The Book of Luke, The Sending of the Seventy, Part III - Lesson 132
The Lord Jesus Christ had appointed seventy disciples for citywide campaigns prior to his going to Jerusalem, sending them two by two before his face into every city and place where he himself would come.
He sent them with a sense of urgency, giving them instructions to refrain from doing specific things that would promote their going.
They were to take no purse, no money, and they were to take no time to salute any man along the way.
And there was a warning given to them that they were not to minister to cities where they were not given welcome.
And not only were they not to minister but they were to publicly show God’s displeasure with that city by wiping off the very dust of that city which cleaved to them, saying that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
We read of this in Luke 10:10-16, But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, 11Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. 12But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. 13Woe unto thee, Chorazin! (khor-ad-zin) woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. 15And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell. 16He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
It was a custom of the Jews after traveling through heathen territory to shake the dust off of their sandals and clothes before re-entering the Holy Land.
Unless they did this they feared that clean objects according to the law, as well as they themselves, would be made unclean.
Jesus takes this custom and instructs his disciples to treat any city that refuses to accept the Gospel, as unclean and even the dust of that city must be discarded from the disciple’s clothes and from his shoes.
This symbolic action, shaking the dust from the feet and clothes, is a public declaration of the divine displeasure that rests upon a place that had refused the gospel.
The discarding of the very dust of the place is a testimony against the place and it’s people.
This is not without purpose for its purpose is that the people of this city repent.
Shaking off the very dust of the city is the revealing of God’s strong disapproval, for the spreaders of his good news are his ambassadors, sent by Him to represent Him.
They are bringing his word.
By rejecting His ambassadors, these wicked people are rejecting Him, hence also His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The disciples are to do this publicly and they are to remind the city that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
These words are to impress upon the people the grievousness of rejecting the good news of God.
They are told that in rejecting Christ’s messengers they are rejecting him, and in so doing they are shutting themselves out of His kingdom.
Christ’s kingdom will come, it is an unstoppable force which the rejection of men cannot stop.
But rejection of his kingdom includes within that rejection a curse greater than that which happened against notable cities of the Bible that God had already judged.
12But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.
We see in this statement that there are indeed degrees of punishment as there are degrees of glory.
In our measurement of sin we can hardly imagine a more sinful city than that of Sodom.
We are so quick to place Sodom and the sins of Sodom in first place on the index of wickedness.
But Christ does not share our quick condemnation of Sodom as the wickedest city for he tells the disciples that a city that rejects your message will face a greater displeasure on the part of God than Sodom faced.
We must get out of our minds our own priority of wickedness and replace it with God’s priority of wickedness.
That is a part of the “let this mind be in you” admonition of Phil. 2:5.
Unless we do this our own priority of wickedness places anything we do on the bottom of the list, if we place it at all on the list, and we make sure that we place what other people do on the top of the list.
The homosexuality and perversion of Sodom is not the most wicked thing there is in the mind of God for this very rejection of light on the part of the cities visited by his disciples brings out God’s mind concerning what is most wicked.
And that is a rejection of His light.
Jesus Christ made it very clear that He is the light of the world.
Jesus Christ selected certain cities to receive light.
They were very privileged cities for he sent his personal representatives to them urgently appealing and pleading with them to repent, for the kingdom of God was at hand.
To reject this golden opportunity would be to bring upon them in the final judgment a sentence even more terrifying than that which will then be pronounced on Sodom.
At this time the Lord Jesus Christ points out three cities who already face this judgment because of their rejection of the great light that Jesus Christ had already presented to them.
13Woe unto thee, Chorazin! (khor-ad-zin) woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. 15And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.
These three cities at the north end of the Sea of Galilee had been privileged to have Jesus Christ minister for extensive periods of time.
Capernaum, was for a long time, Christ’s headquarters and his miracles and mighty deeds would have been performed not only inside this city but in the nearby towns of Chorazin and Bethsaida.
He compares Chorazin and Bethsaida with Tyre and Sidon, two Phoenician cities that were known for their wickedness.
Tyrians sold Israelites into slavery.
Joel 3:6 tells us that the Phoenicians of Sidon and Tyre sold children of Judah and the children of Jerusalem to the Greeks so as to remove them from their borders.
What a condemnation this “woe” was to these self righteous cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum who held themselves in high esteem and would never in a million years think of themselves as less apt to repent than these wicked places.
We can get a feeling of what they of these towns would have felt by bringing it home to Milton, Florida.
