Reading for Friday, March 16: Luke 10
Luke 10 begins with Jesus commissioning 72 of His followers to move out for a time of healing and evangelism. We have probably heard His refrain many times in our lives: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few,” (v2). But have we heard what Jesus says next? “Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Jesus isn’t just bemoaning the condition of the world; He is calling His followers to prayerful, God-directed action to stem the tide of evil, wickedness, and sin.
Jesus instructs these 72 evangelists to preach the nearness of the Kingdom of God (v9). But He also issues fair warning that not everyone will be receptive to this Message. He tells His disciples not to concern themselves with this; judgment is reserved for those who reject God’s Gospel. These evangelists are responsible only for sharing the Good News. “God’s Kingdom is here!”
The second half of the chapter gives us two demonstrations of what it means to receive / reject this Kingdom. In the first teaching, Jesus is approached by an adversary, a lawyer seeking to test Him. The lawyer asks about the path to eternal life; Jesus puts the question back to Him; and the lawyer answers with Deut. 6 — Judaism’s Greatest Command — and the importance of loving one’s neighbor. Jesus agrees and seems ready to move on…until the man asks, “And who is my neighbor?” The question is intended to set parameters, establish limits. “And just how far do I need to go with this whole ‘love others’ thing?” This prompts one of Jesus’ greatest teachings, a teaching we refer to as “The Parable of the Good Samaritan”. But it could just as easily be called “The Parable of the Hypocritical Priest and the Spineless Levite”. In Jesus’ story, the preachers and religious leaders are the villains; the unchurched, irreligious Samaritan is the good guy. On what basis? On the grounds that his actions demonstrated true love for his fellow man, irrespective of creed, ethnicity, politics or social class. To receive God’s Kingdom is to love without parameters. A rejection of the limitless love of God inevitably leads to questions like the one the lawyer asks, questions of restriction that aim to finitize the infinite.
In like manner, the story of Mary and Martha recorded here demonstrates one who has received the Kingdom as the “one thing” (v42) that truly matters. This is a contrast to Martha, who is unable to receive what Jesus has in store for her because of her distractions (v40), her “many things” (v41). To receive the Kingdom is to reject the siren song of “many things” for the solace of the one true reality that will endure into eternity.