THE land of Canaan was divided in the Gospel days into Judaea in the south, Galilee in the north, and Samaria between them. We remember how the Lord once left Judaea and departed again into Galilee; and “he must needs go through Samaria.” Many years of the Lord’s life had been spent in Galilee,—in Nazareth and Capernaum and in journeys through the country. Now His work in this northern country was almost done, and He turned towards Jerusalem. The Samaritans had welcomed the Lord gladly when He passed through their country and talked with the woman of Samaria, at Jacob’s well; but now they would not receive Him, and he went to another village. They crossed the Jordan as the Jews often did, partly on account of the unfriendliness of the Samaritans, and look the road which leads through the country on the east side of the river.
And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. —Luke IX. 15-62.
The Lord had once before sent out the twelve apostles through the towns of Galilee, to teach and heal. Now in this land east of Jordan He sent out seventy disciples into the cities and towns whither He Himself would come in His journey towards Jerusalem. He sent them two and two as He had sent the twelve, and with almost the same words. “Go your ways,” He said; “behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.” They were to have no purse for money, no bag for food, nor shoes; for they must not feel that they could provide for themselves, but they must trust the Lord’s care. They must salute no man by the way, and not go from house to house; but they must have their minds wholly on their errand. Where they were not received they should wipe off the dust from their feet as a sign that they would let nothing of evil cling to them.
Should you not think that in every house they would welcome the disciples who came to tell about the Lord? If people did not receive them it was because they loved to do things which the Lord and His disciples told them not to do. They would be more to blame than the men of Sodom, who were destroyed for their wickedness. The men of Sodom had little chance to know what was right, but now the Lord and the disciples were teaching plainly. Even among the people in the towns of Galilee, who had more chance than any others to know the Lord, there were few who loved Him. When He once came to Nazareth where He had been brought up, the people tried to cast Him from the hill. There was Capernaum by the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and Bethsaida near by, where the Lord had done so many works of healing, and Chorazin back a little on the hills behind Capernaum; how they might have known tbe Lord and loved Him if they only would! “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” The Lord’s sad words, which we are about to read, come strongly to mind as we stand among the ruins of Chorazin and Bethsaida, and look almost in vain for any trace of Capernaum. And then we think, the Lord has given us still more opportunity to know Him and to love Him, than He gave the people of Galilee. Are we not still more to blame if we do not do it?
After these things the LORD appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell. He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.—Luke X. 1-21.
Author: William L. Worcester 1904
Twelve >> Fullness
Seventy >> Complete and holy
Sending of the seventy >> A fuller reception of the Lord than the sending of the twelve
The disciples were sent into every city and place where the Lord would come >> The Lord works with us in all that we do for Him
“I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven,” >> The Lord’s victory over the hells gave the disciples their power and gives us all our power to resist evil
The power to tread on serpents and scorpions >> The power to overcome temptations of sensual kinds and to put the pleasures of sense in their right subjection
But rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven >> The casting out of devils is the lesser part of the work; we should rejoice rather in the development of heavenly life for which this opens the way
Pictures: James Tissot —-Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum