The teachings of Messiah, 9:51-19:44
1. The meaning and acceptance of the kingdom message, 9:51-10:42
i] Rejection in SamariaSynopsis
Jesus now determines to head toward Jerusalem. He sends some disciples on ahead to prepare for his entry into a nearby Samaritan village. The Samaritans were half-breed Jews, having intermarried with Assyrian veterans who settled in the region in the eighth century B.C. There was no love lost between Samaritans and Jews, in fact Jewish travelers would often skirt around Samaria rather than travel through it. The village sends Jesus' disciples packing and when James and John hear of it they look for an Elijah type of response. Jesus' response is to go to another village.
The message of the kingdom concerns deliverance, not judgement.
i] Context: See 1:5-25. With Jesus' Galilean ministry now concluded, we move to the second major section of Luke's gospel, The Teachings of Messiah, 9:51-19:44. The setting for this section entails Jesus' journey from Galilee to Jerusalem (Samaria to Bethany) - "Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem", 9:51. A large part of the gospel tradition Luke draws on for this section in his gospel is unique to Luke. Whereas the first section of the gospel concerned the acts of the messiah, now the focus is on the teachings of messiah, revealed both through instruction and debate. Luke takes little interest in the sequence of events, or in geography, because this section is all about the teachings of Jesus, not his travel itinerary. This major section ends, as it begins, with rejection, with Jesus tearfully entering Jerusalem as the rejected messiah.
Again these notes follow the structure suggested by Ellis, given that his approach encourages the consideration of individual episodes within their context. Ellis again proposes that this second major section is made up of six individual sections each consisting of six episodes. The first section, The meaning and acceptance of the kingdom message, covers 9:51-10:42, Luke tells us that the message of the kingdom concerns deliverance, not judgement, and that gaining this deliverance must take priority in our life. These episodes concentrate on the disciples, "first their failures and then their success.... Thus the journey begins with instruction: knowing God is both a blessing and life's highest priority", Bock. None-the-less, even though Satan is brought low, 10:17-20, many will still reject the message, v1-16, resting in their own righteousness, v25-37. Inevitably, the capacity of the message to engage and renew derives from the gracious nature of our God and Father exercised through his Son, v21-24. So yes, there will always be those who think they can claim "eternal life" on the basis of their own self righteousness, v25-37, but in the end, "eternal life" is possessed by listening and responding to the gospel, v38-42.
ii] Structure: This passage, Rejection in Samaria, presents as follows:
The journey begins, v51;
Samaritan opposition, v52-53;
Response of the disciples, v54;
Jesus' rebuke, v55;
On the move again, v56.
The point of this story is not overly clear. It maybe that Luke wants us to focus on Jesus' rejection by the Samaritans; they join with the Jewish officials, etc., in not welcoming Jesus. "As the ministry in Galilee is made to begin with a typical rejection of Christ at Nazareth, so this ministry outside Galilee (with Jesus setting out on his journey to Jerusalem and the cross) begins with a rejection of Him by Samaritans", Plummer. Jesus is a rejected messiah. Yet, Luke actually gives us the reason for the Samaritans' reaction, namely oJti, "because", Jesus had set his face toward Jerusalem. It appeared to the Samaritans as if Jesus was in a hurry to get away from Samaria - a typical Jewish response to an unholy environment. Of course, Jesus had no such thoughts.
If anything stands out it is the response of James and John. They want divine judgment to fall on the Samaritans, but Jesus rebukes them. His mission is all about saving the lost through the preaching of the gospel, not judging them. In due time, judgment will have its day.
In the first major section of Luke's gospel, there is substantial alignment between Luke and Mark such that most scholars argue that Luke has used Mark as his prime source. In the second major section of his gospel, 9:51-19:44, much of the material used is peculiar to Luke. Some commentators argue that like Matthew he is drawing on a source known as Q, but the differences between the so called Q pericopes in Luke and Matthew indicate it is more likely that they are separately drawing on their own local version of oral gospel tradition -L and M. The episode / pericope before us is unique to Luke.
v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.
Text - 9:51
Jesus' rejection by the Samaritans, v51-56. i] The journey to Jerusalem and the cross begins, v51.
egeneto (ginomai) "-" - "And it came to pass", AV.
en tw/ sumplhrousqai (sumplhrow) pres. inf. "as the time approached" - [while] approaches/completed [the days]. The articular infinitive with this preposition forms a temporal clause. Given that taV hJmeraV, "the days", are most likely the days leading up to Jesus death and resurrection, the phrase would be better rendered "when the days were fulfilled / when the time was fulfilled." The timing difficulty in the phrase is probably explained by the presence of an ellipsis (missing words), so "when the time was about to be fulfilled", or "as the days of Jesus life on earth were coming to an end."
thV analhmyewV (iV ewV) gen. "[for him] to be taken up to heaven" - [the day] of the taking up, receiving up [of him]. The genitive is adjectival, epexegetic, limiting hJmeraV, "days", by explanation; "The days when he would be taken up", Culy. The word is a difficult one. It probably refers to the whole work of Christ in his death, resurrection and ascension, in much the same way as John's "lifting up" is wider than just the crucifixion. The idea of Christ's translation to heaven is certainly a possibility, "the time of his ascension", Berkeley, but the general idea of "taken away from this world", JB, is better.
