Evangelization is the focus of this chapter. The chapter begins with the mission of the 72 disciples (vv. 1-12). Jesus chooses 72 men to go ahead of him to the towns that he would visit. They are to prepare the people for Jesus’s message. Jesus let’s them know, though, that this mission will not be easy. He reminds them that there will towns (vv. 13-16) that will flat out reject the Gospel message and those that preach it. Sadly, they’re gonna wish they hadn’t rejected that message.
When the 72 return, Jesus takes an opportunity to give a pretty extensive teaching on discipleship (vv.23-42). Before this teaching he offers a prayer of praise to His Father (vv. 21-22). This sort of prayer is common to ancient Jewish culture- it’s a sort of blessing that one offers in thanksgiving or simple praise.
But for Jesus it set the stage for the teaching that will follow. Notice the way in which Jesus teaches: it very gentle and compassionate and patient. The parable of the Good Samaritan is both a simple lesson in compassion and discipleship, and a sharp critique of ancient Judaism’s disdain for the Samaritan culture. Jesus is not mincing words here: discipleship is costly and has to be unconditional. It’s tied up, intimately, with the Greatest Commandment offered in vv. 25-28. Love of God and Love of Neighbor are nearly equal, if not in priority than certainly in importance. This then is the object lesson of the Good Samaritan parable: love of God and love of neighbor.
Finally the chapter closes with another aspect of discipleship revealed: that of sitting at the feet of the Master and being nourished and rejuvenated by his words (vv. 38-42). Jesus knows that both Martha and Mary are involved in important things. But the action of discipleship must be balanced by prayer and inaction- call it contemplation or meditation. Prayer and apostolic service: intimacy with God and with neighbor- the two legs of Discipleship.
Point for Prayer
“Jesus, you commissioned me and all the baptized to share our faith in you with others. Even though I know a person-to-person ministry is effective, I still feel shy about it. Grant me the courage and motivation I need to invite people to experience your love and forgiveness and membership in a reconciling community. Amen” (105).