Tag Archives: follow

Luke 9 -Following Jesus

As we move chapter nine, we find Jesus beginning to delegate ministry to the apostles, preparing them for the time when he is no longer with them. As the name apostle means, one who is sent to represent, this is exactly what occurs in this situation. We are told that “He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing.” (v 2, NASB) What is interesting is that the list of instructions that accompanies the command to go. He tells them, “Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that city. And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” (v 3 – 5) They were to be dependent upon God to provide for all of their needs through those who responded to the gospel. But it is verse 5 that really strikes me, “as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” We always see the positive side of sharing the gospel, but is this a prescription to dismiss those who will not respond? I do not think so. Rather, I think the point is, if people do not respond, we need to move on to those who will. This does not mean they will not later on, but for the time being, they re not ready.

After a long day of teaching, the disciples asked Jesus to send the people into town for lodging and food. Jesus told them to feed the people.  When they said to him that they only had five loaves and two fishes, he said then to set the people in groups of approximately 50. He then broke the items up and passed them around. When they had finished, there were 12 baskets full leftover.

Later, when Jesus was praying, he turned and asked the disciples, “Who do the people say that I am?” (v 18) Several answers are given, but then Jesus asks, ““But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The [l]Christ of God.”” (v. 20) Jesus warns them to keep this to themselves and then tells them that he must “be killed and be raised up on the third day.” (v 22)

He follows up, telling them what is going to happen to him by pointing out that those who are going to follow him will also need to face challenges. He tells them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” (Vv 23 – 24)He goes on to say, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” (v 26)

Luke is then oddly specific, though I am not sure that it has any specific meaning when he says “Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray” (v 28) While on this mountain something amazing happens. Jesus is alone, and then he suddenly begins to look different, his clothes begin to shine, and suddenly there are two other people with him. We are not told how Peter and the other recognize them, but the two with Jesus are Moses and Elijah. Peter’s reaction is to want to build three shelters, one for each of them. Amazingly, Jesus has just declared at the beginning of this chapter that Jesus is the Christ, yet here he seems to be placing him on the same level as Moses and Elijah. God makes the mistake clear. As the clouds begin to roll in, a voice is heard saying, ““This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!””. (v 35)

When they came down from the mountain, they were met by a crowd. Amongst the crowd was a man whose son was possessed by a demon. He said, “I begged Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not.” (v 40) Jesus, disappointed with them all, has the man bring his son, and he cast the demon out of him.

It is at this point, which seems an odd point, that Jesus tells them that “the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.” (v 44) It appears to have confused the people there as much as me because they could not understand what he was talking about, but they were also afraid to ask, so they remained silent.

In the next section, Jesus presents them with three points. First, he explains to them that the least among them is the one who will be the greatest.  Second, he points out that anyone who is not in opposition to you, even if they are not part of your “group” is on the same side as you. Finally, he reminds them that he came to save people, not to destroy them.

Finally, Luke tells us of three situations where Jesus defines lays out the cost of discipleship. In the first, a person offers to follow Jesus anywhere. Jesus points out that following him would mean nowhere to call home. In the second, Jesus tells a man to “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” (v 60) The third is related to the second as the man asks to say goodbye to family, to which Jesus replies, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (v 62) In other words, Jesus is saying that those who are called to go may also be called to leave everything.

My takeaways from this chapter are 1) We need to go into ministry unencumbered. That is to say, we need to take only what we need and trust God to supply anything else. 2) Following Christ means taking up your cross daily and laying down your life for him. 3) The greatest among Christ-followers is the least of them. And 4) Following Jesus means leaving everything behind you and moving forward.

Lead On, Oh King Eternal

156234_572903450925_1750536026_nLead on, O King eternal, The day of march has come;
Henceforth in fields of conquest Thy tents shall be our home.
Through days of preparation Thy grace has made us strong;
And now, O King eternal, We lift our battle song.

Lead on, O King eternal, Till sin’s fierce war shall cease,
And holiness shall whisper The sweet amen of peace.
For not with swords’ loud clashing, Nor roll of stirring drums;
With deeds of love and mercy The heavenly kingdom comes.

Lead on, O King eternal, We follow, not with fears,
For gladness breaks like morning Where’er Thy face appears.
Thy cross is lifted over us, We journey in its light;
The crown awaits the conquest; Lead on, O God of might.

Words by Ernest W. Shurtleff, 1888
Music by Henry T. Smart, 1836


For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.
Ephesians 6:2

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.
Hebrews 4:15

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:57

So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.
Zechariah 4:6

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
Titus 3:5

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
1 Timothy 4:7 – 8


Remember when you were a kid, all the games you used to play. Duck, Duck Goose, Red Rover and of course, Follow the Leader.  My son used to play a version of follow the leader that he loved when he was little.  I would say, “Hey, do the dance.” He would jump up and proceed to walk me through the steps. He would call out the move and do it, then wait for me to repeat it.  Every time it was done, it varied slightly but had the same basic moves.  It was loads of fun and he would be so excited to lead. And why not? Everyone likes to be the leader.  The catch is that not everyone can be the leader.  Someone has to follow.

It really doesn’t change that much when we grow up. Yes, many of us will have the opportunities to be a leader, but all of us are followers at some point in time.  Now we really should not look down upon following, because that is how we learn and grown in our skills and roles in life. So it is to with our walk with Christ.  Christ is the leader that we have been given the opportunity to follow and learn from so that we can grow to be more like Him.  This is the theme found in Ernest W. Shurtleff’s “Lead On, Oh King Eternal.”

The hymn begins by presenting us with what appears to be a theme of war.  “The day of march”, fields of conquest” and “our battle song.” Is this really a song of war? Well to begin with the concept of a battle is not foreign to the Christian faith but we do need to see it in context.  Ephesians 6:1 says, “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” As followers of Christ we are in a battle, a spiritual battle.  As Paul states in this passage, there are indeed evil spiritual forces that come against us.  But we are not alone, Christ himself faced these battles as described most clearly in Matthew 4.  Hebrews 4:15 tells us that He “has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.” Christ is our example in the battle that we face each day against temptation, again the “spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” By following His lead, we can find the strength and guidance to stand strong in the face of these battles.

No the message of this hymn is not war, but that we can stand strong in the face of attacks that come our way when we follow the lead of our King.  So the hymn continues by not focusing on the battle, but the victory that we can have in Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57) So we read, “Lead on, O King eternal, Till sin’s fierce war shall cease, And holiness shall whisper The sweet amen of peace.” While we may be in a battle, we can look forward to the day when peace shall reign. We can look forward to the day when the struggles are gone and we can rest in God’s presence.  It is a victory we can not achieve through our own strength in battle.  As Zechariah 4:6 says, “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.”

No the victory does not come through our strength, but through God’s Spirit which he bestows on all those who believe. So we do not set out looking for a fight, but to live by Christ example, to follow his lead “with deeds of love and mercy.” For Christ Jesus has saved us through His love (John 3:16) and mercy (Titus 3:5).

Yes, God leads us through the struggles and battles of this life.  He leads on to a day when we will can rest in the peace of His presence. And we can know that if we follow Him, “there is in store . . . the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award . . . on that day.” (1 Timothy 4:8) So as we look toward that day, we continue to call out, “Lead on, O God of might.”



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Brian Olson is a graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and is a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ having worked with both youth and adults.