The Son of Man’s Journey to Jerusalem (9:51–19:27)
Jesus Sends Out Seventy-Two Others (1-16)
Only Luke records Jesus sending out an additional group for ministry of seventy-two disciples. Some have sought to give a symbolic number to seventy or seventy-two—hard to know. They were to go out as the twelve were sent out earlier, in simplicity, two by two, into every town Jesus was going to pass through on His way to Jerusalem (1).
They were to go praying that on this particular mission trip more laborers would be gathered to the cause; Jesus promised the harvest field of souls was ready and plentiful (2). They were to go out as lambs, not in a show of strength of power, resistance, or defensiveness but as those serving the cities they were to enter (3).
a) They were to take no money
b) no extra provisions
c) no extra pair of sandals
d) they were to give no long oriental greetings causing delay on the road (4)
e) they were to enter a house and bless it (5-6)
f) they were to remain in the same house and not go from house to house (7)
g) they were to receive whatever they were provided as fair recompense for their labor (8)
h) they were to heal the sick
i) they were to proclaim the Kingdom of God had arrived (9)
j) they were to wipe off the dust of the city from their sandals if they were rejected; they were to remind the city God's Kingdom had come near in the blessings of healing and miracles (10-11)
So the disciples were to go out and proclaim that the blessings of God's Kingdom were so close that they could be experienced and grasped by those who would receive. The seventy-two were also to understand the judgment warnings against those cities which would reject the Gospel and Kingdom.
The Jews regarded heathen towns of old as absolutely godless and the Jewish towns as under God's blessings. Jesus had His disciples understand those pagan cities of Sodom, Tyre, and Sidon would have been more responsive to the Gospel had it come with the same expression of healing, miracles, and Kingdom of God experiences the Jewish cities had enjoyed, especially Capernaum (Koran likely was Capernaum) and Bethsaida. Jesus declared all the pagan cities would have repented if they had the same witness the Jewish cities had received (12-15). Jesus then told His disciples before He sent them out that any who accepted them accepted Jesus, any who rejected them rejected Jesus, and the rejecting of Jesus was the rejection of God (16).
The Seventy-Two Return to Report (17-24)
The seventy-two returned amped up over what had taken place, especially that demons were subject to them in Jesus' name. Jesus then shared a vision with them of seeing Satan fall like lightening. Somehow the work of the seventy-two confirmed in Jesus' heart Satan's ultimate defeat through Christ and His church after the resurrection was certain and even beginning with the work of those seventy-two disciples (17-18).
He then told the seventy-two to look carefully at all the power they had been given, how Satan could not injure them, but then warned them with all their joy over this newfound power that they needed to look carefully and realize something important. They could cast out demons and their names still not be registered in heaven. Their relationship with Yahweh was still the primary issue. They could rejoice over demons submitting, yes, but they should really rejoice big time because they knew Jesus (17-20).
Jesus then continued to rejoice in the Holy Spirit over what had been accomplished in the seventy-two. Jesus ended all His celebrating by giving thanks to Yahweh for revealing those huge Kingdom issues to those considered insignificant ("little children") and keeping them hidden from the wise and understanding, who could use an understanding of His power to abuse others (21).
Jesus then further thanked Yahweh for the personal bond between the two of them; and then further thanked Yahweh that only those He and the Father chose to understand the true nature of the Kingdom and their relationship would ultimately understand it (22).
After giving thanks, Jesus privately told His disciples (23) that their eyes were blessed, for the great prophets and kings who had a heart of Yahweh desired to see and hear what the seventy-two were seeing. Those kings and prophets wanted to see it more than their own power and glory, but they did not get to. Jesus was emphasizing to those disciples that they should appreciate what Yahweh had done in showing His greatness to such ordinary men (24). Jesus seemed immensely grateful to His Father for showing ordinary people the power and presence of His Kingdom.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan (25-37)
After Jesus had a private time with His disciples, sharing with them how blessed they were to understand the Kingdom of God, it would seem a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. The lawyer sought to test Jesus' own truth regarding eternal life or how one could qualify to live under God's eternal blessing (25). Jesus directed the lawyer back to the law of Moses, to which the lawyer, knowing the text, went into the "love God and love neighbor" as the ultimate law (25-27).
