Luke 9 Commentary


From Jensen's Survey of the NT by permission
Charles Swindoll's Introduction to Luke - chart on right
MacArthur's Introduction to the Gospel of Luke


Lk 9:1 Christ sends his apostles to work miracles, and to preach.
Lk 9:7 Herod desires to see Christ.
Lk 9:10 The apostles return.
Lk 9:12 Christ feeds five thousand;
Lk 9:18 enquires what opinion the world had of him; foretells his passion;
Lk 9:23 proposes to all the pattern of his patience.
Lk 9:28 The transfiguration.
Lk 9:37 He heals the lunatic;
Lk 9:43 again forewarns his disciples of his passion;
Lk 9:46 commends humility;
Lk 9:51 bids them to shew mildness towards all, without desire of revenge.
Lk 9:57 Divers would follow him, but upon conditions.

John Hannah's Outline

    1. The conclusion of the ministry of the Son of Man (Luke 9:1-50)
      1. The commission of the twelve (Luke 9:1-6)
      2. The anxiety of Herod (Luke 9:7-9)
      3. The feeding of the five thousand (Luke 9:10-17)
      4. The revelation of the Son of Man (Luke 9:18-45)
        1. Concerning His person (Luke 9:18-20)
          1. Jesus' question (Luke 9:18)
          2. The disciples' reply (Luke 9:19)
          3. Peter's reply (Luke 9:20)
        2. Concerning His work (Luke 9:21-27)
        3. Concerning His glory (Luke 9:28-36)
        4. Concerning His power (Luke 9:37-43)
        5. Concerning His death (Luke 9:44-45)
      5. The teaching of the Son of Man (Luke 9:46-50)
        1. Concerning humility (Luke 9:46-48)
        2. Concerning toleration (Luke 9:49-50)
  • The rejection of the Son of Man (Luke 9:51-11:54)
    1. The commencement of the rejection of the Son of Man (Luke 9:51-11:13)
      1. The rejection in Samaria (Luke 9:51-56)
      2. The rejection of His call (Luke 9:57-62)
      3. The mission of the seventy (10:1-24)

Luke 9:1 And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases.

KJV Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.

Parallel passages in Matthew and Mark  - 

Matthew 10:1 Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. 2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him. 5 These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; 6 but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. 9 “Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, 10 or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support. 11 “And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city. 12 “As you enter the house, give it your greeting. 13 “If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. 14 “Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. 15 “Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.

Mark 6:7-13+ And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits; 8 and He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff–no bread, no bag, no money in their belt– 9 but to wear sandals; and He added, “Do not put on two tunics.” 10 And He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town. 11 “Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.” 12 They went out and preached that men should repent. 13 And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them.


Observe Jensen's chart above to get a sense of where Jesus is timewise in His great Galilean Ministry. You will note that He has been in Galilee for about 18 months and is nearing the end of this portion of His ministry. He will soon begin His journey to Judea, Jerusalem and ultimately the Cross. Luke marks this transition time in Luke 9:51+ writing "When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem" or as the ESV renders it Jesus "set his face to go to Jerusalem." (Lk 9:51ESV)

And He called the twelve together - On the twelve see Luke 6:13-16+ (cf Mt 10:2-3 Mk 3:14-19+; John 1:40-49+) Matthew and Mark both say He "summoned (Call (proskaleo = to invite, call in an official manner, higher rank calling to the lower) the twelve" (Mt 10:1, Mk 6:7), Matthew adds that they were "His 12 disciples.(mathetes)" (Mt 10:1)

Called together (4779)(sugkaleo from sun/syn = together more intimate than "meta" + kaleo = to call) in the active voice means to call together (Mk 15:16; Lk 15:6, 9; Ac 5:21.) and in the middle voice means to call to one's side or call to oneself and hence to summon to come together (Lk 9:1; 15:6, 9 ; Lk 23:13; Acts 5:21; Acts 10:24; Acts 13:7; Acts 28:17.). Liddell-Scott has "1. to call to council, convoke, convene, Il., Hdt., Att.:-so in Med., Hdt., N.T. 2. to invite with others to a feast, Xen."

NT uses -called...together(2), called together(3), calls together(2), summoned(1).  Mk. 15:16; Lk. 9:1; Lk. 15:6; Lk. 15:9; Lk. 23:13; Acts 5:21; Acts 10:24; Acts 28:17

Septuagint uses - Ex 7:11; Jos. 9:22; Jos. 10:24; Jos. 22:1; Jos. 23:2; Jos. 24:1; Pr 9:3 (Wisdom calls); Jer. 1:15; Zech. 3:10 = "‘In that day (WHAT DAY? SEE Zech 3:9 - WHEN MESSIAH RETURNS AS IN Ro 11:26-27+, Zech 12:10-14+, Zech 13:1+, Zech 13:8-9+),’ declares the LORD of hosts, ‘every one of you will invite (LXX = SUGKALEO) his neighbor to sit under his vine and under his fig tree. (IN THE GLORIOUS MESSIANIC KINGDOM)’”

Robert Morgan paraphrases Jesus' instructions to the disciples in Luke 9 -

Now, you’ve been sitting around listening to me long enough. I want you to go out knocking on some door and trying your hand at preaching. Yes, I know it’s a little threatening. Yes, I know it’s outside your comfort zone. No, I’m not going to give you a lot of training in public speaking. I just want you to travel light—don’t take too many clothes with you because you’ll have a hard time lugging around that suitcase. Just show up and say a word for me and if they listen to you, that’s great. And if you fall flat on your face, just dust yourself off and go to the next town and try again.”

Comment - That’s just about all the instructions He gave them. Why? In the next chapter, Luke 10, He sends them out again and this time He gives them much more extensive training; but for now He just wants them to get their feet wet. He wants to expose them to the process of ministry. He wants to begin to cultivate in them a sense of faithfulness. Here’s the lesson as I see it. We don’t have to do big things for Christ. We just need to do little things faithfully. If God has given you a small task for the Kingdom, do it faithfully. Being faithful means that we do that work for Christ whether we want to or not, whether it’s convenient or not, whether it seems to be doing any good or not. If God has called us to some task, role, ministry, or job—however small—we must do it faithfully. Jesus later said, “He who is faithful in little is faithful in much.”

And gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases - Jesus gave the disciples power and authority, bestowing it on them as a privilege, but a privilege that brings with it responsibility. "And notice how Luke distinguishes between authority over all demons and diseases here." (NET Note)

THOUGHT - We too have been granted power and authority from Jesus (cf 2 Pe 1:3-4+) so the question for each of us is this - Are we using our privileges wisely to maximum advantage for the Kingdom and the glory of God? Too many Christians consider Sunday Service the primary responsibility of their Christian life, but they forget that when they walk out the church doors on Sunday they are entering the MISSION FIELD just as did the first disciples! Are you being a good steward of the gifts God has given you and effectively serving Him as His missionary? (cf Mt 28:18-20+) (See related THOUGHT below)

How aware are you of the POWER and AUTHORITY God has provided, and how does this affect your daily life? Remember you now have the POWER to live a supernatural life "‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts." (Zech 4:6)

In Lk 24:49+ Jesus promised the disciples “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with POWER from on high.” Of course He was referring to the coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts 1:8+, the same SOURCE of POWER every disciple has potential access to EVERY DAY! ARE YOU LIVING UP TO YOUR POTENTIAL IN CHRIST?  See Spirit-Filled Believers Are Like Artesian WellsThe Holy Spirit-Walking Like Jesus Walked!

Steven Cole - Power is the force or ability to do something; authority is the right to use that power. It is one thing for a person to have power over demonic forces and power to heal, but quite another thing to be able to confer this power on others. Jesus has that power and authority....In the Great Commission, Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Mt 28:18-19). “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses” (Acts 1:8). Relying on His authority and power, we tell people about the saving grace to be found at the cross of Jesus Christ.

Power (Miracles) (1411)(dunamis from dunamai = to be able, to have power) refers especially achieving power as able to produce a strong effect (Acts 1:8). Vine says dunamis is the ability requisite for meeting difficulties and for the fulfillment of the service committed to us. Dunamis is the word from which we get dynamite and dynamo. This power is active, dynamic, and compelling—and it is mightily at work on your behalf. You might not always sense it, but it’s there nonetheless. This is the power that Paul prayed for the saints at Ephesus, that they would know the "surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe." (Eph 1:18-19).

Luke's uses of dunamis (it is surprising that dunamis is not in the Gospel of John). Lk. 1:17; Lk. 1:35; Lk. 4:14; Lk. 4:36; Lk. 5:17; Lk. 6:19; Lk. 8:46; Lk. 9:1; Lk. 10:13; Lk. 10:19; Lk. 19:37; Lk. 21:26; Lk. 21:27; Lk. 22:69; Lk. 24:49; Acts 1:8; Acts 2:22; Acts 3:12; Acts 4:7; Acts 4:33; Acts 6:8; Acts 8:10; Acts 8:13; Acts 10:38; Acts 19:11;

The Gospel is the dunamis of God for salvation (Ro 1:16+), because it has the intrinsic or inherent power to save sinners. Adrian Rogers comments

If you've heard preaching very long, you know that that word power is the word we get our word dynamite from. It's the Greek word dunamis. Paul said it's the dynamite of the gospel. There's power in the gospel. If you were to take a hydrogen bomb and put it in the lapels of your coat and detonate it, they couldn't find anything to bury after it was over. You'd be vaporized. But the sin would still be there in your heart. Only the gospel of Jesus can blow that sin out. Friend, that's power. That's power that can make a crooked man straight, make an impure woman pure, can make a drunkard sober, that can give a hope that is steadfast and sure. The gospel.... listen. There's another word that we get from there. Not only dynamite, but dynamo. He doesn't just forgive you and you have a big explosion and it's all over and all the dust just settles. But, friend, He comes into you and gives you a power that energizes you and works through you and is in me now, working through me, and in you. That is the dynamo of God, the Holy Spirit of God. When you receive Christ, God doesn't just wind you up and let you go. God puts His power into you. What a wonderful gospel.

Dunamis means 'inherent power'—not so much power put forth, as power possessed. It means, among other things, 'ability' and 'capability'. just as if the Lord said to His disciples, "You are now quite incapable, but when the Holy Spirit is come, you shall be made capable of doing what I want you to do". (Acts 1:8-note). They needed the dunamis given by the Holy Spirit and so do we beloved. Are you daily filled with the Spirit so that you might experience His dunamis in all of your variegated circumstances. Holy Spirit empowerment is the secret for a Christian life that is victorious over the the world, the flesh and the devil. Our enemies are supernatural and must be confronted and defeated with divinely given supernatural power.

Adrian Rogers commenting on power in Acts 1:8+ asked "Now what kind of power is this? Is this physical power? No. Economic power? No. Political power? No. It is spiritual power. Now actually it's the word we get our word dynamite from. You shall receive dunamis, a dynamic will be in you. I would be a fool, an absolute sheer fool to attempt to preach without the anointing, the power of the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit of God is power." Similarly, the disciple would have been impotent and foolish if they went out without the dunamis of God. 

Not only did Jesus give POWER but He also gave PEACE - In John 20:21 "Jesus said to them (the disciples) again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

Authority (1849)(exousia from éxesti = it is permitted, it is lawful) means the power to do something and was a technical term used in the law courts, of a legal right. "Authority or right is the dominant meaning (of exousia) in the New Testament." (Vincent) Exousía refers to delegated authority and combines the idea of the "right and the might", these attributes having been granted to someone. Our English word authority is defined as the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience. Power and authority are often best demonstrated when they are challenged. Exousia is an important term in the Gospels. Many conflicts in Jesus' life and ministry turn on debates about authority or the idea that Jesus taught with an unparalleled authority (Mt 7:29; 8:9; 9:6, 8; 21:23-27; 28:18; Mk 1:22, 27; 2:10; 3:15; 11:28-33; Lk 4:32, 36; 5:24; 7:8; 20:2-8). One thing is made clear at the beginning of Jesus' ministry is that (1) His teaching had AUTHORITY (exousia) (Mk 1:22+) and (2) He had AUTHORITY (exousia) over the unclean spirits (Mk 1:26-27+), and thus over the forces of darkness. This of course is the reason He could bestow such AUTHORITY on His 12 disciples.

THOUGHT - Now think a moment - what was one of the 12? A TRAITOR (Lk 6:16+)! And yet passages like this in Luke 9 indicate or support that JUDAS had access to this POWER and AUTHORITY. If that is indeed the case, which it likely is, how much greater his accountability at the time of judgment! Woe!  As disciples we too have an accountability as to how we use the precious and magnificent promises (2 Pe 1:4+) God has granted us, for Peter reminds us that "EACH ONE (THAT'S YOU BELOVED) has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards (STEWARDS WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE WHEN THE MASTER RETURNS ) of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving (AND HOW DO WE PUT THESE SUPERNATURAL GIFTS TO WORK? NOT OUR POWER, BUT HIS) by the strength which God supplies (THE ENABLING POWER OF THE SPIRIT); (WHY DOES GOD DO IT THIS WAY?) so that in all things God may be glorified (WE CAN'T POSSIBLY TAKE CREDIT FOR SUPERNATURAL SPEAKING AND SERVING!) through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Pe 4:10-11+

Luke's uses of exousia -Lk. 4:6; Lk. 4:32; Lk. 4:36; Lk. 5:24; Lk. 7:8; Lk. 9:1; Lk. 10:19; Lk. 12:5; Lk. 12:11; Lk. 19:17; Lk. 20:2; Lk. 20:8; Lk. 20:20; Lk. 22:53; Lk. 23:7; Acts 1:7; Acts 5:4; Acts 8:19; Acts 9:14; Acts 26:10; Acts 26:12; Acts 26:18

Related Resource:

Demons (1140)(daimonion from daímon = demon) most often describes demons or evil spirits who have supernatural powers and are neither human nor divine (Mt 7:22). Acts 17:18 refers specifically to to heathen gods. In the context of a Jewish use it more often refers to a demon, evil spirit, devil, or one who is subject to Satan.

Vine - "Demons" are the spiritual agents acting in all idolatry. The idol itself is nothing, but every idol has a "demon" associated with it who induces idolatry, with its worship and sacrifices,1Corinthians 10:20,21 ; Revelation 9:20 ; cp. Deuteronomy 32:17 ; Isaiah 13:21; 34:14; 65:3,11. They disseminate errors among men, and seek to seduce believers, 1Ti 4:1 . As seducing spirits they deceive men into the supposition that through mediums (those who have "familiar spirits," Leviticus 20:6,27 , e.g.) they can converse with deceased human beings. Hence the destructive deception of spiritism, forbidden in Scripture, Leviticus 19:31 ; Deuteronomy 18:11 ; Isaiah 8:19 . "Demons" tremble before God, James 2:19 ; they recognized Christ as Lord and as their future Judge, Matthew 8:29 ; Luke 4:41 . Christ cast them out of human beings by His own power. His disciples did so in His name, and by exercising faith, e.g., Matthew 17:20. Acting under Satan (cp. Revelation 16:13,14 ), "demons" are permitted to afflict with bodily disease, Luke 13:16 . Being unclean they tempt human beings with unclean thoughts, Matthew 10:1 ; Mark 5:2 ; 7:25 ; Luke 8:27-29 ; Revelation 16:13 ; 18:2 , e.g. They differ in degrees of wickedness, Matthew 12:45 . They will instigate the rulers of the nations at the end of this age to make war against God and His Christ, Revelation 16:14 . (Demon, Demoniac - Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words)

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Heal (cure)(2323)(therapeuo from therapon = an attendant, servant) means primarily to care for, to wait upon, minister to. It has two main senses in the NT, one speaking of rendering service (Acts 17:25+) and the more common use describing medical aspects such as to take care of the sick, to heal, to cure (Matt. 4:24; 12:10; Mark 1:34; Luke 6:7; 10:9), to recover health, to restore. Therapeúō means to heal miraculously in Matt. 4:23, 24; 10:1, 8; Acts 4:14. Providing care to improve a situation.

Luke's uses of therapeuo - Lk. 4:23; Lk. 4:40; Lk. 5:15; Lk. 6:7; Lk. 6:18; Lk. 7:21; Lk. 8:2; Lk. 8:43; Lk. 9:1; Lk. 9:6; Lk. 10:9; Lk. 13:14; Lk. 14:3;Acts 4:14; Acts 5:16; Acts 8:7; Acts 17:25; Acts 28:9

Related Resources:

The Difference between Power and Authority - Over lunch, British writer G.K. Chesterton once expounded to fellow writer Alexander Woollcott on the relationship between power and authority. "If a rhinoceros were to enter this restaurant now, there is no denying he would have great power here. But I should be the first to rise and assure him that he had no authority whatever." Chesterton's vivid example is right. There is a profound difference between power and authority—and Jesus possessed both.

ILLUSTRATION ON POWER AND AUTHORITY - There are few on-the-job frustrations more irritating than to be given responsibility without resources and authority. You may have the right title on your office door, and you may have a great job description outlining your objectives, reporting relationships and responsibilities. But no one can achieve the expected results for any organization without the authority to act and the resources (the power) to make those intended actions a reality.
I worked for a bank three years after college. After twelve months of training, I was assigned to a lending officer to help him build our loan business. For three months, I analyzed financial statements, tracked lending activity and reviewed our portfolio. Occasionally, I was invited to a lunch or an event with some customers.
Soon I was given the responsibility for business expansion into New Jersey and parts of the Philadelphia area. As I contacted new customers and began to evaluate their potential for becoming a client, I found my hands tied. Potential customers wanted to know how much they could borrow, but I had no authority to make a loan over $10,000—which is nothing for a business seeking $3 million in capital. I had to call my boss and get permission to initiate a serious conversation about lending money. Yet he was often away and unavailable. Later, he chastised me for not building a larger client base.
The situation was awkward. I was responsible to create a larger lending portfolio, but I was not given the support or authority to even begin serious conversations with potential clients. As a result, clients saw me as a middle man who stood in the way. They wanted to talk with a "real" lender who had authority, so they began ignoring my calls. It was the most frustrating working environment I had ever experienced. (Bill Donahue - Jesus 101)

Respond And Report

Read: Luke 9:1-10 

When they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them. —Acts 14:27

During a Sunday night service, a man described a week-long mission trip from which he and a half-dozen others had just returned. There was a vibrancy in his voice as he told why they went to a needy area in another state, how many yards of concrete they mixed and poured for a church sidewalk, and how their lives were changed in the process. I was moved and encouraged as he reported what God had done in and through all those who went.

I see this same pattern of respond-and-report in Jesus’ training of His disciples. In Luke 9 we read, “He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick” (vv.1-2). They responded by obeying His call (v.6), then returned to report what they had done (v.10). I believe Jesus enjoyed those gospel team reports as the disciples brought encouragement to Him and to each other.

We can follow that same pattern today as we first respond to God’s call to serve and to witness, whether it is close to home or far away. When we report the results of His work to others, the joy is multiplied.

So, what are we waiting for? -- David C. McCasland (All devotionals on this page from Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


  • How have I been encouraged by the reports of those
  • who have served God faithfully? How have I had
  • opportunity to respond and report?

Your response to God's Call is not complete until you report God's work.

Luke 9:2 And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing.

KJV And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.


And He sent them out - Matthew adds "These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing (paraggello - transmit a message or order, used of military commands) them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans, but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Mt 10:5-6) 

Mark adds another detail not found in Luke (or Matthew)

And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits (Mk 6:7+)

Comment: Going in pairs was a common Jewish practice and was the pattern in Acts (Acts 13:1–3+; Acts 15:39–40+). In the present instance it perhaps establishes the truthfulness of the message (cf. Deut 17:6).

Sent (649) (apostello from apo = from, away from + stello = to withdraw from, avoid) means to send off, to send forth, to send out. To send out; to commission as a representative, an ambassador, an envoy. The idea is to send forth from one place to another. But the meaning of apostello is more than just to send because it means "to send off on a commission to do something as one’s personal representative, with credentials furnished" (Wuest) To send upon some business (Mt. 2:16; 10:5; 20:2). To send away in the sense of to dismiss (Mk 12:3, 4). To send or thrust forth as a sickle among corn (Mk 4:29).

Three things are true of the person sent from God.

(1) He belongs to God, who has sent him out.

(2) He is commissioned to be sent out.

(3) He possesses all the authority and power of God, who has sent him out. (Practical Word Studies)

Proclaim...perform - the proclamation was paramount, the performance of healing was important to validate the veracity of the proclamation.

To proclaim the kingdom of God (Mt 10:7 "The kingdom of heaven is at hand" = has drawn near in perfect tense = speaks of permanence) - What does this mean to PROCLAIM THE KINGDOM OF GOD? Clearly this description is synonymous with the proclamation of the Gospel (Lk 9:6), for it is only through believing in the Gospel that one gains entrance into the Kingdom of God (cf Jn 3:3-5+). This message is to proclaim the King of that Kingdom and His "royal decree" that He has come to set the captives free.

And Jesus was going about in all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. (Mt 4:23, 9:35, Mt 24:14+, Mk 1:15+, Lk 16:16+)

In the last book of Acts (the Christian's handbook for evangelizing the world) Luke records that even in confinement Paul was...

preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered. (Acts 28:31+)


Proclaim (2784)(kerusso from kerux/keryx = a herald - one who acts as the medium of the authority of one who proclamation he makes; kerugma = the thing preached or the message) means to proclaim (publicly) or to herald or act as a public crier - the town official who would make a proclamation in a public gathering. It refers to refers to the herald's authoritative, public pronouncement of vital information. Kerusso is in the present tense depicting their (and our) continuous proclamation. These 12 disciples functioned as Christ's "heralds" of the Good News. One wonders what message Judas Iscariot proclaimed?

The Kingdom of God - One must understand that there are (AT LEAST) two phases to the Kingdom of God. The first phase is the invisible, internal Kingdom of God and which He later described as "in your midst” (Lk 17:21+), the Kingdom in which the King reigns in the heart of the person who has accepted Jesus as Messiah. To proclaim the Kingdom of God is to preach the Gospel, to proclaim the good news of salvation, explaining how one can enter the Kingdom of God. When the King returns on "the day that the Son of Man is revealed," (Lk 17:30+) the heart of every person will also be revealed as to whether they sought the kingdom of "self" or the kingdom of the Savior! The future phase of the Kingdom of God is known as the Messianic Age or the Millennial Kingdom.(See more detailed explanation of Jesus' meaning of the Kingdom of God in notes on Luke 17:20-21). Jesus knew the Jews were looking for the future aspect of the Kingdom of God, but His preaching and that of His disciples was to explain how one could enter the invisible aspect of the Kingdom of God in the present and in that way they would be assured of experiencing the visible Kingdom of God in the future.

Kingdom of God - 66x in 65v - Luke's uses...

Lk. 4:43; Lk. 6:20; Lk. 7:28; Lk. 8:1; Lk. 8:10; Lk. 9:2; Lk. 9:11; Lk. 9:27; Lk. 9:60; Lk. 9:62; Lk. 10:9; Lk. 10:11; Lk. 11:20; Lk. 13:18; Lk. 13:20; Lk. 13:28; Lk. 13:29; Lk. 14:15; Lk. 16:16; Lk. 17:20; Lk. 17:21; Lk. 18:16; Lk. 18:17; Lk. 18:24; Lk. 18:25; Lk. 18:29; Lk. 19:11; Lk. 21:31; Lk. 22:16; Lk. 22:18; Lk. 23:51; Acts 1:3; Acts 8:12; Acts 14:22; Acts 19:8; Acts 28:23; Acts 28:31



Kingdom (932)(basileia from basileus = a sovereign, king, monarch) denotes sovereignty, royal power, dominion. Basileia can also refer to the territory or people over whom a king rules.

It has been well said that the only kingdom that will prevail in this world
is the kingdom that is not of this world! Amen!

Related Resources:

Matthew 10:8 adds several details 

"Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give."

Perform healing - The purpose of healing (and the other signs described above in Matthew's version) is to authenticate their apostolic ministry which in turn would confirm the truth of their Gospel message. Paul said "The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles." (2 Cor. 12:12). The signs were not for the purpose of simply demonstrating supernatural power but they were to create wonder and give a taste of the character of the goodness of God (Ps 34:8) and the nature of His coming Kingdom where there will be no more illness, no more demonic activity and best of all no more sin! The phrase Freely...freely used in Mt 10:8 means they received these powers as a gift and were to use them expecting nothing in return (no personal gain or advantage), instead using them only for the glory of God. This is true of all God's children - His spiritual gifts given by His Spirit are to be used not for our acclaim but for His glory (1 Pe 4:11+).

Perform healing (2390)(iaomai) means to cure, to heal, to restore. Iaomai is used literally of deliverance from physical diseases and afflictions and so to make whole, restore to bodily health or heal. Figuratively, iaomai speaks of deliverance from sin and its evil consequences and thus to restore (to spiritual good health), make whole, renew (Mt 13.15). In the passive, iaomai figuratively means to be restored, to recover or to be healed as in 1Pe 2.24. Iaomai refers primarily to physical healing in the NT (although clearly there is overlap because some of these instances involved demonic oppression - Lk 9:42), and much less commonly to spiritual healing or healing (saving) from "moral illnesses" and the consequences of sin. When used in this sense iaomai has much the same meaning as sozo, to save, make whole, restore to spiritual health. Here are the uses of iaomai used with a spiritual meaning = Mt 13:15, John 12:40, Acts 28:27 - preceding quotes from Isa 6:10, 1Pe 2:24 = quote from Isa 53:5. It is interesting that most of the NT uses in the Gospels refer to physical healing by Jesus (excepting the physical healing that resulted by release from demonic oppression). However in the OT (Lxx) uses iaomai refers primarily to spiritual healing by the Messiah (Isa 53:5, Isa 61:1, et al).

Luke's uses of iaomai (26 total NT uses) -

Lk. 5:17; Lk. 6:18; Lk. 6:19; Lk. 7:7; Lk. 8:47; Lk. 9:2; Lk. 9:11; Lk. 9:42; Lk. 14:4; Lk. 17:15; Lk. 22:51; Acts 9:34; Acts 10:38; Acts 28:8; Acts 28:27

In order to perform healing, the disciples needed to rely wholly on the power of the Holy Spirit, even as Jesus did in His ministry...

Luke 5:17-note One day He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power (dunamis)of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing.

Comment: In his sermon the The Messiah's Divine Confirmation, Part 1, John MacArthur reminds of an important truth about Jesus' earthly life that many saints often overlook - "One of the amazing elements of the life of Christ was that when He became incarnate and came into the world and started His ministry, He set aside,the independent use of His divine attributes. He didn't cease to be God, He didn't stop being what He was, He just set aside any independent use of His own attributes and He yielded Himself to the power of the Holy Spirit."

Related Resources:

Steven Cole on what is the role of divine healing, signs and wonders today -

In our day, there are segments of the church that argue that we are to emphasize divine healing along with the gospel. The late John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard movement, claimed that the “greater works” that Jesus predicted that His followers would do after receiving the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:12) include signs and wonders. If we are not regularly seeing God use us to perform miracles, then we are not proclaiming the gospel as we ought.

What shall we say to this? First, God is just as able to perform miracles through His servants today as He always has been. We must be careful not to limit God’s power because of our unbelief (Mk 6:5, Mar 6:6). But, having said that, we must also be careful to understand the place of miracles in God’s working. While there are miracles reported throughout the Bible, they mainly occur in clusters around the time of the exodus, during the ministries of Elijah and Elisha, and during the time of Christ and the apostles. The purpose of those increased miracles was to authenticate the word of God or His messengers during critical times in the history of His people. But once the purpose for the miracles had been accomplished, the miracles decreased in frequency.

For example, the Book of Hebrews was written to a second-generation church of mostly Jewish Christians who were tempted to go back to Judaism. The author is trying to convince them of the superiority of Jesus. In Heb 2:3-4, he states, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.” He is saying that the truth of the gospel was authenticated by these miracles performed by those who had been with Jesus, namely, the apostles.

But—here’s the point—if signs and wonders were still common in the church, why didn’t he appeal to their current experience? It would have been a much stronger argument to appeal to their common experience of miracles as a proof of Christianity than to appeal to miracles they had not even seen. Or, if the Hebrews were not experiencing such miracles, but should have been, he would have exhorted them to believe God for such things in their midst. But apparently such miracles had generally ceased. His appeal was to the authenticating nature of such signs as performed by the apostles and reported to these people as evidence of the true identity of Jesus as both Lord and Christ.

Another reason I do not believe that we should be emphasizing signs and wonders when we proclaim the gospel is that both Jesus and Paul censured those who sought for such things. The Jews saw Jesus multiply the loaves and fishes and yet they challenged Him to perform more signs (Jn 6:2, Jn 6:26, Jo 6:30). But they would not submit to Him or believe in Him. Paul said, “The Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Co 1:22-24).

The real issue of the gospel is sin, righteousness, and judgment (Jn 16:8). People can gawk at miracles, but if they are not convicted about their sin and need for a Savior, they will not be saved from God’s judgment. The miracles that Christ and the apostles performed authenticate Jesus as the promised Savior. While we can pray that God would graciously heal a person of some disease, and He may do it miraculously, our emphasis should be on the person’s need of a Savior from sin. Jesus is the powerful Lord who can save every person who believes in Him.

Luke 9:3 And He said to them, "Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece.

KJV And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.


Beloved, we are simply soldiering sojourners residing temporarily on earth, "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself." (Php 3:20-21-note) We are charged by Jesus to travel light and depend on the provisions of God. Dear saint (set apart by God and for God's purposes) are you entangled by the world, by its gadgets and glitz and glamour? Paul exhorted his young disciple Timothy in view of the shortness of our time on earth, the gravity of the spiritual battle we wage (every soul we encounter is on the precipice of eternity) and the the dangers of the lusts of the flesh, etc, (1 Jn 2:16-17-note) to "Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier." (2 Ti 2:3-4-note)

Take nothing for your journey - Go mean and lean taking nothing non-essential! The clear implication is that they were not to depend on their natural resources but God's supernatural resources. They were on a journey for Jesus (just as we are beloved) and as such were to "travel light!" While possessions can be nice, the sad truth is that too often our possessions end up possessing us in the form of causing worry and anxiety to outright spiritual bondage! Jesus' words still hold true - Travel Light!

Matthew adds "Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support." (Mt 10:9-10) The point of these instructions is that the disciples were to confident trust God for whatever is needed to proclaim the Gospel.

Jesus is not issuing a call to poverty, but a call to urgency. The disciples of Jesus were (and are) to travel light and be quick about their business of proclaiming the Kingdom of God while today is still called today because the night cometh when no man can work! Are you busy about your Master's business?

Daniel Hill - The prohibition against carrying a bag is interesting in that normally the word was used for a bread bag. Common in the ancient world. But the Lord already said, no bread, making the prohibition against a bag for the bread redundant. But the bread bag was also used by beggars to hold out like the tin cup, so this prohibition is against going about begging. In all this the lord is going to teach the disciples that He can care for them even when He is not with them. This is one way to teach Christ centered dependency. There are many ways the Lord will use to get believers to realize that they can depend upon Him. Sometimes He may send us out with nothing and we will see that

Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:5-6-note)

These disciples would learn what we must also learn, that even though absent, the Lord provides for us. And we can depend upon Him. (Mark Commentary)

Glenn Clark has good advice for modern disciples - "If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fears."

The instructions are different in Mark who adds a staff and sandals -

Mark 6:8 and He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff–no bread, no bag, no money in their belt– 9but to wear sandals; and He added, “Do not put on two tunics.”

Comment: According to Matthew and Luke, they were to take neither (Mt 10:10; Luke 10:4). No widely accepted solution to this discrepancy has been offered.

Staff (4464)(rhabdos) is literally a relatively narrow piece of wood of variable length. Depending on the context, rhabdos can describe a rod (including that with which one is beaten -1 Cor 4:21 ), a staff (by shepherd [cp Lxx use in Mic 7:14] and figuratively in Re 2:27, 12:5, 19:15), a stick (including a walking stick - cp Mt 10:10, Mk 6:8, Lk 9:3) or a measuring stick (Re 11:1-note)

Bag (4082)(pera) is a knapsack, or leather pouch used by travelers. It was used for carrying personal belongings, or food and supplies. An inscription suggests that pēra could be a type of “begging bag” in which funds were collected (Moulton-Milligan).

TDNT says a pera "is the open sack carried on the left hip by a strap over the right shoulder and used by peasants, shepherds, beggars, and wandering philosophers. Jesus is teaching the disciples to rely wholly on God's provision. They are not disappointed in this regard (Lk. 22:35), but Lk. 22:36 reflects a changed situation."

Pera - 6x in 6v - Matt. 10:10; Mk. 6:8; Lk. 9:3; Lk. 10:4; Lk. 22:35; Lk. 22:36

The instructions Jesus provides for the Twelve also provide principles for our work. They are to travel light, taking nothing that is not absolutely essential. They do not travel first class! They do not make their ministry a means for accumulating stuff. They are to stay mean and lean! And too should we beloved follower of Christ. As you read this is there anything you are contemplating buying or doing which you know would compromise your time and energy and so steal from the spiritual ministry God has given you? Then beware! Ask the Spirit of Christ to lead you in your decision. I have a wonderful son who loves Jesus and is an elder at his church, but was saddened several years ago when he told me of his plans to build a huge lake house (big so that the church could use it - clearly a rationalization) and he went through with his plans (he is a successful physician so had the necessary funds). The building occupied so much of his time that his ministry suffered as did his health, eventually causing a stomach ulcer. It was an incredible house that could sleep 40 people easily! Within two years he sold it because he realized that as a Jesus' sojourner he was not traveling light. He has told me several times since then (it's been 4 years now) that he felt like such a heavy burden was lifted from his shoulders. So let me ask you again, what are you considering buying, building or doing that might potentially end up as a heavy burden and hamstring God's work of ministry in your life? This is not a rhetorical question because Paul makes it very clear writing

Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (2 Cor 5:9-10-note)

Jonathan Edwards - “True service of Jesus is characterized by dependence on Jesus, and dependence on Jesus is signified by going where Jesus sends despite material shortfalls and unanswered questions....They must trust him alone who sends them."

Herbert Lockyer - There is here, obviously, no emphasis on asceticism, no glorification of austerity. But there is laid down an abiding principle that Christ's gospelers are to keep themselves as free as possible from worldly entanglements and encumbrances. The missionary to China who made the experiment of cutting himself off from all home supplies soon found that he was mistaken. On the other hand, the minister who made money by a literary success but refused to undertake his own investments or to interest himself in the rise and fall of prices on the stock exchange, was exemplifying the principle here laid down. The compulsion of the simple life is not a limitation according to Jesus. It is an assistance for a preacher, if only he learns to live the carefree life through faith in a providing God.

John Piper - Pilgrims travel light. If we have a great inheritance just around the corner we do not quibble over treasures here.

Keener - Jesus instructs the disciples to travel light, like some other groups: (1) peasants, who often had only one cloak; (2) traveling philosophers called Cynics; (3) some prophets, like Elijah and John the Baptist. They are to be totally committed to their mission, not tied down with worldly concerns. The “bag” would have been used for begging (as the Cynics used it). (IVP Background Commentary)

As believers we have been given sufficient provisions

Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (2 Peter 1:3-4-note)

Do not even have two tunics apiece - two tunics was the badge of the well-to-do. One tunic was sufficient as an important outer garment that served both as overcoat and blanket.

Steven Cole - Later, Jesus refers back to this incident and comments on how they did not lack anything (Lu 22:35-36). But He then changes the instruction and tells them to take along money and other provisions. Why the change? Apparently, here Jesus was concerned both about the urgency of their going immediately and the vital lesson they needed to learn about trusting God to provide for their basic needs. That lesson is further underscored in the next incident, the feeding of the 5,000. While Jesus’ instructions to the twelve on this occasion are not to be applied literally, there is a valid principle here for all of His followers, namely, that our focus in life should not be on acquiring the world’s junk, but on spreading the message of God’s kingdom. In other words, “Seek first His kingdom and righteousness, and all these things [our basic needs] will be added unto you” (Mt 6:33). Our focus should be on ministry, not on things. If it is, we can trust Him to provide for our needs (not all our wants).

ILLUSTRATION OF TAKE NOTHING - TRAVEL LIGHT! - As Christians, we need to think of ourselves as travelers who are just passing through this sinful world. We are not permanent residents, but pilgrims on a journey to a better land. Therefore, we need to “travel light,” not burdening ourselves with an undue attachment to the material things of life. the more we care for the luxuries and possessions of earth, the more difficult will be our journey to heaven. The story is told about some Christians who were traveling in the Middle East. They heard about a wise, devout, beloved, old believer, so they went out of their way to visit him. When they finally found him, they discovered that he was living in a simple hut. All he had inside was a rough cot, a chair, a table, and a battered stove for heating and cooking. The visitors were shocked to see how few possessions the man had, and one of the blurted out, “Well, where is your furniture?” The aged saint replied by gently asking, “Where is yours?” The visitor, sputtering a little, responded, “Why, at home, of course. I don’t carry it with me, I’m traveling.” “So am I,” the godly Christian replied. “So am I.” This man was practicing a basic principle of the Bible: Christians must center their affections on Christ, not on the temporal things of this earth. Material riches lose their value when compared to the riches of glory. To keep this world’s goods from becoming more important to us than obeying Christ, we need to ask ourselves, “Where is our furniture?”

Excerpt from Eugene Peterson's Long Obedience in the Same Direction - (Jesus') job description was "My Father is working straight through.... So am I" (Jn 5:17). By joining Jesus and the psalm we learn a way of work that does not acquire things or amass possessions but responds to God and develops relationships. People are at the center of Christian work. In the way of pilgrimage we do not drive cumbersome Conestoga wagons loaded down with baggage over endless prairies. We travel light. The character of our work is shaped not by accomplishments or possessions but in the birth of relationships: "Children are GOD's best gift." We invest our energy in people. Among those around us we develop sons and daughters, sisters and brothers even as our Lord did with us: "Oh, how blessed are you parents with your quivers full of children!"

Related Resources:

IS JESUS A JEWISH CYNIC? - Because of these instructions and because of teachings in which he criticizes materialism and vanity, a few scholars think Jesus was a Jewish Cynic. Are Jesus’ instructions here in Mark 6 (and parallels in Matt 10 and Luke 9) in step with the Cynic dress code? No, these instructions in fact do not agree with Cynic dress and conduct; they contradict them. The very things Jesus tells his disciples not to take with them (no bag, no tunic—and no staff either, if we follow the version in Matthew and Luke) are the characteristic markers of the true Cynic, as one observer from late antiquity put it: “What makes a Cynic is his purse and his staff and his big mouth” (Epictetus 3.22.50; cf. Lucian, Peregrinus 15; Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers 6.13; Psuedo-Diogenes 30.3). There is nothing Cynic in Jesus’ instructions to his disciples.The only parallel with Jesus is simply in giving instructions with regard to what to wear and what to take on one’s journey. The only specific agreement is taking the staff (if we follow Mark; if we do not, then there is no agreement at all). The staff, however, is hardly distinctive to Cynics. On the contrary, in the Jewish context the staff has a long and distinguished association with the patriarchs, such as Jacob and Judah (Gen 32:10; 38:18), and the great lawgiver Moses and his brother Aaron (Exod 4:4; 7:9). Moreover, the staff is also a symbol of royal authority, figuring in texts that in later interpretation take on messianic and eschatological significance (e.g., Gen 49:10; Isa 11:4; Ezek 19:14). (Holman Apologetics Commentary)

Rod Mattoon on the Pilgrim Life - What is the life of a pilgrim like?

A. Pilgrims travel light. They are not bogged down with great weight.

B. Their encounters are difficult with beasts and dangerous terrain.

1 Peter 5:8-Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

C. A pilgrim has no permanent home on earth.

Philippians 3:20-For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

D. Wilderness life also has times of quietness, beauty, and meditation about the Lord.

E. The pilgrim is ready to travel at a moment's notice. As Christians, we are to be ready for the Rapture of the church when we will be removed within the blink of an eye. This could happen today.

1 Corinthians 15:52-In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (Exodus Commentary)

David Holwick on Traveling LIght - The time is short.
1) Jesus demands a rapid mission. a) No heavy support, just go. b) In effect, they would live off the land.
Being a military brat, I often heard stories about the war in Vietnam. One of my neighbors had been a military advisor to the South Vietnamese. As they hiked through the jungle, the soldiers would grab a handful of tea leaves and boil them for lunch. Their meal was a cupful of rice. A few tons of supplies could keep his division of thousands of men functioning. American Army divisions, however, needed hundreds, even thousands of tons of supplies each day. Ammo, fuel, C-rations, vehicles, toilet paper...Jesus says his disciples would be more like the South Vietnamese. Travel light, travel fast. There was a whole nation to reach!

Luke 9:4 "Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that city.

KJV And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart.

Whatever house you enter stay there - They were dependent on the hospitality of their fellow Jews. The disciples were to rely on those to whom they would go for nourishment. "Jesus telling his disciples to stay with them in one house contrasts with the practice of religious philosophers in the ancient world who went from house to house begging." (NET Note)

Matthew adds some detail...

"inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city. As you enter the house, give it your greeting. If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace." (Mt 10:11-12)

Comment: The idea of "worthy" is mentioned only by Matthew and speaks not of the host's "net worth" (so to speak) but describes their "spiritual worth." They were of "congenial disposition" (Jamieson), hosts with good reputations, who would welcome them as disciples of Jesus and presumably be open to their message as suggested by Matthew adding the phrase "heed your message" (Mt 10:14). John MacArthur comments that "A worthy house was one where their witness and work were appreciated and accepted as being from God."

Regarding peace (eirene), in the Jewish culture "peace" or shalom was a common greeting but conveyed a deeper meaning of total well-being and wholeness of body, mind, and spirit.

MacArthur - In that day travelers stayed in people’s homes. Hotels did not exist, and inns were dangerous and often little more than brothels. Wherever they traveled, whatever house they happened to be invited to stay in, the apostles were to stay there until they left that city. That would distinguish them from traveling false teachers, who moved from house to house collecting money from everyone they could....The rabbis had followed that principle for many years. One ancient rabbi had written, "He who receives a rabbi into his house or as his guest and lets him have his enjoyment from his possessions, the Scripture ascribes to him as if he had offered the continual offerings." They rightly believed that God would bless those who provided food, clothing, shelter, and other aid to the teachers of His Word.

Jesus repeats this instruction in Luke 10

“Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’ 6 “If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. 7“Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house. 8“Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; (Lk 10:5-8)

Luke 9:5 "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."

KJV And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.

And as for those who do not receive you - Rejection of the Gospel of Jesus is to be expected for in the Parable of the Soils Jesus taught that only one heart "soil" (Lk 8:15-note) was good and honest and would hear the Gospel "seed" and "hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance." Jesus also taught that most people will chose the broad road to destruction...

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.(Mt 7:13-14-note)

Matthew adds some details to Luke's record

"but if it is not worthy, take back (epistrepho = aorist imperative) your blessing of peace (ESV better "let your peace return to you"). Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet." (Mt 10:13b-14)

Comment: Why should they take back their greeting of peace? The ultimate peace that all men need is peace with God and the only way to obtain that peace is through belief in Jesus (cf Eph 2:14-note, Ro 5:1-note). The house that did not receive nor heed (the Gospel message of the disciples) in effect was rejecting any chance of peace with God. It was as if the offer was withdrawn! See also Mt 10:41.

John MacArthur adds that the phrase "let your peace return to you" "was an Oriental expression signifying withdrawal of favor or blessing. It is not that such a household would have a blessing and then lose it, but that the offer of peace was never received and is therefore withdrawn. The greatest blessing of God is worthless for a person who will not accept it. God's gospel is offered to all the world, and it has power to save all the world, but it is powerless to save or help even a single person who will not have Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior." (cf. John 5:40).

Receive (1209)(dechomai) means to to receive something offered or transmitted by another (Luke 2:28). To take something into one's hand and so to grasp (Luke 2:28, 22:17). To be receptive to someone (Mt 10:14, 40). To take a favorable attitude toward something (Mt 11:14).

MacArthur comments on shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them - "When they came back into Israel from a Gentile country, many Jews would literally shake as much dust off their feet as possible in order not to bring pagan soil into their homeland. For the apostles to shake the dust off their feet while leaving a Jewish house or town would be to treat the inhabitants like Gentiles—whom most Jews considered to be out of God's reach. When the leaders of the synagogue in Pisidia of Antioch drove Paul and Barnabas out of their district, the two men "shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium." (Acts 13:51). Of the unbelieving Jews there Paul had declared, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles." (Mt 10:46; cf. Mt. 7:6). It is not that we are to turn away from those who reject the gospel at first hearing or even after several hearings. Had that practice been followed, many believers would not be in the kingdom today. Through Paul, the Lord Himself entreated unbelieving Corinthians to "be reconciled to God." (2 Cor. 5:20). Were God not marvelously patient and long-suffering with fallen mankind, He would have destroyed the world long ago. He is infinitely patient with sinners, Peter tells us, "not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." (2 Pet. 3:9). Jesus was not speaking of those who are slow to understand or believe but of those who, after hearing a clear testimony of the gospel and seeing dramatic and irrefutable signs of confirmation, continue to resist and oppose it. When a person's mind is firmly set against God, we should turn our efforts to others. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew 8-15)

Shake off (present imperative)(660)(apotinasso from apo = from + tinasso = to shake) means literally to shake off something in order to get rid of it, speaking of dust here and a viper in the only other NT use (Acts 28.5). Used twice in the Septuagint - 1 Sa 10:2, Lam 2:7.

Related Resource:

Witness (3142)(marturion/martyrion source of English "martyr") means evidence, proof. The content of what a witness tells, in this case with his action of shaking the dust off his sandal! Marturion is an objective act, circumstance or statement that provides evidence or certifies the truthfulness of something. (See also marturia/martyria)

Matthew adds another statement by Jesus

“Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city. (Mt 10:15)

What Jesus is saying is that rejection of the disciples’ message was a serious sin worse even than the gross rebellion of Sodom and Gomorrah! And of course we know about the judgment of those sinful towns.

Luke 9:6 Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

KJV And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where.


Departing (1831)(exerchomai) means going forth or away, to move out of a well-defined area (e.g., Mk 1:35).

Going throughout (1330)(dierchomai from dia = through + erchomai = to come, go) means to pass through a place, go from place to place ( Mt 12:43; Mk 10:25; Ac 13:6; 1 Cor 10:1; Heb 4:14)

Preaching the Gospel (present tense - continually)(2097)(euaggelizo/euangelizo from eu = good, well + aggéllo = proclaim, tell; English = evangelize) means to announce good news concerning something. Euaggelizo was often used in the Septuagint for preaching a glad or joyful message (cf. 1Sam. 31:9; 2 Sa 1:20; 4:10). Euaggelizo/euangelizo in the NT with rare exception refers especially to the glad tidings of the coming kingdom of God and of salvation obtained through Jesus Christ's death, burial and resurrection.

Mark adds some detail

They went out and preached that men should repent. And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them. (Mark 6:12-13)

Comment: Repeatedly we see that in the proclamation of the Gospel both John the Baptist (Mk 1:4; Mt. 3:2) and Jesus (Mk 1:15; Mt 4:17) emphasized repentance, the apostles declared that sinners must turn from sin and believe the gospel (cf. Acts 3:19; 17:30). The practical question to ask is when we proclaim the Gospel as preachers and teachers and lay witnesses are we explaining to the hearers that repentance is an integral component of the reception of the Gospel that leads to salvation? "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent (metanoeo in the present imperative) and believe (present imperative) in the Gospel." (Mark 1:15)

Healing (present tense - continually)(2323)(see note above therapeuo)

Everywhere - No exceptions. No partially. This reminds us of Jesus' commission in Mark 16:15 ""Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation."

Everywhere (3837)(pantachou from pas = all + suffix –chou = in a place) means in all places, in all directions, throughout, everywhere.

Pantachou - 7x in 7v - Mk. 1:28; Mk. 16:20; Lk. 9:6; Acts 17:30; Acts 24:3; Acts 28:22; 1 Co. 4:17. Once in the Septuagint - Isaiah 42:22.

Steven Cole - Our text records the first instance of the disciples going out under Jesus’ command to preach the gospel. Up till now, they had watched Him do it, but now He sends them out to proclaim the kingdom of God. We would be mistaken if we took these verses as normative for all believers or even for all those who are called to preach. It was a unique situation and Jesus gave unique instructions which He later modified (Lu 22:35-36). But even so, there are some principles here that we can apply as we seek to proclaim the good news of Christ as He has commanded us to do.

Luke 9:7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was happening; and he was greatly perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead,

KJV Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead;

Here is Matthew's account

At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the news about Jesus, 2 and said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.” 3 For when Herod had John arrested, he bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. 4 For John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 Although Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded John as a prophet. 6 But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod, 7so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8 Having been prompted by her mother, she *said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9 Although he was grieved, the king commanded it to be given because of his oaths, and because of his dinner guests. 10He sent and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. 12 His disciples came and took away the body and buried it; and they went and reported to Jesus. (Matt. 14:1-12)

Expositor's Bible Commentary gives us the context - Jesus has come to the end of his great Galilean ministry. The subsequent events take place to the north and east of Galilee and culminate in the confession of Jesus' messiahship, followed by the first passion prediction (Lk 9:19-27). These events are related more fully in Mark 6:30-8:26 along with other episodes Luke chose not to include.(The Expositor's Bible Commentary – Volume 8: Matthew, Mark, Luke)

Now Herod the tetrarch - Herod the tetrarch (see Lk 3:1-note) refers to Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, who ruled over Galilee from 4 BC to AD 39, overlapping with Jesus’ entire ministry. When Herod died in 4 b.c., the kingdom was divided among three of his sons, Archelaus, Antipas, and Philip, and a man named Lysanias (Luke 3:1). Herod Antipas was made ruler over the region of Galilee and nearby Perea and is the Herod referred to in the Gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ ministry. It was Herod Antipas who imprisoned (Luke 3:20) and executed (Lk 9:9) John the Baptist.

Tetrarch - Properly governor of the fourth part of a larger province and kingdom, i.e. a tetrarchy A political position in the early Roman Empire. It designated the size of the territory ruled (literally the “fourth part”) and the amount of dependence on Roman authority. Lk 3:1-note names one of the tetrarchs (Herod Antipas) who served in the year of Jesus' birth. As Archelaus was "ethnarch" over half of Herod the Great's whole kingdom, so Philip and Antipus had divided between them the remaining half, and were each "tetrarch" over the fourth; Herod over Galilee; Philip over Ituraea and Trachonitis; Lysanias over Abilene.

Related Resources:

  • 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica Tetrarch
  • International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Tetrarch
  • Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia Tetrarch
  • McClintock and Strong's Bible Encyclopedia Tetrarch
  • The Jewish Encyclopedia Tetrarch

Steven Cole comments that "The other Gospels use this occasion to go into more detail about the martyrdom of John the Baptist, but Luke barely mentions it in passing. Rather, he focuses on Herod’s perplexed question regarding Jesus, “Who is this man about whom I hear such things?” (Lu 9:9). For people to believe in Jesus Christ, they must understand who He is. When they do understand who He is and believe in Him, then they must proclaim Him to others so that they have the opportunity to be saved and not to come into judgment."

Heard of all that was happening - This refers to Jesus' disciples going throughout the land of Israel carrying out miraculous deeds (Lk 9:6, Mt 14:2 "miraculous powers"). In short their work was phenomenal for the message and ministry of Jesus and His apostles reached even into the highest levels in the government. Would it not be wonderful to see a Spirit filled, Word centered, Christ exalting revival once again in America, so that the light of the Gospel message would penetrate into all the dark crevices of our society!

A T Robertson on all that was happening - Present middle participle, "all that was coming to pass."

He was greatly perplexed ("was very confused")(1280)(diaporeo from dia = through + aporeo = to be at a loss from a = negative + poros = a way) means to be thoroughly perplexed, to be in much doubt, to hesitate greatly.

Luke uses the imperfect tense describing Herod's mental state as over and over he was perplexed. Herod did not know what to make of all that was happening.

Vincent on diaporeo - From dia = through, and aporeo = to be without a way out. The radical idea of the compound verb seems to be of one who goes through the whole list of possible ways, and finds no way out. Hence, to be in perplexity. Diaporeō is used as a reaction by people to a manifestation of God’s power.

Diaporeo - 4x in 4v - Usage: great perplexity(1), greatly perplexed(3). There are no uses in the

Luke 9:7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was happening; and he was greatly perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead,

Acts 2:12 And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, "What does this mean?"

Acts 5:24 Now when the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them as to what would come of this.

Acts 10:17 Now while Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be, behold, the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions for Simon's house, appeared at the gate;

Hendriksen writes "In spite of wealth and prestige, Herod was a very unhappy man. Oppressed by a guilty conscience, he did not follow David's example. Therefore he did not prosper. See Ps 32:5; Pr 28:13." (Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke)

Because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead - Some people were convinced that Jesus was John the Baptist restored to life. This may seem somewhat odd, since Scripture nowhere ascribes any miracles to the Baptist. In any event this would be troubling to Herod who had murdered John. He surely had a guilty conscience! It appears that Herod himself held this view.

Mark 6:16 Herod...kept saying, “John, whom I beheaded, has risen!”

Luke 9:8 and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen again.

KJV And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again.

Appeared (5316)(phaino from phos = light; gives us our English "phantom") made an appearance.

Stein on Elijah had appeared - For the popular view that Elijah would return in the last days, compare Luke 1:17; Mal 4:5; Mark 9:11–13. Whether an actual reappearance of the historical Elijah was meant or the assumption of Elijah’s role in fulfillment of Mal 4:5 is uncertain. In Mark 9:11–13 Jesus interpreted Elijah’s coming in the latter way. (New American Commentary – Volume 24: Luke)

NET Note on Elijah had appeared - The appearance of Elijah would mean that the end time had come. According to 2 Kgs 2:11, Elijah was still alive. In Mal 4:5 it is said that Elijah would be the precursor of Messiah.

