He sent them out
· Here in Luke 9, He calls His disciples to do the same things He was doing – to go out and preach the Kingdom of God and heal the sick.
o Later, after His death, burial, and Resurrection, in John chapter 20, Jesus will tell His disciples, “as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
o That call to follow the Lord’s example and walk in His life and power extends to us this morning.
o “Preach” just means to proclaim, to tell others about what Jesus has done for you and who He is.
§ The best preaching never takes place inside a church!
…and gave them power…
· “God’s commandments are God’s enablements.”
o God never commands us to do something without giving us also the ability to do it
o Not in our own strength & wisdom; but in the power of the Holy Spirit.
so they departed
· They actually did it! We can hear Jesus’ word to us all day long, until we actually step out in faith and do it, it does nobody any good.
I myself had John beheaded
· [Guzik] Herod’s confusion comes from his own guilty conscience. It is hard to see clearly who Jesus is when we are in sin and rebellion.
· Again, notice the frequency with which Jesus retreated.
o [Guzik] Jesus wanted to take them aside privately into a deserted place, to minister to their needs. Whenever we are serving Jesus as He directs us, He always wants to minister to us.
You give them something to eat
· Jesus not only attended to the peoples’ spiritual need (He “[spoke] to them about the Kingdom of God” in v.11), but also their physical needs (He also “cur[ed] those who had need of healing,” and here desires to meet their legitimate need for food.)
o It’s not somehow “unspiritual” to seek God and ask Him to meet your material needs.
· When Jesus blessed before the meal, He wasn’t blessing the food. He blessed God for supplying it. The idea of praying before a meal isn’t to bless the food; it is to bless - that is, to thank - God for blessing us with the food.
So they all ate and were filled
· When the disciples gave what little they had into the hands of Jesus, and He blessed it and broke it, He multiplied it – abundantly beyond what was simply needed.
o Seemingly, the miracle happened in the hands of Jesus, not in hands of the disciples - they simply distributed what Jesus had miraculously provided.
o That’s important – because we often get frustrated when we can’t change, or we can’t change the situation, or we can’t help, or we can’t find the strength to do what needs to be done, or…or…or…f
o But when we get frustrated like that, it’s because we have a wrong view of what Jesus is asking for! He’s not asking for us to do it by ourselves, but for us to place our insufficient, weak, not-at-all-up-to-the-task provisions, our resources – our lives – into His hands so that He can bless and break them, so that He then can supply for whatever need.
§ What we have in ourselves to give others is insignificant, but when we put it in Jesus’ hands, He can do great things with our gifts and talents to touch the lives of others.
· The assurance that Jesus can provide - even miraculously - for all of our needs should be precious to us
o it was to the earliest Christians. On the walls of the catacombs, and other places of early Christian art, loaves and fishes are common motifs.
· One more thought here: If anyone left hungry, it was either because they refused the bread from Jesus, or because the apostles didn’t distribute the bread to everyone. Jesus supplied plenty for everybody.
…while He was praying…He asked them…
· It’s significant that the great revelation that Peter has about Jesus comes in the context of joining with Jesus in prayer.
…must suffer many things…
· An important word here is must. This isn’t just a plan or an idea or a prediction; this is the fulfillment of what was planned in the hidden councils of the Trinity of the Godhead before the world began for our salvation
o …but on the heels of declaring the gritty reality of His mission – to suffer and die for the sins of all of humanity – He also declares the ultimate, glorious victory of His mission
§ Not only will He suffer in our place, and die in our place, taking our sins upon Himself and bearing them in His body, suffering the penalty of the death sentence that’s on each of us because of sin
§ …but three days later, He will conquer the last enemy, crushing death itself under His heel, and will rise again from the grave, never to die again!
· …and we who have placed our lives in His hands, accepting the payment of His death in our behalf, will also rise victorious from death, because He rose.
§ So death no longer has any hold on us; we have no need to fear it any more.
§ And so we can live our lives to the fullest, and with boldness, as we yield to His Spirit.
…deny himself…take up his cross…
· The cross isn’t a nice piece of jewelry; it was an instrument of public, unrelenting torture and death
o In the two thousand years since Jesus spoke this, since He then went to the cross and suffered and died there for all of us, we’ve rehabilitated the cross, sanitized it, made it more acceptable.
o If Jesus were speaking to His disciples today, He’d likely put it this way: “If you want to follow me, you must walk down death row daily. You must surrender yourself, your flesh, your self-centered, self-focused existence, to execution, to death, daily”
· This goes very much against our modern culture and way of thinking; everybody talks about “self-esteem” and “self-affirming” and self, self, self…
o The cross isn’t about self-promotion or self-esteem or self-affirmation. The person carrying a cross knew they couldn’t save themselves, and that self was destined to die.
§ Denying yourself means to live as an others-centered person. Jesus was the only person to do this perfectly, but we are to follow in His steps.
For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it
· This is the flip side of dying to self – if we do this, if we “walk down death row daily” and give up our self-centeredness, our self-esteem, our self-focus…we then get to really live – not only in this life, as we then experience the freedom of living in Jesus and living for Him and for others – but in eternity, in glory.
o This is the real secret to living life and that more abundantly – not living for self, but for the Lord and for others.
· It is perhaps one of the greatest apparent paradoxes in life – that to truly live, you must first die to self.
o …to lay your dreams, ambitions, plans on the altar as a sacrifice
o …so that the Lord can then pour His life, His purpose, His plans, His power, His love, His goodness into your life.
o Amazingly, the people who live this way before Jesus are the ones who are really, genuinely happy. Giving our lives to Jesus all the way, and living as an others-centered person does not take away from our lives, it adds to it.
…some standing here…
· [Guzik] Walking with Jesus doesn’t just mean a life of death and crosses. It also means an abundant life of the power and the glory of the kingdom of God.
o Jesus promised some of His disciples would soon see a glimpse of that power and glory.
· translates a word that has the idea of "flashing like lightning." Jesus’ entire appearance was transformed in a brilliant radiance of light.
· Again – very significantly – in the context of prayer, the veil which hid Jesus’ true glory was pulled back for just a moment, and the disciples which were fellowshipping with Him in prayer got to see a glimpse of Him as He truly is.
o Not just a humble carpenter!
o For this brief moment, Jesus took on an appearance more appropriate for the King of Glory.
§ How did it happen? It wasn’t a new miracle, but the temporary pause of an ongoing miracle. The real miracle was that Jesus, most of the time, could keep from displaying His glory!
· Why does Jesus do this, now? Why this preview of coming attractions, as it were?
o Because He’d just laid on them a pretty heavy thing, speaking about the true cost of discipleship, and what following after Him truly entailed.
§ Denying self…dying to self…taking up the cross…”walking down death row” daily…
§ It would have been pretty easy – and very understandable, if we’re being honest! – for the disciples to become very discouraged.
§ So Jesus gives them this “preview of coming attractions” to give them a glimpse of what’s in store, what’s coming, for all who believe in Him and give their lives to Him.
o He gives us the same glimpse – not only here, but in the Book of Revelation and other places.
· Jesus is showing in a dramatic way that cross bearers will be glory receivers. The end of all of this isn’t the cross, the end is the glory of God, and our sharing in that glory, forever and ever and ever, amen!
Moses and Elijah
· Moses stands before Jesus as the representative of the Law, and Elijah as the representative for the Prophets
o All of the Law and the Prophets – the entire Old Testament – stands together with Jesus as witnesses of His glory
So I implored Your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.
· Now, according to the first part of chapter 9, when Jesus commissioned the disciples and sent them out, they had great success in things like casting out demons.
o So why the difficulty here?
§ Apparently, there are “ranks” or “orders” of demonic beings – a hellish “food chain”
§ and evidently, some demons are stronger (more stubborn, resistant) than others.
o In a parallel passage [Matthew 17:21], Jesus tells the disciples that their failure was due to a lack of prayer and fasting.
§ It isn’t that prayer and fasting make us more "worthy" to cast out demons or to walk in God’s power and grace.
§ The idea is that prayer and fasting draw us closer to the heart of God, and put us more in line with His power.
Then Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the child, and gave him back to his father
· Jesus had no difficulty whatsoever, because He is by nature close to God the Father, and in the flow of the Father’s power.
which…would be the greatest
· This seems to have been the disciples’ favorite topic of conversation
· And it was very important – to them.
o They were convinced that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah of Israel
§ Break the yoke of Roman oppression
§ Establish a Kingdom of righteousness
o And they fully expected, as His closest associates, to become part of the new administration.
· So they were really in essence arguing over who would be His vice-Messiah, who would be the new Secretary of State, etc.
o And they were arguing about this because they had the wrong perspective of Jesus and His mission
§ They were stuck on the idea of a political Messiah with a political agenda
o Because of their mental block on this point, they would be totally blindsided by what He was really going to do – to suffer and die for their sins, and to break the yoke of a far more fundamental oppression than that of Rome – the oppression of sin and death – that even though He had now been forewarning them about the Cross which awaited Him in Jerusalem (even as recently as verse 44!) they still didn’t – couldn’t get it.
· You know – that’s just like us, isn’t it? We get so hung up on what our agendas are, and what we want Jesus to do, and how we think He should do it, that we’re blindsided or miss entirely what it is He’s really about and what He’s really wanting to do.
he who is least among you all will be great.
· Jesus then challenges the disciples – and us – to choose to be the least, to prefer others ahead of ourselves, to think of others before ourselves.
And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him
· Now, Jesus could have just answered the question, "who is the greatest?" by saying, "Hey you knuckleheads - I’m the greatest."
· Instead, Jesus draws their attention to His nature by having them look at a child as an example.
· Much like our modern culture, children weren’t considered “full people” – and it was understood that kids were to be seen and not heard.
o Children don’t add anything to your bottom line – they take from your bottom line.
o Children aren’t power brokers
o Nobody sucks up to and makes nice with children hoping to get ahead
o They’re culturally relatively insignificant
§ Jesus is saying that the way we receive people – especially those who can’t add anything to us or who can’t work out or be used for our advantage, shows how we would receive Him.
· For the remainder of this chapter, Jesus will go on and explain to them what true greatness looks like.
Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side
· Jesus explains to the disciples that true greatness isn’t cliquish, it’s magnanimous.
o The more in love with Jesus you are, the more spiritually mature you are, the greater your vision of the Kingdom is.
· Jesus taught them to have a more generous spirit. There are many that are wrong in some aspect of their presentation or teaching, yet they still set forth Jesus in some manner. Let God deal with them. Those who are not against the Biblical Jesus are still on “our side”, at least in some way.
o Years later, Paul would see many men preaching Jesus from many motives, some of them evil - yet he could rejoice that Jesus was being preached (Philippians 1:15-18).
· I don’t have to agree with someone on ever particular – even on most particulars – to like them, to appreciate them, to learn from them
He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem
· This is the beginning of a new section of the gospel. Jesus begins His long, final journey towards Jerusalem, with steadfastness fitting the difficulty of the task ahead of Him.
· There are two kinds of courage - the courage of moment, which requires no previous thought, and a "planned" courage, which sees the difficulty ahead and steadfastly marches towards it. Jesus had this kind of courage; He could see the cross on the horizon, but still steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.
o Most of us, in the heat of the moment, at a critical juncture, can do the courageous thing.
o Few of us, seeing the weeks, months, or even years of heartache and pain stretching before us on the path of obedience and discipleship joyfully take up that cross and follow our crucified Savior down that particular path.
Samaria rejects Jesus
· True greatness is marked by mercy, not judgment.
· [Courson] A ministry of fault-finding requires no skill because if I say, “You’re not praying enough,” who will disagree? If I say, “You’re not worshiping enough,” who will argue? I could rail on people for any number of things, and the response would always be, “Preach it, brother!” because we are all aware of our shortcomings in every area of our walk. It is so easy to blast and call down fire upon people. But all you do is burn them in the process. Of Jesus, Isaiah prophesied, “He shall not strive in the streets, break the bruised reed, or quench the smoking flax” (Isaiah 42:2, 3). In other words, to the flax barely smoldering, Jesus doesn’t say, “Only smoldering, huh?” before drowning it with a bucket of water. To the broken reed, He doesn’t say, “Broken, eh?” before crushing it with a heavy foot. That’s not His ministry, mentality, or personality. He’s a compassionate High Priest who understands our frailty.
· Being like Jesus means being merciful to others, instead of harsh with them. Especially, we should remember that God says Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord (Romans 12:19).
But He turned and rebuked them…
· What’s really remarkable about this is how, ultimately, it all turns out.
o Mark records in the parallel passage of this account in his gospel that James and John had earned, because of their hot-headedness and temper, the nickname “sons of thunder.”
§ But by the end of his life, near the close of the first century, John had earned another nickname that completely wiped out the remembrance of that first one: “The Apostle of Love.”
§ What changed him? Hanging out with Jesus.
· The “secret” to the Christian life is not so much to fight the flesh, but to feed the spirit – and that means to spend time with and fall more in love with the Lord.
o the “nature vs. nurture” debate over whether a personality is shaped by one’s environment or by one’s heredity takes a backseat to the question of with whom one associates.
§ If I spend time in the world, absorbing the world’s thinking & value system, I will become like the world.
§ But, if I spend time with Jesus, I will become like Him. It might not happen quickly, but it will happen with certainty.
Foxes have holes…
· True greatness is shown in sacrifice.
· It costs us something to follow the crucified Messiah.
o Don’t get me wrong: salvation is free.
o But though salvation is free, discipleship will cost you everything.
o What’s worth your walk with the Lord?
o Is there anything in your life more important to you than Jesus?
Lord, let me first go and bury my father
· True greatness means that we give Jesus the top priority in our lives.
· This man’s problem wasn’t that his father was dead and needed to be buried; he was waiting until his father died until he would follow Jesus. Jesus lets him know that following Jesus is something you do now.
o This is important for us to hear; Jesus doesn’t call to us, “follow Me when things are perfect, when your life isn’t a wreck, when all your ducks are in a row.”
o He calls us to follow Him, to obey Him, to pick up the crosses we’ve been entrusted with and follow after Him now, right now, in whatever state we find ourselves in.
· One other thing about this guy: he was caught in a struggle between right and also right.
o It has been said that the enemy of the best is the good.
o It was a good thing to hang around for his father, but it wasn’t the best thing, and service of the second best at the expense of the first best can result in ruin.
§ …and the “best thing” always revolves around Jesus.
No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
· True greatness means that we follow Jesus wholeheartedly, fixing our eyes on Him and Him only.
· In plowing a field in that day, a farmer kept the rows straight by focusing on an object in front of them, off in the distance (such as a tree). If the farmer started to plow, and kept looking behind, he would never make straight rows and do a good job plowing.
o In our Christian life, we keep our eyes on Jesus in front of us, and never take our eyes off Him.