Lu 10:1-24. Mission of the
Seventy Disciples, and Their Return.
As our Lord's end approaches, the preparations for
the establishment of the coming Kingdom are quickened and extended.
1. the Lord—a becoming title here, as
this appointment was an act truly lordly [Bengel].
other seventy also—rather, "others
(also in number), seventy"; probably with allusion to the seventy
elders of Israel on whom the Spirit descended in the wilderness (Nu 11:24,
25). The mission, unlike that
of the Twelve, was evidently quite temporary. All the
instructions are in keeping with a brief and hasty pioneering
mission, intended to supply what of general preparation for coming
events the Lord's own visit afterwards to the same "cities and places"
10:1) would not, from want of
time, now suffice to accomplish; whereas the instructions to the
Twelve, besides embracing all those to the Seventy, contemplate
world-wide and permanent effects. Accordingly, after
their return from this single missionary tour, we never again read of
2. The harvest, &c.—(See on Mt 9:37).
pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that
he would send forth labourers into his harvest—(See on Mt 9:38).
3-12. (See on Mt
10. son of peace—inwardly prepared to
embrace your message of peace. See note on "worthy," (see on Mt 10:13).
12-15. (See on Mt
for Sodom—Tyre and Sidon were ruined
by commercial prosperity; Sodom sank through its vile pollutions: but
the doom of otherwise correct persons who, amidst a blaze of light,
reject the Saviour, shall be less endurable than that of any of
16. He that, &c.—(See on Mt 10:40).
17. returned—evidently not long
Lord, &c.—"Thou hast exceeded Thy
promise, for 'even the devils,'" &c. The possession of such
power, not being expressly in their commission, as in that to the
9:1), filled them with more
astonishment and joy than all else.
through thy name—taking no credit to
themselves, but feeling lifted into a region of unimagined superiority
to the powers of evil simply through their connection with Christ.
18. I beheld—As much of the force of
this glorious statement depends on the nice shade of sense indicated by
the imperfect tense in the original, it should be brought out in
the translation: "I was beholding Satan as lightning falling from
heaven"; that is, "I followed you on your mission, and watched its
triumphs; while you were wondering at the subjection to you of devils
in My name, a grander spectacle was opening to My view; sudden
as the darting of lightning from heaven to earth, lo! Satan was beheld
falling from heaven!" How remarkable is this, that by that law of
association which connects a part with the whole, those feeble triumphs
of the Seventy seem to have not only brought vividly before the
Redeemer the whole ultimate result of His mission, but compressed it
into a moment and quickened it into the rapidity of lightning!
Note.—The word rendered "devils," is always used
for those spiritual agents employed in demoniacal
possessions—never for the ordinary agency of Satan in
rational men. When therefore the Seventy say, "the devils
[demons] are subject to us," and Jesus replies, "Mine eye was beholding
Satan falling," it is plain that He meant to raise their minds
not only from the particular to the general, but from a
very temporary form of satanic operation to the entire
kingdom of evil. (See Joh 12:31;
and compare Isa 14:12).
19. Behold, I give you, &c.—not for
any renewal of their mission, though probably many of them afterwards
became ministers of Christ; but simply as disciples.
serpents and scorpions—the latter more
venomous than the former: literally, in the first instance (Mr
16:17, 18; Ac 28:5); but the
next words, "and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall
by any means hurt you," show that the glorious power of faith to
"overcome the world" and "quench all the fiery darts of the wicked
one," by the communication and maintenance of which to His people He
makes them innocuous, is what is meant (1Jo 5:4; Eph
20. rejoice not, &c.—that is, not so
much. So far from forbidding it, He takes occasion from it to tell them
what had been passing in His own mind. But as power over demons was
after all intoxicating, He gives them a higher joy to balance
it, the joy of having their names in Heaven's register (Php 4:3).
21, 22. Jesus … said, &c.—The
very same sublime words were uttered by our Lord on a former similar
occasion (see on Mt 11:25-27); but (1) There we
are merely told that He "answered and said" thus; here, He "rejoiced
in spirit and said," &c. (2) There it was merely "at that time"
(or season) that He spoke thus, meaning with a general reference to the
rejection of His gospel by the self-sufficient; here, "In that
hour Jesus said," with express reference probably to the humble
class from which He had to draw the Seventy, and the similar class that
had chiefly welcomed their message. "Rejoice" is too weak a word. It is
"exulted in spirit"—evidently giving visible expression to His
unusual emotions; while, at the same time, the words "in spirit" are
meant to convey to the reader the depth of them. This is one of
those rare cases in which the veil is lifted from off the Redeemer's
inner man, that, angel-like, we may "look into it" for a moment (1Pe 1:12). Let us gaze on it with
reverential wonder, and as we perceive what it was that produced that
mysterious ecstasy, we shall find rising in our hearts a still
rapture—"Oh, the depths!"
23, 24. (See on Mt 13:16,
Lu 10:25-37. Question of a
Lawyer and Parable of the Good Samaritan.
25. tempted him—"tested him"; in no
hostile spirit, yet with no tender anxiety for light on that question
of questions, but just to see what insight this great Galilean teacher
26. What is written in the law—apposite
question to a doctor of the law, and putting him in turn to the
27. Thou shalt, &c.—the answer
Christ Himself gave to another lawyer. (See on Mr
28. he said, &c.—"Right; This do, and life is thine"—laying such
emphasis on "this" as to indicate, without expressing it, where the
real difficulty to a sinner lay, and thus nonplussing the
29. willing—"wishing," to get himself
out of the difficulty, by throwing on Jesus the definition of
"neighbor," which the Jews interpreted very narrowly and technically,
as excluding Samaritans and Gentiles [Alford].
