THE GOSPEL OF ST. LUKE
Lesson 8: Chapters 9:51-10:42
The Journey to Jerusalem

Gracious Lord,
The time will come when the days of our journey in this life are fulfilled. We pray that You will protect us from worldly distractions and keep us aware of the preparations we must make for our exodus from this life into the next. We know that in our present circumstances that we must remain vigilant and ready for that departure in our words and in our deeds so that we will have faith filled works of righteous and an unblemished soul to carry with us into eternity. Please send the Holy Spirit to guide us in our study of St. Luke's travel narrative of Jesus' preparations for His last journey to Jerusalem. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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A person who wishes to become the Lord's disciple must repudiate a human obligation, however honorable it may appear, if it slows us ever so slightly in giving the wholehearted obedience we owe to God.
St. Basil the Great, Concerning Baptism, 1.1

Chapter 9:51-62

Luke 9:51-56 ~ The departure for Jerusalem and the inhospitality of a Samaritan village
51 When the days for his being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, 52 and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, 53 but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?" 55 Jesus turned and rebuked them, 56 and they journeyed to another village.

This is the turning point in Luke's Gospel as Jesus begins the journey to His death. His teaching ministry in the Galilee has come to an end, and Jesus now prepares Himself and His disciples for what Luke literally calls the days "of his assumption" in Jerusalem (verse 51, Fitzmyer, page 827). Luke's "travel narrative" of Jesus' final journey to Jerusalem is divided into three parts with the beginning of each part marked by the reference to Jesus going to Jerusalem and the third part beginning and concluding with the same reference just prior to His entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday:

  1. Luke 9:51 - 13:21 ~ When the days for his being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem (Lk 9:51).
  2. Luke 13:22 - 17:10 ~ He passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem (Lk 13:22).
  3. Luke 17:11 - 19:28 ~ As he continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee (Lk 17:11). After he had said this, he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem (Lk 19:28).

Instead of traveling down the eastern side of the Jordan River to avoid passing through Samaria, Jesus and His disciples are traveling the more dangerous route through Samaria on the way to Jerusalem. Only the Gospels of Luke and John record Jesus' dealings with Samaritans (Lk 10:30-37; 17:11-19; Jn 4:4-42). Once again we see Luke's focus on the universality of Jesus' Gospel of the Kingdom.

The term "Samaritan" was originally a geographic distinction for one from the city of Samaria, the old capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel founded by King Omri in the early 9th century BC. After the 8th century BC, it became an ethnic and religious name for the people who came to inhabit the region between the Galilee and Judea to the west of the Jordan River. The Jews despised the people known as Samaritans "at the worst as Gentiles who falsely claimed to worship the God of Israel at their illicit Temple on Mt. Gerizim or at best as half-breed Jews who were apostates from the true faith.

Question: What was the origin of the Samaritans? See 2 Kng 17:6, 24-41
Answer: The Northern tribes of Israel (with the capital at Samaria) were conquered by the Assyrians who exiled the ten northern Israelites tribes into Assyrian lands to the east and imported five different groups of peoples to resettle the conquered territory. These people brought with them their own gods but also adopted the worship of Yahweh, the regional god. They came to be known as the Samaritans.

By Jesus' time there may have been some intermarriage between Jews and Samaritans, but the two groups generally disliked each other and the Samaritans only accepted the Torah in their canon (the first 5 books of Moses) and did not worship according to the Law of Moses, as Jesus told the Samaritan woman: You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand because salvation is from the Jews (Jn 4:22).

The 1st century AD Jewish priest/historian Josephus wrote of the Samaritans:

Josephus also wrote of the Samaritan's hostility and ill treatment of the pilgrims who traveled from the northern regions to the Jerusalem Temple by passing through Samaritan territory (Antiquities of the Jews, 20.6.2; Jewish Wars, 2.12.3). It was for this reason that most of the people of God traveled to Jerusalem down the east side of the Jordan River, passing through the Decapolis and Perea and crossing over near Jericho (Mk 10:1).

Question: In light of Josephus' testimony about the relationship between Jews and Samaritans, why did the Samaritan town refuse to receive Jesus in verse 53?
Answer: Their jealousy and enmity towards the Jews made them refuse to receive Jesus since it was His intention to continue on to Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple that was a rival to their own.

Luke 9:54-55 When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?" 55 Jesus turned and rebuked them, 56 and they journeyed to another village.