esthrisen (sthrizw) aor. "[Jesus] resolutely" - he firmly fixed [the face]. Hebraic phrase "to set one's face in a certain direction" means "resolved firmly / resolutely set / decided definitely" = "to plan", Harder. It was time for Jesus to meet his destiny and so he set his "face" to it.
tou poreuesqai (poreuomai) pres. inf. "set out [for Jerusalem]" - to go [to Jerusalem]. This construction, a genitive articular infinitive, is often used to express purpose in Matt., and Luke/Acts, or more generally, as here, end-view, goal. So, to set set one's face in a certain direction in order to achieve a certain goal, here Jerusalem = "Jesus planned to make his final trip to Jerusalem."
ii] Samaritan opposition, v52-53: The Samaritans, who were half-cast Jews, were despised by the Jews. The Samaritans didn't much like the Jews either, and so when Jewish pilgrims had to pass through Samaria, journeying to Jerusalem, abuse, and sometimes violence, resulted. For this reason, a Jew would normally try to skirt around Samaria when heading for Jerusalem, but the picture we get here is of Jesus' need to press on toward his destiny - he is in a hurry to face the cross. The disciples set out to organize lodgings in a nearby village, but the locals sense Jesus' agitation to be on his way to Jerusalem and this only provokes racial hostility.
apesteilen (apostellw) aor. "he sent [messengers]" - he sent. This is not actually a mission to the Samaritans, but certainly alludes to the role of the disciples as sent-ones, going before the coming king, preparing his way. This is of course, the role of all disciples in all ages.
pro + gen. "on ahead" - before [his face]. Spacial; "before, in front of." "Before the face of him" is idomatic = "he sent messengers ahead of him", ESV. An allusion to Mal.3:1.
poreuqenteV (poreuomai) aor. pas. part. "who went" - having gone. The participle is possibly adjectival as NIV, although attendant circumstance is more likely, expressing action accompanying the verb "they entered"; "they went and entered a Samaritan village", Moffatt.
eiV kwmhn Samaritwn "into a Samaritan village" - A Jew would not normally pass through Samaria when heading to Jerusalem, so why is Jesus travelling through this unclean territory? The incident may image the coming worldwide mission, but more likely illustrates Jesus' urgent resolve to fulfill his destiny in Jerusalem.
wJV eJtoimasai (eJtoimazw) inf. "to get things ready" - to prepare / to make arrangements. This uncommon construction, wJV with the infinitive, expresses purpose or result. Jesus sent the messengers on ahead for the purpose of getting things ready for him, or, as a result of sending them, they got things ready for him. Purpose and result, particularly hypothetical result, "so that", are close in meaning.
autw/ dat. pro. "for him" - Dative of interest, advantage.
ouk edexanto (decomai) aor. mid. "the people did not welcome [him]" - they did not receive. This negative reaction may be toward the disciples as they made plans for Jesus' arrival in the village, therefore, "they would not receive him.
oJti "because" - that. Here expressing cause/reason; introducing a causal clause explaining why the Samaritans did not welcome Jesus.
hn poreuomenon (poreuomai) pres. part. "he was heading" - [the face of him] was going. A periphrastic imperfect construction probably emphasizing aspect; "because he was making for Jerusalem", NEB. The implication is that the villagers are not so much rejecting Jesus as such, but rather are reacting to another wondering holier-than-thou Jewish rabbi who wants to get out of Samaria as quickly as possible so he isn't overly polluted by the experience. If this is the case, then Luke's point is to illustrate Jesus' focus on the journey to Jerusalem.
iii] The response of the disciples, v54: As usual, the disciples have missed the point, and so they ask Jesus whether they can call for an Elijah type judgement upon the village.
idonteV (oJraw) aor. part. "when [the disciples James and John] saw this" - seeing. Most translations assume that the participle here is adverbial and forms a temporal clause, as NIV.
eipwmen (eipon) aor. subj. "[do you want] us to call [fire down ....]" - [do you wish] we should call / we should order. Plummer notes that the usual iJna + subj. which would serve to introduce an object clause / dependent statement, is often missing when qelw is second person and the subjunctive first person, as here, so "do you will/wish that we call/tell fire to come down." An allusion to 2 Kings 1:10, 12. The disciples have asked for an Elijah type judgement upon the villagers.
katabhnai (katabainw) aor. inf. "down" - to come down. This infinitive, as with analwsai, "to destroy", forms an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what the disciples should call on fire to do, namely, "come down from heaven and destroy them."
apo + gen. "from [heaven]" - Expressing separation; "away from."
iv] Jesus' rebuke, v55: Jesus' rebuke exposes the disciples' failure to understand the nature of his journey, which, despite their lack of perception, continues. Jesus was heading for the cross and thus, the deliverance of those enslaved by sin. Even the Samaritans were to share in this salvation.
straqeiV (strefw) aor. pas. part. "[but Jesus] turned" - having turned. Emphatic attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "rebuked"; "he turned and rebuked". Note again Luke's use of the phrase "Jesus turned" to emphasize Jesus' engagement with someone or some group of people following him.
epetimhsen (epitimaw) aor. "rebuked [them]" - he rebuked, reproved. The point is that judgement will come to those who deserve it, yet this is not the time for judgement, but the time for journey, journey to the cross. Therefore, the disciples are rebuked for their lack of perception.
v] Refusing to retaliate, the mission team moves on to another village, v56.
eporeuqhsan (poreuomai) aor. pas. "they went" - they journeyed. Luke makes the point that the journey continues.