30. A certain man—a Jew.
from Jerusalem to Jericho—a distance
of nineteen miles northeast, a deep and very fertile hollow—"the
Temple of Judea" [Trench].
thieves—"robbers." The road, being
rocky and desolate, was a notorious haunt of robbers, then and for ages
after, and even to this day.
31, 32. came down a … priest … and a
Levite—Jericho, the second city of Judea, was a city of the
priests and Levites, and thousands of them lived there. The two here
mentioned are supposed, apparently, to be returning from temple
duties, but they had not learnt what that meaneth, 'I will have
mercy and not sacrifice' [Trench].
saw him—It was not
inadvertently that he acted.
came and looked—a further
passed by—although the law expressly
required the opposite treatment even of the beast not only of
their brethren, but of their enemy (De 22:4; Ex
23:4, 5; compare Isa 58:7).
33. Samaritan—one excommunicated by the
Jews, a byword among them, synonymous with heretic and devil (Joh 8:48; see on Lu
had compassion—His best is mentioned
first; for "He who gives outward things gives something external to
himself, but he who imparts compassion and tears gives him
something from his very self" [Gregory
The Great, in Trench]. No doubt
the priest and Levite had their excuses—It is not safe to be
lingering here; besides, he's past recovery; and then, may not
suspicion rest upon ourselves? So might the Samaritan have reasoned,
but did not [Trench]. Nor did he
say, He's a Jew, who would have had no dealings with me (Joh 4:9), and why should I with him?
34. oil and wine—the remedies used in
such cases all over the East (Isa 1:6), and elsewhere; the wine to
cleanse the wounds, the oil to assuage their smartings.
on his own beast—himself going on
35. two pence—equal to two day's wages
of a laborer, and enough for several days' support.
36. Which … was neighbour?—a most
dexterous way of putting the question: (1) Turning the question from,
"Whom am I to love as my neighbour?" to "Who is the man that shows that
love?" (2) Compelling the lawyer to give a reply very different from
what he would like—not only condemning his own nation, but those
of them who should be the most exemplary. (3) Making him commend one of
a deeply hated race. And he does it, but it is almost extorted. For he
does not answer, "The Samaritan"—that would have sounded
heterodox, heretical—but "He that showed mercy on him." It comes
to the same thing, no doubt, but the circumlocution is significant.
37. Go, &c.—O exquisite, matchless
teaching! What new fountains of charity has not this opened up in the
human spirit—rivers in the wilderness, streams in the desert!
What noble Christian institutions have not such words founded, all
undreamed of till that wondrous One came to bless this heartless world
of ours with His incomparable love—first in words, and then in
deeds which have translated His words into flesh and blood, and poured
the life of them through that humanity which He made His own! Was this
parable, now, designed to magnify the law of love, and to show who
fulfils it and who not? And who did this as never man did it, as our
Brother Man, "our Neighbor?" The priests and Levites had not
strengthened the diseased, nor bound up the broken (Eze 34:4), while He bound up the brokenhearted
61:1), and poured into all
wounded spirits the balm of sweetest consolation. All the Fathers saw
through the thin veil of this noblest of stories, the Story of
love, and never wearied of tracing the analogy (though sometimes
fancifully enough) [Trench]. Exclaims
Gregory Nazianzen (in the fourth
century), "He hungered, but He fed thousands; He was weary, but He is
the Rest of the weary; He is saluted 'Samaritan' and 'Demoniac,' but He
saves him that went down from Jerusalem and fell among thieves,"
Lu 10:38-42. Martha and
38. certain village—Bethany (Joh 11:1), which Luke so speaks of, having
no farther occasion to notice it.
received him … her house—The
house belonged to her, and she appears throughout to be the older
39. which also—"who for her part," in
contrast with Martha.
sat—"seated herself." From the custom
of sitting beneath an instructor, the phrase "sitting at one's
feet" came to mean being a disciple of any one (Ac 22:3).
heard—rather, "kept listening" to His
came to him—"presented herself before
Him," as from another apartment, in which her sister had "left
her to serve (or make preparation) alone."
carest thou not … my sister,
&c.—"Lord, here am I with everything to do, and this sister
of mine will not lay a hand to anything; thus I miss something from Thy
lips, and Thou from our hands."
bid her, &c.—She presumes not to
stop Christ's teaching by calling her sister away, and thus leaving Him
without His one auditor, nor did she hope perhaps to succeed if she had
41. Martha, Martha—emphatically
redoubling upon the name.
careful and cumbered—the one word
expressing the inward worrying anxiety that her preparations
should be worthy of her Lord; the other, the outward bustle of
many things—"much service" (Lu 10:40); too elaborate preparation, which
so engrossed her attention that she missed her Lord's teaching.
42. one thing, &c.—The idea of
"Short work and little of it suffices for Me" is not so much the
lower sense of these weighty words, as supposed in them,
as the basis of something far loftier than any precept on economy.
Underneath that idea is couched another, as to the littleness both of
elaborate preparation for the present life and of that life
itself, compared with another.
chosen the good part—not in the
general sense of Moses' choice (Heb 11:25), and Joshua's (Jos 24:15), and David's (Ps 119:30); that is, of good in opposition to
bad; but, of two good ways of serving and pleasing the Lord,
choosing the better. Wherein, then, was Mary's better than
Martha's? Hear what follows.
not be taken away—Martha's choice
would be taken from her, for her services would die with her;
Mary's never, being spiritual and eternal. Both were
true-hearted disciples, but the one was absorbed in the higher, the
other in the lower of two ways of honoring their common Lord. Yet
neither despised, or would willingly neglect, the other's occupation.
The one represents the contemplative, the other the
active style of the Christian character. A Church full of Marys
would perhaps be as great an evil as a Church full of Marthas. Both are
needed, each to be the complement of the other.