The Mission of the Seventy. Luke 10, 1-22.

The plenteous harvest: V. 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. V. 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 Lord was constantly seeking more disciples, as the last incidents plainly show; His word of invitation went out again and again, pleading with men to follow His merciful leadership. And there were always some that were convinced and gladly joined the ranks of the believers in the Messiah of the world. From among these disciples in the wider sense, most of whom accompanied Jesus on His journeys, He now appointed or commissioned others, seventy in number, in addition to the Twelve whom He had elected as His representatives. The principal difference between the work of the two groups seems to have been that the seventy had only a temporary commission, the work of preparing the way for Him in parts of Palestine, in Judea, where the Lord was comparatively unknown. Jesus, sent them two by two, for companionship and mutual assistance. They went before His face, as special heralds, to prepare the people for the appearance of the Christ. He mapped out His itinerary and had them take note of the cities and places where He planned to go. It may not have been the intention of Christ to visit all the small villages and hamlets personally, but He wanted the announcement to go before Him that the great Prophet of Galilee, the Savior of Israel, was drawing near to their country. Knowing this, every one that "was concerned about the Messiah could come in person and see and hear Him. And Jesus characterized the situation for the benefit of these messengers. The harvest was great: there were many thousands of people in need of redemption, and many perhaps ready to receive it. Therefore the need of men fit to take part in the great work of preaching the Kingdom was particularly great. This has been true at all times since the days of Jesus, and will continue to be true till the end of time. In the heathen countries there are millions of souls still sitting in darkness and the shadow of death. And in the so-called Christian countries the proportion of professing Christians is very small. In our own country there are thousands of towns and small cities without any preaching of the Gospel. And so the second part of Christ's statement must also find its application, that the earnest prayer of all sincere Christians must go up to the Father of all grace and mercies that He would send forth laborers into His harvest, that He would make many young men willing to heed His call, and that many others take upon themselves the privilege of supplying these workers with the supplies for maintaining life while attending to these duties.

The first instructions: V. 3. Go your ways; behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. V. 4. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes; and salute no man by the way, V. 5. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. V. 6. And if. the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it; if not, it shall turn to you again. V. 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. Throughout the instructions the note is sounded: It is the business of the King; and the business of the King requireth haste. In general, these marching orders do not differ from those given to the apostles, for the circumstances were practically the same. The order was to go; but the Lord frankly tells them that their position would resemble that of lambs in the midst of wolves. They should know from the start that their helplessness was absolute, so far as their own strength was concerned. The enemies that would arise to combat them would be so much mightier than they that with might of theirs could naught be done; their one trust should be the Lord and His protection. They were not to carry a purse, since money should not be found on them; they were not to follow the methods of the itinerant prophets and have a beggar's sack on the shoulder ; they should not even take sandals with them, the heavy sandals used for journeys. They should not indulge in the circumstantial Oriental salutations, during which, for example, the inferior stood still until the superior had passed by; they should be intent exclusively upon their business. Theirs was to be a house mission, and with the greeting of peace, as the first words spoken, they should enter into every house. If any one were living there that fitted the attribute "son of peace," a person of uprightness and benevolence, a true Israelite, then their peace should and would rest upon such a person; but in the opposite event, the blessing of the peace would return to him that uttered it. In any case the good wish would not be lost. True Christian courtesy is never in vain, for even if the intended recipient chooses to be unpleasant and grouchy, there is always the satisfaction of having shown politeness. A kind word costs nothing, and may bring rich interest. Incidentally, the seventy should not scout around from house to house, looking for the best boarding-place, but should remain in the house where they first entered. And there they should eat and drink the meat and drink which belonged to the people of the house as though it were their own. For, Christ says, the laborer is worthy of his hire; their food and keep was their hire, it belonged to them of right for work done, 1 Cor. 9, 11-14.

