Jesus Christ: Travel Ministry
Departure from Galilee
An interval of two months elapses between John 10:21 and 22--from the Feast of Tabernacles (October) till the Feast of the Dedication (December). This period witnessed the final withdrawal of Jesus from Galilee. Probably while yet in Galilee He sent forth the seventy disciples to prepare His way in the cities to which He should come (
Rejected by Samaria
Conscious that He went to suffer and die, Jesus steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem. His route was first by Samaria--an opportunity of grace to that people--but here, at a border village, the messengers He sent before Him, probably also He Himself on His arrival, were repulsed, because of His obvious intention to go to Jerusalem (
Mission of the Seventy
In the present connection Luke inserts the incidents of the three aspirants formerly considered (9:57-62; compare p. 1645). It was suggested that the second and third cases may belong to this period.
The Lawyer’s Question--Parable of Good Samaritan
Jesus had now passed "beyond the Jordan," i.e. into Peraea, and vast crowds waited on His teaching (compare
The incident of Martha and Mary, which Luke inserts here (
Discourses, Parables, and Miracles
a) Original to Luke:
Of matter original to Luke in these chapters may be noted such passages as that on the Friend at Midnight (11:5-8), the incident of the man who wished Jesus to bid his brother divide his inheritance with him, to whom Jesus spoke the parable of the Rich Fool (12:13-21), the parable of the Barren Fig Tree, called forth by the disposition to regard certain Galileans whom Pilate had slain in a tumult at the temple, and eighteen on whom the tower of Siloam had fallen, as sinners above others (13:1-9: "Nay," said Jesus, "but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish"), and most of the teaching in Luke 14, referred to below. In 11:37,38, we have the mention of a Pharisee inviting Jesus to dine, and of his astonishment at the Lord’s neglect of the customary ablutions before eating. Luke 11:53 gives a glimpse of the fury to which the scribes and Pharisees were aroused by the severity of Christ’s denunciations. They "began to press upon him vehemently .... laying wait for him, to catch something out of his mouth." In 13:31 ff it is told how the Pharisees sought to frighten Jesus from the district by telling Him that Herod would fain kill Him. Jesus bade them tell that "fox" that His work would go on uninterruptedly in the brief space that remained ("day" used enigmatically) till He was "perfected" (13:32). The woe on Jerusalem (13:34,35) is given by Matthew in the discourse in chapter 23.
b) The Infirm Woman--the Dropsied Man:
Of the miracles in this section, the casting out of the demon that was mute (
c) Parable of the Great Supper:
This feast at the Pharisee’s house had an interesting sequel in the discourse it led Jesus to utter against vainglory in feasting, and on the spirit of love which would prompt to the table being spread for the helpless and destitute rather than for the selfish enjoyment of the select few, closing, in answer to a pious ejaculation of one of the guests, with the parable of the Great Supper (
d) Counting the Cost:
The injunctions to the multitudes as to the sacrifice and cross-bearing involved in discipleship are pointed by the examples of a man building a tower, and a king going to war, who count the cost before entering on their enterprises (
Martha and Mary
At or about this time--perhaps before the incidents in
Feast of the Dedication
The Feast of the Dedication, held in December, was in commemoration of the cleansing of the temple and restoration of its worship after its profanation by Antiochus Epiphanes (164 BC). Great excitement was occasioned by the appearance of Jesus at this feast, and some asked, "How long dost thou hold us in suspense? If thou art the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus said He had told them, and His works attested His claim, but they were not of His true flock, and would not believe. To His own sheep He gave eternal life. The Jews anew wished to stone Him for claiming to be God. Jesus replied that even the law called the judges of Israel "gods" (
From the Abode at Bethabara till the Raising of Lazarus
After leaving Jerusalem Jesus went beyond Jordan again to the place where John at first baptized (
The stronger the opposition of scribes and Pharisees to Jesus became, the more by natural affinity did the classes regarded as outcast feel drawn to Him. He did not repel them, as the Pharisees did, but ate and drank with them. Publicans and sinners gathered to His teaching, and He associated with them. The complaining was great: "This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them." The defense of Jesus was in parables, and the Pharisees’ reproach may be thanked for three of the most beautiful parables Jesus ever spoke--the Lost Sheep (compare
Parables of the Unjust Steward and the Rich Man and Lazarus
In this connection Luke (17:1-10) places exhortations to the disciples on occasions of stumbling, forgiveness, the power of faith, renunciation of merit ("We are unprofitable servants"), some of which are found elsewhere (compare
The Summons to Bethany--Raising of Lazarus
Even this mighty deed did not alter the mind of the Pharisees, who held a council, and decided, on the advice of Caiaphas (
The circumstantiality of this beautiful narrative speaks irresistibly for its historical truth, and the objections raised by critical writers center really in their aversion to the miraculous as such.
From the Retirement to Ephraim till the Arrival at Bethany
Retreat to Ephraim
The hostility of the ruling classes was now so pronounced that, in the few weeks that remained till Jesus should go up to the Passover, He deemed it advisable to abide in privacy at a city called Ephraim (situation uncertain). That He was in secrecy during this period is implied in the statement (
The Journey Resumed
On His leaving this retreat to resume His advance to Jerusalem the narratives again become rich in incident and teaching.
Cure of the Lepers
It is not easy to define the route which brought Jesus again to the border line between Samaria and Galilee (
At some point in this journey the Pharisees sought to entrap Jesus on the question of divorce.
(Matthew 19:3-12; Mark 10:1-12) Was it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? (
b) Coming of the Kingdom:
Another question asked by the Pharisees of Jesus was as to when the kingdom of God should come. The expectation excited by His own ministry and claims was that it was near; when should it appear? Rebuking their worldly ideas, Jesus warned them that the kingdom did not come "with observation"--was not a "Lo, there! Lo, here!"; it was "within" them, or "in their midst," though they did not perceive it. In the last decisive coming of the Son of Man there would be no dubiety as to His presence (
c) Parable of the Unjust Judge:
In close connection with the foregoing, as furnishing the ground for the certainty that this day of the Son of Man would come, Jesus spoke the parable of the Unjust Judge. This judge, though heedless of the claims of right, yet yielded to the widow’s importunity, and granted her justice against her adversary. How much more surely will the righteous, long-suffering God avenge His own elect, who cry unto Him day and night (
A series of sayings and incidents at this time throw light upon the spirit of the kingdom.
The Spirit of the Kingdom
The spirit of self-righteousness is rebuked and humble penitence as the condition of acceptance is enforced in the parable of the Pharisee and Publican.
a) Parable of Pharisee and Publican:
The Pharisee posing in his self-complacency at his fastings and tithes, and thanking God for his superiority to others, is set in vivid contrast to the abased publican, standing afar off, and able only to say, "God, be thou merciful to me a sinner" (
b) Blessing of the Babies:
(Matthew 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17)
A similar lesson is inculcated in the beautiful incident of the blessing of the babes. The disciples rebuked the mothers for bringing their little ones, but Jesus, "moved with indignation" (Mark), received and blessed the babes, declaring that to such (to them and those of like spirit) belonged the kingdom of heaven. "Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me," etc.
c) The Rich Young Ruler:
(Matthew 19:16-30; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18:18-30)
A third illustration--this time of the peril of covetousness--is afforded by the incident of the rich young ruler. This amiable, blameless, and evidently sincere young man ("Jesus looking upon him loved him,"
Third Announcement of the Passion
(Matthew 20:17-19; Mark 10:32-34; 18:31-33)
Not unconnected with the foregoing teachings is the third solemn announcement to the disciples, so hard to be persuaded that the kingdom was not immediately to be set up in glory, of His approaching sufferings and death, followed by resurrection. The disciples had been "amazed" and "afraid" (Mk) at something strange in the aspect and walk of Jesus as they Lu were on the way, going to Jerusalem (compare
The Rewards of the Kingdom
The spirit of the kingdom and sacrifice for the kingdom have already been associated with the idea of reward, but the principles underlying this reward are now made the subject of special teaching.
First by the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard the lesson is inculcated that reward in the kingdom is not according to any legal rule, but is governed by a Divine equity, in accordance with which the last may often be equal to, or take precedence of, the first.
a) Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard:
The laborers were hired at different hours, yet all at the end received the same wage. The murmuring at the generosity of the householder of those who had worked longest betrayed a defectiveness of spirit which may explain why they were not more highly rewarded. In strictness, the kingdom is a gift of grace, in the sum total of its blessings one and the same to all.
b) The Sons of Zebedee:
(Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 10:35-45)
Still there are distinctions of honor in God’s kingdom, but these are not arbitrarily made. This is the lesson of the reply of Jesus to the plea of the mother of the sons of Zebedee, James and John, with, apparently, the concurrence of the apostles themselves, that they might sit one on the right hand and the other on the left hand in His kingdom. It was a bold and ambitious request, and naturally moved the indignation of the other apostles. Still it had its ground in a certain nobility of spirit. For when Jesus asked if they were able to drink of His cup and be baptized with His baptism, they answered, "We are able." Jesus told them they should share that lot of suffering, but to sit on His right hand and on His left were not favors that could be arbitrarily bestowed, but would be given to those for whom it had been prepared of His Father--the preparation having regard to character and fitness, of which the Father alone was judge. Jesus went on to rebuke the spirit which led one to seek prominence over another, and laid down the essential law, "Whosoever would become great among you shall be your minister," enforcing it by His own never-to-be-forgotten example, "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom, for many" (
Jesus at Jericho
Accompanied by a great throng, possibly of pilgrims to the feast, Jesus drew near to the influential city of Jericho, in the Jordan valley, about 17 miles distant from Jerusalem. Here two notable incidents marked His progress.
a) The Cure of Bartimeus:
(Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-82; Luke 18:35-43)
As they approached the city (Luke) (Matthew and Mark place the incident as they "went out") a blind beggar, Bartimeus, hearing that "Jesus the Nazarene" (Mark) passed by, loudly called on Him as the "Son of David" to have mercy on him. The multitude would have restrained the man, but their rebukes only made him the more urgent in his cries. Jesus stopped in His way, called the blind man to Him, then, when he came, renewing his appeal, healed him. The cry of the beggar shows that the Davidic descent, if not the Messiahship, of Jesus was now known. Matthew varies from the other evangelists in speaking of "two blind men," while Matthew and Mark, as noted, make the cure take place on leaving, not on entering the city. Not improbably there are two healings, one on entering Jericho, the other on going from the city, and Matthew, after his fashion, groups them together (Luke’s language is really indefinite; literally, "as they were near to Jericho").
b) Zaccheus the Publican:
The entrance of Jesus into Jericho was signalized by a yet more striking incident. The chief collector of revenue in the city was Zaccheus, rich, but held in opprobrium ("a sinner") because of his occupation. Being little of stature, Zaccheus had climbed into the branches of a sycomore tree to see Jesus as He passed. To his amazement, and that of the crowd, Jesus stopped on His way, and called Zaccheus by name to hasten to come down, for that day He must abide at his house. Zaccheus joyfully received Him, and, moved to a complete change in his views of duty, declared his purpose of giving half his goods to the poor, and of restoring fourfold anything he might have taken by false accusation. It was a revolution in the man’s soul, wrought by love. "Today," Jesus testified, "is salvation come to this house ..... For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost."
c) Parable of the Pounds:
The expectations of the multitude that the kingdom of God should immediately appear led Jesus to speak the parable of the Pounds, forewarning them that the consummation they looked for might be longer delayed than they thought, and impressing on them the need of loyalty, faithfulness and diligence, if that day, when it came, was not to prove disastrous to them. The nobleman went into a "far country" to receive a kingdom, and his ten servants were to trade with as many pounds (each = 100 drachmas) in his absence. On his return the faithful servants were rewarded in proportion to their diligence; the faithless one lost what he had; the rebellious citizens were destroyed. Thus Jesus fore-shadowed the doom that would overtake those. who were plotting against Him, and checked hopes that disregarded the moral conditions of honor in His kingdom.
Arrival at Bethany.
From Jericho Jesus moved on to Bethany, the abode of Lazarus and his sisters. To His halt here before His public entrance into Jerusalem the next events belong.