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David Guzik :: Study Guide for Luke 9

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The Kingdom of God is Preached and Displayed

A. The apostles are sent to preach and heal.

1. (Luk 9:1-2) Jesus calls them and sends them forth.

Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.

a. He called His twelve disciples together: The selection of the disciples was described in Luke 6:12-16. They had been with Him together as a group for some time, and now Jesus delegated some of His work to them.

b. And gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases: Jesus did not only call the twelve. He also gave them power to do what He had called them to do. The same principle holds true today: whom God calls, God equips. The equipping may not be completely evident before the ministry begins, but it will be evident along the way.

i. Jesus didn’t delegate the work without also delegating the power and authority to do that work.

ii. “The reader will please to observe: 1. That Luke mentions both demons and diseases; therefore he was either mistaken, or demons and diseases are not the same. 2. The treatment of these two was not the same: the demons were to be cast out, the diseases to be healed.” (Clarke)

c. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God: To preach simply means to proclaim, to tell others in the sense of announcing news to them. The disciples were sent with the work of proclaiming that the kingdom of God was present, and what the character of that kingdom was like.

i. Their work of preaching might happen in open-air settings, such as street corners or marketplaces. It might happen in synagogues, as they found opportunity to speak. It might happen in small group or one-on-one conversations.

ii. Whatever the setting, the message was essentially:

· The King has arrived; Jesus the Messiah is present.
· His kingdom is different from what we expected.
· He gathers a kingdom community of those who will repent and believe.

iii. It’s not too much to say that Jesus used the available media of His day. They didn’t have newspapers or podcasts or internet or any number of other media opportunities we have today. Yet, Jesus did use the media that was available to Him, and used it well.

d. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick: Jesus sent the disciples to do more than present a message, but to also to do good with supernatural empowering; to bless the whole person, and to heal the sick.

i. This power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases was vitally connected with preaching the gospel. The two go together.

ii. “Alluding to a play on words, Luke mentions that Jesus ‘sent’ (apostello) the ‘apostles’ to preach the kingdom of God and to heal.” (Pate)

2. (Luk 9:3-6) The Kingdom they preach is marked by simplicity, urgency, and sincerity.

And He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs nor bag nor bread nor money; and do not have two tunics apiece. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

a. Take nothing for the journey: The disciples didn’t need sophisticated equipment to preach a simple message. Too many things would get in the way of their urgent message.

i. There was a rule among the rabbis of the day that you could not enter the temple area with a staff, shoes, or a moneybag, because you wanted to avoid even the appearance of being engaged in any other business than the service of the Lord. The disciples were engaged in such holy work (preaching the gospel and bringing God’s healing) that they could not give the impression that they have any other motive.

ii. “He was once again speaking words which were very familiar to a Jew. The Talmud tells us that: ‘No one is to go to the Temple Mount with staff, shoes, girdle of money, or dusty feet.’ The idea was that when a man entered the temple, he must make it quite clear that he had left everything which had to do with trade and business and worldly affairs behind.” (Barclay)

iii. Pate notes that Josephus wrote that the Essenes had similar rules about traveling light, trusting for provision along the way (J.W. 2.124-125)

b. Neither staffs nor bag nor bread nor money: Travelling light also kept them dependent upon God. If they did not take much with them, they had to trust the Lord for everything. If the preacher himself doesn’t trust God, how can he tell others to trust Him?

i. “The forbidden bag may be the kind frequently used by itinerant philosophers and religious mendicants for begging.” (Liefeld)

c. And whoever will not receive you: Their job as preachers wasn’t primarily to change people’s minds. They were to persuasively present the message, but if their listeners didn’t receive it they could leave, and shake the very dust from your feet as they left.

i. If Jewish people of that time had to go in or through a Gentile city, as they left they often shook the dust off their feet as a gesture saying, “We don’t want to take anything from this Gentile city with us.” Essentially, Jesus told His disciples to regard a Jewish city that rejected their message as if it were a Gentile city.

d. So they departed: They actually did what Jesus told them to do. They were preaching the gospel and healing everywhere, with both the mission given to them by Jesus and the power and authority to fulfill that mission.

3. (Luk 9:7-9) Herod hears of Jesus’ ministry and is perplexed.

Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by Him; and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead, and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the old prophets had risen again. Herod said, “John I have beheaded, but who is this of whom I hear such things?” So he sought to see Him.

a. He was perplexed…said by some that John had risen…by some that Elijah had appeared…by others that one of the old prophets had risen again: There is no indication that Herod (Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great) was a man of sincere spiritual interest. Yet he was interested in Jesus as a famous man, a miracle worker, and perhaps as a rival. Herod absorbed the popular thinking about who Jesus was (as in Luke 9:19).

i. Some thought Jesus was a herald of national repentance, like John the Baptist. Some thought Jesus was a famous worker of miracles, like Elijah (whose return before the coming of the Messiah was promised in Malachi 4:5-6). Some thought Jesus was one of the old prophets, perhaps the one Moses promised would come (Deuteronomy 18:15-19).

ii. The popular rumors and speculations about Jesus left Herod perplexed – especially because of his guilty conscience over the murder of John the Baptist. A bad conscience brings confusion and perplexity.

b. It was said by some that John had risen from the dead: The last time Luke wrote of John the Baptist, he was in prison and wondered if Jesus really was the Messiah (Luke 7:18-23). Now we learn that Herod executed John in prison, because John rebuked Herod about his sin with his brother’s wife (Matthew 14:1-12).

c. So he sought to see Him: Herod wanted to see Jesus, but not as a sincere seeker. He either wanted to indulge idle curiosity or to do the same to Jesus as he had done to His cousin John. Luke noted this to emphasize the increasing danger surrounding the work of Jesus.

i. Luke records a second reference to this Herod. Later, Jesus was told that this Herod wanted to kill Him. Jesus replied, Go, tell that fox, “Behold I cast our demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.” (Luke 13:32)

ii. Luke also told us that Jesus finally met this Herod, on the morning of His crucifixion. Herod was in Jerusalem at the time, and when He heard that Pilate was sending Jesus to him, he got happy and excited – Herod wanted Jesus to perform a miracle for him. Yet Jesus did no kind of miracle for Herod, and when he asked Jesus many questions, Jesus answered him nothing. Herod then treated Jesus with contempt, mocked Him with a purple robe, and sent Him back to Pilate.

