OUR Lord sends out seventy disciples (Luke 10:1-24) with a charge similar to that given to the twelve in Matthew 10. Once in a while, some literal-minded questioner wants to know why preachers do not now go out without purse or scrip, according to these directions. This was local ministry to Israel under conditions vastly different from ours. Later, when His disciples must face a Gentile world, our Lord gave quite different instructions (Luke 22:35-36).
Later, the seventy returned with joy, reporting that even the devils were subject unto them. Our Lord answers, “I saw Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” He was with them in their ministry and saw Satan defeated, and here He also sums up in a flash his final defeat—even as he fell from heaven (Isa. 14:12-19) long before, a sight which our Lord doubtless beheld. Revelation 12:7-12 also pictures this fall of Satan. Our Lord is assuring them that as He saw Satan fall at first, so He sees him finally defeated—which is typified by their success in casting out demons.
After giving them power over the enemy our Lord bids them not to rejoice in that, but that their names are written in heaven. The sole ground of our rejoicing is not in our powers or successes, but in the unmerited and undeserved grace of God.
Jesus thanks the Father that the profound truths of heaven have been kept from the wise and prudent and revealed unto babes, the childlike (Matt. 18:3). He tells His disciples that they are privileged to see what prophets and kings had longed for. Marvelous truth—that the greatest revelation of all time was made to the humblest, the simple and lowly disciples who received Him gladly! It has always been so through the ages in His subsequent revelations through the Spirit. “More blessed are they that see not, yet believe” (John 20:29) and “not many wise or mighty or noble are called” (1 Cor. 1:26-31).
The familiar story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) was given instead of argument to the lawyer who asked, “Who is my neighbor?” He thought only Jews were his neighbors, and our Lord makes two Jews pass by in this story while the hero was a Samaritan. This must have been distasteful to the lawyer. Moreover, Jesus did not give the nationality of the wounded man, so that any nationality may be meant. Whoever needs our help is our neighbor, and whoever helps another is a true neighbor, so it works both ways.
It was a masterful presentation of a mighty truth, so skillfully done that the lawyer was obliged to confess the truth so evident. Our Lord then bids him, “Go thou and do likewise.” The truths of the Word are not merely for reading and inspiration. We are to “go and learn what this meaneth.”
“Teaching them to observe”—not merely to know but to do—is His command. “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”