Archive for May, 2009

Luke 11:14-28 Jesus and Beelzebul

May 29, 2009

Jesus and Beelzebul

14 Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled. 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,” 16 while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven. 17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. 18 And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 19 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; 22 but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil. 23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

Return of an Unclean Spirit

24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

True Blessedness

27 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

  • There were two ways to explain how Jesus could command the demons.  Either he was using power given to him by God or he was somehow in league with Satan (Beelzebul or Beelzebub, a nickname meaning Lord of flies, used as a way to refer to the source of evil).
  • Jesus’ opponents knew that if they could get people to believe that Jesus was in league with Satan, then they could reject his teaching and turn people against him.  As Jesus said, “If your not with me, your against me.”
  • Of course Jesus explains that what they are saying is not true but the opposite is true.  If Satan opposes himself then he is divided and has already lost the  battle.  And what about the Jewish exorcists?  What power do they use?  Are they in league with Satan as well?  This is the arguement that Jesus presents.
  • Now Jesus is more then just another exorcist.  He casts out demons by “the finger of God”.  This phrase echoes Exodus 8:19 where Moses performed great wonders that the magicians of Egypt could not reproduce.  The God of the Exodus is at work in the world through Jesus.  This is the same power that will defeat death at the end of this Gospel.  Jesus has tied up the strongman and can now run his household.
  • Jesus ends with a warning.  If we cleanse ourselves from evil and do not replace the evil with good then the evil will return worse than before.  Wright likens this to Israel being cleansed from evil, similar to the demon possessed man.  If God does not dwell with them then Israel will be vulnerable to the demon’s return.  Jesus was the return of God to Israel, if they did not accept him then the evil which led them to ruin in the past would return.
  • Jesus gets some unlikely support from a woman in the crowd.  “When the word of God is at work, what is required is not applause but obedience.”  Am I keeping the word of God?
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Luke 11:1-13 The Lord’s Prayer

May 27, 2009

The Lord’s Prayer

11:1 Now Jesus [1] was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.

3 Give us each day our daily bread, [2]
4 and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”

5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence [3] he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for [4] a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

  • Friendship and fatherhood – This is the picture of God that Luke presents in this passage.  God as a friend, as a father, and how we are to approach him in prayer.
  • God as a friend.  Asleep in bed with his family and children.  If the friend wakes up he will wake up the entire family.  This would be a serious inconvenience and thus creates an interesting dilemna.
  • The friend outside has a real problem.  Under the hospitality laws, he must provide food and shelter for this traveler.  He knows his sleeping friend can help him.  He knows he will understand.  If the situation was reversed he would do the same.
  • Persistence is the key.  God is more than a sleepy friend.  Jesus wants us to be bold when we pray.  He doesn’t want us to be afraid of waking God up in the middle of the night.  Jesus wants us to refuse to give up.  My prayers need to be this way.  I am fighting a battle and must struggle in prayer.  Prayer needs energy and urgency.  The friend with the visitor was urgent.  He needed the bread and knew his friend would give it to him if he kept knocking.   Am I determined to see my prayers answered?  Do I see God as my friend?
  • God as father.  God is not a tyrant who delights in our suffering.  God wants to give us what we ask for.  God is the father of Israel.  The God of the Exodus.  The deliverer.  These are the themes that Luke is emphasizing in his gospel.
  • The “Lord’s prayer” is a prayer for those on the Kingdom journey.  “This is a prayer which grows out of the mission of Jesus himself.” N.T. Wright  It provides us with a beautiful framework for prayer.

Luke 10:38-42 Martha and Mary

May 25, 2009

Jesus in the house of Martha and Mary.

Jesus in the house of Martha and Mary.

Martha and Mary

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus [1] entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. [2] Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

  • Luke introduces another radical story where we see Jesus breaking down the established cultural barriers.  “Not only was he redrawing the boundaries of God’s people, sending out a clear message about how the Gospel would reach those outside the traditional borders.  He was redrawing the boundaries between men and women within Israel, blurring the lines which had been clearly laid down.”  N.T. Wright
  • What was upsetting Martha?  Was it the work load she had?  Possibly, but Wright points out that along with that, Martha was upset because Mary was acting like a man.  In Jewish culture at this time a house was divided into male space and female space.  And the roles of male and female were clear.  Mary was crossing over this boundary.
  • The public room was for men.  The kitchen belonged to the women.  The fact that Mary settled down among the men was shocking.  “Only a shameless woman would behave in such a way.” N.T. Wright  Who did Mary think she was?  She was a woman and so Marthe felt that she should be with her in the kitchen.
  • Sitting at the master’s feet.  This was not some puppy dog adoration on the part of Mary.  To sit at a master’s feet meant that you were a student.  Paul “sat at the feet of Gamaliel” (Acts 22:3).  Mary wanted to learn, she wanted to be a disciple of Jesus.  She wanted to learn so she could teach others about God’s Kingdom.
  • And Jesus supports her.  This isn’t about the women’s rights movement.  “Jesus’ valuation of each human being is based not on abstract egalitarian ideals, but on the overflowing love of God, which, like a great river breaking its banks into a parched country side, irrigates those parts of human society which until now had remained barren and unfruitful.” N.T. Wright
  • Once again Jesus is breaking down the cultural barriers with the grace and mercy of God’s Kingdom.  This story is more then a comment on “active” and “contemplative” lifestyles of disciples.  It’s a comment on the value of men and women and their role in God’s Kingdom.

Luke 10:25-37 The Parable of the Good Samaritan

May 20, 2009
The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii [1] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

 

  • “The best known stories are sometimes the hardest to understand.” N.T. Wright  This is true of the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
  • General moral understanding – if you see someone in need, go and help them regardless of their race or religion.  But what did Jesus really mean?
  • The Jews and Samaritans hated each other.  Both claimed to be the true children of Abraham.  Both felt they had claim to the land.  They were bordering neighbors.  In fact people traveling to and from Jerusalem would go around Samaria, traveling a longer distance to avoid contact with Samaritans.
  • This route contained many twists and turns, and was an ideal place for outlaws and brigands to hide and prey on unsuspecting travelers.  Especially lonely travels like the man in Jesus’ story.
  • And for those who were left half dead, it would be difficult for those passing by to tell if the man was dead or alive.  This is why the Levite and priest just pass by.  If they touched the man and he was dead, they would be unclean and would not be able to serve in the temple.  They would rather preserve their purity than uphold God’s law of love.
  • The lawyer wanted to know who his “neighbor” was.  To him his fellow Jews were his neighbors.  To Jesus a neighbor is anyone in need.  Could the lawyer recognize the hated Samaritan as his neighbor?
  • Jesus is offering the way of peace, the way of grace.  The Jewish leaders were not inclined towards peace but towards confrontation.
  • Who are God’s people?  The Jews believed they were.  The Samaritans believed they were.  The lawyer tries to trick Jesus into saying something that would incriminate him in front of the people.  The lawyer wanted to justify himself.  He knew the scriptures, he already knew the answer, or so he thought.  Jesus turns the table on the lawyer by revealing that it is not enough to have the right answers.  Jesus shows that the true fulfillment of God’s commands is to recognize those in need and to help them.  To love them.  God’s people are those who live this way.
  • “What is at stake then and now is the question of whether we will use the God-given revelation of love and grace as a way of boosting our own sense of isolated security and purity, or whether we will see it as a call and challenge to extend that love and grace to the whole world.” N.T Wright
  • Have I limited my love to certain types of people?  Have I passed by half dead people?  Am I living like one of God’s true children?  I was half dead once, and someone came and took care of my wounds.  Have I now become the lawyer or the Levite and priest?  Do I recognize that this world is in need of God’s love and grace?  This is very convicting.  No one wants to think they are like the lawyer but how many people in need spiritually do I pass by each day and do nothing?  I need to go and do likewise!!

Luke 10:17-24 The Celebration of Jesus

May 18, 2009

The Return of the Seventy-Two

17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Jesus Rejoices in the Father’s Will

21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. [1] 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

23 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

  • Luke reveals the nature of the battle that Jesus was waging.  This was a spiritual battle against the powers of darkness.  Jesus began his ministry with a private battle against Satan in the desert.  This victory Jesus won was now being experienced by the seventy.  
  • Satan – the accuser.  Satan tricks people into disobeying God and then accuses them.  Satan holds power because he has deceived this world.  
  • Jesus’ task is to defeat Satan, to break his power, to usher in God’s new creation where evil and death are no more.
  • Jesus has seen the victory.  Jesus has seen Satan fall.  Jesus knew the work of the seventy was indeed a part of this great victory which would be finalized on the cross.  However, he cautions them to not just be caught up in their new powers but to be focused on God’s purpose and that they are part of it.
  • Jesus celebrates the inclusiveness of God’s Kingdom.  Anyone could receive it.  It wasn’t just for the elite and intelligent.  The knowledge of God’s Kingdom was to be shared by all.  In the words of Paul, God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise.  This was a special time and Israel’s rules and teachers were blind to it.
  • God’s purpose was moving forward.  A new people was being created.  Those that recognized Jesus as God’s son, the messiah and were learning to know God as the Father.

Luke 10:1-16 Jesus Sends Out the Seventy

May 15, 2009

The Harvest is plentiful.

The Harvest is plentiful.

Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two

10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two [1] others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say,11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

Woe to Unrepentant Cities

13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.

16 “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

  • Wright compares the sense of urgency in this passage with a doctor who discovers a brain tumor in a patient and immediately admits them to the hospital for surgery.  To wait another day or two could mean the patients life.  That is the general mood of this passage.
  • Jesus has a sense of urgency.  He knows his time is short.  He sends the seventy to places he intends to visit, knowing he most likely would not visit those places again.  This was his last chance to warn the people.
  • The mission of the seventy is only recorded in Luke.  Some manuscripts say seventy two.  Any meaning to this number?  Wright suggests that Luke is again comparing Jesus to Moses.  In Numbers 11:16-25, Moses selects seventy elders of Israel to help him lead the people.  Jesus was sending out men to help in leading the “new” Exodus.
  • In the original Exodus, the Israelites grumbled, complained, and didn’t want to follow God.  Jesus faces the same attitudes.  The people just didn’t want to follow Jesus to where he was going.  
  • Jesus instructed his disciples to carry a message of peace.  “Peace to this house” and find a “child of peace”.  Jesus’ contemporaries were not wanting peace.  Not with the Romans and not with the Samaritans.  They wanted war.  They wanted God’s justice to eliminate their enemies.
  • Jesus had a different plan.  To lead a violent rebellion would be like going back to Egypt.  Jesus’ kingdom was all about God’s grace and his “astonishing, powerful, healing love.”
  • Jesus’ disciples also carried a message of warning to those who didn’t accept the offer of peace.  To reject Jesus’ message would mean throwing oneself into the hands of Pagan power.  Not fire falling from heaven but Roman invasion and destruction.  By rejecting the way of God’s peace, God’s people invited the Roman punishment.
  • This is why Jesus was so urgent.  This wasn’t just an offer of a nice life of happiness.  It was the last chance for people to turn to God and avoid destruction.  To reject Jesus now, was to reject God himself.  Jesus was heading to Jerusalem, time was running short.

Luke 9:46-62 The Nature of Discipleship

May 13, 2009

luke-for-everyoneWho Is the Greatest?

46 An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. 47 But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”

Anyone Not Against Us Is For Us

49 John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”

A Samaritan Village Rejects Jesus

51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. 53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” [1] 55 But he turned and rebuked them. [2] 56 And they went on to another village.

The Cost of Following Jesus

57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 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.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus [3] said to him,“Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

  • In the first century, people didn’t travel much.  Most people stayed in the towns and villages where they were born their entire lives.  However, the Jews in Galilee regularly made one journey: the pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  While traveling the people would tell the story of the great Exodus from Egypt and other biblical stories.
  • This is what Luke has in mind when he begins to tell of Jesus’ plan to go to Jerusalem.  From here on out Jesus is constantly on the move with Jerusalem always in the distance.  Luke is emphasizing the call to go where God calls you to go.  This may mean travel.  This was the case for people who decided to follow Jesus.
  • It is not easy to follow Jesus.  The disciples argue about who is the greatest.  How easy it is for selfish ambition to find its way into following Jesus.  This is dealt with right away.  Also, the disciples needed to realize that the Kingdom may be going forward through people they don’t know.  Following Jesus is not always straight forward.
  • Jesus sends messengers ahead of him.  Similar to the Exodus where God sent angels before the people to guide them.  Luke again is emphasizing that this is the “new” Exodus.
  • When they are not accepted, James and John thinking they were Elijah, want to call down fire from heaven.  But Jesus’ journey is not about that.  Jesus is following the path of love and grace.  This is surprising and shocking to the disciples.
  • It is also shocking to those who wish too follow Jesus.  Jesus meets three people who wish to follow him but have conditions attached.  Will they drop everything to follow Jesus?  There was no greater obligation then to bury one’s father after they died.  But Jesus insists that this is secondary to the call to follow him.
  • When following Jesus, one must constantly be moving forward.  And it is hard to move forward if you are constantly looking behind you.  The going will be slow and you will veer off the straight and narrow path.  Like the farmer and his plough.
  • Where is Jesus asking me to travel in my life?  Am I ready to follow him where ever he goes?

Luke 9:28-45 The Transfiguration

May 9, 2009

The Transfiguration

28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, [1] which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; [2] listen to him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.

Jesus Heals a Boy with an Unclean Spirit

37 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38 And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. 40 And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41 Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42 While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43 And all were astonished at the majesty of God.

Jesus Again Foretells His Death

But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus [3] said to his disciples, 44 “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.  

  • Whenever we have a mountain top experience, such as the one the three disciples had here, we eventually have to come down from the mountain and face reality.  All of the Gospels follow the transfiguration with the story of the boy who is desperately ill.  The two stories go together.  “The Mountain Top Experience” and the “Shrieking Stubborn Demon”.  Most of us prefer to live on the plateau, avoiding both extremes.  However, I must expect that when I have that great spiritual experience (i.e. an awesome prayer time, or an inspiring worship service), I will face some testing and suffering.  God allows us to experience these high moments to equip us to meet the needs of this world.
  • The transfiguration was preparing Jesus for his departure.  Moses and Elijah were speaking about his departure, his exodus.  This word exodus could mean going away or it could mean death.  Interesting choice of word considering Moses is present.  By using this word, Luke is making a connection between the exodus from Egypt and Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Moses led his people out of slavery and into the promised land.  Jesus will lead his people out of slavery (sin and death) and into the new creation.
  • Jesus knew what this experience was preparing him for.  He knew that he was headed to where the law and the prophets had pointed.  He knew he was to be handed over into the hands of sinners.  The disciples, however, did not understand this.  They could not understand how the glory they just witnessed on the mountain would lead to a different mountain.  A small, ugly one just outside of Jerusalem.
  • “We, too often find it completely bewildering to know how to understand all that God is doing and saying, both in our times of great joy and our times of great sadness.  But the word that comes to us, leading us on to follow Jesus even when we haven’t a clue what’s going on, is the word that came from the cloud on that strange day in Galilee. ‘This is my Son, my chosen one.  Listen to him.'”  N.T. Wright

Luke 9:18-27 Peter’s Declaration of Jesus’ Messiahship

May 8, 2009

Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ

18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” 20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

Jesus Foretells His Death

21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus

23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

  • Calling versus recognition.  I may believe I am a chemist but do other people (i.e. my peers) think I’m a chemist.
  • Jesus’ vocation was confirmed clearly at his baptism.  Luke even shows his calling was clear even at the age of twelve.
  • However, in Jesus’ public career, he did not broadcast the fact that he was the Messiah.  His style of messiahship was different.
  • Of course people thought of Jesus as a prophet and so compared him with Elijah or John the Baptist.
  • Jesus was more than a prophet.  He wasn’t just pointing to God’s Kingdom in the future, he was making it a reality in the present.  So Jesus puts the question to his disciples.  They saw what the crowds didn’t see.  They saw the authority, power, insight, and fulfillment of the scriptures first hand.  Over and over again.  They knew it could only mean one thing.  Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Jesus then immediately talks about the trouble and hardships that awaited Him.  Luke has already emphasized opposition to Jesus from the Pharisees and from Herod.  More opposition was ahead.  He then states that anyone who would follow him (anyone then and now) must also be willing to go through the hardships.  When the world is turned upside down, we must be prepared to be turned upside down as well.  Jesus does not promise an easy life for those who follow Him.  To save our life we must lose it.  To acknowledge Him when it may result in death, in order to be acknowledged by Him.
  • “Jesus’ swift movement, from asking who they think he is to summoning them to follow Him even to the death, shows clearly enough that we can not separate thinking from action in the Christian faith.” N.T. Wright  We can’t say “Lord, Lord” if we don’t do what He says.  Identity and vocation is what Jesus was about and what we need to be about.  You can’t have  one without the other.
  • It is interesting to note that Jesus was praying at the beginning of this passage.  Hmmmm.

Luke 9:1-17 The Twelve Sent Out and the Feeding of the 5000

May 2, 2009

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles

9:1 And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. 3 And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. [1] 4 And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. 5 And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” 6 And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

Herod Is Perplexed by Jesus

7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, 8 by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen. 9 Herod said, “John I beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he sought to see him.

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

10 On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. 11 When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. 12 Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.” 13 But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” 14 For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 And they did so, and had them all sit down. 16 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.

  • Jesus couldn’t do it all by himself.  He needed men to carry on his work.  In these two passages we see him training his closest followers to do just that.
  • Jesus begins to commission his twelve to share in His work.  To do what he had been doing.  To trust God as He did.
  • But there were restrictions.  They were to go in a poverty, relying on what other people gave them.  No money bag, no food, no stick, no extra cloak.  This would be a venture of complete faith.
  • Likewise, Jesus commissions his disciples again to feed the crowd.  They were puzzled, but Jesus goes on to teach them a lesson of faith and trust in God.  Jesus feeds the people.  God provided.  What a miracle!!
  • “At this point today’s reader is invited, like the disciples at the start of the chapter, to go into the unknown, into a world where things aren’t normally like that, and to trust God completely.”  N.T. Wright
  • “Christians who intend to make the Gospel story their own are living a venture of faith from first to last.” N.T. Wright
  • Not blind faith.  The same power that flowed through Jesus is available to us today.
  • Jesus gains the attention of Herod.  Not a good thing.