Jesus dismissed the testiness of the lawyer by telling him he had gotten the answer right (28). The lawyer wasn't finished; he was seeking to justify his lifestyle of obedience to the commandments and worthiness of eternal life while at the same time rejecting Jesus.
The lawyer then asked Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?" In the lawyer's mind, his neighbors were those who lived next door to Jewish people or maybe even Jews who lived next door. He was seeking to qualify himself as a lover of God yet a rejector of Jesus through his acts of love to his neighbors. If Jesus were to say the person in need, as He had to the rich young ruler asking a similar question, then the lawyer could offer evidence that he had done just that. The lawyer never imagined Jesus would kick his self-justifying legs out from under him with the parable He was about to tell.
The format of the story is straight-forward, a man going from Jerusalem to Jericho (the same road Jesus was going to take to go up to Jerusalem) fell among robbers. He was stripped, beaten, and left for dead (29-30). A priest and Levite came by and didn't want to become ceremonially unclean by perhaps touching a dead body so they moved on (31-32). Eventually, a Samaritan came along, as Jesus would be doing, saw the man, had compassion, and began to treat the wounded man's injuries. He then took him to an inn, took care of him for the rest of the day, and then paid to have others look after him until he returned (33-35).
Here is where Jesus turned the question on its head. He did not ask which of the three guys treated the guy in the ditch like their neighbor. Certainly the lawyer was set up to answer that he was like the Samaritan, because he loved his neighbor at some level, but still did not accept Jesus.
Jesus’ question was different: "Which guy proved to be the neighbor of the one lying in the ditch?" The point of the question was the neighbor was the one using the law and some kind of legal loop-hole to excuse not showing compassion—were they the neighbors? Or was the one who was full of compassion, and not looking for a reason to be free from the obligation to express compassion, the neighbor? Was it the one who could justify by the law some level of bigotry and indifference or was it the guy who never looked to the law to bail him out of his obligation to love? Jesus' answer proves the neighbor to be the one doing the loving based on compassion and mercy (36-37).
Martha’s and Mary’s Responses Contrasted (38-42)
Martha and Mary lived in Bethany. This would be at the end of the road between Jericho and Jerusalem. In other words, it was as Jesus was finishing His trip toward Jerusalem. It doesn't mean this story is in chronological order but it is tied to the last story of the Samaritan (38). Jesus was seen entering the home of two women, Martha and Mary. Jesus began to teach, and Martha went with the other women into the kitchen to take their place getting the meal ready for Jesus' company.
Oddly, Mary was sitting with the men listening to Jesus teach. Here is the real scandal. Mary was taking her place at Jesus’ feet; she was acting like a student, one whom Jesus would train to go in His name and preach and heal (39).
Luke points out that Martha was so distracted with the obligation of her role that it hadn't crossed her mind to become a student with the other men, as Mary had figured out. Mary's move was bold and troubling to Martha.
Finally, Martha was so bothered about Mary's bodacious act of sitting with the men that she complained to Jesus. She used her lonely labor in the kitchen, but it was a much deeper issue. Martha did not like that Mary could be invited into the room and the training session with the men, being a woman (40).
This is not a story about one woman who was more contemplative than another, although the principle is a good one. This is a story about one woman who took a bold step of faith to believe she could be one of the Lord's preachers whom He would personally train and commission.
Jesus told Martha she was worried about much but only the Kingdom should consume that kind of focus and Mary had stepped over the line into that commitment. Jesus was not going to take from her the place her faith was leading her. She wanted to be a fully-vested, fully-commissioned disciple of Jesus, sent to bear witness, and Jesus was with her in the vision. Being a woman was not going to stop Mary and, incredibly, neither was it going to be disallowed by Jesus (41-42).