Luke 9

Introduction

‘When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.’ Luke 9:1-6

Jesus Sends Out The Twelve

In this section, Jesus sent His twelve apostles out in pairs on a preaching tour. This marked the fourth stage in their career. Earlier, they had heard Jesus, been called by Him, and been chosen as apostles. Here they were sent out as His representatives to proclaim the message of repentance.

This was one of many preaching trips that Jesus commissioned the twelve to do, Matthew 10:1-15. They were given the power to heal as well as to cast out impure spirits.

The purpose of the trips was to accomplish the mission of teaching as many people as possible before the event of the cross and resurrection in Jerusalem.

The teaching prepared the minds of the people to accept Jesus’ kingship that would later be proclaimed by the disciples on and after the day of Pentecost in Acts 2.

The preaching trips also prepared the disciples to face rejection by those to whom they went. Jesus had commissioned them to preach what would be ‘new wine.’ They were going to people of ‘old wineskins.’ The preaching trips allowed them to face the rejection of a misguided religious world into which they would go after Acts 2.

While Jesus was still with them, they could return for His counsel concerning problems they encountered on their preaching trips, Mark 6:12-13 / Matthew 11:1.

The mission was urgent, so Jesus forbade them to take extra provisions. This restriction wasn’t intended to be permanent, Luke 22:35-36, but was appropriate for this brief mission, Mark 6:30.

Sending out six pairs of preachers both facilitated the spread of Jesus’ message and gave the apostles valuable practical experience. It was time for them to begin teaching as He did.

‘Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. But Herod said, “I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?” And he tried to see him.’ Luke 9:7-9

At this time in Jesus’ ministry, people were trying to determine who He was, Matthew 14:1-12. Because of the miracles, they knew that He was more than a good teacher of Israel, John 3:2.

Perhaps because of the additional groups of preachers being sent out, Herod, the governor, heard about Jesus. They had at this time speculated that He might be the resurrected Elijah, or the Prophet who was to come in Israel as the Deliverer.

They possibly believed that He would be like one of the other Old Testament prophets. Herod’s conscience may have been bothering him because he had killed John. He thought Jesus might be John the Baptist raised from the dead, Luke 3:19.

Herod at least concluded one thing that was right. If John had been raised from the dead, then the power of the supernatural was at work in the resurrected John.

The supernatural was at work, but it wasn’t at work through a resurrected John. It was at work through the One about whom John prophesied and the One in whom all the world must believe.

Herod feared that if he acted against John, then something dreadful would happen to him. To some extent, therefore, Herod accepted John as a just and holy man of God. It seems that his acceptance of John was greater than the self-righteous religious leaders of Jerusalem.

Nevertheless, Herod’s pride to maintain face among his peers moved him to overcome his fear and carry out a rash promise he had made in response to the lustful dance of Herodias’ daughter. John’s physical death thus manifested Herod’s spiritual death because he loved his position in this world more than the power of God.

Mark 6:14-29 tells why Herod had killed John. John had been preaching against his marriage telling him that it wasn’t right for him to have Herodias, who had been his brother’s wife. As a result, he imprisoned John, but didn’t wish to kill him, Herodias did. One day, he had a party with many important guests and his stepdaughter provided ‘live entertainment.’

Because of her provocative dance, Herod rashly vowed to give her anything she asked, up to half of his kingdom. Upon receiving instructions from her mother, the girl requested that John’s head be served to her on a platter. Herod hated to do it, but he didn’t want to lose face in front of his dinner guests, so he obliged the girl’s request and John was murdered.

Sins That Beheaded John The Baptist

John was a righteous preacher who was murdered because of several sins.

1. An unlawful marriage.

2. Resentment and bitterness on the part of Herodias.

3. A lustful dance.

4. A rash promise.

5. Herod’s lack of courage in not breaking the sinful vow.

Actions that produced such bitter fruit should be carefully avoided by Christians today.

1. Despite the frequency of divorce and remarriage in our society, Christians must not act against the Lord’s instructions, Mark 10:2-10 / Matthew 19:9.

2. All disciples must rid their lives of resentment and bitterness because they build up and lead to hatred, harsh words and revengeful actions.

3. Lustful behaviour provokes every form of sexual sin in our society. Followers of Christ should avoid activities that encourage sensual feelings.

4. No one should make any promise without careful thought.

5. All should have the courage to do what is right regardless of the presence of others.

Jesus Feeds The Five Thousand

‘When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing. Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.” He replied, “You give them something to eat.” They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” (About five thousand men were there.) But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.’ Luke 9:10-17

We don’t know the time that transpired between the sending of the twelve, Mark 6:12, and their reporting back to Jesus. They here reported to Him what they had taught the people and also the miraculous deeds that were done by their hands.

