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The Mission of the Twelve

 9

Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. 3He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic. 4Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. 5Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 6They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.

Herod’s Perplexity

7 Now Herod the ruler heard about all that had taken place, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, 8by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the ancient prophets had arisen. 9Herod said, “John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he tried to see him.

Feeding the Five Thousand

10 On their return the apostles told Jesus all they had done. He took them with him and withdrew privately to a city called Bethsaida. 11When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured.

12 The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.” 13But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” 14For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15They did so and made them all sit down. 16And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.

Peter’s Declaration about Jesus

18 Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19They answered, “John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.” 20He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.”

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

21 He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, 22saying, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

23 Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. 25What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves? 26Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27But truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”

The Transfiguration

28 Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 35Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” 36When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

Jesus Heals a Boy with a Demon

37 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38Just then a man from the crowd shouted, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. 39Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. 40I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43And all were astounded at the greatness of God.

Jesus Again Foretells His Death

While everyone was amazed at all that he was doing, he said to his disciples, 44“Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.” 45But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was concealed from them, so that they could not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

True Greatness

46 An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. 47But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, 48and said to them, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.”

Another Exorcist

49 John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” 50But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.”

 

A Samaritan Village Refuses to Receive Jesus

51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; 53but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55But he turned and rebuked them. 56Then they went on to another village.

Would-Be Followers of Jesus

57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”


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Lu 9:1-6. Mission of the Twelve Apostles.

(See on Mt 10:1-15).

1. power and authority—He both qualified and authorized them.

Lu 9:7-9. 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 ChristOur 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 glory.

Lu 9:28-36. Jesus Transfigured.

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 Heaven.

Peter, James, and John—partners before in secular business; now sole witnesses of the resurrection of Jairus' daughter (Mr 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 the lake.

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 Ac 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 "spake."

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 fulfil."

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" manifestations.

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 himreverentially, 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 HealedChrist'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 journeyed along.

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 GreatestJohn Rebuked for Exclusiveness.

46-48. (See on Mt 18:1-5).

49, 50. John answered, &c.—The link of connection here with the foregoing context lies in the words "in My name" (Lu 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 (Nu 11:24-29).

Lu 9:51-56. The Period of His Assumption Approaching Christ Takes His Last Leave of GalileeThe Samaritans Refuse to Receive Him.

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 events.

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 maturity.

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 precept (Mt 10:23).

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 8:21.)

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.)




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