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.