Woe unto thee, Milton! for if the mighty works had been done in Las Vegas, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
But Jesus Christ brings light to dark minds and boldly declares the reality of their state and shows his revulsion for those who were far more privileged but had remained unrepentant.
The Lord Jesus after pronouncing these two “woes” turns to Capernaum which had been the very center of his activity in the Galilean region.
15And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.
It was in the vicinity of this town that Jesus had called his first disciples.
It is in Capernaum also that Peter and Andrew, James and John were invited to become fishers of men”.
It was here that Jesus performed many miracles and even attended the synagogue and also delivered several messages at Capernaum including the message on The Bread of Life.
By the condemnation that Jesus Christ brings against Capernaum in this passage we can know that most of the population of Capernaum did not repent and receive Christ.
Jesus Christ had poured out his love for this city and he had received rejection.
By his condemnation of Capernaum we can understand how this city saw itself.
His statement indicated that they saw themselves as an exalted city, a city fit for heaven.
How this reminds us of the church at Laodicia that saw itself as rich and increased with goods having need of nothing.
But Jesus Christ saw them as wretched, and miserable and poor and blind and naked.
The lesson here is not how you see yourself but how God sees you.
And you can only know how God sees you by knowing what God’s word says about you.
There is no other source which will reveal God’s mind about you.
But because of how Jesus Christ sees Capernaum we are allowed to get the real view of this city for instead of them going to heaven Jesus Christ declares that they shall be thrust down to Hell.
It was not long in coming that Capernaum was destroyed and its ruins were not found until 1905 when excavations verified its existence.
No doubt this ruin of their city is a direct result of their sin of rejecting the light and the curse that Jesus Christ pronounced upon them that day.
He then ties all of his instruction up into this verse in Luke 10:16.
Luke 10:16, He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
He starts off with a positive message.
He brings before us those who hear his disciples.
Hear means the receiving of that which the disciples bring for we get the meaning of this word by its being used against the opposite word “despise”.
Hear or despise. Receive or cast off.
The preaching of the gospel of the kingdom of God by those whom Christ sends not only results in hearing or rejecting the disciples but it more importantly results in the hearing or rejecting of Christ himself.
Jesus assures these seventy men that when they speak, he speaks.
When the people listen to them, they are listening to him.
Jesus Christ was sent by the Father to always faithfully represent Him.
The Father on the Mount of Transfiguration told Peter, John and James, This is my beloved Son, Hear Him!
Jesus Christ is saying the same thing here in this passage.
These are my sons, hear them and when you hear them you hear me, and when you hear me you hear the Father that sent me.
It is clear that those who receive Christ’s ambassadors also are receiving Christ and the Father who sent him.
And of course the contrary to this also applies for those who reject the sent ones also reject the sender.
Anyone who rejects those who are commissioned by the Savior are also rejected by the one who sent the Savior.
There is an unchangeable connection between Christ and his own and that connection is expressed here and it is an admonition to us with regard to those who serve Christ.
There are consequences to rejecting God’s servants for that unchangeable connection is firmly established in pronouncements like this.
Assuming that a servant is a prayerful, consistent servant faithful to the scriptures.
Perhaps that servant is a teacher, or an evangelist, or a preacher or a missionary preaching the message of the Lord to the hearts and lives of people.
If that is so we should assume that it is Christ himself who is speaking through that messenger.
And if we hear that messenger we hear Christ and if we hear Christ we hear God the Father.
And contrary if we reject or despise that servant we reject and despise Christ and God the Father.
The message of this scripture it that there is an unswerving loyalty of Christ to those who serve him.
In our modern vernacular he says, Don’t mess with my servants.
You mess with my servants you mess with me and if you mess with me you mess with my Father.
That unswerving loyalty and unchangeable connection is expressed in many verses throughout the scriptures.
Matthew 10:40, He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
John 13:20, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
Zech. 2:8, For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. 9For, behold, I will shake mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me.
Matthew 10:25, It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?
Matthew 18:5, And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me
Matthew 25:40, And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
John 10:27-30, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. 30I and my Father are one.
John 15:5, I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
John 15:18-21, If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
Acts 9:4,5, And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
Romans 8:38, For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
II Cor. 1:5, For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
II Cor. 4:10, Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
Gal. 1:16, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
Gal. 2:20, I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Gal. 6:17, From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
Eph. 5:30, For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
Col. 1:24, Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: