Harmony of the Gospels

 Probably Judea
(7) The Service of the Seventy
Luke 10:1-24

Luke recorded several events from Jesus’ life that are not included in the other Gospels.  The commissioning of the seventy is one of those events unique to Luke’s Gospel.

(Luke 10:1-2)  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.  Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.

“After these things” probably means: after Jesus started on His journey to Jerusalem, as recorded in Luke 9:51.

Jesus was a trainer of men.  The Lord sent out seventy disciples who were to prepare the way for the ministry of Jesus.  He gave these seventy men a burden for the souls of men. He told them that the harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few.  He sent them out two by two to help meet this need.  The work was for a limited time, and their office was temporary because Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to die for the sins of the world.

He sent them out in pairs on this dangerous mission.  There are several reasons which have been suggested for this arrangement. 
• The two together would provide support and encouragement for each other.
• Old Testament Law required that a matter be settled by the testimony of at least two witnesses (Deut. 19:15).

The twelve held a unique place in the early church and they were certainly blessed to see the miracles and receive the personal teaching by Jesus.  These seventy though, were sent out to preach on His behalf.  That indicates that the twelve were not the only ones with a responsibility to proclaim the coming of God’s kingdom in Jesus Christ.

(Luke 10:3-9)  Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.  Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.  And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.  And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.  And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire.  Go not from house to house.  And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

Jesus warns them that they can expect hardship and danger—they will be “lambs among wolves.”  They are to travel light and waste no time in idle conversations.  They are to be men compelled by one supreme motive—to prepare hearts for the coming of Christ personally.

These messengers were to travel light.  Their mission was so urgent that they were not to take the time to gather provisions for their journey.  They were not to carry extra money, provisions or sandals.  They were to trust God to meet their needs as they traveled about in this itinerate preaching ministry.

Furthermore, they were to “salute no man by the way.”  That doesn’t mean that they are not to speak to people they meet along the way.  Rather, they are not to engage in lengthy greetings even though that was customary for that time and region.  They had an urgent job to do and they must get on with it.

Jesus told the 70 preachers that they were not to spend time looking for the best accommodations in each town.  They were to accept whatever home was first opened to them. They were to bless that household and ask God’s peace to rest on it.  They were to accept the hospitality and food of that family “for the labourer is worthy of his hire.”  The 70 were to be given what was needed to sustain them.  They were entitled to sustenance, not luxury.

Wherever they were accepted, they were to minister to the people there with words and deeds.   They were to “heal the sick” and proclaim the coming of God’s kingdom in Jesus Christ.  As Christ’s disciples today we are also sent out to find those who are receptive to the Gospel message, and wherever we are received we are to minister.  First, we are to minister by meeting their physical and material needs.  Second, we are to witness to them and give them the plan of salvation.  We are to show them how God’s love purchased eternal life for them through what Jesus did at Calvary.

(Luke 10:10-16)  But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, 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.  But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.  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.  But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you.  And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.  He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.

Our Lord solemnly speaks of the seriousness of rejecting His messengers--to reject them was to reject Him.  Shaking the dust from the feet was a symbolic action that showed divine displeasure with any place that refused the Gospel.  Those who refuse the Gospel are shutting themselves out of God’s kingdom and ultimately out of heaven.

God judged Sodom and Gomorrah and destroyed the two cities with “brimstone and fire” (Gen. 19:24).  Although their exact location is not known, Sodom and Gomorrah were two cities in Palestine during Abraham’s time.  Sodom was known for its wickedness (Gen. 18:20).  The word “sodomite,” referring to a citizen of Sodom, came to denote the sin of homosexuality.  Jesus’ point was that God’s judgment on these cities would be mild compared with what would befall those who rejected the Gospel message.

Capernaum was located on the western edge of the Sea of Galilee, and Chorazin and Bethsaida were to the north of the lake where Jesus had ministered and performed miracles. The people of these cities had been given ample opportunity to believe in Jesus as the Messiah. Their rejection of Him would lead to even greater judgment than that which God had poured on the sinful, pagan cities of Tyre and Sidon.

These verses definitely teach degrees of punishment, based on degrees of sin according to how much light people had. Some will be judged more severely than others and as a result receive greater punishment in hell than others. This doctrine is also taught by Christ in each of the other Gospels (see Mt 10:15–16; 11:21–24; Mk 6:11; Jn 19:11).

“Sitting in sackcloth and ashes” was how the ancient people showed mourning, anguish, or repentance. Sackcloth was an article of clothing made from rough cloth (usually goat or camel hair).  Ashes were either placed on the head or piled into a heap. The mourner would sit upon the ashes and usually fast as well.

Jesus assured the seventy that when they speak, He speaks; “He that heareth you heareth me.”  When the people are listening to them, they are listening to Him.  Not only that, but because He was sent by the Father and faithfully represents Him, it follows that those who, with a receptive heart and surrendered will, listen to the message of Christ’s ambassadors are paying attention to Christ’s Sender.

(Luke 10:17-20)  And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.  And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.  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.  Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. 

The seventy came back thrilled and excited.  This is the same experience we have when we give out the Word of God, and someone comes to Christ.  How wonderful we feel!  What a lesson for us to remember the words of Jesus, “Rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”  When there is success in any ministry, it is His work, not ours. 

The seventy had been successful in their ministry of healing and preaching, and they were elated that even demons are subject to them.  Jesus sees the disciples’ success as a preview of the complete defeat of Satan. The cross would signal Satan’s final downfall (Jn 12:31) and his being cast into the lake of fire would mark his end for all time (Rev 20:10).

(Luke 10:21-24) 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.  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.  And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: 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.

Filled with the Holy Spirit, and rejoicing because of the report brought by the seventy, Jesus lifts up His heart and His voice to the Father, and says, “I thank thee, O Father…”  The question might be asked, “But how could Jesus praise the Father not only for revealing matters concerning salvation to some, and for concealing them from others?”   The answer lies with who He is talking about—“the wise and prudent.”  I believe He is referring to those who are wise in their own minds (Rom. 11:25).  Isn’t He the One who resists the proud and imparts grace to the humble (James 4:6)?  And then Jesus said, “Hast revealed them unto babes.”  In the spiritual sense, “babes” are those who are confident in the might and mercy of the heavenly father, in whom they have placed their trust.

Jesus can say, “All things are delivered to me of my Father,” because He has whatever the sinner needs.  He has whatever is necessary to carry out His task as Mediator.  He was endowed with the Spirit of God, that is, with the spirit of wisdom and understanding, power and might.  There is nothing lacking in the Son’s power. 

When Jesus said, “For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see,” He is referring to the kings and patriarchs and prophets of ancient times; Kings like David and Hezekiah and Josiah and prophets like Elijah, Elisha and Samuel.  They never heard Him speak nor had they seen His miracles.  All of this had been reserved for those living in the new age (the age of grace).  The twelve and the seventy had been the closest to the Lord—how blessed they were!






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