-The disciples are now beginning to be given power and authority over unclean spirits and to heal diseases as the narrative advances. They take nothing with them as they learn more and more how to live by faith. This also begins to teach them the power of community among what will be the early Christians. They will find acceptance in some, but shake the dust off their feet from those places and people that reject their message by not receiving them.
-Now the 5,000 are fed after the disciples returned and gave an account of all that they had done. Another faith lesson was demonstrated in the multiplication of the five loaves and two fish.
-The time sequence moves ahead without much information as Jesus questions them about who people were saying He was. This happens in Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13, Mark 8:27), which in that time would have been a significant journey from where the multiplication took place on the north side of the Sea of Galilee. The point in this city of pagan Greek and Roman influence was well taken by Peter. He is the first to identify Jesus as the Messiah in His public ministry as the “Christ of God (Luke 9:20).” This is extremely significant and Peter is out front as a leader of the group of disciples in making this confession. Jesus instructed them to tell no one. Why? This was His time of coming in the first incarnation as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53. There was heightened Messianic expectation, but Jesus knew that His time had not yet come. His response is pointed and calculated. “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 up on the third day (Luke 9:22).” This was His mission the first time around on this earth and He would let nothing deter Him from that being accomplished. Then He stated something that must have left an indelible mark on His followers, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself (Luke 9:23-25)? *Application* The Christian life is still a life of denial, yielding, and surrendering. If you have not given your life completely over to Jesus, do so without delay. Your time on earth is the testing ground for eternity.
-Jesus is transfigured on the mountain as He speaks with Moses and Elijah. Peter, James, and John are with Him and awake to see this incredible sight. They also hear the voice of God as He claims Him as His Son and Chosen One. The One to whom they should listen.
-Coming down from that experience one would think would lead to supreme faith and power, but Luke notes that the very next day the disciples could not even cast out a demon from a boy. Jesus rebukes them for being an unbelieving and perverted generation. He expressed indignation for having to put up with this lack of faith. Then Jesus healed the boy and gave him back to his father.
-Jesus reiterated the fact that He was about to suffer under the hands of men. But His disciples did not understand what He meant because it was concealed from their perception. Plus they were afraid to ask Him about this statement.
-An argument arose among the disciples as to who was the greatest. Jesus presented them with a child and taught them humility. *Application* “The least among all of you, this is the one who is great (Luke 9:48).”
-Jesus then instructs John not hinder those doing things in the Name of Jesus, “for he who is not against you is for you (Luke 9:50).” *Application* The danger for us is to ridicule and denounce those who claim the Name of Christ yet are of another denomination than us. Christians need to stress unity rather than petty differences. Of course there may be significant doctrinal issues to consider and false teaching, but our warning is clear here from Scripture, those who are not against Jesus Christ are for Him. Be careful who you criticize.
-As Jesus determines to go up to Jerusalem He encounters the animosity of the Samaritans and takes advantage of this opportunity to teach James and John about grace and salvation. His point should be well taken that He rebuked the spirit that was behind them on this occasion. *Application* Do not get embroiled with personal disputes and character assassinations. Know the spirit behind them and attack that, not the person. Like the old saying goes, “love the sinner and hate the sin.”
-In the last section of this chapter, Jesus says some things to delve into our priorities. A list of excuses is given by diverse people as to following the Lord. *Application* Too often we want to put other things in front of doing the will of God in our lives. If we are not careful, we can get sidetracked and never accomplish His will for our lives. “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).” In other words, get busy with the work of the Lord and enjoy His treasure rather than the status quo.
Verse to Memorize: Luke 9:48