The account of the first journey to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles spans from Luke 9:51 to Luke 10:42. It is impossible to even briefly address all that is recorded, yet there are several things particularly noteworthy to the larger story.
Pronunciation of Judgment Upon Galilee – After being vehemently rejected twice at the beginning of His public ministry by the leadership of the nation in Jerusalem, Jesus had shifted His focus to Galilee. The response of the people there was enthusiastic, but Jesus was not seeking popularity. He was searching for a remnant of Israel who evidenced the fruits of repentance and real faith in His identity. This He had not found in Galilee either, and thus as departs for Jerusalem He pronounces judgment upon the cities that had squandered the privilege of His presence.
Sending of the Seventy – With the formal end of His Galilean ministry, Jesus now commissions seventy of the larger circle of disciples which followed Him to be His ambassadors in the regions of Judea and Perea. They were to go before Him into “every city and place where He Himself was about to come”, in order to prepare for what would be His final appeal to the people of Israel before His death (Luke 10:1-2). As I noted in the previous post, Matthew and Mark omit this entire period, and therefore do not record the sending of the seventy. Yet it is clear that Matthew incorporates some of content of the charge Jesus gave to them in the discourse unit paired with his account of the commissioning of the twelve. This likely explains the perplexing passage in Matthew 10:23. Jesus is simply saying that these emissaries would not finish going through the cities of Israel before He came to those locations in the final stage of His public ministry.
Mary of Bethany – Luke does not give many overt geographic details in this section, but it is very clear that Jesus was indeed making progress as He traveled. The most natural explanation for His choice in the parable of the “Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:30-37) is that He was actually in Jericho at the time. Jesus would soon cross the fords of the Jordan and set His feet on the road to Jerusalem to which He referred. The next event takes place in Bethany, which sat on the opposite side of the Mount of Olives just two miles from Jerusalem. It was here that Jesus was welcomed by Mary and Martha, who had likely been told of His coming by one of the pairs of the seventy. It seems probable that the infamous scene that follows took place during one of the initial days of the Feast of Tabernacles. John makes clear that it was not until after the celebration was well under way that Jesus finally entered the temple. Placing this story at the correct point chronologically makes the significance of this family during the final week before the crucifixion all the more remarkable. In less than six months Jesus would be doubled over on the cold earth of the Garden of Gethsemane, just a short distance from where Mary of Bethany now sat listening to His words.