The Gospel of Luke
IV. The Repudiation of the Son of Man by Men, Luke 9:51-19:27.
D. Rejection by a Lawyer, (Parable of the Good Samaritan), Luke 10:25-37.
1. The Lawyer’s self-righteous arrogance, vs. 25-29.
2. The object lesson of true righteousness, the Good Samaritan, vs. 30-37.
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1. The Lawyer’s self-righteous arrogance, vs. 25-29. Only Luke records this account as there is no direct parallel to this section, although we see parts of similar scenes in Mat 19:16-19; 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-31, that most revolve around questions concerning the greatest commandment, which is the question here.
This is a question by one of the Scribes of the Pharisees, here called a “lawyer,” NOMIKOS, νομικός that means, “lawyer, legal expert, jurist, or pertaining to the law,” that we noted in Luke 7:30. They were the experts in the Law of God, and were especially used in court room situations and religious settings to definitively interpret the Mosaic Law. This question allowed Jesus to expound with the parable of the “Good Samaritan” in vs. 30-37.
Luke 10:25, “And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?””
“Put Him to the test,” uses the Verb EKPEIRAZŌ, ἐκπειράζω that means, “put to the test, try, or tempt.” It is only used here and Mat 4:7; Luke 4:12, for our Lord rebuking Satan during his three temptations of our Lord, when Jesus said, “you shall not put the Lord you God to the test,” quoting Deut 6:16, cf. Ex 17:7. It is also used in 1 Cor 10:9, referring to the Israelites in the wilderness, who tried the Lord where He sent poisonous serpents into the camp to discipline them.
As Jesus stated to Satan, “you shall not put the Lord your God to the test,” which also means we do not tempt Him into performing some action on our behalf. This “lawyer” was doing just that, which indicates he did not view Jesus as Lord or God, and probably not as the Messiah, Savior, King. This is further noted as the lawyer addresses Jesus as “Teacher,” DIDASKALOS, and not “Lord,” KURIOS.
This lawyer was trying to entrap Jesus with this question about “inheriting eternal life,” KLERONOMEO AIONIOS ZOE. I am sure the lawyer wanted an answer regarding his theology of “keeping the lawyer,” and human good works for salvation, which was his interpretation of the OT Law. And that is what Jesus gave Him, but with a twist.
Luke 10:26, “And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?”
Knowing this man was an “expert” in the Law of Moses, Jesus asked him about the Law by asking, “what does the law say about it?”
Specifically, Jesus asks “What is written in the Law,” because this man should first be quoting the Law verbatim, as he does in the next verse. And secondly, Jesus asks him, “How does it read to you?” This second part actually means, what does this mean to you or what is your interpretation, as the word for “read,’ is the Present, Active, Indicative of the Verb ANAGINOSKO, ἀναγινώσκω that means, “read or to recognize.” We noted this word in Luke 4:16, when Jesus announced the beginning of His ministry by reading Isaiah in the synagogue at Nazareth, and Luke 6:3, when Jesus and His disciples where accused of breaking the law of the Sabbath by plucking grain to eat it. In both accounts, Jesus’ reading was followed by the true interpretation.
Therefore, Jesus wanted to see if this Lawyer/Scribe understood the meaning of God’s Word for salvation.
Luke 10:27, “And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself”.”
As we know, this is a combination of the two greatest commandments, Deut 6:5; Lev 19:18b; Mat 22:37-40.
Mat 22:37-40, “And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the great and foremost commandment. 39The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets”.”
They summarize or fulfill the entire law, Rom 13:10, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” So we can say right off, “good answer,” he was able to quote scripture accurately. But now, does this man understand what this commandment is teaching?
Luke 10:28, “And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live”.”
Jesus states that as a result of this “correct,” ORTHOS, cf. Luke 7:43, “answer,” APOKRINO, if the man “do so,” POIEO, he “will live” ZAO, ζάω that means, “to live, be alive, be well, or recover.” In the OT, “to live” was the supreme good. Thus, a long life was the universal goal. All other strivings, (morality, wisdom, riches, etc.), were only a means to this goal. Yet, this living meant eternal salvation, inheriting the kingdom of God.
As such, in alluding to OT precedents, Lev 18:5; Ezek 20:11, Jesus invited the man to practice what he preached and to rely on his good works being enough to earn eternal life in the kingdom. Yet, Jesus knew the Law better than this man. Jesus not only could quote it but He also understood its meaning.
You see, it is impossible for anyone to obey God’s commandments perfectly and as a result receive eternal life. Perfect obedience to God’s command to love Him and love our neighbors is one way to gain eternal life. But, it is an impossibility for us to do it perfectly according to the Law. If perfect obedience to the law is one way to live forever, then all of us are going to die guilty. That is the hook. That is the twist. If we have to do something for our salvation, then we are doomed to hell.
In addition, this may seem like a work for salvation, but it is not. You see, to love the Lord your God, you must first believe in what God says. God says throughout Scripture that one must believe in His Son in order to be saved and receive eternal life. Once one is saved, there are added benefits and blessings that continue to come from loving God to the maximum with your entire being. But, those things are not possible if you first do not love God by believing in His Son Jesus Christ as your Savior. Therefore, the first order of fulfilling this command is to believe in God’s Plan of Salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. Once we do that we are saved and everything else is additive blessings. Yet, this lawyer was not even at step one of fulfilling this commandment.
The lawyer knows in his head what the correct answer is, (i.e., He cannot keep the law perfectly), and he cannot do with his life what is the correct answer. This exchange illustrates the Bible’s teaching that the law was not given to us for righteousness but to expose our sin and lead us to a Savior. Therefore, there remains a massive difference between answering correctly theologically and living perfectly through faith in Jesus Christ.
Luke 10:29, “But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Here, the Scribe wanted to “justify” himself, which uses the Verb DIKAIOO, δικαιόω that means, “justify, render innocent, or pronounce righteous.” In this, we see the self-righteous arrogance of this Scribe, as he wanted to make a public display of who he was and what he did. He had heard Jesus’ response to live the commandment to love God and love his neighbor perfectly, but knew he could not do that, and was probably feeling guilty at this time. Yet, he still thought his actions were enough to justify himself for salvation, (i.e., he was good enough). But when confronted with loving God and man perfectly, he knows he falls short. Rom 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” So, he immediately searched for an excuse by asking, “who is my neighbor?”
That is why he ignores the first part of the commandment, which is to love God, and goes right to the last part, which was “and your neighbor (PLESION) as yourself.” He was guilty of breaking this commandment, but wanted to justify himself by finding a way to be right in his own sight. He knew the moral standard of heaven was too high to reach, but like the Pharisees did, he looked for a way to lower the bar for himself, “wishing to justify himself.”
By going to the second part, he wanted to exemplify his good works, which he thought would save him, but also as a good lawyer does, he was trying to find a loophole to justify himself by saying, “I’m not a bad guy and God can cut me some slack.”
We see Luke use DIKAIOO later in his gospel and Acts, to address the issue that we do not justify ourselves through our works. We are justified because of the completed work of Jesus Christ upon the Cross and our faith in Him, Luke 16:15; 18:14; Acts 13:39, Cf. 1 Cor 6:11; Rom 3:20, 28; 4:4-5; 9:30-32; Gal 2:16-21.
Luke 16:15, “And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.”
Luke 18:14, “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Acts 13:39, “And through Him (Jesus) everyone who believes is justified from all things, from which you could not be justified through the Law of Moses.”
1 Cor 6:11, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”
Gal 2:16, “Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.”
The lawyer probably thought his neighbor was only his fellow Jewish country men. And thought to himself, “I’m doing pretty good with them.” But, Jesus did not come to lower the standards of Scripture, but to fulfill them. This then allowed Jesus to enter into a parable about the “Good Samaritan,” where in vs. 39, He uses the “neighbor,” PLESION, scenario and in this case it was a Samaritan, which the Jews typically hated.
- Features the brokenness of this sinful world, vs. 30.
- Exposes the emptiness of religion without love, vs. 31-32.
- Challenges the racism and prejudice we all can feel, vs. 33.
- Requires sacrifice and risk, vs. 34-35.
- And, overall speaks of mercy and grace that only God can provide for our salvation.
2. The object lesson of true righteousness, the parable of the Good Samaritan, vs. 30-37.
As we noted above, this story:
- Features the brokenness of this sinful world, vs. 30.
- Exposes the emptiness of religion without love, vs. 31-32.
- Challenges the racism and prejudice we all can feel, vs. 33.
- Requires sacrifice and risk, vs. 34-35.
- And, overall speaks of mercy and grace that only God can provide for our salvation, vs. 36-37.
1. The brokenness of this sinful world, vs. 30.
Luke 10:30, “Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead”.”
The story of the “Good Samaritan,” takes place on a road between Jerusalem and Jericho, about 20 miles long. This road was actually known as the “Bloody Way,” as frequent robberies occur along it.
As Jesus relays this parable to the Scribe/Lawyer, He is not only conveying a message about loving your neighbor, but in a subtle way, He is also prophesying what was going to happen to Him at the Cross with the results that the Cross has for all people. There are several Greek words used in this first passage that are also used in the narratives regarding our Lord’s crucifixion.
The first word of note is “replied,” HUPOLAMBANO, that means, “receive, answer, suppose, take up, etc.”
This word is used only 5 times in the NT and in Acts 1:9, it refers to our Lord’s ascension, post crucifixion and resurrection.
“Going down,” KATABAINO, it also used in Mat 27:40, 42; Mark 15:30, 32, for the Pharisees mocking of Jesus to come down from the cross. In addition, it is used when our Lord prayed in the Garden of Gesthemane in Luke 22:44, when His sweat was like drops of blood pouring down.
Interestingly, Jesus chose two cities in reference to this parable. Traveling from “Jerusalem,” the place of the Temple and the Cross of Jesus Christ, to “Jericho,” the entrance place of Israel into the Promised Land, speaks of Jesus’ fulfillment of the covenant promises.
“Fell among,” PERIPIPTO, “fall in with, fall into, encounter, fall into the hands of,” only used three times, here, Acts 27:41; James 1:2, speaks of encountering trials and tribulations.
“Robbers,” LESTES, “plunderer, robber, or false teacher,” speaks of how our Lord was arrested in Gethsemane, like a thieve, Mat 26:55; Mark 14:48; Luke 22:52, and that He was crucified between two thieves, Mat 27:38, 44; Mark 15:27. Also, Jesus was the Scapegoat for a thief, Barabbas, John 18:40. In addition, the other main use was by Jesus speaking of the false teachers of Israel as being thieves, Mat 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46; John 10:1, 8.
“They stripped him,” EKDUO, “strip, take off, undress,” speaks to the purple robe the Roman guards mockingly put on Jesus and then stripped off of Him after His scourging, Mat 27:28, 31; Mark 15:20.
“Beat him,” is from two words in the Greek, PLEGE that means, “blow, stroke, wound; plague, calamity,” and EPITITHEMI that means, “lay or put upon, impose.” The first is a synonym of words used for the beating and scourging Jesus received, Mat 26:67; 27:30; Mark 14:65; 15:19. The latter is used for the actions of putting the crown of thorns on our Lord’s head, Mat 27:29; John 19:2, Also, it is used for the Cross of Jesus that was “laid” on Simon of Cyrene, Luke 23:36. In addition, it is used for the sign that was placed above Jesus on the Cross, Mat 27:37, “This is Jesus, the king of the Jews,” in Hebrew, Greek and Latin.
“Went away leaving him half dead,” uses the Adjective HEMITHANES from HEMI, “half” and THNESKO, “dead or die,” that means, “half dead or entirely exhausted.” The word is used only in Luke 10:30, to describe the physical condition of the man who was robbed and beaten by thieves. The robbers departed, leaving him “half dead.” The context implies the victim was so weak physically that he required extensive medical attention. In relation to our Lord, as you know, due to the Roman’s scourging and beating Him, and then the crucifixion, our Lord suffered great physical trauma. But yet, it was the payment for our sins that caused Him to suffer the most. When that task was complete, He “breathed His last breath,” and gave up His spirit to God the Father, Mark 15;37, 39; Luke 23:46; Mat 27:50; John 19:30. In fact, the physical abuse was not the cause of His death, although if He remained on the Cross it would have eventually taken Him.
Therefore, the depiction of this man from Jerusalem is a subtle prophesy of what our Lord would suffer in Jerusalem. And, as we read the rest of this parable, the treatment of this man by the others is also prophetic as to how they treated and continue to treat the Lord. Yet, because of the brokenness of this sinful world, our Lord gladly endured the suffering and the Cross, so that our sins would be paid for once and for all time.
In addition, our Lord wanted to stress this man’s desperate need in being robbed and beaten, which is also an analogy of all mankind who are sinners and need a gracious, merciful, and loving Savior, as depicted in this story.
2. The emptiness of religion without love, vs. 31-32.
Luke 10:31-32 “And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.”
“By chance,” SUNKURIA, is only used here in the NT. It reflects the Hebraism of OT phrases translated as “and it came to pass” or “and it happened.”
“Passed by on the other side,” ANTIPARERCHOMAI, is only used in this narrative twice, once for the priest and the other for the Levite who both avoided the beat up and injured man.
“Priest,” HIEREUS is not often used by Jesus and “Levite,” LEUTIES, is only used here and John 1:19; Acts 4:36.
HIEREUS, “priest” was used in the LXX for both pagan and Israelite priests. So, this term is broader than just the Israelite. Luke may have used it to broaden the thought of the Greek/Gentile readers to signify any religious leader.
Levites are the descendants of Levi who performed priestly services in Israel. So, this gentleman was definitely Jewish. It was used of Barnabas in Acts 4:36. In addition, the temple in Jerusalem was served by three classes of people. Priests comprised the first, the second was the Levites, and the third were laymen who helped with various aspects of the life of the temple. The Levites functioned in the temple as assistants to the priests.
The point is that both religious leaders by-passed this man in need of help for whatever reasons. Notice that both were coming down from Jerusalem. That means their priestly service was completed and they probably were heading home. So, to worry about being defiled or made unclean by helping this man should absolutely not have been an issue. Nevertheless, they refused to take on this man’s injuries, (i.e., sins).
In addition, Jesus is telling us that religion does not save us, but grace, mercy, and love that comes from our Savior who took on our injuries and wounds, (i.e., sin), does.
3. Challenging the racism and prejudice we all can feel, vs. 33.
Luke 10:33, “But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion.”
“Samaritan,” SAMAREITES, is used 9 times in the NT, in Matthew, Luke, John, and once in Acts. As we have noted, deep-seated animosity existed between the Jews and the Samaritans. The origins of these prejudices date back to the conflicts between Judah and the 10 northern tribes of Israel that resulted in the division of the monarchy following the death of Solomon. We noted them in some detail in Luke 9:52.
Here, we have a positive example of a Samaritan. This is where we get our title today of the “Good Samaritan,” which is used for people who help others and the name of an organization that helps the homeless.
Notice this man was “on a journey,” HODEUO, another hapax legomenon, (i.e., only used here in Scripture), compared to the Priest and Levite who were coming down from Jerusalem. This man was not involved in the religion of Israel, but ended up on the same road way.
Yet, when the Samaritan man “saw,” EIDON, the injured man, he had “compassion” for him, SPLANCHNIZOMAI, “have compassion, feel sympathy, or have mercy.” Used 12 times in the NT, and only in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, it is used predominately to describe our Lord’s reasoning for healing and helping those who were in need. It comes from the inner most being with the desire to express grace and mercy towards others. It was a motivational virtue of our Lord and is the same for this Samaritan, as it should be for you and I.
Therefore, we see the greatest compassion for others was coming from a “non-religious” individual, who was also a hated member of the Jewish society.
4. Requires sacrifice and risk, vs. 34-35.
Luke 10:34, “And came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.
The Samaritan approached the injured man to help him. He was not afraid to share in this man’s pain and suffering. He “bandaged up,” KATADEO, only used here in the NT, “his wounds,” TRAUMA, also only used here in the NT. It denotes a physical injury.
“Pouring oil and wine,” uses EPICHEO for “pouring,” and is also only used here in the NT. It uses ELAION for oil, typically olive oil, and OINOS for “wine.” The use of oil and wine as medicine on such wounds was common in NT times. Yet, they also represent the Holy Spirit and Jesus respectfully in the Scriptures. So, figuratively we could say, by means of the Spirit and Word, (mind of Jesus), this man’s wounds were healed, Isa 53:5.
Isa 53:5, “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.”
He also “put him on his own beast,” or KTENOS that means, “domesticated animal, pack animal, pet, or riding animal.” It was probably a mule or donkey. This reminds us of Mary’s journey on a beast to Bethlehem to give birth to our Lord, and of our Lord riding on a donkey into Jerusalem where He would be crucified.
“Brought him to an inn,” uses the noun PANDOCHEION, “inn or lodge,” that too is only used here in the NT. Although the same English word as in Luke 2:7, for Joseph and Mary not finding a place for Jesus’ birth other than a stable because “there was no room at the inn,” that word was KATALUMA that can be synonymous, but also meant “guest room,” which was probably the case of a family member’s guest room, as we noted in Luke 2:7.
This was probably constructed like others in the NT era. The typical inn had a large square villa with a spacious arched doorway, complete with a courtyard and well. Most likely the traveler’s beast was kept in a stall below his room. “This “inn” did more than alleviate a traveler’s discomfort. It also afforded him protection from nighttime robbers and murderers. So the Samaritan’s deed was more than just mere generosity; it was a potential lifesaving act.” (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary).
Therefore, these are also types of the death and life of Jesus.
“And took care of him,” uses the Verb EPIMELEOMAI that means, “care for, take care of, or look after.” It is only used here, vs. 35, and in 1 Tim 3:5, for the Pastor who must be able to manage his own household.
1 Tim 3:5, “(But if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?).”
The contrast between the religious leaders and the Samaritan must have been a sharp point to the Lawyer Jesus was speaking to. Yet, He wanted the parable to be redemptive for him and all. Sometimes we need a jolt in order to see the light.
Luke 10:35, “On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you’.”
“Innkeeper,” PANDOCHEUS means, “the one who receives all, host, or keeper of the inn.” Only used here in the NT, as is the word for “you spend,” PROSDAPANAO, “to spend in addition.”
This was an act of generosity and of trust. He was generous to the recovering man and trusting of the innkeeper. Innkeepers of the day were notoriously dishonest and had a low reputation. Roman law dealt severely with such, indicating the frequency of the problem. Figuratively, our Lord is quite generous with us, as He provides everything necessary for our salvation as He also maintains (ensures) our salvation. Likewise, He entrusts His Gospel to the believer for the care of others’ souls.
The Samaritan entrusted the care of the injured man to this person and promised to “come back,” EPANERCHOMAI, used only here and Luke 19:15, for the parable of the “Money usage,” and “repay him,” APODIDOMI that is used throughout the NT and speaks of recompense. So, we have the image of our Lord’s return with the reward He will give to those who did well with what He has entrusted in them.
5. The mercy and grace that only God can provide for our salvation, vs. 36-37.
Luke 10:36-37, “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” 37And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same”.”
At the conclusion of this story, Jesus asked the Lawyer which of the three men exemplified the command to love his neighbor. The legal expert responded, “the one that showed mercy,” ELEOS, “mercy or compassion.” This is what Jesus is always looking for from people, as He Himself demonstrated it to us, Mat 9:13, cf. Mat 12:7; 23:23; Eph 2:4-10; James 2:13.
Mat 9:13, “But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,” for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
James 2:13, “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.”
Notice that the Lawyer did not say, “well the Samaritan I suppose.” Maybe he was not able to mention his ethnicity because of continued prejudice, or maybe he final saw through it and saw the true issue of “mercy.” Nevertheless, he was left without any of the excuses or the vindication he wanted.
When Jesus states, “Go and do the same,” using PEREUOMAI for, “go, depart, to order one’s life, or walk,” He is making a personal appeal to this man and us all to depart from our current lifestyle and live a new life in Him, as displayed by the Samaritan in this story. In that we see at least three truths:
1) We are to help anyone in need, no matter if his trouble is circumstantial or of his own making.
2) Any person, regardless of race, color, creed, or financial status is to receive our help.
3) We must respond with active compassion, not just pity, cf. James 2:15-16.
James 2:15-16, “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?”
James 2:14-26, tells us that deeds will be an outgrowth of our faith. The Lawyer found it difficult to admit that his neighbor included all people, just as many do today. Yet, the practice of showing our faith, love, mercy, and compassion to others is needed in all communities in all of the world.
In addition, as our Lord says in Mat 25:31-46, regarding the Sheep and Goat judgment, as we treat the least of these, so we have treated Him. Therefore, we are to show our love and compassion at all times to all of mankind, because this is part of our love towards God and love towards man, Mat 7:12; Luke 6:31, in fulfillment of the two greatest commandments.
So in conclusion, this parable provides two lessons to believers.
1) It reminds Christians to act on opportunities to show kindness to others on a daily basis, especially in communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ through our words and our actions.
2) It indirectly illustrates Jesus’ own ministry. He saw the plight of man and because of His love and compassion, ministered to our brokenness, especially upon the Cross.
IV. The Repudiation of the Son of Man by Men, Luke 9:51-19:27.
F. Reception at Bethany, (Martha’s protest), Luke 10:38-42. This narrative is only recorded in Luke’s Gospel.
Luke 10:38, “Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.”
First, we have the introduction to this scene of Jesus entering the “village,” KOME, and the “home,” OKIA, of Martha and Mary. The village is Bethany and the house is that of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. These three were close friends of Jesus, and He often stopped in Bethany to partake of their hospitality. “Bethany means “house of unripe figs” and was located about 2 miles from Jerusalem. It is also called “house of misery” because of its isolated situation and the invalids who congregated there.” (Complete Biblical Library).
“Martha,” Μάρθα was the sister of this Mary, vs. 39, and Lazarus, who Jesus would resurrect from the dead. Martha is first noted here, vs. 38, 40, 41, and them in John 11:1, 5, 19-21, 24, 30, 39; 12:2. Apparently, Jesus was very close to Martha as noted in John 11:5.
John 11:5, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”
“Welcomed,” is the Verb HUPODECHOMAI, ὑποδέχομαι that means, “receive as a guest, welcome, or entertain.” This verb is used to mean entertain as of a warm and hospital welcome into your “home,” OIKIA. It is used 4 times in Scripture, here, Luke 19:6; Acts 17:1; James 2:25.
Because Martha is named first, it seems she was the older sister and hostess on this occasion. It also may have been her home.
Luke 10:39, “She had a sister called
Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.”
Here, we see Martha’s “sister,” ADELPHE, “Mary,” MARIA, being introduced. There are 7 women named Mary in the NT.
- The mother of Jesus, Mat 1:16.
- The Magdalene, Luke 8:2.
- The mother of James and Joseph, who was probably Jesus’ mother, Mat 27:56.
- The wife of Cleophas, John 19:25. These last two may be the same woman, since both are identified near the Cross of Christ.
- The sister of Martha and Lazarus was also named Mary, Luke 10:39; John 11:1-2, 19-20, 28, 31-32, 45; 12:3.
- John Mark’s mother, Acts 12:12.
- A certain Christian greeted by Paul, Rom 16:6.
“Who was seated,” PARAKATHEZOMAI, “to sit beside,” (a hapax legomenon), “at the Lord’s feet,” KURIOS POUS, “listening to His word,” AKOUO LOGOS. Here, we see Mary intently listening to what Jesus was saying or teaching at this time in their house. We can assume Lazarus was there along with their parents, (if they were still alive), the other disciples, and maybe other guests.
This behavior was unusual for a woman at that time. The female role called for her to be making preparations for the meal, as Martha was. Yet, there Mary was, at the feet of Jesus. Her action indicates she was more concerned with the things of God than the societal role placed on her.
This is another narrative where Jesus seems to turn things upside down, but in reality, is only proving what God desires and how He thinks.
Luke 10:40, “But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me”.”
Now, we get into the purpose of this narrative. “Martha was distracted,” that uses the Imperfect, Passive, Indicative of the verb PERISPAO περισπάω that means, “draw away, distract, or overburden.” This too is a hapax legomenon. It means she was continually receiving the action of being distracted. In classical Greek, it indicates, 1) The physical act of pulling or dragging someone away. 2) In the figurative sense it describes distracting someone by pulling their mind from that on which it has been concentrating.
Luke uses the word figuratively to show that Martha was pulled away from Jesus’ teaching because she was overburdened with busyness. In other words, at some point Martha too was listening to Jesus speak, but because of the details of life, she was pulled away from listening to Jesus and instead was concentrating on the details of life.
The things that pulled her attention away from Jesus was “all her preparations,” which in the Greek is PERI, “about,” POLLEN, “much,” and DIAKONIAN, “service.” Interestingly, this is the word also used for the office of Deacon, which is a servant to the people of the Church, and is a positive thing.
So, we see here that even when we are focused on what otherwise would be a good thing to do, if it distracts us from the intake of God’s Word, it is a bad thing to be doing. “Listening” to the Word of God should always be our first priority in life.
Next we have the principle that when we have wrong priorities, we enter into compound sinning, as Martha does here. In the second part of this passage, Martha, “she came up to Him,” using the Verb EPHISTEMI, ἐφίστημι that means, “stand by or near, approach, appear, or be present.” It has the sense of suddenness to it. Today, we would say something like, “she got up into his face.”
The next thing she did was elicit Jesus to feel sorry for her because she was doing all the work. “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone?”
Here, we see the “self-pity party” of Martha, who took it upon herself to do all the serving at this time rather than listening to the words of Jesus. Feeling sorry for herself, she then accuses Jesus of “not caring,” OUK MELO that means, “to be an object of care or thought, or to care about.” With the negative, Martha was accusing Jesus of being indifferent towards her and /or being self-centered where He does not care about what happens to others, just as the disciples did in Mark 4:38, where the storm was swamping their boat and Jesus was asleep.
Mark 4:38, “Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’”
Yet, we know that Jesus does care about every member of the human race, and in fact wants to take our daily cares and burdens upon Himself, as one of MELO’s only uses without a negative particle reads, “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you,” 1 Peter 5:7.
In Martha’s case, not only was it arrogant self-pity, but also jealousy as she brings her sister into the equation, “that my sister has left me to all the serving alone.”
“Left me,” is the Verb KATALEIPO, καταλείπω that means, “leave behind, abandon, forsake, or depart.” So, you can see the exaggerated emphasis on Martha’ part, as she says that Mary abandoned her, and left her to do all the “serving,” the Verb DIAKONEO, “alone,” MONOS. She projects abandonment on the part of Mary towards herself. She falsely accusers Mary.
Then, she gets quite emboldened, as she commands Jesus to do something by saying, “Then tell her to help me”.” “Tell her,” is the Aorist, Active, Imperative of Command of the Verb EIPON, “to say or speak.” She is ordering the Lord around! Demanding that God do something! More sin on multiple levels.
“To help,” is the Aorist, Middle Deponent, Subjunctive of the Verb SUNANTILAMBANOMAI, συναντιλαμβάνομαι that means, “help, assist, take hold of together, or help in obtaining.” It is only used here and Rom 8:26, for the Holy Spirit who helps us in our prayer life. The Subjunctive is used to go along with the command as the thing or event that is to be accomplished. So, we have a very weighty word here as Martha’s worries led to her self-pity, which led to demanding something from her Lord. She is demanding that God do something to alleviate her self-imposed burden.
Luke 10:41, “But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things.”
Martha was probably expecting the Lord to rebuke Mary for her laziness or selfishness, but instead she received a surprising response. Jesus responded to Martha’s outrage by “answering” APOKRINO, “and saying” EIPON, “Martha, Martha.” The doubling of her name indicates a compassionate rebuke is about to come.
“You are worried,” is the Verb MERIMNAO, μεριμνάω that means, “be anxious, care for, or be concerned about.” It means having unnecessary concern or anxiety over daily things including food and clothing. It indicates that she was anxious, overly concerned, or worried about what she was doing, and what Mary was not doing.