Further instructions: V. 8. And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you; v. 9. and heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. V. 10. But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same and say, v. 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. V. 12. But I say unto you that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city. What was said of individual houses is now repeated with respect to entire cities. Wherever the reception was kind and in accordance with the dignity of their calling, there they should remain, eating the things that were set before them. They should be content with the fare which the people could afford, even if that happened to be frugal. A pastor will always be glad to share the poverty of his parishioners, just as the parishioners should always be glad to share their wealth with their pastor. The work of the seventy is then briefly indicated, to heal the sick and to announce the coming of the kingdom of God in the person of Jesus. For every one that accepts Christ by faith enters into this Kingdom. This would be the privilege of the people that heard the message, since the invitation was thereby extended to them all. But if the disciples should be refused admission into some city or its houses, they should endeavor to bring home to the inhabitants of such a city the heinousness of their offense, since in rejecting the heralds they despised the Master. Going out of the inhospitable houses into the streets, they should deliberately wipe off the very dust that had been taken up by their feet since entering the town. It was the most expressive gesture of absolute rejection. And yet, so far as the rest is concerned, the people of that city should know that the kingdom of God was just upon them, that they were offered an opportunity of accepting it, and that it was their own fault if it had come to them in vain. Solemnly Jesus declares that the fault of such a city in despising the Gospel would be of a nature to outrank the transgressions of Sodom, and would be thus treated on the Day of Judgment.

Woes upon several cities of Galilee: V. 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. V. 14. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the Judgment than for you. V. 15. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell. V. 16. He that heareth you heareth Me; and he that despiseth you despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me despiseth Him that sent Me.  Cp. Matt. 11,21-23. The question of the guilt of those that reject the Gospel calls to the mind of Jesus the behavior of the cities of Galilee in whose neighborhood some of His greatest works had been done. He had come to them with the fullness of His love and mercy, and they had rejected Him. Chorazin and Bethsaida were on the shores of Lake Gennesaret, almost side by side. Great miracles had been done in their midst, and the people had been willing enough to be entertained, but the words of eternal love out of the mouth of Jesus had made no impression upon them. Under like circumstances Tyre and Sidon, the heathen cities whom the Jews despised for their idolatrous practices and beliefs, would long since have repented, clothed in a garment of sack-cloth, with ashes on the head. And therefore Tyre and Sidon, to whom His grace had not been revealed in this measure, would receive greater consideration on the Day of Judgment than these cities of Galilee. And Capernaum also, which had been lifted up to heaven by the fact that Jesus made this city His headquarters during His Galilean ministry, would receive the full measure of His wrath on the last day and be forcefully thrust down to hell. Note: There is a word of warning here for all Christians. They have Christ in their midst for years, decades, and generations, in the printed and in the spoken Word of the Gospel. But how often, is Jesus neglected and overlooked in the Christian homes! No reading of Scriptures alone or in family worship; no regular attendance at church; -- there is danger of falling into the condemnation of the Galilean cities. And this applies also to the treatment accorded to the messengers of Christ. In hearing, -them we hear Christ, for they are His ambassadors and plenipotentiaries; but also, in despising them, in repudiating the Gospel of mercy, we repudiate Christ, of whose salvation it preaches; and in despising Christ, we despise His heavenly Father, partly because He is sent forth by the Father with full power, partly because He is one with the Father. Here is food for serious thought!

The return and report of the seventy: V. 17. And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy name. V. 18. And He said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. V. 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. V. 20. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. The mission of the seventy was attended with great success, as Luke here reports at once, and they returned with joy. They were especially elated over the fact that they had been able to accomplish more than they had expected or been promised. Confronted with the necessity, they had adjured demons in the name of Jesus, and through the power of this mighty name and by faith in His almighty strength they had driven them out. Not all exigencies of pastoral work can be mapped out, even in a very complete course, and therefore a pastor must, under circumstances, beg for power from on high and then use his best judgment in solving a difficulty. The report of the disciples was no news to Jesus. In His omniscience He had seen the very Satan, Satan himself, falling from heaven like lightning. As a bolt of lightning comes down from heaven in shining glory and disappears on earth, so the splendid power of Satan was thrust down out of heaven. As spirits the devil and his angels belong to the creatures above the earth, and therefore their destruction, their conquest, appears as a fall from heaven. In the casting out of the evil spirits the destruction of the power of Satan appeared. Christ Himself, as the stronger, had come upon the strong, had overcome and bound. him. The entire life of Christ, from His birth to His burial, was a victory over Satan. And this victory is transmitted to the disciples of Jesus. He gave them the power to step upon, to tread under foot, vipers and scorpions and the entire power of the enemy, and nothing should in any wise hurt them. All the dangerous, demoniac powers that attempt to harm the disciples of Jesus in their work of preaching the Gospel must be subject to them. The work of the Lord must progress and be brought to the desired conclusion, and if all the devils of hell make a league to overcome it. But this is not the most important fact for the individual Christian, and this is not his greatest cause for rejoicing, that the devils are subject to him through the name of Christ, but the happiness of the Christians rests upon; is founded upon that fact that their names are inscribed in the heavens. That is the glorious certainty of the believers, that they know God has chosen them from the beginning unto salvation, has prepared the everlasting mansions for them. This fact must remain uppermost in a Christian's consciousness. It will keep him from putting his trust in his own gifts and works.

