Tolerable: A rumination on Luke 10 by Bill W

The word, "tolerable," occurs 6 places in the KJV Bible, all having to do with the consequences of ignoring Disciples. This article relates that topic to the Good Samaritan. Both topics are found in Luke 10. But first, some background, from Matthew and Mark, which will be followed by similar material in Luke -- the consequences of ignoring the message of the Disciples. It's more than just shaking their dust off your feet.

(Numbers in curved brackets are the first, second, third Etc instances of the word, "tolerable.")

(1)
Matthew 10:14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
Matthew 10:15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more (1)tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

(2,3)
Matthew 11:20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works (not metaphors!)* were done, because they repented not:
Matthew 11:21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
Matthew 11:22 But I say unto you, It shall be more (2)tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
Matthew 11:23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works (not metaphors!)*, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
Matthew 11:24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more (3)tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
[Matthew 11:25 At that time Jesus answered.... (answered whom?)]

(4)
Mark 6:11 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more (4)tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.
[Note: "Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city" is deleted from many modern versions. Matthew 10:15 and Luke 10:12 are nearly identical. What's the Greek? http://biblehub.com/interlinear/mark/6-1.htm ]

(5,6)
Luke 10:10 But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say,
Luke 10:11 Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
Luke 10:12 But I say unto you, that it shall be more (5)tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.
Luke 10:13 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
Luke 10:14 But it shall be more (6)tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you.
Luke 10:15 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.
Luke 10:16 He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
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Luke 25-37 -- The Good Samaritan: Note the switch at the end, as to who is whose neighbor.
Luke 10:25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
Luke 10:26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
Luke 10:27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
Luke 10:28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
Luke 10:29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
Luke 10:30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
Luke 10:31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
Luke 10:32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
Luke 10:33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
Luke 10:34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
Luke 10:35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
Luke 10:36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
Luke 10:37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

{Note: Some comments on this ending, having to do with a switch that occurs. For the ending to be more consistent with the beginning, 10:36-37 should be reworded as in (A) or (B):
A) "10:36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was the neighbour? 10:37 And he said, He that had mercy shewn upon him."
"Love thy neighbor" is the point. The person being loved is the victim, not the Good Samaritan. Of course, the Samaritan's behavior is exemplary. But he is not the neighbor. Except in that, the victim's being his neighbor, makes himself a neighbor. But it isn't being a neighbor that makes things happen, namely gets a pass for eternal life. It's the action toward the neighbor.
B) "10:36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was being neighbourly? 10:37 And he said, He that shewed mercy....."
C) Alternatively, we could have as the commandment, instead of "love thy neighbor as thyself," "be a good neighbor," and the lawyer asking, "To whom am I a neighbor?"
D) One could ask at this point, What's the difference? What's the big deal? My answer is, I'm not sure, but it seems important. For several months, this seemed to be an important Insight. Now it appears to be a trivial insight. But I'm not 100% convinced.
E) Let's try it this way: the Commandment seems to say, "Go around looking for people who could be defined as neighbors." Here, what is the definition of a neighbor? "Someone who is in trouble." Or, go around asking, "Who needs me to be a neighbor?" In other words, being a neighbor in the original means being primarily someone in trouble, and secondarily the responder. In the second formulation, being a neighbor means being a helper, and the way to eternal life is to get into that role -- find people to help. This seems to be more productive of neighborly behavior. Running across someone in trouble is less likely to happen than finding someone in trouble when one looks for it. The first way is passive; the second, proactive. But then the commandant becomes, "Go looking for trouble," which runs counter to conventional wisdom. Or at least sounds like it does.
Perhaps the original wording (in the Bible) is better, in not sounding negative. And do I want my next door neighbor to be someone who's always looking for trouble? Erk!

Now, bearing in mind that Luke 10:25-37 happens shortly after 10-16, let's imagine that the victim is not unconscious, but is lying there groaning and bleeding, and the Good Samaritan comes over and says, "I'm going to help you. I'm going to be a good neighbor." And the victim gets up and says, "No way, I'm late for an appointment," and stumbles off without even a thank-you. Is his eternal soul in trouble? Is it not true, that those refusing divinely motivated help, are in trouble? The answer is clearly, that the person in trouble is not in additional trouble for refusing the help. The significance of a passerby offering help is not on the same level as that of the Disciple on a mission. But where do we draw the line?
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* "not metaphors!" (in (2,3) near the top) refers to an unrelated issue, that occurred to me: whether accounts of miracles are metaphorical or factual. The text doesn't say, "his mighty metaphors." OK, I know, I know......

Here's a poem Ed Haralson found, about refusing help. It's in Ed's commentary on the Good Samaritan, which includes an Interlinear translation.