We have to keep in mind that our anxiety will not change one thing, Luke 12:25-26, “And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?” And that our Lord will take care of His Children, Mat 6:25ff.; Luke 12:11ff.
Phil 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Not only was she worried, but she was “bothered,” the Verb THORUBAZO, θορυβάζω in the Present, Passive, Indicative that means, “troubled, bothered, distracted, or disturbed.” It is another hapax legomenon. The meal preparation, (details of life), was bothering her to the extent that she lashed out as Jesus and her sister. But, in Jesus’ rebuke He said it was not just this event but “about so many things,” PERI POLUS.
So we see that Martha’s attention was divided between wanting to serve Jesus and wanting to hear what He was saying. And instead of choosing what the best thing to do would be, she festered over it and became angry. In addition, she was upset because her sister Mary was getting the privilege while she had to work.
So, Martha is being a slave to the details of life. And, worrying about the details of life is a sin of its own that many times leads to compounding sins in our life.
Luke 10:42, “But only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her”.”
In Jesus’ reply He said, “But only one thing is necessary,” where “necessary,” is the Noun CHREIA that means, “need, necessity, duty, or task.” In other words, it is our top priority.
Then Jesus defends Mary’s choice to listen to His teaching at His feet by saying, “For Mary has chosen the good part,” EKLEGOMAI, “choose, select, or elect,” AGATHOS MERIS. AGATHOS is that word that we say is “good of intrinsic value,” meaning it is Divine good production. In other words, Mary had her priorities straight. Rather than running around trying to take care of everyone, she choose to spend her time listening to the Lord. She chose to take in Bible Doctrine, rather try to satisfy everyone else.
Then our Lord stated, “Which shall not be taken away from her,” OUK APHAIREO in the Future, Passive, Indicative that means, “take away, cut off, or remove.” In other words, this Divine good production will be rewarded in the eternal state, and will be hers for all of eternity. She will not lose out for making the intake of Bible Doctrine her number one priority, as opposed to Martha’ human good that actually led her to sinning.
What Martha was initially doing was not wrong. She was preparing a meal for an honored guest. That is a good thing. But where she failed was in being self-centered about the whole ordeal. Maybe she was looking for more approbation, as many “do gooders” do. Maybe, she was jealous of her younger sister. Maybe, she just had a bad day. Whatever the case, she allowed her frustrations to get the better of her and beginning with mental attitude sins toward Mary, she committed verbal sins against both Mary and her Lord. Yet, all the while, Mary had made the right decision to make learning from the Lord her top priority, which Jesus commends.
A principle from this is that it is possible to demonstrate your love for the Lord in different ways. Yet, the choice is not always between what is good or evil. Often the choice is between what is good and what is better.
Jesus did not reprimand Martha for what she was doing in preparing the meal, only for her attitude of self-centeredness. In that, He also said there was something better. It was not wrong for Martha to busy herself about preparing a meal for Jesus. There is a time and a place for Christian service, when believers are active in working for Christ. However, there is another aspect of Christian living which is much more important and must not be ignored, which is the intake of Bible Doctrine / listening to the Lord through the study of His Word.
Our “busyness” may sometimes detract from the more important “business” that Mary was engaged in. Mary’s sitting at Jesus’ feet symbolizes the “good part,” the important facet of worship, the thing that was truly Divine Good Production. Nothing is more important than communing with Christ and letting Him speak to us through His Word.
Most believers find it easier to be a busy “Martha” than to be an attentive “Mary.” Although Jesus did not criticize Martha for her work for Him, He desired her worship even more. It is good to serve but service must be kept in its proper place. Martha’s initial motivation was acceptable, yet, Mary’s were better.
Psa 73:25-26, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. 26My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Lam 3:22-24, “The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. 23They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 24”The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him”.”
The purpose of your new life in Christ, is enjoying the Lord as your portion. The reason you are saved is to enjoy God; To sit with Him; To listen to Him; To talk with Him; To treasure Him as our inheritance. The Lord Jesus is the good portion that you should choose before or instead of being busy with all kinds of acts of service.
“Practicing a benign neglect of things that can be neglected in order to commune with Christ is a great privilege to the Christian.” (Christ-Centered Exposition).
That concludes chapter 10.