Mission of the Twelve Apostles.
(See on Mt 10:1-15).
1. power and authority—He both
qualified and authorized them.
Herod Troubled at What He Hears of Christ
Desires to See Him.
(See on Mr 6:14-30).
7. perplexed—at a loss, embarrassed.
said of some, that John was
risen—Among many opinions, this was the one which Herod
himself adopted, for the reason, no doubt, mentioned on Mr 6:14.
9. desired to see him—but did not, till
as a prisoner He was sent to him by Pilate just before His death, as we
learn from Lu 23:8.
Lu 9:10-17. On the Return
of the Twelve Jesus Retires with Them to Bethsaida, and There
Miraculously Feeds Five Thousand.
(See on Mr 6:31-44).
Lu 9:18-27. Peter's
Confession of Christ—Our Lord's
First Explicit Announcement of His Approaching Death, and Warnings
Arising Out of It.
(See on Mt 16:13-28; and Mr 8:34).
24. will save—"Is minded to save," bent
on saving. The pith of this maxim depends—as often in such
weighty sayings (for example, "Let the dead bury the
dead," Mt 8:22)—on the double sense attached to
the word "life," a lower and a higher, the natural and the spiritual,
temporal and eternal. An entire sacrifice of the lower, or a
willingness to make it, is indispensable to the preservation of the
higher life; and he who cannot bring himself to surrender the one for
the sake of the other shall eventually lose both.
26. ashamed of me, and of my words—The
sense of shame is one of the strongest in our nature, one of the
social affections founded on our love of reputation, which
causes instinctive aversion to what is fitted to lower it, and was
given us as a preservative from all that is properly shameful.
When one is, in this sense of it, lost to shame, he is nearly
past hope (Zec 3:5; Jer 6:15; 3:3). But when Christ and "His
words"—Christianity, especially in its more spiritual and
uncompromising features—are unpopular, the same instinctive
desire to stand well with others begets the temptation to be
ashamed of Him, which only the 'expulsive power' of a higher affection
can effectually counteract.
Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh,
&c.—He will render to that man his own treatment; He will
disown him before the most august of all assemblies, and put him to
"shame and everlasting contempt" (Da 12:2). "Oh shame, to be put to shame before
God, Christ, and angels!" [Bengel].
27. not taste of death fill they see the kingdom
of God—"see it come with power" (Mr 9:1); or see "the Son of man coming in His
kingdom" (Mt 16:28).
The reference, beyond doubt, is to the firm establishment and
victorious progress, in the lifetime of some then present, of that new
Kingdom of Christ, which was destined to work the greatest of all
changes on this earth, and be the grand pledge of His final coming in
Lu 9:28-36. Jesus
28. an eight days after these
sayings—including the day on which this was spoken and that
of the Transfiguration. Matthew and Mark say (Mt 17:1; Mr
9:2) "after six days,"
excluding these two days. As the "sayings" so definitely
connected with the transfiguration scene are those announcing His
death—at which Peter and all the Twelve were so startled
and scandalized—so this scene was designed to show to the eyes as
well as the heart how glorious that death was in the view of
Peter, James, and John—partners before
in secular business; now sole witnesses of the resurrection of Jairus'
5:37), the transfiguration,
and the agony in the garden (Mr 14:33).
a mountain—not Tabor, according
to long tradition, with which the facts ill comport, but some one near
to pray—for the period He had now
reached was a critical and anxious one. (See on Mt
16:13). But who can adequately translate those "strong cryings and
tears?" Methinks, as I steal by His side, I hear from Him these
plaintive sounds, "Lord, who hath believed Our report? I am come unto
Mine own and Mine own receive Me not; I am become a stranger unto My
brethren, an alien to My mother's children: Consider Mine enemies, for
they are many, and they hate Me with cruel hatred. Arise, O Lord, let
not man prevail. Thou that dwellest between the cherubim, shine forth:
Show Me a token for good: Father, glorify Thy name."
