Chapter X


80. A village in Samaria
81. Remarks about discipleship
82. 2nd report on the mission of the disciples
83. The good Samaritan
84. The home of Mary and Martha
85. About prayer
86. A charge of madness
87. The nature of blessedness



Document P in Luke begins with some narrative events, and then runs through a series of teachings most of which are also found in Matthew. One of the most notable features in this section of Luke is that there are almost no place names or time indications in it, from which we can deduce that this document was mainly a collection of sayings of Jesus with no chronological order. Note how this continuous portion of Luke looks like it has been cut apart by Matthew with scissors and inserted throughout his gospel in different discourses. That is the evidence that document P was used in different ways by the two authors, Luke and Matthew.


The first event contained in this portion of Luke or document P is when Jesus reached Samaria. Samaria is the locale of the old tribal holding of Ephraim, and the capital of the kingdom of Israel during the days of the kingdoms. The Samaritans were descendants of peoples who had been transported into the region by the Assyrians after the Israelites had been deported in 722 BCE. They had learned the Israelite religion but the Jews thought they had learned it wrong and looked down on them and despised them. So perhaps it is no surprise that the city refused to admit Jesus and his followers because they were Jews. Again there is recorded a little dialogue between the disciples James and John and Jesus:

(Luke 9:52-56)
(They came to a village of the Samaritans, who did not receive them, because they were Jewish.)

JAMES&JOHN: Master, let us call down fire from heaven and consume them!

JESUS (shaking his head): NO! You do not yet understand what my teaching is all about! I, a son of man, did not come to destroy lives, but to save them!

(So they went to another village.)

No wonder Jesus nicknamed them the "sons of thunder"! Perhaps I have over-dramatized this little scene; Luke's report says that the "sons of thunder" asked Jesus whether they could call down fire, and that Jesus "rebuked" them. Most ancient manuscripts do not have any words ascribed to Jesus here, but some of them do have the sentences which are shown above. But it's clear that Jesus was not offended; they picked up their things and "went to another village."


The next section reports on some remarks that Jesus made to some volunteers who wanted to become disciples:
(Luke 9:57-62;Matt.8:19-22)
1st VOLUNTEER: Master, I will follow you wherever you go.

JESUS: Remember that the foxes have holes, and the birds of the sky have nests, but the son of man does not have anywhere to lay his head to sleep. (To another volunteer.) Come, you follow me.

2nd VOLUNTEER: Master, first I need to go home and see to the burial of my father.

JESUS: Leave the dead to bury their dead; but go, and proclaim abroad the need for and the nearness of the kingdom of God.

3rd VOLUNTEER: I will come, Master; but first let me go and say farewell to those at my home.

JESUS: Tut, tut; no man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

It's not clear whether these volunteers came with Jesus or not. He warns them all that it is going to be difficult work and that they will not be able to think about their family or their home. These are probably memorable sayings that the folklorist who collected the material in document P learned and wrote down, without knowing much about the context or what happened.


Luke, or document P, here reports Jesus as sending the disciples out on a mission, and gives them instructions for their journey. The instructions are similar both in order and content to the earlier mission in Mark following his visit to Nazareth. But it actually looks like a fuller report of the mission reported in Mark, except that seventy disciples were sent out rather than only the twelve. Were there two missions? I think there was only one mission, and Matthew conflated the two reports, one found in Mark and one found in document P; but Luke retained both reports.
(Luke 10:1-11;Matt.9:37-38,10:7-14,16)
        At this time the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them two by two to every place where he was going. And he told them, The harvest is plenteous but the laborers are few; pray to the lord of the harvest to send laborers to work on the harvest.
        But go now; and take care; I am sending you forth as lambs in the midst of wolves.
        Carry no purse; no wallet, no shoes, and salute no man upon the way.
        And whatever house you shall enter you shall say, Peace be unto this house. And if a man of peace be there, good; but if not, you have not lost your peace.
        And in that same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give you, for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. And into whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you; and heal the sick that live there, and tell them that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto them.
        And if you enter into a city, and they do not receive you, then go out into the streets of that city and say, Even the dust that clings to our feet do we wipe off at you. But tell them too, the kingdom of God is nigh.

Mark's version of these instructions has been presented in chapter VIII. I wonder why Jesus told them to wear no shoes; in both Mark's version and this report he tells them to "shake the dust off their feet" if a city doesn't receive them, which tends to confirm the report that they went barefoot.

Luke (or document P) contains at this point a curse directed at the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum:
(Luke 10:13-15;Matt.11:21-24)
        Woe unto you, Chorazin! and woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the great works were done in Tyre and Sidon which were done in you, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes. I tell you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment, than for you. And you, Capernaum? do you think that you will be exalted unto heaven? No, you shall fall down into hell.

