Chapter ten contains three events that are unique to Luke. Each of them provides an example of Jesus’ compassion for people, especially in reference to our relationship with him. The first event shows Jesus sending out 72 people 1, apparently in addition to the 12 apostles. The instructions Jesus gave this group are very similar to those he gave to the Twelve in Luke 9:1-6 and Matthew 10. Aside from the number of people (12 versus 72), a major difference seems to be the purpose of the two commissions. In Matthew 10, it seems that Jesus was multiplying his ministry by using the Twelve as official apostles. He clearly limited their ministry to Israel only (Matthew 10:5-6). In Luke 10, Jesus had the 72 going “ahead of him…into every town and place where he himself was about to go” (10:1). It seems that they were mainly preparing for his ministry rather than extending his ministry. With no clear exclusion, the 72 might also have gone through Samaria and Gentile regions, since Jesus would be going there (17:11-19).
The second event is the well-known parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus’ told this story in response to a religious leader’s question about what God expected of his people. When he did not like Jesus’ response (love God and love your neighbor), the leader needed to justify his own lack of obedience (vs. 29), so he asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” In his parable, Jesus demonstrated that was the wrong question. In verse 36, Jesus asked, “Which of these three men do you think became a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” Instead of asking, “Who is my neighbor?” (“Who do I have to love?”), we should ask, “To whom can I be a neighbor?” (“How can I love?”)
The third event occurred at the home of Martha. In John 11 we discover that Martha and Mary had a brother named Lazarus, and that Jesus loved the three of them dearly. The timing and setting of this particular gathering is unknown. Jesus’ response of “Martha, Martha” when she complained to him about Mary’s lack of assistance in preparing the meal is the tender response of a close friend. Jesus was far more concerned about the spiritual health of his friends than whether or not he received a big meal. Mary had “chosen the best part” of his visit (vs. 42).
- There seems to be equal evidence in the ancient manuscripts for either 72 or 70 here, with godly scholars on both sides of the discussion. Textual criticism does not overwhelmingly support either side, so it becomes a matter of interpretation. Neither side changes the meaning of the text at all. ↩