The exultation of Jesus: V. 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. V. 22. All things are delivered to Me of My rather; 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. There is a note of triumph in these words of Jesus, that the salvation of men is going on in spite of all efforts of the enemy to frustrate it. He exulted in the Holy Spirit, the Spirit in Him uttered an inspired saying. He gives the fullness of praise to the Father, the almighty Lord of heaven and earth. The final purpose of the entire work of redemption was to redound to the glory of God, according to whose counsel it was carried out. To those that are wise and prudent in their own conceit, that hope to find the way to a heaven of their own imagination by works of their own imagination and by wisdom of their own, to these the way of salvation is hidden, 1 Cor. 1, 18-25. But to the unlearned, to those that are willing to take all reason captive under the obedience of Christ and, as new-born babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, to these God reveals the wonders of His Word and works. That has been God's good pleasure, and for that we owe Him everlasting thankfulness.

The Good Samaritan.   Luke 10, 23-37.

The blessedness of Christ's disciples: V. 23. And He turned Him unto His disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see. V. 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. The disciples were not conscious of their great privilege, nor did they value it as highly as they should have. Jesus, therefore, addresses Himself to them alone and impresses upon them the glories of their station and of their calling as disciples and believers. Happy were their eyes since they were privileged to see Jesus, the Savior of the world, in the flesh. Many prophets and kings of the Old Testament had looked forward to the appearance of the Messiah with great longing, Gen. 49, 18;  2 Sam. 7, 12. There had been many a Simeon and many an Anna that were longing to see the Savior with their own eyes. All this had fallen to the lot of the disciples without their seeking. They saw the eternal Word who was made flesh; they saw His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth; they heard from His own mouth the Word of eternal life. We Christians of the New Testament do not share the disadvantages of the believers of old. For though we are not able to see Jesus in the flesh, we have Him with us always, until the end of the world, Matt. 28, 20. And He is with us in His Word, in and through which we have communion with the Son and with the Father. "As though He would say: Now is a blessed time, a pleasant year, a time of mercy; the thing which now is present is so precious that the eyes which see it are fittingly called blessed. For till now the Gospel had not been preached so openly and clearly before everybody; the Holy Ghost had not been given openly, but was still hidden, and had little success. But Christ began the work of the Holy Ghost, and the apostles afterward carried it on with all earnestness; therefore He here in general calls those blessed that see and hear such grace." 61)

The question of the lawyer: V. 25. And, behold, a certain lawyer stood, up and tempted Him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? V. 26. He said, unto him, What is written in the Law? How readest thou? V. 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. V. 28. And He said unto him, Thou hast answered right; this do, and thou shalt live. A lawyer, a man versed in the Law and the traditions of the Jews, one of those that belonged to the wise and prudent of the world, stood up before or against Jesus, as His opponent. His purpose was deliberately to tempt Jesus, to lead Him astray. He tried this with the question: Master, what shall, what must I do to inherit eternal life? His question is strangely put, for it can hardly be said that the heirs do anything to get the inheritance. He would have expressed his meaning more truthfully if he had said: What must I do to earn eternal life? Jesus, according to a disconcerting habit He had, answered with a counter-question. He did not give the results of any philosophy, but referred the questioner to the written Scripture. The first question with its general trend is supplemented by the second, which searches the mind of the man before Him. Note: Philosophy of the Christian religion is a dangerous term, and stands for a dangerous science. The Lord does not want us to philosophize and to think out our own religious scheme, but to follow the Word. The man was indeed well versed in the Old Testament, for he gave the summary of the Moral Law correctly, according to Deut. 6, 5; Lev. 19, 18. To love God the Lord with all the heart and with all the soul and with all the strength and with all the mind and understanding, that is the summary of the first table. And to love one's neighbor as one's self is the summary of the second table. "To love God with all the heart, to love God above all creatures, that is: although many creatures are pleasant that they please me and I love them, that I yet, for the sake of God, when God, my Lord, wants it, despise and give them all up. To love God with all the soul is that thy whole life be directed toward Him and thou mayest say, if the love of creatures or any persecution wants to overwhelm thee: All this I gladly give up rather than leave my God; they may throw me out, they may strangle me or drown me, let anything happen to me that God wills, all this I will gladly endure rather than leave Thee.  Lord, to Thee I will cling more firmly than to all creatures, also to all that does not belong to Thee; all that I am and have I will give up, but Thee I shall not leave.... To love God with all the strength is to bring all members into action, so that one will risk all that he can with his physical body rather than do what is opposed to God. To love God with all the mind is to accept nothing which does not please God; by this he means the self-conceit which a person has; but rather that the mind be centered in God and upon all things that please God." 62) Jesus commended the answer of the lawyer as being correct. But He added a weighty word: This do, and thou shalt live. Here lay the real difficulty, for knowing and doing are two very different things. If that were possible, indeed, to keep the Law of God perfectly, then the person that could perform this wonderful feat would thereby earn eternal life. A perfect fulfillment of the Law has, as its reward of merit, the blessedness of heaven. But there is the rub. By the deeds of the Law is no man justified before God, because there is no man on earth that doeth good and sinneth not. "That is preaching the Law properly and giving a good, strong lesson, yea, catching him in his own words and in the right place, where He can show him what he still lacks." 63)

Jesus teaches who our neighbor is: V. 29. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor? V. 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. V. 31. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. V. 32. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. The lawyer was somewhat taken aback at the answer of Jesus, and especially by the pointed: This do! It was his boast that he had always kept the commandments of the Lord, and the implication of Christ that there was still something for him to do rather caused some resentment. His desire was to justify himself, the old story of the aim of every human being since the time of Adam. "Those are the truly evil people that are proud of their external appearance, that want to justify themselves and make themselves pious with their works, as this lawyer here does.... Thus all hypocrites do that outwardly march along beautifully with admirable, great, high works. They may say that they do not covet glory and praise, but inwardly in their heart they are full of false ambition, they desire that all the world should know their piety, are greatly pleased if they hear any one neighbor.

The story concluded: V. 33. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was; and when lie saw him, he had compassion on him, v. 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. V. 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. V. 36. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? V. 37. And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go; and do thou likewise. The first two travelers had been Jews, and men of influence in the Jewish nation at that. This man that came last was a Samaritan, of whom the average Jew, as, for instance, this lawyer, believed anything but good. But this Samaritan, who had set out on a long journey, and was presumably in a hurry to cover as much ground as possible, yet when he came to the victim of the hold-up and saw his condition, was filled with the deepest compassion. But he wasted no time, neither in anxious solicitude for his own welfare nor in idle lamenting over' the man's misfortune. He acted. He went to the man, washed out his wounds with wine, on account of its antiseptic, cleansing properties, and also with oil, on account of its soothing, cooling qualities. He bound up the wounds to prevent further loss of blood; he placed him upon his own beast of burden, his pack-mule; he took him to an inn by the wayside, where a host could take care of his wants; he took the best care of the feverish man during the night. And when, on the next day, he was obliged to continue his journey, he paid the host in advance for the keep of two more days, two denarii (about 34 or 35 cents). Thus he gave the poor sick man into the charge of the innkeeper, with the promise to pay any additional expense, when he came by here again. It is implied that he expects to return to this inn on his return; he is known as a regular customer. After this detailed, vivid picture there was hardly need of the question of Jesus as to who of the three travelers had proved himself a true neighbor to him that fell into the hands of the brigands. But the lawyer answered willingly and correctly enough: He that showed mercy toward him. And the word of Jesus made the application of the whole story: Go, and thou do likewise. The lesson was clear. There is no need of spending much time in looking for neighbors. Every one whom the Lord places near us, brings us into contact with, and who is in actual need, is one toward whom we can and ought to show mercy. For the chance of which we are apt to speak is God's way of bringing suffering to our attention. If we should harden our hearts in such a case and refuse to do what is so obviously our duty under the circumstances, we deny our neighbor the help which the Lord demands of us and thus become murderers in the sight of God. Not that we are commanded to encourage idleness and loafing; But we have homes, institutions, in which poor, sick, orphans, and other unfortunate people are taken care of. Not all of us can go and tend to the service of these people. On account of the labors of our calling we would have neither the time nor the ability to do so. But we engage people that have the proper training for the work, and then see to it that the charity account of such institution does not suffer with a chronic shortage. That is the service of mercy, a blessed service.

