LINK: Luke 10
Only Luke records the mission of the 70 (some translations say 72) disciples. Jesus gave them power over Satan, harmful animals, disease, and illness as they proclaimed that the kingdom of God was near. These disciples went from town to town along a path that Jesus would follow. They would announce his coming maybe a few days before his arrival in each town. The 70 were very impressed with the power from God that they wielded. Jesus told them not to be too excited about power, but that they should rejoice more in their salvation.
A man who studied and knew well the law of God, came to Jesus to test him. He was trying to find fault with Jesus by asking his question. It's interesting here, that Jesus doesn't answer the man's question; instead he asks the man to answer his own question from his knowledge of the law. And the lawyer quotes the law perfectly. This lawyer knows that he must love God and love his neighbor. But he wants to get himself off the hook for the part about loving other people. So, he asks Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?" He wants to know just who, exactly, he is responsible to love. The answer from Jesus is the story of "The Good Samaritan" and actually answers a different question.
Let's look at the characters a minute. The lawyer asking Jesus the question is a respected Jew. He studies the Law and probably teaches it. The traveler in the story is also a Jew, traveling from one Jewish city to another. The Levite and priest are official Jewish religious leaders (like the lawyer). But what is a Samaritan? Remember that God used the Assyrians to judge the northern nation of Israel? When the Assyrians conquered Israel, they deported most of the people and brought foreigners into the land. The Samaritans are the descendants of mixed heritage -- part Jew, part Gentile. At the time of Jesus, generations later, the Jews and the Samaritans despise one another. And the Jews, especially, hold themselves in higher esteem, especially with regard to religious worthiness.
In the story, a Jewish traveler is attacked and left barely alive on the side of the road. Why do the priest and Levite pass him by? If they touch a dead man, they will be unclean and will not be able to perform their religious "duties" for the day. Their motivation is entirely selfish and gives no thought to the poor man's needs. The religious leaders do nothing to help the poor man, but leave him there to die. The Samaritan, on the other hand, had compassion for the wounded man. He put aside his personal prejudices for the sake of another human being. He stopped to help the poor guy.
Jesus is telling the lawyer that his "religious" activities do not impress God. He is also telling him that he is not superior to a Samaritan just because he's a Jew. God is more interested in compassion than service that makes oneself look good. Instead of answering, "Who is my neighbor?" In other words, "Who do I have to be nice to?" Jesus demonstrates how to be a good neighbor by showing mercy and compassion on others, no matter who they are.
Jesus visited the home of sisters Mary and Martha (whose brother was Lazarus). While Mary sat and listened to Jesus, Martha went about preparing a meal. When she complained that her sister wasn't helping her, Jesus told her not to spend so much time and energy on meal preparations, and he refused to send Mary out of the room to help her sister. If Mary chose to sit at the feet of Jesus, she chose a good thing.
I've enjoyed "sitting at the feet of Jesus" today as I studied this chapter. I marvel at the power God can give to man to do his work. I rejoice that my name is written in heaven. I love how Jesus "answered" the lawyer. I'm challenged to be a good neighbor to anyone around me, not to be selective. And I want to keep the distractions of this world to a minimum, so I can sit at the feet of Jesus even more.
Lord, thank you for giving us your word, so we can sit at your feet and learn from you. Help me to spend less time being distracted by this world and more time with you. Teach me to love others as you do. In the name of Jesus, amen.