For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2001 James Melough

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.”

“After these things” refers to the conclusion of the previous chapter in which the Lord discussed the cost of discipleship, so the implication is that the seventy now sent forth had accepted the conditions.  Since seventy is the number of perfection, and two the number of witness or testimony, their going out in pairs declares the adequacy of their testimony.  Obedience is all the Lord requires of those who would be His witnesses.

Their going “into every city and place, whither he himself would come,” directs our attention to the broader scope of the present Church age.  The Lord is coming again, not just to a few cities in Palestine, but to the whole world.  It behooves us therefore to prepare the world for His coming by preaching the gospel, but it is necessary to distinguish between His coming to rapture His Church home to heaven, and His coming seven years later to inaugurate His millennial kingdom, and to be aware that the whole world will not hear the gospel before He comes for His Church, for Scripture makes it clear that the only ones who can be saved in the Tribulation era will be those who had not previously heard the gospel, see 2 Thes 2, particularly verses 10-12.  Obviously if the whole world had heard the gospel prior to the rapture of the Church no one could be saved in the Tribulation period.

10:2.  “Therefore said he unto them, the harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth laborers into his harvest.”

The harvest in Scripture is almost invariably connected with judgment, portrayed in the separation of the wheat from the tares, so the reference here to the harvest should probably be understood as including “tares” as well as “wheat,” for it seems that only in this context can it be viewed as being great, the number of believers being relatively small.  And since there is no question relative to God’s willingness to save men, the prayer that He send forth laborers into His harvest field can have reference only to the scarcity of those willing to do this work of evangelism.  But again, since He compels no one to serve, these words must be examined further, and in relation to prayer. It is unnecessary to say that our prayers are not to inform God of our needs or of anything else, so it becomes apparent then that genuine prayer for more workers will be impelled only by a genuine concern for men’s souls.  The concern that impels genuine prayer for the salvation of men’s souls must therefore inevitably impel service.  Where there is that concern, there will inevitably be involvement in spreading the good news, and this becomes contagious.  The activity of one will encourage the activity of others.  We ought to encourage one another to be active in this great work. .

10:3.  “Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.”

As it was then, so is it still.  Nothing stirs up the animosity of the natural heart like the preaching of the gospel.  The believer who preaches a clear unvarnished gospel will incur the enmity of the world, making him as a lamb in the midst of wolves, there being no clearer picture of the malignant hatred of Satan and his spiritual children.  He who doubts the bitter antagonism of Satan and men against God and the gospel has only to look at Calvary, and the treatment meted out to those who have faithfully and fearlessly preached the gospel down through the centuries.

10:4.  “Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes; and salute no man by the way.”

The command to carry neither purse nor scrip (bag), is the symbolic announcement that the servant is to be completely dependent on the Lord for every need - not just for food and clothing, but for His protection and guidance also.

Since shoes speak of separation from the world, the command not to carry an extra pair may be the symbolic declaration that our separation is not to be a changeable thing, adapting itself to different situations.  It is to be life-long, unchanging, total, and embracing every facet of life.

“... and salute no man by the way” seems strange, but it is probably meant to indicate the urgency of this great work, and remind us that time is not to be frittered away on the world’s social activities.  For example, it is easy to allow ourselves to become involved socially with the unconverted in the hope that we may eventually be able to speak to them about their souls.  There may not be a tomorrow for them or us!  Today is the time to warn them.

10:5.  “And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.”

This reminds us of the command to live peaceably with all men as far as it lies within our power, but it goes beyond this.  There was to be the explicit benediction.  It is to be remembered, however, that it was still the Jewish age, and though that age has long since ended, the wish, if not the directly expressed benediction, ought to be the expression of our sentiment towards those in the houses we may enter today.

10:6.  “And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.”

“... the son of peace” is generally understood to mean literally anyone who loves peace, or who is peaceably disposed towards the gospel.  Where there was not such a person or attitude, the blessing, of course, would not follow.  In terms of today’s experience, this declares that where there is a peaceable attitude towards the gospel and those who proclaim it, there will be the blessing of peace, for only believers will be possessed of such a peaceable spirit.

10:7.  “And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the laborer is worthy of his hire.  Go not from house to house.”

This repeats the command given the twelve in chapter 9, and is given here undoubtedly for the same reason.  1 Co 9:14 emphasizes that they who are called to a full-time ministry are to enjoy the temporal support of those who benefit from their work, the OT pattern being found in God’s arrangement for supplying the needs of the Levites.

10:8.  “And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:”

This seems to relate to the fact that Jews were not to seek to impose Jewish customs on Gentiles.  Note the separate order for Jew and Gentile believers in the early Apostolic age, and the reason for that difference, as already discussed.

10:9.  “And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.”

Beyond the healing of literal sickness lies the need of spiritual healing, that is, of being born again.

The kingdom being offered was the millennial kingdom, and in that respect the gospel of that age was different from the gospel to be preached today.  It is to be noted also that the kingdom of God was come nigh them.  They, however, must receive it by receiving the Lord as Savior.  Salvation involves the individual’s will.  It isn’t arbitrarily imposed by God apart from a man’s free-willed choice.

10:10.  “But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say,”

10:11.  “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.”

This continues to emphasize, not only the free-will nature of the gospel invitation, but also the solemn fact that rejection of it brings judgment, the dissolution of Jewish autonomy in AD 70 being a dramatic example of that principle in action.

10:12.  “But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.”

The fearful judgment that destroyed Sodom is an example of God’s recompense of unbelief.  “... in that day” refers to the day of judgment, and embraces the then impending judgment of Israel; that which will occur in the Tribulation; Christ’s judgment of the nations at the end of the Tribulation; and of course, the final terrible judgment of unbelievers at the great white throne.

This verse also makes clear that there will be degrees of punishment for those who reject the Gospel, as it is written, “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” Heb 10:29.

10:13.  “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.”

10:14.  “But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and S­idon at the judgment, than for you.”    

These verses continue to emphasize that responsi­bi­lity is in direct proportion to light given.  The literal judgment on Chorazin and Bethsaida has already been executed.  Their exact sites are uncertain today.  The final judgment of their unbelieving inhabitants awaits the judgment of the great white throne.

10:15.  “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.”

The Lord had dwelt in Capernaum.  Its privilege was indeed great, but inasmuch as it rejected Him, its punishment will be in corresponding measure.

This is a warning to the self-righteous.  In their delusion they think they’re going to heaven, but are instead on the way to hell.  It behooves us, while there is time, to make sure that we have had a new birth.  It is too late for remedy once we’ve gone from time into eternity.

10:16.  “He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.”

This continues to warn of the terrible consequences attending rejection of the gospel.  It reminds us also , however, of the closeness of the believer to his Lord, as it is written in Mt 25:40 “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

10:17.  “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils (demons) are subject unto us through thy name.”

We do well to note their acknowledgment that all the power they had been privileged to exercise was through the Lord’s name.  That same power is available to every believer today, though we must note that since AD 70 it does not include the performing of miracles.  Miracles were for the Jewish age only, as a testimony to unbelieving Israel.

10:18.  “And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.”

Though this is understood by some to be an oblique warning against pride which brought the downfall of Lucifer, the comment of Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown is worth noting.  They suggest that the Lord’s words might be paraphrased as follows, “I followed you on your mission, and watched its triumphs; while you were wondering at the subjection to you of demons 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.”  In other words, while they had seen the demons made subject to them, the Lord, as a man, had been shown that event still future when at the mid point of the Tribulation, Satan will be expelled from heaven, see Re 12:7-9.  This may very well be the correct interpretation of this verse.

10:19.  “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.”

There is no question that the power given them was over literal serpents and scorpions, but neither is there any question that it went beyond these literal creatures, and included the evil spirit creatures who do Satan’s bidding.  That power against literal venomous creatures, however, like all miracle-working power, was as already noted, for the early Apostolic age only.  Some, failing to recognize this truth, and ignorantly attempting to display faith, have died from snakebite inflicted when they have handled these reptiles, believing that this verse guaranteed them immunity.  What does continue today is God’s protection of His own from the malignant power of Satan and his baleful hordes which the literal scorpions and serpents represent.

10:20. “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your na­mes are written in heaven.”

A greater cause for rejoicing than that they had been given this power over serpents and demons, was that their names were in the Lamb’s book of life.  Success in Christian work sometimes begets pride, and causes the worker to forget that the gift he has been given might have been given to another.  Since we have nothing but what we have received, it becomes us to be of a humble spirit, remembering that God’s gift of eternal life, received through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, is infinitely more valuable than any spiritual gift.

10:21.  “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.”

The Lord’s giving thanks to His Father reminds us of the injunction given us in Php 4:6, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”  It is to be feared that we are more ready to importune God than to thank Him for His response to our prayers.

The “wise and prudent” in the present context are those whose wisdom and prudence are earthly, not spiritual.  Earthly wisdom is of little account in God’s sight, see 1 Co 1:17-31, and for at least one obvious reason: it causes men to despise God and His Word.

“Babes” very obviously refers, not to literal children, but to believers, that is, those who have exercised a simple childlike faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, see, for example 1 Jn 2:1,12,13,18,28.

The Lord’s perfect agreement with the Father’s will in this as in all things, even His own death, reminds us that the same acquiescent spirit is to mark us, the assurance having been given us that His will is, “Good, and acceptable, and perfect,” Ro 12:2, and that “All things work together for good to them that love God,” Ro 8:28.

10:22.  “All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.”

This declares the equality of the Father and the Son, and other Scriptures declare the inclusion of the Holy Spirit in that equality.  The Father’s delivering “a­ll things” to the Son was made possible because the Son, in the form of Man, was totally submissive to the Father.

The reference to the fact that no man knew who the Son was, is the announcement of the truth that no finite mind is capable of grasping fully the mystery of the Godhead consisting of three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, coequal and coeternal, yet One Being.

The statement that no man can know the Father apart from the revelation given by the Son, doesn’t mean that the Father can be better known than the Son, but rather that it is only by believing in the Son that men can know anything of the Father, that knowledge being the same as the believer’s knowledge of the Son: it is partial, governed by the limitations of the finite mind.  All that can be known of the Father is revealed in and by the Son, as He Himself declared, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father,” Jn 10:30; 14:8.  Christ, as Man, was not the revelation of the effulgence of Divine glory (for no man can behold that glory and live), but rather, the revelation of the character of God as a Being of intelligence, emotion, and will.  Intellectually, emotionally, and volitionally, the Man Christ Jesus displayed the character of God the Father. 

10:23.  “And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see:”

This extends the blessedness of those early believers to all other men of faith, for it is to be remembered that many in that day saw the same miracles with their natural eyes, but remained unbelievers, because they didn’t see also with spiritual vision. And it remains the same today.  For every one who hears the gospel believingly, there are multitudes who hear only with natural hearing but not spiritual; who read literally, but without spiritual understanding, the very same words that convict a few others and lead them to trust in Christ.

The impossibility of hearing and seeing believingly apart from the revelation given by the Son in verse 22, is not to be construed as meaning that God has predestinated some to be saved and others lost.  It must be understood in the context of God’s often ignored attribute: His foreknowledge.  He foreknows who will believe, but that is not to be confused with His predestination.  In His sovereignty He brings the gospel to many, who He knows won’t believe, and by the exercise of that same sovereignty He withholds it from others who He also knows wouldn’t believe.  All of this has to do with divine sovereignty and foreknowledge, not with predestination.  Acceptance or rejection of the gospel is a free will act on the part of the hearer.

10:24.  “For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.”

None of the prophets or godly kings had lived to see the fulfillment of what the Holy Spirit had impelled them to write, reminding us that all of the OT is nothing less than the announcement of the coming of the Messiah and the foreshadowing of His great work.  To read the OT apart from that perspective is to miss its message.

10:25.  “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

A lawyer in those days was an expert in everything pertaining to the Mosaic law, and his question indicates that he understood the link between that law and eternal life, but it indicates also that he may have had at least some awareness that unless the scope of the law could be narrowed, no man had any hope of obtaining eternal life by law-keeping.  Its standards were too high.  He is a wise man who learns that lesson in time to obtain eternal life by the only means available to men: faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, which makes the prize available as God’s priceless gift bestowed by grace, and not as the reward for attempted law-keeping.  As it is written, “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast,” Eph 2:8-9; and again, “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin,” Ro 3:20; and again, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us....” Tit 3:5.

