I was prompted by a blog the other day to reread Luke Chapter Ten. It appears to be a chapter in three parts, emphasizing a single, critical message. In the umpteenth reading of this chapter, I had never quite seen it in this way before; I joyfully share my new insights with you here.
The chapter begins as Jesus appoints and sends out 72 new disciples in pairs to preach the Good News. He clearly instructs them to stay in homes where they are welcomed in peace and where those inside are willing to hear the message of love and grace. They are told to wipe the dust from their feet and leave a town that rejects them. Jesus says, “The one who hears you hears me; the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects Him who sent me.” (Luke 10:16)
The 72 returned “with joy” at all they were able to do. “Even demons are subject to us in your name.” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Jesus was aware every moment his disciples saved someone and freed them from the enemy’s grip.
Yet he also reminded them what was important: “Do not rejoice that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven…Blessed are the eyes that see what you see, for I tell you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see, and to hear what you hear and did not hear it.” (Luke 10:20, 23-24)
Behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
Since it’s a lawyer asking the questions, Jesus responds with an appropriate question: “What’s written in the law? How do you read it?”
The lawyer responds predictably and correctly: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus, knowing what’s coming, answers: “You’re correct.”
But seeking to justify himself and entrap Jesus, the lawyer asks a follow-up question: “And who is my neighbor.”
What follows is the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37).
The encounter with the lawyer (and the parable of the Good Samaritan) is about whether the lawyer ultimately hears Jesus or rejects him, by showing or not showing mercy to his neighbors.
The chapter concludes with Jesus’ encounter with Martha and Mary. Martha is distracted with the “doingness” of preparing the meal. She appears to ‘test’ Jesus by challenging him to rebuke her younger sister Mary who sits at his feet and listens to his teaching. The chapter ends with Jesus saying, “…one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Mary chose to hear Jesus.
The exciting thing I was allowed to “hear” in this reading was the incredible blessing of spiritual hearing and sight. It seems the Lord reveals the mystery of His Word to me as He deems me ready to hear it.
At the same time, I believe much of God’s revelation has to do with love. As I am more willing and able to receive His love, I am transformed by it, and in the transformation I am more able to comprehend His Word.
On the other hand, if I close my heart to the grandiosity of God’s love, if I hold onto lifelong beliefs and cling to the safety of laws and rules instead of allowing transformation into the unknown – even if the unknown is the heart of Jesus and the arms of the Father – I will reject His blessing.
In a hopeful note, there is another dinner honoring Jesus recorded by the apostle John. It was six days before his final supper, after Jesus had raised Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus from the dead. (At that time, Martha revealed to Jesus “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God.” John 11:27) Once again Martha served dinner – simply served. And Mary anointed Jesus with an entire bottle of fragrant, expensive perfume. (John 12:1-3)
Now, both sisters could hear.
For a poetry version of this post, see Hearing Jesus