Saturday, February 23, 2013

Luke 9 - Discipleship Training and Testing
LINKS: Luke 9


93. Jesus sends out the twelve disciples: Matthew 10:1-15, Mark 6:7-13, Luke 9:1-6

During this time, His ministry focus shifted more toward the disciples as He sent them out (the Greek word apostellō means "sent away") two by two as His authorized representatives to preach repentance, drive out demons, and heal the sick. This was their "practical training" time! They were to go to "worthy" houses, and we will talk more about that when we get to Luke 10 when Jesus sends out the 72 messengers.  Stay tuned!

95. Herod kills John the Baptist: Matthew 14:1-12, Mark 6:14-29, Luke 9:7-9

Sometimes the way I do inductive study is by asking who, what, when, where, why, and how questions of the passage. So, I will write some of my questions from this chapter:

Who was Herod? 

This is not the Herod who caused Joseph to flee to Egypt with Mary and Jesus in order to avoid the slaying of the baby boys around Bethlehem (Matthew 2:13-18).That was Herod the Great who ruled from 37 B.C. to 4 B.C. and was an Edomite (descendant of Esau) and hostile toward the Jews (Gen. 25:19ff). He had nine wives and would slay any one of them or one of his sons if they got in his way. 

The Herod in this event was Herod the Great's son. He was a "tetrarch" meaning that he ruled over a fourth of Palestine, including Galilee and Perea. He ruled from 4 B.C. to A.D. 39.

There are two more Herods: Herod Agrippa, grandson of Herod the Great, who imprisoned Peter and killed James (Acts 12), and Herod Agrippa who tried Paul (Acts 25:13ff).

Why did this Herod not like John the Baptist?

Leviticus 18:16 and 20:21 say that it is abhorrent to take your brother's wife. John knew Herod was wrong in taking Herodias from his half-brother, Philip I. Herod was also wrong for divorcing his wife and sending her back to her father, the king of Petra.  First, John was imprisoned in the fortress of Machaerus, east of the Dead Sea. Herod was too afraid to put him to death, but Mark 6:19 tells us that Herodias held a grudge against John. So, he was doomed. 

What was Herod's attitude toward Jesus?

He thought that Jesus was John the Baptist coming back to haunt him. So, he wanted to kill Him (Luke 13:31-32). 

What was Jesus' response to John the Baptist's death?

He withdrew to a remote place. From this time on, the focus of His ministry is His disciples (See John 6:3) because He would be leaving them soon. The crowds did follow, and He still felt compassion for them. He met their needs by feeding the 5000 and healing the sick, but the focus of His teaching would be for His disciples. 

96. Jesus feeds 5,000: Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-13

This is the only miracle recorded in all four accounts of the gospel. The book of John records this event as the fourth sign (sēmeionattesting miracle) that points to Jesus as the Messiah. It was more than 5,000 people. It was really closer to 15,000-20,000 people when the women and children are counted. The amount that would have been needed to feed all those people would have been eight months of wages! How exciting for that little boy to see Jesus multiply his food!

After this sign, the people recognized Jesus as the Prophet promised by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15. Moses had led them out of Egyptian bondage and fed them manna from heaven. Jesus had fed them bread and would lead them out of Roman bondage. Consequently, the people wanted to seize Jesus and make Him King. Jesus has reached the pinnacle of His popularity with the multitudes. Jesus was the rightful King (Psalm 2:7-12; Daniel 7:13-14), but He could not become the Lion (Revelation 5:5) without first becoming the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). That is why He needed to explain the deeper meaning behind meeting their physical hunger by explaining that He was the Bread of Life in John 6:22-40. Luke's gospel does not provide an explanation. That is why it is good to cross-reference with other gospel accounts. 

(Several events occur between this event and the next. To get a chronological feel, you can check this out: )

109. Peter says Jesus is the Messiah: Matthew 16:13-20, Mark 8:27-30, Luke 9:18-20

This event marks a new phase of Jesus' ministry. He withdrew more from Jewish dominated regions to predominantly Gentile ones in order to avoid large crowds and Jewish opposition and concentrate more on investing in the disciples who would carry on His work. Caesarea-Philippi (#13 on the map) was ruled by Herod Philip who was a more just ruler than his half brothers Archelaus and Antipas, and he had no reason to be suspicious like Antipas (see Event #95). 

Before He begins this more intense investment for the future, He makes sure they understand who He is! Peter responds that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah; "the anointed One." The Old Testament made clear that the Messiah was God (Isaiah 9:6; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Micah 5:2). This is an amazing declaration by Peter, and was the green light for Jesus to proceed with His plan!

Peter (Petros, masculine in Greek) was strong like a rock. Jesus said that "on this rock (petra, feminine in Greek) He would build His church. Jesus praised Peter for understanding that He was the Messiah, and He introduced His work of building the church (first occurrence of this word in the New Testament) with Himself as the foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11). He proceeded to tell the disciples that not even his physical death would prevent the building of the church. 

The "keys of the kingdom of heaven" (Revelation 1:18, Revelation 3:7) can be understood as Jesus giving Peter authority like a master would give the key to his treasures to his faithful steward. Peter and the disciples were given the authority to steward and carry on the work of spreading the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. 

"Binding and loosing" was a common phrase to the Jews and means "forbidding or permitting."  The religious leaders thought they had the "keys" (authority) to forbid and permit, but Jesus gave that authority to the disciples! It would not be according to unreasonable, man-made traditions but according to the will and word of God. 

110. Jesus predicts his death the first time: Matthew 16:21-28, Mark 8:31-9:1, Luke 9:21-27

The next section confirms that Peter could NOT be the "rock" of the church that many interpreters believe because he challenged Jesus prediction of His death and resurrection! Jesus rebuked him for it! 

Now that the disciples have an idea of who Jesus is and what would come in the future. He invited them into the life of costly discipleship: denying self, taking up one's cross, and following Him.  It was a life of complete devotion!

The end of this section indicates that they will see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom before they taste death. Since all the disciples died before Christ's return, this is either referring to the transfiguration in the next chapter or Pentecost (Acts 2) where certain disciples were eyewitnesses to Christ's power and glory!

111. Jesus is Transfigured on the Mountain: Matthew 17:1-13, Mark 9:2-13, Luke 9:28-36

Matthew and Mark say that this took place "six days" and Luke says "some eight days," but apparently "some" connotes "about a week" in the Jewish equivalent. 

The disciples had so much to think about in that week! Peter verbally acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah. Consequently, Jesus introduced them to the concept of "church" and predicted, for the first time, His death and resurrection. What a prologue to the Transfiguration!

Traditionally, the mountain has been believed to be Mt. Tabor (near #2 on the map), but there are two reasons this is unlikely:

1) It is too far from Caesarea-Philippi (#13) where they were previously located and Capernaum (#15) where they will be going. 
2) It is unlikely Jesus would have gone up to a place of heathen worship.
Mt. Hermon seems to be a better choice because it is a "high mountain" and it is closer to Caesarea-Philippi and Capernaum/Galilee. 

The Greek word for transfigured is metemorphōthē. It is where we get our English word, metamorphosis. I encourage meditating on the description of Jesus here and basking in His light as part of your application today. 

The appearance of Moses and Elijah are significant because Moses represented the Law and Elijah, the prophets. Jesus, after His resurrection would explain to the two on the road to Emmaus, "all the things concerning Him beginning with Moses and with all the prophets" (Luke 24:27). Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law (by being all-righteousness) and the prophecies concerning Him! If you have not joined us for the Bible Book Club, I encourage you to do so in order to see how The Scarlet Thread of Redemption about Jesus is woven throughout the Law and the prophets!

Peter wanted to build tabernacles to extend the visit for Moses (lawgiver), Elijah (prophet), and Jesus (Messiah). God's intervention tells us that Jesus fulfilled all of this. and all they needed to see was Jesus. Plus, now was not the time for building tabernacles because Jesus had to go and finish His work by going to the cross. 

Many years later, Peter (one of three eyewitnesses), tells us the significance of that high mountain miracle:
For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. (2 Peter 1:17-18) 
In faith, Peter had made profession of Jesus as Messiah, and this experience confirmed it!

 Another eyewitness, John, wrote:
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14) 
Jesus unveiled His glory and gave a sneak peek into heaven, the glory of the kingdom, and even the glory of the cross (Luke 9:31)! 

112. Jesus heals a demon-possessed boy: Matthew 17:14-21, Mark 9:14-29, Luke 9:37-43

Jesus came down from the mountain top to deliver this boy. Why couldn't the disciples drive out the demon?  That is the beauty of studying all three accounts!

According to Warren Wiersbe, there were two things lacking in their lives:

First on the list was faith (Matt. 17:19–20); they were part of an unbelieving generation and had lost the confidence that they needed in order to use their power. But prayer and fasting were also lacking (Mark 9:29), which indicates that the nine men had allowed their devotional disciplines to erode during their Lord’s brief absence. No matter what spiritual gifts we may have, their exercise is never automatic. (The Bible Exposition Commentary, Lk 9:37)

113. Jesus predicts his death the second time: Matthew 17:22-23, Mark 9:30-32, Luke 9:44-45

From the region of Caesarea Philippi and northeast Palestine, Jesus began to head through Galilee and Perea to Judea and into Jerusalem where He would face His crucifixion and resurrection six months later. He needed to prepare His disciples now, even though they would not fully comprehend it until later.

115. The disciples argue about who would be the greatest: Matthew 18:1-6, Mark 9:33-37, Luke 9:46-48

Rank was important to the Jews, but Jesus taught that the essence of true
greatness was learning to be a servant of all. The Greek word here is diakonos which means "one who attends to the needs of others freely" as opposed to doulos which means a slave who is in a servile position. The road to glory is via service not self-exaltation. Of course, Jesus is the ultimate example of this. 

116. The disciples forbid another to use Jesus' name: Mark 9:38-41, Luke 9:49-50

Most commentators believe the disciples were jealous of the man who healed in Jesus' name when they could not, and he was doing it in an unauthorized way rather than the man misusing Jesus' name. (see Acts 19:13-16 for an example of this).  Even though the verses involve different events, Mark 9:40, "For he who is not against us is for us" can be compared to Matthew 12:30, "He who is not with Me is against Me." If you are working for Jesus, you cannot be working against Him also. The man may have not done it the "right" way according to the disciples, but he did it for Jesus, and that is all that mattered. Boy, this is such a lesson for today when established patterns of doing things in the church do not make way for new ways!  

122. Jesus teaches about the cost of following him: Matthew 8:18-22, Luke 9:51-62

In the chronological account, Jesus had already predicted his death two times (Luke 9:21-27, 44-45). Jesus knew that His ministry days were numbered, and He needed to leave a band of followers 100% committed to His work. So, He taught them about the cost of following Him.

What does it take to be a disciple of Jesus? It involves being willing to give up everything. Jesus' response to the teacher of the Law revealed that the man wanted fame because he was following this "rising star" rabbi named Jesus. Jesus revealed it would not involve fame or prominence. His response to the second man demonstrated that discipleship was a full-time, full-life occupation, costing everything. 


While meditating on the cost of following Jesus, I thought of a T.S. Eliot quote about the life of faith:

A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding" V in Four Quartets
I had a friend calligraphy this for me back in the 80s, and I hung it in my office to remind me what this life of faith is really all about! The cost is high, but it is the only way to live. 

APPLICATION from The Daily Walk
What would be different about your life if you were a "drastic disciple" of Jesus Christ? 
The lessons for disciples and tests of discipleship that are contained in chapter 9 do not make for easy reading. They are painfully pointed, calling for commitment in matters of allegiance, lifestyle, and goals. Jesus made the terms of discipleship unmistakably clear. Read the following verses prayerfully, asking yourself, "How do I need to change if my life is to reflect that kind of commitment?" 
"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (9:23). 
"If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him" (9:26). 
"No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God" (9:62).   
God deserves the same place in your heart that He holds in the universe. 
(October 18, 2008, p. 24)
For further reading:

The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman 


Lord, we exalt You as Lord of universe, and we give You that place in our hearts. Amen. 
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