Tonight we wrap up -
Jesus closes out about 2˝ years of ministry in the northern
While He’s made several trips to
In fact, training the disciples is precisely what we see him doing in our first verses tonight.
As we saw Sunday, this section really begins at v. 22 of Ch. 8 where Luke gives us 4 vignettes of Jesus’ incredible power & authority . . .
1 Then He called His twelve disciples together
and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. 2
He sent them to preach the
In light of what they’d just seen Him do over the previous couple days, they’d have understood that they were to go & do precisely the same thing.
They were to go to the people of
God would then verify their message by bringing healing to the sick & setting the demon-possessed free.
But Jesus has some guidelines for how they were to conduct themselves as they went.
3 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.
In other words, “Travel light.” He who travels light, travels far.
This was a time that had no mass media. News traveled by word of mouth.
There was no radio, television, or popular press.
Scrolls & books were far too expensive for the average person to have.
So Jesus depended on His followers to spread His message.
The lighter they went, the farther they could go.
But if they carried no bag, money, or bread, how would they eat? Where would they stay?
4 “Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. 5 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.”
Jesus knows that as they go they’ll be greeted by 1 of 2 reactions: Welcome or Rejection.
If their message is rejected, they aren’t to linger.
They’re to give testimony to their unworthiness of the things of God by shaking the very dust off their sandals as they leave town.
In other words, they lie under the wrath & judgment of God, so they want no part of them.
But if their message is welcomed, then they’re to stay in the home that first invites them.
Jesus assures them that as they go in obedience to Him, their needs will be taken care of.
They will find lodging – & when they enter a home, they’re not to look for something better or cozier.
They’re to accept the hospitality extended to them with humble grace.
What Jesus means by staying in one house is that when they’ve been welcomed & the work of God is flowing in power, there will be those with greater means than their hosts who will offer their homes.
The disciples could easily upgrade their accommodations.
If they did, they would be taking
advantage of the success of their ministry, but not for some strategic
move for the
There’s a subtle but consistent temptation that comes to those who are successful in ministry, & that is to be seduced into thinking that success should manifest itself in their personal material means.
Jesus warns His followers against that here.
They are never to corrupt the pure desire to glorify God with the desire to enrich themselves by the use of the anointing to minister.
6 So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.
Luke gives us a simple statement of fact – the disciples went & did what Jesus said.
7 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, 8 and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the old prophets had risen again. 9 Herod said, “John I have beheaded, but who is this of whom I hear such things?” So he sought to see Him.
Herod was the civil
authority whose power was nothing less than the Imperial power of
But Luke presents him as being in a quandary over who Jesus even was.
Jesus authority & power was so radically different from Herod’s, the ruler, who was the epitome of clever political maneuvering, had no idea what to make of Jesus.
There were a lot of opinions on who Jesus was floating around.
Some thought he was some kind of reincarnated John the Baptist, who’d recently been executed by Herod.
Other’s thought Jesus was Elijah who’d come back.
They thought this because as you’ll remember, Elijah never died –he was caught up to heaven.
Plus, Elijah’s life was marked by dramatic miracles and a powerful message, just like Jesus.
Still other postulated that Jesus was one or another of the OT prophets come back from the dead.
The reason why they suggested all these things is because as the fulfillment of ALL the OT foretold, Jesus reminded them of various passages of the Scriptures.
10 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
One of the most common experiences of those who enjoy a season of fruitful ministry is the terrible let-down that comes after.
You would think that after seeing God move in such a powerful way through you, you’d be flying high for a long time – but such is not the case.
It is the virtually universal experience of God’s servants that seasons of great blessing are followed by a melancholy that borders on depression.
What happens is that when God’s Spirit moves in power through mere vessels of clay, they realize their own frailty.
It’s awesome to witness the glory of God, but when that glory withdraws, one’s own mortality becomes more discouragingly clear.
But the crowds of eager people didn’t give them much time to themselves.
They soon discovered where Jesus had gone to & again pressed round.
11 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. 12 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.”
I wonder sometimes what the disciples must have thought about the way Jesus took care of His ministry.
This begins with Jesus calling the disciples away to a quiet place, away from the crowds, to spend time just with them.
But when the crowds re-appeared, He turned from the disciples to deal with the multitude again.
As the end of the day approached & it didn’t appear Jesus was going to let up in His ministry to the crowd, the disciples thought they needed to counsel Him on the best course of action.
It was getting late & the trek back to the nearest villages for food & lodging not a short one.
They thought Jesus needed to wrap things up & send the people away.
At first glance, it looks like Jesus’ ministry was being dictated by the present need rather than by settled priorities.
When the disciples return from their mission, He withdraws to a quiet place to refresh them. When the crowd reappears, He turns to them again.
Was Jesus’ ministry determined by whatever latest need presented itself?
No, of course not – we know better than that.
As Jesus said, He always & only did the Father’s will. [John 8:29 14:10]
The only need that drove His schedule was the need to obey the Father.
Here’s what we can learn from this:
Do you know what God’s will is for your life? Do you know what your priorities are?
What needs you’re to meet?
How you’re to schedule your time & use the resources God’s given you?
We live in a world of virtually infinite need – we cannot meet every one of them.
But we can & should meet those God calls us as individuals to.
The only way we’ll know what they are is by staying in tune with Him.
And let’s keep in mind that God calls all of us to meet different needs.
Our agendas are not all the same.
Don’t judge others because their calling & path are not the same as yours.
As Paul says in
It is to his master that he stands or falls.
Even so, we must stop judging one another as fellow servants of Christ.
By recommending that Jesus send the crowds away, really, the disciples are suggesting that He isn’t dealing with them properly.
You know, if Jesus had followed their counsel, they would have missed out on one of the most remarkable miracles He performed.
And He used them to accomplish it!
13 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.” 14 For there were about five thousand men.
Right up front, Jesus tells them of the miracle to come – for indeed, it will be they who’ll give the people dinner.
But they reply that all they have is a meager supply of fish & bread, not even enough for themselves. Where are they going to get enough food for all these?
As we’ve seen in Matthew & Mark, the men were numbered at about 5,000.
Now this may be inclusive of all the people, or if the usual method of counting only adult men was used, then the total number of people present may have been as much as 10 to 12,000!
Seeing where Luke places this story, I can’t help but think that he wants to link it to the previous mission Jesus had sent the disciples on.
He’d sent them out to preach & heal, & they’d faithfully gone & returned with great reports about the miracles they’d seen.
Now He wants to stretch them a bit further.
He wants them to realize that the authority & power He’d given them earlier was greater than they realized.
In fact, it was enough to meet the needs of thousands at once.
Even more importantly - numbers, amounts don’t matter!
So Jesus said – “If the people are hungry & you’re genuinely concerned about them, meet the need.”
“You’ve been watching Me meet the needs I’ve seen all day long. As my disciples who’ve been given My authority & power, if you see a need, get to it!”
The mistake the disciples made was that instead of drawing on that authority & power, they immediately looked at their own meager resources & knew they didn’t measure up.
They understood the power of God as good for only one need, one person at a time.
And now they saw thousands, a mass, a crowd – and it appeared as just one massive need that was way beyond them.
What they ought to have seen was not a crowd, not one massive need, but thousands of individuals, each with a need for food.
Look at what Jesus does . . .
14 For there were about five thousand men. Then He said to His disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of fifty.” 15 And they did so, and made them all sit down. 16 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. 17 So they all ate and were filled, and twelve baskets of the leftover fragments were taken up by them.
Jesus had the disciples arrange the people in groups of 50 because He wanted to turn the mass into smaller groups that would be easier to get to with the food.
When Jesus broke the few loaves & fish & handed it to the disciples, it multiplied.
The disciples then took the food to the groups of people & handed it out to them.
As they went back & forth from Jesus to the people, the crowd dissolved into individual faces.
They went from being an indefinable mass of humanity to specific people the disciples made personal contact with.
Jesus wanted them to see – not a crowd – not just some abstract need to be met – but people with needs they were personally taking care of through His power, delivered to them.
This was a crucial lesson for the disciples – that God isn’t interested in just meeting needs; He wants to meet the people, and does it through their needs.
Ministry is always about people!
18And 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?”
They are coming now to the end of their time in
He’s been wildly popular among the
common people of
19So they answered and said, “John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again.”
The disciples lay out the latest talk that’s been going round about Who they think Jesus is.
The common theme in all the guesses was that He was a prophet on the order of one of the luminaries of old.
20 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.”
Jesus makes the question more personal, quizzing them on Who they’ve come to believe He is.
Peter speaks right up & makes the bold declaration that Jesus is Messiah, the Redeemer-King sent by God.
21 And He strictly warned 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 be raised the third day.”
Jesus accepted & affirmed this declaration of Peter’s, then quickly moved to clarify what it meant.
For their idea on Who & What the Messiah was were very far from reality.
They understood the Messiah as a
Political & Military leader who would bring political liberation to
His Kingdom would come & be enforced through the power of the sword.
Now, they believed that it would come when the proper religious preparations had been made – when the people of God had proven themselves worthy of such a Kingdom by repenting of their sin and keeping the law better.
They thought that what Jesus had been doing was just phase one of His ministry as Messiah, to bring the people to the place religiously, where the Kingdom could come politically.
They fully expected Him to at any
time, lay aside His humble appearance, take on His divine glory, mount a great
horse, take the sword, & start the military deliverance of
Jesus made it clear that that was not the route He’d be going.
The religious preparation would
take much more than the proclamation the
It would take more than preaching – it would take action.
Before the political oppression of
Sin & death must be defeated – and the battleground was the Cross.
So Jesus told them of the trail to come.
But it was so contrary to what they expected of the Messiah, they chalked up His words to just more of His mysterious ways.
23 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
As Jesus has told them of the coming cross, He goes on to say that His followers must likewise embrace their own cross.
He is not calling for them to commit suicide, but to die to self; to reckon as dead all that which smacks of selfish self-interest & independence from God.
The essence of the Fall in the Garden of Eden was the appeal to define the self as independent from God.
But we were created FOR God, that is the very reason & purpose FOR our being.
So the essence of redemption is to eradicate selfish independence and live in total dependence on God.
That’s what Jesus calls the disciples to here – a life that is not lived out of the self, but out of Christ.
Remember what the goal of discipleship in
Jesus makes that even more intimate for His followers.
They won’t merely emulate His life – He will come to live in them and through them.
As He has just told them; He will die and rise again.
As they die to their own self life, Christ will then take up residence in them & live through them.
Their lives will in fact BE HIM!
25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?
The self-oriented life finds its meaning & value in the world’s priorities & accomplishments.
But all these are only temporary. “You can’t,” as they say, “take it with you.”
So at best, living a selfish, self-centered life is a foolish thing because it trades an eternity of infinite bliss for a fleeting moment of sensual pleasure.
26 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.
In v. 22, Jesus has just nuked their idea of what He, as Messiah, came to do.
Here He looks to the future, when He WILL come as the Conquering King.
Entrance into the Kingdom He will bring depends on how a person responds to Him.
Jesus is the Great & Only determiner of man’s fate.
27 But I tell you truly,
there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the
The way all of the gospel place this statement of Christ – right before the story of the Transfiguration, means we’re to interpret it as being fulfilled in the Transfiguration.
28 Now it came to pass, about eight days after
these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and
These 3 are the “some” Jesus was referring to in v. 27.
29 As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.
“White & glistening” is a word that means to shine forth like lightening.
In other words, Jesus didn’t reflect light – He was its source.
30 And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease [death, departure] which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 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.
Jesus was praying, it went on for some time – in fact long
enough that Peter,
They awoke to find Jesus shining, as Matthew says, like the sun.
Standing & conversing with Him were two men who the disciples recognized as representing the Law & the Prophets, Moses & Elijah.
It wasn’t that they cold tell by their appearance so much as by the content of their conversation.
33 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.
Or, not knowing what else to say. Good lesson – when you don’t know what to say – don’t say it!
34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud.
Good reason to be fearful – this was very likely the extension of the glory that radiated from Jesus.
The manifest glory of God is such an awesome thing it simply overwhelms the frailty of fallen humanity.
When the glory of God entered at the dedication of Solomon’s temple, it was so overwhelming it dropped the priest to their faces.
