THE LIFE OF CHRIST
In our last lesson on the LIFE OF CHRIST, we looked at how Jesus sent out 70 disciples to prepare the way for Him in Luke 10. In this lesson, we will continue where left off. So, let us begin in:
Luke 10:25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
Here we have a classic case where one the opposing Jews wanted to test Jesus to see if he might be able to trap him in his words. According Thayer, a lawyer is:
one learned in the law, in the N. T. an interpreter and teacher of the Mosaic law.
So, this lawyer knew the Law of Moses well. Who better to find a weakness in Jesus than a man like this. Some suggest that this man did not have any bad intentions toward Jesus as he asked his question. I suppose there is a small chance this man may have simply tested Jesus to see if He was as wise everyone said He was, but I think it is more plausible that He tested Jesus to try and trap Him. In fact, the word tested in our text is defined this way:
1) to prove, test, thoroughly 2) to put to proof God's character and power (Strongs).
Of course, the questions asked is a good one, What shall I do to inherit eternal life? This was the same question the rich man asked Jesus in Lk. 18. Of course, his question seemed sincere because the text does not say that he was testing Jesus when he asked it. I wish more people today would ask this very question and then would listen to the answer from the Scriptures.
Jesus responds to the lawyer’s question in the following way:
Luke 10:26 He said to him, "What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?" 27 So he answered and said, " 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and 'your neighbor as yourself.'
I love watching how Jesus answers questions in various ways. Of course, He had the advantage of knowing the heart of a person before he even spoke. Knowing this man was a lawyer, Jesus turns the question around and has him give his answer of what the law says about his own question.
The first part of his answer came from what is known as the Jewish confession of faith called the Shema. In fact, this first verse was so important to the Jews that it was part of the Scripture that made up their Phylacteries. To help you better understand what this means, I want to share with you what Thayer says about these phylacteries.
Phylacteries consisted of “small strips of parchment on which were written the following passages from the law of Moses, Exo. 13:1-10,11-16; Deut. 6:4-9; 11:13-21, and which, enclosed in little cases, they were accustomed when engaged in prayer to wear fastened by a leather strap to the forehead and to the left arm over against the heart, in order that they might thus be solemnly reminded of the duty of keeping the commands of God in the head and in the heart, according to the directions given in Exo. 13:16; Deut. 6:8; 11:18; (cf. Josephus, Antiquities 4, 8, 13)” Thayer.
So, every Jew would be very familiar with this first verse that the lawyer gave. The second part, love your neighbor came from Leviticus 19:18. So, this lawyer knew the law well.
Luke 10:28 And He said to him, "You have answered rightly; do this and you will live."
Jesus would later tell another lawyer that was trying to trap Him the exact same thing that this lawyer had said in:
Matthew 22:35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" 37 Jesus said to him, " 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 "This is the first and great commandment. 39 "And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
This is a great summation of the Law of Moses because to Love God with all your heart would cover the first 4 of the 10 commandments, the love your neighbor would cover the last 6 of those commandments. You will notice that both points begin with love. We also see the priority of things. God is first, man is second. When we are motivated by love for God, then everything else will fall into place, but if we do not have love, then everything is like sounding brass or a clanging cymbal as Paul says in 1 Cor. 13.
There are some today who like to twist what Jesus said and say that all we have to do to have eternal life in heaven is to love God and love our neighbor. They do not bother to go into the details of what these two things mean, they just want to keep it as vague as possible so they can live their lives anyway they want to and say they are right with God because they love God and their neighbor. It never ceases to amaze me the things that man comes up with. Regarding this thought I like what brother Rice, Jr. wrote:
Many fanciful theories are put forward today as to what it means to love God.
However, Jesus did not leave His disciples in doubt. "If ye love me," He said in John 14:15, "keep my commandments." In this same chapter, He said, "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father; and I will love him and manifest myself to him" (John 14:21). Farther down He continued to explain: "If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me" (John 14:23-24). As proof of His own love of God, Jesus said, "... that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do ..." (John 14:31; cf. 1 John 2:4-5). (Denton Lecturships on Matthew).
When you think about this idea of loving God with your whole heart, mind, soul, and strength this means that we are giving all of ourselves to God. When we do this, we will have no problem whatsoever obeying the commands given to us by God. Loving God and your neighbor was the foundation from which all the 613 laws of Moses came from. Though this was a summation of the Law and the prophets, we could say the same thing about the new covenant because it begins with love and ends with love, but we must understand what that love includes and do it.
Next, we read:
Luke 10:29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
This lawyer had one last thing to say to redeem himself and perhaps catch Jesus in something. There was no refuting his own answer on what it took to have eternal life. So, he asked one more question, who is my neighbor? Many of the Jews thought their neighbors were their fellow Jews not a Gentile, Publican, or a Samaritan. However, Jesus will show that all fellow men are our neighbors from the Parable usually called THE GOOD SAMARITAN.
Luke 10:30 Then Jesus answered and said: "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
The Bible is very accurate when it comes to elevation as can be seen in the statement that the man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. Jerusalem is 2500 feet above sea level and Jericho is 800 feet below sea level. The road to Jericho was narrow and it had deep ravines, caves and hiding places. It was notorious for robbers and murders and a portion of it was called “the red or bloody way.” It was about 16-18 miles from Jerusalem to Jericho using this road.
So this poor man was just another victim of this dangerous path by those who did not care about others and who had the mentality, what is yours is mine. It was not enough to just take his valuables, which included his clothes, they wounded him and left him to die.
Luke 10:31 "Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
According to history, there were around 12,000 priests living in Jericho. So, it would not be uncommon for a priest to travel to Jerusalem to work at the temple and perform his services. This priest, who should be one the first ones to come to the aid of another did not. He saw him and went to the other side.
Perhaps the priest thought he was dead. If he was dead and he touched him, he would have to go through the process of becoming clean as can be seen in following verses:
Numbers 19:11 ' He who touches the dead body of anyone shall be unclean seven days. 12 'He shall purify himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day; then he will be clean. But if he does not purify himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not be clean. 13 'Whoever touches the body of anyone who has died, and does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle of the LORD. That person shall be cut off from Israel. He shall be unclean, because the water of purification was not sprinkled on him; his uncleanness is still on him.
Other than it being a pain to go through all of this, we need to keep in mind that this priest had already done his service at the temple because he was on his way back home. So, helping this man, even if it turned out he was dead, would not have prevented him from carrying out his duties in the temple. At least not that day.
32 "Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.
The Levites were from the tribe of Levi and they helped the priests with their duties. This man had a colder heart than the priest in my opinion because he actually looked the man over. After examining him, he too chose to cross on the other side and do nothing. Here we have two men who should care about their fellow man, but they did not want to get involved.
There are some Christians like this today. No, I am talking about helping a half dead man on the side of the road, but I am talking about doing that which is right when you have the opportunity to do so. Sometimes, this might be helping a person out or it could include speaking out against a sin or sinful behavior. How many times do we find ourselves like this priest and Levite when it comes to getting our hands dirty to do or say the right thing?
Next we read:
Luke 10:33 "But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 "So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
The Jews viewed the Samaritans as being worse than the Gentiles because these were a people who came about from Jews marrying non-Jews, so they were considered half-breeds. No Jew would ever tell a parable that would paint a Samaritan in a positive light, but Jesus is doing this very thing.
This Samaritan saw this poor man on the side of the road and had compassion, and he treated him with the common remedies used in the East at the time. I want you to notice the following quote about these ingredients the Samaritan used:
He poured in wine (to likely wash out the wounds). He poured on oil to mollify and close up the wounds. These ingredients were commonly carried by travelers (Gen. 28:18; Jos. 9:13) (The Schertz Leturship p.192)
Not only did this Samaritan check on this man and bandage him up, he put him on his own animal and took him to an inn and took care of him. Most people would be impressed with what this Samaritan had done already, but his compassion and kindness seems to have no boundaries as we continue to read in:
Luke 10:35 "On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.'
The Samaritan continues his generosity for this poor man. He gives innkeeper two denarii. Since we are not as familiar with the money they had back then, it may not register how much money this was. One denarii was considered the standard pay for a day’s worth of work. So, we are talking about two days’ worth of wages. If that was not enough, he promises he innkeeper to pay even more if more is needed.
Here we have one of the most despised people among the Jews being a great example of what a compassionate giving person is all about. It was never about being recognized for doing good, but simply doing something good for someone in need. A lesson the priest and the Levite needed to learn and so do we.
Next, Jesus asked:
Luke 10:36 "So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?" 37 And he said, "He who showed mercy on him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."
Jesus’ question put the final nail into his point on who your neighbor is and what it means to love them. Did you notice that this lawyer could not bring himself to even say the Samaritan? Instead, he said the one who showed mercy on him. Once again, Jesus tells this lawyer to go and do likewise. In other words, go out and be a neighbor to those in need. No, not just to your own kind, but to everyone.
What a wonderful lesson for this lawyer to learn and for us as well.
Jesus will now teach us another great lesson in:
Luke 10:38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me." 41 And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 "But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."
There is nothing in our text that indicates that Martha had any advance notice that Jesus and His 12 apostles were going to be staying with her or that she would be feeding them. It is not like they had phones or email. So, a lot of work had to be done on the fly in order to take these men in and feed them.
Showing hospitality was very important in Jewish culture, which dates all the way back to Abraham hosting angels, Genesis 18). Traditionally, being hospitable would include a two night stay with lodging and meals. Keep in mind that the average Jewish home was about six hundred square feet.
Even if Martha’s house was twice that size, hosting fifteen or more people would have been a tight squeeze. If anybody could pull off such a feat, it would be Martha. Martha was being a super servant and was doing an important deed. I do not know of anyone who would not appreciate such a gracious host.
God’s Word certainly teaches us to be hospitable:
1 Peter 4:9 Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.
Was Martha doing anything wrong per se? No, she wasn’t. She was doing an honorable service. So, what was the problem? Well, she had tipped the scales so that all her focus was on being a hostess. She was so intent on taking care of what she thought was the greatest responsibility that she had missed out on the fact that Jesus was not concerned about food but fellowship. Jesus wanted to teach not eat. When the Bread of life in on the menu, who needs a four-course meal? As Jesus said:
Matthew 4:4 … "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.' "
Please understand, there was nothing sinful in the work that Martha was doing and Jesus does not rebuke her for the good work. He is rebuking her because she failed to take advantage of the opportunity to grow spiritually by sitting at the feet of Jesus. I believe that America in general is a direct descendant of Martha and her unbalanced mentality. Many in our nation, including many Christians, are unbalanced in their lives because we have a tendency to focus on living life more than living for God.
It is true that we must work and provide for family as can be seen in:
2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.
1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
As you can see, the Bible supports the notion that one must work if he wants to eat and that he must take care of his household. This is certainly important, but it can become a distraction if a person makes this the primary goal in life. For example, if a husband is working hard to provide for all the needs and wants of his family, yet he is hardly home and is too tired to assemble with the saints when he is not working, he has become unbalanced and is missing out on important things. He is missing out on having a close relationship with his wife. He is missing out on important bonding time with his children. While he might be providing them with material things, there is no substitute for being there for your children and your wife. When you are so tired when you are not working that you have nothing left to give of yourself to the Lord, then you have missed the point of what being a Christian is all about.
We need balance in our lives. We cannot tilt everything toward one thing, we must spread our service out and learn to take time out for the Lord as well. As Jesus said:
Matthew 6:33 "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Even when you are doing good things for your family or for those in the world, do not allow those things to distract from serving God with balance.
When it comes to Martha, we can see how her lopsided idea about service caused her to be distracted by resentment as well. Again, let's read what she said:
40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me."
Before we turn our nose up at Martha and say, “how dare she” let’s think about what was going on at the time so we can better understand why she is saying this. You have Jesus and His 12 apostles with Him. You have just invited them to your home with no warning. Everything you would feed them would have to be made from scratch and there wasn’t any fancy electrical equipment to help you out. Everything would have to be stirred by hand and cooked or baked in what we consider crude equipment. Everything would have to be watched carefully so that it did not get burned. Then there would be much food that what need to be brought out to the men, and they would need to be attended to.
Imagine the stress of it all as you are working hard to get everything just right. As the sweat is dripping from your brow, you realize that your younger sister is in there sitting down listening to Jesus talk. Why is she being so lazy while there is so much work to be done? I bet there are some ladies here that have probably experienced a similar frustration as Martha when it came to preparing a Thanksgiving meal. Many guys in this room have probably experienced this frustration in other areas when you felt like you were doing all the work while others were goofing off.
I don’t know how long it took, but Martha reached her boiling point, and she made a B line right to Jesus and tried to take her frustration out Him as well. I image her having this ugly look on her face as she asks the Lord if He cares that she has to serve by herself while Mary sits and listens to Him talk. We are not told this, but I see her asking Jesus this in front of Mary to try and embarrass her or she was hoping that Jesus would join her side and rebuke Mary for her laziness and send her back to work. Of course, Jesus did not side with her, but he ends up rebuking Martha, which will be part of our next point in just a minute.
Not only had Martha’s hard word distracted her from what was important, it also made her bitter toward Jesus and her sister. We have to be careful about this whenever we are serving. We can become so focused on doing a good work that is needed that it can make us resentful and bitter when no one else seems to be working as hard as us. Doing this can become dangerous to our spiritual welfare, and it can cause us to sin against others and God.
We must recognize the fact that different people serve in different ways. No one is going to serve exactly like we do. Instead, of watching others and comparing ourselves to them, we need to focus on what we are doing and as I have been pointing out in this lesson, we need make sure we are serving with balance. Instead of judging others service that is not like ours, we should be encouraging them with whatever service they are trying to do. Let us never forget what Paul said:
Romans 12:4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
Finally, we learn that Martha’s service caused her to be shortsighted because she had missed on a rare opportunity to sit at Jesus’ feet and learn from Him. After Martha tried to rebuke Jesus and Mary, Jesus said:
…"Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 "But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."
I want to stress the point that Jesus was not rebuking her for being a good hostess and showing hospitality. He was rebuking her for worrying about things that could be done later. She should not have allowed herself to become so unbalanced by putting all her efforts in cooking and serving food. Instead, she should have taken the time to sit right there beside Mary to listen to Jesus teach from His abundant wisdom.
Is serving others important? Yes. Is providing for your family important? Yes, but so is taking time to sit at the Lord’s feet.
So, the point is, do not allow yourself to become so unbalanced in your service that you miss out on wonderful opportunities to grow spiritually or to serve God in other ways. Don’t get mad at others because they are serving in a different way than you would serve. Let us learn from Martha’s mistakes and also learn from Mary.
Mary understood how important it was to sit at Jesus’ feet and to put serving food to the side.
We get so busy with life by running here and running there that we leave ourselves little time to pick up our Bibles and read the precious words found within those pages that can feed our souls and help us to grow spiritually. When we allow life and even doing good deeds to keep us from sitting at our Master’s feet, then we are unbalanced and we need to hear those same words from Jesus:
you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 "But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."
As we live our Christian lives, let’s do our best to live a balanced life for the Lord so we do not become distracted by certain works. I hope if you find yourself being like Martha that you will continue to be a good worker for the Lord, but that you will also learn to have more balance in your life by taking time to sit at Jesus’ feet. I also hope we all take the parable of the Good Shepherd to heart as well.