Please read Luke 9:51-10:15 & Matthew 11:20-24
And it came about, when the days were approaching for His ascension, that He resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem; Luke 9:51 NIV
Yeshua’s focus was on the joy set before Him in His ascension (Hebrews 12:2) as He fulfilled Isaiah 50:4-7:
The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.
The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears;
I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away.
I offered my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.
Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.
Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.
…and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was proceeding toward Jerusalem. Luke 9:52-53 NASB
On the way to Judaea from Capernaum, Yeshua’s road probably lay over Mount Tabor, past Little Hermon (see Luke 7:11), past Nain, Enaor, and Shunem. The first Samaritan village at which He would arrive would be En Gannim (Fountain of Gardens), now Jenin, a pleasant village at the first pass into the Samaritan hills.
The Samaritans were a very religious people. Like the Jews, they were looking for Messiah, but their expectations were different.
These Samaritan Israelites kept the Hebrew Torah and cultic practices. They called themselves “the sons of Israel” or “Shomrim” (the keepers), considering themselves the be the keepers of the old ways, the ancient faith, the covenant promise. The Samaritans followed in the footsteps of the northern kingdom of Israel before them in opposing the worship of God in Jerusalem, convinced that the centre of Israel’s worship should be the mount of YHWH’s covenant blessing (Deuteronomy 27:12), Mount Gerizim, where they had built their own temple to Yahweh. They had a fourfold creed:
1. One God – YHWH
2. One Prophet – Moses
3. One Book – Torah
4. One Place – Mt Gerizim
The Jews (Judean Israelites) and Samaritans (Samaritan Israelites) each believed that they were the true worshippers of God and that the others were heretics and imposters who had taken the wrong path when the kingdom had separated into two after Solomon’s death.
Samaritans in the city of Sychar had been the first to believe that Yeshua is “the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” (John 4) Yeshua now sent messengers ahead of Him into a smaller Samaritan village but the message they gave did not result in the same acceptance of Messiah. The reason Luke gives was Yeshua’s determination to go to Jerusalem. It is not clear whether their lack of receptiveness was due to the conflict between Jews and Samaritans over where the proper place to worship God is or, like the talmidim, was lack of acceptance of His purpose in pursuing the path to His death in Jerusalem. Now Yeshua had not only religious Jews, but also religious Samaritans rejecting Him.
If Anyone Will Not Welcome You
When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”
But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”
And they went on to another village. Luke 9:54-56 NASB
The Sons of Thunder were living up to their nickname. Possibly stirred up by Yeshua’s continued insistence that He was going to be rejected and killed and by seeing Elijah during Christ’s transfiguration and remembering how he had called down fire. Such a demonstration of divine power would make them feel a whole lot more secure. It was not Messiah’s calling and He immediately rebuked them for such a destructive suggestion. Yeshua had previously given them instructions for when a town did not receive them: “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” Matthew 10:14 NIV His Word does not change – they left that town and went on to another Samaritan village that would gladly receive them.
Demands of Discipleship
As they continued into Judea this crowd attracted attention and many came out to see Yeshua. They wanted the rewards of discipleship but were not prepared to pay the price.
As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.”
And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
And He said to another, “Follow Me.”
But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.”
But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”
Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.”
But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-62 NASB
Apostello 70 Others
After this, the Lord appointed seventy other talmidim and sent (apostello) them … Luke 10:1a CJB
Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers states: Some MSS. of importance give “seventy-two,” but the evidence preponderates in favour of the reading “seventy.”
Although many were not willing to pay the price of discipleship, there were still many who did, enough for Yeshua to appoint another 70 and apostello them into the harvest.
There was much significance in Yeshua appointing seventy others.
(1) In Judaism the natural order is represented by the number 7. G‑d chose to create the world in 7 days, resulting in a week that consists of 7 days. Any number times 10 represents the completeness of that number. Thus, 7 times 10 (seventy) represents the completion of the natural order – each aspect of nature is complete.
(2) Seventy members of Jacob’s family moved down to Egypt (Genesis 46:27, Exodus 1:5).
(3) The Torah (Genesis 10) lists seventy descendants of Noah after the Great Flood, and tells us, “These are the families of the sons of Noah . . . the nations were separated on the earth after the flood.” (Genesis 10:32) Deuteronomy 32:8 also draws a parallel between the number of descendants of Jacob (Israel) and the number of non-Israelite nations.
(4) In the Feast of Tabernacles a great sacrifice of seventy oxen was offered as on behalf of all the non-Israelite members of the great family of mankind (Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr. in Joann. 7).
(5) Seventy elders had been appointed by Moses to help him in his work of teaching and judging the people (Numbers 11:16), and to these the spirit of prophecy had been given that they might bear the burden with him.
(6) The Sanhedrin or great Council of scribes and priests and elders consisted of seventy members besides the president, the number having been fixed on the assumption that they were the successors of those whom Moses had appointed.
(7) Israel has seventy holy days every year – 52 Shabbatot, the 7 days of Pesach, the 7 days of Sukkot, 1 day of Shmini Atzeret, 2 days of Rosh Hashanah, 1 day Yom Kippur.
(8) Israel suffered seventy years of exile in Babylon (Jeremiah 29:10).
(9) “Seventy ‘sevens’(weeks) are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.” Daniel 9:24
(10) LXX Septuagint (from the Latin for “seventy“) is the name of the Greek translation of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) commissioned by the Egyptian king, Ptolemy II Philadelphus (reigned from 285-246 BC). The full title (Ancient Greek: Ἡ μετάφρασις τῶν Ἑβδομήκοντα, lit. ‘The Translation of the Seventy‘) derives from the story that it was translated into Greek by 70 Jewish scholars or, according to later tradition, 72: six scholars from each of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, who independently produced identical translations.
These Seventy were ‘others’ Gk hetros = another who is different, a different group with a different mission. The mission of the Seventy is clearly distinguished from and contrasted with that of the Twelve by the word ‘others’ hetros. The Twelve were prohibited from going beyond Jews; the Seventy were under no such restriction. The number 12 had reference to the number of the Israeli tribes; that of 70 was representative of all the nations. None the less, much of the charge given to either is given to both – they had the same message, and both were sent to prepare for Christ’s personal ministry.
As the 12 had been, these 70 were apostello – commissioned, sent on a defined mission. Apostello focuses back on the source (the one sending) to strongly connect the sender the one sent, so this verb is used to emphasise the close connection of Yeshua (as the sender) to believers that He commissions. This is in contrast to the more general Greek term for ‘to send’, pempo.
…and sent them on ahead in pairs to every town and place where He Himself was about to go. He said to them, “To be sure, there is a large harvest. But there are few workers. Therefore, plead with the Lord of the Harvest that he speed workers out to gather in his harvest.” Luke 10:1b-2 CJB
Yeshua had said this before apostello the twelve, now we have a further fulfilment in the apostello of the seventy others. It was a lesson for the twelve as much as for the seventy – they were not to try to “own” the ministry and forbid others to partake in it, as indeed they had recently done. All disciples are called to minister, all saints are called to minister – to know Jesus and make Him known, to introduce others to Him.
“Get going now, but pay attention! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Don’t carry a money-belt or a pack, and don’t stop to shmoose with people on the road (but make haste to tell as many as possible about me, for the time is short).
“Whenever you enter a house, first say, ‘Shalom!’ to the household. If a seeker of shalom is there, your ‘Shalom!’ will find its rest with him; and if there isn’t, it will return to you. Stay in that same house, eating and drinking what they offer, for a worker deserves his wages — don’t move about from house to house.
“Whenever you come into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is put in front of you. Heal the sick there, and tell them, ‘The Kingdom of God is near you.’
“But whenever you enter a town and they don’t make you welcome, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off as a sign against you! But understand this: the Kingdom of God is near!’ I tell you, it will be more tolerable on the Day of Judgment for S’dom than for that town.” Luke 10:3-12 CJB
Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” Matthew 11:20-24 ESV
“Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Beit-Tzaidah! For if the miracles done in you had been done in Tzor and Tzidon, they would long ago have put on sackcloth and ashes as evidence that they had changed their ways. But at the Judgment it will be more bearable for Tzor and Tzidon than for you! And you, K’far-Nachum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Sh’ol! Luke 10:13-15 CJB
Yeshua did miracles out of compassion for the people, but it was not just compassion for their physical state. They were sheep without a shepherd and He was calling them to Himself as the Good Shepherd. Yet they received the miracles but did not repent, did not recognise their need to come under the Good Shepherd’s care. The Greek word translated “repented” in Vs 13 is metanoeo = “to think differently afterwards“; it focuses on the change of behaviour proceeding from a change in thinking; it starts seeing the thing from God’s point of view after being liberated from one’s own carnal perspective. Experiencing miracles did not cause the people of Chorazin, Bethsaida, or Yeshua’s ministry capital of Capernaum, to start thinking differently – they continued on as they had done before.
1. HELPS Ministries.The Discovery Bible. [Online] https://thediscoverybible.com/.
2. Stern, David H.Complete Jewish Bible (CJB). 1998.
3. Holy Bible: New American Standard Bible. 1995, 2020. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
4. The Holy Bible: The Amplified Bible. 1987. 2015. La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
5. Yehuda Shurpin: Why is 70 Special? And ten instances in Jewish tradition where 70 is significant. Chabad.com [Online] Sited October 23rd 2022. https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/940857/jewish/Why-Is-70-Special.htm
6. Rev. E. H. Plumptre, D.D. Edited by: Charles John Ellicott. Luke 10:1. Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers. Bible Hub. [Online] Sited October 23rd 2022. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/luke/10-1.htm
7. Dr. Elana Yael Heideman. ISRAEL AND THE MEANING OF 70. The Israel Forever Foundation. [Online] Sited October 23rd 2022. https://israelforever.org/interact/blog/israel_and_the_meaning_of_70/
In the comments section below share your thoughts on what you have read and answer some of the following questions…
*Jesus knew the Father’s will and determined to follow it even when it led to suffering and death – does the gospel we preach include such willingness?
* Jesus’ disciples sent to this Samaritan village appeared to fail as the villagers rejected Him instead of welcoming Him as Messiah from their message. What can we learn from Jesus’ response of sending out 70 others to prepare the way?
* Have you heard ministers “call down fire”, or to speak curses over those who reject them or their message, or proclaim that God will punish them for “touching the Lord’s anointed”? How does Jesus respond to such?
* What do we learn about how to respond to those who reject our message?
* Some like to boast as if the miracles they received prove their spiritual superiority – but the miracles just place a greater burden of responsibility on us to repent, to think and act differently in response to such a display of God’s grace and power. What are some of the miracles that God has done in your life?
* What evidence of repentance is in your life?