29. as he prayed, the fashion,
&c.—Before He cried He was answered, and while He was yet
speaking He was heard. Blessed interruption to prayer this! Thanks to
God, transfiguring manifestations are not quite strangers here.
Ofttimes in the deepest depths, out of groanings which cannot be
uttered, God's dear children are suddenly transported to a kind of
heaven upon earth, and their soul is made as the chariots of Amminadab.
Their prayers fetch down such light, strength, holy gladness, as make
their face to shine, putting a kind of celestial radiance upon it
(2Co 3:18, with Ex 34:29-35).
raiment white, &c.—Matthew says,
"His face did shine as the sun" (Mt 17:2), and Mark says (Mr 9:3), "His raiment became shining, exceeding
white as snow, so as no fuller on earth can white them" (Mr 9:3). The light, then, it would seem, shone
not upon Him from without, but out of Him from
within; He was all irradiated, was in one blaze of celestial glory.
What a contrast to that "visage more marred than men, and His form than
the sons of men!" (Isa 52:14).
30, 31. there talked with him two men …
Moses and Elias … appeared in glory—"Who would have
believed these were not angels had not their human names
been subjoined?" [Bengel]. (Compare
1:10; Mr 16:5). Moses
represented "the law," Elijah "the prophets," and both together the
whole testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures, and the Old Testament
saints, to Christ; now not borne in a book, but by living
men, not to a coming, but a come Messiah,
visibly, for they "appeared," and audibly, for they
31. spake—"were speaking."
of his decease—"departure"; beautiful
euphemism (softened term) for death, which Peter, who witnessed
the scene, uses to express his own expected death, and the use of which
single term seems to have recalled the whole by a sudden rush of
recollection, and occasioned that delightful allusion to this scene
which we find in 2Pe 1:15-18.
which he should accomplish—"was to
at Jerusalem—Mark the historical
character and local features which Christ's death assumed to
these glorified men—as important as it is charming—and see
on Lu 2:11. What now may be gathered from this
statement? (1) That a dying Messiah is the great article of the true
Jewish theology. For a long time the Church had fallen clean away
from the faith of this article, and even from a preparedness to receive
it. But here we have that jewel raked out of the dunghill of Jewish
traditions, and by the true representatives of the Church of old made
the one subject of talk with Christ Himself. (2) The adoring
gratitude of glorified men for His undertaking to accomplish such a
decease; their felt dependence upon it for the glory in which they
appeared; their profound interest in the progress of it, their humble
solaces and encouragements to go through with it; and their sense of
its peerless and overwhelming glory. "Go, matchless, adored One, a
Lamb to the slaughter! rejected of men, but chosen of God and precious;
dishonored, abhorred, and soon to be slain by men, but worshipped by
cherubim, ready to be greeted by all heaven. In virtue of that decease
we are here; our all is suspended on it and wrapped up in it. Thine
every step is watched by us with ineffable interest; and though it were
too high an honor to us to be permitted to drop a word of cheer into
that precious but now clouded spirit, yet, as the first-fruits of
harvest; the very joy set before Him, we cannot choose but tell Him
that what is the depth of shame to Him is covered with glory in the
eyes of Heaven, that the Cross to Him is the Crown to us, that that
'decease' is all our salvation and all our desire." And who can doubt
that such a scene did minister deep cheer to that spirit? It is
said they "talked" not to Him, but "with Him"; and if
they told Him how glorious His decease was, might He not fitly
reply, "I know it, but your voice, as messengers from heaven come down
to tell it Me, is music in Mine ears."
32. and when they were awake—so,
certainly, the most commentators: but if we translate literally, it
should be "but having kept awake" [Meyer, Alford].
Perhaps "having roused themselves up" [Olshausen] may come near enough to the literal
sense; but from the word used we can gather no more than that they
shook off their drowsiness. It was night, and the Lord seems to
have spent the whole night on the mountain (Lu 9:37).
saw his glory, &c.—The emphasis
lies on "saw," qualifying them to become "eye-witnesses
of His majesty" (2Pe 1:16).
33. they departed—Ah! bright
manifestations in this vale of tears are always "departing"
34, 35. a cloud—not one of our watery
clouds, but the Shekinah-cloud (see on Mt
23:39), the pavilion of the manifested presence of God with His
people, what Peter calls "the excellent" of "magnificent glory" (2Pe 1:17).
a voice—"such a voice," says
Peter emphatically; "and this voice [he adds] we heard, when we were
with Him in the holy mount" (2Pe 1:17, 18).
35. my beloved Son … hear
him—reverentially, implicitly, alone.
36. Jesus was found alone—Moses and
Elias are gone. Their work is done, and they have disappeared from the
scene, feeling no doubt with their fellow servant the Baptist, "He must
increase, but I must decrease." The cloud too is gone, and the naked
majestic Christ, braced in spirit, and enshrined in the reverent
affection of His disciples, is left—to suffer!
kept it close—feeling, for once at
least, that such things were unmeet as yet for the general gaze.
Lu 9:37-45. Demoniac and
Lunatic Boy Healed—Christ's Second
Explicit Announcement of his Death and Resurrection.
(See on Mr 9:14-32.)
43-45. the mighty power of God—"the
majesty" or "mightiness" of God in this last miracle, the
transfiguration, &c.: the divine grandeur of Christ rising
upon them daily. By comparing Mt 17:22, and Mr 9:30, we gather that this had been the
subject of conversation between the Twelve and their Master as they
44. these sayings—not what was passing
between them about His grandeur [Meyer,
&c.], but what He was now to repeat for the second time about His
sufferings [De Wette, Stier, Alford,
&c.]; that is, "Be not carried off your feet by all this grandeur
of Mine, but bear in mind what I have already told you, and now
distinctly repeat, that that Sun in whose beams ye now rejoice is soon
to set in midnight gloom." "The Son of man," says Christ, "into
the hands of men"—a remarkable antithesis (also in Mt 17:22,
and Mr 9:31).
45. and they feared—"insomuch that they
feared." Their most cherished ideas were so completely dashed by such
announcements, that they were afraid of laying themselves open to
rebuke by asking Him any questions.
Lu 9:46-48. Strife among
the Twelve Who Should Be Greatest—John Rebuked for Exclusiveness.
46-48. (See on Mt
49, 50. John answered, &c.—The link
of connection here with the foregoing context lies in the words "in My
9:48). "Oh, as to that," said
John, young, warm, but not sufficiently apprehending Christ's teaching
in these things, "we saw one casting out devils in Thy name, and we
forbade him: Were we wrong?" "Ye were wrong." "But we did because he
followeth not us,'" "No matter. For (1) There is no man which shall do
a miracle in My name that can lightly [soon] speak evil of Me' [Mr 9:39]. And (2) If such a person cannot
be supposed to be 'against us,' you are to consider him
'for us.'" Two principles of immense importance. Christ does not
say this man should not have followed "with them," but simply
teaches how he was to be regarded though he did not—as a
reverer of His name and a promoter of His cause. Surely this condemns
not only those horrible attempts by force to shut up all within
one visible pale of discipleship, which have deluged Christendom with
blood in Christ's name, but the same spirit in its milder form of proud
ecclesiastic scowl upon all who "after the form which they call a
sect (as the word signifies, Ac 24:14), do so worship the God of their
fathers." Visible unity in Christ's Church is devoutly to be sought,
but this is not the way to it. See the noble spirit of Moses
Lu 9:51-56. The Period of
His Assumption Approaching Christ Takes His Last Leave of
Galilee—The Samaritans Refuse to
51. the time was come—rather, "the days
were being fulfilled," or approaching their fulfilment.
that he should be received up—"of His
assumption," meaning His exaltation to the Father; a sublime
expression, taking the sweep of His whole career, as if at one bound He
was about to vault into glory. The work of Christ in the flesh is here
divided into two great stages; all that preceded this belonging
to the one, and all that follows it to the other. During the one, He
formally "came to His own," and "would have gathered
them"; during the other, the awful consequences of "His own
receiving Him not" rapidly revealed themselves.
he steadfastly set his face—the "He"
here is emphatic—"He Himself then." See His own prophetic
language, "I have set my face like a flint" (Isa 50:7).
go to Jerusalem—as His goal,
but including His preparatory visits to it at the feasts of tabernacles
and of dedication (Joh 7:2, 10; 10:22, 23), and all the intermediate movements and
52. messengers before his face … to make
ready for him—He had not done this before; but now, instead
of avoiding, He seems to court publicity—all now hastening to
53. did not receive him, because,
&c.—The Galileans, in going to the festivals at Jerusalem,
usually took the Samaritan route [Josephus, Antiquities, 20.6.1], and yet seem
to have met with no such inhospitality. But if they were asked to
prepare quarters for the Messiah, in the person of one whose
"face was as though He would go to Jerusalem," their national
prejudices would be raised at so marked a slight upon their claims.
(See on Joh 4:20).
54. James and John—not Peter, as
we should have expected, but those "sons of thunder" (Mr 3:17), who afterwards wanted to have
all the highest honors of the Kingdom to themselves, and the younger of
whom had been rebuked already for his exclusiveness (Lu 9:49, 50). Yet this was "the disciple whom
Jesus loved," while the other willingly drank of His Lord's bitter cup.
(See on Mr 10:38-40; and Ac
12:2). That same fiery zeal, in a mellowed and hallowed form, in
the beloved disciple, we find in 2Jo 5:10; 3Jo 10.
fire … as Elias—a plausible
case, occurring also in Samaria (2Ki 1:10-12).
55, 56. know not what … spirit—The
thing ye demand, though in keeping with the legal, is unsuited
to the genius of the evangelical dispensation. The sparks of
unholy indignation would seize readily enough on this example of
Elias, though our Lord's rebuke (as is plain from Lu 9:56) is directed to the principle
involved rather than the animal heat which doubtless prompted the
reference. "It is a golden sentence of Tillotson, Let us never do
anything for religion which is contrary to religion" [Webster and Wilkinson].
56. For the Son of man, &c.—a saying
truly divine, of which all His miracles—for salvation, never
destruction—were one continued illustration.
went to another—illustrating His own
Lu 9:57-62. Incidents
Illustrative of Discipleship.
The Precipitate Disciple (Lu 9:57, 58).
(See on Mt 8:19, 20.)
The Procrastinating Disciple (Lu 9:59, 60).
(See on Mt 8:21).
The Irresolute Disciple (Lu 9:61, 62).
61. I will follow … but—The second
disciple had a "but" too—a difficulty in the way just then. Yet
the different treatment of the two cases shows how different was
the spirit of the two, and to that our Lord addressed Himself.
The case of Elisha (1Ki 19:19-21), though apparently similar to
this, will be found quite different from the "looking back" of this
case, the best illustration of which is that of those Hindu converts
of our day who, when once persuaded to leave their spiritual fathers in
order to "bid them farewell which are at home at their house," very
rarely return to them. (Also see on Mt
62. No man, &c.—As ploughing
requires an eye intent on the furrow to be made, and is marred the
instant one turns about, so will they come short of salvation who
prosecute the work of God with a distracted attention, a divided heart.
Though the reference seems chiefly to ministers, the application is
general. The expression "looking back" has a manifest reference to
"Lot's wife" (Ge 19:26;
and see on Lu 17:32). It is not actual
return to the world, but a reluctance to break with it.
(Also see on Mt 8:21.)