As we’ve seen before, the root of the word “glory” means “weight,” that which presses down because there’s substance.
Really, glory refers to the reality of a thing – and the greater it’s reality, the greater it’s glory.
Most people tend to think of the spiritual realm as something light & airy, ethereal, abstract; the realm of ideas rather than substance and real things.
They think of the realm of nature as far more tangible, more substantial and real.
It’s the exact other way around.
It’s the realm of the Spirit that’s the higher & more substantial reality.
The Spiritual was first, the physical came after, and long after the physical has dissolved, the spiritual realm goes on.
For just a moment, the veil between the spiritual and the
natural was pulled aside and Peter,
35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” 36 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.
Because what they’d encountered found no place in their field of experience to describe.
It was only later, after the Resurrection, that they had some kind of context in which to set the transfiguration.
37 Now it happened on the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, that a great multitude met Him. 38 Suddenly a man from the multitude cried out, saying, “Teacher, I implore You, look on 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 it departs from him with great difficulty, bruising him.
This case of demon-possession was dangerous because the demon seemed bent on destroying this boy’s life.
The phrase, “It departs from him with great difficulty” in v. 39 doesn’t mean that it came & went, although it appeared to the father this was happening.
This was a case of possession where the boy seemed normal most of the time, but all of a sudden, the demon would manifest itself in a terrifying and dangerous way.
Then there would be a final, wrenching display of torment, and the boy would be normal again.
His condition probably looked much like what we’d call severe epilepsy & grand mal seizures.
But in this case, it wasn’t merely a brain disorder – it was demonic.
40 So I implored Your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41 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.” 42 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.
Why couldn’t the disciples cast it out – after all, they’d had success at this kind of thing before?
They couldn’t cast this one out because it held a rank higher than the previous demons they’d encountered.
As Eph. 6 and
This one was more stubborn because it held higher rank & the disciples had not yet fully grasped the authority & power that was theirs in Christ.
That’s why in Matthew, where this same story is recounted, Jesus said that this kind of demon is only defeated by those who’ve cultivated their spiritual lives through prayer & fasting. [17:21]
These disciplines are the only way for believers to enter in to the full awareness of who they really are in Christ.
But why does Jesus rebuke them in v. 41? Why such a harsh remark in the face of this sincere & earnest request on the part of this father?
What Luke doesn’t tell that Mark does, is that there was a group of scribes standing there who’d just been debating with the disciples. [Mark 9:14-19]
They were using this poor boy’s condition as a way to condemn Jesus.
Remember where the scribes & Pharisees said Jesus was getting his power from – from Beelzebub, a prince of the demons.
The reason, they said, the disciples could not cast this demon out was because it was higher than Beelzebub!
And they delighted in the disciples’ failure! They actually took comfort fro this poor boy’s misery because it seemed to provide them with ammo against Jesus.
That is what Jesus is responding to in v. 41 – the hard-hearted unbelief of the scribes & Pharisees.
43 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, 44 “Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.” 45 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.
Jesus wanted the disciples to remember that His earlier words about being betrayed & killed were true.
Just because they’d see His glory on the Mount and His power at its base, they mustn’t think the cross had been set aside – it was still coming.
And even though He urged them to make sure they heard with understanding, they didn’t.
When Luke says, this word “was hidden from them so that they did not perceive it” – don’t take that to mean God hid it from them.
He wasn’t the agent of their lack of perception.
On the contrary – God, Jesus, had urged them TO understand!
The reason they didn’t was because refused to accept it at face value.
There’s an important lesson here for us as it relates to how we interpret the scriptures.
Jesus meant the disciples to take His words literally & not put an esoteric, spiritualized spin on them.
This is the Word of God – & we ought to take it literally, as literally as the text itself allows.
There are some passages which are obviously meant to be understood as symbols & visions.
Some of the prophetic passages in which people see signs of things to come are clearly meant to be understood as symbolic, but symbolic of something real.
In other words, the symbol points to something literal.
But those passages are obvious.
The vast majority of Scripture is straight-forward and meant to be understood literally.