4. (Luk 9:10) The apostles return.

And the apostles, when they had returned, told Him all that they had done. Then He took them and went aside privately into a deserted place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.

a. And the apostles: When they left Jesus in Luke 9:1, they were called disciples – that is, “learners.” When they came back after their preaching mission, they were called apostles – that is, “those sent with authority and a message.” They certainly remained disciples, but knew both the message and the authority in a much better way after their work.

b. Told Him all that they had done: Jesus wanted to know how they had done. Jesus is concerned with the results of our work for Him.

c. He took them and went aside privately into a deserted place: Jesus did this to serve and bless those to whom He delegated His work. Jesus has a special care to bless and serve those who serve Him.

B. The feeding of the 5,000.

1. (Luk 9:11) Jesus serves the multitude.

But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing.

a. When the multitudes knew it, they followed Him: Jesus had gone to Bethsaida to bless and serve His disciples after their work for Him. They could not keep the multitudes away for long; they followed Him there also.

b. He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed: Jesus served the seeking, needy multitudes in three ways.

· He received them: This speaks of His attitude. He didn’t run from the crowd or tell them to go away. With love and service, He received them.
· Spoke to them about the kingdom of God: This speaks of His teaching. As was the emphasis in His work, Jesus proclaimed a message to the multitudes.
· And healed those: Jesus did not only give them spiritual instruction, but He also did good among them with supernatural empowering.

2. (Luk 9:12-15) Jesus challenges His disciples to provide for the need of the multitude.

When the day began to wear away, the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the multitude away, that they may go into the surrounding towns and country, and lodge and get provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.” But He said to them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. Then He said to His disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of fifty.” And they did so, and made them all sit down.

a. Send the multitude away: After the long day (when the day began to wear away), the disciples saw the crowd as a bother. Like Jesus, they came to Bethsaida to get away from the multitudes, not to serve them.

i. Actually, it’s not entirely fair to criticize the disciples for their recommendation to send the multitude away. They probably could not even conceive that Jesus could or would miraculously feed the crowd. They felt they were doing good for the multitude by sending them away to lodge and get provisions.

b. You give them something to eat: To the disciples, this request must have sounded strange or even shocking. It was obvious to them that they did not have the resources to feed even a fraction of the multitude. With this statement, Jesus challenged both their faith and their compassion.

i. Both Jesus and the disciples were aware of the great multitude and aware of their needs. Yet it was the compassion of Jesus (Matthew 14:14) and His awareness of the power of God that led Him to go about feeding the multitude.

· The people are hungry, and the atheists and skeptics try to convince them that they aren’t hungry at all.
· The people are hungry, and the empty religionist offers them some ceremony or empty words that can never satisfy.
· The people are hungry, and the religious showman gives them video and special lighting and cutting edge music.
· The people are hungry, and the entertainer gives them loud fast action, so loud and fast that they don’t have a moment to think.
· The people are hungry – and Jesus has the bread of life.

c. Make them sit down in groups of fifty: Jesus wanted them to do this work in an orderly, organized way, and He also wanted them to enjoy the meal. This command suggests that this was more than just putting food in their stomachs; that could be done standing up. The idea was that there was something like a banquet-like atmosphere of enjoyment.

i. Organizing them in groups of fifty also made it possible to much more easily count the multitude, giving more reliability to the number of about five thousand men.

3. (Luk 9:16-17) The multitude is fed.

Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and twelve baskets of the leftover fragments were taken up by them.

a. He took the five loaves and the two fish: Jesus took the little that they had (first mentioned in Luke 9:13) and He thanked God for it. It would be easy to think that such a small amount of food was worthless to feed such a large crowd, but Jesus used what He had at hand.

i. In John’s account (John 6:8-9) we learn that these five loaves and the two fish came from a young boy. Even what they had they borrowed from a young man who brought the food with him.

ii. In 2 Kings 4:42-44, Elijah fed one hundred men with some barley loaves and ears of grain – with some left over. The feeding of the 5,000 shows us that Jesus is greater than both Elijah and Moses (under whom a multitude was fed in the wilderness).

b. Looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them: When Jesus blessed before the meal, He wasn’t blessing the food. He blessed God for supplying it. The idea of praying before a meal isn’t to bless the food; it is to bless – that is, to thank – God for blessing us with the food.

i. Though it wasn’t much, Jesus blessed the Father for the food that He did have. He may have prayed a familiar Jewish prayer before a meal: “Blessed art Thou, Jehovah our God, King of the universe, who bringest forth bread from the earth.”

c. He blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the multitude: This miracle displayed Jesus’ total authority over creation. Yet He insisted on doing this miracle through the hands of the disciples. He could have done it directly, but He wanted to use the disciples.

i. No one knew where this bread actually came from. Jesus showed that God can provide out of resources that we cannot see or perceive in any way. It is easier to have faith when we think we know how God might provide, but God often provides in unexpected and undiscoverable ways.

d. So they all ate and were filled: Jesus miraculously multiplied the loaves and fishes, until far more than 5,000 were fed. Seemingly, the miracle happened in the hands of Jesus, not in hands of the disciples – they simply distributed what Jesus had miraculously provided.

i. If someone left hungry, it was either because they refused the bread from Jesus, or because the apostles didn’t distribute the bread to everyone. Jesus supplied plenty for everybody.

ii. The assurance that Jesus can provide – even miraculously – for all of our needs should be precious to us; it was to the earliest Christians. On the walls of the catacombs, and other places of early Christian art, loaves and fishes are common pictures.

iii. What we have in ourselves to give others is insignificant, but when we put it in Jesus’ hands, He can do great things with our gifts and talents to touch the lives of others.

iv. “In a remarkable way, that feeding is a parabolic illustration of the method by which those who serve Him are to reach the needs of humanity. Their duty is to yield all they have to Him, and then to obey Him, no matter how mere prudence and worldly wisdom may question the method.” (Morgan)

B. The kingdom and the cross.

1. (Luk 9:18-20) Peter’s understanding of who Jesus is.

And it happened, as He was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him, and He asked them, saying, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” So they answered and said, “John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.”

a. As He was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him: This scene began with Jesus praying, and the disciples joining Him. We don’t really know if they joined with Him in prayer, or if they interrupted His time of prayer. When Jesus was done praying, He asked them a question: Who do the crowds say that I am?

i. Jesus didn’t ask this question because He was ignorant on this point and needed information from His disciples. He asked because He would use this question to introduce a more important follow-up question.

ii. G. Campbell Morgan was convinced that the disciples interrupted the prayer of Jesus. “A careful study of the Gospel narratives has led to the justifiable conclusion that our Lord never prayed with His disciples. Often He left them when He would pray. When in their company He prayed, it was not in association with them, but in separation…His praying was on a different plane.” (Morgan)

b. John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again: People who thought that Jesus was John the Baptist didn’t know much about Him, because He and John worked at the same time. Both John and Elijah were national reformers who stood against the corrupt rulers of their day, and the similarity with the courage and righteousness of Jesus may have suggested the connection.

i. Perhaps in seeing Jesus as John or Elijah, the people hoped for a political messiah, one who would overthrow the corrupt powers that oppressed Israel.

c. Who do you say that I am? It was fine for the disciples to know what the crowds thought about Jesus. But Jesus had to ask them, as individuals, what they believed about Jesus.

i. Jesus assumed that the disciples would have a different opinion of Him than the crowds. They didn’t just receive the conventional wisdom or the popular opinion. They should know who Jesus was.

ii. This is the question placed before all who hear of Jesus; and it is we, not He, who are judged by our answer. In fact, we answer this question every day by what we believe and do. If we really believe Jesus is who He says He is, it will affect the way that we live.

d. The Christ of God: Peter knew Jesus better than the crowds did. He knew that Jesus is the Christ of God, God’s Messiah, the promised redeemer from the Old Testament, the Messiah from the heart of God, not the Messiah from the desire of man.

2. (Luk 9:21-22) Jesus reveals the true nature of His mission.

And He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”

a. He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one: Jesus was pleased that His disciples were coming to know who He was in truth, but He still didn’t want His identity popularly known before the proper time. The crowds couldn’t understand that Jesus really was the Messiah, yet had to suffer – the disciples had to learn this first.

i. “Before they could preach that Jesus was the Messiah, they had to learn what that meant.” (Barclay)

b. The Son of Man must suffer many things: After hearing what the crowd thought of Him, Jesus then told them what He had really come to do: suffer, be rejected, be killed, and be raised the third day. This wasn’t what His disciples or the crowds expected or wanted at all.

i. This was an unbelievable shock to all who expected or hoped that Jesus was the national and political messiah. By analogy, we can imagine a presidential candidate announcing towards the end of his campaign that he was going to Washington, but to be rejected and executed.

c. Must suffer many things: An important word here is must. This wasn’t just a plan or an idea or a prediction; this was the fulfillment of what was planned before the world began for our salvation (1 Peter 1:20 and Revelation 13:8).

d. And be raised the third day: The resurrection was as much a must as any other aspect of His suffering; Jesus had to rise from the dead.

3. (Luk 9:23) Jesus calls everyone wanting to follow Him to do what He will do.

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

a. Then He said to them all: It was bad enough for the disciples to hear that Jesus would suffer, be rejected, and die on a cross. Now He told them that they must do the same; or at least have the same intention.

b. Let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me: As Jesus spoke these words, everybody knew what Jesus meant. In the Roman world, before a man died on a cross, he had to carry his cross (or at least the horizontal beam of the cross) to the place of execution.

i. When the Romans crucified a criminal, they didn’t just hang them on a cross. They first hung a cross on him.

ii. Carrying a cross always led to death on a cross. No one carried a cross for fun. The first hearers of Jesus didn’t need an explanation of the cross; they knew it was an unrelenting instrument of torture, death, and humiliation. If someone took up his cross, he never came back. It was a one-way journey.

iii. In the real-life crosses of the Roman world, no one took them up (suggesting a voluntary action). Instead, crosses were impressed upon people, quite apart from their willingness. Here Jesus said that those who follow Him must voluntarily take up their cross.

iv. This isn’t to suggest that we can choose our way to die a living death as followers of Jesus; but as the unchosen circumstances come into life, we choose to bear them as a way to daily die for Jesus’ glory.

c. Let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily: Jesus made deny himself equal with take up his cross. The two phrases expressed the same idea. The cross wasn’t about self-promotion or self-affirmation. The person carrying a cross knew they couldn’t save themselves, and that self was destined to die.

i. Denying yourself means to live as an others-centered person. Jesus was the only person to do this perfectly, but we are to follow in His steps.

d. Take up his cross daily: Jesus made it clear that He is spoke spiritually when He added the word daily. No one could be crucified literally everyday. Daily they could have the same attitude as Jesus had.

i. This is following Jesus at its simplest. He carried a cross, so His followers carry one. He walked to His self-death, so must those who would follow Him.

