A New Responsibility

Explore the Bible Series

November 7, 2004

 

Background Passage: Luke 9:51-10:42

Lesson Passages: Luke 9:57-10:4, 8-9,17-20

 

Introduction: Luke 9:51 marks an important turning point in this gospel account.  The beloved physician devoted approximately five chapters to the Great Galilean Ministry of the Lord, but, at this point of the story, Luke refocused his attention on the great redemptive work of Christ.  The shadow of the cross falls across the narrative at every turn.  The later portion of chapter nine and the entirety of chapter ten deal with Jesus’ preparatory work with his disciples.  He seized every opportunity to train them for the great work of building the church in the aftermath of the imminent crucifixion and the resurrection. Contemporary Christians owe a great debt to Dr. Luke because much of the material recorded in this section does not appear in the other gospels.

 

This section records the Savior’s descending pathway to the humiliation of the cross, and the first verse of this lesson introduces the reader to the Lord’s appointment with the shameful events that loomed on the horizon.  However, Luke also anticipated that the Lord’s shameful treatment in Jerusalem would not be the end of the story; instead, the humiliation of the Redeemer would be followed by his being “received up.”  Who will receive the Lord, and where will he be received?   It seems clear that this simple phrase anticipates the approval and esteem of the Father toward the Son’s redemptive work.  The Son would descend into the abyss of shame and disgrace because it pleased the Father that he would do so for the redemption of sinners.  Jesus did not seek the approval and applause of men; rather, he only desired to be “received” by the Father (See Philippians 2:8-11 and Hebrews 12:2). 

 

The road to Jerusalem led through Samaria, and the Twelve had many lessons to learn before they assumed the mantle of leadership for the infant church.  Those lessons included the following events.

 

The Lesson Context:

 

  1. The rejection of a Samaritan village (9:52-56):  Jesus sent some of his followers ahead of the main entourage to arrange for lodging and food.  This unnamed, hostile village refused to receive the Savior and his followers.  The tensions between Jews and Samaritans reached a fever pitch during the early First Century, and these Samaritans were in no mood to entertain any Hebrew pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem.  Recall that one of the sharpest disagreements between Jews and Samaritans centered on rival opinions concerning Jerusalem and Mount Gerizim.  This tension existed from the time of Ezra and Nehemiah (Fifth Century B.C.).  James and John, Sons of Thunder, wanted to destroy the Samaritan village will a rain of fire from heaven, but Jesus rebuked his impetuous disciples.  He came, the Lord graciously reminded, to save men, not destroy men’s lives. (Note: some ancient manuscripts do not include verse 56; however, the verse does seem consistent with Jesus’ rebuke toward James and John.
  2. The cost and nature of discipleship (9:57-10:20):  Please see the notes below.
  3. The Lord’s rejoicing in the sovereign purpose of the Father (10:21-24):  When the disciples returned from their journey, Jesus rejoiced with them at the remarkable lessons they had learned and experiences they had enjoyed.  In particular, Jesus delighted in the Father’s sovereignty.  The great mysteries of the Kingdom were not revealed to the self-inflated “wise and prudent”; rather, the Father opened these mysteries to “babes.”
  4. The Parable of the Good Samaritan (10:25-37):  Only the Gospel of Luke records this blessed parable.  A disingenuous inquirer approached Jesus with a provocative question about eternal life.  The word translated “tested” almost always has an unfavorable connotation in the New Testament, and verse 29 gives additional insight into this man’s spiritual condition. Jesus answered his question with a question, and the “lawyer” responded wisely.  “You shall love the Lord your God… and your neighbor as yourself.”  The inquirer rightly discerned that the issue of eternal life relates to the disposition of the heart, but he quickly revealed that his heart was not right.  He sought a “loophole” to the Master’s observation.  Jesus must have shocked this man’s sensibilities by composing a parable that must have pinched this man’s prejudices.  Mercy arises from a heart that has received much mercy.
  5. An important lesson from Martha and Mary (10:38-42):  Again, only Luke preserved this treasured story for posterity.  Martha and Mary lived in Bethany, a small village near Jerusalem, and they entertained Jesus and his disciples on more than one occasion.  Martha, ever busy and worrisome, flitted about the house attending to the needs of her guests. Mary, on the other hand, recognized the unique opportunity she had to sit at the feet of Jesus.  The fretful Martha asked the Lord to scold Mary for neglecting the duties of a hostess, but Jesus, no doubt, surprised her by commending Mary’s wisdom.  Time spent at the Savior’s feet would bear an eternal fruit in Mary’s life. How needful is the lesson of Mary’s testimony for those who tend to understand the essence of Christian living as focusing on a flurry of activity.

Note: Many churches, it seems to me, could learn from Mary’s example.  Church bulletins groan with the weight of religious activities; yet, how often we mistake bustle for godliness.  Growth in grace requires one needful thing.  Choose the good part.

 

 Lesson Passage (Luke 9:57-10:20)

 

I.                   Three Potential Followers (9:57-62)

A.     A Naïve “Disciple” (vv.57-58): This impetuous follower made a pledge he has not carefully considered.  This poor man apparently had little idea of the way of the cross.  Suffering and privation attend the Master’s path, and this would-be follower seemed to misunderstand the gravity of the promise he has made.  He confidently assumed that the way of the Master would bring comforts and ease.  Not so, said the Lord.  Unlike the birds and foxes, the Lord and his disciples would find no “home” on this earth.  They were aliens and sojourners, “pilgrims in a barren land.” 

B.     A Distracted “Disciple” (vv. 59-60):  Geldenhuys notes that this man was not forbidden to bury his dead father; rather, he asked to postpone his discipleship until a more convenient season.  At that moment, the prospective follower has other concerns that demanded his attention and affection.  Jesus allowed no rival.  The man must reorder his life to admit only one Sovereign in the heart.  Of course, Jesus did not encourage his followers to abandon irresponsibly their family duties, but he did (and does) allow for only one allegiance in the heart.  A discipleship postponed is a discipleship unrealized.

C.     A Reluctant “Disciple” (vv. 61-62): This man seemed torn between his home and his Master.  His was a discipleship with conditions.  Other things took priority for this man.  Jesus called him to immediate, unreserved discipleship.

 

II.                The Sending Out of the Seventy (Luke 10:1-20)

A.     The destination of the seventy (v.1):  Luke tells us that these thirty-five teams (seventy, sent out two-by-two) went before the Lord’s “face” into cities the Master planned to visit soon.  Geldenhuys observed that Jesus may have sent these men into the Trans-Jordan area, east of Jerusalem.  The Jewish religious leaders neglected this region, and all three Synoptic Gospels recount Jesus’ ministry to these people.

B.     The promise, peril, and privation of this mission (vv. 2-8):  Jesus sent his disciples to a fruitful area; indeed, he instructed them to pray for more laborers to enter the fertile region.  Thus, the disciples entered this work with great expectancy.  Furthermore, they were to expect grave opposition and personal peril.  They were, Jesus said, like defenseless lambs among wolves.  Finally, the disciples were given instruction about the provisions they should take on their journey.  The Lord called them to a temporary period of great austerity.  They could not afford to take any distractions with them on this mission.  The Lord would provide for their needs by means of the kind benevolence of gracious people they would meet on the way; however, they were instructed not to see themselves as beggars.  “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” 

C.     The nature of their mission (vv. 9-12): The disciples had a two-fold task.  They were to heal the sick and announce the coming of the Kingdom.  In other words, the disciples were to follow the ministry pattern of the Lord. If their hearers did not respond favorably to the ministry, Jesus instructed his disciples to wipe the dust from their feet and pronounce judgment on the city.

D.     Jesus’ judgment on the unresponsive cities (vv. 13-16): Jesus pronounced a sharp judgment on three cities: Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum.

1.      Chorazin was located about two miles north of Capernaum, near the Sea of Galilee.  At one time, the city must have enjoyed some prominence and prosperity.

2.      Bethsaida was the home of Peter and Andrew and was located to the northeast of the Sea of Galilee.

3.      Capernaum was an important trade center during Jesus’ public life.  The Lord used this city as his Galilean base of operations, and he carried out a considerable amount of his ministry in and around this town.

Note: All three of these cities remained unresponsive and callous to the ministry of the Savior.  Their citizens had observed marvelous and wondrous works, and they heard matchless teaching.  Nevertheless, they refused to repent of their sins and believe in the Lord.  Since they had received great light (in the form of the Lord’s miracles and teaching), they would also receive a more severe judgment than other notorious cities, like Tyre and Sidon that perished under the condemnation of the Lord.

 

Questions for Meditation and Discussion:

  1. How did Jesus balance his personal awareness of his divinely appointed, redemptive task with his responsibility to train his disciples?
  2. What can believers learn from Jesus’ gracious response to the hostility of the Samaritans?  How should Christians deal with hostile individuals?
  3. What is the cost of discipleship?  How does discipleship redefine the boundaries of all other human relationships?