This lawyer, in fact, is the prototype of all who seek justification and righteousness through law-keeping, and the fatal flaw in their thinking is betrayed in his question, “What shall I do....?”  The natural man can’t conceive of salvation apart from his own works to obtain it, while the clear announcement of Scripture is that it is offered by God as a gift, and cannot be obtained on any other basis, as it is written, “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord,” Ro 6:23.

10:26.  “He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?”

The Lord, knowing what was in the lawyer’s heart, met him on his own ground; and knowing also apparently that the man was looking for some relaxation of the law’s demands, asked for an exact summation of those requirements.

10:27.  “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 neighbor as thyself.”

10:28.  “And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right; this do, and thou shalt live.”

His understanding of the law’s requirements was perfect, as is attested by the Lord’s response.  Being able to declare the law’s requirements, however, was one thing; to meet them, another matter altogether, and it was this that the Lord emphasized when He said, “This do, and thou shalt live.”  This returned the man to his original ground: a perfect law must be perfectly kept, for as James warns, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all,” Jas 2:10, and everything indicates that the lawyer may have been aware of his own failure.

Before continuing, it is necessary to note something relative to the Lord’s reply, “This do, and thou shalt live.”  To take this as meaning that one can be saved by law-keeping, is to misunderstand Christ’s teaching.  He didn’t bring into the discussion the fact that men are sinners by birth (Adam’s guilt being imputed to all his descendants), and for a very good reason: once a man learns that since law-keeping can’t blot out the sins he himself has committed, he learns also that then it is equally powerless to blot out the guilt imputed because of Adam’s rebellion.  The important lesson the man needed to learn was that the law could neither justify from sins committed nor sin imputed.  The Lord had the wisdom to stick to the point under discussion.  We sometimes dull the edge of the gospel message by dragging into it what is irrelevant.  Theology is for saints, not sinners, because the sinner who simply wants to argue, or discuss theology, is in no condition to be saved, and we shouldn’t encourage him in his folly by engaging in mere theological or philosophical discussion with him.  Once a man has been convicted of sin he isn’t interested in arguments or theology: his burning concern is, “What must I do to be saved?”

10:29.  “But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor?”

This lawyer obviously was far from being convicted of his own sin, and therefore far from salvation, for without conviction salvation is impossible.  His preferring to quibble over a legal definition declares that he had no consciousness of his own lost state, and his desperate need of a Savior.

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.”

The question may be asked, Why did the Lord use such a seemingly circuitous enigmatic method of answering the man?  As to its being circuitous: when properly understood, it is found to be as direct an answer as could be given.  As to its being enigmatic: a fact generally ignored today is that there can be no salvation apart from both the enlightenment given, and the conviction wrought, by the Holy Spirit.  Nor does this imply predestination relative to salvation.  The true penitent will be enlightened and convicted.  The impenitent will experience neither.  That is why out of many who hear the gospel, only a few are enlightened, convicted, and saved.  What is an enigma to the one, is light from heaven to the other, faith to believe the message making the difference.

The traveler in the parable is a figure or type of all men, including Adam.  His being on a journey declares the truth that all of us are journeying through time towards eternity.  His going down from Jerusalem in the Judaean highlands, to Jericho on the plain of Jordan (the river and plain of death), goes far beyond the literal statement, for Jerusalem is the city of God, while Jericho is the city cursed by God.  In the course of life’s journey men are going down.  They have their backs towards God, and their faces towards cursing and destruction.  They are born on the broad road that leads away from God and down to hell.