4. (Luk 9:24-27) Why we must take up our cross and follow Jesus.

“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God.”

a. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it: We must follow Jesus this way because it is the only way that we will ever find life. It sounds strange to say, “You will never live until you walk to your death with Jesus,” but that is the idea. You can’t gain resurrection life without dying first.

i. This is a strong and sure promise of the afterlife. If there is no life after death then what Jesus said makes no sense, there is no reward for either the dying martyr or the living martyr.

ii. You don’t lose a seed when you plant it, though it seems dead and buried. In truth, you set it free to be what it was always intended to be.

b. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world: Avoiding the walk to death with Jesus means that we may gain the whole world – and end up losing everything.

i. Jesus Himself had the opportunity to gain the whole world by worshipping Satan (Luke 4:5-8), but found life and victory in obedience instead.

ii. Amazingly, the people who live this way before Jesus are the ones who are really, genuinely happy. Giving our lives to Jesus all the way, and living as an others-centered person does not take away from our lives, it adds to it.

c. For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory: It isn’t easy to walk death row with Jesus. It means that we have to associate ourselves with someone who was despised and executed – but if we are ashamed of Him, He will be ashamed of us.

i. This is a radical call to personal allegiance to Jesus. He wanted to know if we would be ashamed of Him or of His words. If Jesus were not God, this was an invitation to idolatry; because He is God, this is a call to worship.

ii. Ashamed of Me: It’s no wonder that some were ashamed of Jesus during the days of His earthly ministry; it is astounding that any would be ashamed of Him today.

· Jesus, revealed in the full glory of His sacrificial love.
· Jesus, revealed in the full power of His resurrected glory.
· Jesus, ascended to heaven and honored.
· Jesus, loving and praying for His people from heaven.

Who could be ashamed of that?

iii. Yet, some are ashamed. The ashamed man believes; you can’t be ashamed of something you don’t believe in. He believes, but doesn’t take satisfaction and confidence in his belief.

· Ashamed means that you don’t want to be seen together in public.
· Ashamed means that you don’t want to talk about Him.
· Ashamed means that you avoid Him when possible.

iv. Some are ashamed out of fear, some out of social pressure, some out of intellectual or cultural pride. Objectively considered, such shame is a strange phenomenon.

d. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God: After this extreme call to follow Jesus unto death, He added a promise of significant glory (till they see the kingdom of God). Jesus wanted them to know that it wasn’t all suffering and death, the end of it all wasn’t death.

C. The Transfiguration.

1. (Luk 9:28-29) Jesus is transfigured before Peter, John, and James.

Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.

a. He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray: What started as a mountain top prayer meeting quickly changed into the shining forth of the glory of Jesus, and as He prayed, Jesus was transformed right before the eyes of the disciples.

i. “Although Luke does not name the mountain, ever since Origen some have identified it as Mt. Tabor, which is west of the Sea of Galilee. Others, however, equate it with Mt. Hermon, north of Caesarea Philippi, the place of Peter’s confession.” (Pate)

b. The appearance of His face was altered: After carefully setting the context of prayer, Luke explained what happened to Jesus. He changed in His appearance in what has become known as the transfiguration.

i. White and glistening translates a word that has the idea of “flashing like lightning.” Jesus’ entire appearance was transformed in a brilliant radiance of light.

ii. Matthew says that Jesus’ face shone like the sun (Matthew 17:2), and both Matthew and Mark used the word transfigured to describe what happened to Jesus. For this brief time, Jesus took on an appearance more appropriate for the King of Glory than for a humble man.

iii. This was not a new miracle, but the temporary pause of an ongoing miracle. The real miracle was that Jesus, most of the time, could keep from displaying His glory.

c. The appearance of His face was altered: This was important at this point in Jesus’ ministry because He had just told His disciples that He would go the way of the cross, and that they should follow Him spiritually. It would have been easy for them to lose confidence in Jesus after such a seemingly defeatist statement. Yet in His transfigured radiance, Jesus showed His glory as King over all God’s Kingdom.

i. If they would listen, this would give great confidence to the disciples. Jesus knows what He is doing. He promised that He would suffer, die, and rise again, but He is still the King of Glory.

ii. Jesus showed in an acted-out way that cross bearers would be glory receivers. The end isn’t the cross; the end is the glory of God.

2. (Luk 9:30-31) Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus.

And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.

a. Two men talked with Him: Jesus was not alone in this display of glory. Two men also appeared with Him, whom the disciples seemed to immediately recognize as Moses and Elijah.

i. Their immediate recognition of these men who appeared in glory without prior introduction gives some evidence that we will also be able to immediately recognize others in heaven. There won’t be a need for nametags.

ii. They seemed to have a wonderful time together as they talked with Him. “Possibly that transfiguration was an example of the way in which Adam and all his race might have passed into heaven, and not death come upon us all through sin.” (Meyer)

b. Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory: Many wonder why it was these two particular men from the Old Testament, and not two others. It wasn’t Abraham or David or Joshua or Joseph or Daniel; it was Moses and Elijah.

i. It may be because Moses and Elijah represent those who are caught up to God (Jude 9 and 2 Kings 2:11). Moses represents those who die and go to glory, and Elijah represents those who are caught up to heaven without death (as in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

ii. It can also be said that they represent the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah). The sum of Old Testament revelation came to meet with Jesus at the Mount of Transfiguration.

iii. Moses and Elijah also figure together in prophecy, because they are likely the witnesses of Revelation 11:3-13.

c. Spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem: Of all the things they might have discussed, they chose this topic. It seems that Moses and Elijah were interested in the outworking of God’s plan through Jesus; they spoke about what Jesus was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.

i. We can almost picture Moses and Elijah asking, “Are You really going to do it?” Moses might say, “I offered to be judged in the place of the people, but God wouldn’t have it. Can You go through with this, Jesus?” Elijah might add, “I was persecuted terribly by Ahab and Jezebel, and I hated it – sometimes I went into a deep spiritual depression. Can You go through with this, Jesus?”

ii. Spoke of His decease: “Greek, of his exodus; in reference to that expedition or departure of Israel out of Egypt.” (Trapp) “The term, in large part, portrayed Jesus’ suffering and death as the means to His receiving divine glory.” (Pate)

3. (Luk 9:32) The disciples sleep in the presence of Jesus, Moses, and Elijah.

But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him.

a. Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep: This leads us to believe that perhaps the disciples saw and heard only a small part of this meeting of Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. It perhaps lasted much longer and they discussed many more things.

i. “It is very probable that, on this occasion, he had been engaged in earnest prayer for several hours before the transfiguration came, and it is worthy of note that he was transfigured while he was praying. Every blessing comes to the great Head of the Church, and to all the members of his mystical body, through prayer.” (Spurgeon)

b. Heavy with sleep: It’s remarkable to think that one might be in the presence of tremendous gory, yet still be heavy with sleep. By analogy we note that spiritual sleep keeps many from seeing or experiencing the glory of God.

c. When they were fully awake, they saw His glory: They glory was present all the time, yet they only saw it when they awakened. Awake, they saw His glory – not even mentioning the glory of either Moses or Elijah. Compared to the glory of Jesus, it was as if they weren’t even there.

i. “The apostles saw the greatest of the prophets, and the great law-giver, after whom there was never the like till Christ himself came, yet the inspired record concerning the event is, ‘They saw his glow, and the two men that stood with him.’” (Spurgeon)

d. The two men who stood with Him: In the mental conception many have of this event, they imagine Jesus floating in the air with Moses and Elijah. Instead, the text clearly says that they stood together.

4. (Luk 9:33-34) Peter’s unwise offer to build three tabernacles.

Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”; not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud.

a. Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: Like many since, Peter made trouble for himself when he spoke, not knowing what he said.

i. As they were parting from Him makes it clear that Peter said what he said when Moses and Elijah began to leave. Peter didn’t want the scene of glory to stop.

ii. Perhaps his thinking went something like this: This is how it should be! Forget this idea of suffering, being rejected, and crucified; let’s build some tabernacles so we can live this way with the glorified Jesus all the time. Peter’s suggestion meant that not only would Jesus avoid the future cross, but so also would Peter.

iii. Also, in suggesting three tabernacles, Peter made the mistake of putting Jesus on an equal level with Moses and Elijah, with one tabernacle for each of them.

b. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them: As Peter said this, they were overshadowed with the cloud of God’s glory called in the Old Testament the Shekinah.

i. This is the same idea of overshadow in Luke 1:35, when the glory of God came upon Mary and she received the child Jesus.

c. They were fearful as they entered the cloud: Peter and the apostles at first felt it is good for us to be here, but as the glory intensified, it began to create in them the awe and dread that sinners feel in the presence of God.

i. Peter may not have known what he said, but he knew what he saw – the cloud of glory was real, and he was wide-awake when he and the apostles saw it.

ii. “We have not dreamt our religion, it has not come to us as a vision of the night; but when we were fully awake, we saw Christ’s glory.” (Spurgeon)

5. (Luk 9:35-36) The voice from the cloud of glory.

And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” When the voice had ceased, Jesus was found alone. But they kept quiet, and told no one in those days any of the things they had seen.

a. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” The voice from the cloud of glory made it clear that Jesus was not on the same level as Moses and Elijah. He is the beloved Son – so Hear Him!

i. Moses and Elijah were great men, and each have and important place in God’s unfolding plan of the ages. Yet compared to Jesus the Messiah, to God the Son, they were insignificant – so all the focus and attention should be focused upon Jesus. None of these noble servants can compare to the beloved Son, so Hear Him!

ii. Peter may not have known what he said, but he knew what he heard – the voice from heaven was real, and he was wide-awake when and the apostles heard it.

b. When the voice had ceased, Jesus was found alone: God made it impossible to focus on them any longer. Jesus deserved all the focus.

c. But they kept quiet, and told no one in those days any of the things they had seen: After it was all over, Peter, John and James told no one – after all, who would believe them?

i. They told no one in those days, but they couldn’t keep quiet about it. Peter clearly remembered and referred to this event in 2 Peter 1:16-18. John probably referred to it in John 1:14. They remembered this powerful experience that showed Jesus in both His glory and singular role as Messiah, greater than even Moses and Elijah.

ii. As impressive as this experience was, it in itself did not change the lives of the disciples as much as being born again did. Being born again by the Spirit of God is the great miracle, the greatest display of the glory of God ever.

D. The glory of God in action.

1. (Luk 9:37-40) The request from the father of a demon-possessed boy.

