The Gospel According to Luke – Mission and Prayer
February 2, 2008
At the start of Chapter 10, Jesus sends out 70 missionaries to minister to the towns of Galilee. He sends them in pairs in order that they may be a microcosm of the Church, and also because Torah establishes the validity of a claim by the testimony of two witnesses.
Making no specific provisions for the lambs that He "sends among wolves," these missionaries are radically dependent upon their Heavenly Father and others’ hospitality. Notice the "wages" Jesus gives His laborers: they receive nothing beyond food and lodging. Modern Christians do well to serve Christ radically, as much as their state in life will allow.
It will be worse for the towns of Galilee who reject these missionaries than it was for Sodom and Gomorrah. The 70 become God’s powerful instruments and report wondrous signs of a great shake-up in Heaven. Truly, the Kingdom of God is at hand, just waiting to be grasped.
One cannot attain His Kingdom through study alone, as Jesus said, "I offer You praise, O Father … because what you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest of children." We are foolish if we do not trust fully in Jesus’ promise that He and the Father will manifest themselves to those who keep His Commandments.
Blessed are we who are able to know and follow the Messiah, for all previous generations longed for the opportunity given to us. The least in the Kingdom is greater than John the Baptist.
A lawyer then questions Christ about eternal life, and Jesus confirms that the path to Heaven is by living the two great commandments expressed in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself.’ When the lawyer asks who his "neighbor" is, Jesus tells him the parable of the Good Samaritan, which calls all who hear to practice mercy. Limiting the mercy we show distances us from our heavenly Father.
The house of Martha and Mary is the site of a key scenario: Mary listens devoutly to Jesus while He warns her sister, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, one thing alone is needful." As His disciples we take Him – the only necessary thing – into every part of our lives.
Chapter 11 begins with lessons on prayer: the Lord’s Prayer and teachings on importunate (persistent) prayer. In every case, the Christian prays when he asks, keeps asking and continues to ask again in hopes that the door may be opened unto him. We must be fully engaged in our faith, even if this requires much practice in prayer.
Beelzebub, "Lord of the Fly", was originally a play on words mocking the name for the Canaanite god, "the Lord Prince." By the time of the Luke’s gospel, the name refers to Satan. After one exorcism, some question whether Christ is in league with Satan, but He affirms "a Kingdom divided against itself cannot stand."
He exhorts those healed from demons to sanctify their lives and prepare for when the demon returns with seven others, attempting to reconquer their souls. Instead of acting like the woman who shouts praises in unbridled emotion, to truly praise Him we must "hear the word of God and keep it;" we must repent and allow the Word of God to become incarnate in our lives.
Christ gives them only the sign of Jonas, for signs and miracles alone will not produce faith. In every generation, those that seek only miracles or "religious fairy tales" are in grave error.
While at a dinner with some Pharisees, Jesus rebukes them for "washing the outside of the cup" while leaving the inside filthy; he criticizes other hypocritical acts. He also chastises the lawyers who exploit loopholes, steal and bury the key of knowledge from others. He then warns, "the blood of all the prophets shed from the of the foundation of the world may be required of this generation," and our punishment will be the same if we neglect so great a salvation. Everyone must beware the leaven of the Pharisees (especially their hypocrisy); we must have no fear about the body’s death. Jesus acclaims both a fear of God and an awareness of His tender compassion and care for us. Our study concludes with promise that the Holy Spirit will be our advocate during times of persecution and a warning never to blaspheme against Him.