How to tell the Jesus story
72 advance men prepping towns for Jesus1After that, the Lord picked 72 others to act as his advance PR team. He sent them out by twos—one pair to every town he planned to visit on his way to Jerusalem. 2He said, "There’s a huge crop out there ready to harvest. We don’t have many workers, though. So we should ask the Boss in charge of the harvest to send workers out into the field. 3Get going now. I’m afraid I’m sending you out there like lambs into the middle of a wolf pack.
4Don’t carry a moneybag, a backpack, or even an extra pair of sandals. And don’t stop to chat with people along the way; get to where you’re going. 5Before you go into anyone’s house, I want you to say this short blessing: ‘May this be a house of peace.’
6If there is a peace-loving man who lives there, he’ll experience the blessing you gave. If not, the blessing will come back to you. 7Make that house your home base as long as you stay in that town. Don’t move around from one house to another. Eat and drink what they give you because you’re working there, and a worker deserves a salary. 8Wherever you go and wherever people welcome you in, eat whatever they serve you. 9Heal the sick there, and tell them, ‘God’s kingdom has come close enough to touch you.'
10Whenever you come to a town that doesn’t welcome you, walk out into the street and say, 11‘Even the dirt of your town isn’t good enough for the bottom of my feet. So I’m shaking it off. You can have it back. But I want you to know this much, God’s kingdom has come close to you.’
12I’m telling you, come Judgment Day, the people of this town that rejected you will be worse off than the people of Sodom. 13Bad news for you, village of Chorazin! Bad news for you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that have been done in your towns had been done in the cities of Tyre and Sidon, those people who aren’t even Jews would have repented long ago. They would have put on burlap robes and dumped ashes on their head to show how sorry they were. 14By Judgment Day the people of Tyre and Sidon will be better off than you!
15And you, Capernaum! Let’s not forget you. Will you people find a place of honor in heaven? Heavens no! You’re going in the other direction; you go to Hades. 16The person who listens to you, as my messenger, listens to me. The person who refuses to listen to you refuses to listen to me—and to the one who sent me.”
PR mission accomplished17The advance team of 72 returned, happy as all get out. They told Jesus “Sir, even those demons did what we told them to do as long as we used your name!”
18Jesus said, “I saw Satan when he fell out of heaven like a bolt of lightning streaking down from the sky. 19I have given you power to top any power the enemy can muster. You can walk on snakes and scorpions. Nothing can hurt you. Not a thing.
20Don’t let it go to your head that the spirits do what you tell them to do. Don’t celebrate that. Instead, celebrate your reservations in heaven, where your names are written down.”
21Jesus was overjoyed by the Holy Spirit. Jesus prayed, “Thank you Father, ruler of heaven and earth. You have managed to hide what is happening now from people who think they are smarter than most. And yet you have revealed it to simple folks with childlike faith; they are the ones who understand what you are doing. And you are happy about that. 22My Father has put me in charge of everything now. No one knows who the Son is, except the Father. And no one knows who the Father is, except the Son—and anyone the Son chooses to confide in.”
23Jesus met with the disciples alone. He said, “You should be incredibly happy that you have lived to see what you’ve seen with me. 24I can tell you this, prophets and kings wanted nothing more than to see what you’ve seen and to hear what you’ve heard. They didn’t get that chance.”
God’s most important rule25One day a lawyer—an expert in Jewish religious law—stood up to give Jesus a little test, to see what Jesus knew about the law. The lawyer said, “Teacher, what do I have to do to make sure I inherit eternal life?”
26Jesus asked him, “What’s written down in the Law? What do you make of what you read there?”
27The lawyer told Jesus, “You have to love the Lord your God with all the heart you’ve got in you, all the spirit, all the strength, all the mind. And, you have to love your neighbor every bit as much as you love yourself.”
28Jesus said, “You got it right. Now go do it and you’ll live.” 29The lawyer wanted some justification for the way he chose to practice that law. So he asked Jesus, “Who exactly is my neighbor?”
Good-guy Samaritan30Jesus answered with a story. He said, “A man was going down the hills from Jerusalem to Jericho,  in the river valley. Along the way some robbers mugged him. They stole his clothes, beat him, and then left him half dead.
31It just so happened that a priest came along, traveling down that same path. He saw the injured man. But he walked on the other side of the path—and kept right on going. 32Then along came a man who worked as a worship assistant. He did the same thing the priest did. He walked on by, along the other side of the path.
33A Samaritan came along. When he saw the man, he felt for him. 34He went right over to the man and started treating his injuries. He poured wine and soothing oil on the wounds, and then wrapped them in bandages. He set the man on his own animal and led him to an inn, where he took care of him.
35The next day he gave the innkeeper two silver coins called denarii. He told the innkeeper, 'Take care of this man for me. If you have any expenses beyond what I’ve given you, keep track of them and I will pay the bill when I get back.' 36Which of the three men in the story do you think treated the robbed man like a neighbor?” 37The lawyer said, “The man who showed some mercy by helping him.” Jesus said, “Go and live your life like that.”
A visit with two sisters38As Jesus and his disciples continued their journey to Jerusalem, they reached a village where a woman named Martha welcomed Jesus into her home. 39This woman had a sister named Mary, who set herself near the feet of Jesus and listened as he taught.
40Martha didn’t have any time for that because she was making preparations for her guests. At one point she burst into the room and said to Jesus, “Please sir, doesn’t it bother you that my sister is making me do all the work by myself?”
41The Lord said to her, “No. Martha, Martha—loaded with anxiety issues about this thing and that thing. 42Here’s the real thing. And it’s the one thing you should be focused on—the one thing that’s essential. Mary has chosen that thing. Nobody’s going to take it from her."
Some ancient manuscripts set the number at 70, here and in 10:17.
The manuscript doesn’t actually say “an extra pair.” But some Bible experts say that Jesus is telling them not to “carry” these objects, it’s fair to presume he’s talking about an extra pair of sandals in case the ones they are wearing break.
Jesus may have had in mind the way the spirit of Elijah fell on Elisha, a younger prophet who had requested a double share of his mentor’s spirit (2 Kings 2:9).
More literally “come near to you.” Bible experts debate what that means. Some argue that Jesus embodies the kingdom of God; so it is as close to people as Jesus is. Others say that his ministry on earth brought the kingdom of God with it, and that whoever embraces his teaching becomes a citizen of God’s spiritual kingdom – a kingdom that God rules on heaven and earth.
Literally “That day,” a reference to passages that use this phrase to describe Judgment Day (Zechariah 12:3-4; Jeremiah 30:8).
For people to be worse off than the victims of Sodom, that’s saying a lot. Sodom got scorched off the planet in a firestorm, with no trace of the city left behind (Genesis 19:24).
This is implied, since the cities of Tyre and Sidon are outside the traditional Jewish homeland, in what is now the Arab country of Lebanon.
In the Hebrew language Jews called this place Sheol, a place where the shadowy dead live and don’t return (Job 7:9).
Bible experts debate what this means. Some have said Jesus is talking about the fall of Satan during the early time after Creation, and they link Jesus’ words to Isaiah 14:12. Others say Jesus may have been describing what his ministry, alongside that of his disciples, is in the process of doing to Satan and his associates. So the fall of Satan may be taking place during this ministry, or it may have already been accomplished, or perhaps Jesus is looking to the fall of Satan in a time yet to come. These are all educated guesses by well-educated souls.
Perhaps because the Holy Spirit was revealing to Jesus that God’s plan was unfolding and succeeding because of the ministry of Jesus and his followers. Bible experts debate exactly what the connection is here between the Holy Spirit and the joy Jesus is experiencing.
The lawyer was quoting two laws: Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18.
Some rabbis taught that only fellow Jews were the neighbors God had in mind. That law in Leviticus 19:18 seems to support that because in context the verse is talking about the Jewish people. But Leviticus 19:34 adds non-Jews to the category of neighbor. Still, it was hard for many Jews to embrace the Roman occupiers as neighbors. One of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls from Roman times urges Jews to “love the sons of light…and hate all the sons of darkness.”
It’s a parable, a story with a spiritual message sitting inside, in this case like a bomb on a timer.
Jericho, in the Jordan River Valley, is about 15 miles (24 km) northeast of Jerusalem. It takes roughly eight hours to walk the desolate trails. It’s more than a half-mile (.8-km) elevation drop from 2428 feet (740 m) on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to 846 feet (258 m) below sea level in Jericho. Not an easy outing.
Jerusalem was a Jewish city. Samaritans and Jews did not generally get along. Their relationship was about as unfriendly as that of Israelis and Palestinians today. For this reason, Jews traveling between Jerusalem and northern territories such as Galilee generally bypassed the Samaritan region in between the two.
The people listening to this story probably would have imagined a donkey, the best animal for traveling rugged trails like this one.
That’s about what a workingman would earn in two days. Bible scholars estimate it would have covered room and board for about two weeks.
Martha and her sister Mary lived in the village of Bethany, on the outskirts of Jerusalem (John 11:1). It’s about a mile (1.6 km) east of the Jerusalem Temple, on the opposite side of the Mount of Olives.
On his trip to Jerusalem, Jesus chose 72 people “to act as his advance PR team” (10:1). He sent them out in teams of two, “one pair to every town he planned to visit on his way to Jerusalem.” This suggests he was planning on visiting at least 35 villages along the way. Why do you think this information would surprise many people?
Jesus told the PR ambassadors not to take “a moneybag, a backpack, or even an extra pair of sandals” (10:4). Why on earth would he do that?
Jesus also told the PR ambassadors that when they go into a town they should stay in just one house. “Don’t move around from one house to another” (10:7). Why do you think he would come up with a rule like that?
Bible scholars sometimes called the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum the “evangelical triangle.” This was the epicenter of Jesus’s ministry; it’s where he probably spent most of his time. He could have covered that entire triangle in a single day—starting at Capernaum in the morning and returning to Capernaum that evening. Jesus had searing criticism for the people in all three of the cities. Why do you think he put them in a category of people worse than those in the infamous city of Sodom (10:2)? Could he have been exaggerating to make a point?
He said “I saw Satan when he fell out of heaven like a bolt of lightning streaking down from the sky” (10:18). The Casual English Bible footnote for that verse talks about different theories scholars used to explain what Jesus meant. Any thoughts of your own?
Why do you think these 72 PR ambassadors of Jesus were able to do so many miracles, yet ministers today can’t do much more than talk?
In a prayer, Jesus praises God for hiding “what is happening now” (10:21) from people who think they are smarter than everyone else, yet God makes it clear to simple and humble folks. What exactly do you think Jesus is talking about?
Jesus says “No one knows who the Son is, except the Father. And no one knows who the Father is, except the Son—and anyone the Son chooses to confide in” (10:22). Do you think he means no one knows that he is the divine Son of God? Or is he talking about something else?
What “thing” was Jesus talking about when he said “Mary has chosen that thing” (10:42)? He doesn’t really say. So we have to make guesses based on context clues.
LIFE APPLICATION. Some Jews apparently taught that when God told us we should love our neighbor the way we love ourself that God was talking about fellow Jews. (See the footnote for 10:29.) Are we like that? Are we more likely to help someone within our inner circle of friends and family than we are a stranger who crosses our path who is in desperate need?
LIFE APPLICATION. When Jesus came to visit Martha and Mary shortly before he went into Jerusalem where he would be crucified, Martha spent her time making preparations for the guests—perhaps fixing up a place for them to stay and preparing the meal. Mary, instead, spent her time talking with Jesus. If we invited Jesus to a family Thanksgiving dinner or maybe a Christmas dinner, how do you think that might change the meal preparation process?