Monday, March 1, 2010

Luke 9 - Ministry & Discipleship

by Katrina

LINK: Luke 9
Parallel Passages
Luke 9:1-6 ~ Matthew 9:35-11:1 (Matthew 10) ~ Mark 6:6-13
Luke 9:7-9 ~ Matthew 14:1-12 ~ Mark 6:14-29
Luke 9:10-17 ~ Matthew 14:13-21 ~ Mark 6:30-44 ~ John 6:1-13
Luke 9:18-36 ~ Matthew 16:13-17:8 ~ Mark 8:27-9:8
Luke 9:37-50 ~ Matthew 17:14-18:14 ~ Mark 9:14-50
Luke 9:51-56 ~ John 7:10
Luke 9:57-62 ~ Matthew 8:19-22


BACKGROUND
As you can see from the parallel passages, we have discussed the content of most of this chapter in Matthew and Mark. So, I'll just touch on a few highlights here.

Verses 1-9
Jesus gave specific power and authority to his disciples before sending them out on a ministry trip. Similarly, we go making disciples in the power and authority of Christ. Matthew 28:18-20 is the famous "Great Commission" passage. Notice what Jesus told the disciples there, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." And in Acts 1:8 Jesus said, "but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." As believers, we have authority from Jesus and power from the Holy Spirit to take the gospel everywhere in the world.

Verses 10-17
Once again, we see Jesus withdraw by Himself, but it didn't last long before the crowds found him. Although his private time was interrupted, he welcomed the multitude, taught them, and fed them miraculously. He put their needs before his own. (See link above for further discussion.)

Verses 18-27
Jesus talks about true discipleship and what it will cost you. (See link above for discussion.)

Verses 28-43
Transfiguration and Jesus casts out demon (See link above for discussion.)

Verses 44-56
Here the disciples get into a discussion (argument?) over who is the greatest disciple. Jesus makes it clear to them that if they think they are great, then they are not! He also makes sure they understand that they weren't the only disciples who were empowered by God. It was not an exclusive club. Jesus also was not about destroying those who didn't agree with him. He came to offer salvation to as many as would receive him.

Verses 57-62
Once again, Jesus made it clear that following him is not an easy life. It requires complete commitment to him and putting aside the things of this world. When a man wanted to bury his father before following Jesus, that did not mean that the man's father was already dead. The man would wait until his father died (and maybe received the inheritance?) before leaving home to follow Jesus. One who keeps looking back will never truly follow Jesus as he intends. This reminds me of the Israelites when God brought them out of Egypt. They were constantly looking back and thinking how good they used to have it when they were slaves in Egypt. In reality, they didn't have such a great life there, but they were more comfortable with a miserable known than anything unknown that required them to trust God.

REFLECTION/APPLICATION
Jesus knew what his purpose was. He "resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem." It's interesting, though, in Luke's version, he says that Jesus' ultimate goal was his ascension (verse 51). He was looking past the crucifixion to the culminating event of his return to the Father in heaven.

Most people will not follow Jesus through the ordeal of his arrest, trial, and crucifixion in order to get to the ascension into heaven. They will put their earthly lives ahead of a life committed to Jesus. They may begin to follow him, but will get distracted by the things of this world -- family, friends, houses, things, etc., and they will flee when it gets dangerous to be associated with Jesus.

The same is still true today. If we are to follow Jesus, we must focus on that task and not let the things of this world distract us. We can't keep looking back at how "good" we had it before. We must give up everything else to be Jesus' disciple. Jesus said it wouldn't be easy. But the eternal reward is worth the earthly cost!

It's certainly not easy! I find myself sometimes hanging onto something in my life to keep it rather than let Jesus have control. Usually I do this out of fear. I have to get to the place where I trust Jesus with that part of my life. It seems to me that, although we make a major commitment to Christ at the time of salvation, there are many other times of renewing that commitment as we go through this life. But the more we "practice," the more he proves himself, the more we trust him, the easier it gets.

Is there something you are holding back? Take it to Jesus today. Wrestle with it. And give it to him. He is worthy of your trust.

PRAYER
Lord, you require ALL of me, and my nature is to keep control and hold back. Help me to learn to abandon myself completely to you, and truly let you be LORD of my life. Let me not get distracted with this world and all it has to offer, but be focused on you. Jesus gave his life for mine, and you have purchased me for yourself. Let my life be given entirely in service to you. Amen.
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