Today, Jesus sends His followers on an urgent mission. They are going as sheep among wolves. We know it was urgent because He tells them…
Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Luke 10:4 (ESV)
In the Middle East, greetings were long and intricate. It could involve many formalities. There was usually a meal, and the delay could be long. However, people who had urgent business were excused from the formalities without being considered rude.
Why 70 (some translations say 72)? Just as the 12 disciples associate in number with the 12 tribes of Israel, the 70 may associate with the 70 elders appointed as representatives by Moses (Numbers 11;16, 24-26). Most commentators say that it refers back to the 70 nations created after the flood in Genesis 10. Luke focuses on the universality of the Gospel, so this may be why he records the specific number.
These are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Sons were born to them after the flood.
The sons of Japheth:
The sons of Gomer:
The sons of Javan:
The sons of Ham:
The sons of Cush:
The sons of Raamah:
32. Casluhim (from whom the Philistines came)
34. Sidon his firstborn
The sons of Shem:
The sons of Aram:
54. Arpachshad fathered Shelah;
55. Shelah fathered Eber.
To Eber were born two sons:
These are the clans of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations, and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood. Gen 10:32 (ESV)
The 70 came back amazed that the spirits were subject to their word. Jesus told them that they shouldn’t rejoice that the spirits listened to them; rather, they (and we) should rejoice first that our names are written in the Book of Life.
We also read the story of the Good Samaritan. Remember that Samaritans were hated (John 4:9), and most Jews would go out of their way to avoid contact. A lawyer, trying to trip Jesus, asked Him a question frequently debated in the light of the Greatest Commandment :
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matt 22:36-40 (ESV)
Jesus sent the lawyer back to the law – because God uses the law to convict sinners.
For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. Romans 3:20 (ESV)
The man tried to get Jesus to define neighbor, presumably in a way that would make everyone comfortable. Jesus wasn’t there to preach a comforting message. He was on earth to atone for everyone’s sin. In Jesus’ story, it was the hated Samaritan helping a Jew who had been ignored by his fellow Jews. The Samaritan showed true love by helping someone who hated him, using his own money, risking his own life, and presumably never receiving payback or accolades from society. Jesus shows us that “neighbor” can mean anyone, anywhere. A neighbor doesn’t have to look like us or even believe like us. Our “neighbor” is the entire world.
Today’s final story was Lazarus’ death. Why did Jesus wait so long to perform His miracle? Remember, He once healed “remotely”, so Lazarus could have been healed while Jesus was still a day’s journey away. He also resurrected a little girl just after she died, so had Jesus returned with the servant right away, Lazarus might have been immediately resurrected. However, Jesus chose to wait four days to bring His friend to life so that there would be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Lazarus was DEAD and that a miracle had occurred.
Many believed in Jesus, but there were still those who plotted against Him, afraid that their life would be uprooted when Rome took away their place and nation. Caiphas, the High Priest, predicted Jesus would die when he said:
“You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. John 11:49-52 (ESV)
Jesus went to Ephriam where He ministered to His disciples and prepared them for His death. How hard this time must have been for our Savior! He came for just this purpose, but as we will see later, He wondered if there was another way… but ultimately, He knew that He had to die to atone for the sins of the entire world.
What do you think your reaction would have been if you had lived in Jesus’ time? Would you have thought He was a quack, performing “miracles” to earn a living? Would you have believed the Pharisees and Saduccees who called Him blasphemous and wanted to kill Him? Do you think you would have remembered some of the Scriptures that predicted the coming Messiah? It’s easy to look back through the lens of history and say, “I would have believed and followed Him”. But would you really?
Today we have proofs that Jesus is Who He claimed to be, yet even hearing about His miracles, seeing archaeological evidence that the Bible stories are true, and knowing from other sources that Jesus really was killed and resurrected, people choose disbelief. Why do you think that happens? What can you do to be a “neighbor” and show love – including the sharing of the Gospel – with people you contact?
God’s book is amazing! See you tomorrow.