James and John Zebedee are offended by the attitude of the Samaritans and perhaps because they are filled with confidence after their successful earlier mission, offer to destroy the town for rebuffing Jesus. The brother's desire to inflict a fiery punitive judgment on the Samaritans recalls Jesus' nick name for the brothers: "the sons of thunder" (Mk 3:17).

Question: The Zebedee brothers' desire to punish the offenders with fire recalls what work of the prophet Elijah in dispensing judgment? See 2 Kng 1:1-12?
Answer: After Elijah pronounced a death sentence on King Ahaziah of the Northern Kingdom of Israel for seeking the intervention of a pagan God, the angry king sent a company of 50 men to arrest Elijah. The prophet destroyed the soldiers by calling down fire from heaven. He did the same when the king had the bad judgment to send a second company of 50 men.

Again Jesus separates Himself from comparisons with divine judgment associated with the prophet Elijah and rebukes James and John.

Question: Jesus' rebuke of James and John reminds and them and us of what earlier teaching? See Lk 6:27-35.
Answer: As the disciples of Christ we must demonstrate our love and not our anger if we want to win souls for the Kingdom of Jesus.

Luke 9:57-62 ~ The personal sacrifice of true discipleship
57 As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." 58 Jesus answered him, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." 59 And to another he said, "Follow me." But he replied, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father." 60 But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead. But you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." 61 And another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home." 62 To him Jesus said, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God."

This next section Jesus gives three teachings to would-be disciples that are warnings to those who want to join Jesus' mission. The focus of the teachings is that one needs to count the cost of discipleship weighed against personal relationships and commitments. Three men express the desire to follow Jesus, but Jesus counters each man's spoken desire to follow Him with a warning on the cost of discipleship:

Question: In summary, what three sacrifices has Jesus called each would-be disciple to make?
Answer:

  1. The sacrifice of personal security and comfort.
  2. The sacrifice of family duties and obligations.
  3. The sacrifice of parental connection and to separate oneself from one's past life.

Luke 9:62 To him Jesus said, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God."

The radical transition that is taking place from the Old Sinai Covenant to the New Covenant in Christ makes earthly ties a part of the things that are to be left behind when we enter God's heavenly Kingdom. The decision to follow Christ cannot only be an emotional enthusiasm but must be a resolute determination (Fitzmyer, page 837).

Chapter 10

The episodes in chapter 10 present a series of contrasts:

Luke 10:1-12 ~ The mission of the seventy/seventy-two disciples
1 After this the Lord appointed seventy[-two] others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. 2 He said to them, "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. 3 Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. 4 Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. 5 Into whatever house you enter, first say, Peace to this household.' 6 If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. 8 Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, 9 cure the sick in it and say to them, The kingdom of God is at hand for you.' 10 Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, 11 The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.' Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand. 12 I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.

Luke 10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy[-two] others... The chapter begins with the literal phrase "after these things;" it is a transition statement Luke uses frequently to show movement to a new focus or new event (see Lk 5:27; 12:4; 17:8; 18:4; Acts 7:7; 13:20;15:16; 18:1). Some ancient manuscripts read "70" and others "72."(1) There is biblical precedence for the number 70:

  1. There were 70 elders in the hierarchy of the Old Covenant Church (Ex 24:1, 9; Num 11:16, 24).
  2. There were 70 male members of the family of Jacob who immigrated into Egypt (Gen 46:8-27; Ex 1:5; Dt 10:22).
  3. The traditional number of the Gentile nations named in the Table of Nations in Genesis chapter 10 in the Jewish Masoretic text is 70, but in the Septuagint translation there are 72 (Green, page 412).

Question: What might be the theological importance of the number of 70/72 disciples sent to prepare the way for Christ and His Kingdom in light of the 70/72 kingdoms/nations listed as the descendants of Noah in Genesis chapter 10?
Answer: The list of the 70/72 nations in Genesis chapter 10 is theologically important in that it stresses the unity of the human family. It is a unity that will become theologically important again in the New Covenant in the future evangelization of the Gentile nations when all men and women of all nations are called into the united family of Christ and His Church.

There will be 120 disciples gathered in the Upper Room in prayer after the Ascension (Acts 1:15) and at Pentecost Jews from across the Roman world heard the Gospel preached in the many dialects of the Gentile nations in which they lived (Acts 2:5-6).

Luke 10:1b ... whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit.

Jesus sent His disciples ahead of Him (literally "before His face") in 35/36 pairs.

Question: What is their mission?
Answer: They will visit towns as His envoys and give testimony of His coming.

Perhaps they were sent in pairs not only for emotional support, but in accordance with the Law that required the testimony of 2 or 3 witnesses in judicial cases (see Dt 19:15). There may be support for the judicial aspect in verses 10-11 and the warning (literally "testimony") in the earlier "sending out" in 9:5. The practice of sending out disciples in twos will be repeated; for example by Peter and John (Acts 8:14), Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:1), and by Paul and Silas (Acts 15:32).

Luke 10:2 He said to them, "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.

Question: Who is the master of the harvest, what is the harvest, and who are the laborers who work in the harvest?
Answer: God is the Master of the harvest that is the ingathering of souls into the Kingdom of heaven. The disciples of Jesus Christ are the laborers who spread the Gospel of salvation, helping to bring about the conversion of souls that are ready for entrance into the heavenly Kingdom.

The work of Jesus and His disciples are under the providence of God who is creating a new phase of salvation history, the response to which will be judged (see verse 12). In the Old Testament the "harvest" is a symbol of God's eschatological judgment (see for example see Is 27:12-13 and Joel 4:1-3, 12-13). In this passage "harvest" is a symbolic reference for the time when the preaching of the Gospel of salvation has produced the mature fruit of repentance and salvation. There is also a sense of urgency. In the harvest of grain or fruit there is only a certain amount of time to collect the harvest of the mature crop. In this sense, the time is then ripe for the great numbers of people that are ready to accept the Gospel message and be gathered into God's heavenly storehouse before the Last Judgment. Jesus' disciples are the laborers in the field that is the world but the "reapers/harvesters" in Scripture are said to be the angels (Mt 13:39, 41; Mk 13:27).

Luke 10:3 Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.

The image of Jesus' disciples now shifts from laborers to lambs and the contrast between lambs (disciples) and wolves (those hostile to their message) is a warning of the danger of their mission.

Luke 10:4 Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals ... and greet no one along the way.

The instructions on what to take on their missionary journey and how to conduct themselves in the towns they visit are similar to the instructions given to the twelve Apostles in Luke 9:1-6. They are to rely completely on God to meet their needs. In 10:4 they are told not to wear sandals.

Question: At what other times were God's holy agents told to remove their sandals? See Ex 3:5 and Josh 5:15.
Answer: Moses and Joshua were told to remove the sandals from the feet when they were standing on holy ground.

Since the Temple was also considered "holy ground" the priests and Levites when serving within the sacred precincts of the Temple were forbidden to wear sandals (Mishnah: Tamid, 1:1Q-1:2J; 5:3).(2) It is possible that this command suggests, with the coming of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, His Church will have authority over all earthly kingdoms (Dan 2:44; 7:27) and all the earth is to be considered God's holy ground.

and greet no one along the way. This is probably a warning not to become distracted but to remain focused on the mission as well as the necessity of the haste of their mission to bring in the "harvest."

Luke 10:5 Into whatever house you enter, first say, Peace to this household.' "Peace to this household" is more than the common greeting. The greeting of the disciples carries a blessing that announces the peace of fellowship with God that Jesus' Gospel message brings to the entire family who receives Him through His disciples.

Luke 10:6 If a peaceful person [literally son of peace] lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. A "son/daughter of peace" is a person open to the Gospel message. In the Hebrew of the Old Testament, the word salom (peace) is from the root slm meaning "completeness," "wholeness" in the sense of the "comprehensive bounty of God's salvific presence and activity" (Fitzmter, 848). But, Jesus tells them, if their message is rejected, the blessing will return to them to dispense to a receptive heart.

Luke 10:7 Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another.

These instructions are meant to avoid the problem of jealousy with townspeople competing to give them hospitality.

Question: What is meant by Jesus' statement that "the laborer deserves his payment"?
Answer: They are to freely accept what is offered without feeling obligated to offer payment. Laboring for the Lord on behalf of these people is their payment.

Luke 10:8-11a Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, 9 cure the sick in it and say to them, The kingdom of God is at hand for you.' 10 Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, 11 The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.' The mission of the disciples is to be public and not private. If they are not welcomed, they are to shake the dust of the town off their feet as though the people were "unclean" Gentiles. It was the practice to shake the dust of Gentile lands off one's feet before crossing over into the holy land of God.

Luke 10:11b-12 Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand. 12 I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town. Whether they are well received or rejected they are to keep the focus of their mission on the fact that the Kingdom of God is coming. Then in verse 12 Jesus declares a warning for those that reject the disciple's message, which as His emissaries is His message.

Question: What is the purpose Jesus' the reference to "Sodom"? See Gen chapter 19; Is 13:9; Jer 49:8; Lam 4:6; Amos 4:11; Jude 7; Rev 11:8 and 2 Thes 1:5-10.
Answer: Sodom was a town located in the plain near the Dead Sea that was destroyed in an act of God's divine judgment. In the Bible the fate of Sodom became a symbol for God's divine judgment. In the climax of salvation history, the judgment on the townspeople who rejected the coming Kingdom and Jesus' work of salvation, will be worse that those who perished by fire in God's judgment of Sodom (as described in 2 Thes 1:5-10).

Luke 10:13-16 ~ Jesus' reproach for those who refuse to repentant
13 Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And as for you, Capernaum, Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld.'" 16 Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me."

Question: As Jesus continues to address His disciples, why does Jesus pronounce a curse/judgment on the towns that witnessed His mighty deeds and still refused to repent? What is His warning? See Mt 3:1-2; Lk 3:2-3.
Answer: Repentance is part of the proclamation of the Kingdom. Anyone who refuses to acknowledge his sins and to repent cannot be at peace with God nor be welcomed into the kingdom in his sinful condition. Judgment will be more catastrophic for those towns who rejected God's messenger and His proclamation of the Kingdom than for those who perished by fire in the judgment on the ancient city of Sodom who never heard the Gospel message of salvation.

Of the three towns Jesus mentioned, the site of Chorazin has not been identified, but it was probably a town near Capernaum where Jesus' ministry was headquartered. The townspeople of Chorazin surely heard His teaching and witnessed many of His miracles.(4) The town of Bethsaida was located at the northern tip of the Sea of Galilee and was the hometown of the Apostle Philip (Jn 1:44; 12:21).

Question: What mighty miracle did Jesus work at Bethsaida? See Lk 9:10-17.
Answer: It was the feeding miracle for the more than 5 thousand.

Luke 10:13b For if the mighty deeds done in you midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. If the Gentile communities of Tyre and Sidon had witness the same miracles as these Galilean cities, the people would have repented their sins and have observed the ancient custom of expressing sorrow, penitence and mourning by wearing sackcloth and ashes (see Is 58:5; Est 4:2-3 LXX; Dan 9:3 LXX; Jonah 3:6 LXX; 2:8).

Luke 10:14-15 But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And as for you, Capernaum, Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld [Sheol].'"

Question: Why will God's judgment be harsher for the Galilean towns?
Answer: The people of those Galilean towns were eyewitnesses to Jesus miracles and should have come to repentance and faith. Just because Jesus performed miracles that they witnessed they should not expect heavenly praise but if they fail to repent they can expect heavenly judgment.

Jesus refers to Hades in the Greek text in verse 15. Sheol in the Hebrew (Hades in Greek) was also known in Jesus as "Abraham's bosom;" it is the grave to which all people, the righteous and the wicked, were consigned from the fall of Adam until the redeeming work of Christ. It is not the Hell of the damned. Jesus will describe the conditions in Sheol in Luke chapter 16 (see CCC 633; Ps 89:49; Is 14:9; Antiquities of the Jews 18.1.3). After His death and before His Resurrection, Jesus descended into Sheol-Hades to preach the Gospel of salvation to the souls imprisoned there (1 Pt 3:18-20; 4:6). CCC 633: Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, "hell" "Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek "because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God. Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into "Abraham's bosom": "It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham's bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell." Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.

Luke 10:16 Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.

This is the conclusion of Jesus' instructions to His disciples. Verse 16 is the foundation upon which Jesus' emissaries are to be sent out:

  1. They are sent to announce His coming and the coming of the Kingdom (10:1, 9).
  2. They have a share in Jesus' power and authority (10:9)
  3. They are empowered to speak and to be received in His name and in the name of the One who sent Jesus, God the Father (10:16).

Jesus' disciples are therefore to be completely identified with the person of Jesus. They carry His personal message and those who reject them have in essence rejected Christ. Since Jesus is sent by God they have also rejected God.