This seems harsh; he has instructed the disciples on their tour to simply move on, shaking the dust off their feet, if they are not received. Tyre and Sidon are the two largest cities in Phoenicia which he visited previously. This sounds more like James and John (the "sons of thunder") than it does like Jesus. Perhaps that is where it came from. Luke continues:
(Luke 10:16;Matt.10:40)
        He that listens to you is also listening to me; and the one that rejects you is rejecting me also; and he that rejects me is rejecting him that sent me.

Who does Jesus mean by "him that sent me"? Is it God? or John the baptizer? Anyway, Luke then reports that the seventy returned with joy, and told Jesus, Even the devils are subject to us through your name. Luke then quotes Jesus as saying the following:
(Luke 10:18-20)
        I beheld Satan fallen as lightning from heaven. See, I have given you power over snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall in any way hurt you. But do not rejoice over that; rejoice instead that your names are written in heaven.

This is suspiciously like the ending to Mark's gospel, which is regarded as spurious, since it refers to Jesus as "Lord" which Mark does nowhere else, and because the two oldest Greek manuscripts do not contain the last twelve verses of Mark, which tell us among other things:
(Mark 16:17-18)
        And these signs shall follow them that believe: in my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them.

So we need not think that this last quotation in Luke is from Jesus.

The paragraph which follows next sounds more like the gospel of John than it does Jesus, at least the Jesus whose teachings we have been reading about so far. It's all about Jesus claiming God as his personal father and him being the special son to that father; and blessing that father-god for revealing his secrets to infants; and kings and prophets wanting to see those things which the disciples (I presume) are getting to see.
(Luke 10:21-24)
JESUS: Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I thank thee that thou didst hide these things from the wise and understanding, and did reveal them unto babes; yes, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in your sight.
        All things have been delivered unto me by my Father; and no one knows who the son is, save the Father; or who the Father is, save the son, and he to whom the Son wills to reveal him.

Well, enough's enough. This high-flown manner of speaking may in fact have been in document P, but then Luke didn't do us any favor by copying it, since it's surely not from the real Jesus.


The next event and parable may be the best-known and best-loved religious story in the world, but it is not found in any other gospel. It is called the Parable of the Good Samaritan. It's another little dialogue, this time with a lawyer, a scribe, who is "tempting him" according to Luke:
SCRIBE (sneeringly): Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

JESUS: Well, what is written in the Torah? What does it tell you?

SCRIBE: You should love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your strength, and with all your soul and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.

JESUS: Indeed, you have answered well; do this, and you shall find life.

SCRIBE (haughtily): And who is my neighbor?

JESUS (after a moment): A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho; and he fell among bandits, who stripped him, and beat him, and left him lying on the road half dead.
        And by chance a certain priest was going down that way and when he saw the man lying there, he passed by on the other side. And in like manner a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him lying there, he too passed on the other side.
        But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where the man was lying, and he was moved with compassion, and came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on them oil and wine; and he set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two dollars and gave them to the innkeeper, and said, Take care of him; and whatever you spend more, I, when I come back again, will reimburse you.
        Now, which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to him that was beaten by the bandits?

SCRIBE: Obviously, the one who showed mercy on him.

JESUS: Then you go, and do likewise.

The scribe's answer is straight out of the Torah, Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. Neither the author of P nor the author of Luke bother to point out that the Samaritans and the Jews, if they were not actually enemies, still they had ill feelings towards each other; but it makes no difference to the moral of the story. Mark reports that Jesus cited these two commandments from the Torah in answer to the same question from another scribe a little later, when Jesus has arrived at Jerusalem; and Jesus commends him, saying, There is NO OTHER commandment greater than these.

There is NO other commandment greater than these. That summary says it all.


After that, we hear that he entered into "a certain village" and a woman named Martha invites him to visit her house; and that her sister Mary sat at the feet of "the Lord", and listened intently to him. Martha was irritated that Mary wasn't helping her with the serving and cleaning; and she complained to Jesus, and Jesus calmed her in the following micro-dialogue:
(Luke 10:38-42)
MARTHA: Don't you care that my sister is leaving all the work to me?

JESUS: Martha, you are all anxious and worried about many things; it's more important to focus on only one thing; therefore let Mary listen, for this will be her one chance to hear my teachings.

I have tried to render Jesus' answer to Martha in a clearer way than it is reported in Luke: "but one thing is needful, and Mary has chosen the good part, which will not be taken from her." We can note that referring to Jesus as "the Lord" is a characteristic of document P, and is used nowhere else in the gospels of Luke, Mark, or Matthew. But we do not have to take that as evidence that Jesus was called "Lord" in his lifetime. Finally, the gospel of John tells us that the "certain village" was Bethany; but since Bethany is only a few miles from Jerusalem, and they've just started the trip, we can guess that either Luke misplaced this report in the journey to Jerusalem, or else Mary and Martha didn't live in Bethany.


Three paragraphs follow his visit with Martha and Mary, all about praying and prayer. The first is known as "the Lord's prayer", where "the Lord" refers to Jesus and not to God:
(Luke 11:2-4;Matt.6:9-13)
When you pray, say this:
        Father, sacred is your name.
        May your kingdom come to us.
        Give us bread for this day.
        Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive those who have harmed us.
        Bring us not into temptation but may we be delivered from evil.

Matthew's version is better known, but since he apparently took it from document P and inserted it into his Great Sermon, it may have been edited by him. Also it may be noted that Matthew's version says, OUR Father, which makes it a public prayer, but in the Great Sermon he has just told them to pray IN SECRET, rather than publicly. So it seems out of place where Matthew has put it. I like to think that it was a grace which Jesus uttered before the meal at Mary and Martha's, but there is no way of proving that. The ending phrase "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever" was probably added by the early Christians, since he has already covered the essentials in the lines found in Luke, including the sacredness of God.

        The second teaching is a parable about a friend helping you at night:
(Luke 11:5-8)
        Which of you shall have a friend, and you go at midnight and say to him, Friend, loan me 3 loaves; for I have a friend who has come a long way, and I have nothing to give him; and will he answer, Don't trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are in bed; I cannot get up to give you anything. Truly I say to you, though he would rather sleep, yet because he is his friend, he will rise and give him what he asks for.

The point of this parable seems to be that, if you keep praying for something, God will respond, if it is something you have need of.

        The third is a series of aphorisms regarding asking, seeking, and knocking, which we have already seen in Matthew's Great Sermon:
(Luke 11:9-13;Matt.7:7-11)
        And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone that asks will receive; and the one that seeks will find; and to the one who knocks it shall be opened.
        And of which of you that is a father will his son ask for bread, and he give him a stone? or for a fish, and he give him a snake? or for an egg, and he give him a scorpion? If you then, being human, know how to give good things to your children, how much more shall God the Father give needful things to those who ask him!

Matthew again has taken this quotation and inserted it into the Great Sermon. We can note that in the last sentence, Luke (or document P) reads "give the Holy Spirit", whereas Matthew reports it as "give good things". I have translated it above as "needful things", as being more in keeping with Jesus' teachings so far.

Luke (or document P) next reports that Jesus is accused of being insane, in a story very similar to the one reported in Mark in chapter VII and copied by Matthew. Jesus scoffs at this and replies:
(Mark 3:23-26;Luke 11:14-26;Matt.12:22-28)
        Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against itself must fall. And if Satan is divided against itself, how shall his kingdom stand? This is why saying that I cast out devils by Beelzebub is nonsense.
        And if I cast out devils by Beelzebub by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore let them be your judges. But if I by the finger of God cast out devils, then is the kingdom of God come upon you.

Thus we can conclude that this is the same event as the one reported by Mark, and Luke did not copy the report from Mark because he had this second report in document P. Jesus continues:

(Mark 3:27;Luke 11:21-23;Matt.12:29-30)
        When the strong man fully armed guards his own court, his goods are at peace; but when a stronger man than he shall come upon him, he shall overcome him and take away the armor on which he trusted, and also his goods.
        He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathers not with me only scatters everything.

What is he talking about? We can conclude with some assurance that at some point the scribes accused him of madness; but he outwitted them with his remarks about a house divided against itself and something about a strong man being overcome by a stronger man. He may be referring to himself as the stronger man, and the so-called devils being the strong man who is overcome. The remark about being with him or against him is contradicted at Mark 9:40 and by Luke himself at verse 9:50. So we don't know which way Jesus actually said it. Jesus concludes with another parable:
(Luke 11:24-26;Matt.12:43-45)
        An unclean spirit, when it has been driven out of a man, may come back; and even if the man seems to be cleansed of that spirit, when it returns it can be worse than it was originally.

I have tried to make sense of this parable, which in Luke declares that the spirit roams around and finally comes back with seven other spirits to reside in the man. But it makes it sound like Jesus is not claiming permanence for his exorcisms.


Finally, Luke tells us that a woman called to him from the crowd and Jesus responded to her:
(Luke 11:27-28)
WOMAN: Blessed be the womb which bore you, and the breasts that gave you milk!

JESUS: No, no, rather, blessed are they which hear the word of God, and then go out and do it and live it.

This response by Jesus is consistent with the remark he made on the occasion that his mother and brothers came to take him back home again: Whoso does the will of God, the same is my mother and my brothers.

In the next chapter we shall continue with Luke (document P). Despite the confusions and differences with Mark and Matthew which it contains, it commends itself as a faithful record of many of Jesus' sayings, even if there is no chronological order or place names in it.