy courtesies of life; and if they are not excused, if they are faithful, they will take French leave to be excused. We have not time for all those pretty things that some people attend to. If we are to win souls, we must go to work like the king’s couriers, who turn not aside to attend to anything else, but devote all their energies to the mission on which they are sent.
Luke 10:5-6. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.
So that it will not be wasted. Wish well, and your well-wishing will do you good, even if it does nobody else good. Our chickens come home to roost. If they be curses, they will come upon ourselves; if they be blessings, they will bless ourselves as well as others.
Luke 10:7-8. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, cut such things as are set before you:
The Jewish Rabbis, in their perambulations, were very particular about food; it is said to have been very difficult to find a dish to their taste. This might be unclean in one way, and that not up to the mark in another; but here the Master exempts his ambassadors from attention to these minor matters. They had something better to do than to be always careful about what they should eat or what they should drink, so he said to them, “Eat such things as are set before you.”
Luke 10:9-11. And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
We are not to stop and argue; that is no business of ours. We have to tell our message. If men will receive it, we are glad; if they will not hear it, with a heavy heart we turn aside, and go elsewhere. Our work is to proclaim the glorious message of mercy through a dying Saviour, salvation through the great atonement; it is our business to proclaim it and leave it, the responsibility of receiving or rejecting it rests with our hearers.
Luke 10:12-14. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you.
Hearing and rejecting the gospel is the crowning sin of all. Whatever else men are guilty of, if they have not rejected Christ, they have not yet reached the summit of iniquity.
Luke 10:15-16. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell. He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
If the messenger delivers his message correctly, and as his Master would have him deliver it, the rejection of it, when brought by him, has the same guilt in it as the rejection of Christ himself, and the rejection of Christ is the rejection of God; so Jesus tells us here.
Luke 10:17. And the seventy returned again with joy,
Not one of the lambs had been eaten by the wolves.
Luke 10:17. Saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
Christ had not mentioned that in the commission. He sent them to heal the sick. The casting out of devils was included, no doubt, but it was not specifically mentioned; and this being an extra beyond the words of their commission, they were especially delighted with it Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.”
Luke 10:18-20. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
That is a higher privilege than to be master over demons, or to be able to tread on serpents. That day of miracles is past; but the power of the gospel is a spiritual power the same as before. We still cast out devils; still are men delivered from the dominion of Satan.
Luke 10:21-22. In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father;
You know that he is the Son of God; you know that he is Jesus of Nazareth; but you do not know him, you cannot know him, as his Father knows him. He is known in his fullness only to the Father.
Luke 10:22. And who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.
“Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?” No, thou canst not. The Son of God must reveal his Father to thee, or thou wilt never know him.
Luke 10:25-26. And, behold a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how read thou?
That was a most appropriate answer to a lawyer. “ You ask me what you should do; well, you profess to be a teacher of the law, you ought, therefore, to know what is written in the law.”
Luke 10:27-28. And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
This lawyer was one of those people who know the law, yet do it not. No doubt Jesus struck the nail on the head when he gave him that very pertinent answer, “This do, and thou shalt live.” This lawyer was trying to live by teaching the law, by his knowledge of it, but Christ insists that nothing will do but a practical carrying out of its precepts.
Luke 10:29. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
He probably meant to say, “I have not any neighbours; I have no near relations; my father and mother are dead and gone, I have no brothers and sisters, and therefore I may be excused from the duty of loving anyone else as I love myself.” Jesus did not answer the lawyer’s question, “ Who is my neighbour?” He did not turn the eyes of the man to the poor mendicants who needed charity, but he made him look at himself.
Luke 10:30-31. And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
This priest had been up to the temple to perform his part of the service; he was much too good, in his own opinion, to go and touch a man who was wounded, “he passed by on the other side.”
Luke 10:32. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, He did a little more than the priest, who would not even cross the road.
Luke 10:32-34. And passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he say him, he had compassion on him and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, Denying himself, therefore, because of course he had to walk-
Luke 10:34-35. And brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence,
A much more valuable sum than two pence of our money.
Luke 10:35-36. And gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spend more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
He might have said, “ The Samaritan,” but he would not, for the Jews hated them.
Luke 10:37. And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
Here was a dismission, and here was a commission too. Jesus dismissed him. “I have nothing more to say to you; ‘Go.’” Here was the commission:
“Do thou likewise.” Alas! I am afraid that, after most sermons people get the dismission: “Go;” but they forget the commission: “Go, and do thou likewise.” It is your privilege as well as your duty, O Christians, to assist the needy; and whenever you discover distress, as far as lieth in you, to minister practically to its relief.