Luke 10:17-20 ~ The return of the seventy [-two] disciples
17 The seventy [-two] returned rejoicing, and said, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name." 18 Jesus said, "I have observed Satan fall like lightening from the sky. 19 Behold, I have given you the power to tread upon serpents' and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven."

The success of the mission is reflected in the disciples' joy.

Question: Why do the disciples say they have been successful?
Answer: They have been successful because they have ministered in Jesus' "name." It is through the authentic use of Jesus' name that they worked the same kinds of miracles Jesus works.

Luke 10:18 Jesus said, "I have observed Satan fall like lightening from the sky. In this passage St. Luke uses the name "Satan" for the first time. Previously in Luke's Gospel Jesus had referred to this entity as the "devil" ("accuser" in Hebrew; see Lk 4:2-13 and 8:12). Satan, from the Hebrew satan, meaning "adversary," is the specific name for the fallen angel who is humanity's arch enemy (see Rev 12:9). He is called both the "prince of devils" and the "prince of this world" (Mt 9:34; 12:34; Mk 3:12; Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Previously Luke has referred to this entity as the "devil" ("accuser" in Hebrew; see Lk 4:2-13 and 8:12).

Question: What is Satan's mission? See Gen chapter 3; Rev 12:9; Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7 and Zech 3:1-2.
Answer: His mission, since His success in bring sin into the world, is to challenge the faithfulness of God's servants and to continue to lead men into sin. He also stands in the heavenly court as mankind's accuser.

It is unclear what Jesus means in verse 18. Perhaps the disciples' success in the spread of the Gospel has weakened Satan's power and His ability to stand in the heavenly court; hence his fall from the sky.

Luke 10:19-20 Behold, I have given you the power to tread upon serpents' and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven."

Verse 19 recalls God's promise of protection in Psalms 91:1-16. Verses 9-16 promise: You have the LORD for your refuge; you have made the Most High your stronghold. No evil shall befall ou, no affliction come near your tent. For God commands the angels to guard you in your ways. With their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the aps and the viper, trample the lion and the dragon. Revelation 12:9 identifies the "dragon" as Satan, the great enemy of man. It is this enemy and his forces from which Jesus has protected the disciples on their mission (verse 19).

Question: However, despite their powers over the material and spiritual world, according to Jesus their power over demons should not be the real cause for their rejoicing. Over what blessing should they rejoice? See Ex 32:33; Ps 69:28-29; Dan 12:1; Phil 4:3; Rev 3:5; 20:11-12; 21:27.
Answer: They should rejoice because their names are written in God's Book of Life.

In these next several episodes, Jesus makes several contrasts between those who belong to Him and those who belong to the world "those who see and hear and those who do not see and hear.

Luke 10:21-22 ~ Jesus praises the Father and blesses the disciples
21 At that very moment he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him." 23 Turning to the disciples in private he said, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 24 For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.

Jesus praises the Father (verses 21-22) and blesses the disciples (verses 23-24) who are eyewitnesses and sharers of His ministry at this critical point in salvation history.

Question: In what three ways has Jesus defined His relationship to the disciples? The third way ends in a special beatitude (verses 23-24). See verses 16-24 for your answer.
Answer:

  1. They are His chosen emissaries (verse 16).
  2. Because of their faith and their service, their names are inscribed in the Book of Life in heaven (verse 20).
  3. They are blessed with a revelation of Him and His heavenly Father which elevates them above the prophets and kings of the Old Covenant as "children" of God (verses 21-24).

In the Old Testament the Israelites of the Sinai Covenant were called the "sons/children of God," but only in a collective sense. Now each individual disciple of Jesus Christ who is reborn through water and the Holy Spirit into the family of God becomes a child of the Almighty (Jn 3:3, 5).

... many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.

Jesus is the messianic hope of the ages that God's holy prophets promised and He is the fulfillment of the promise made in the covenant with the Davidic kings (2 Sam 7:12-16; 23:1-5).

Luke 10:25-28 ~ The greatest commandment
25 There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 Jesus said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read it?" 27 He said in reply, "You shall love the Lord, your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." 28 He replied to him, "You have answered correctly; do this and you will live."

Question: What contrast did Jesus make in 10:21?
Answer: He contrasts the disciples as "children/childlike" as opposed to the "wise and learned" who oppose His teaching and proclamation of the Kingdom.

Question: What did St. Paul write about those considered to be "wise and learned" according to human standards? See 1 Cor 1:25-30.
Answer: He wrote that God does not measure wisdom and strength by human standards. He chose those (the Apostles and disciples of Jesus) who were not considered either wise or learned or influential by human standards to shame those who arrogantly believed they were superior in their understanding of God and the Law.

In this episode, one of the "wise and learned" steps forward to test Jesus' understanding of the Torah (the Law of Moses) by asking, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" to which Jesus' counters the scholar's question with His own question, asking what is written in the Law and how does he interpret it. The scholar answers by quoting from two commandments from the Torah "the first from a verse from the collection of verses in the Shema (the Old Covenant profession of faith) in Deuteronomy 6:7 and the second from the Holiness Code (Lev chapters 17-26) in Leviticus 19:18.

Question: What does the first quote from Deuteronomy 6:7 command concerning one's relationship with God? What is the depth of that commitment?
Answer: One must give God one's undivided love and loyalty which encompasses one's entire being:

Question: What does the scholar list is the second law that leads to eternal life? See Lev 19:18.
Answer: One must love one's neighbor as oneself.

Question: What in the Law do these two commandments summarize?
Answer: The Ten Commandments "the first three commands address man's relationship to God and other seven commandments address man's relationship with his fellow man.

Jesus approves of the scholar's answer and tells him if he indeed follows his understanding of the Law that he will find eternal life.

Luke 10:29-37 ~ The parable of the good Samaritan
29 But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 30 Jesus replied, "A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. 32 Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. 33 But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. 34 He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.' 36 Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robber's victim?" 37 He answered, The one who treated him with mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

Still wishing to test Jesus, the scholar asks for Jesus' definition of "neighbor." According to the Law in Leviticus 19:17-18, "neighbor" is defined as one's own countryman but verses 33-34 command the ethical treatment of foreigners living in the land of Israel. Jesus answers by telling a parable about an unfortunate man who was robbed and beaten on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. The contrast in this story is between the "righteous" Jews and the "heretic" Samaritan.

Question: What two Jews see the badly injured man but pass by without rendering aid? Who renders aid?
Answer: A priest and a Levite do not help but a Samaritan does render aid.

The priest is a descendant of Aaron from the tribe of Levi, the first high priest, and is an ordained minister of God's Sanctuary. The Levite is a descendant of the tribe of Levi who is not related to Aaron and who serves the Aaronic priesthood as a lesser minister (Num 3:5, 10). As we have already mentioned, the Samaritans were despised by the Jews and for Jesus to use a Samaritan as a model of compassion and virtue would have been received with shock and disbelief by the Jewish crowd.

Question: What form of aid does the Samaritan render? Name 5 ways he offers his help.
Answer: He offers his personal resources: his oil and wine, his mount, his money, and his time.

Question: For what reason might the priest and Levite not have stopped to help a an injured man by the road? See Lev 5:3; 21:1-3; Num 5:2; 6:6-8; 19:2-3.
Answer: To touch a dead or bloody body would have rendered them ritually unclean and they would have had to spend a week becoming purified. This was the case for any Jew but in their case such impurity would prevent them from service in the Temple until purity was restored.

Question: Why doesn't this excuse really work for them? See verse 30.
Answer: Since they were traveling away from the Jerusalem Temple, they certainly did not have an urgent need to remain purified.

Luke 10:36-37 Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robber's victim?" 37 He answered, The one who treated him with mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

Jesus' question to the scholar in verse 36 changes the nature of the man's original question. The scholar was at first hostile to Jesus, wishing to test Him and to find Him in error, but now he appears to be responsive to Jesus' teaching and answers correctly that the Samaritan demonstrated mercy and compassion. Jesus rewards him with the warning to put his words into practice. There can be no eternal life without loving God by demonstrating love and compassion to others in the human family.

Priests and Levites enjoyed a privileged status in society and were commitment to maintaining ritual purity as a symbol of their internal condition of holiness in serving God and God's people. But once again Jesus teaches that the Law is not meant to be inflexible and rigid in cases where mercy is more important than the letter of the Law. It was the same teaching He gave when challenged by the Pharisees and scribes for allowing His hungry disciples to pick grain on the Sabbath and when He healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath in Luke 6:1-10. For the Christian, love of God is not complete without extending love to our neighbor (see Gal 5:14; Rom 13:9; Jam 2:8 where love of one's neighbor is regarded as the completion of the Old Testament Law).