Now it happened on the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, that a great multitude met Him. Suddenly a man from the multitude cried out, saying, “Teacher, I implore You, look on my son, for he is my only child. And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out; it convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and it departs from him with great difficulty, bruising him. So I implored Your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.”

a. When they had come down from the mountain: Immediately after the radiant glory of the transfiguration, Jesus and the disciples came down from the mountain and were met by demonic trouble and opposition.

i. “There the mountain; now the valley. There glorified saints; here the lunatic. There the King in His heavenly gory; here the representatives of baffled and beaten faith.” (Morgan)

b. Teacher, I implore You, look on my son: The father felt (rightly so), that all Jesus had to do was look on his son and the compassion of the Savior would lead Him to help the afflicted boy.

c. A spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out; it convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and it departs from him with great difficulty, bruising him: The description fits what we would call an epileptic seizure. In this case, Jesus knew (and it was demonstrated) that a demonic force brought it on, not merely physiological causes.

d. I implored Your disciples to cast it out, but they could not: The disciples had previously had some success in casting out demons (Luke 9:1). It may be that this was a stronger or more stubborn case of demonic possession.

i. There are ranks of demonic powers (Ephesians 6:12), and evidently, some demons are stronger (more stubborn, resistant) than others. In Matthew 17:21, Jesus said that their failure was due to a lack of prayer and fasting. It isn’t that prayer and fasting make us more worthy to cast out demons. The idea is that prayer and fasting draw us closer to the heart of God, and put us more in line with His power.

ii. Their failure was in fact good for them. Their failure taught them.

· It taught them not to get into a rut of mechanical ministry.
· It taught them the great superiority of Jesus.
· It taught them to wish for the presence of Jesus.
· It taught them to come to Jesus with the problem.

iii. “They were confounded at their want of success-but not at their want of faith, which was the cause of their miscarriage!” (Clarke)

2. (Luk 9:41-42) Jesus casts out a demon that His disciples were unable to cast out.

Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” And as he was still coming, the demon threw him down and convulsed him. Then Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the child, and gave him back to his father.

a. O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you? There is a sense that Jesus was frustrated with His disciples. His season of ministry before the cross was coming to an end, and perhaps He felt frustration that the disciples did not have more faith.

b. As he was still coming, the demon threw him down and convulsed him: Even when the father brought the boy to Jesus, at first he did not seem to get better, but the problems showed themselves as bad as ever. This was the last, desperate effort of the possessing demon to hold on to the boy and cast the father, the disciples, and all into despair.

i. The demon threw him down: “As he was coming to Jesus, the demon dashed him down. It is the word used of a boxer dealing a knock-out blow to his opponent or of a wrestler throwing someone.” (Barclay)

ii. In a sermon titled The Devil’s Last Throw, Spurgeon considered how the devil often strikes hard against a person just as they begin to come to the Savior. “I have seen men, just when they were beginning to hear and beginning to think, taken on a sudden with such violence of sin, and so fearfully carried away by it, that if I had not seen the same thing before I should have despaired of them.”

iii. Spurgeon considered some of the lies that Satan uses to throw men down just as they are coming to Jesus:

· “You’re not elect.”
· “You’re too big of a sinner.”
· “It’s too late.”
· “There’s no use in trying – give it up.”
· “This won’t work for you.”

c. Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the child: Not intimidated by this last display of demonic power, Jesus delivered the demon-possessed boy instantly. What was too hard for the disciples was not too hard for Jesus.

3. (Luk 9:43-45) Jesus reminds His disciples about His mission.

And they were all amazed at the majesty of God. But while everyone marveled at all the things which Jesus did, He said to His disciples, “Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.” But they did not understand this saying, and it was hidden from them so that they did not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this saying.

a. And they were all amazed at the majesty of God: Jesus had just revealed His glory in two spectacular ways – the transfiguration and the casting out of a difficult demon. Yet, He reminded His disciples that His mission had not changed; He still had come to die on the cross for our sins, and the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.

i. Let these words sink down into your ears: “To other words, you may lend occasional attention-but to what concerns my sufferings and death you must ever listen. Let them constantly occupy a place in your most serious meditations and reflections.” (Clarke)

b. But they did not understand this saying: Though they were frequent, the disciples forgot these reminders about Jesus’ suffering and resurrection until after His resurrection (Luke 24:6-8).

i. They did not understand: “So besotted they were with that carnal conceit of an earthly kingdom.” (Trapp)

E. The unusual character of greatness in the Kingdom of God.

1. (Luk 9:46-48) True greatness shows itself in being like a child, and in being the least, not in the popular conceptions of greatness.

Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him, and said to them, “Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great.”

a. As to which of them would be greatest: The disciples were often concerned about the question of greatness. They seem to ask this question thinking that Jesus has already chosen one of them as greatest, or as if they wanted Jesus to decide among them.

i. “Long ago the Venerable Bede suggested that this particular quarrel arose because Jesus had taken Peter, John, and James up into the mountain top with him and the others were jealous.” (Barclay)

ii. We can imagine the disciples arguing among themselves about which one was the greatest (as they did later again in Luke 22:46 and other places), and then saying, “Let’s let Jesus settle this.”

iii. They probably thought in terms of position and advancement in the glorious administration of Messiah the King. “He spoke of his abasement, they thought of their own advancement; and that ‘at the same time’.” (Spurgeon)

b. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him: Jesus might have answered the question, “who is the greatest?” by pointing to Himself. Instead, Jesus drew their attention to His nature by having them look at a little child as an example.

i. Jesus overheard their conversation, but more importantly understood the thought of their heart behind the conversation. He understood their motives and impulses.

ii. The little child was the model of greatness. By this act, Jesus said to the disciples: “If you want to be great, learn something from this little child.” Especially in that culture, children were of little importance, were not threatening, unconcerned for social status, and not jaded by success and ambition. When we most fulfill the humble place a child had in that culture, we are then on our way to greatness. No one should think that a little child shows us everything about greatness and the kingdom, but certainly some things, and important things at that.

iii. “The principle being established by Jesus was that in the kingdom of God there is a reversal of values involved. The last will be first; the least will be the greatest.” (Pate)

iv. Jesus pointed to a little child, and did not point to Peter. If Peter really was to be regarded as the first pope in the way Popes are regarded by Roman Catholic theology and history, Jesus should have declared that Peter was the greatest among them.

c. Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me: Jesus said that the child was a representation or reflection of Himself, and that Jesus is a reflection of His Father in heaven. Using the child as an example, Jesus indirectly pointed to Himself as the greatest in the kingdom.

i. We know that one Man was actually the greatest among them and among all: Jesus Christ. This means that Jesus Himself was humble like a little child. He wasn’t concerned about his own status. He didn’t have to be the center of attention. He could not deceive, and He didn’t have an intimidating presence.

ii. Since the nature of Jesus is like one of these little children, how we treat those who are humble like children (whoever receives this child in My name receives Me) shows what we think of the nature of Jesus.

iii. “There is a tradition that the child grew to be Ignatius of Antioch, who in later days became a great servant of the Church, a great writer, and finally a martyr for Christ.” (Barclay) Clarke indicates that this tradition comes from the Christian writer Nicephorus, who wrote that Ignatius was killed by Trajan in ad 107. Yet Clarke also writes of Nicephorus, that he “is not much to be depended on, being both weak and credulous.”

iv. We can contrast what the devil does with children (Luke 9:39) and what Jesus does with children.

d. For he who is least among you all will be great: Jesus then challenged His followers to be the least. The desire to be praised and to gain recognition should be foreign to a follower of Jesus. Jesus wants His followers to embrace least as a choice, allowing others to be preferred, and not because we are forced to be least.

i. It is easy to actually despise humble people. They are the losers; the kind who will never make it in our competitive and aggressive and get-ahead world. Yet when we despise humble people, we actually despise Jesus.

ii. This aspect of humility and giving preference to others in the Christian faith has been often derided and despised. Nietzsche and others glorified the will to power and looked down on Jesus and His followers as weak and worthy of disregard. Yet Nietzsche is gone and largely discredited; Jesus and His followers live and transform lives and cultures through the power exemplified (in some ways) by a child.

2. (Luk 9:49-50) True greatness isn’t cliquish.

Now John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.”

a. Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us: This must have been frustrating to the disciples, because it showed that other followers of Jesus were able to cast out demons when they sometimes were not able (Luke 9:40). No wonder John wanted them to stop!

b. Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side: Jesus taught them to have a more generous spirit. There are many that are wrong in some aspect of their presentation or teaching, yet they still set forth Jesus in some manner. Let God deal with them. Those who are not against a Biblical Jesus are still on our side, at least in some way.

i. Paul saw many men preaching Christ from many motives, some of them evil motives – yet he could rejoice that Christ was being preached (Philippians 1:15-18).

3. (Luk 9:51-53) True greatness is marked by steadfast determination.

Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem.

a. When the time had come for Him to be received up: This is the beginning of a new section of the Gospel of Luke. Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to be received up.

· He would be received up to the higher-elevation city of Jerusalem
· He would be received up on a cross
· He would be received up to heaven in a glorious Ascension

b. He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem: Jesus undertook this final journey towards Jerusalem with steadfastness fitting the difficulty of the task ahead of Him.

i. Isaiah 50:7 speaks prophetically of the Messiah, the Great Servant: For the Lord God will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed. This is Jesus, who steadfastly set His face – like a flint, as Isaiah wrote – going to Jerusalem to suffer and die.

ii. Jesus hardened His face; not in the sense of becoming a hard or angry man, but in the sense of having focus, and having focus through a difficult time.

iii. There are two kinds of courage – the courage of moment, which requires no previous thought, and a planned courage, which sees the difficulty ahead and steadfastly marches towards it. Jesus had this kind of courage; He saw the cross on the horizon, but still steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.

iv. Spurgeon had a wonderful sermon on Isaiah 50:7 text titled, The Redeemer’s Face Set like a Flint. In it, he considered how severely the steadfast resolve of Jesus was tested.

· By offers from the world.
· By the persuasions of His friends.
· By the unworthiness of His clients.
· By the ease at which He could have backed out if He had wished to.
· By the taunts of those who mocked Him.
· By the full stress and agony of the cross.

v. Sent messengers before His face: “Angels, literally; but this proves that the word angel signifies a messenger of any kind, whether Divine or human. The messengers in this case were probably James and John.” (Clarke)

c. They entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him: Because Jesus went to Jerusalem these particular Samaritans did not welcome Jesus. They didn’t have good relations with the Jews, and were prejudiced against them. We may also see this as the opposition (knowing or not) that comes the way of all who set their face steadfastly to do God’s will.

i. “The origin of the Samaritan people seem to have been the intermarrying of Jews from the Northern Kingdom with imported non-Jewish colonists after the conquest of 722 b.c. (2 Kings 17:24). These mixed Jews-Gentiles developed their own translation of the Pentateuch (Samaritan Pentateuch), built their own temple of worship on Mt. Gerazim (see John 4:20), which was later destroyed by John Hyrcanus (128 b.c.), and celebrated their own Passover.” (Pate)

ii. “For Jesus to take that way to Jerusalem was unusual; and to attempt to find hospitality in a Samaritan village was still more unusual.” (Barclay)