Mary and Martha.  Luke 10, 38-42.

V. 38. Now it came to pass, as they went, that He entered into a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house. V. 39. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. V. 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. V. 41. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things; v. 42. but one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. It is interesting to see that Luke here again brings a story of women that were disciples of Jesus. As they went, in the continuation of their journey, they came to a certain village. In the opinion of many commentators, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus at that time lived in a village on the Samaritan border, moving to Bethany later; but this is immaterial. However, we are struck by the evident intimacy of Jesus with the members of this household. This serves as an excellent example for all Christian households. Jesus should be the Friend, the ever-welcome Guest in every Christian home. In the prayers before and after meals, in family worship, in the prayers at bedtime His gracious presence should be invited, and the affairs of the entire household should always be conducted in such a manner that the Lord will be glad to make His home in the midst of such a family circle. Martha seems to have been the elder of the sisters, since we find her directing the affairs of the home and assuming the part of the hostess. But her sister Mary found a better use for her time than busying herself with household affairs. Just as Jesus always taught the matters concerning the kingdom of God with great willingness, so Mary absorbed His teaching with extreme avidity. So absorbed was she in the words of eternal truth that came forth from the mouth of Jesus that she forgot all else. Martha, on the other hand, after the manner of housewives the world over, was over-busy to serve the distinguished and beloved Guest properly; she tried to discover new ways of serving the Lord in her work as hostess. Note: We have here two forms of service, each done to the Lord, each with the best of intentions, the one with the work of the hands, the other in listening to the words of eternal wisdom. They need not clash, but have their worth, if the relation of values is always regarded, and first things are placed first. This lesson Martha had not yet learned. It displeased her that she was obliged to do the work of preparing the meals and serving the Lord all alone. And so she finally stepped up and said: Lord, does it not bother Thee that my sister lets me serve alone? Tell her that she should take a hand in this service also. There is a certain amount of resentment even against Jesus noticeable in these words, as though she would indicate that the Lord might stop teaching for a while and not interfere with the household duties. Jesus, however, tells the harassed hostess patiently and kindly, but also firmly, that she was bothering and concerning herself about many things. "Here you see that Christ, although He is hungry, yet He is so anxious about the salvation of souls that He forgets the food and only preaches to Mary; and He is so careful and concerned about the Word that He even rebukes Martha, who on account of her work, about which she is worried, even neglected the Gospel.... And especially should we give up all worry when the Word comes; then all work and occupation should be neglected." 66) There is only one thing that is needful in this world, which must be placed ahead of all other things, that is the Word of the Gospel, and faith in such Word and salvation. This good portion Mary had chosen. She had found in the Word the peace which passes all understanding; she was being trained unto eternal life. And that good part shall be taken neither from Mary nor from any other believer. The things of this world pass away, but the Word of the Lord abideth forever.

Summary. Jesus commissions seventy disciples as His messengers, utters a woe upon three Galilean cities, praises the blessedness of His disciples, tells the story of the Good Samaritan, and is a guest in the house of Martha, whom He instructs concerning the one thing needful.