Luke 10:38-42 ~ Jesus visits Martha and Mary in Bethany
38 As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. 39 She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. 40 Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me." 41 The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. 42 There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."

Question: What is being contrasted in this episode?
Answer: In this episode, two kinds of service to the Lord are contrasted "service in love of neighbor and service in love of God.

The scholar correctly identified the two greatest commandments as love of God and love of neighbor in Luke 10:27-28. It is the same teaching Jesus gives when questioned by the Pharisees and scribes (Mt 22:34-40 and Mk 12:28-31). Here the contrast is between Martha the attentive hostess and her sister the attentive disciple.

Question: Where did Martha and Mary live? See Jn 11:1 and consult a map of the Holy Land in the 1st century AD.
Answer: They lived in the village of Bethany, on the east side of the Mt. of Olives which was located on the east side of Jerusalem.

Question: What was Jesus' relationship with the two sisters and their brother Lazarus? See Jn 11:5 and 12:1-2.
Answer: They were disciples who made Jesus welcomed in their home. Scripture records that Jesus loved Martha, her sister Mary and their brother Lazarus."

Three visits to the home of Martha and Mary are recorded in the Gospels:

  1. The visit in Luke 10:38-42 as Jesus is traveling to Jerusalem.
  2. The visit when their brother Lazarus dies in John 11:1-44. Jesus had withdrawn to the east side of the Jordan River because of the opposition of the priests and Pharisees of Jerusalem. He returns to raise Lazarus from the dead.
  3. The visit that begins Jesus' last week in Jerusalem in John 12:1-11 when He and His Apostles have a Sabbath meal with the family.

John 11:1 is the only time Lazarus is mentioned before his sisters (see Jn 11:5; 12:2). (4)

In this story Martha's service is the customary physical comfort offered to an honored guest, and Mary's service is in listening to the Gospel of the Lord.

Question: What is the "one thing" that is necessary that Jesus refers to in verse 42?
Answer: The "one thing" is being ready and willing to hear the word.

Jesus gently corrects Martha, telling her that while demonstrating love of a "neighbor" is worthy it cannot be more important than love of God expressed by listening to the Word "Christ Himself (Jn 1:1). Priority is given to hearing the word (Lk 8:15, 21). It is the spiritual work that must take precedence.

Question: How is Jesus breaking with the conventions of His times in what He tells Martha?
Answer: In saying that the better choice is hearing the Word, He is saying that a woman's place isn't always "in the kitchen;" she is equal to men in her obligation to hear and understand the Word.

Question for reflection or group discussion:

The episode in Luke 10:38-42 contrasts two kinds of service to the Kingdom "physical and contemplative. The truth is we need both Marthas and Marys to advance the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. How are Marthas valuable to the Kingdom of Christ? What roles to they fill? Who are the Marys who serve the Kingdom and in what ways do the Marthas help the Marys fulfill their role?

Endnotes:

1. Certain ancient texts of the Alexandrian and Caesarean text types record "70" while other important Alexandrian and Western texts have "72" (Green, page 409).

2. Also see Edersheim, The Temple: Its Ministry and Services, page 109; A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, Division ii, vol. I, page 278; Lev 6:11/4; Ez 44:14. The Temple was holy ground therefore God's instructions to Moses in Ex 3:5 applied to the Court of Israel and the Temple Sanctuary.

3. Bishop Eusebius (mid 4th century AD) identified Chorazin as "a village in Galilee" that in his time was a deserted place "two miles from Capernaum (Onom., 303, 174).

4. It is possible that he was a minor under the care of his older sisters. Usually adult males are named before their sisters as in the case of Aaron, Moses and Miriam. Aaron was three years older than Moses but Miriam was the eldest of the three (see Ex 6:20; 7:6; Ex 2:4, 7-9).

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2013 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Catechism references for this lesson (*indicated that Scripture is either quoted or paraphrased in the citation):

Lk 9:51

CCC 557

Lk 10:17-20

CCC 787*

Lk 9:58

CCC 544*

Lk 10:21-23

CCC 2603*

Lk 10:1-2

CCC 765*

Lk 10:21

CCC 1083*

Lk 10:2

CCC 2611*

Lk 10:25-37

CCC 2822*

Lk 10:7

CCC 2122*

Lk 10:27-37

CCC 1825*

Lk 10:15

CCC 633

Lk 10:27

CCC 2083*

Lk 10:16

CCC 87, 858*

Lk 10:34

CCC 1293*