This chapter of Luke is broken into three sections. The first is a continuation of what happened in Luke 9, where Jesus sent His twelve disciples out as missionaries to spread the good news of salvation. As the crowds are growing and Jesus sees that the fields are ready for harvesting, he sends out 72 more men in advance of His coming. Six times the number of the original 12 is showing us that there is indeed a need and that need continues even today. If ever there was a time in history for the world to hear some good news, this is it.
The second section refers to the Good Samaritan and his unlikely tending of a wounded man. The Jews and Samaritans were enemies, so this made no sense to the people. They were to avoid the Samaritans at all costs. However, the Good Samaritan in this story is none other than Jesus Himself. Before He attends the injured man, several had noticed the writhing body in the street, but didn’t respond. We hear stories like this every day, don’t we? People are often afraid to get involved for fear of being sued. At that time, the prejudice and bias got in the way. Whatever the cause, we shouldn’t hesitate to help others no matter who they are.
In this story, the man was on his way to Jericho when he was accosted by robbers who beat him, stole his belongings and left him for dead. A priest was the first to walk by. Instead of administrating any help, he went to the other side of the street and walked on. This happened again when a Levite (member of the legal class) passed by on the other side as well. A Samaritan came and saw the suffering man and immediately came to his aid. He bandaged his wounds, put healing oil on them, place him on his own donkey and took him to an inn to recover. He even paid the innkeeper to keep watch over him. He didn’t think twice about who the man was, he simply showed compassion for a fellow human being.
Through this parable, Jesus told the people that we should consider all men our neighbors and be merciful to them. Not something we see in action much today.
The final section is devoted to the story of the sisters of Lazarus, Jesus’ friend. These two women, Mary and Martha were also followers of Jesus. Mary couldn’t wait to hear His words. She welcomed Him and sat at His feet clinging to every word He uttered, as her sister Martha made preparations for a meal and making sure everything was just right for the Messiah.
I sometimes think Martha gets the raw end of the deal, because she was being mindful of taking care of Jesus. Her love was expressed in a different way. How many of us are like Martha – wanting everything to be just right, but the one thing needful is what He has to offer us. I don’t believe Jesus was putting Martha down for her actions, just reminding her of what was really important.
Again we see missionary work in action along with a couple stories from Jesus about how to relate with each other and care for one another. Don’t you just love the stories?