Another point, however, is to be noted in connection with the journey.  The man was going north-east, and in Scripture the north is the direction that speaks of human intelligence, and almost always of intelli­gence working in opposition to God; and the east is the direction of sin and departure from God, e.g., when Cain went out from God’s presence, he went eastward; the rebels who built Babylon had journeyed eastward; in the Tabernacle, approach to God was westward, and departure from His presence in the most Holy Place was eastward.  Likewise the wise men who came into the Lord’s presence after His birth had journeyed westward.  Unfortunately the spiritual significance of the east has been obscured by the fact that the sun rises in the east, a fact which has induced most commentators to associate it with good.  What is forgotten, however, is that the east is the source of natural light, which speaks of mere human intelligence or wisdom, in regard to which Scripture has nothing good to say. It is significant that there is not a single biblical reference to the east in a good connection.

The man’s going north-east is the typological announcement of the truth that spiritually he was going in the way described in Pr 14:12, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

The thieves are types of Satan and his evil minions; and garments in Scripture always speak of righteousness, either the righteousness of Christ which clothes the believer, or the filthy rags of self-righteousness covering the unbeliever.  Adam, the representative and federal head of the human race, was their first victim, and like the traveler in the parable, he was left stripped of his raiment, i.e., he was robbed of the righteousness of innocence which had formerly covered him.  And like the traveler in the parable, he was wounded and left half dead, the wound being that of an awakened and guilty conscience, and the half dead condition having reference to the fact that he was left with only physical life, his spiritual life having been taken away.  He was indeed half dead, and as it was with Adam, so is it with all his descend­ants: they too are half dead, for man in his natural state is dead in trespasses and sins: the only life he has is physical, hence the Lord’s warning, “Ye must be born again,” for apart from that new birth, man must first enter hell, and then the lake of fire.

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.”

The priest represents the law, and his failure to minister to the wounded man declares the inability of the law to save anyone, as it is written, “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight,” Ro 3:20.

10:32.  “And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.”

Inasmuch as the Levites performed the work connected with the Levitical ritual, this Levite represents good works, and his failure to help the man, declares the truth that a man cannot be saved by good works, as it is written, “By grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast,” Eph 2:8-9; and again, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost,” Tit 3:5.

10:33.  “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,”

The Samaritan is a type of Christ, and the propriety of the figure will be the more apparent when we remember that the Jews despised and hated the Samaritans, as they did also the Lord, as it is written, “They hated me without a cause,” Jn 15:25.

The Samaritan’s journey represents that which brought the Lord Jesus Christ down to earth to where we lay by the wayside of life, half dead, without spiritual life, and physically drawing daily nearer to death.  And great as was the compassion of the Samaritan, it pales into insignificance compared with that which led the Lord out to Calvary to willingly die in man’s stead, so that men might be saved from hell and fitted for heaven.

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.”

The wounded man, gladly submitting to the ministry of the Samaritan, represents the sinner who trusts in Christ as his personal Savior.  The binding of the literal wounds stopped the flow of blood and saved the man’s life, and is the symbolic picture of salvation which brings life to the believing sinner.

The oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, and its being poured in reminds us that the moment a sinner trusts the Savior, he receives the Holy Spirit to indwell, seal, and enlighten him to the end of life’s journey.  Wine is the biblical symbol of joy, and speaks of the joy that comes from knowing one’s sins forgiven.

“... and set him on his own beast.”  The wounded man didn’t have to take one step on his own.  He was carried on the back of his benefactor’s animal all the way to the inn, reminding us that the Lord Who has saved us has also made Himself responsible for bringing us safely to heaven.  We will be in heaven, not by our own power, but by His.

The inn, however, is a double type.  It represents heaven, but also, and more correctly, a local church.  God doesn’t leave us to drag our weary way alone through the desert of this world.  As faith places us in the Church which is His body, so does He want us to join ourselves with other believers in the fellowship of a Scriptural local church.  Inasmuch as the inn was the place where travelers found, safety, shelter, rest, food, and fellowship, so is each local church to be also the place where believers find the spiritual equivalents.  The fellowship of saints provides safety in that it helps us to resist the machinations of Satan, and the allurements of this evil world.  There is safety in numbers.  It is dangerous to try to “go it alone.”  It is the responsibility of the elders to provide spiritual food for those entrusted to their care; and the fellowship in each local church should be a foretaste of that which we will enjoy in heaven.

“... and took care of him.”  There is not only the care bestowed upon each member by his brethren and sisters in the local church, but there is that continu­ous care exercised by the Lord Himself as our Great High Priest, and Advocate in heaven.

