Jesus' instructions to the Seventy Apostles, Part 2
Mar 25, 2014
Luke 10:5 says,
5 And whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace be to this house.”
This was the customary greeting (“Shalom!”). It invokes a blessing of peace, wholeness, and prosperity. Jesus continues,
6 And if a man of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him; but if not, it will return to you. 7 And stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house.
It is plain that the greeting had much more significance than a mere “hello.” The biblical greeting actually bestowed a blessing of God upon that person and his house. So often we are unaware of the power of our words and of our blessings (or even curses). We ought to be more aware of this in our daily life, so that we may give amperage to our words by our conscious intent.
The “peace blessing” will stick to a man of peace, but it will return to you if he is not truly a man of peace. Therefore, such a greeting can be given to all men, though not all will receive it. It is good to know that we do not have to discern the difference before giving such a blessing. The person’s heart will determine whether it is received or not.
In verse 7 we see why the apostles were not to make travel preparations in their journey. They were to stay with a peaceable household and accept their hospitality, because “the laborer is worthy of his wages.”
8 And whatsoever city you enter, and they receive you, eat what is set before you; 9 and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”
There are some today who are used to a more luxurious style of living. They prefer five-star hotels and the fine food of high-class restaurants, and so they do not want to accept the humble hospitality of the poor. For this reason, many poor people are embarrassed to offer the little that they have to an evangelist or prophet who has come to their area. Jesus’ instructions should be taken seriously by such people.
Healing the sick is normal when Christ has commissioned apostles to preach the Kingdom of God. Most of us fall short in this area, and I, for one, am not content until I am able to see all people healed when I pray for them. I believe this day will come soon.
10 But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 11 “Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.”
In Jesus’ instructions to the twelve (Luke 9:5), Jesus had told the disciples to shake the dust off their feet in such cases. I showed that this meant separating one’s self from the same hindrances or idolatry found in that city.
Jesus then breaks away from His instructions for a moment, telling us that the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum had rejected Jesus. We are not told much about this, but apparently the Pharisees’ opposition had prevailed with the leaders of those cities. So Jesus says in Luke 10:13-15,
13 Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment, than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will be brought down to Hades!
It appears, then, that Jesus commissioned the seventy in preparation for His own mission trip away from those cities along the Sea of Galilee after being rejected. Though His preaching had borne fruit in many of the common people, the cities themselves—that is, the religious leaders—had essentially rejected Him. Did this include Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue in Capernaum, whose daughter had been raised from the dead? That hardly seems possible. Perhaps Jairus himself had died or had been replaced by another.
Whatever had happened, the gospel writers chose to say nothing about it, except for this brief outburst in the midst of Jesus’ instructions to the seventy.
Chorazin and Bethsaida are compared to Tyre and Sidon. Chorazin means “water jars,” because it was located at a natural spring. Bethsaida means “house of fish,” or Fishton, because it was a fishing village.
Tyre means “rock, fortress, castle.” The meaning of Sidon is disputed, but it is said that it comes from the verb sud, “to hunt” and on, “a place that does such and such.”
“Because Sidon is a coastal city, most of the hunting done there would be fishing, and so NOBS Study Bible Name List and Zodhiates’ Complete Word Study Dictionary read Fishery. Jones’ Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Fishing, and enthusiastically adds Plenty Of Fish.”
So, we see how Jesus was comparing these cities. Chorazin, “water jars” is linked to the “rock” that was Tyre. Chorazin should have produced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as prophesied throughout the Scriptures, but instead the city rejected its calling. Tyre, on the other hand, though it was a rock, would have produced water, if one like Moses had spoken to it (Numbers 20:8).
Likewise, Bethsaida and Sidon are both named for the fishing industry. Perhaps the similarity of (Beth)-saida and Sidon may also be noted. Jesus took lowly fishermen from Bethsaida as His disciples and trained them to be fishers of men. But Bethsaida as a city had rejected their calling, while Sidon would have accepted Him if given opportunity.
It appears that Luke felt the need to include this outburst to lay the foundation for the gospel going out beyond the borders of Galilee and Judea. It emphasizes the fact that Jesus was rejected by His own nation, as John 1:11 says,
11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.
The rejection of Christ resulted in the gospel of the Kingdom being transformed from a local kingdom to a world-wide Kingdom. When the disciples were persecuted, they were scattered abroad to sow the seed of the Word in all nations. This outburst, then, is a prelude to the book of Acts and was the backdrop to Paul’s message in Romans 11:12, 15,
12 Now if their transgression be riches for the world and their failure be riches for the Gentiles [ethnos, “nations”], how much more will their fulfillment be!... 15 For if their rejection be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
The contrast here is between Israel (as a whole, including Judah) and the nations of the world. The gospel was to be preached to all men, so that the entire world that God has created could be reclaimed and brought back under His authority. Hence, Tyre and Sidon in essence fulfill the callings of Chorazin and Bethsaida. Their names indicate their callings, but if those cities do not fulfill their callings, then God has the ability to raise up other cities who will do so.
This is consistent with the principle laid down earlier by John the Baptist when he said in Luke 3:8, “God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.”
Keep in mind that this outburst against Chorazin and Bethsaida comes in conjunction with the seventy apostles preaching in cities that might reject their gospel. The Kingdom of God will be established, with or without Chorazin and Bethsaida. In the end, of course, the Great White Throne will decide the fate of those cities, for the judgment of God will right all wrongs and make all necessary corrections. Those who have had greater opportunity to believe will be judged more harshly than cities like Sodom and Gomorrah (Luke 10:12).
As for Capernaum, Jesus links it to Sodom, the only other city mentioned in His example. Capernaum means “covering of the Comforter.” The city was prophetically named to indicate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, or what John the Baptist called the baptism of fire (Luke 3:16). The link to Sodom is obvious, since Sodom was destroyed by its own baptism of fire in Genesis 19:24.
In the end, the Great White Throne judgment will cause every knee to bow and every tongue to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:10, 11). Those who had rejected Christ earlier (as the leaders in Capernaum) will be cast into the “lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15). This is not a literal fire, but the judgment of “the fiery law” of Deuteronomy 33:2, KJV. This is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which purifies humanity and teaches them the ways of God until all things are put under His feet.
This is part 2 of a mini-series titled "Jesus' instructions to the Seventy." To view all parts, click the link below.
This is part 52 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Luke." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones