A New Lifestyle

Explore the Bible Series

October 31, 2004

 

Background Passage: Luke 9:1-50

Lesson Passage: Luke 9:18-27

 

Introduction: Luke devoted approximately four chapters to recording the Great Galilean ministry of Jesus (4:14-9:50).  William Hendriksen reasoned that Jesus initiated this important period of his public life in late December, 27 A.D and continued in this district for some time. Luke 9:51 marks a significant turning point in Jesus’ atoning ministry,“…he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.”    This phrase, repeated several times in Luke’s account, does not indicate a mere geographical frame of reference; rather, it points to the Lord’s awareness of his great redemptive work. 

 

The events recorded in chapter nine bring the Great Galilean Ministry to a crescendo.

·        The sending out of the Twelve (9:1-6): Jesus gave his disciples power (denotes ability, might) and authority (indicates station or status) to cast out demons, heal the sick, and preach the Kingdom of God.  They were to understand the urgency of their work; that is, they must not waste their time with elaborate preparations for the journey or waste their energies moving from one lodging to another.  Their focus centered on the careful and all-consuming business of obeying the Lord.

·        Herod’s perplexity concerning the identity of Jesus (9:7-9): Luke did not mindlessly and needlessly insert this story in the gospel narrative.  Much of this chapter focuses on describing the people’s confused and misguided assessment of Jesus’ identity (like that of Herod Antipas); then, Luke clearly established the correct understanding of the person and work of Christ.

·        The feeding of the five thousand (9:10-17): With the noteworthy exception of Christ’s resurrection, this is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels. The ancient Jews believed that the Messiah would celebrate a great banquet with his people, and Jesus’ miraculous provision for the crowds clearly revealed the Master’s identity as the Chosen One.

·        Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ and Jesus’ prediction of his death and resurrection (9:18-20): See below.

·        The transfiguration of Jesus (9:27-36): The chapter reaches its apex in this story of Jesus’ glorious transfiguration.  This account teaches at least three great truths concerning the Savior.

1.      The veil of humanity somewhat concealed Christ’s glorious identity as the Son of God.  The transfiguration drew back, for a moment, the veil to reveal the glorious character of the Lord as the God/Man.

2.      The appearance of Elijah and Moses indicated that Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.

3.      The Father expressed his full approval and approbation of the character of the Son. As the dear Savior approached his great redemptive task, the Father affirmed the Lord’s suitability for this unique work.

·        A boy cleansed of a demon and healed of disease (9:37-42): The day after Jesus’ transfiguration, the Lord exorcised a demon from a poor, tormented boy.  The disciples had failed to help the desperate lad, but the Lord dealt with the situation with a simple, powerful rebuke of the demon.  The Lord’s transfiguration did not change the nature of his earthly ministry.  He came to expose, engage, and defeat the powers of evil.

·        The Lord rebuked unnecessary disputes among his followers (9:46-50):  The disciple’s awareness of the Lord’s glory did not prevent them from engaging in petty disagreements.  First, the disciples disputed among themselves who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of God.  Second, they exhibit a censorious, narrow spirit toward a man who cast out demons in the name of Jesus. Perhaps the Twelve felt some sense of envy toward this man.  He, apparently, succeeded in casting out demons, and they had miserably failed to help the demoniac boy (vv.37-42).

 

I.                   The Disciple’s Confession (Luke 9:18-20)

A.     The occasion of Peter’s confession (9:18): The demands on Jesus’ time and energy did not persuade the Lord to neglect his prayer life.  Characteristically, Luke emphasized the private devotional practice of the Master.

B. Jesus’ inquiry (Luke 9:18b-19): “Who do the crowds say that I am?”  Of course, Jesus did not ask this question to gain information; rather, he used this query as a diagnostic tool to reveal the perceptiveness and resilience of the disciples.  The Twelve summarized the diverse ideas that circulated in Galilee concerning the identity of Jesus.  Some believed, like Herod Antipas, that Jesus was John the Baptist.  Others identified him with Elijah or one of the other ancient prophets.  The disciples had apparently encountered a broad array of opinions about the identity of the Lord.

Application:

1.      Unregenerate men believe they pay homage to Jesus by comparing him to great and insightful leaders. Unfortunately, they do not understand the incomparable nature of the Savior.    This, of course, is nothing new.  No doubt, the men of Jesus’ day believed they had paid a meaningful tribute to Jesus by identifying him as John, Elijah, or one of the other prophets. 

2.                  The central issue in our apologetics (defense) for the Christian faith is the person and work of Christ. Christianity is not about one’s views on biological evolution, politics, abortion, stem-cell research, or same-sex marriage.  Christians should, indeed must, address these important issues, but the central apologetic for the Christian faith centers on Christ alone.

C. Peter’s statement of faith (9:20): Having defined the opinions of the crowds, Jesus brought his inquiry to bear on the Twelve.  “Who do you say that I am?” Peter assumed the role of spokesman for the Twelve, and he gave a good account of his understanding of the Lord’s person. J.C Ryle called Peter “…one in ten thousand…”  The poor, impetuous, erring man was filled with passion for the glory of Christ.  Of course, such impulsive men often do much damage in the Kingdom of God, but they also do much good.  The cause of good always outweighs the bad in the life of an earnest man.

 

II. The Disciple’s Cross (Luke (9:23-27):

A.     The non-negotiable demand of the cross (9:23):  The demand for self-denial and cross bearing is not reserved for a few “super saints” who aspire to a deeper walk with Christ; rather, this command comes to all who will follow Christ. 

B.     The persistent demand of the cross (9:23):  The words “follow me” translate a verb tense that denotes a continuous action.  Jesus called his disciples to a life of self-denial and loving obedience.

C.     The difficult demand of the cross (9:23): The term “cross” may conjure, for modern Christians, images of golden jewelry and church ornamentation; however, the image of the cross provoked no such thoughts for the disciples.  The cross was the implement of painful death.  Self-denial, Jesus taught, is not an easy thing. 

 

Walter Chantry wrote,” Put to death self-importance, self-satisfaction, self-absorption, self-advancement, self-dependence. And ‘whosoever will lose his life for my sake.’ That’s it.  Death to self-interest because you serve Christ’s honor! Even capitulation of those things which men call legitimate interests, for God’s glory (sic)!”  (The Shadow of the Cross, p.25)

 

D.     The promise of the cross (9:24): The Christian life consists of great ironies.  Jesus pointed out that the way to gain one’s life is to lose it. The life that Jesus gives is abundant, free, and eternal.  

E.      The consequence of refusing the cross (Luke 9:25-26): Those who refuse to take up the cross of self-denial will meet with a shameful end.  They will not see the splendor of the Godhead and the glory of the angels in heaven.  Furthermore, this text reveals the inestimable value of a soul.  All of the world’s treasures cannot measure the worth of a soul.

 

Note: Verse 27 proves very difficult to interpret.  Some commentators believe this refers to the Transfiguration of Jesus (Ryle and several of the Church Fathers).  This view seems unlikely to me.  The text implies that the passage of some time will occur before “some” see the Kingdom of God, and the Transfiguration happened shortly after the prediction of verse 27.  Jesus said that “some” would not die before they saw the Kingdom.  Surely, all of the disciples were still alive when Jesus was transfigured.  What did Jesus mean when he said that “some” of the disciples, not “all”, would see the Kingdom? Other commentators believe this refers to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ (Hendriksen).  The most common view that I encountered in my survey of the commentators suggests that Jesus referred to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. (Geldenhuys, Lenski, Poole, and Henry).