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 spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.”

As the Samaritan went away, but obviously expected to return, so has the Lord also gone away, and will also return.  Inasmuch as the Samaritan left two pence, and one penny was an average day’s pay, the clear implication is that he intended to return in two days.  The Lord also has gone for what by human reckoning has been two thousand years, but by Divine reckoning, only “two days,” for with the Lord a thousand years are as one day.  Only spiritually blind eyes will fail to see that the “two days” are almost complete: the age has almost ended.  His return could be today.

The host represents the Holy Spirit; and the two pence, the gifts given to the Church by her risen Head, and administered by the Holy Spirit.  The assurance that any extra expense incurred in caring for the traveler would be repaid, reminds us that the Lord will be no man’s debtor.  Every service rendered on His behalf will be amply repaid.  Not even a cup of cold water given another for His sake will go unrewarded.

10:36.  “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?”

The lawyer was left in no doubt as to the identity of his neighbor.  The traveler’s benefactor or neighbor was a Samaritan, so what the Lord was telling the lawyer was that the despised and hated Samaritans were his neighbor.  He was to love them as he loved himself.  But he didn’t, and couldn’t, so that he was a lawbreaker, and as such, was condemned.  This ought to have impelled the question, “What then must I do to be saved?”  The Lord’s response would have been the same as that given the Philippian jailor by Paul, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,” Ac 16:31.  Sadly, it isn’t recorded that the lawyer ever asked that question.

10:37.  “And he said, He that shewed mercy on him.  Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.”

Was the Lord then, telling the man that he could be saved by doing good works?  Of course not!  He was telling the self-righteous lawyer that a genuine saving faith displays itself in a loving service to others; and indirectly warning him that since he obviously didn’t exercise that care he didn’t have the faith that saves men from hell and fits them for heaven.  In spite of all his religion, he needed a Savior.

10:38.  “Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village (Bethany): and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.”

Martha means she was rebellious, a description that fits all men in their natural state, for we are all born as rebels against God, and unfortunately some of that rebellion carries over also into our new state.

Her receiving the Lord into her house marks her as a believer, for it is only by receiving Him that we become believers.

10:39.  “And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.”

Mary is the Greek form of Miriam, and means the same - their rebellion.  It is strange that these two sisters who are synonymous with devotion to Christ, should have names so obviously indicative of sin; but there is no mistake: the lesson God would teach us is that rebellion lurks in the natural heart of even the most devoted saint, and I emphasize natural, for no such evil is found in the new nature. 

Mary’s sitting at Jesus’ feet, and hearing His word, is an activity duplicated by few professing Christians today, as is advertised by the present sorry state of the professing church.  She represents the obedient believer who devotes time to reading, studying, and meditating on the written Word, and obeying it.

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.”

Very obviously Martha, on that occasion at least,  considered it more important to be busy serving food than listening to the Lord’s words, a mistake made by many in this busy age.  It is very easy to become so occupied with our Christian work that we lose perspect­ive, and forget the need of “sitting at Jesus’ feet, and hearing His word.”

Martha’s petulant complaint, “my sister hath left me to serve alone,” has been echoed by many a servant before and since that day.  Elijah was guilty of similar error when he said, “I, even I only, am left,” 1 Ki 19:10, when, in fact, God still had seven thousand who hadn’t bowed to Baal.  It’s very easy to become so much taken up with service that we start to think we are the only ones doing anything for the Lord.  That is folly.  The Lord, even in the darkest days, always has His servants.

10:41.  “And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:”

10:42.  “But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Like Martha, we can become so occupied with what we consider service, that we underestimate the value of time spent at the Lord’s feet in prayer and the study of His Word.

To the eye of Martha, and perhaps others in the house, it may have seemed that Mary was shirking her duties, and wasting her time, but that wasn’t the Lord’s opinion.  We need to be careful to ensure that our activities aren’t for the eye of man, rather than for the eye of God.  “... which shall not be taken away from her” implies that what Mary did had eternal value.  It is true wisdom to follow her example and live our lives in view of the judgment seat of Christ.

[Luke 11]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough