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Jesus - A blending of the New Testament - Ch. 16 - Commisioning of the 70
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The commissioning of the Seventy  -  the parable of the good Samaritan  -  dinner with Martha and Mary  -  the Pharisees' concern for the external  -  a warning against greed  -  the parables of the wealthy farmer and the faithful servants  -  the worshipers killed the temple  -  the barren fig tree  -  a woman healed of her infirmity.


These things behind him, Jesus commissioned seventy of his disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to each of the towns he planned to visit.

"What a harvest there is out there," he told them. "Pray and ask the Lord of the harvest to send help." He gave them essentially the same instructions he had given the apostles when he first sent them out.7

When the seventy got back they reported on what had happened to them, exultant over the fact that, as they said, "When we speak in your name even the devils do what we tell them."

Jesus listened and then said, "I recall seeing Satan fall- as a bolt of lightning flashes from the sky to the earth. Yes, I have given you power to walk among snakes and scorpions and be immune to their venom and immune, too, to the worst the enemy can do to you. But don't let the fact that you have power over evil spirits carry you away: it is far more important that your names have been inscribed in heaven."

Suddenly he was in a transport of happiness. "How grateful I am, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that it has been your pleasure to hide these truths from intellectuals and sophisticates, and to make them clear to the childlike."

An expert in the mosaic Law spoke up, trying to catch him out.

"Teacher," he said, "what must I do to be sure of living forever?"

"What does the Law say?" Jesus asked him. "How do you read it?"

"It says that you must love God with all that you are - with your will, your spirit, your body and your intellect - and that you must have the same regard for your neighbor as you have for yourself."

"Right," Jesus said. "Do that and you'll live."

But the lawyer was looking for a way to justify his views so he said, "Define 'neighbor.' "

Jesus told a story. "Here's a man making a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho. He's attacked by thieves. They steal his money and his clothes, beat him until he's half dead, and then run off. Now it so happens that a priest comes along and sees the man lying there. What does he do? He crosses to the far side of the road and keeps going. Along comes a Levite and he does the same. Then, along comes one of the despised Samaritans. He sees the man lying there and feels sorry for him. He goes to him, cleans out his wounds with oil and wine, and bandages him. Then he props him up on his mule and walks him to a roadside inn where he takes care of him as best he can. The following morning, he pays his own bill and the injured man's and says to the innkeeper, 'Look after him, please. See that he gets whatever he needs and I'll take care of it when I get back.'

"Now," Jesus added, "there are three men here - a priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan - which of them showed a neighborly spirit?"

"The one who helped."

"You go do the same."

They left the city and went to the village of Bethany where they were welcomed to the home of a woman named Martha. While she was out in the kitchen, her sister Mary sat on the floor at Jesus' feet listening to him. There was much to be done and Martha grew increasingly frustrated. Finally she burst in to the living room and spoke to him.

"Teacher;" she said, "don't you care that my sister has left me to prepare dinner by myself? Tell her to help me."

"Martha, Martha," he said, "You've let a lot of things upset you. Only one thing really matters, and Mary has made the right choice. I'm not going to take it from her."

One day as he was teaching, a Pharisee invited him home for a meal and he accepted. When he sat down to eat without having first washed his hands, his host showed surprise. Jesus looked at him.

"You Pharisees," he said. "How concerned you are that the surface of your cups and plates to be clean and how little concerned you are that you are filthy on the inside with greed and wickedness. Foolish men, didn't the God who made the outside make the inside, too? Let your generosity to the poor emerge from the pure heart and everything will be clean to you."

On another occassion he was speaking to a large crowd and a man called out, "Teacher my brother has come into a legacy: order him to divide it with me."

"A question for you, man, "Jesus replied. "Who appointed me your judge?"

He turned to the crowd. "Guard against greed." he said. "Life is more than merely accumulating things." He told a parable: "A wealthy farmer stood contemplating the latest of a series of bountiful harvests. 'What shall I do,' he said to himself, `I simply don't have any place to store it. I know what I'll do; I'll tear down all my barns and built a whole new barn, bigger and better than ever, and stash it all away. Then I'll have little talk with myself. "Say there, old fellow," I'll say, "you're doing fine. Your future is secure so take it easy. Live it up." ' Then comes the voice of God; `Foolish man, you die tonight. Now who gets the benefit of all this wealth?'

"And that, "Jesus added, "is the way it is with the man who is rich in things but impoverished in the sight of God."

He turned to the disciples. "That's why I tell you not to worry about transient things; about what you're going to put in your stomach or on your back. Life is more than food and clothing.

"I want you to think of yourselves as servants waiting for your master to return from a wedding-supper," he continued. "Be dressed and waiting so that the moment he knocks you can fling the door wide. Happy are those servants who are alert and ready to look after their master's needs. I tell you why; because for them the master will prepare his clothes for work, sit them down at the table, and wait on them himself. But, let's say he doesn't get in until after midnight or in the early hours of the morning. If, nevertheless, he finds them ready and waiting, they're fortunate indeed. Look, if the owner of the house knows the exact time at which a burglar was going to break in, he'd be there to stop him, wouldn't he? The point is, be ready at all times, you have no way of knowing just when I'll return."

"Is that a parable for us. "Peter asked, "or for everybody?"

"The man I'm talking about, "Jesus said, "is that sort of sensible, dependable servant who has been put in charge of the provisions by the owner. How happy the servant will be if, when the owner gets back, he is found doing duty. I tell you, he'll put that man in charge of everything. But let's say the servant says to himself, 'The master won't be back for days,' and he begins to mistreat the other servants and to get into the food and liquor. Then unexpectedly, the owner returns. What will happen to him? He'll be severely punished and demoted to the menial tasks. The servant who knows what his master requires, but who doesn't do it or get it done on time, will be flogged. The servant who may not know what's required, but who performs badly even those things he does, will be punished too, but not so severely. Much will be expected of the man who has been given much. The man who has been given a great trust will be expected to do more.

"I've come to kindle a fire here on earth," Jesus said.
"How I wish it were already ablaze. I have a baptism to undergo and what pressure there is on me until it has been accomplished!"

It was at this point that some men hurried up to tell him about the Galileans who had been butchered by Pilate's soldiers even while they were at worship in the temple.

"What's on your mind?" he asked them. "Are you thinking that these must have been the worst men in Galilee, and that that's why they suffered such a terrible fate? Not true. Indeed, unless you forsake your sins you'll all die as horribly. Remember those eighteen men who were killed when the Siloam tower collapsed; do you think they were the worst men in Jerusalem? They weren't. Indeed, you'll come to a similar end unless you quit your sins."

He told them this parable: "There was once a man who had a garden. In the garden there was a fig tree. From time to time he'd check to see if there were any figs on it. Once when he looked and found none, he called the gardener. 'Look,' he said, 'for three years I've expected fruit on this tree; but nothing. Chop it down. Why let it take up valuable space?' The gardener said to him, 'Give it one more year. I'll cultivate and fertilize it and if we get a yield, good. If we don't, I'll cut it down.' "

One sabbath day when Jesus was teaching in the synagogue, there was in the congregation a woman who for eighteen years had had an infirmity that had bent her almost double and left her unable to stand straight. Jesus saw her, called her over, and placed his hands on her.

"Woman," he said, "you are freed from your illness." She immediately straightened up and happily began to praise God.

This annoyed the president of the synagogue because it was a sabbath day. He spoke to the congregation.

"There are six days set aside for work," he said. "If you want to be healed, come here on one of those days, but not on sabbath."

"You hypocrite!" Jesus said to him. "Don't you and all of your friends untether your ox or or your mule on a sabbath and lead it to the watering trough? Then shouldn't this woman - this daughter of our father Abraham - who has been tied up all these eighteen years by Satan, be untethered on this sabbath day?"

His response left his enemies shamed and silent, but the people were thrilled with the remarkable thing he did.

It was winter. The Dedication festival was on. Jesus was in Jerusalem and was strolling in that section of the temple known as Solomon's Portico. A group of Jewish leaders came to him and formed a circle around him.

"How much longer are you going to keep us wondering?" they said. "Out with it - are you or aren't you the Messiah?"

"I've already answered that," he said, "and you didn't believe me. Surely the things I do in the name of God tell you who I am.You don't accept it because you aren't my sheep. My sheep know me for who I am; that's why they come when I call them. In turn, I give them life forever and no one can steal them from him. My Father entrusted them to me - isn't he the greatest of all? - and no one can steal them from him. He and I are one."

They picked up some stones to kill him.

I've done a lot of good things through the Father," he said. "For which of them are you about to kill me?"

"It has nothing to do with what you've done; it's because you blaspheme. You, a mere man, make yourself out to be God."

"But just a moment. Doesn't it say in your own Law: I said you are gods? Well then, if it speaks of men to whom God's word came as 'gods', and if the scriptures can't lie, how can you say that someone God has sanctified and sent into the world blasphemes when he merely says, 'I am God's son'? If I don't do God's will, don't believe me. But if I do, and you still can't believe in me, at least believe in what I do. Then you may realize that the Father is in me and that I'm in him."

Again they moved to arrest him, but he got away.

(7)   See Chapter Twelve.

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