4. (Luk 9:54-56) True greatness is marked by mercy, not judgment

And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.

a. Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did? James and John, outraged by the poor reception Jesus received among the Samaritans, offered to destroy the city in spectacular judgment for Jesus’ sake.

i. It’s interesting and perhaps amusing that James and John were so confident that they could do this, especially after their recent failure with the demon-possessed boy. Their angry reaction shows why Jesus sometimes called them Boanerges, meaning Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17).

ii. “It were to be wished that we would first consult with Christ in his word, ere we stir hand or foot to revenge.” (Trapp)

b. He turned and rebuked them: Their offence – even on behalf of Jesus – was not appreciated. The determination of Jesus mentioned in the previous verses did not mean that He was tough or angry.

i. They saw the flint-face of Jesus and thought it meant mean or tough. They didn’t understand that it meant focus and being more focused on love than ever before. That flint-like face will end up on the cross in the ultimate demonstration of love, not the ultimate demonstration of anger.

ii. “I resolved to use every possible method of preventing…a narrowness of spirit, a party zeal…that miserable bigotry which makes many so unready to believe that there is any work of God but among ourselves.” (Wesley, cited in Barclay)

c. You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them: Jesus explained their failing at this point came in two ways.

i. They didn’t know themselves. Perhaps they thought they were being like Jesus, or showing the character of God. They were mistaken, and did not represent God and His heart. He loved the Samaritans and wanted them to repent and be saved.

ii. They didn’t know Jesus and His mission. He came to save the lost, not to burn them up with fire from heaven.

iii. Following Jesus means being merciful to others, instead of harsh with them. Especially, we should remember that God says Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord (Romans 12:19). “The disciples of that Christ who died for his enemies should never think of avenging themselves on their persecutors.” (Clarke)

5. (Luk 9:57-58) True greatness is shown in sacrifice.

Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

a. Lord, I will follow You wherever You go: With the miracles associated with the ministry of Jesus, following Him might have seemed more glamorous than it really was. Jesus perhaps received many spontaneous offers like this.

b. Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head: Jesus didn’t tell the man “No, you can’t follow Me.” But He told him the truth, without painting a glamorized version of what it was like to follow Him. This is the opposite of techniques used by many evangelists today, but Jesus wanted the man to know what it would really be like.

i. “In the immediate context of Jesus’ ministry, the saying does not mean that Jesus was penniless but homeless; the nature of his mission kept him on the move and would keep his followers on the move.” (Carson)

ii. The reason this man turned away from Jesus was because Jesus lived a very simple life by faith, trusting His Father for every need and without reserves of material resources. This is just the kind of thing that would make Jesus more attractive to a truly spiritual man. “Here is a man who lives completely by faith and is satisfied with few material things; I should follow Him and learn from Him.”

iii. “We have good evidence here that he knew how to shut the door as well as to open it. He knew as well how to warn the pretentious as to accept the penitent.” (Spurgeon)

6. (Luk 9:59-60) True greatness means that we give Jesus the top priority in our lives.

Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”

a. He said to another, “Follow Me”: The man described in Luke 9:57-58 offered to follow Jesus. In contrast, Jesus asked this man to follow Him.

b. Lord, let me first go and bury my father: Actually, this man did not ask for permission to dig a grave for his deceased father. He wanted to remain in his father’s house and care for him until the father died. This was obviously an indefinite period, which could drag on and on.

i. “He was not torn between the right and wrong. He was torn between the right and right. He hesitated between two rival claims, both of them stamped with the seal of the divine.” (Morrison)

ii. The man wanted to follow Jesus, but not just yet. He knew it was good and that he should do it, but he felt there was a good reason why he could not do it now. The previous man was too quick to follow Jesus; this man was too slow.

c. Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God: Jesus pressed the man to follow Him now, and clearly stated the principle that family obligations – or any other obligation – must not be put ahead of following Jesus. Jesus must come first.

i. Jesus was not afraid to discourage potential disciples. Unlike many modern evangelists, He was interested more in quality than in quantity. In addition, Jesus was merely being honest. This is what it meant to follow Him, and He wanted people to know it at the beginning.

7. (Luk 9:61-62) True greatness means that we follow Jesus wholeheartedly, without delay.

And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

a. Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house: The previous man offered to follow Jesus after an indefinite, perhaps long delay. This man offered to follow Jesus after a relatively short delay.

i. “O young man, when you are thinking of leaving the world, be afraid of these farewells! They have been the ruin of hundreds of hopeful people. They have been almost persuaded; but they have gone to their old companions just to give them the last kiss, and the last shake of the hand, and we have not seen anything more of them.” (Spurgeon)

b. No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God: Jesus stressed to this man the commitment necessary to follow Him. One must have a similar determination as a farmer plowing a field, who must do it with all his strength and always looking forward.

i. In plowing a field in that day, a farmer kept the rows straight by focusing on an object in front and in the distance (such as a tree). If the farmer started to plow and kept looking behind, he would never make straight rows and do a good job plowing. In following Jesus, we are to keep our eyes on Jesus, and never take our eyes off Him. “No ploughman ever ploughed a straight furrow looking back over his shoulder.” (Barclay)

ii. Plowmen also do something else of great importance: they hold on. A plowman who lets go is no plowman at all. “Ploughmen are not usually learned persons, nor are they often poets in disguise. But there is one virtue they possess pre-eminently, and that is the virtue of quietly holding to it.” (Morrison)

ii. More than anyone else, Jesus lived this; He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51).

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