If we start spiritualizing the text, then we’ll end up making the same mistake the disciples did – we’ll mis-understand the plain meaning of the text.
In light of what Jesus has been saying to them about His coming death, what comes next had to be quite disheartening for the Lord.
46 Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest.
The disciples were vying for position, jostling with each other for prominence & favor with Jesus.
You see, they were convinced that Jesus would soon make His move to take His role as the Messiah-King and whoever was closest in His favor would get the plumpest appointment.
So they all argued their case on why they were the one Jesus favored most.
“I’m a better disciple than you are.” “No you’re not.” “Yes, I am!”
“You two knock it off – that’s silly. Besides, everyone knows I’m the disciple Jesus is going to pick as His chief lieutenant.”
“Whose sandal you been sniffen? You don’t have a chance next to me.”
And on & on it went.
47 And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him, 48 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.”
When Jesus became aware of the dispute brewing between them, He brought forward a little child, and made it clear –
His Kingdom was not about position & political power, it was about piety.
Greatness is found in service, not status.
While they were busy arguing about who was greater, they were missing opportunities to be great through humble, selfless service.
49 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.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.”
The disciples told this guy to stop because he wasn’t following Jesus the same way they were.
But Jesus told them they were wrong. They ought not prohibit him from serving God the way he was.
Maybe the guy didn’t have everything absolutely correct – but what he did have correct ought to use, and that was an understanding of the authority and power of Jesus.
We will meet many people during our lifetime who come from different denominations and groups, but who love Jesus.
We may not agree with them in ever point of doctrine, but they are still our brothers & sisters in Christ.
We may even meet some where MOST of their doctrine is goofy – but when it comes to the central issue of Christ, sin & salvation they’re right on.
We must not draw a line around ourselves & say they’re on the outside so they aren’t saved.
As long as they believe in the Jesus of the Bible – then they’re saved.
51 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
Jesus now begins His journey South, & as He does, He
Jesus sent some messengers on ahead of the main group of disciples to get some lodgings ready.
But when the Samaritans heard that Jesus would not be staying for more than a night in His trip south, they refused hospitality.
Now – this just wasn’t done! Hospitality was something you showed even a sworn enemy if he came to you and asked for it.
This refusal to provide lodgings for Jesus & the disciples was an egregious breach of etiquette and marked this village as ripe for God’s judgment.
Remember that one of the reasons
why God wiped out
How much more grievous to refuse it to the Lord Himself?
This explains the actions of
54 And when His disciples
55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.
Jesus had not come for judgment, but for salvation.
Interesting that while the first village refused Jesus hospitality, another welcomed Him.
Now we get 3 quick responses that Jesus gave to people who came with insincere appeals to following Him.
57 Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, 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.”
Jesus knew this potential new disciple was only interested in how Jesus could add to his fortunes.
He made it clear that He wasn’t in the business of merely making His followers more successful.
He offered a whole NEW & different life where success meant something very different from the world’s ideas.
This is the great error I think the whole seeker-sensitive movement makes.
By watering down the gospel to make it inoffensive they’ve presented Christianity as just a means of achieving success.
Add God to your life, and things will go better.
That is NOT the message of Christ! His message is – exchange your life for mine!
WE don’t ADD God to our lives, we give ours TO Him.
59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he
said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to
him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and
Jesus invited this guy to follow Him, but the he begged off by asking for a discipleship deferment.
When he said, “Let me bury my father” he wasn’t saying his dad had just died and needed to be interred.
He meant, “Let me wait till my old man dies & I’ve got my inheritance – then I’ll come.”
Jesus made it clear – when the call to follow Him comes, NOTHING can be allowed to interfere – NOTHING.
61 And another also said, “Lord, I will follow
You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” 62
But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his
hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the
Ah, what an important caution this is – the danger of the influence of friends.
How many people stall in embracing Christ for fear of what their friends will say?
Jesus tells this man if he’s earnest about the things of God, then he can’t look back with regret at the world.
The farmer who plowed a field made straight rows by keeping his eye fixed on a landmark in the distance.
If he ever looked back, the furrow would go crooked.
Jesus makes it clear that once we’ve
decided to follow Him, looking back with regret will only bring ruin – just as
it did for