Luke 10:25-28. And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all they strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
Do any of you want to live by the law? There is the law. Does any man here pretend that he has kept it? Let me ask any man here who would justify himself by his own works, have you thought of God today? How much time have you spent with God? or yesterday, how much of your time did you give him ¾how many minutes? Would you venture to say that you spent a quarter of an hour in prayer? No, perhaps, if it comes to the truth, you did not spend five minutes. Now, if you loved God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your strength, and all your mind, do you think that five minutes would satisfy such a love as that? Oh, no, sirs, you that are unconverted give God no love at all, and how can you think therefore, that you are keeping his law which puts it so strongly, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart? and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbour as thyself”? Have you ever done that? Neither the first nor the second table have you kept intact.
Luke 10:29. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
The Saviour then related this incident, which I have no doubt was really a fact.
Luke 10:30. And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
It was a very dangerous road, a very lonely part, and robberies were very frequent there.
Luke 10:31. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
He did not like the look of wounds and blood. It is a very convenient thing not to recollect the miseries of your fellow-men. Do not think about their poverty: it might spoil your digestion. Do not think about their drunkenness: you might have to become a teetotaller. Do not think about their sin: you might have to go and preach in the street to them. You can live so easily and pleasantly, and even be a priest and be called “His Reverence,” if you are very careful which side of the road you take. “He passed by on the other side.”
Luke 10:32. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him and passed by on the other side.
There are some whose looks are evidently esteemed by themselves to be so very precious, that, when they have given them, they give nothing more. He may have meant, “I will see into it.” There are a great many who are very diligent in their promises to see into a case, but we do not see much come of what they say. They also pass by on the other side. Neither the priest nor the Levite acted as a neighbour to the man who fell among thieves.
Luke 10:33. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was:
He looked, approached, drew near, “came where he was.”
Luke 10:33. And when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
He did not ask him how he got there, or say to him, ‘Why, man, you must have been very foolish to travel alone. My dear friend, next time you come this way, you must come armed. Did you not know this was a very ugly part of the road? And I think you are ill-advised to have been travelling quite so late.” Oh, we have many dear friends who always favour us with their rebukes when our wounds are bleeding! “He had compassion on him.”
Luke 10:34. And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
Oil and wine-two very good things for external application, and he used them for that. Wondrous healers these were known to be. They were expensive things too. He had brought them for his own comfort, and he freely used them for this poor man. Then he set him on his own beast; so he had to walk himself. He took the inconvenience. He relinquished his own comfort for the sake of doing good. “And he brought him to an inn and took care of him,” perhaps sat up at night with him, he took care of him after he had got him into the inn. He did not immediately commend him to the care of some paid person, but at first he took care of him. But this good Samaritan had urgent business, and was obliged to go about it.
Luke 10:35. And on the morrow when he departed he took out two pence and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spend more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
“This is my piece of work. I want to finish it, and as I cannot stop will you kindly supply the ready money, and when I come again, I will repay you?”
Luke 10:36-37. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him.
Oh, you lawyer, why did you not say “The Samaritan”? Of course, he did not like to use that word. Oh, no, we never mention them-the “Samaritans.” “The Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans;” so he would not honestly say “The Samaritan”; but he made a roundabout of it and said, “He that shewed mercy on him.”
Luke 10:37. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
May we all be enabled to do so by exercising constant love to those who are in need!
Luke 10:38. Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
There were not so very many that kept open house for Christ. But Martha did. It was her house.
Luke 10:39. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
She was free to do so. It was not her house. She need not attend to the hospitalities of it. Her sister was quite equal to it, and so Mary did well to avail herself of the opportunity of sitting at Jesus’ feet, and hearing his word.
Luke 10:40. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
She wanted to get so much ready ¾to have everything nice. So she came almost scolding the Master. She was out of temper, surely, that day. She had got to be troubled. Dear friends, it is not wrong to labour and to work and do all we can, but it is wrong to grow cumbered with it, ¾to get fretful, anxious, worried about this thing and that. You will not do it any better. You will probably do less, and you will do it worse. She was “cumbered about much serving.”
Luke 10:41-42. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful:
“Thou hast forgotten much. Looking after many things, thou hast failed to remember the chief, the only needful thing.”
Luke 10:42. And Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
And so he let her still sit there, and hear his blessed words. “Oh, that I could for ever sit With Mary at the Master’s feet. Be this my happy choice!”
Luke 10:38-40. Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
Agitated, distressed Martha was afraid that something would go wrong with the dinner. She had too much on her hands — too much on her brain. That led her to blame her sister Mary, and to try to get the Lord to blame her too. There is a strong tincture of self-righteousness in Martha’s speech.
Luke 10:41-42. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
I shall not tell her to leave my instruction said our Lord or to get up from the position which she occupies. No, you may go about your work, she is honouring me as much as you are, if not more. This did not mean that Mary was perfect, or that Martha was wholly to be condemned. Both needed to learn much from Jesus, and Mary was more in the way of it. Still Martha was doing good service. But you will see that Mary could do something for Christ too when the time came.