It’s important to notice here that the twelve had been given authority to command the miraculous power of God before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on them in Acts 2.

The Spirit was here working through them, in the same way, He would work through them after Acts 2. This preaching trip of the twelve, therefore, was a training exercise for the apostles. When the time came to preach in the near future, they would know what to do.

Mark lists at least eleven instances when Jesus went to a place of rest. This is a good example for any evangelist who has given himself to periods of intensive evangelistic efforts.

Because these worthy evangelists worked hard, they needed the rest. They needed time to talk among themselves and with God about the great things God had done through them. This was a retreat for prayer, thanksgiving and discussion.

The people saw that Jesus entered a boat to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, Matthew 14:13-21. When Jesus arrived at the other side, the multitudes had already arrived there on foot. Therefore, when He saw their zeal to follow Him, He was moved with compassion.

They were a nation of people who hadn’t been spiritually led for years, and thus, they sought someone to give them guidance. They flocked to the godliness of John. Now they were coming to Jesus.

They were looking for spiritual leadership. This was the leadership that the religious leaders of the day weren’t giving. It was in the context of their searching for someone to lead them that Jesus worked this miracle of creation.

When the disciples returned from their preaching trip, Jesus sought to leave the multitude in order to spend time with them privately. They had been so busy they hadn’t even had time for meals.

The five loaves of bread and two fish fed about five thousand men plus the women. Everyone ate, was filled and more leftovers were gathered than the amount they had started with. Once again, we see Jesus as the One who had the authority to handle every situation.

Twelve baskets full of fragments were left over. This multitude of seekers came looking for one who would lead them. They found the Chief Shepherd and the Son of God who would lead them to victory through the cross.

The proof of the miracle was magnified in the baskets of leftovers they took up.

The power of the One who was in their midst was measured by the leftovers. He was truly the Son of God who had the power of creation, John 1:1-2.

Jesus here set the stage for the miracle to prove His power over the physical laws of nature. He sent the disciples on by themselves by boat on the sea, knowing that a storm would develop that would engulf them. Matthew 14:22-23.

Peter Declares That Jesus Is The Messiah

‘Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.” Luke 9:18-20

Caesarea Philippi

This event happened when Jesus and His disciples were at Caesarea Philippi, Mark 8:27. Situated 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee and at the base of Mount Hermon, Caesarea Philippi is the location of one of the largest springs feeding the Jordan River.

This abundant water supply has made the area very fertile and attractive for religious worship. Numerous temples were built in this city in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

Apparently known as Baal Hermon and Baal Gad in the Old Testament period, this site later was named Panias after the Greek god Pan who was worshipped here.

There is no record of Jesus entering the city, but the great confession and the transfiguration both occurred in the vicinity of the city, Matthew 16:13, then known as Caesarea Philippi.

Jesus asked what the public thought about Him, and the disciples reported varying opinions, including John the Baptist, Elijah, etc. One disciple pointed out that many believed Jesus was John the Baptist reincarnated.

They believed that John had come back from the grave to continue his ministry of announcing the Messiah while criticising the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees.

Another disciple shared the fact that many people believed Jesus was Elijah, considered by some Jews to be the supreme Old Testament prophet. If you remember the Book of Malachi, Malachi 4:5 says, ‘See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.’

And so, some thought this Jesus was Elijah, fulfilling the prophecy of Malachi. And even today, in modern Jewish Passover celebrations, there is an empty chair reserved at the table for Elijah, in the hope of his one day coming to announce the Messiah’s arrival.

Another disciple shared that some people said Jesus was Jeremiah but why would they think He was Jeremiah?

Well, they held this opinion because according to 2 Maccabees legend, Jeremiah had taken the Ark of the covenant and the altar of incense out of the temple and hidden them both somewhere on Mount Nebo in order to preserve them from desecration and destruction by the Babylonians.

Some Jews thought that before the Messiah returned to establish His kingdom, Jeremiah would return to earth and restore the Ark and the altar to their proper places in the temple.

So, the people who said these things were paying Jesus wonderful compliments by comparing Him to some of the greatest prophets and teachers God had ever sent.

They were giving Jesus high praise, but not enough high praise because, in their minds, none of these three prophets were the Messiah.

They were just one of the Messiah’s forerunners who had come back to life with God-given miraculous powers. When Jesus asked their own opinion, Peter boldly responded, ‘You are the Messiah’. It was a brilliant insight.

Jesus Predicts His Death

‘Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Luke 9:21-22

Jesus teaching to His disciples up to this point was mainly about His identity but here, Jesus’ teaching ministry changes. He focuses on His upcoming death, burial and resurrection, Luke 18:31-33 / Luke 23:46 / Luke 24:46 / Matthew 16:21 / Matthew 17:22.

Jesus wanted to prepare His disciples for the tragedy that was nearing. He warned them that He would be betrayed into men’s hands and be killed, but encouraged them by announcing that three days later He would rise again. The disciples didn’t understand, why? As we saw above the concept of an afterlife was foreign to them, 2 Timothy 1:10.

Mark tells us they were afraid to ask Him about it, Mark 9:32. Why were they afraid to ask Him about it? They didn’t understand the purpose of Christ’s death and when Jesus spoke of His death, the subject didn’t bring them any comfort, John 16:6 / John 19:30.

Jesus warned them about how He was going to be rejected and crucified, Mark’s account tells us that Peter was horrified, Mark 8:32-33. He couldn’t imagine the Lord being killed, he began to correct Jesus telling Him that this would never happen!

‘Peter took him aside’ means Peter literally grabbed Jesus, trying to protect Him and then Jesus sternly rebuked Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’

Peter was tempting Him not to suffer, temptations are often strongest when they come through people we are close to. So, Jesus flatly rejected Peter’s advice.

Isn’t it strange that one-minute Peter proclaimed Jesus to be Christ, the next he was calling Him aside to inform Him that He was mistaken! If Jesus was truly the Christ, Peter had no business arguing with Him. Nor do we.

The Cost Of Discipleship

‘Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:23-27

Jesus plainly explained what was required to become His disciple. He said that you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him. These requirements are demanding, a person doesn’t naturally deny himself, rather, he usually does what he wants.

Death to self is painful, but that is exactly the meaning of taking up one’s cross. The cross was an instrument of death, to take it up would be to die to oneself and to one’s own desires in order to serve Christ.

There is no profit in gaining the entire world, only to lose one’s soul in the transaction. It’s worth everything to submit to God’s stringent requirements for discipleship.

Jesus highlighted the requirements for being a disciple because it’s so easy to imagine that you are a follower of Jesus when, in fact, you aren’t.

Discipleship isn’t mere church membership or moral living, it’s total devotion to Jesus Christ. It’s to die to self and live 100% for the Lord. Am I really Jesus’ disciple?

The confession that Jesus demands isn’t a simple statement with our mouths that Jesus is the Christ and Son of God. It’s a confession that we make with our whole life that is totally committed to Him, Galatians 2:20.

Everyone who would seek to be a disciple of Jesus must commit himself to follow Jesus above all things of this world, Matthew 6:24 / Matthew 10:32-33 / Romans 1:16.

Some of Jesus’ immediate disciples would be alive when the kingdom reign of Jesus would be manifested from heaven. After His resurrection, Jesus would ascend to the throne of David in heaven, Luke 1:31-33 / Daniel 2:44 / Daniel 7:13-14. He would sit down at the right hand of the Father and rule over all things, Ephesians 1:20-22 / Philippians 2:8-11 / 1 Peter 3:22.

It was a spiritual kingdom in the sense that men responded on earth in their hearts to the fact that He was Lord and Christ Acts 2:36-37. The manifestation of Jesus’ reign in heaven was made known by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:1-4 / Luke 24:49 / Acts 1:8 / Acts 2:1-4.

The presence of the kingdom’s reign in heaven would be manifested on earth by the obedience of men and women who submitted to His reign.

The Transfiguration

‘About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.’ Luke 9:28

Although Mark and Luke say after six days, Luke says eight days, Luke 9:28.

The Jews counted any part of a day to represent a whole day and so, by counting the partial beginning and end of two days, with six full days, we would have the eight days of Luke.

Jesus’ ‘inner circle’, that is, Jesus took Peter, James and John, Matthew 26:37 / Mark 5:37 / Luke 8:51, were privileged to be taken by Jesus to a high mountainside.

Peter, James and John were with Him in Jairus house, the synagogue ruler, when Jesus healed his daughter, Luke 8:49-56. Peter, James and John went with Him when He went to pray at Gethsemane, Mark 14:33.

The mountain in question is either Mount Tabor, Mark 9:2-13 / Luke 9:28-36, in modern-day Syria or Mount Hermon in Israel which is the highest mountain in Israel, 2 Peter 1:17-18.

Robertson, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The tradition that places the transfiguration on Mount Tabor is beyond question false.’

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Robertson would appear to be correct for these reasons.

1. Tabor does not qualify as a ‘high’ mountain, being only 1,800 feet in elevation, compared with Hermon’s 9,000 feet.

2. Tradition favouring Tabor, first advocated by St. Cyril of Jerusalem in the fourth century, is much too late to have much weight.

3. Mount Tabor was populated, having a fortress on top, during the time of Christ, and was not suitable for such an event as the transfiguration. To have ascended Tabor would not have taken them ‘apart’, as Matthew expressed it.

4. Mount Tabor was three days journey removed from the last-named geographical placement of Christ and his disciples and, although a sufficient time interval of six or eight days had elapsed, none of the gospel narratives mentions a journey of any kind. Hermon, on the other hand, was nearby and is the most likely site.

5. Furthermore, when the gospels again take up the narrative, they were still in the vicinity of Hermon. Peter, in after years, called it the Holy Mount, 2 Peter 1:18, and in the words of A. L. Williams, ‘We may conclude that we are not intended to know more about it, lest we should be tempted to make more of the material circumstances than of the great reality.’

Why did they go up the mountain? Luke 9:28 tells us they went up the mountain to pray. Why didn’t He take the other disciples with Him? Why did Jesus take only Peter, James and John up the mountain?

He simply was preparing them for leadership, remember that Peter had just confessed that Jesus is the Christ, Mark 8:28-38. The transfiguration was the conformation of Peter’s confession, Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. It also points to a change from the law and the prophets to the One to whom the law and prophets pointed, Luke 24:44.

Peter was given the keys to the kingdom and Jesus says to him, ‘whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Matthew 16:19. Which means he was given the right to teach the new law of forgiveness with its terms and conditions.

James was executed by Herod, Acts 12:1-2 tells us that James must have been a man of influence or Herod wouldn’t have bothered to kill him.

John seems to be the quiet one but at the cross of Jesus, he was given the responsibility of looking after Jesus’ mother, which also tells us that by this time Joseph, Jesus’ stepfather was dead. John 19:26-27.

How do you think the other disciples felt when Jesus only took Peter, James and John to certain places? They possibly felt a little jealous, that’s possibly why they started arguing among themselves about who was the greatest. Luke 9:46 / Luke 22:24. This could be possible because Jesus tells them not to tell anyone about what happened up on the mountain. Matthew 17:9.

The Transfiguration

‘As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendour, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfilment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)’ Luke 9:29-34

Jesus had taken three of His closest friends with Him to a high mountain, there, whilst Jesus was praying, Luke 9:29, He began to glow with breath-taking brilliance.

The word transfigured, ‘metamorphoo’ means to be changed or transformed and so, in some way Jesus’ appearance was changed into a state of heavenly glory in order to manifest His deity, John 1:14.

‘His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.’ This light was an outward appearance from within, the light came from within Jesus, John 18:6 / Exodus 34:35 / 2 Corinthians 3:13.

Imagine Being There!

I can imagine James and John tugging one another’s cloaks and saying to Peter, ‘Peter, Peter is it just me or is Jesus’ head glowing a little?’ And the more he glows, the more they say, ‘He’s definitely glowing’.

We read these passages like they went and got a drink and they went and got a burger and chips. Just as though it was the most normal thing in the world for Jesus’ head to begin to glow.

I can imagine the jaws of those men would have dropped, I can imagine them backing away, even from the Lord that they knew and here is glowing as though God is ripping open the flesh of Christ and letting divinity itself peak out.

And as that bright light is shining and as Jesus is glowing and what an amazing scene, it just gets better. For all of a sudden appearing with them are Moses and Elijah and it seems the disciples knew and recognised Moses and Elijah.

Moses And Elijah

Just then, Elijah and Moses appeared, talking with Jesus, and the disciples were awestruck. We don’t know how the disciples recognised Moses and Elijah, the only possible explanation is that God opened their eyes.

Moses was the great Lawgiver, John 1:17, the one who had led Israel out of Egyptian bondage and through the wilderness. Elijah was a great prophet, one of two men in the Old Testament who went directly to heaven without dying.

Notice they were talking to Jesus, but what were they talking about? Luke 9:31 tells us that ‘they spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfilment at Jerusalem.’

Luke tells us they were discussing the fulfilment of the purpose for which both Moses and Elijah came to do their work and talking about the fulfilment of the promised ‘head crusher’ that started with the seed of woman in Eve, Genesis 3:15 and had continued to Jesus, Luke 9:31.

After feeling sleepy, Luke 9:32, the disciples were now fully awake, Luke 9:32-33, and Peter was profoundly moved by the occasion and suggested that they build three shelters, one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah. Luke tells us that Peter didn’t know what to say, they were so frightened, Mark 9:3-6.

There are times when we simply need to listen, rather than doing. Peter’s problem was that he needed to connect everything with something he needed to do. Peter always jumped up and said, ‘Well Lord I guess I need to say something’.

Peter was always the one who would jump up and say, ‘I’m not going to let that happen to you Lord, well, I’ll be the last one to leave you, Lord’. And the Lord finally had to say, ‘Peter, will you just hush up, put that sword down, before the rooster crows three times you’ll deny me’.

And Peter is still doing it, he’s here on the mountain and James and John are saying, ‘look at this’ and Peter jumps up and what does he say? ‘We’re very glad to be here.’

That’s literally what he says, he jumps up and says, ‘Well, I’m glad I came here today.’ ‘It’s good for us to be here Lord’. ‘In fact, we need to do something about this, we need to build a shelter for Moses and a shelter for Elijah.’

No doubt he felt that it would honour Jesus to receive a shelter alongside Moses and Elijah, but it seems as though Peter wanted to stay on the mountain for a while and enjoy the company but there was work to be done in the valleys.

According to Jewish tradition, these shelters would have been temporary places of prayer and meditation, Leviticus 23:34 / Exodus 25:8-9. Peter may have been suggesting that places of honour be placed at the location for the honour of Jesus, Moses and Elijah.

God’s Voice

‘While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen.’ Luke 9:34-36

God’s voice boomed from heaven, ‘this is My Beloved Son, listen to Him’. The voice of God is very seldom heard in the New Testament, in fact only three times. Mark 9:7 / Matthew 3:17 / John 12:29.

Matthew tells us that when the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. Falling facedown suggests that they worship God, Daniel 8:17 / Revelation 1:17 / 2 Peter 1:18. But Jesus came and touched them. ‘Get up,’ he said. ‘Don’t be afraid.’

Notice that when the disciples heard the voice of God, the natural reaction was worship, 2 Peter 1:18 / Revelation 1:17, remember that prophets weren’t worshipped. And so, because Jesus was God, all three disciples worshipped as a natural response to their realisation of the presence of God, Matthew 17:5-7.

They had obviously fallen to the ground in reverence and so Jesus reassuringly touches them and tells them to get up. I can imagine the disciples being very afraid after hearing God’s voice, no wonder Jesus reassures them that they have nothing to be afraid of.

Moses and Elijah vanished and only Jesus remained, Matthew 17:8. They used to listen to Moses and Elijah but now they must listen to Jesus. Acts 4:12 / Hebrews 1:1-3. No other prophet was assumed to be the Son of God.

The disciples didn’t fully understand what had happened, hence why they kept it to themselves and told no one. As they descended, Jesus told the disciples not to tell anyone about what had happened until after He was raised from the dead, Matthew 17:9.

Peter, James and John didn’t believe in the death of Jesus, at this time, never mind believing that He would rise from the dead, Mark 9:10.

Remember the disciples and the Jews as a whole had no concept of the resurrection, every blessing in the Old Testament was all about the land and long life.

This is why the disciples never really understood anything Jesus taught about the afterlife or they were afraid to ask Him about it. The resurrection from the dead was a whole new concept because it was Jesus who brought immortality to light, 2 Timothy 1:10.

Why Were they told not to say anything to anyone? Peter, James and John didn’t believe in the death of Jesus, let alone His resurrection from the dead, Mark 9:10.

One plausible reason could be if the disciples spoke about what had just happened publicly, especially during this crucial point in Jesus’ ministry, it may have caused a lot of unnecessary confusion among the people.

There’s also the possibility which we alluded to earlier that the other disciples may possibly have become jealous of Peter, James and John for having the special treatment, Mark 9:34 / Luke 22:24.

Jesus Heals A Demon-Possessed Boy

‘The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.” “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.” Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the impure spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. And they were all amazed at the greatness of God.’ Luke 9:37-43

Jesus, Peter, James and John had remained part of a day and night on the mountain of transfiguration, Luke 9:37. While He was on the mountain, the scribes were entering into an argument with the other disciples, Mark 9:14.

Since the apostles had normally been able to cast out demons, Mark 6:13, probably because of a lack of faith, Matthew 17:19-20. This failure puzzled them and surprised the bystanders. Jesus’ enemies were taking advantage of this lapse to discredit Him, we can imagine how embarrassed the disciples must have felt as they were being ridiculed.

The father of the tormented boy asked Jesus to do something, if He could, the man obviously feels hopeless and helpless. Mark also says that the demon caused epileptic fits that would cause the boy to be cast into fires, Mark 9:20.

The Lord turned his statement back on him, ‘If you can! All things are possible to him who believes,’ Mark 9:23. The father said that he believed, but recognising the possibility that his faith wasn’t as strong as it needed to be, he begged Jesus to help his unbelief.

Jesus says to all who were present that they were an unbelieving and a perverse generation. Everyone thought the boy was dead, Mark 9:26, and so, with that, Christ commanded the unclean spirit to leave the boy, the demon cried out and threw the boy into convulsions, but left.

The Jews believed that no one could cast out a mute spirit unless you knew its name. Mark gives an extended account of the events surrounding the exorcism, Mark 9:25-26.

Jesus rebuked the demon, Luke 4:41, which shows His power over the devil, Matthew 4:24. The demon did what all demons have to do, the demon left the boy immediately, Mark 9:26. Jesus said on this occasion that all things are possible to those who believe, Mark 9:23.

Later, the disciples asked why they had been unable to cast out the demon, Jesus explained that they weren’t relying on God enough, but on their own power, ‘this kind cannot come out by anything but prayer,’ Mark 9:29.

Perhaps their prior success in expelling demons had caused them to be self-reliant, and they had neglected to pray in faith to God so that He would cast out the demon.

They had demonstrated a lack of faith, Matthew 19:26 / Matthew 21:21-22 / Luke 10:1 / Luke 10:17, but if they had the faith as small as a mustard seed, Matthew 21:21-22 / Mark 11:23-24 / Luke 17:6 / 1 Corinthians 12:9 / 1 Corinthians 13:2, they could achieve much more.

Nothing would be impossible to them for nothing is impossible for the One who actually does the miraculous work, Mark 9:23 / John 11:40.

Time and again the disciples demonstrated a lack of clear spiritual understanding, they saw Jesus multiply loaves and fishes but failed to see that He could handle another food emergency. Peter affirmed that Jesus was the Christ, but thought it best to give Him some needed ‘advice.’

He believed Jesus was great, but on the same level as Moses and Elijah. The nine disciples in the valley boldly attempted to expel a demon, but without relying on the Lord. They were like those formerly blind who even now saw men like trees walking.

Jesus Predicts His Death A Second Time

‘While everyone was marvelling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, “Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.” But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.’ Luke 9:43-45

Jesus wanted to prepare His disciples for the tragedy that was nearing. He warned them that He would be betrayed into men’s hands and be killed, but encouraged them by announcing that three days later He would rise again.

The disciples didn’t understand, why? As we saw above the concept of an afterlife was foreign to them, 2 Timothy 1:10.

Mark tells us they were afraid to ask Him about it, Mark 9:32. Why were they afraid to ask Him about it? They didn’t understand the purpose of Christ’s death and when Jesus spoke of His death, the subject didn’t bring them any comfort, John 16:6 / John 19:30.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘It was God’s will that the apostles while being so thoroughly briefed on all that would take place, should also fail to ‘get it’, as we might say. This seems to be a hint here that they were providentially prevented from understanding it, but it is more likely that the very conception of human salvation as something which Almighty God alone could achieve, and that even he could not achieve it without the death of the Beloved on the cross, that such a colossal truth was utterly beyond the power of the natural man to understand it until after the fact. The concealment was not due to the design of God but to the limitations of men.’

‘An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.” Luke 9:46-48

They didn’t understand the purpose of Christ’s death and they were too busy arguing about who would be the greatest in Jesus’ coming kingdom, in other words, they were struggling with pride, and they even argued about this during the Supper. Luke 22:24. This all happened at Peter’s house.

Can you imagine how Jesus must have felt? He’s about to go and die for the world and all the disciples can do is argue about who is going to be the greatest.

Knowing what they had been disputing, Jesus took a child into His arms and used him as a model of the humility that should characterise disciples. It must have disappointed Him greatly to see the disciples competing for power while He was preoccupied with His coming suffering.

Mark’s account gives us more details, Mark 9:30-37, Jesus didn’t need to ask what they were arguing about because He already knew and so, knowing what they had been disputing, Jesus took a child into His arms and used the child as a model of the humility that should characterise the disciples, Mark 9:36-37.

It must have disappointed Jesus greatly to see the disciples competing for power while He was preoccupied with His coming suffering. Can you imagine how Jesus must have felt?

He’s about to go and die for the world and all the disciples can do is argue about who is going to be the greatest! Matthew 20:20-28 / Mark 10:35-45 / Luke 22:24-27.

There’s no doubt that the disciples were still thinking that Jesus was here to establish a physical kingdom, Acts 1:6, and they wanted to know who was going to be in charge.

Jesus tells them they must ‘change’, which means to change their thinking, change their lives, change their attitude, Acts 3:19 / Acts 28:27. The need for change by the apostles was because of their sin of worldly pride and ambition.

They must also become ‘like little children’, children submit to their father’s rule, they trust their father will always do what is right and as a result, they will obey their fathers.

As Christians, we need to have the same submissive attitude toward our heavenly Father if we want to receive eternal life, James 4:6-7 / 1 Peter 5:6-7.

The humility of a child should always be the characteristic of the disciple of Jesus, we should always be willing to serve and put others before us, not thinking too highly of ourselves, Mark 10:35-45.

Jesus wants disciples who are humble like a child, free from prejudice like a child, teachable like a child, lovable as a child, He wants His disciples to have the same simple faith of a child, trust like a child, He doesn’t want His disciples to worry about anything but trust their Father and He wants His disciples to be as innocent as a child.

Welcoming a little child in Jesus’ Name refers to the complete acceptance of a child-like believer because of their innocent and unrestrained trust in the Lord. If we welcome a disciple of Jesus who is of the character which Jesus discusses in this context, we receive Jesus, Matthew 10:40-42.

“Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.” Luke 9:49-50

Mark’s account gives us more detail, Mark 9:38-50. John related how he had seen someone expelling demons in Jesus’ name and had forbidden him to do so.

Evidently, John thought that no one should have been doing any work for the Lord who wasn’t following in their immediate company. But Jesus had commissioned many to go out, preach, and expel demons. He was pleased with those who were faithfully serving Him in other places.

There seems to be some arrogance on the part of the disciples here against one they considered unauthorized to work miracles in the name of Jesus.

This one may have been one of the disciples who was previously sent out by Jesus to cast out demons, Luke 10:1-17. We aren’t told who this person was, he was simply doing this work in the name of Jesus.

Whatever the case, the disciples weren’t happy with his work. Because he wasn’t in what the disciples considered to be the inner circle of disciples, they thought that he should be discouraged from his work.

They thus manifested their sectarian attitude, thinking that this disciple should be a member of their party before he could truly represent Jesus.

Jesus didn’t condemn the work of the disciple who was casting out demons in His name. It was the enemy of righteousness about whom the disciples must be concerned, not someone who was giving glory to Jesus by his works. Jesus wants the disciples not to discourage the good works of those who are not of their social group.

It is interesting in this context to note that this exorcist was doing what the disciples couldn’t do for lack of faith, Mark 9:18-19 / Mark 9:29.

Therefore, the effective work of the unknown disciple may have intimidated the disciples concerning their weak faith.

Jesus’ teaching on this matter went beyond good works. His teaching focused on acceptance, not rejection. The disciples of Jesus must be known for their willingness to accept, not eagerness to find occasions for rejection. The disciples must learn how to receive those with whom they may disagree.

Samaritan Opposition

‘As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them. Then he and his disciples went to another village.’ Luke 9:51-56

The time for Christ to go to the cross was fast approaching, Isaiah 50:7 / Mark 16:19 / Acts 1:2, hence, why he resolutely set out for Jerusalem.

Jesus was in total control of His destiny and He was in total control of when and where He would give up His own life for mankind, Isaiah 53 / Psalm 22 / Revelation 13:8.

Jesus sent messengers ahead to prepare His entry into a village of the Samaritans but the people didn’t welcome him simply because He was heading for Jerusalem.

We don’t know why the other apostles aren’t mentioned, but James and John clearly wanted permission to destroy the Samaritans with fire.

The sons of thunder wanted to act immediately against those who rejected Jesus, Mark 3:17, however, this is not the way to act towards those who show hospitality towards them, 2 Kings 1:10-12. Hence, why does Jesus turns around and rebukes them, Romans 8:15 / 2 Timothy 1:7. Jesus and His disciples now move on to another village.

The Cost Of Following Jesus

‘As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-62

Matthew’s account tells us that before Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee, a teacher of the Jewish law, came to Him, Matthew 8:18-19. This scribe had probably not yet counted the cost of discipleship.

While on earth, Jesus had no personal house or place to stay that He could call His own. By referring to Himself as the Son of Man, He declared that He was the Messiah.

Jesus was referring to Himself as the Messiah because the Jews used the term ‘Son of Man’ to refer to the Messiah. Jesus used this term a lot, and He used that term at least forty times.

One of Jesus’ disciples felt he still had responsibilities toward his father who was either dying or had just died. He was one of the groups known as ‘wait a little’ Pharisees who always proposed something else to do first. I guess we would call this procrastination, the idea of putting things off until a later time.

Jesus used physical death in this context to refer to spiritual death. In other words, ‘Let the spiritually dead bury their own physically dead.’ Jesus knew that if this disciple returned home to his old ways, his old standpoints and his old habits, he would never come back to follow Jesus.

On the surface, Jesus’ words may seem a bit harsh or even unfair but Jesus had nothing but love for the man and the man’s eternal destiny in mind.

Jesus was demanding total commitment on the part of the disciples to the work of the kingdom Matthew 10:37 / Luke 9:23. Nothing must come between the disciples and the work to which God would commission them. The disciple’s destiny mustn’t be diverted, Luke 9:57-62.

1. Christians must be willing to sacrifice any permanent place of dwelling, Luke 2:7 / Philippians 3:20-21.

At this time in the ministry of Jesus, commitment to follow Him was demanded. There were certainly others who were following Jesus other than the immediate twelve. Jesus taught that all must commit themselves to follow Him.

2. Christians must be willing to put Jesus before their social responsibilities and family relationships.

I know this is difficult for some people, but Jesus must always be first in our lives.

3. Christians must be willing to give their full attention on the work in Christ’s kingdom.

It was now a time to look forward and not back. Those who look back aren’t much use to Jesus in His kingdom. When a person looks back they are really questioning their faith in the One who is before them.

When the kingdom reign of heaven is done on earth in the hearts of men, then kingdom business must always supersede that which is of this world, Matthew 6:31-34.

Christians can’t trust in God as they do kingdom work, whilst at the same time, look back in order to trust in the things of this world, Luke 14:25-33.

People were following Jesus to Jerusalem for various reasons. However, it was at this time in Jesus’ ministry that He was nearing Jerusalem and the cross.

In these verses, we see Jesus sought to sift out of the multitudes those who were not willing to pay the cost of being a true disciple. Again, these are hard words for those who aren’t willing to commit themselves totally to Him. The reality is that many will fail, but those who do succeed will have a tremendous influence on the world with their lives.

1. We must be willing to love Christ more than anyone else, Genesis 29:30-31 / Luke 14:25.

In order to be a disciple of Jesus, we cannot love our family and our own life more than we love Jesus. If any situation develops in our life when we have to make a decision between following and serving Jesus or our own family, our eternal destiny would command that we follow Jesus, Matthew 22:37-40.

2. We must be willing to sacrifice our entire life, Luke 14:25 / Romans 12:1-2.

3. Building God’s kingdom.

We must count the cost involved in becoming a Christian, Luke 14:28. A lot of people find it difficult to become Christians simply because they aren’t willing to pay the price of discipleship. This is something, especially many preachers must accept and not get disheartened with.

Counting the cost of what it will take to be a disciple assumes that some may make the decision to turn away from the Gospel. Though Paul was a chosen vessel for God’s work, Jesus still showed him all things that he had to suffer in order to carry out his mission.

The early disciples were shown what the cost of discipleship would be in their lives. They, as well as all disciples, must go through many sufferings in order to be saved, Revelation 2:10.

Those who convert to Jesus, and then fall away, will be mocked by those who never wanted to become disciples in the first place, Luke 14:29-30 / 2 Peter 2:20-22.

4. Fighting in God’s kingdom.

We must count the cost involved in becoming a Christian, Luke 14:31-32. Before a king goes to war with the enemy he must first consider whether he has enough power to win the battle. Before one becomes a disciple, he must first consider whether he can win the battle, Ephesians 6:10-18.

Jesus’ emphasis here is that one must seriously consider his call to discipleship. His emphasis is on the seriousness by which we must consider being a disciple of Jesus.

Those who do not take their discipleship seriously will inevitably become indifferent and lukewarm. Their attitude of indifference and look-warmness will be as leaven, and thus, affect the entire group of disciples.

Jesus is the King who is coming against all those who have not obeyed the Gospel. He is coming with destruction, 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9.

If one would have peace with King Jesus at the time of His final coming, then he must sit down and consider Jesus’ conditions for peace. His conditions begin with obedience to the Gospel.

The rich young ruler who wanted to be a disciple of Jesus had to pay this price because his riches stood between him and his commitment to Jesus, Mark 10:17-31.

If one wants to be a disciple of Jesus, he must be willing to forsake all that is necessary in order to be such, Philippians 3:7-11.

5. Material sacrifice.

We must count the cost involved in becoming a Christian, Luke 14:33. If someone isn’t willing to forsake all for Jesus, then that which they aren’t willing to forsake will eventually be their stumbling block over which they will fall as a Christian.

All these demands of Jesus were met with genuine excuses from different people who wanted to follow Jesus, but when push comes to shove, there was no excuse, it was people who simply failed to count the cost or simply found the cost involved too high a price.

I wonder what price people put on their souls today! Mark 8:36-37. Why is it so important to share the costs involved with someone before they decide to become a Christian? Being a Christian is serious business, it’s all about sacrifice and commitment to Christ and His kingdom.

We don’t want people to say, ‘hey, I signed up to become a Christian, but I wasn’t aware of all this sacrifice stuff and commitment’! But more importantly, we don’t want any Christian to fall away simply because they didn’t have at least some understanding of what’s involved in living the Christian life.

What about those who say, ‘wow, that’s a lot of things, I’ve got to ‘give up’?’ Maybe we should focus a little more on what a person receives, in return for their sacrifice, Philippians 3:8.

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