ESV Study Bible on Elijah - this reflects the widespread expectation in Judaism (Mal. 3:1-2; 4:5-6) that Elijah, who was caught up to heaven without dying (2 Kings 2:11), would return at the end of time. Contrary to popular speculation that Jesus might be the expected Elijah, Jesus himself describes John the Baptist as having come “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17; cf. Mark 9:11-13).

Had risen again (450)(anistemi from ana = up, again + histemi = stand, to cause to stand) means literally to get up, to stand up, to stand again, to cause to rise (thus "to raise"), to stand or be erect (Acts 9:41). To rise from a lying or reclined position. To stand straight up from a prostrate position (Acts 14:10). Most uses of anistemi denote the act of getting up from a seated or reclined position. Here Luke uses anistemi to describe a resurrection.

Luke's uses of anistemi - Anistemi was used to describe Jesus’ resurrection in Luke 16:31; 18:33; 24:7, 46; Acts 2:24.

Lk. 1:39; 4:16,29,38-39; 5:25,28; 6:8; 8:55; 9:8,19; 10:25; 11:7-8,32; 15:18,20; 16:31; 17:19; 18:33; 22:45-46; 23:1; 24:7,12,33,46; Acts 1:15; 2:24,32; 3:22,26; 5:6,17,34,36-37; 6:9; 7:18,37; 8:26-27; 9:6,11,18,34,39-41; 10:13,20,23,26,41; 11:7,28; 12:7; 13:16,33-34; 14:10,20; 15:7; 17:3,31; 20:30; 22:10,16; 23:9; 26:16,30

Luke 9:9 Herod said, "I myself had John beheaded; but who is this man about whom I hear such things?" And he kept trying to see Him.

KJV And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him.


This question will set the stage for Peter's confession in Lk 9:18-21. In fact the revelation of the Son of Man is the main theme in this next section (Lk 9:18-45)

Herod said, "I myself had John beheaded (As recorded in Matt. 14:1-12 and Mk 6:14-29) He is responding to the thought circulating in Galilee that Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead and this thought greatly troubled him (Lk 9:7).

  • See commentary on Lk 7:18-23-note regarding John the Baptist.

Mark records that "Herod was afraid of John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. And when he heard him, he was very perplexed; but he used to enjoy listening to him." (Mk 6:40). If he was afraid of him before he had him murdered, imagine how he must feel now!

Who is this man about whom I hear such things - The disciples had voiced this question in Luke 8:25-note (Lk 5:21-note; Lk 7:20-note, Lk 7:49-note, see also Lk 9:18–20; 20:2; 22:67–71; 23:3, 9) Herod tetrarch of Galilee (Lk 3:1), who raised the question that later would be the question of the high priest (Lk 22:67) and the Roman governor (Lk 23:3). Herod gives an answer in Mark "saying, “John, whom I beheaded, has risen!” (Mk 6:16)

John MacArthur on Who is this man? - That question of the identity of Jesus is the most important one ever asked and answered. The response each person gives to it will determine his or her eternal destiny, in hell or heaven. Because of its significance, Luke repeatedly recorded instances of people asking that question (cf. Lk 9:18; 5:21; 7:20, 49; 8:25; 22:67, 70; 23:3). Tragically, most people then as now gave the wrong answer. But Peter, speaking for the disciples (Matt. 16:16), a Roman centurion at the cross (Mark 15:39), and doubting Thomas (John 20:28), among others, gave the correct answer: Jesus is God the Son, the Messiah, Savior, and Lord. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Luke 6-10)

And he kept trying to see Him - Only Luke gives this detail. Considering Herod's statement in Mk 6:16, one might interpret this as referring to John the Baptist, but most commentators say "Him" refers to Jesus.

Kept trying (2212)(zeteo) in the imperfect tense indicates that Herod repeatedly was seeking to see Jesus. He thought he had gotten rid of John's convicting preaching. He was wondering if John had arisen or that another like John had come on the scene?

Stein on kept trying to see Him - This foreshadows Lk 13:31 and Lk 23:6–12 and is not due to Herod’s “faith.” At best this may reflect Herod’s curiosity and desire to see a miracle (Lk 23:8), but perhaps it refers more ominously to a desire to get rid of Jesus (Lk 13:31). (Ibid)

Herod Antipas’ motivation was not out of an honest desire to know Jesus but was either curiosity or evil to see Jesus perform a miracle or his desire to kill him:

Luke 23:8 Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus; for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about Him and was hoping to see some sign performed by Him.

Luke 13:31 Just at that time some Pharisees approached, saying to Him, “Go away, leave here, for Herod wants to kill You.”

NET Note - The expression "was seeking to see Him" probably indicates that Herod, for curiosity's sake or more likely for evil purposes, wanted to get to know Jesus, i.e., who he was and what he was doing....Herod finally got his wish in Luke 23:6–12, with inconclusive results from his point of view.

Hendriksen on seeking to see Him - So was Simeon (Lk 2:26-30); and so were: the mother and brothers of Jesus (Lk 8:20), Zacchaeus (Lk 19:3, 4), and some Greeks (John 12:21). The results varied. Why? What is the lesson?

Luke 9:10 When the apostles returned, they gave an account to Him of all that they had done. Taking them with Him, He withdrew by Himself to a city called Bethsaida.

KJV And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.

Parallel passages - Matt. 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; John 6:1-14. Recorded in all 4 Gospel accounts.

Stein sets the table so to speak on this section - This nature miracle, like the stilling of the storm (Lk 8:22–25), deals with the question, “Who is this one?” (Lk 8:25 and Lk 9:9). In this story Jesus clearly is “a man accredited by God to you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did among you through him” (Acts 2:22). Even as the storms of sea posed no problem for Jesus, neither would a shortage of food. Unlike most miracle stories there is no description of the people’s reaction. This miracle was meant primarily for the disciples and would enable them to answer the question Jesus asked in Luke 9:20. In Luke a meal setting is especially appropriate for understanding who Jesus is (cf. Lk 24:30–31). (New American Commentary – Volume 24: Luke)

Hendriksen notes "that the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, described here in Lk 9:10-17, took place when Passover, probably April of the year a.d. 29, was already approaching, as is clear from John 6:4. The Great Galilean Ministry, probably extending from about December of a.d. 27 to about April of a.d. 29, was drawing to its close."

POSB - Jesus demonstrated and taught the need for privacy. The twelve returned from their mission and reported what had happened. Jesus had never needed time with them as much as He did now, for He was closing out His Galilean ministry. In fact, there was to be little public ministry hereafter. From this point onward He was to concentrate primarily on His disciples, giving them intensive training (The Preacher's Outline & Sermon Bible – Luke)

Luke (and Mk 6:30) calls them apostles which describes them as men through whom Jesus Christ Himself was accomplishing His work on earth and they served as His official ambassadors, commissioned by Him.

Apostles (652)(apostolos from apo = from + stello = send forth) (Click discussion of apostle) means one sent forth from by another, often with a special commission to represent another and to accomplish his work. It can be a delegate, commissioner, ambassador sent out on a mission or orders or commission and with the authority of the one who sent him. Apostolos referred to someone who was officially commissioned to a position or task, such as an envoy. Cargo ships were sometimes called apostolic, because they were dispatched with a specific shipment for a specific destination. In secular Greek apostolos was used of an admiral of a fleet sent out by the king on special assignment.

All of the other mentions of the 12 in Luke 9 refer to disciples - Lk 9:14, 16, 18, 40, 43, 54. In Lk 9:2 the verb apostello is used to describe when they were sent out.

Luke's uses of apostle

Lk. 6:13; Lk. 9:10; Lk. 11:49; Lk. 17:5; Lk. 22:14; Lk. 24:10;Acts 1:2; Acts 1:26; Acts 2:37; Acts 2:42; Acts 2:43; Acts 4:33; Acts 4:35; Acts 4:36; Acts 4:37; Acts 5:2; Acts 5:12; Acts 5:18; Acts 5:29; Acts 5:40; Acts 6:6; Acts 8:1; Acts 8:14; Acts 8:18; Acts 9:27; Acts 11:1; Acts 14:4; Acts 14:14; Acts 15:2; Acts 15:4; Acts 15:6; Acts 15:22; Acts 15:23; Acts 16:4

Gave an account (1334)(diegeomai from diá = through + hēgéomai = to lead) means to conduct a narration through to the end. Too carry (a narrative) through from beginning to end. To recount or relate in full. To set out something in detail, to give a detailed account of something in words.

Robertson on they gave an account - to carry a narrative through to the end. Jesus listened to it all.

Mark adds teaching to all they had done

The apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. (Mk 6:30)

Mark explains why Jesus withdrew

And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) (Mark 6:31)

Comment: Notice Mark's mention of "rest a while" the verb anapauo (ana = again, back, or intensifying + pauo = to cease or give rest) means to cause someone to gain relief (by resting), refreshment, intermission from toil. Recall they had been preaching, teaching, healing, casting out demons and were doubtless exhausted.

John Phillips comments "Meanwhile, the Twelve returned to Jesus full of good news and wonderful tales. The Lord decided that they needed a holiday, to go somewhere where they could be away from the crowds. He chose a desert place called Bethsaida Julias, a small town that Herod Philip had renovated and renamed after Julias, the daughter of Caesar Augustus. The place was outside of Herod's jurisdiction. (Exploring the Gospel of Luke: An Expository Commentary)

Withdrew (5298)(hupochoreo from hupo = under + choreo = to have room, place) means to give place secretly, withdraw oneself under cover without noise or notice. The only other use is Lk 5:16 "Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray."

Gilbrant - Although hupochōreō is found only in Luke, the clear testimony of the Gospel writers is that Jesus would often withdraw for various reasons (see anachōreō). He withdrew in order to avoid the murderous plots of His enemies (Matthew 12:15; Mark 3:7), as well as the overzealous intentions of His followers (John 6:15). The execution of John the Baptist caused Jesus to withdraw, perhaps to receive strengthening from the Father for His mission (Matthew 14:13). The construction in Luke 5:16 (ēn hupochōrōn) indicates that Jesus customarily withdrew to pray. The imperfect form (ēn) of the verb eimi (1498), “to be,” is iterative, indicating a practice or custom. Jesus would also withdraw from the crowds in order to rest (Luke 9:10; cf. Mark 6:31). (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary).

A city called Bethsaida - Peculiar to Luke's account. Matthew and Mark have secluded place (eremos = "a deserted place" - this suggests they did not actually enter Bethsaida)(Mt 14:13, Mk 6:31). Bethsaida was singled out by the Lord, along with Chorazin, as being more deserving of judgment than Tyre and Sidon (Luke 10:13).

NET Note - Bethsaida was a town on the northeast side of the Sea of Galilee. Probably this should be understood to mean a place in the vicinity of the town. It represents an attempt to reconcile the location with the place of the miraculous feeding that follows.

Bethsaida - see map (Bible places) meaning, “house of fish.” (or "fishing place") The home of Andrew, Peter, and Philip (John 1:44 ; John 12:21), located on the northeast side of the Sea of Galilee. This town was rebuilt under Philip the tetrarch, one of Herod the Great's sons, who named it Julius in honor of the Emperor Augustus' daughter. Near here Jesus fed the 5,000 (Luke 9:10) and healed a blind man (Mark 8:22). Jesus pronounced judgment upon Bethsaida for its lack of response to His message and miracles (Matthew 11:21 ; Luke 10:13). The site of Bethsaida has yet to be identified archaeologically. Some scholars do propose two sites named Bethsaida: The one northeast of the Sea of Galilee, as already discussed; and another, west of the Sea of Galilee, close to Capernaum. This postulation is based on Mark 6:45, where following the feeding of the 5,000 outside Bethsaida, Jesus tells His disciples to sail to Bethsaida. However, there is no contemporary mention of two Bethsaidas, and the Mark 6:1 text can just as easily refer to a short trip to the known city of Bethsaida-Julias as to an unknown town. (Holman Bible Dictionary)

NET Note (to a town called Bethsaida) - There is a seeming myriad of variants for this text. Many MSS read "to a deserted place"; or "to a deserted place of a town called Bethsaida", while others have "to a village called Bedsaida"; "to a village called Bethsaida to a deserted place", "to a place called Bethsaida". The variants can be grouped generally into those that speak of a "deserted place" and those that speak of a place/city/town called Bethsaida. The Byzantine reading is evidently a conflation of the earlier texts, and should be dismissed as secondary. The variants that speak of a deserted place are an assimilation to Mark 6:32, as well a harmonization with Lk 9:12, and should also be regarded as secondary. The reading that best explains the rise of the others - both internally and externally - is the one that stands behind the translation and is found in the text of NA(27).

Luke 9:11 But the crowds were aware of this and followed Him; and welcoming them, He began speaking to them about the kingdom of God and curing those who had need of healing

KJV And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.

The crowds were aware of this and followed Him - Mark adds that

The people saw them going, and many recognized (epiginosko) them and ran there together on foot from all the cities, and got there ahead of them. (Mark 6:33)

John adds

A large crowd followed Him, because they saw the signs which He was performing on those who were sick. (John 6:2)

So the crowd was following Him but clearly more so because they wanted to see the signs and miracles, not the Man and His message! Things have not changed much over the past 2000 years!

John adds

So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone. (Jn 6:15)

John MacArthur comments that this crowd was composed of "thrill seekers, who eagerly followed Jesus as their king (Mk 6:15) who could provide healing and free food. Their superficial, shallow-soil mentality drew a rebuke from Jesus (John 6:26-27)."

Followed (190)(akoloutheo from a = expresses union with, likeness + keleuthos = a road, way) means to walk the same road (Ponder that simple definition dear believer - Am I willing to walk the same road as Jesus?) Literally to follow (like the crowds followed Jesus) and in a figurative sense to follow Jesus as a disciple.

Welcoming (588)(apodechomai from apo = from or intensifier + dechomai = to take from another for oneself, to receive, to welcome) means to receive kindly or hospitably (Luke 8:40; Acts 15:4; 18:27); of God's Word, to receive or embrace heartily, put out the "welcome mat" for it (Acts 2:41); of benefits, to receive or accept gratefully (Acts 24:3).

Speaking of the Kingdom of God - He would speaking to them of how one would enter the Kingdom. See kingdom of God

Kingdom (932)(basileia from basileus = a sovereign, king, monarch) denotes sovereignty, royal power, dominion. Basileia can also refer to the territory or people over whom a king rules.

It has been well said that the only kingdom that will prevail in this world is the kingdom that is not of this world! Amen!

Related Resources:

Luke 9:12 Now the day was ending, and the twelve came and said to Him, "Send the crowd away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and get something to eat; for here we are in a desolate place."

KJV And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place.

Now the day was ending - Vincent says "very literally, to bow down." “The day began to decline,” as if looking to the approach of sunset. Robertson adds "to bend or bow down. Many compounds as in English decline, incline, recline, clinic (klinē, bed), etc. Luke alone in the N.T. uses it intransitively as here. The sun was turning down towards setting." Late in the afternoon, around sunset, was when the main meal was eaten.

John tells us the time of year was in the Spring writing "Now the Passover (held in month of Nisan), the feast of the Jews, was near." (Jn 6:4)

The twelve came - Notice how Luke switches from Twelve (Lk 9:1) to apostles (Lk 9:10) and again to Twelve (Lk 9:12) indicates that he considered these terms to be interchangeable.

Said to Him, "Send the crowd away - Aren't we so often just like the disciples? Instead of being others oriented, we are so easily inconvenienced with our "me-my-mine" mindset! (cf Paul's exhortation to manifest unselfish Christ-like behavior toward others - Php 2:3-5-note).

Holman New Testament Commentary - The Twelve had not yet comprehended what Jesus was about. Jesus saw the needs of the crowd, had compassion, and met the need. In contrast, the disciples saw the need and wanted to send them away so the crowd could provide for themselves.

Find lodging (2647)(kataluo) more in keeping with its formation it means “unloose (and set down), take down.” It also refers to “finding lodging” in an intransitive sense (Liddell-Scott). Find someone to show hospitality.

Vincent on lodging - Peculiar to Luke. Primarily the verb means to break up or dissolve. Hence often in New Testament to destroy (Matthew 5:17; Mark 13:2). Intransitively, to take up one's quarters; lodge; either because the harness of the travellers' horses is loosed, or because the fastenings of their garments are untied. The kindred word κατάλυμα, a guest-chamber, occurs, Mark 14:14; or inn, Luke 2:7.

Get (find)(2147)(heurisko) means to find after searching and so to discover (Mt 7:7), to find accidentally or without seeking (Mt 12:44).

Something to eat (1979)(episitismos from epi = upon + sitizo = to feed, nourish; cf sitos = food) food supply, provisions, victuals. Only in Lk 9:12.

Vincent on episitismos - "Only here in New Testament. Properly a stock of provisions. Thus Xenophon. "Cyrus hastened the whole journey, except when he halted in order to furnish himself with supplies".

Gilbrant - In classical Greek episitismos refers to the activity of furnishing oneself with provisions or of foraging. It can also describe the stock of food which was gathered. The Septuagint uses it specifically of the provisions for a journey (Ge 42:25; 45:21). By New Testament times it could be used as a general term for any kind of nourishment. Episitismos occurs in the New Testament only in Luke’s account of the feeding of the 5,000 (Luke 9:12), when the disciples recommended sending the crowd away to find something to eat in the surrounding villages and countryside.

Episitismos - 11x in 11v in the Septuagint - Ge 42:25; 45:21; Ex 12:39; Jos 1:11; 9:5; 9:11; 9:14; Jdg 7:8; 20:10; 1 Sa 22:10; Ps 78:25

Desolate place - a deserted or desolate area with sparse vegetation. The Greek word eremos can refer to a desert, but here it means a desolate, uninhabited place because there was abundant green grass ("green grass" = Mark 6:39) Notice that Luke's uses of this term shows they were not actually in the city but in the region of the city of Bethsaida.

Steven Cole - Our Inadequacy, Christ’s Adequacy (Luke 9:10-17) - No passage of Scripture has had a more profound impact on my service for Christ than the gospel accounts of the feeding of the 5,000. It could be argued that it is the most significant miracle Jesus performed, since it’s the only one God saw fit to record in all four gospels. I find myself coming back to its lessons again and again. Each time I come away refreshed as I recall how the Lord wants to give me His sufficiency for my insufficiency to meet the needs of this hurting world. The Lord used this incident for the training of the twelve. We see this in His pointed challenge, “You give them something to eat!” John’s account (Jo 6:6) tells us that Jesus was testing them (especially Philip), knowing what He was about to do. The miracle itself is almost passed over. We are never told exactly how Jesus did it. The focus is not on the spectacular nature of the miracle, but on what it teaches those who serve Jesus about how He meets the needs of others through them. Christ will give us His adequacy to meet the needs of people if we yield our inadequacy to Him.

Three things stand out in this story: the needy multitudes; the inadequate disciples; and the adequate Savior.

1. People are needy.

The apostles returned from their first preaching tour and gave an account to Jesus of all that they had done (Lu 9:10). Jesus withdrew with them to the vicinity of Bethsaida, on the northeast side of the Sea of Galilee. Mark’s account (Mar 6:31) tells us that the purpose of the getaway was rest. He also explains that there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and the disciples didn’t even have time to eat. So they got in the boat and started off across the lake, a distance of four to five miles.

But the trip across the lake was the only vacation they got, since the people saw them going and ran there from all the cities and arrived ahead of them. When the disciples saw that crowd of needy people standing on the shore, they must have thought, “Oh, no! Lord, can we turn the boat around?”

The fact that this many people would go to this effort to be with Jesus shows how needy they were. If you had taken a survey of the crowd, many would have said that their greatest need was for physical healing. There were blind, deaf, lame, diseased and dying people there. By the end of the day, others would have said that their greatest need was for food. There was nothing to eat in that desolate place. But whether anyone recognized it or not, each person’s greatest need was spiritual. Jesus could heal their bodies and fill their stomachs, but that was only a stopgap measure if they perished in their sins. So Jesus taught them about the kingdom of God, how they could rightly be related to Him (Lu 9:11).

Have you ever seen the bumper sticker, “Life is tough; then you die”? If a person does not know God and have the hope of eternal life, that bumper sticker is pretty close to the truth! Sin has taken a terrible toll on the human race. Often the problems people encounter can be the entry point for us to minister to them, not only physically or emotionally, but also spiritually, which is their greatest need. But that’s where we encounter our own problem:

2. We are inadequate to meet the overwhelming needs of people.

Did you notice the contrast between Jesus’ attitude toward the multitude and that of the disciples? Jesus welcomed them (Lu 9:11), but the disciples said to Jesus, “Send the multitude away” (Lu 9:12). It may be that the disciples were just being practical about how to meet the needs of the crowd, but given the situation, I think we are warranted to read some exhaustion into their voices. They were spent. They wanted a break.

Then Jesus said something utterly ridiculous: “You give them something to eat” (Lu 9:13). “Say again, Lord?” “You give them something to eat.” There were 5,000 men, plus women and children. If there were 2.5 children for each man and woman, we’re talking about providing dinner for a crowd half the population of Flagstaff! That’s enough people to fill the NAU Skydome to capacity, with some standing in the aisles! All the food the disciples could come up with was five loaves and two fish, which came from a little boy (Jn 6:9). The entire incident underscores the utter inadequacy of the disciples to meet this overwhelming need.

The manner in which Jesus performed this miracle is significant. He could have called down manna from heaven. Commentators point out that this miracle took place in the wilderness and that the 5,000, seated in companies, recalls Israel camped by tribes in the wilderness under Moses. Calling down manna would have fit the situation. It would have been easier on the twelve. It would have been more efficient. But He didn’t do it that way.

Or, the Lord could have spoken the word and a loaf of bread would have miraculously appeared in each person’s hand. Everyone would have been more awed at Jesus’ power than they were with the quiet way this miracle was done. It would have been much more efficient and impressive than having the disciples distribute the bread and fish to this large crowd, which must have taken a long time.

Or Jesus could have called angels who could have taken the bread from His hand and flown directly to each group and given them the food. People would have been amazed. They would have talked about it for the rest of their lives. It would have been stupendous!

But how did Jesus do it? He used the disciples to distribute the bread and fish to the people. I’m convinced that the Lord did the miracle that way to teach the disciples that His method for meeting the needs of a lost world is through people. Christ meets the needs of people through people. But note carefully the kind of people He uses: Inadequate people!

Jesus uses tired, emotionally drained people. The disciples had just returned from their first preaching tour. Jesus knew they were tired and needed a rest. But their only rest had been the short trip across the lake. True, Jesus let them rest all day as He taught and healed the multitude. But, still, their tiredness and emotional condition comes through in their request, “Send them away.”

Jesus uses busy people. They didn’t even have time to eat because of all the people coming and going. I thought that our hectic schedules were unique to our culture, but apparently not! I have worked as a banquet waiter, so I know that once they started handing out the food to this huge crowd, they were busy men! But invariably the Lord doesn’t use people with extra time on their hands. He uses those who are busy and He keeps them busy. I’m sure that they didn’t have time to eat until that entire crowd had been served.

Jesus uses people who lack resources. The disciples’ comment about buying enough food for all these people was no doubt said with some sarcasm. They didn’t have nearly enough money to do that. The other gospels report that they did a quick calculation and told Jesus that 200 denarii (seven to eight months’ wages) would not be enough to give each person just a little bread. Obviously, the disciples didn’t have anywhere near that much cash in hand. Besides, they were in a desolate place. Even if they went to Bethsaida to buy bread, there wouldn’t be that much bread available. They were ridiculously lacking in the resources to meet Jesus’ demand to feed the multitude.

Some people say, “I’ll serve Jesus someday, but I’m too busy and stressed out to get involved right now.” Or, they think, “I plan to give generously to the Lord’s work after I get my finances in better shape. But right now I can’t afford to give much.” But they’re making the mistake of thinking that serving Christ is something we volunteer to do when we have adequate time, energy, and financial resources. Then they’ll choose to serve Him.

But Jesus doesn’t work through people who choose to serve. He works through His servants. Servants don’t volunteer to serve. They don’t tell their masters, “I’ll clean your house and fix dinner tomorrow, but I’m too stressed out or busy today!” Servants serve when they’re tired, emotionally drained, busy, and lacking in adequate resources. Servants serve because they’re under obligation to their master.

How do we do it? By yielding our inadequacy to the Master to use as He pleases. Five small loaves and two fish, a boy’s lunch—not much to feed such a crowd. Matthew records Jesus as saying, “Bring them here to Me!” That’s the key! Give your inadequate resources and abilities to Jesus. The insufficient becomes more than sufficient when surrendered to Christ! That points us to the third prominent feature of this story, the adequate Savior:

3. Christ will give us His adequacy when we yield our inadequacy to Him to use as He pleases.

Two thoughts:

A. We must yield what we have, not what we don’t have.

That sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But so often we make up excuses about what we don’t have and we fail to offer to Jesus what we do have. “If I just had more money, I’d give regularly to the church!” “If I just had the gift of evangelism, I’d witness more!” “If I just had the ability that others have, I’d serve the Lord.” “If I just ...”! But Jesus didn’t use all the bread in Bethsaida, which the disciples didn’t have. He used the five loaves and two fish that they did have. Jesus doesn’t ask you to give Him what you don’t have. He asks you to give Him what you do have.

A country preacher went to a farmer in his church and asked, “If you had two farms, would you be willing to give one farm to God?” “Yes,” replied the farmer. “I only wish I were in a position to do it.” The preacher persisted, “If you had $20,000, would you give $10,000 to the Lord’s work?” The farmer replied, “Yes, I’d love to have that kind of money! I’d gladly give $10,000 to the Lord’s work.” Then the preacher sprung his trap: “If you had two pigs, would you give one to the Lord’s work?” The farmer blurted out, “That’s not fair! You know I’ve got two pigs!”

The Lord doesn’t use what you don’t have. He uses the inadequate things you have when you yield them to Him.

B. We must yield our inadequacy to Him to use as He pleases.

The disciples weren’t giving the orders here. They were following Jesus’ orders: “Have them recline to eat in groups of about fifty each.” “Eat what, Lord?” “It won’t work, Lord!” “I’ve got a better idea, Lord.” No, they did what Jesus commanded. We need to yield ourselves to Him and let Him do as He sees fit. What Jesus did with this boy’s lunch is what He does with us when we give Him our inadequate abilities and resources:

Jesus blesses.

Without His blessing, we’re wasting our time. “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Ps 127:1). Do you covet God’s blessing in your life and labors for Him? A message by Watchman Nee, “Expecting the Lord’s Blessing” (in Twelve Baskets Full [Hong Kong Church Book Room], vol. 2, pp. 48-64) has had a profound influence on me. Nee argues that everything in God’s work depends upon His blessing. If it is there, even an insufficient amount is sufficient; if it is lacking, the greatest resources and efforts in the world will not be enough.

By God’s blessing, Nee means a working of God that is far in excess of human calculations. If you scrape together 200 denarii and buy enough bread to give everybody a little bit, that is not God’s blessing. But if there is no human way to explain the results in proportion to the gifts or working of those involved, that is God’s blessing. It’s not that we’re sloppy about our work and expect God to cover for our laziness and incompetence. We ought to work hard and be skilled in what we do for the Lord. But to have God’s blessing is not to expect results in proportion to my talents and labor, but in proportion to God’s abundance.

So often we’re just like the disciples. We see the need and start calculating with what we don’t have. Pastors think, “If I just had Bill Gates in my congregation as a tither!” But as Nee points out, “If we have to accumulate sufficient wages to buy bread for the needy multitudes, years and years will elapse before their need is met. We must expect God to work beyond all that man can conceive” (ibid., p. 63). Without the Lord’s blessing, five loaves and two fish were woefully inadequate. With His blessing, it was more than enough. May we covet God’s blessing and examine ourselves to make sure that nothing in our lives hinders it!

Jesus breaks.

Blessing and brokenness go together. You won’t find God’s blessing apart from God’s breaking. You can see it in the lives of every person God has used. Abraham and Sarah had to be past their ability to produce a child before God gave them Isaac. Jacob had to be crippled in his hip before he prevailed with God. Moses had to fail in his own strength and spend 40 years tending sheep in the wilderness before God used him to deliver Israel.

Vance Havner observed, “God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.” (Source unknown.)

Most of us aren’t too weak to serve the Lord. We’re too strong, or at least we think we are. The Lord does not want our adequacy; He wants our inadequacy so that He can supply the adequacy. He puts His treasure in our weak, earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power is clearly from Him, not from us (2Co 4:7). His strength is made perfect in our weakness when we yield ourselves to Him and allow Him to bless, break, multiply and distribute our few loaves and fishes to meet the needs of others. Jesus blesses; He breaks. Then,

Jesus satisfies.

Jesus “kept giving them to the disciples to set before the multitude. And they all ate and were satisfied” (Lu 9:16-17). The “all” included the boy who gave up his lunch! Everyone had enough. They even had leftovers! No one went hungry.

Don’t miss the end of verse Lu 9:17: The leftovers added up to twelve baskets full. How many disciples? Twelve! How many baskets full? Twelve! A basket full for each disciple! But the disciples had to serve the hungry multitude first; only after that did they each collect their basket full. Sometimes we think, “If I give my time and energy and money to serve the Lord, what’s in it for me?” As Jesus goes on to explain (Lu 9:24), “Whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” Lose yourself in service for Jesus and He will make sure you get a basket full after you’re done!

The bread in this miracle is symbolic of Christ. He said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (Jn 6:35). The Lord is teaching us that if we will surrender ourselves to Him to use as He pleases in meeting the needs of others, then He will satisfy us with a full measure of Himself.

We hear a lot about “burnout” in our day. While we need adequate rest and time off, we can test our labors for the Lord by this: If we’re burned out, there’s a good chance we’ve been trying to meet human needs with our inadequate abilities and resources. But if we come away tired, yes, but with the satisfaction of the fulness of Christ left over in our souls, then the Lord’s blessing was on us.


D. L. Moody was a man whom God greatly used. Thousands of people both in America and in England met the Savior through his tireless labors. But humanly speaking, Moody was a very inadequate man. One of nine children, his father died when he was four. He had little formal education. All his life his grammar was atrocious. What little religious education he received as a child was in a Unitarian church. At 17, he left home to work in a Boston shoe store. There, a Sunday School teacher called on him and presented the claims of Christ. In the back of that store, Moody trusted the Savior.

He applied to join a church, but they turned him down and kept him waiting ten months because he was so ignorant of the Bible. He moved to Chicago where, after work, he began to go out into the slums and gather the poor children to bring to Sunday School. A businessman who knew Moody before he became famous told of the first time that he saw him. Moody had gotten permission to hold a meeting in a little shanty that a saloonkeeper had abandoned. The businessman came in a little late and saw this heavyset man holding a small black boy in his arms. By the light of a few candles he was trying to read to him the story of the prodigal son. He couldn’t make out many of the words and had to skip them. The businessman thought, “If the Lord can use such an instrument as that for His honor and glory, it will certainly astonish me!”

After the meeting was over, Moody told the man, “I have only one talent; I have no education, but I love the Lord Jesus Christ. I want to do something for Him. Pray for me.” Henry Varley, a good friend of Moody’s in the early days of his work, once said to Moody, “It remains to be seen what God will do with a man who gives himself up wholly to Him.” Moody thought about that and said, “By God’s grace, I will be that man.”

God may not call you to preach to thousands, as Moody did. But if you’ve tasted His mercy, He does call you to serve Him in some way. He wants to use you to give the Bread of Life to those who are hungry. The requirement is that you see how inadequate you are to do anything for Him. Then, yield your inadequacy to Him to use as He pleases. He will use you to help meet the needs of a hurting world. And He will give you a basket full of leftovers for yourself besides!

Discussion Questions

  • Since there are so many needs in the world, how do we know where to devote our time, effort, and money?
  • When is it right to say “no” to the needs and demands of people?
  • Are there areas of service you should refuse because you know that you are not so gifted? How do you know if God wants you to use you in a threatening area of service?
  • How can we truly experience God’s blessing? Are there conditions we must meet? What are they?

Luke 9:13 But He said to them, "You give them something to eat!" And they said, "We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless perhaps we go and buy food for all these people.

KJV But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people.


This is the only miracle of Jesus' ministry that appears in all four Gospels (see Matt. 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; John 6:5-14).

You - The "you" is emphatic in the Greek, so that Jesus was stressing it was the disciples' responsibility to care for the people's needs, "feeding" them physically and spiritually.

Give (aorist imperative) command to do this now. What is Jesus doing here? Jesus challenged the disciples to meet the people's needs. The disciples had been healing the sick and casting out demons, but now Jesus wanted the disciples to demonstrate faith in God's ability to feed the crowds. This is a direct challenge to their faith - their answer showed that they were still thinking naturally and not supernaturally!

Mark adds "But He answered them, “You give them something to eat!” And they said to Him, “Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them something to eat?” And He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go look!” And when they found out, they *said, “Five, and two fish.” (Mk 6:37-38)

Matthew has "But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” (Mt 14:16)

Keener - It would have taken two hundred days of an average person’s wages (around seven months of hard labor) to feed the great multitude that had assembled. (The IVP Bible Background Commentary – New Testament)

We have no more - They were using human logic, forgetting that Jesus was the Lord over the natural order as they themselves had witnessed (Lk 8:22-25). So the small provision of bread and fish is what their physical eyes saw, but they failed to see with spiritual eyes of faith (cf 2 Cor 5:7) that that they also had the unlimited resources of the Lord Jesus to draw on. How often is my faith so small like these disciples! How often I try to figure out a human solution, instead of trusting Jesus' provision!

Life Application Study Bible - Do you think God would ask you to do something that you and he together couldn't handle? Don't let your lack of resources blind you to God's power.

We have no more than five loaves and two fish - John gives us the background for this enumeration - "One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people (ED: THEY ARE SHOWING THE LITTLENESS OF THEIR FAITH IN JESUS' COMMAND - REMEMBER WHAT GOD COMMANDS, HE ALSO ENABLES. HOW OFTEN WE FORGET THIS BASIC SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLE!)?” (John 6:8-9)

Note that the miracle of the feeding of the four thousand speaks of seven loaves and a few small fish, which reinforces the conclusion that it was a separate event. (Mt 15:32-38, Mk 8:1-10)

MacArthur - The apostles’ concern once again exhibited their lack of faith (cf. Matt. 8:26; 14:31; 16:8). They had a disconnect from all the miracles they had seen and they themselves had performed on the just-completed preaching tour. They might also have recalled that God had miraculously provided food in Israel’s past: (2 Kings 4:42-44; cf. 1 Kings 17:10-16) Incredibly, even after this amazing display of Christ’s divine power, the apostles’ faith was still weak. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Luke 6-10.)

NET Note - Not only would going and buying food have been expensive and awkward at this late time of day, it would have taken quite a logistical effort to get the food back out to this isolated location.

Robertson on food - Food (brōmata), means eaten pieces from bibrōskō, to eat, somewhat like our "edibles" or vernacular "eats."

Luke 9:14 (For there were about five thousand men.) And He said to His disciples, "Have them sit down to eat in groups of about fifty each."

KJV For they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company.


For there were about five thousand men - The Greek word for men is andres which describes adult males. With the women and children the number would be well over 10,000 mouths to feed. This clearly emphasizes it would be humanly impossible to feed this many. But God specializes in stepping in in impossible circumstances, for as Jeremiah 32:17-note says "‘Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You." What "impossible" situation are you dealing with today? Remember whatever is our impossible is always potentially Him-possible! He does not always intervene, but He always can intervene. If He chooses not to provide miraculously, that is His will which is good and acceptable and perfect!

Matthew adds - "There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children. (Mt. 14:21)

Keener on groups of fifty each - The people are organized in ranks like armies. The purpose is to facilitate the distribution of food, but some people in the crowd may have thought that Jesus was organizing them as ranks for a messianic army (cf. John 6:15). (Ibid)

Have them sit down (aorist imperative) to eat in groups of about fifty each - Can you picture the disciple's stunned looks at Jesus' command? They must have been looking at each other wondering if He had lost His mind. Their reaction recalls a modern ad slogan but "Where's the beef?" (again forgetting all of the other miracles they had already seem Him perform! Slow learners, just like most of us!) Mark adds "And He commanded them all to sit down by groups on the green grass.They sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties." (Mk 6:39-40, cf Mk 8:6) Mark's version recalls the order of the Mosaic camp in the desert (e.g., Ex 18:21).

Luke 9:15 They did so, and had them all sit down.

KJV And they did so, and made them all sit down

They did so - The NAS does not translate the conjunctive "kai" which means "and" a word that serves to link Jesus command and their action - They responded to His instructions, even though at this time they clearly did not see how it would work out. This is a great lesson. We are often too hard on the disciples, for here we see they do obey which reflects at least a modicum of trust in their Lord. What if they had not obeyed? Would they have missed this miracle? Certainly that is possible. One wonders how often in our lives, we fail to obey because of stubborn unbelief and thereby forfeit seeing an even greater moving of the Lord's hand in our life or our circumstances?

Another point to make is that obedience often precedes understanding. Jesus said "“If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself." (John 7:17)

Had them all sit down - Not necessarily reclining as was often the case at oriental banquets. This was not exactly a "banquet."

Luke 9:16 Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them, and broke them, and kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people.

KJV Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude.

Looking up to heaven - Jesus was doing what every Jewish father did at a meal. And what is Jesus showing His disciples (and us)? He is showing that even He as the Son of Man looked to His Father to meet needs, and we should follow His example.

“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. 11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread." (Mt 6:9-11)

He blessed them, and broke them - Jesus clearly shows us the example to follow, acknowledging God as the source of all provision. This description is similar to the table fellowship of the Last Supper (Lk 22:19) and Jesus' meal with some of the disciples after His resurrection (Lk 24:30).

Robertson on broke and kept giving - Giving is the imperfect active of didōmi, kept on giving. This picturesque imperfect is preceded by the aorist kateklasen (broke), a single act. This latter verb in the N.T. only here and the parallel in Mark 6:41, though common enough in ancient Greek. We say "break off" where here the Greek has "break down" (or thoroughly), perfective use of kata.

Blessed (2127)(eulogeo from eu = good + lógos = word; see cognates eulogetos and eulogia) means speak good or well. When eulogeo is used by men toward men it means to speak well of with praise and thanksgiving (English Eulogy = an address in praise for one deceased). To say good or positive things. Eulogeo can be from men to God, from men to men, and from God to men. When God blesses men He grants them favor and confers happiness upon them.

NET Note - Gave thanks (NET translation = looking up to heaven he gave thanks and broke them) adds a note of gratitude to the setting. The scene is like two other later meals: Luke 22:19 (eucharisteo) and Lk 24:30 (eulogeo). Jesus gives thanks to God "with respect to" the provision of food. The disciples learn how Jesus is the mediator of blessing. John 6 speaks of Him in this scene as picturing the "Bread of Life."

ESV Study Bible - With the exception of “looked up,” a praying gesture, all of these actions (taking, said a blessing, broke, gave) are found in the accounts of the Last Supper (Mt. 26:26; Mk 14:22; Lk 22:19; cf. also 1 Cor 11:23-24).

John MacArthur on kept giving - In that understated way Luke described this astonishing display of Christ’s power to create ex nihilo—the same power He used to create all things from nothing (John 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2). There was no doubt as to the source of the food; it was obvious to all who saw that it was being created in the Lord’s hands and then given to the apostles to distribute to the crowd.

Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible - The lesson is clear for every believer. Once we do our part, God will multiply our resources. There will always be enough to feed all—if we will only confess our inadequate resources, give thanks for what we have, and then give what we have. (cf Mt 6:33-note, Mal 3:10-note, Ps 24:1, Ps 41:1, Ps 50:10, Pr 11:25, Pr 22:9, Pr 28:27, Eccl 11:1, Isa 32:8, 58:10, Hag 2:8)

Luke 9:17 And they all ate and were satisfied; and the broken pieces which they had left over were picked up, twelve baskets full.

KJV And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets.


They all ate and were satisfied - When Jesus feeds you, you will be satisfied! He gives more than enough! This reminds us of Ephesians 3:20

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.

Satisfied (satiated)(5526)(chortazo from chortos = fodder or grass or herbage of the field in general) means to feed with herbs, grass or hay to fatten animals (who gorged themselves until they could eat no more). Then it means to eat one's fill resulting in a state of being satisfied. Chortazo was used of the feeding of animals until they wanted nothing more. They were allowed to eat until they were completely satisfied. The picture is of animals who stayed at the feed trough until they wanted nothing more to eat. Luke uses the same word in Luke 6:21 “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh."

Life Application Study Bible - Why did Jesus bother to feed these people? He could just as easily have sent them on their way, but Jesus does not ignore needs. He is concerned with every aspect of life—the physical as well as the spiritual. As we work to bring wholeness to people's lives, we must never ignore the fact that all of us have both physical and spiritual needs. It is impossible to minister effectively to one type of need without considering the other.

Other examples of divine generosity: Gen. 22:15-18; I Kings 3:2-15; Ps. 81:10b; 91:14-16; 116:12; Isa. 1:18; 55:1-3, 6, 7; Mic. 7:18-20; Luke 6:38; 15:20-24; John 1:16; 3:16; Rom.5:6-11, 16-19; 8:31-39; I Cor. 3:21-23.

The broken pieces which they had left over were picked up, twelve baskets full - The 12 baskets full ensures that Jesus would feed His own men. Nothing was wasted.

Note that this miracle does not describe the crowds reaction and therefore is meant primarily for the edification and encouragement of the 12 disciples. This builds over the next 3 verses to Peter's answer to Jesus' question in Lk 9:20.

MacDonald - The disciples picture helpless Christians, with seemingly limited resources, but unwilling to share what they have. The Lord's command, "You give them something to eat" is simply a restatement of the great commission. The lesson is that if we give Jesus what we have, He can multiply it to feed the spiritually hungry multitude. That diamond ring, that insurance policy, that bank account, that sports equipment! These can be converted into gospel literature, for instance, which in turn can result in the salvation of souls, who in turn will be worshipers of the Lamb of God throughout eternity. The world could be evangelized in this generation if Christians would surrender to Christ all that they are and have. That is the enduring lesson of the feeding of the five thousand. (Believer's Bible Commentary)

Luke 9:18 And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, "Who do the people say that I am?"

KJV And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?


(1) Peter’s confession, Luke 9:18–21

(2) Jesus’ passion prediction, Luke 9:22

(3) Jesus’ teachings on discipleship, Luke 9:23–27

(Robert Stein - NAC)

Parallel Passages on Peter's Confession of Faith - Matt. 16:13-16; Mark 8:27-29

Matthew 16:13-16 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Mark 8:27-29 Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 They told Him, saying, “John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets.” 29 And He continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter *answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.”

Constable points out that "Luke omitted several incidents here that the other evangelists included (Matt. 14:22-16:12; Mark 6:45-8:26; John 6:16-66). By doing so, he tied the questions of Herod and the multitude about Jesus' identity with Peter's answer to that question. This selection of material helps the reader see that the question of Jesus' identity was very important to Luke. (Luke 9)

Stein summarizes differences between the accounts in Luke and Mark - The Lukan redaction is seen in several areas in addition to his omission of Mark 6:45–8:26, the place of Caesarea Philippi, and the rebuke of Peter. Luke also: omitted “and he began to teach” (Mark 8:31); enlarged the call to discipleship to “all” (Luke 9:23); added “daily” (Lk 9:23); omitted “the gospel” (Mark 8:35) and all of Mark 8:37; and changed Mark’s “in his Father’s glory” (Lk 8:38) to “in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Lk 9:26).

MacArthur notes that "There is a sad postscript to this remarkable story which John records. The next day the crowds, thwarted in their attempt to make Him king, followed Jesus back to Capernaum (John 6:22-25).

Luke omits the section where the crowd followed Him to Capernaum (to get bread - Jn 6:26), which is where He teaches them that He is the Bread of Life which in turn elicits a strong reaction, resulting in most of the disciples departing (cf Jesus' definition of His true disciples - Jn 8:31-32. The so-called disciples did not continue with Him but left Him when He taught them the spiritual significance of the Bread He had given them to eat outside of Bethsaida)...

Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. 33 “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” 34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. 36 “But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. 37 “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” 41 Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.” 42 They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 “It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. 46 “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father. 47 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. 48 “I am the bread of life. 49“Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 “This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” 52 Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. 54 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. 58 “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” 59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. 60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” 61But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? 62“What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? 63“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. 64“But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. 65And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” 66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. (John 6:32-66)

And it happened that while He was praying alone - Jesus always made prayer to His Father His priority (cf Lk 9:28-29; 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 11:1; 22:41-45). Matthew and Mark do not mention Jesus' prayer in the context of Peter's confession.

Constable comments on Jesus' praying - Jesus' exemplary dependence on His Father is one of Luke's unique emphases (cf. Lk 3:21; 6:12; 11:1; et al.). He showed Jesus praying before many important events in His ministry. He was evidently praying privately, though the disciples were with Him (cf. Lk 11:1). (Luke 9)

Praying (4336)(proseuchomai from pros = toward, facing, before [emphasizing the direct approach of the one who prays in seeking God’s face] + euchomai = originally to speak out, utter aloud, express a wish, then to pray or to vow. Greek technical term for invoking a deity) in the NT is always used of prayer addressed to God (to Him as the object of faith and the One who will answer one’s prayer) and means to speak consciously (with or without vocalization) to Him, with a definite aim (See study of noun proseuche).

Disciples (3101) see mathetes

Who do the people say that I am? - The most important question anyone will ever answer!

Parallel accounts are found in Matthew and Mark

Matthew 16:13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi (see excellent pictures), He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?

Mark 8:27 Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi (see excellent pictures); and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, “Who do people say that I am?

John MacArthur - After all that they had seen and heard, the Lord’s question to them in this passage amounted to their final exam. The setting for this incident was Caesarea Philippi (Matt. 16:13; Mark 8:27), located north of the Sea of Galilee on the slopes of Mt. Hermon, about forty to fifty miles southwest of Damascus. It was near the extreme northern boundary of Old Testament Israel, not far from the city of Dan. It was originally named Panion, after the god Pan, whom Greek settlers, who entered the region after the death of Alexander the Great, worshiped in a nearby cave. Herod the Great built a temple there, and dedicated it to Rome and Augustus Caesar. Herod’s son Philip the Tetrarch renamed the city Caesarea and appended his own name to it to distinguish it from the other Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast. At more than one thousand feet in elevation, this scenic region offered Jesus and the apostles some relief from the crowds in the lowlands. It was also farther from Jerusalem and the hostility of the Jewish leaders, and the threat of Herod Antipas. The apostles’ “final exam” consisted of two questions. The answer to the first one expressed human opinion concerning Jesus; the answer to the second one expressed divine revelation of His true identity.

Robert Morgan on Jesus praying - All four of the Gospels describe the prayer-life of Jesus, but Luke seems emphasize it the most. Let me trace a handful of verses through his Gospel:

• Luke 5:16 – So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.
• Luke 6:12 – Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray.
• Luke 9:18 – And it happened, as He was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him.
• Luke 9:28 – Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up to the mountain to pray.
• Luke 11:1 – Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray….”
• Luke 22:41 – And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed.

This seems to indicate to me that Jesus established regular patterns of prayer in His life. This brings up the question: How can you and I establish personal habits of sustained prayer? I’d like to offer several suggestions. Not all these suggestions will work for everyone, but perhaps among them there might be one that you can adapt for yourself.

(1) Consider keeping a personal prayer notebook. In 1973, while I was a student a Columbia Bible College in South Carolina, I felt that I needed a way to organize my prayer time. I had a time of prayer in the mornings before the day began, and another in the evenings before bedtime; but my prayers were helter-skelter, and I couldn’t always remember from day to day the prayer requests I was bringing to the Lord. And so I used my ruler and my old typewriter and I designed a form that allowed me to put the date and nature of my request along with a place for the answer and I took it to the campus printing shop. I showed it the man and told him I would pay him to print something like this up for me. He seemed glad to do it, and when I went back to pick it up he told me there was no charge. And I’ve been using a prayer list ever since. I’ve changed the way that I do it, but since the early 1970s I’ve kept a little notebook with my devotions and my Bible reading schedule and my prayer and thanksgiving lists. And I can go back and show you hundreds upon hundreds of prayer requests that God has answered. I have a record of them. Now I think we have to be careful not to become mechanical or to think of our prayer time as just bringing to the Lord a shopping list every day. I bend over backwards to keep my prayer time fresh and respectful and biblical.

(2) Try writing out your prayers word for word. Sometimes I use my devotional notebook to write out my prayers, and when I just can’t seem to generate any focus or enthusiasm in my prayers, I will write them out. Written prayers are very biblical and very important. Many of the Psalms of David were prayers that he wrote out longhand; and many of the greatest prayers in the history of the church have been prayers that were written out.

(3) Try writing a prayer-poem. You don’t have to be a great poet. I’m a self-confessed amateur at poetry and the few poems that I have written sound amateurish. But poetry is the language of emotion, and sometimes it has helped me so much to set aside a half-hour or an hour and just to write a prayer in poetic form. I’ll give you an example. One day about a year ago I was very troubled about something and I finally brought it as clearly and definitely as I could and laid it at the Lord’s feet in prayer. Then I wrote this as a prayer to the Lord about it:

To You, Lord, I bring my prayer,
I will leave the matter there,
Giving You my deep request,
Trusting You for what is best.
Boast my faith and give me cheer
Knowing that You always hear,
Knowing that You’re always near,
Knowing that in Christ I’m blessed!
In that confidence I rest.

There was something about taking the time to write my need out before the Lord in that fashion that solidified my determination to lay the matter before the Lord and leave it there. Of course, many of our great hymns are simply prayer-poems that gifted men and women composed during their own devotions. Old Thomas Chisholm was studying Lamentations 3 one day, and he took the verses he read and composed them into a prayer poem that we’re still singing to this day:

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassion they fail not;
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

(4) Try praying by picture. For several years I’ve taken pictures of missionaries and even of family members and punched holes in them and inserted them into my prayer book. Now with our new technology, you can create your own prayer pages for loved ones, complete with pictures. One woman who lives alone keeps pictures of her friends and loved ones scattered throughout her house, and every day she takes a little tour of her house, going in and out of every room, and she stands by each picture and in that way she prays daily for her children and grandchildren who are far away.

(5) Pray on your feet. There’s an interesting phrase in the Bible that is used of men like Abraham, Enoch, Moses, and Noah. It says that they walked with God. And of course, in the Gospels the disciples of Jesus literally walked with Him. The word “disciple” literally means “learner,” and in the ancient world it referred to those who followed after a great rabbi or teacher, walking and following and joining him wherever he went. My favorite chapter in the Bible is Luke 24, which tells about the two disciples who walked with Jesus to the village of Emmaus, talking with Him along the way.

Recently I read the biography of the 19th century pastor, Rev. E. M. Bounds, who lived down in Georgia and wrote books about prayer. The biographer said that Bounds would take a walk every day through his community and around the blocks near his home and pray for his neighbors and for the inhabitants of his community as he passed their house. In the mid-1970s, a new practice begin to gain popularity among Christians, and it was called “prayer walking.” Now entire books have been written on this subject, and seminars; and there are even mission trips devoted to prayer walks.

(6) Pray aloud. I often pray silently, and it’s certainly true that God knows all our thoughts and can read our minds. He hears our silent prayers. But too many of us depend too much on silent prayers, and the Bible teaches there is a real power to praying aloud. Notice these verses from the Psalms:

• Psalm 3:4 says, I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill.
• Psalm 5:3 says, My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.
• Psalm 27:7 says, Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice!
• Psalm 55:17 says, Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.
• Psalm 59:16 says, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning.
• Psalm 77:1 says, I cried out to God with my voice—to God with my voice; and He gave ear to me.
• Psalm 81:1 says, Shout aloud to the God of Jacob (NIV)
• Psalm 119:149 says, Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness.
• Psalm 130 says, Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.
• Psalm 142:1-2 says, I cry out to the Lord with my voice; with my voice to the Lord I make my supplication. I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare before Him my trouble….

(7) Develop your own personal prayer techniques. A year or so ago, there was a woman in London who wrote me. She told me her children were at the university, and she always asked for the times of their examinations. She then inserts those times and dates into her mobile phone and sets the alarm to go off at the appropriate examination time. When she hears the alarm, she says a prayer, asking God to assist her child in the examination. Sometimes, she told me, she is in a management meeting, but she feels the vibration of the phone she pauses and prays for her child. She ended her letter saying, “I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, I believe in the Holy Spirit, and I also believe in the power of prayer! My son has graduated with flying colors. He is now on his way to a Master’s degree. I will continue to pray fevently for all my children, especially during their exam times!”

Nothing is more important than both spontaneous and systematic prayer in the life of a Christian. You can learn that just by thumbing through your Bible.

• Abraham prayed and God gave him a son.
• Moses prayed, and the Israelites were delivered from Egypt.
• Joshua prayed and the sun stood still in the valley of Aijalon
• Gideon prayed, and He defeated the Midites with three hundred men.
• Hannah prayed, and God gave her a son named Samuel
• Samuel prayed, and God raised him up to lead his people.
• David prayed, and God gave him the kingdom.
• Solomon prayed, and God gave him wisdom.
• Elijah prayed, and the fire fell from heaven.
• Jesus prayed, and the world was changed forever.
• Peter prayed, and the sick were healed and the dead were raised.
• Paul prayed, and the prison shook with the earthquake.
• John prayed, and the heavens were opened and he saw the New Jerusalem.

Nothing of any significance happens without earnest, effective prayer, for the Bible says, “The prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective.” Today I’d like to call us all to a deeper level of prayer and of spiritual power. I’d like to invite us all to come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. For…

Thou art coming to a King
Large petitions with Thee bring,
For His grace and power are such,
None can ever ask too much.

Luke 9:19 They answered and said, "John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again."

KJV They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again.


Parallel accounts are found in Matthew and Mark...

Matthew 16:14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”

Mark 8:28 They told Him, saying, “John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets.”

They answered and said, "John the Baptist, and others say Elijah - The disciples repeat the same possibilities mentioned in Luke 9:7-8-note

Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was happening; and he was greatly perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead, and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen again.

One of the prophets - Matthew 16:14 adds " but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”

The disciples are telling Jesus who the crowds thought Jesus was. And note that there answers have one crucial omission! According to the answers of the disciples, the crowds did not think that Jesus was the Messiah! This is an amazing and sad commentary on the hearts of those in the crowds! After all they had seen and heard of this man, to still refuse to acknowledge that He was the long expected Messiah! But is this not what most of the people in the world say about Jesus? Times have not changed! Why? Because the heart of man is still "more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick." (Jer 17:9)

MacArthur notes that the word for people in Jesus' question in (Lk 9:18) is "Ochlos (people) a word Luke used frequently to speak of the uncommitted mass of people who followed Jesus everywhere (cf. Lk 9:37; 4:42; 5:1, 15; 7:11, 24; 8:4; 11:14, 29; 12:1, 54; 13:14, 17; 14:25). They never questioned the legitimacy of His miracles, having witnessed them firsthand (John 7:31; cf. 3:2; 9:16). Indeed, it was largely because of those miraculous signs that they followed Him (John 6:2). They also recognized that no mere human could exercise such supernatural power. Such unparalleled might and creative acts were beyond the realm of human capability, and thus Jesus had to be wielding the forces of heaven. But their ideas as to His specific identity were off target. Some, like Herod Antipas (Matt. 14:1-2), thought He was John the Baptist risen from the dead (cf. Lk 9:7). Others opted for Elijah (cf. Mal. 4:5; Matt. 17:10); still others argued that another one of the prophets of old had risen again.

MacArthur goes on to explain why the crowd failed to recognize Jesus as their Messiah - John 12 reveals two significant reasons for the crowd’s perplexing inability to correctly identify Jesus. Even during Passion Week, just days from His death, the crowd was still asking Him, “Who is this Son of Man?” (John 12:34). Jesus replied that they were not lacking information; they already had the light, and needed to believe the truth that had been revealed to them (John 12:35-36). Having said that, Jesus “went away and hid Himself from them” (John 12:36). The people knew the truth and rejected it, and as a result God judicially abandoned them: But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, “He has blinded their eyes and He hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them.” (John 12:37-40) Tragically, their persistent rejection of the truth eventually brought God’s judicial hardening so that they could not believe. Another statement in John 12 reveals the second major reason that people fail to affirm Christ’s true identity: “Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (John 12:42-43). Here is a sobering illustration of the power of false religion—they knew the truth, but refused to act on it. Maintaining their façade of self-righteousness, being accepted by the Jewish religious authorities, and avoiding the trauma of being put out of the synagogue was more important to them than the truth. Like the fickle crowd, because they would not believe they eventually could not believe.

Steven Cole - The Crucial Question (Luke 9:18-22)

ILLUSTRATION: Sometimes asking the right question is crucial for your well-being. When the temperature soared to 120 degrees, a missionary in South America was tempted to cool off with a swim in the local river, but he was leery because of the man-eating fish. The locals assured him, though, that piranhas only bite people while the fish are swimming in schools, which they never did in that part of the river. So each afternoon for the rest of the summer, the missionary enjoyed cooling off in the river.

Months later he heard reports that a local fisherman had fallen out of his boat and had not been found. Alarmed, he asked his neighbors if perhaps the man had been eaten by piranhas. “Oh, no,” they assured him. “Only while swimming in schools do piranhas bite people, and they never swim in schools around here.”

“But why not around here?” the missionary asked.

“Oh,” the neighbor casually replied, “they never swim in schools where there are alligators.” (Adapted from Reader’s Digest [7/96], p. 48.) Asking the right questions and answering them correctly can mean the difference between being safe and being an alligator’s lunch!

The same is true spiritually. Asking and answering correctly the right questions can mean the difference between eternal life and eternal condemnation. For example, one of the first major controversies to erupt in the early church was the question, “Must a man be circumcised to be saved?” (Ac 15:1). The apostle Paul said that if a person answered that question affirmatively, he was under God’s condemnation (Ga 1:6-9)! Some errors are fatal!

While there are a number of crucial spiritual questions, none is more important than the question Jesus asked the twelve in Lu 9:20, “But who do you say that I am?” For example, there are thousands of people who believe that the Bible is God’s Word. They seek to obey its moral standards. They believe in Jesus’ virgin birth. They believe that He sacrificed His life to set us free from sin and death and that all who put their faith in Jesus can have their sins forgiven and receive everlasting life (these statements are affirmed in “What Does God Require of Us?” [Watchtower Society, 1996], pp. 6-7). Yet these people are going to hell because they deny the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am referring to the Jehovah’s Witness cult. The same could be said of other cults, such as Mormonism, that claim to be Christian, but deny either Jesus’ true deity or His true humanity. Thus

Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” is crucial for each person to answer correctly.

As I pointed out in our study of Lu 9:1-9, the matter of Jesus’ identity is one that Luke has repeatedly emphasized. It was in the birth narrative, where the angels announced the birth of the Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Lu 2:11). The forerunner, John the Baptist, denied that he was the Christ and pointed people to Jesus (Lu 3:15-17). Even the demons knew Jesus’ identity as the Holy One of God (Lu 4:34) and the Son of God (Lu 4:41). The theme surfaced again when Jesus forgave the paralytic’s sins and the scribes and Pharisees reasoned, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” (Lu 5:21). The same question was asked when He forgave the sinful woman (Lu 7:49). When Jesus stilled the storm, the disciples even marveled, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?” (Lu 8:25). Herod raises the question when he hears of the miracles taking place: “Who is this man about whom I hear such things?” (Lu 9:9).

But now Jesus directly asks the twelve, first, “Who do the multitudes say that I am?” (Lu 9:18); and then, “But who do you say that I am?” (Lu 9:20). Peter’s confession, “The Christ of God,” is a turning point in Luke. Walter Liefeld observes, “Theologically, this is the most important statement thus far in Luke. It is the first time a disciple refers to Jesus as Messiah (cf. Lu 2:11, Lu 2:26; Lu 3:15; Lu 4:41)” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary [Zondervan], 8:922). Peter’s answer is correct, even revealed to him by God (Mt 16:17). But the disciples had the notion of Messiah as the reigning King. They did not yet understand the suffering and sacrificial death of Messiah.

Thus Jesus immediately mentions His impending death and resurrection (Lu 9:22) and the cost of discipleship for His followers (Lu 9:23-26, Lu 9:57-62). Suffering has been hinted at before (Lu 2:35; Lu 5:35), but this is the first explicit mention of it. It will become a frequent theme as Jesus sets His face to go to Jerusalem and the cross (Lu 9:51; see Lu 9:44; Lu 17:25; Lu 18:31-33; Lu 24:7, Lu 24:46-47). But the disciples didn’t really comprehend it until after the resurrection (Lu 9:45; Lu 18:34; Lu 24:25-26, Lu 24:45-46). It was their full understanding of the matter, that “the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead,” that enabled them to go forth as bold witnesses, proclaiming repentance for forgiveness of sins in His name (Lu 24:46-48).

I want to explore with you several ramifications of Jesus’ crucial question, “Who do you say I am?”

1. The question has an objectively correct answer.

I mean, only one answer is correct. It is not, “Jesus, however you conceive Him to be.” Jesus didn’t say, “Great answer, Peter! Do any of the rest of you have any different thoughts? Yes, Judas, how do you feel about Me?” Some say, “For me, Jesus is always accepting and loving.” But Jesus isn’t whatever you want Him to be. How you feel about Jesus doesn’t change who He is. There is a single correct answer to the question that is not based on feelings or personal opinions, but on objective revealed truth.

This is important to affirm because we live in a day when people think that spiritual truth is not objectively true. Rather, they see it as personally true. They do not view spiritual truth in terms of propositional revelation (doctrine), where God has spoken to us in the Bible in language we can understand. Nor do they see spiritual truth in terms of verifiable history, centered in the historical Jesus of Nazareth, whose teaching, miracles, death and bodily resurrection are reported in the New Testament by eyewitnesses.

Rather, our postmodern world views spiritual truth in terms of each person’s experience of it. As such, it is not verifiable. If it’s true for you, then it’s true. If your spiritual experience is different from mine, one is not right and the other wrong, even if they contradict one another. They can both be true, according to the current view of truth, because spiritual truth is determined by personal experience, not by objective, verifiable means.

This faulty view of spiritual truth is a central tenet of the unity movement that is urging Catholics and evangelical Protestants to drop their doctrinal differences and come together for worship and witness. Doctrine is viewed as divisive. Love for Jesus and for one another is all that matters. But the movement allows for “Jesus” and “being born again” to be defined any way that you conceive. For example, at the 1994 Promise Keepers rally in Portland, Oregon, Bill McCartney said that Promise Keepers didn’t care whether you were a Baptist, a Pentecostal, or a Roman Catholic. The main question, he said, is, “Are you born in the Spirit of God?”

Pastor James Singleton astutely responded,

What does that mean? Some people believe that they are born again in the waters of baptism. Others confess that they are born again at the time of their confirmation. Still others believe that they are receiving Christ and are born again each time they attend Mass. The problem with the unqualified question is that it can mean whatever you want it to mean. That philosophy fits with the spirit of the age that minimizes objective Biblical truth in favor of a subjective experience. (Cited in “The Evangelical Eroding of the Deity of Christ,” by Tom Watson [Countryside Bible Church], p. 9; italics in original.)

Thus it’s important at the outset to affirm that the question, “Who do you say Jesus is?” has one correct answer and many incorrect or partially correct answers. It is not just a matter of personal opinion or preference, where any answer is as good as the next. It’s a matter of God’s truth as revealed in His Word.

2. The question divides people.

Some of you have already affirmed this point, because you didn’t like what I just said against the unity movement! You have to be careful here, because none of us likes confrontation or division. We all prefer peace and unity. But if you go by your emotions, you will fall into serious doctrinal error and defection from God’s revealed truth. But read your New Testament: more than any other thing, it warns against false teachers and false doctrine. Objective truth always divides people into opposing camps. Like Peter and the disciples, you may have to go against public opinion to arrive at the correct answer concerning Jesus.

Have you ever thought about how difficult it must have been for the disciples to commit themselves to Jesus as the Christ? For centuries, faithful Jews had been waiting and looking for God’s promised Messiah. Many lived and died without seeing that hope fulfilled. Sometimes prophets came on the scene, raising hopes that they might be the Messiah. But they died and the people kept waiting. Then, suddenly this young carpenter from Nazareth began preaching and performing miracles. Could He be the one? He certainly didn’t fit everyone’s image of what Messiah would be like. But the disciples committed themselves to Jesus as that long-awaited Messiah.

Remember, they didn’t have 1,900 years of church history to confirm their faith, as we do. They were the first ones to say, “This is the One!” And they had to say it in the face of public opinion that didn’t agree with them. This fact is underscored by the contrast between Jesus’ first question, “Who do the multitudes say that I am?” and His second question, “But who do you [emphatic in the Greek] say that I am?”

The disciples had to stand against three strong currents to affirm their conviction that Jesus is the Christ. First was the Roman government, which didn’t care if Christians worshiped Jesus as long as they also affirmed Caesar as Lord. But the disciples insisted, “No, Jesus is the only Lord!” That narrow view cost many of them their lives. If you take your stand with the disciples in proclaiming Jesus as the only way to God, you will have to go against the pagan culture of our day. People don’t mind if you hold your personal beliefs in Jesus, just so that you don’t contend that He is the only way! That’s too narrow and dogmatic. I saw a bumper sticker that said, “If you’re against abortion, don’t have one.” The idea is, “You can have your personal views of morality, but don’t tell me that my behavior is wrong. If you want to believe in Jesus, that’s your privilege, but don’t judge me for my beliefs!”

The disciples also had to go against the opinions of the Jewish religious crowd, which had varying notions of who Jesus might be. Some heard His powerful preaching against sin and thought of John the Baptist. Others saw Jesus’ miracles and were reminded of the powerful prophet, Elijah. Others thought He might be another of the prophets. All of these were perhaps flattering, but inadequate, ideas of who Jesus really was. The disciples had to stand apart from the Jewish religious crowd to affirm Jesus as Messiah and Lord.

In a similar manner, you may have to go against the Christian crowd of our day. Many who call themselves Christians have ideas about Jesus which fall far short of affirming Him as Lord and Christ. Some see Jesus as the all-tolerant, loving One, who never speaks against anyone’s sin. They seek to get their denominations to affirm sins such as homosexuality and abortion. Others use Jesus to endorse their worldly views of feminism or politics. Still others mix Jesus with some brand of pop psychology. You have to stand against these popular views of Jesus to confess Him truly as Lord and Christ.

The third, and most formidable, group the disciples had to oppose was the Jewish religious leaders (Lu 9:22). The disciples were not formally educated in the Hebrew Scriptures; these men were. The disciples had no public influence; these men were the recognized leaders in Israel. They were the interpreters of Moses, the guardians of the Jewish law. Who did this bunch of uneducated fishermen think they were to go against the common judgment of this august body of scholars?

You will often have to join the disciples in pitting your view of Jesus against the religious scholars of our day. Even some who call themselves evangelical deny the trustworthy nature of all Scripture. They interpret Jesus in light of the most recent “scholarship,” which invariably comes from men with an anti-supernaturalistic bias. One flagrant example is the recent “Jesus Seminar,” where a bunch of supposed scholars got together and voted on which sayings of Jesus were authentic. How did they determine this? They begin by assuming the gospels to be myth unless proven otherwise. From there they proceed with pure subjectivism. Using their methods and assumptions, we could easily conclude that the members of the Jesus Seminar really didn’t say what they claim to have said! This question, “Who do you say Jesus is?” divides people. You must take your stand with the disciples.

3. The question has deepening levels of correct understanding.

Peter’s answer, “the Christ of God,” is certainly correct. But, Peter had a different conception of what that meant than Jesus did. Peter meant, “You are the promised Anointed One who will sit on David’s throne, ruling the nations with a rod of iron.” That is quite correct when understood of Messiah’s second coming. But, in regard to His first coming, the more correct answer was, “You are the One Anointed by God to be crucified as our sin-bearer and raised from the dead by the power of God.” Jesus had to fulfill Is 53 and other Scriptures which point to Messiah’s bearing the sins of His people before He would reign on David’s throne. Peter was correct, but he needed to come to a deeper level of correct understanding.

There is even a deeper level of correct understanding revealed here: “You are the crucified, risen Christ who is the Sovereign Lord.” Jesus’ prophecy (Lu 9:22) makes it plain that He did not die as a helpless victim. The Jewish leaders who crucified Him did not thwart God’s plan for Jesus to reign on David’s throne. They were guilty of the terrible sin of crucifying their Messiah, but at the same time, Jesus willingly offered Himself as the sacrifice for our sins. He was in sovereign control, even in His death. Peter later grasped this as he preached on the Day of Pentecost, “This Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. And God raised Him up again” (Ac 2:23-24).

One of the beautiful things about the Christian life is that you grow into deeper and deeper levels of understanding about the infinite, unfathomable, sovereign person of Jesus Christ. Do you know Him as your Savior? That’s great! You start there. But don’t stop there! There’s much more! Jesus tells us how we can know more of Him: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him” (Jn 14:21). Jesus promises to reveal more of Himself to those who obey Him.

So, begin with knowing Jesus as the Christ, the Anointed One of God, the Savior. But go on discovering all that He is as the Sovereign Lord of the universe. The joy of the Christian life is growing to know the Lord Jesus more intimately.

We’ve seen that this crucial question has an objectively correct answer; it divides people; and, it has deepening levels of correct understanding. Finally,

4. The question requires a personal response of faith and obedience.

Jesus goes on to warn the disciples not to tell anyone and then He tells them of His impending death. Luke omits Peter’s rebuke of Jesus and Jesus’ corresponding rebuke of Peter (Mt 16:22-23). But we know that Jesus’ words were not what the disciples expected to hear or wanted to hear. Their idea of the Christ was a political Messiah who would put a chicken in every pot and a donkey in every stable. They were thinking of power and dominion, not of suffering, rejection, and death.

But Jesus wasn’t sent by the Father to make everyone happy, so that they could go on living self-centered lives with God’s help. He came to deal with the fundamental problem of the human race: sin. The essence of sin is our stubborn self-will that says, “I’ll run my own life, God. Just help me feel good when I need You.” The cross, where the Lord of Glory took the penalty we deserved, was the only divine solution for our sin problem. If you haven’t come as a sinner to the crucified Christ and trusted Him as God’s provision for your sin, you have not responded correctly to Jesus’ crucial question.

If the disciples had gone out and proclaimed Jesus as the political Messiah who would lead a revolt against Rome, they would have met with widespread response. Jn 6:15 reports that after the feeding of the 5,000, the crowd wanted to take Jesus by force to make Him king. But God’s sovereign plan was the way of the cross, both for Jesus (Lu 9:22) and for those who follow Him (Lu 9:23). To follow a crucified Savior and to live a crucified life requires faith and obedience. It goes against the mentality of our day that says, “You’re worthy; feel good; use God for your own happiness.” But, clearly, it is the only response for those who see who Jesus really is.

A. B. Bruce said it well: “For the whole aim of Satanic policy is to get self-interest recognized as the chief aim of man” (The Training of the Twelve [Kregel], p. 180). For Jesus to have avoided the cross would have been for Him to seek His selfish interests. Satan would have triumphed. But Jesus came to do the will of the Father. That’s why He said, “The Son of Man must suffer” (Lu 9:22). He came to glorify the Father by being obedient, even to death on the cross. The “must” was the necessity of obedience to the Father’s will above all else. It shows that Jesus’ death was a necessary and inevitable part of the divine plan (Lu 13:33; Lu 17:25; Lu 22:37; Lu 24:7, Lu 24:26, Lu 24:44). Understanding that Jesus is the Christ of the cross means that we who follow Him must walk in the way of the cross, which means trusting and obeying Him, even when it may not feel good for the moment.


What’s your answer to Jesus’ crucial question, “Who do you say that I am?” You may be standing with the multitude, saying, “Jesus is a fine example, a great teacher, even a prophet. But He is not the Sovereign Lord of my life.” That is a badly mistaken answer. You may be standing with Peter, saying correctly, “You are the Christ,” but not understanding the sort of Christ He really is. That’s an improvement over the first answer, but it is inadequate. You must stand with Jesus who came as God’s Anointed to bear your sins, who was raised in triumph over sin and death, who calls us to follow Him in obedience to the will of the Father. As Peter later preached, “God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified” (Ac 2:36). If you stand there, ready to obey God no matter what the cost, you have correctly answered Jesus’ crucial question, “Who do you say I am?

If Jesus is not your sin-bearer and your Lord, I encourage you to read the Gospels with the prayer, “God, show me who Jesus is. If You show me that He is Your Anointed Savior and Lord, I will trust Him and follow Him.”

Discussion Questions

  • How would you answer the person who said, “If Jesus works for you, that’s great, but He’s not for me”?
  • Is it right to appeal to a person to believe in Jesus for the temporal benefits they will receive?
  • What expectations of Christ did you have which He has not fulfilled? Were they biblical expectations?
  • Discuss: “The whole aim of Satanic policy is to get self-interest recognized as the chief aim of man.”

Luke 9:20 And He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" And Peter answered and said, "The Christ of God."

KJV He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God.


Parallel accounts are found in Matthew and Mark...

Matthew 16:15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Mark 8:29 And He continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And He warned them to tell no one about Him.

And He said to them - Addressed to the entire group. In fact this question is addressed to every soul ever born.

You - "You" is very emphatic. And is not just addressed to Peter but to all for it is in the second person plural. He is speaking to all of them, desiring for His disciples to make an open confession of their faith. Peter is the one who answers, presumably as the spokesman.

Who do you say (present tense = continually) I am - a true believer is one who is willing, whenever necessary, to fly in the face of popular opinion and openly to express a conviction that is contrary to that of the masses....Not being "of the world" (John 17:16), believers are shining lights in the midst of the world (Matt. 5:14; Phil. 2:15). They are spiritually different from the world, in order to be a blessing to the world. So also here in Luke 9:19, 20, while everybody else is saying that Jesus is but a man—whether John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the (other) prophets, it makes no essential difference, for all these were but men—the true follower of Jesus answers, "(Thou art) the Christ of God." The importance of this momentous confession can hardly be exaggerated. It implies that The Twelve here acknowledge Jesus to be no less than the long-awaited One, God's Anointed, the Messiah. (Hendriksen).

Peter answered and said, "The Christ of God" - Speaker was the spokesman for the other disciples and doubtless expressed their heart conviction (? Judas?) In essence Peter said Jesus was the long expected "Anointed One," the Messiah sent from God. While they now have come to recognize Jesus as Messiah, they still lack a full sense of His mission, to die and be resurrected for the sins of mankind. And this fact would serve to explain why Jesus warned them not to tell anyone. In other words, they would be describing a Messiah who would save Israel from Roman oppression, not a Messiah who would save sinners!

Constable - It is not difficult to know just what Peter's concept of the Messiah was when he made this confession of faith. When Peter's brother first invited him to come and see Jesus, Andrew referred to Jesus as the Messiah (John 1:41). However, most of the Jews of Peter's day believed that the Messiah would be a descendant of David who would overthrow the Romans and establish the kingdom of God on earth. They did not view Him as deity. Matthew recorded Peter's full confession including, "the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16). This is a clear statement of Jesus' deity. Why did Luke not include that phrase since it would have clarified what Peter meant? Probably he did not see that as necessary since the title "Christ" had become synonymous with a divine Messiah among Gentiles to whom Luke (and Mark) wrote (cf. 1 John 5:1). Thus Luke appears to have assumed that his readers would understand Peter's confession of Jesus as the Messiah as a confession of His deity. (Constable's Notes)

Peter (4074) (Petros; Latin = Petrus) is a masculine proper noun which means a "stone" and generally a smaller stone than the feminine form petra which refers to a massive rock or a foundation boulder (eg Mt 7:24-note). Peter is the Greek equivalent of the Syriac or Aramaic name Cephas (Kephas from Aramaic kay fah) which was assigned to Simon by Jesus.

ESV Study Bible - Jesus’ identity as the “Christ”—confessed by angels (Luke 2:11-note); by the Gospel narrator (Lk 2:26-note); by demons (Lk 4:41-note); and by Jesus himself (Lk 4:18-note)—is now confessed for the first time by the Twelve.

Christ (5547)(Christos from chrio = to rub or anoint, consecrate to an office)(See also Messiah - Anointed One) means one who has been anointed, symbolizing appointment to a task. The majority of the NT uses refer to Jesus (exceptions = "false Christs" - Mt 24:24, Mk 13:22). Leifield adds this note on Christos "Its OT occurrences with the idea of a coming anointed King include Psalm 2:2-note and Daniel 9:26-note. The idea, with out the title, appears in such passages as Isaiah 9:6-7-note; Isaiah 11:1-16-note." (Expositor's Bible Commentary)

Here are all the uses of Christos in the Septuagint - The first use of Christos in Lev 4:5 of "the anointed priest" is a foreshadowing of our Great High Priest (Heb 3:1, Heb 4:14) Who would not only MAKE the perfect sacrifice once for all time, but Who Himself would BE the blameless, sinless Sacrificial Lamb (Jn 1:29, 36).

Lev. 4:5; Lev. 4:16; Lev. 6:15; Lev. 21:10; Lev. 21:12; 1 Sam. 2:10; 1 Sam. 2:35; 1 Sam. 12:3; 1 Sam. 12:5; 1 Sam. 16:6; 1 Sam. 24:7; 1 Sam. 24:11; 1 Sam. 26:9; 1 Sam. 26:11; 1 Sam. 26:16; 1 Sam. 26:23; 2 Sam. 1:14; 2 Sam. 1:16; 2 Sam. 2:5; 2 Sam. 19:22; 2 Sam. 22:51; 2 Sam. 23:1; 1 Chr. 16:22; 2 Chr. 6:42; 2 Chr. 22:7; Ps. 2:2; Ps. 17:51; Ps. 19:7; Ps. 27:8; Ps. 83:10; Ps. 88:39; Ps. 88:52; Ps. 104:15; Ps. 131:10; Ps. 131:17; Amos 4:13; Hab. 3:13; Isa. 45:1; Lam. 4:20; Dan. 9:26

The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the LORD and against His Anointed (Heb = mashiach/masiyah; Lxx = Christos), saying, (Ps 2:2-note)

Then after the sixty-two weeks (62 "7's" PLUS 7 "7's" = 484 years -- see note) the Messiah (Heb = mashiach/masiyah; Lxx = Christos) will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. (Da 9:26-note)

Hendriksen - Since the question had been put to all, that is, to The Twelve, and none objected to the answer, we may safely assume that here, as well as in the parallel passages (Matt. 16:16; Mark 8:29), Peter was the spokesman for all. He often acted in this capacity (Matt. 15:15, 16; 19:27, 28; 26:35, 40, 41; Mark 1:36; Luke 8:45; 9:32, 33; 12:41; 18:28; John 6:67-69; Acts 1:15; 2:14, 37, 38; 5:29)....The importance of this momentous confession can hardly be exaggerated. It implies that The Twelve here acknowledge Jesus to be no less than the long-awaited One, God's Anointed, the Messiah. What the confession does not imply, however, is that The Twelve, or even Peter himself, understood in what sense Jesus was the Christ. It would take these men a very long time to learn this. (Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke)

Luke 9:21 But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone,

KJV And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing;

He warned them...not to tell - The natural question is why? See thoughts below.

Warned (2008)(epitimao from epi = upon + timao = to honor) means literally to put honor upon. The idea is to strictly appraise someone, assess a penalty, charge someone as being blamable. Hence to warn or strongly admonish, threaten ( Mk 3.12; 8.30) Vincent says that epitimao "implies an emphatic, solemn charge; its meaning being, strictly, to lay a penalty upon one, and thence, to charge under penalty." This is obviously a fairly strong verb in the original Greek for it is the same verb Jesus used to rebuke the demons in Lk 4:35, 41. Jesus used this verb to rebuke the fever (Lk 4:39) and the wind (Lk 8:24). In Lk 9:55 Jesus rebuked His disciples (cf context Lk 9:54, 56).

Luke's uses of epitimao - Lk. 4:35; Lk. 4:39; Lk. 4:41; Lk. 8:24; Lk. 9:21; Lk. 9:42; Lk. 9:55; Lk. 17:3; Lk. 18:15; Lk. 18:39; Lk. 19:39; Lk. 23:40

Instructed ("commanded" - KJV)(3853)(paraggello from para = beside, alongside, near by, at the side of + aggelos = messenger, angello/aggello = to announce) means to hand on or pass on an announcement from one to another who is at one's side, such as to what must be done, usually with the idea of a command or charge. Paraggello often was used in the context of a military command and demanded that the subordinate obey the order from the superior (2Ti 4:1-note) and required unhesitating and unqualified obedience. (cp Lk 5:14, 8:29, Lk 9:21KJV, Acts 1:4, 4:18; 5:28KJV; Acts 15:5KJV; 1Th 4:11). It is like a mandate (an authoritative command) or a call to obedience from one in authority.

NET Note - The combination of the participle and verb epitimao and paraggello ("commanding, he ordered") is a hendiadys that makes the instruction emphatic. No explanation for the command not to tell this to anyone is given, but the central section of Luke 9:1-19:48, appears to reveal a reason. The disciples needed to understand Who the Messiah really was and exactly what he would do before they were ready to proclaim Jesus as such. But they and the people had an expectation that needed some instruction to be correct.

John MacArthur - On many occasions He restricted the proclamation of His power (Mark 1:25, 34; 3:12; 5:43; 7:36; 8:26, 30; 9:9). The Lord had no intention of starting a revolt against Rome—a revolt based on false expectations of Messiah’s mission. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Luke 6-10)

What the Bible teaches - The command to tell no man His identity has resulted in many speculations. John tells us that the aftermath of the feeding of the five thousand was that the people planned to take Him by force and make Him a king. He withdrew from the crowd and departed alone into a mountain (John 6:15). This was reason enough for the Lord's strong command that His disciples should not tell the people that He was the Christ.

Hendriksen says if the disciples had announced Jesus' as the Messiah, this news "might have fanned the flames of enthusiasm about him, as a potential Deliverer from the Roman yoke, to such an extent that the opposition and envy roused by such widespread attention might have brought his public ministry to an untimely end. This must not happen. When an open announcement must finally be made to the Jewish religious authorities, Jesus himself will make it (Matt. 26:63, 64; cf. Luke 22:66-70). (Ibid).

Robert Stein interprets Jesus' "command for silence was given not because Peter’s confession was false but precisely because it was true. The confession was not inappropriate, but its proclamation was dangerous. Such a proclamation would have had disastrous consequences; for to Jesus, “Christ/Messiah” meant suffering and death as God’s Anointed, whereas among the people it signified the Anointed King who would throw off the Roman yoke, smite the Gentiles, and bring political independence and greatness to Israel. Jesus had rejected such a nationalistic conception of messiahship at the beginning of his ministry (see 4:1–15, “Context”). Because of this popular misconception, the public proclamation of Jesus as the Christ would have brought about an immediate confrontation between Jesus and Rome.(New American Commentary – Volume 24: Luke)

Luke 9:22 saying, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day."

KJV Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.

  • Lk 9:44; 18:31-34; 24:7,26; Genesis 3:15; Ps 22:1-31; 69:1-36; Isaiah 53:1-12; Daniel 9:26; Zechariah 13:7; Matthew 16:21; 17:12,22; Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:33,34; Acts 4:25-28; 13:27-29; 1 Corinthians 15:4; 1 Peter 1:11
  • Luke 9 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • Luke 9:18-22 - Steven Cole
  • Luke 9:18-22 Life's Most Important Question - John MacArthur


Parallel passages - Matt. 16:17-23; Mark 8:30-33

Matthew 16:17-23 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” 20 Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ. 21 From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. 22 Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” 23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

Mark 8:30-33 And He warned them to tell no one about Him. 31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and *said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

This prophecy by Jesus is known a the fist "Passion Prediction" in Luke. Of course there have been dark shadows casting this vision (Lk 2:35-note, Luke 5:35-note) This is the first time in Luke that Jesus sums up His last days on earth. Be careful when you read such foolish statements like "Some scholars find it difficult to accept the authenticity of such a prediction." (EBC) That is utterly ridiculous. Jesus knew His purpose of becoming a Man was to die as a perfect Man as a substitute for sinful men!

Walter Leifeld makes a good point regarding why Jesus would mention His passion at this time - The entire following teaching on discipleship requires some basic understanding of the Passion and, indeed, of the Crucifixion, since Jesus mentions the Cross (Lk 9:23). The use of the term "Son of Man" in Lk 9:22, 26 is understandable, assuming that (1) Jesus used it frequently, (2) that he used it especially in connection with his passion, and (3) that the occurrence of the term in Matthew 16:14 is not editorial but reflects Jesus' actual use of it in his initial question to the disciples.(The Expositor's Bible Commentary – Volume 8: Matthew, Mark, Luke)

In sum, Jesus' prophecy of His rejection, death and resurrection must have shocked the 12 disciples who were already surely somewhat confused by His warning to not tell ANYONE that He was the Messiah (cf Lk 9:45, Lk 18:34). At this time they did not yet understand that indeed they would tell EVERYONE about Him, but that their declaration was not to occur until after His resurrection and after their reception of the Holy Spirit from on high Who would enable them to be His supernaturally empowered witnesses (Lk 24:49-note, Acts 1:8-note).

John MacArthur notes that Jesus' "pronouncement signified a great turning point in Jesus' ministry. (cf Mt 16:21) (MacArthur Study Bible)

Son of Man emphasizes Jesus' humanity, which had to be fulfilled in order for Him to function as our Kinsman-Redeemer (see in depth study).

The Son of Man uses by Luke -

Lk. 5:24; Lk. 6:5; Lk. 6:22; Lk. 7:34; Lk. 9:22; Lk. 9:26; Lk. 9:44; Lk. 9:56; Lk. 9:58; Lk. 11:30; Lk. 12:8; Lk. 12:10; Lk. 12:40; Lk. 17:22; Lk. 17:24; Lk. 17:26; Lk. 17:30; Lk. 18:8; Lk. 18:31; Lk. 19:10; Lk. 21:27; Lk. 21:36; Lk. 22:22; Lk. 22:48; Lk. 22:69; Lk. 24:7

Must suffer many things - In other words this is not optional. Peter later proclaimed that Jesus was “delivered over [to death] by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23; cf. Acts 3:18; 4:27-28; 13:27-28; Luke 9:31; 22:22, 37). Clearly this was part of God's great plan of redemption, and was a fulfillment of the Messianic Prophecy in Isaiah 53:4-10:

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. 6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? 9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. 10 But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

Must (1163) (dei from deo = to bind or tie objects together, put in prison also root of doulos, bond-servant) refers to what is not optional but needful (binding) out of intrinsic necessity or inevitability. Dei describes that which is under the necessity of happening or which must necessarily take place and conveys a sense of inevitability. In English dictionaries must means to be obliged and expresses both physical and moral necessity or insistence. Must speaks of something that should not be overlooked or missed. Must is used to indicate requirement by immediate or future need or purpose.

Luke's use of dei -

Lk. 2:49; Lk. 4:43; Lk. 9:22; Lk. 11:42; Lk. 12:12; Lk. 13:14; Lk. 13:16; Lk. 13:33; Lk. 15:32; Lk. 17:25; Lk. 18:1; Lk. 19:5; Lk. 21:9; Lk. 22:7; Lk. 22:37; Lk. 24:7; Lk. 24:26; Lk. 24:44; Acts 1:16; Acts 1:21; Acts 3:21; Acts 4:12; Acts 5:29; Acts 9:6; Acts 9:16; Acts 14:22; Acts 15:5; Acts 16:30; Acts 17:3; Acts 19:21; Acts 20:35; Acts 23:11; Acts 24:19; Acts 25:10; Acts 25:24; Acts 26:9; Acts 27:21; Acts 27:24; Acts 27:26

HCSB Note - The Greek word dei is a special form of the verb deo, meaning to bind, and refers to something that is a binding obligation upon someone. In the Gospels the term dei normally occurs in contexts related to some aspect of salvation, and the binding obligation comes from the decree of God—though this is not stated but is clearly implied. Thus, in Luke's Gospel dei indicates that Jesus must do the Father's will (Lk 2:49); preach (Lk 4:43); keep a divine appointment with a tax collector (Lk 19:5); suffer, die, and rise again (Lk 9:22; 17:25; 24:7,26; see Mt 16:21; Mk 8:31; Ac 17:3); and that the Scriptures must be fulfilled (Lk 24:44; see Jn 20:9; Ac 1:16). Luke continued the theme of divine necessity in Acts: Jesus must remain in heaven until the appointed time (Ac 3:21), everyone must believe in Jesus for salvation (Ac 4:12; 16:30-31), and believers must suffer for Jesus' sake (Ac 9:16; 14:22). (HCSB Study Bible)

MacArthur summarizes the many things the Son of Man would suffer - "the hatred of the Jewish leaders, the agony in Gethsemane, the betrayal by Judas, mockery, a brutal whipping, the crown of thorns." (Ibid)

Suffer (3958)(pascho) means essentially what happens to a person experience. It means to undergo something; to experience a sensation, to experience an impression from an outside source, to undergo an experience (usually difficult) and normally with the implication of physical or psychological suffering. Pascho can refer to experiencing something pleasant, but in the present context (and most NT contexts) it refers to experiencing something trying, distressing or painful.

In Classic Greek usage pascho "originally indicated the experiencing of some outside stimulus that affected one’s emotions in either a positive or negative way. The context determined the precise character of the response. Gradually paschō came to be qualified with additional words to express a positive sense, while paschō alone denoted a negative emotion. Furthermore, rather than simply denoting emotions, paschō expressed bearing or enduring hardship, i.e., “to suffer.” (Gilbrant)

Luke's uses of pascho - Lk. 9:22; Lk. 13:2; Lk. 17:25; Lk. 22:15; Lk. 24:26; Lk. 24:46; Acts 1:3; Acts 3:18; Acts 9:16; Acts 17:3; Acts 28:5

Luke 17:25 “But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

Luke 22:15 And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;

Luke 24:26 “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”

Luke 24:46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day,

The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes - Men may reject Him but He is still the "Head of the corner (and the Church)!" The psalmist writes

The stone which the builders rejected (Heb = maas - cast away, disdain, despise!; Lxx = apodokimazo) has become the chief Corner Stone. (Ps 118:22 This Messianic Prophecy is cited many times in the NT - Mat 21:42; Mar 12:10, 11; Luk 20:17; Isa 28:16; Act 4:11; Eph 2:20; 1Pe 2:4-7 )

Play Leon Patillo's Cornerstone

Comment: As I meditated on this passage with a critical spirit against those "builders" who rejected Jesus, the Spirit applied this truth to my heart and reminded me that EVERY TIME I willfully, wantonly sin, it is a sin against God and it is tantamount to rejecting Jesus! Woe!

NET Note - Rejection in Luke is especially by the Jewish leadership (here elders, chief priests, and experts in the law), though in Luke 23:1-56 almost all will join in.

Rejected (593) (apodokimazo from apo = off, away from, pictures separation of one thing from another + dokimazo = to test, examine, scrutinize to see whether a thing is genuine or not) means to reject or refuse to accept something or someone after testing, scrutiny or examination. The preposition apo- speaks of separation and thus conveys the picture of rejecting completely. It means to examine and deem as useless. It means to judge something or someone as not being fit, worthy or genuine and thus something or someone to be rejected. It means to throw out as the result of a test, to put out of office, to repudiate, to disapprove or to declare useless.

Morris notes that apodokimazo is "a technical term for rejection after a careful legal scrutiny. It implies that the hierarchy would consider Jesus’ claims but decide against Him."

Eight of the nine NT uses of apodokimazo refer to men's (primarily Israel and her leaders who should have known better) rejection of the Messiah as genuine, worthy, qualified! All uses in NT - Matt. 21:42; Mk. 8:31; Mk. 12:10; Lk. 9:22; Lk. 17:25; Lk. 20:17; Heb. 12:17; 1 Pet. 2:4; 1 Pet. 2:7

Luke 17:25 “But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

Luke 20:17 But Jesus looked at them and said, “What then is this that is written: ‘THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone’?

Moulton and Milligan record this secular use of apodokimazo "a girdle-dagger suitable for the present purpose has not been found, and I have not thought it right to buy one that might be rejected.

Richards - Apodokimazo indicates putting something or someone to the test and rejecting that object or person as unfit or not genuine. (Richards, L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency)

Wuest writes that apodokimazo "refers to the act of putting someone or something to the test for the purpose of putting one’s approval upon that person and thus receiving him, this act of testing being carried to the point where no further testing is needed, with the result that one comes to the settled conclusion that the one tested does not meet the requirements of the test and is therefore disapproved, repudiated. This Living Stone in the Person of God the Son became incarnate, lived for thirty-three years in the midst of Israel, offered Himself as its Messiah, was examined by official Israel for the purpose of approving Him as its Messiah, and then repudiated because He was not what official Israel wanted in a Messiah. What a commentary on the totally depraved condition of man’s heart.

The paradoxical picture is that the perfect Lamb of God, the Creator of the Universe, was rejected by His creation, men who had carefully evaluated the perfect God Man and found Him not "passing their test"! What a striking contrast with scene John witnessed in heaven...

And I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing." (See notes on Revelation 5:11, 5:12)! And all God's people say "Amen!"

NET Note - The description of the Son of Man being rejected…killed, and…raised is the first of six passion summaries in Luke: 9:44; 17:25; 18:31–33; 24:7; 24:46–47.

John Martin reminds us that "The subject of these verses (Lk 9:22-27) is death—Jesus' death and His followers' deaths. He pointed out that the Jewish leaders would play a prominent part in His death (Lk 9:22). Jesus also gave His first indication that He would be resurrected (Lk 9:22). Jesus then discussed the deaths of His followers. They were to have the same attitude toward death and life that He had. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary)

Killed (615) (apokteino from apó = intensifies meaning + kteíno = slay) means to kill outright or to put to death in any manner. Through Christ's Crucifixion, God killed the enmity, utterly putting an end to this hostility that separated men from each other and from God. (Eph 2:16-note). The charge that the Jews killed their Messiah is alluded to in several NT passages (cf. John 11:45-53; 18:28-31; also Acts 2:23, 36; 3:13-15; 4:10; 7:52; 10:39; 13:28) and is accurate to the extent that while the actual execution was carried out at the hands of Roman soldiers under the command of Pontius Pilate, the latter authority was coerced into giving Jesus over to Crucifixion by the Jewish leaders.


Be raised up on the third day - The resurrection is the Father's "AMEN" to the Son's "IT IS FINISHED!" (Jn 19:30-note).

What the Bible teaches – The suffering and death of Christ are the very heart of the gospel, but are not all the gospel, for without the resurrection it would not have been a victory over sin and death and Satan.

Raised up (1453) (egeiro) means to rise (stand up) from a sitting or lying position (Mt 8:26, 9:5), to awaken from sleep (Mt 8:25), figuratively to "awaken" from death (rise up). Egeiro was used literally also to raise up or lift up a person either sitting or lying down. Figuratively egeiro was used to "raise up" a person from illness, thus restoring them to health. Figuratively as used in Romans 4:24, egeiro describes the bringing back of Jesus from the dead and thus raising Him or causing Him to rise. The OT predicted His resurrection (Ps 16:8-11; Isa 53:10-12) The idea of wake up from death is conveyed by egeiro because sleep was used as metaphor of death for believers (there is however no "soul sleep"). To raise up to a position as was David in Acts 13:22 (referring to his "promotion" to king). Egeiro is the very command Jesus gave to the son of the widow of Nain (Lk 7:14, cf Lk 7:16, 8:54).

Luke writes that God "has raised up (egeiro) a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant," (Lk 1:69), Christ's "Mission Impossible" accomplished by the fact that He was "raised up (egeiro) on the third day!"

Luke's uses of egeiro -

Lk. 1:69; Lk. 3:8; Lk. 5:23; Lk. 5:24; Lk. 6:8; Lk. 7:14; Lk. 7:16; Lk. 7:22; Lk. 8:54; Lk. 9:7; Lk. 9:22; Lk. 11:8; Lk. 11:31; Lk. 13:25; Lk. 20:37; Lk. 21:10; Lk. 24:6; Lk. 24:34 Acts 3:7; Acts 3:15; Acts 4:10; Acts 5:30; Acts 9:8; Acts 10:26; Acts 10:40; Acts 12:7; Acts 13:22; Acts 13:30; Acts 13:37; Acts 26:8

Summary of Predictions, Reminders, and Proofs of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke (from ESV Study Bible)

  • Luke 9:22 “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected... and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
  • Luke 9:44 “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.”
  • Luke 12:50 “I have a baptism to be baptized with.”
  • Luke 13:32 “I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.”
  • Luke 13:33 “for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.”
  • Luke 17:25 “But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”
  • Luke 18:32 “he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon.”
  • Luke 18:33 “after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.”
  • Luke 24:6-7 “Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”
  • Luke 24:25-26 “slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”
  • Luke 24:46 “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead.”

Summary of Jesus' Nine Prophecies of His Passion

  Matthew Mark Luke
First passion announcement Mt 16:21–23 Mk 8:31–33 Lk 9:22+
Second passion announcement Mt 17:22–23 Mk 9:30–32 Lk 9:43–45+
Third passion announcement Mt 20:17–19 Mk 10:32–34 Lk 18:31–34+

Luke 9:23 And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.

KJV And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me”


Parallel passages in Matthew and Mark

Matthew 10:38 “And he who does not take (present tense = continually) his cross (Luke adds "daily") and follow (present tense = continually) after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.

Matthew 16:24-26 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny (aorist imperative) himself, and take up (aorist imperative) his cross (Luke adds "daily") and follow (present imperative = as one's lifestyle) Me. 25 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Mark 8:34-38 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny (aorist imperative) himself, and take up (aorist imperative) his cross (Luke adds "daily") and follow (present imperative = as one's lifestyle) Me. 35 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37“For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

And He was saying to them all - Who is all? Mark 8:34 makes it clear that He is not addressing this just to the disciples for in that passage He says "He summoned the crowd with His disciples." He wanted ALL to understand the important truth of self-denial. Keep the context in mind -- what had Jesus just explained (that may have caused some degree of consternation)? In Lk 9:22 Jesus had just explained His mission as the "Christ of God" (Whom Peter had just confessed in Lk 9:20) was to be killed. So now He begins to explain what it means to follow Him. He had to die, but so did they if they were to be genuine followers. The interesting thing to me is that the death Jesus goes on to explain in Luke 9:23-27 is not necessarily a physical death like His (of course it might involve martyrdom for some, but not for the majority of His followers). What Jesus was describing for most of His followers was a figurative death, a death to that selfish tendency in every human heart, a selfish tendency that is prompted and "empowered" by the Sin principle or propensity that indwells every believer until the day we die or are raptured (note the middle letter of "sIn" - it is "I")! There are days when I think to myself, to be physically martyred would be easier than to kill the sin principle that is in me -- I'm sure you understand what I mean! Mortification of sin (E.g., see Col 3:5KJV and thoughts from John Owen on Mortification of Sin) is not easy, but requires me daily to jettison self-reliance and to rely wholly on the Holy Spirit, Who Alone can energize me for this "deadly task" by giving me the DESIRE and the POWER to kill my intractable, resistant SELFISH TENDENCIES! (see Php 2:13NLT-note).

And he was saying (over and over) to all - This was not a "secret" teaching for a select few, but one that Jesus repeated (was saying = imperfect tense) over and over. Why have we missed these critical words of Jesus in American "Christianity"? This is not an "ancillary" teaching. It is not an "elective" class for a follower of Jesus. This is a mandatory "Discipleship 101" class for EVERY BELIEVER in Jesus Christ! It would be one thing is this were a solitary teaching by Jesus, but that is not the case for He repeated this same idea over and over so that His followers would not miss the importance of this truth. So in addition to Matthew 10:38-39, Matthew 16:24-26 and Mark 8:34-38 recorded above, Jesus taught this same principle in...

Luke 14:26-27 If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

There are no crown-wearers in heaven who were not cross-bearers here below. - Charles Haddon Spurgeon

When the will of God crosses the will of man, somebody has to die.

Vance Havner -- What our Lord said about cross-bearing and obedience is not in fine type. It is in bold print on the face of the contract.

Thomas a Kempis, Imitation of Christ: What hindereth thee more than thine affections not fully mortified to the will of God?

F B Meyer: We are not simply to cut off this or the other indulgence, but to put the Cross of Christ between ourselves and the gratification of our own will. We must be willing to follow the Lamb, though the old Abraham cries out in grievous pain.

Billy Graham in “The Offense of the Cross” -When Jesus said, “If you are going to follow me, you have to take up a cross,” it was the same as saying, “Come and bring your electric chair with you. Take up the gas chamber and follow me.” He did not have a beautiful gold cross in mind—the cross on a church steeple or on the front of your Bible. Jesus had in mind a place of execution.

We need men of the cross, with the message of the cross, bearing the marks of the cross. - Vance Havner

Christ’s cross is such a burden as sails are to a ship or wings to a bird. - Samuel Rutherford

The old cross slew men; the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it. A.W. Tozer

The figure of the Crucified invalidates all thought which takes success for its standard. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

All heaven is interested in the cross of Christ, all hell is terribly afraid of it, while men are the only beings who more or less ignore its meaning. - Oswald Chambers

Jesus is carefully instructing those who would be His disciples about the cost of following Him. Halfhearted people who were not willing to make the commitment did not respond. Thus He turned away anyone who was reluctant to pay the price—such as the rich young ruler (Mt 19:16 Mk 10:17). He warned all who thought of becoming disciples to count the cost carefully. (Lk 14:28-30). As a builder carefully estimates the costs required to finish and the king his military strength and that of his enemy, so the believer should be willing to sacrifice all.

John Stott: The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict, half-built towers—the ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish. For thousands of people still ignore Christ’s warning and undertake to follow him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of doing so. The result is the great scandal of Christendom today, so-called “nominal Christianity.” In countries to which Christian civilization has spread, large numbers of people have covered themselves with a decent, but thin, veneer of Christianity. They have allowed themselves to become somewhat involved; enough to be respectable but not enough to be uncomfortable. Their religion is a great, soft cushion. It protects them from the hard unpleasantness of life, while changing its place and shape to suit their convenience. No wonder the cynics speak of hypocrites in the church and dismiss religion as escapism.

From prayer that asks that I may be
Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,
From fearing when I should aspire,
From faltering when I should climb higher,
From silken self, O Captain, free
Thy soldier who would follow Thee.

From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakenings,
Not thus are spirits fortifed,
Not this way went the Crucified,
From all that dims Thy Calvary,
O Lamb of God, deliver me.

Give me the love that leads the way,
The faith that nothing can dismay,
The hope no disappointments tire,
The passion that will burn like fire.
Let me not sink to be a clod:
Make me Thy fuel, O Flame of God.

ILLUSTRATION - When the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez landed at Vera Cruz, Mexico in 1519 he was intent on conquest. To assure the devotion of his men, Cortez set fire to his fleet of eleven ships! With no means of retreat Cortez’s army had only one direction to move, into the Mexican interior. Cortez understood the price of commitment—and he paid it.

NIV Study Bible - Although Jesus offered salvation as a free gift (John 1:12; 3:16-18; see Eph. 2:8, 9), He also warned that following Him would entail suffering and hardship (Matt. 5:10-12; see also Rom. 8:17; 2 Thess. 1:5).

He must deny himself - Just try to do this in your own strength! You can't! Paul gives us a clue in Titus 2:11-12 writing

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, (Titus 2:11-12-note)

So what is Paul's "secret" for effectively denying self? It is the "grace of God" which is continually instructing (disciplining) us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires (sounds like SELF)! This grace is administered by the indwelling Holy Spirit, Who indwells EVERY believer and is continually energizing them giving them the desire and the power to deny self (see Php 2:13-note) which is the same as working out our salvation in fear and trembling. (Php 2:12-note).

Deny (720)(arneomai from "a" = negation + rheo = say) literally means "to say no", to say one does not know about or is in any way related to some person or some thing. Webster says that to deny implies a firm refusal to accept as true, to grant or concede or to acknowledge the existence or claims of.

The aorist imperative is a command to do this now, don't delay, it is urgent. Do it once and for all.

Phil Newton addresses the question "What does it mean to deny yourself in view of coming after Christ? It's no slap on the wrist over some little desire. It is an alteration of one's life; it involves the essence of repentance in turning from self and sin in order to turn obediently to the Lord. It is the glad willingness to suffer loss for the sake of Christ (cf. Phil. 3). It is the resignation to press forward in thankfulness to Christ even when ridiculed and opposed because of your faith in Christ. (See Newton's entire sermon below)

Adrian Rogers on denying self (quotes from various sermons) - You know the modern day Simon Peter would have been Mohammad Ali. Remember that old story, it's a good one. Ali got on an airplane, sitting there drinking his coke and eating his peanuts. And the stewardess said, "Sir, buckle your seatbelt." Ali said, "Superman don't need no seatbelt." She said, "Yes, and Superman don't need no airplane either." That's the kind of a guy old Simon Peter was. I mean, Simon Peter was the big, burly fisherman. He was the leader. He was filled with self-confidence. Friend, listen to me. If you don't deny yourself, you're going to deny Jesus. Put it down big, plain, and straight. If you don't deny yourself, you're going to deny Jesus. What was his problem? Self-confidence. He was bragging when he should have been trusting....the Lord doesn't want you to dedicate yourself to him, he wants you to deny yourself.....You can be an extremist in the matter of self-denial. You're to deny yourself. But, while the Bible teaches self-denial, the Bible is not against you having a good time. There are some so-called Christians that remind me of the Grinch. Remember the Grinch, where you read Dr. Seuss? The old Grinch—anytime he saw anybody having a good time, he bit himself. There are people like that. God wants you to enjoy life. You say, "Are you sure?" Yes, the Bible says, "God giveth us richly all things to enjoy" (1 Timothy 6:17)....If you don't deny yourself, you're going to deny Jesus. Put it down big, plain, and straight. If you don't deny yourself, you're going to deny Jesus.

David Platt - disciples of Jesus are not marked by self-righteousness or self-indulgence; they are marked by self-denial: crucifying themselves for the glory of God. And the lesson they would learn was that in following Jesus, they would leave behind temporal pursuits. Quite literally for most of these disciples, they would lose their lives in this world. But in the process, they would live for eternal pleasure. In losing their lives, they would actually find their lives. Indulging yourself or trying to earn the favor of God by following all the rules is a sure recipe for losing your life in this world. But if you want to know the favor of God and you want to experience the eternal pleasure of God, then deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus. For this is what it means to be a disciple. This is what it means to be a part of the church.... For the early disciples, the language of taking up your cross would have immediately brought to mind images of crucifixion. Anyone carrying his cross was a dead man walking. Your life as you once knew it was over. As we die to ourselves and take up our cross, we cannot forget the end of Mt 16:24. We are not simply leaving behind sin and self, we are committing to follow Jesus. This echoes Jesus initial invitation in Matthew 4:19 to "Follow Me." Pursue Me, Jesus says. Walk in My footsteps, according to My Word (Ed comment: Walking by My Spirit, just as I did when I was on earth! See discussion of Walking Like Jesus Walked!), adhering to My ways, trusting in My power, living for My praise. You hear echoes of this in Paul's language: "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:19-20). Though it may sound foolish to the world, this is how we find life: "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it" (Mt 16:25). Oh, the great reversal! Live for yourself and you will die. Die to yourself and you will live.(Exalting Jesus in Matthew)

Daniel Akin - The Self-Centered Life Must Be Put to Death (Mark 8:34) Jesus lays out the essence of “the normal Christian life,” the basics of discipleship, which sadly in our day looks like “the radical Christian life.” Being Jesus’ disciple requires three essentials. First, deny yourself. Give up the right to self-determination. Live as Christ directs. Treasure and value Jesus more than yourself, your comforts, your aspirations. Put to death the idol of I! Say no to you and yes to Jesus (Ed: One of the best ways to do this is, enabled by the Spirit, focus first on Jesus. Say "Yes" to Him. Then you will be empowered to say "No" to your flesh! Walk by the Spirit, for that is the only way to avoid the subtle trap of deceptive legalism where you say "I won't do this!" "I won't watch that!" "I won't go there", etc. See the discussion of the oft misunderstood command in Galatians 5:16)! Second, take up your cross. Die! (Ed: Again enabled by the Spirit not self!) Luke 9:23 adds the word “daily” because that is what we must do. This is not normal or natural, but it is necessary to be Christ’s disciple. And it is a slow, painful death. Finally, follow Me! Are we willing to believe and obey Jesus? It will be radical, not comfortable, because it involves a death to the self-centered life. (Christ-Centered Exposition – Exalting Jesus in Mark)

Take up his cross daily - Not occasionally when we feel the need to repent. Daily. Self wants to lead EVERY DAY. So DAILY we must take up the cross which signifies death. We are not instructed to TRY (to do better), but to DIE! Just try to defeat SELF in your own strength! The only practical way is by taking up one's cross DAILY!

Take up (142)(airo) essentially means “to lift from the ground,” hence to raise, lift, take up, pick up (cf Mt 16:24; Lk 17:13; Jn 8:59). In this context the idea is to be prepared to suffer to the point of death. The cross speaks of death (death to self, etc). We are to take up Jesus' cross and take up His yoke. Jesus spoke of taking up or carrying His yoke, which He contrasted with the yoke of the Law (Matthew 11:28-30-note). His yoke is easy and light; He implied that the yoke of the Pharisees was heavy, cumbersome, and actually impossible to bear. Service to God can therefore be understood as “taking up” a burden.

The aorist imperative is a command to do this now, don't delay, it is urgent. Do it once and for all.

Take up the cross refers to the usual requirement that the condemned man haul his own cross to the place of execution. Jesus knew (though the disciples were not yet fully aware) that He would soon be doing this Himself (Jn 19:16,17). It is one thing to learn the Truth about personal revival and victorious living but it is quite another to take up our cross daily and walk the narrow road of renunciation of the old self, the old Adam that screams out for satisfaction by the passing pleasures of this world (Heb 11:25, 1 Jn 2:17). Nowhere was our Lord Jesus more explicit and firm than when He mentioned discipleship. (Lu 9:23, 14:27). His reason for this is simple: Self cannot and will not follow Him, but taking up one’s cross results in death to self and newness of life in Christ Jesus.

Leifeld - A condemned criminal was forced to carry one bar of his cross to the place of execution. He was "on a one-way journey. He'd not be back" (Morris, Luke, p. 170). To take up the cross daily is to live each day, not for self, but for Christ. (Ibid)

R Kent Hughes on what is a cross because many people think when they experience difficulties, that is tantamount to the "cross" but that is not necessarily the case - Our crosses come from and are proportionate to our dedication to Christ. Difficulties are not an indication of cross-bearing; difficulties for Christ's sake are. We need to ask ourselves if we have any difficulties because we are following close after Christ. (Preaching the Word – Mark, Volume I: Jesus, Servant and Savior)

In his commentary on Luke Hughes expands on crosses asking "What are our crosses? They are not simply trials or hardships. Some think of a nutty boss or an unfair teacher or a bossy mother-in-law as a "cross." But they are not. Neither can we properly call an illness or a handicap a cross. A cross results from specifically walking in Christ's steps, embracing his life. It comes from bearing disdain because we are following the narrow way of Jesus Christ, "the way and the truth and the life" (John 14:6)....Our crosses come from and are proportionate to our dedication to Christ. Difficulties do not indicate cross-bearing, though difficulties for Christ's sake do. Do we have any difficulties because we are closely following Christ? (Preaching the Word – Luke, Volume I: That You May Know the Truth)

Take up his cross daily - Notice the time phrase "daily" (not mentioned in Matthew 16:24). Why daily? Because every morning when I get up the challenge faces me -- Fallen flesh is still depraved flesh and is not dead. My flesh will prompt me to do it my way today. But by the power of the Spirit, I can choose to do it the Jesus way today. And there is never a day off! No furlough! No break from the battle! Paul was very clear about this in Galatians writing that there is ONLY ONE WAY to not give in to the fallen flesh -

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you (absolutely) will not carry out the desire of the flesh (Paul does not say we will not have the desire). (Gal 5:16- see notes on this vitally important verse which fits nicely with Jesus' commands here in Lk 9:23)..

Then Paul goes on to emphasize that this opposition between the flesh and the Spirit is ongoing and will not cease until that glorious day when we meet Jesus face to face! Paul explains

For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. (Gal 5:17)

Avery Will in Master Life says "We learn from Jesus' example that a Christian's cross has two characteristics: It is a voluntary commitment, and it is an act of obedience. For believers, cross bearing is voluntary, redemptive, sacrificial service for others. Self-denial emphasizes turning from commitment to self to commitment to Him. Taking up your cross involves turning with Christ to a world in need. The first result is a new vision of self; the second result is a new vision of the world's need."

Ray Pritchard writes that "the cross represents three things: It’s a sign of suffering, a sign of rejection by the world, and a sign of obedience to God. What is “your” cross? Your cross is accepting God’s will for your life and doing it cheerfully. Your cross will always include suffering, always lead to rejection by the world, and always involve obedience to God."

Bob Briner - "Take up your cross" has become a kind of proverb in Christian circles, so much so that we forget how radical it must have sounded in the first century. The cross was an instrument of Roman torture. At times, the roads around Jerusalem were lined with hundreds of crosses bearing dead and dying men, their bodies bloated in the sun, surrounded by flies, covered with maggots. It's not a pretty thought or one calculated to win the masses (Ed: Estimates say up to 30,000 Jews were crucified during the time of Jesus) . Yet that's the image Jesus called to mind. In Jesus' day, condemned criminals were made to carry the crossbar to the place of their own execution. Here, Jesus was calling men to come and die in his service. We forget the shock of his words. He was calling his followers to heroic effort in the face of certain opposition, suffering, pain, and death. (The Leadership Lessons of Jesus)

Disciples Study Bible - What is involved in bearing the cross? You move beyond denying yourself to taking up a redemptive ministry. The cross for Jesus meant giving Himself to redeem the world. You enter into His ministry by taking up your cross. Bearing your cross and serving others requires discipline. The cross is our analogy to illustrate the disciplines Jesus said a disciple should have to abide in Him and serve Him.

Claude King - Jesus died on a cross to pay the penalty for your sin. His payment was sufficient for all your sin. He purchased the forgiveness He freely offers to you, but Jesus also died to win victory over sin. Because of Christ, you do not have to live under sin's control any longer. Though a follower of Christ may sin, he doesn't have to sin. Paul described his experience this way: "I have been crucified with Christ; and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:19-20). You can die to self and to sin because the Spirit of Christ living in you is able to help you live free from sin. This may seem like an impossible dream, but it can be your everyday reality. You take up your cross daily by dying to self and sin. (Growing Disciples Series)

Billy Graham - To take up your cross means to associate yourself with Christ and to share His rejection. It means you take a stand for Christ even though people make fun of you, persecute you—or even kill you!

John Piper on "deny yourself and take up your cross and follow me.” In other words, treasure me more than your own comfort and your own safety. The opposite of self-denial is the idol of self-gratification, and the opposite of cross-bearing is the idol of self-preservation.....if you would save your life, you must lose it, and if you would follow Jesus, you must take up your cross daily. The great tragedy of much contemporary Christianity is that the cross is safely relegated to the distant past. And practically what it means is that Jesus was soaked in blood so that I can soak in a Jacuzzi. And the bigger the tub, the more we honor the cross—so goes the prosperity gospel.....(Piper commenting on 1 Cor 4:8-11) Now what’s he saying? He’s saying that they are wrong to think that Jesus died on the cross so that IN THIS AGE they might have fullness, wealth, kingly dignity, worldly wisdom and strength. The cross is not a mere event in history; it’s a way of life! Take up your cross DAILY, Jesus said! They weren’t taking up their cross daily. They were taking up their scepter daily. They were sitting on their throne daily. They were leaving in the past what belongs in the present, namely, the cross. And they were trying to bring into the present what belongs in the future, namely, the power and dignity of glorified saints. And the result was that the cross was being emptied of its power to humble, and the inheritance was being contaminated with pride.....Take up your cross and follow me. But with every command (Take up and follow are both commands) comes a promise. “Fear not, for I am with you (Ed: His indwelling Spirit); be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

Leon Morris on taking up one's cross: "Jesus was speaking about a death to a whole way of life; he was talking about the utmost in self-sacrifice, a very death to selfishness and all forms of self-seeking" (The Gospel According to Matthew)

Adrian Rogers - Somebody asked Tozer, "What does it mean to take up your cross?" and Tozer told a story of an old man, and here's what he said. "One time, a young man came to an old saint who taught the deeper life, the crucified life, and said, 'Father, what does it mean to be crucified?' The old man thought for a moment and said, 'Well, to be crucified means three things.'" Now, listen to this, folks. Here's what it means to take up a cross. "First, the man who is crucified is facing only one direction." That's good. When you're crucified, you're only facing one direction. "The old man scratched his scraggily head and said, 'One thing more, son, about the man on the cross. He is not going back. He has said his final goodbyes. Thirdly, he said, the man on the cross has no further plans of his own.'" Did you get that? He's facing one direction. He's not going back. He said goodbye. And he has no further plans of his own.


Stephen Olford on Follow Me - (ILLUSTRATION) The thought is simple enough and can be understood by anyone who has played “Follow the leader” as a child. There is one simple rule: to follow the leader and do exactly as he does. No one must shrink from going where the leader has gone. Ultimately, for the Christian, this becomes the hope of heaven, since our Leader has gone there, too. There must be total commitment to Jesus.

Follow (190)(akoloutheo from a = expresses union with, likeness + keleuthos = a road, way) means to walk the same road (Ponder that simple definition dear believer - Am I willing to walk the same road as Jesus?) Literally to follow (like the crowds followed Jesus) and in a figurative sense to follow Jesus as a disciple. To follow (closely) and was used of soldiers, servants and pupils. To go after someone or something (not as a true disciple however as we see with the crowds who physically followed Jesus, following however without a willingness to commit wholly to Him! cf John 6:60-65, 66) Early in the history of the Greek language akoloutheo came to mean to imitate or follow someone's example. This dual meaning colored the New Testament use of our word akoloutheo. Akoloutheo is a technical term in Hebrew and Greek for the reactions and relationships of a disciple to his teacher. The essence of Christianity in fact lies in the words "to follow Jesus." When we walk with Him, He promised we would never walk in darkness! (Jn 8:12). He is our Lamp wherever we walk, always walking with us, His Spirit within us enabling us to "Walk by the Spirit." (Gal 5:16) Paul expressed walking after Jesus as being His imitator (1 Cor 11:1) When He say's go, I go. When He says stop, I stop. His sheep know His voice and follow Him (Jn 10:27) Sadly , some declined to follow (Mt 19:21-23).

Akoloutheo has a variety of meanings which are all quite similar: 1) a soldier following his king; 2) a slave following his master; 3) a citizen following the law of the state; 4) a scholar following his teacher; 5) a young man following the wisdom of an elder. All imply that we must follow Jesus without question anywhere, at any time, at any cost.

Follow is in the (present imperative) which calls for this to be a lifestyle or the habit of one's life. This is in essence a "working definition" (or description) of a disciple, a follower of Jesus.

Follow Me - This phrase occurs 19 times in the Gospels. All of the following (pun intended) passages are in RED LETTERS (if you have a "Red Letter Bible). It is abundantly clear that Jesus sought men and women who would FOLLOW HIM! Would you call yourself a follower of Jesus? These passages in Luke 9:23-26 help define what that following entails.

Matt. 4:19; Matt. 8:22; Matt. 9:9; Matt. 16:24; Matt. 19:21; Mk. 1:17; Mk. 2:14; Mk. 8:34; Mk. 10:21; Lk. 5:27; Lk. 9:23; Lk. 9:59; Lk. 18:22; Jn. 1:43; Jn. 10:27; Jn. 12:26; Jn. 13:36; Jn. 21:19; Jn. 21:22

William Barclay - Jesus knew what crucifixion meant. When he was a young boy of about eleven years of age, Judas the Galilaean had led a rebellion against Rome. He had raided the royal armoury at Sepphoris, which was only four miles from Nazareth. The Roman vengeance was swift and sudden. Sepphoris was burned to the ground; its inhabitants were sold into slavery; and 2,000 of the rebels were crucified on crosses which were set in lines along the roadside that they might be a dreadful warning to others tempted to rebel. To take up our cross means to be prepared to face things like that for loyalty to Jesus; it means to be ready to endure the worst that anyone can do to us for the sake of being true to him (The New Daily Study Bible – The Gospel of Luke)

There's Christian song that speaks to the cost of taking up the Cross and following Jesus. It's called "I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb" (it won a Dove Award for Inspirational Recorded Song of the Year at the 25th Dove Awards in 1994) - watch and listen to this well-done video version as you ponder what it means for you to take up your cross and follow Jesus: 

I pledge allegiance to the Lamb
With all my strength, with all I am
I will seek to honor His commands
I pledge allegiance to the Lamb

I have heard how Christians long ago
Were brought before a tyrant's throne
They were told that he would spare their lives
If they would renounce the name of Christ
But one by one they chose to die
The Son of God they would not deny
Like a great angelic choir sings
I can almost hear their voices ring

I pledge allegiance to the Lamb
With all my strength, with all I am
I will seek to honor His commands
I pledge allegiance to the Lamb

Now the years have come, and the years have gone
But the cause of Jesus still goes on
Now our time has come to count the cost
To reject this world, to embrace the cross
And one by one let us live our lives
For the one who died to give us life
Till the trumpet sounds on the final day
Let us proudly stand and boldly say

I pledge allegiance to the Lamb
With all my strength, with all I am
I will seek to honor His commands
I pledge allegiance to the Lamb

To the Lamb of God who bore my pain
Who took my place, who wore my shame
I will seek to honor His commands
I pledge allegiance to the Lamb

I pledge allegiance to the Lamb
With all my strength, with all I am
I will seek to honor His commands
I pledge allegiance to the Lamb

Alan Carr has a great illustration about "costs" in his sermon on the related passage Mark 8:34-38 - NO CHEAP SEATS - Intro: Last Sunday was Super Bowl Sunday. Millions of Americans watched the New York Giants shatter the New England Patriots’ dreams of finishing a perfect 19-0 season. While I’m not much of a football fan, I was curious to know what it would cost to see the game. After a few moments of research I discovered that there are no cheap seats for the Super Bowl. The tickets I found ranged from $1,674.00 in the nosebleed section all the way up to $11,668.00 for a pretty good seat near the 50 yard line. No matter how you slice it, it costs some big bucks to go to the Super Bowl. There are no cheap seats! If you want to see Celine Dion in concert, expect to pay between $100.00 and $2,000.00. If you want to see an old rock band named Journey expect to pay between $100.00 and $500.00. It will cost you at least $250.00 to go to trace in Daytona next week. It would cost you nearly a hundred bucks to see either Dolly Parton or Willie Nelson! There are no cheap seats! Jesus wants to teach us the same thing about being His follower. He wants us to know that there are No Cheap Seats in His service....Many believe they can have Jesus and the world too. Many believe they can claim to be followers of Christ, while they live their lives as they please. Jesus lets us know in no uncertain terms that such notions are utterly false. If a person is going to be a follower of Jesus Christ, there is a very high price to pay. This passage (Mark 8:34-38) makes it clear that there are No Cheap Seats for followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

James Earley - Jesus said, "Follow Me." Jesus did not say, "Follow a set of rules" or "Follow a series of rituals." He said, "Follow Me." Discipleship is an intensely personal pursuit. Make no mistake about it. Being a disciple of Jesus is more than adding a new set of activities to your already busy life. Being a disciple of Jesus is first and foremost a response to His call to pursue Him passionately. The call "Follow Me" is the essence, heartbeat, challenge, and adventure of discipleship. It is a formal challenge to live with, learn from, and study under Rabbi Jesus. It is a call to be close to Him, obey His teachings, take the same path He takes, and walk the same road He walked. It involves daily growth and development at the expense of personal comfort. It demands absolute abandonment (Ed: see Oswald Chambers' comments below) of all else in order to pursue Jesus fully. This chapter (In his book Disciple Making Is...) will go deeper into stage two of the discipleship process (development), exploring what it means to follow Jesus. The common command in Jesus' initial encounter with His disciples was "Follow Me.." In chapter 6, we discussed how Jesus opened His relationship with His future disciples with the challenge "Follow Me" (John 1:43). In chapter 7, when Jesus formally invited Simon, Andrew, James, and John into a rabbi/disciple relationship, He did so with the words "Follow Me, ... and I will make you fish for people!" (Mt 4:19). Jesus issued the same call again, tying it with the proclamation that the Father was leading Him to the cross. He said, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Luke 9:23-note)...The point is to be certain that you follow Jesus, no matter the cost. I agree with Oswald Chambers, who said, "Be reckless for Jesus!" (Disciple Making Is...)

Adrian Rogers - Now, what does it mean to take up your cross? It doesn't mean to put a cross around, across your back and walk around with it.....Now, many people have a cross, a gold ornament, around their neck, and there's nothing wrong with that that I can see. But, friend, a cross is not a thing of beauty. A cross is a thing, ultimately, of shame and reproach. That's what it meant in Jesus' day when He said, "Pick up your cross."
When I was in college, I took a course in criminology, and we visited our penitentiary there in Florida, Raiford Penitentiary. And I went into the room there where they had the electric chair. I sat down in the electric chair. I checked the switch and everything to see no one was standing over there. But I sat down in the electric chair. Got up and looked at it, tried to image what it would be like to sit in that chair knowing that someone behind that panel is ready to pull the switch. And that chair was hideous. It was ugly. Can you image somebody with an electric chair on a chain around their neck, a little miniature electric chair?
Well, the cross, we have made it sort of a piece of jewelry, but when a person comes to Jesus Christ, he is a worshiper who will worship at any cost, personal relationships, personal reputation. To take up your cross is a mark of shame. Personal realization. Now, somebody says, "Well, my sickness is my cross." Not unless you got it by serving Jesus. You say, "My mother-in-law's my cross." She may be cross, but she's not your cross. A cross is something that you willingly take up. You don't have to bear it. Jesus said, "No man taketh my life from me. I lay it down of myself."
To follow Jesus is a worshiper who worships at any cost, above the cost of personal relationships, above the cost of personal reputation, above the cost of personal realization.
Somebody asked Dr. Tozer, "What does it mean to take up your cross? What does it mean to be crucified with Christ?" He said, "Three things. Number one: a man who is crucified is facing only one way. Number two: a man who is crucified is not going back. He has said goodbye. He is not going back. And number three: he has no further plans of his own." Take up your cross, facing one way, not going back, no further plans of his own. Can you say it, "I'm crucified with Christ?" We say it glibly. Do you mean it? That's what it means to be a disciple. Still want to be a disciple? Take up your cross. That's what the Lord Jesus Christ said. My precious friend, when you gave your heart to Jesus Christ and said, "I will take up my cross," that's the last legitimate, independent decision you ever make. There, from now on, your life belongs to Jesus Christ. You're not your own. You are bought with a price. Now, what a disciple is, number one, is a worshiper who worships at any cost. Got it?

Louis Cassels - Obey . . . take up your cross . . . deny yourself . . . it all sounds very hard. It is hard. Anyone who tells you differently is peddling spiritual soothing syrup, not real Christianity. And yet, in a strangely paradoxical way, it is also easy. With every cross that we lift in obedience to Christ comes the strength to carry it. It is always a package deal.

What Did Jesus Mean When He Said, “Take up Your Cross and Follow Me (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23)?

Let’s begin with what Jesus didn’t mean. Many people interpret “cross” as some burden they must carry in their lives: a strained relationship, a thankless job, a physical illness. With self-pitying pride, they say, “That’s my cross I have to carry.” Such an interpretation is not what Jesus meant when He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me.” When Jesus carried His cross up Golgotha to be crucified, no one was thinking of the cross as symbolic of a burden to carry. To a person in the first-century, the cross meant one thing and one thing only: death by the most painful and humiliating means human beings could develop.

Two thousand years later, Christians view the cross as a cherished symbol of atonement, forgiveness, grace, and love. But in Jesus’ day, the cross represented nothing but torturous death. Because the Romans forced convicted criminals to carry their own crosses to the place of crucifixion, bearing a cross meant carrying their own execution device while facing ridicule along the way to death.

Therefore, “Take up your cross and follow Me” means being willing to die in order to follow Jesus. This is called “dying to self.” It’s a call to absolute surrender. After each time Jesus commanded cross bearing, He said, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:24–25). Although the call is tough, the reward is matchless.

Wherever Jesus went, He drew crowds. Although these multitudes often followed Him as Messiah, their view of who the Messiah really was—and what He would do—was distorted. They thought the Christ would usher in the restored kingdom. They believed He would free them from the oppressive rule of their Roman occupiers. Even Christ’s own inner circle of disciples thought the kingdom was coming soon (Luke 19:11). When Jesus began teaching that He was going to die at the hands of the Jewish leaders and their Gentile overlords (Luke 9:22), His popularity sank. Many of the shocked followers rejected Him. Truly, they were not able to put to death their own ideas, plans, and desires, and exchange them for His.

Following Jesus is easy when life runs smoothly; our true commitment to Him is revealed during trials. Jesus assured us that trials will come to His followers (John 16:33). Discipleship demands sacrifice, and Jesus never hid that cost.

In Luke 9:57–62, three people seemed willing to follow Jesus. When Jesus questioned them further, their commitment was half-hearted at best. They failed to count the cost of following Him. None was willing to take up his cross and crucify upon it his own interests.

Therefore, Jesus appeared to dissuade them. How different from the typical Gospel presentation! How many people would respond to an altar call that went, “Come follow Jesus, and you may face the loss of friends, family, reputation, career, and possibly even your life”? The number of false converts would likely decrease! Such a call is what Jesus meant when He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me.”

If you wonder if you are ready to take up your cross, consider these questions:

  • Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing some of your closest friends?
  • Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means alienation from your family?
  • Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means the loss of your reputation?
  • Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your job?
  • Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your life?

In some places of the world, these consequences are reality. But notice the questions are phrased, “Are you willing?” Following Jesus doesn’t necessarily mean all these things will happen to you, but are you willing to take up your cross? If there comes a point in your life where you are faced with a choice—Jesus or the comforts of this life—which will you choose?

Commitment to Christ means taking up your cross daily, giving up your hopes, dreams, possessions, even your very life if need be for the cause of Christ. Only if you willingly take up your cross may you be called His disciple (Luke 14:27). The reward is worth the price. Jesus followed His call of death to self (“Take up your cross and follow Me”) with the gift of life in Christ: “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:25–26). (from Gotquestions - highly recommended resource)

ILLUSTRATION - You Mind if I Look Over these Crosses?
Well, here I am, Lord. You said "Take up your cross," and I'm here to do it. It's not easy, you know, this self-denial thing. I mean to go through with it though, yes sir! I'll bet you wish more people were willing to be disciples like me. I've counted the cost and surrendered my life, and it's not an easy road.
You mind if I look over these crosses? I'd kind of like a new one. I'm not fussy, you understand; but a disciple has to be relevant these days.
I was wondering—are there any that are vinyl padded? I'm thinking of attracting others, see? And if I could show them a comfortable cross, I'm sure I could win a lot more. Got to keep up with the population explosion and all.
And I need something durable so I can treasure it always. Oh, is there one that's sort of flat so it would fit under my coat? One shouldn't be too obvious.
Funny, there doesn't seem to be much choice here. Just that coarse, rough wood. I mean that would hurt. Don't you have something more distinctive, Lord? I can tell you right now, none of my friends are going to be impressed by this shoddy workmanship. They'll think I'm a nut or something. And my family will be just mortified.
What's that? It's either one of these or forget the whole thing? But Lord, I want to be your disciple, I mean, just being with you; that's all that counts; but life has to have a balance, too. But you don't understand—nobody lives that way today! Who is going to be attracted by this self-denial bit? I mean, I want to; but let's not over do it. Start getting radical like this, and they'll have me off to the funny farm. Know what I mean?
I mean being a disciple is challenging and exciting and I want to do it; but I do have some rights, you know. Now let's see—no blood—OK? I just can't stand the thought of that, Lord... Lord? Jesus?
Now where do you suppose He went?

Carrying the Cross of Words - I am afraid we modern Christians are long on talk and short on conduct. We use the language of power but our deeds are the deeds of weakness. We settle for words in religion because deeds are too costly. It is easier to pray, "Lord, help me to carry my cross daily" then to pick up the cross and carry it; but since the mere request for help to do something we do not actually intend to do has a certain degree of religious comfort, we are content with repetition of the words.

F. B. Meyer once shared a room with C. T. Studd. Meyer woke up one morning at seven and saw the bent figure of C. T. Studd etched against the light of a flickering candle, his university scarf wrapped around his neck. “How long have you been up, Charlie?” asked Meyer. He replied, “Since four o’clock.” “What on earth have you been doing for three hours?” Studd answered, “I’ve been going through the New Testament afresh, in the light of the command of my Savior, ‘If you love Me, keep My commandments,’ and I’ve been checking off every commandment that I’ve obeyed.” Meyer asked, “How can I be like you?” Studd pointed out the need to be fully surrendered to Christ in every area of life, in order that the Holy Spirit might radiate through his life. It was then that Meyer realized that he had handed over every key of his life except one his ability to preach. Studd reminded him, “If you don’t trust the Lord in all, you don’t trust Him at all.” Norman Grubb, C. T. Studd

Alan Carr on taking up your cross - When Jesus spoke of the cross, everyone in His audience knew what He was referring to. Some have estimated that over 30,000 Jews were crucified during the lifetime of Jesus alone. When Jesus says that we are to take up our cross, He is saying that we are to live as dead men! You see, to take up ones cross was to start upon a “death march”. Their walk under that cross always ended up with them on that cross. They began a process from which there was no retreating and no turning back. To take up your cross was to embrace the death of self! This is just what Jesus did when He came to this world - Matt. 16:21-23; John 19, Mark 10:45. He set the example that we are to follow.

To understand what this cross Jesus refers to is, we need to talk about what it isn't. It isn't your lost husband or wife. It isn't your wayward children. It isn't your mother-in-law. Your cross isn't your difficulties or the bad situations you face in life. The cross is not just a place of suffering, it is a place of death! To take up one's cross means to willingly pick up and carry the shame (⇒ People mocked men who carried the cross. Unlike today when a person will carry one across America and draw cheers. A man under a cross in Jesus' day drew jeers!), the rejection, the suffering and the death that Jesus Himself willingly carried for us. To take up your cross means that you are willing to identify yourself with Jesus Christ, His death and His word, regardless of what it costs you personally, publically or financially! (Note: That's not a side of Christianity you hear very often! It isn't popular to talk about sacrifice, death and suffering, but that is what Christianity is all about! The sooner we learn that truth, the sooner God can and will send revival to His church and use us again for His glory!)....We are called upon to take up that cross, once for all, and go after Jesus. We are not to back out, turn around, or lay down the cross. We are to die on that cross, giving our all for His glory! This phrase has the idea of being willing to go all the way for Jesus - no holds barred and no turning back - just a steady, humble walk that follows His footsteps and His path through this world. Jesus said it as simply as it could possibly be said, John 12:26, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.” (How to Experience the Heart of Real Christianity)

Ray Pritchard paraphrases the words of Jesus in Mark 8:34-38 (similar to His words in Lk 9:23-26) - Now that you know who I am, are you ready to take up your cross and follow me? Before you answer, let me warn you that to follow me will seem, in the eyes of the world, as if you are wasting your life. The people of the world will never understand what you are doing. It will seem to them that by following me, you are throwing your life away.
You always have another option. You can try to save your life by following your own desires. Lots of people do that. They live as if their careers were all that mattered. But the people who live only for this life in the end will find that they wasted it on things that don’t really matter. They tried to save it by living for themselves, but in the end they will lose it. They have wasted their lives on trivial pursuits.
After all, what good will it do if you become the richest man in the world, or climb to the top of the corporate ladder, or rise to the highest salary level in your company, or win the applause of the world? What good will all that do if in the end you find out it was all wasted? What good will that shiny new sports car do for you then? Will you be able to trade it in for another life? No, you won’t. But if you want to live that way, go ahead. Millions of people do. In the end they will be sorry, but by then it will be too late to do anything about it.
So what will it be, men? The way of the cross or the way of the world? You’ve got to invest your life somewhere. What’s the best deal you can make?
The martyred missionary Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
If you live for your career, what difference will it make ten seconds after you die? If you spend your life in the service of the kingdom of God, the road may not be easy, but 10,000 years from now you’ll never regret your decision.

Lord Jesus, you have called me to follow you, and now I must give an answer. Clear the cobwebs of confusion from my heart so that I might answer your call gladly, freely, completely, immediately, and say, “Here am I, Lord, ready to do your will.” Amen.

ILLUSTRATION - R Kent Hughes - This call to a crucified life demands a willingness to pour out one's life for Christ. The biography The Shadow of the Almighty records a beautiful prayer uttered by Jim Elliot:

Father, take my life, yea, my blood if Thou wilt, and consume it with Thine enveloping fire. I would not save it, for it is not mine to save. Have it, Lord, have it all. Pour out my life as an oblation for the world. Blood is only of value as it flows before Thine altar.

Young Jim Elliot went on to willingly shoulder his cross in missionary service, literally sealing it with his own blood at the hands of primitive spearmen deep in the jungles of Ecuador. (Preaching the Word – Luke, Volume I: That You May Know the Truth)

Robert Morgan on Luke 9:23-26 - God uses temptation to cultivate obedience. Look at Luke 9:23-26: In other words, if we’re Christ’s disciples, we’re going to be in hostile territory and we’re going to have to make hard moral decisions every day. The world will try to tempt us. The world will try to intimidate us. The world will try to make us ashamed of being Christians. But Jesus can use that temptation to cultivate obedience in our lives. I think one of the best things that I read in the purpose-driven materials we’ve been going through is this paragraph. I want to read it to you, because it is so well-stated:

“Temptation always tests whether you love God more than the temptation. Let me give you a tip about temptation. When you’re tempted, don’t resist it. Because as you’re resisting it, guess what you’re doing? You’re just thinking about the temptation! You’re getting into a spiritual tug-of-war with Satan, and he always wins. You don’t resist it, you just drop the rope and walk a different direction and you think about something different. This is a verse that I’ve used literally hundreds and hundreds of times in my life [Philippians 4:8: “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”] When I’m tempted it’s my favorite verse to use to turn my thoughts from what’s wrong to what’s right, so I’ve memorized it very well, because I have been tempted a lot. If you’ll take a verse like this and let it turn your mind from what’s wrong to what’s right, you’ll find the temptation starts to drop away.”

ILLUSTRATION Missionary Amy Carmichael worked with children in India, and one day she took them on a field trip to see a goldsmith refine his gold after the ancient manner of the East. He was sitting beside a little charcoal fire, and in the fire was a little curved roofing tile. Another tile covered it as a lid. This was the crucible. The goldsmith had concocted a solution, put it in the tile crucible, placed the lump of gold in the solution, and put the whole thing in the fire. As the fire did its work, the impurities in the gold began to leak into the solution and the gold become more pure. The goldsmith would occasionally take the gold out of the crucible with a pair of tongs, let it cool, and rub it between his fingers. Then he put it back into fresh solution in the tile and heated it up again. Every time this happened, the goldsmith blew the fire hotter than before. Looking up at the children, the goldsmith said, “The gold could not bear the fire this hot to begin with; it would have destroyed it. But now it helps it.” One of the children asked, “How do you know when the gold is purified?” Here was the man’s answer: “When I can see my face in it (the liquid gold in the crucible) then it is pure.” Of course, Amy Carmichael couldn’t miss the lesson for her own life. When our Great Refiner sees in us His own image, He has brought us to maturity and wholeness.

He uses truth to cultivate wisdom; trials to cultivate faith; tasks to cultivate faithfulness, and temptation to cultivate obedience until He can see His face to us and we have grown into the image of Christ. Is that process happening in your life? Fanny Crosby put it:

O to be more like Jesus,
Earnest when ’ere I pray,
Into His perfect likeness
Growing from day to day.

Oh, that we might all be growing into the image of Christ, growing up into Him in all things, letting Christ be formed in us. And then one day all shall be fulfilled. As the old apostle John told us in the third chapter of his first epistle: Beloved, we are now children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

Steven Cole - Following Self or Jesus? (Luke 9:23)

Thirty years ago, the teaching that Christians should love themselves and have proper self-esteem was virtually unheard of in evangelical circles. One of the first books to popularize the concept was James Dobson’s Hide or Seek [Revell, 1974], subtitled “Self-Esteem for the Child.” He began that book with the story of Lee Harvey Oswald, who shot President Kennedy. Oswald had been put down, ridiculed, and unloved all his life. The one thing he could do well was shoot a rifle. Dobson implies that if Oswald had just had the proper self-esteem, he would not have committed his infamous crime. Dobson goes on to state his thesis:

… whenever the keys to self-esteem are seemingly out of reach for a large percentage of the people, … then widespread “mental illness,” neuroticism, hatred, alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, and social disorder will certainly occur. Personal worth is not something human beings are free to take or leave. We must have it and when it is unattainable, everybody suffers (pp. 12-13, italics and quotation marks in original).

Dobson opened the door and the doctrine of self-esteem has flooded into the church. It is like the thistle, which is not native to our forests, but has spread everywhere since it was introduced. You cannot pick up a popular Christian best-seller or tune into a Christian talk show without finding this teaching. A promotional brochure for the Christian Rapha Treatment Centers contains endorsements from several well-known Christian leaders. It states, “Part of Rapha’s success is found in the unique ability to target and resolve problems of low self-esteem…. At the core of all emotional problems and addictive disorders is low self-worth. It is never the only problem; but it is so major an issue that, if not dealt with adequately, one is kept from experiencing lasting, positive results.”

Building your self-esteem and learning to love and accept yourself unconditionally are at the heart of the recovery movement that is being promoted in many evangelical churches. A popular workbook, “The Twelve Steps—A Spiritual Journey,” lists a number of milestones in recovery. Here are a few:

We have a strong identity and generally approve of ourselves.
We are recovering through loving and focusing on ourselves…
We feel comfortable standing up for ourselves when it is appropriate.
We love people who love and take care of themselves.
We have a healthy sense of self-esteem (p. 153).

A leading evangelical church uses that workbook in its support groups for adult children of alcoholics. Their orientation material states,

We learn to focus on ourselves in the here and now, and to detach from our obsession with the alcoholic. We learn to love ourselves and others, even though this may sometimes take the form of “tough love.”… We learn to allow ourselves to feel our feelings, and then to express them. This builds self esteem, which is the missing ingredient in our personalities, as it was never formed in childhood (“New Hope Support Group,” First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton, p. 6).

That same orientation packet encourages people (without any warning) to read a number of books, including Melody Beattie’s Co-Dependent No More [Harper & Row], which is sold in many Christian bookstores and catalogs. Beattie dedicates that book to “me” (herself)! She states that God’s commandment to love your neighbor as yourself is the problem; her solution is the title of chapter Lu 11: “Have a Love Affair With Yourself.”

Although I never went that far, for many years I taught that we need “proper” self-esteem. But then I came to see that the entire teaching is opposed to and condemned by Scripture. And I have grown increasingly concerned that because of the pervasiveness of this false teaching, there are many who think that they’re following Jesus, when actually they are only following self. They have been taught that the Christian faith and even Christian ministry are the avenues toward self-fulfillment. They’ve been told that Jesus will help you learn to love yourself, when in fact Jesus taught nothing of the kind. Rather, He clearly taught that …

If you’re living for self, you’re not following Jesus.

Jesus’ words follow Peter’s dramatic confession that Jesus is the Christ of God, which was followed by Jesus’ jarring prediction of His own death and resurrection (Lu 9:20, Lu 9:22). In effect, Jesus was saying to the disciples, “I am not the kind of Christ you may think. I am not going to fulfill your desires for power and glory, at least not yet. I am not going to give you everything you want in this lifetime. I will come again in power and glory (Lu 9:26), but first comes the cross. And all who follow Me must follow in the way of the cross.” So He outlines for them all (Mk 8:34 shows that the “all” includes not only the twelve, but also the multitude) what it means to be His follower or disciple.

Before we examine this important verse, let me clear up another common misconception, namely, that discipleship is an option for the super-committed, but it is not mandatory for all believers. In other words, if you’re a masochist who likes hardship, deprivation, sacrifice, and perhaps even martyrdom, you can sign up for the discipleship track. You may be required to go to another culture and live in difficult or even dangerous conditions. You will probably be required to live at a poverty level, while your fellow Christians back home live in relative luxury. But, your reward in heaven will be greater. That’s the discipleship track, and we all hope that a few dedicated young people will go that route.

The other track, for the rest of us “normal” people, is the more sensible plan. You can pursue your dreams for success and personal fulfillment, live in increasing levels of luxury, and generally enjoy the good life in the fellowship of a good evangelical church. Every once in a while you need to drop something in the offering plate. But don’t worry about sacrifice, cross-bearing, or self-denial. Remember, we’re under grace, and all that sacrifice stuff is just for those on the discipleship track.

I contend that Jesus taught that there is only one track for those who believe in Him, namely, the discipleship track. While we’re all at differing levels of growth in the process of following Jesus, if you’re not His disciple, you are not a Christian.

(Ed comment: I would add that in the book of Acts the most common name for the believers is disciples! See Acts 6:1; Acts 6:2; Acts 6:7; Acts 9:1; Acts 9:10; Acts 9:19; Acts 9:25; Acts 9:26; Acts 9:36; Acts 9:38; Acts 11:26; Acts 11:29; Acts 13:52; Acts 14:20; Acts 14:21; Acts 14:22; Acts 14:28; Acts 15:10; Acts 16:1; Acts 18:23; Acts 18:27; Acts 19:1; Acts 19:9; Acts 19:30; Acts 20:1; Acts 20:30; Acts 21:4; Acts 21:16)

Every believer is called to be completely yielded to Jesus as Lord and completely dedicated to furthering His kingdom in accordance with the various gifts He has entrusted to you. If self is at the center of your life and you’re just using Jesus to fulfill self, you are not a Christian. Christians follow Jesus, which is diametrically opposed to living for self. In Lu 9:23, Jesus sets forth three requirements for following Him:

1. To follow Jesus requires repudiating a self-centered life.

The word “deny” is the same word used of Peter’s denials of Jesus. It means to repudiate, renounce, or disown. Jesus wasn’t talking about denying yourself some little pleasure, like giving up chocolate for Lent. He was talking about a complete way of life involving a renunciation of living for your own selfish interests and an embracing of living for the sake of Christ and the gospel. The verb tenses of the three commands in Lu 9:23 indicate that denying self and taking up one’s cross are basic decisions that result in a life of continual following of Jesus. Self-denial means “turning away from the idolatry of self-centeredness and every attempt to orient one’s life by the dictates of self-interest” (John Grassmick, The Bible Knowledge Commentary [Victor Books], 2:141). It means to give up the right to control your life and to give that right to Jesus Christ.

When confronted with such claims, most of us want to hedge our bets: “Can’t we work out some sort of compromise, so that I can live for Jesus part of the time, but live for myself, too?” Jesus answers this objection in verse Lu 9:24: If you want to save your life (preserve it from self-denial; live to fulfill your own interests), you will lose it. But if you lose your life for the sake of Christ (that is, losing it in the sense of self-denial, which may or may not include literal martyrdom), you will save it, both now and for eternity.

This is not works salvation; God saves us by grace through faith. But, as Darrel Bock explains, “The essence of saving trust in God is self-denial, a recognition that he must save because disciples cannot save themselves, …” (Luke [Baker], 1:852). In other words, we begin the Christian life with the open confession that we cannot save ourselves by our own goodness or works. We denounce ourselves as sinners deserving God’s judgment and we entrust ourselves completely to Jesus Christ to save. (Ed: And His Spirit - see Gal 3:3-note).

Then, just as we received Christ, so we walk in Him (Col 2:6-note). We renounce self-exaltation (pride) and live to exalt God. We renounce self-will (directing our own lives) and live to do God’s will. We renounce self-seeking (living for our goals and desires, apart from God) and live instead to seek God and His kingdom and righteousness. Those who follow Jesus repudiate a self-centered life at every level. As Alexander Maclaren observes, “Flagrant vice is not needed to kill the real life. Clean, respectable selfishness does the work effectually” (Expositions of Holy Scripture [Baker reprint], “Mark,” p. 337).

Please note that Jesus is tacitly assuming that He is the rightful Lord of every person! He can make that claim because He is none other than the Lord God in human flesh. If He is not, He cannot demand our total allegiance; if He is, He commands nothing less. (Ed: But His commandment always includes His enablement by His Spirit!)

Thus because of who Jesus is, receiving Him is not a matter of deciding that your life is lacking something and that Jesus will fill that void and give you the happy life you’ve always wanted. Jesus isn’t just one spoke in the wheel of your life. If that’s all He is, you have never dethroned self. To be a Christian is to deny self as both Savior and Lord and to enthrone Jesus in that place. This begins at the moment of salvation and continues throughout your Christian life. But if it has not begun, you have not become a Christian, since Jesus puts this requirement at the outset of a decision to follow Him.

2. To follow Jesus requires daily death to self.

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him ... take up his cross daily” (Lu 9:23). Many Christians think that to bear their cross means putting up with a difficult mate or with a painful malady, such as arthritis. But taking up your cross is not an unavoidable trial that you passively submit to. Jesus says that it must be a daily thing that we actively choose to embrace. In Jesus’ day, the cross wasn’t an implement of irritation, inconvenience, or even suffering. The cross was an instrument of tortuous, slow execution. Jesus’ hearers knew that a man who took up his cross was, for all practical purposes, a dead man. A man bearing his cross gave up all hope and interest in the things of this world, including self-fulfillment. He knew he would be leaving this world in a very short time. He was dead to self.

Taking up your cross is not something you accomplish in an emotional moment of spiritual ecstasy or dedication. You never arrive on a spiritual mountaintop where you can sigh with relief, “I’m finally there! No more death to self!” Nor are there any shortcuts or quick fixes to this painful process.

The need for dying to self is never finished in this life;
it must be a daily thing.

A Christian writer from the past century, A. T. Pierson said,

“Getting rid of the ‘self-life’ is like peeling an onion: layer upon layer—and a tearful process!”

One of the main problems I have encountered in over two decades as a pastor is that we tend to be spiritually lazy and so we’re susceptible to anyone who comes along selling spiritual snake oil to cure our problems. Someone says, “Have this spiritual experience and you’ll be transported beyond all your problems and live a happy life.” So we buy it and for a while we may feel better. But we’re playing spiritual games. We’re still just as enslaved to sin and self as we were before. Why? Because we’re looking for miraculous, instant deliverance from a problem that Jesus said requires a daily, painful solution, namely, ongoing death to self.

What we lack and don’t want to develop (because it’s not easy) is spiritual discipline. Paul told Timothy, “Discipline (command calling for this to be our lifestyle) yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1Ti 4:7-note). Discipline isn’t miraculous or instantaneous and it’s not easy. No top athlete gets in shape by eating a dose of some wonder-food, like Popeye’s spinach. Nor does he work out for a few days and declare, “I’m in shape now!” It takes weeks, months, and even years. Neither does he finally get in shape and then kick back and say, “I’ve arrived! I’m in shape now, so I don’t need to work out any more.” The minute you stop working at it, you start getting flabby. It’s no different spiritually. Just as flabby muscles set in the day an athlete stops working out, so self asserts itself the day the Christian stops putting it to death.

In Titus 2:11-12-note Paul wrote,

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing (lit., training) us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.”

Please note that this process of self-denial is not opposed to God’s grace, but right in line with it. I say this because when I teach that you must daily die to self through disciplined spiritual living, invariably someone accuses me of being legalistic. But neither Jesus nor Paul was legalistic for teaching self-denial! Paul says that God’s grace trains us to say no to all ungodliness and worldly desires and to replace those things with sensible, righteous, godly living (Ed: And I would add that it is God's grace administered and/or made effective by the indwelling Spirit Who continually energizes us giving us the "want to" to deny self and the power to follow through - cf Php 2:12-note, Php 2:13-note). This is what the Puritans called the mortification of sin. It is something we must actively do every day (see Ro 8:13KJV; Col 3:5KJV or NIV; the NASB mistranslates it]).

It starts on the thought level: you must deny and forsake sinful thoughts and attitudes, and replace them with godly thoughts and attitudes as revealed in Scripture (cf Ro 12:1-2). If you deal with sin on the thought level, then it never gets any further (cf Ro 6:11). When greedy thoughts invade your mind, you instantly judge them and pray, “Lord, I don’t want to desire the things of this world that is passing away, but to seek first Your kingdom.” When sexual lust tempts you, you yank out your eye (to use Jesus’ words, Mt 5:27-29) and pray, “O God, fill my vision with the purity of Jesus and His righteousness!” When selfish thoughts (“I have my rights! I don’t have to take this!”) crowd your mind, you nail them to the cross by praying, “Lord Jesus, You gave up all Your rights, took on the form of a servant and became obedient to death on the cross for me. Help me to display that same attitude right now” (Php 2:5-8). That’s how Jesus’ disciples live, not for self, but daily dying to self in order to follow Jesus.

Thus, following Jesus requires a basic decision to repudiate self-centered living and to put self on the cross every day. Finally,

3. To follow Jesus requires ongoing submission to Jesus as Lord.

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him ... follow Me” (Lu 9:23). It’s a present imperative, pointing to a continual process of walking behind Jesus, going where He goes, doing what He does. It means not calling our own shots or doing our own thing, but submitting to Jesus’ commands and doing His thing. As Godet remarks, “The chart of the true disciple directs him to renounce every path of his own choosing, that he may put his feet into the print of his leader’s footsteps” (A Commentary on the Gospel of Luke [I. K. Funk & Co.], p. 267).

We’ve already noted the daily, ongoing nature of this process, so I won’t comment further on that. We’ve also noted Jesus’ Lordship, that we must submit to Him and obey Him and His Word if we would follow Him. But we need to notice the personal aspect of the process: “Follow Me.” Jesus didn’t mean simply, “Follow My commands,” although that is vital and cannot be dismissed. Obedience is not optional (Mt 7:21-23).

But we need to remember that obedience ought always to be connected to the personal relationship we enjoy with our Savior and Lord (Ed: And daily dependence on the Spirit of Jesus for His adequacy to accomplish supernaturally what I cannot accomplish naturally). He says to the disobedient who outwardly did all sorts of things in His name, “I never knew you” (Mt 7:23). They lacked the personal relationship. But to the obedient Jesus promised, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.... If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him” (Jn 14:21, Jo 14:23). We should always link obedience with our personal love for Jesus.

Suppose a young woman takes a job as housekeeper and cook for a young bachelor. He gives her a list of the tasks that he expects her to do: cleaning the house, fixing his meals at certain times, etc. She performs those tasks in a satisfactory manner as his employee. But then the two fall in love and get married. She now may have to do many of the same tasks, but she does them out of a relationship of love, not out of sheer duty. That’s the difference between mere outward obedience and obedience from a personal relationship. To follow Jesus means continual obedience to Him as Lord, but obedience in the context of knowing and loving Him as our Bridegroom and Savior, who gave His life so that we could live with Him, both now and in eternity.


I read of a young nurse named Sheila who summed up her personal philosophy as “Sheilaism,” explaining, “It’s just try to love yourself and be gentle with yourself.” Well, at least she didn’t mistake her view for Christianity! But I’m afraid that a lot of American Christians are deceiving themselves, thinking that they’re following Jesus when really, they, like Sheila, are just into themselves.

The doctrine of self-love or self-esteem is not compatible with Jesus’ teaching on self-denial. It is sad that many advocates of self-esteem cite the command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22:39) as biblical justification for self-love. Some even go so far as to say that we cannot love God or others until we first learn to love ourselves! But Jesus said that there were only two great commands—love God and love your neighbor. He assumed that we all love ourselves quite well. In fact, if we would just love others as much as we do love ourselves, we would fulfill the law of love. John Calvin saw this clearly. He wrote,

Hence it is very clear that we keep the commandments not by loving ourselves but by loving God and neighbor; that he lives the best and holiest life who lives and strives for himself as little as he can, and that no one lives in a worse or more evil manner than he who lives and strives for himself alone, and thinks about and seeks only his own advantage. (The Institutes of the Christian Religion [Westminster], 2:8:54).

Maybe you’re thinking, “Self-denial sounds so negative!” Let me remind you, I didn’t come up with this. Jesus did! In the short term, self-denial is difficult and not very pleasant. But there are eternal blessings in store when you follow Jesus on the path of the cross. He explains in verse Lu 9:24: “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” When you die to self and follow Jesus, He graciously gives you the ultimate in fulfillment as the by-product—the joy of eternal life and of being affirmed by Jesus before the Father when He comes in glory (Lu 9:26)!

If, like me a few years ago, you have been taken in by the self-esteem teaching, I encourage you to re-evaluate it in light of all Scripture, especially, Lu 9:23. You won’t find a single verse telling you to build your self-esteem or to love yourself more. You will find many telling you to die to self and to humble yourself. It’s pretty clear: Following Jesus means dying to self. Living for self means that you’re not following Jesus.

Discussion Questions

  • Do we need a “proper” amount of self-esteem? Give scriptural support for your answer.
  • How do we mesh self-denial with the practical need to say no to certain people and their demands?
  • Does self-denial mean never having fun or enjoying life? If not, how do we know when it’s okay to take time for ourselves?
  • Discuss: Discipleship is a requirement for all believers versus discipleship is an option for the super-committed.

The following is Dr Phil Newton's entire sermon on Mt 16:24-28 which is essentially what Jesus stated in Lk 9:23-26. It is included in full because it is such an excellent discussion of this critically important topic for the modern church. Newton's tile is...

"A Disciple & His Cross (September 30, 2007) - In the past 38 years as a believer, I've learned and unlearned a lot of things about what it is to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. For one thing, I've learned that "disciple" is not a special category of Christians (Ed: And I 100% agree!)—the more serious kind, but rather an apt description of any true believer. I've had to unlearn many of the mental images that I had of Christians as the basic do-gooder, the moralist, the legalist, etc. More than anything, the four Gospels have shaped my thinking about followers of Christ.
Jesus came preaching the Gospel of God, calling those in the region of Galilee to recognize that the kingdom of God was among them, so it was time to repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:14-15). Then He went about calling people to "follow" Him. "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men," Christ told Simon and Andrew as they cast a net into the sea (Mark 1:16-18). Everything changed for them from that moment onward as they began to follow Jesus Christ. What we see emphasized in the Gospels is not simply making a Christian decision but the whole commitment of one's life to follow Jesus Christ. This is precisely where in my earlier days I had failed to grasp what it meant to be a Christian. Too much of my thinking focused on decision making and too little on following Christ as a disciple. Yet the New Testament knows no Christian that is not also a follower of Christ as a disciple. It is a biblical contradiction to call oneself Christian without correspondingly following Jesus Christ. (Ed: Amen!)
So that's what I want us to investigate this morning from our text, as well as the next few weeks, as we consider a sampling of Gospel texts that help us grapple with what it means to be Christian.
Matthew sixteen is significant—a turning point in biblical revelation. (Ed: As is Lk 9:20ff) Here we find two important notes that set the stage for Christ's demands upon all that would come after Him. First, the question is answered, "Who is Jesus Christ?" Jesus asked the disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" After rehearsing common responses, He asked, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter responded, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus declared this to be an occasion of divine revelation—God had revealed to them who Jesus is! That understanding of Jesus Christ ultimately determines how each of us relates to Him, His gospel, and His demands upon us. What you understand about Christ affects even the way you see your own soul.
Second, from this point onward, Jesus began to introduce details of His suffering and passion (Ed: cf Lk 9:22). He "showed His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day." Significantly, Peter tried to dissuade Christ from such a future! He wanted a comfortable, secure Messiah that faced no pain, suffering, or loss. He wanted that for Christ because he wanted that for himself. That's why Peter eventually denied Christ.
Then Jesus burst his bubble! The call to follow Him must never be thought of as a life of ease or trouble-free. The way of Christ is the way of a cross. To follow Him is to carry one's cross daily, just as Christ did. Admittedly, this is not what's discussed in circles of popular Christianity—the kind of vapid faith that tips the hat to God but never bows the knee in humility and obedient following. Christ calls for something drastically different. Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ?

I. Declaration of true discipleship

The text before us contains Christ's declarations of what He means when He calls people to follow Him. The balance of it—the second point of this study—provides His arguments for such discipleship.
I don't think any would argue with me that we live in an era that maintains a low view of the Christian life. Eighty-percent of Americans, according to estimates, claim to be Christians. I was listening to a news show recently when the host pointed out a couple of harsh articles about two well-known though deceased professed Christians. In the course of his comments, he said to his guests, 'since eighty-percent of Americans are Christians, these comments should be offensive.' As I listened, I thought that his entire premise was flawed. First, the eighty-percent figure is ludicrous if we consider the Bible's teaching about Christianity at all. Second, most of the number he is counting as Christians probably won't even notice or care about the offensive remarks. His basic problem is that he has allowed sociologists and anthropologists to define Christian and not Jesus Christ.
Jesus tells us that a Christian is one that comes after Him—as distinct from those that pursue the ambitions and allurements of the world or who follow other masters. It's not a fleeting desire to follow Christ but a desire that sticks with the disciple. He "wishes" or desires and keeps desiring to follow Christ. He's not one to climb on the proverbial "band-wagon" because it's popular for the moment, but rather, his desires have been changed, his affections have turned from desiring the world to desiring Christ above all. Jesus explains that the desire is followed by decisive action: he comes after Christ. Let me express the tense of the verbs by a running translation. 'If anyone wishes and keeps wishing and desires and keeps desiring to decisively come after Me, let him…' In other words, Jesus qualifies the desire as that of longing to resolutely come after Christ and Christ alone (conveyed by the aorist infinitive). Jesus then explains three necessities or three actions on the part of one who sees Christ as the Savior, Redeemer, Master, and Lord. In this we come to understand how we respond to Christ as disciples.

1. A new master—"deny himself"

Jesus did not leave wiggle room: "he must deny himself." Here the verb tense intensifies the action as decisively denying himself. The middle voice conveys that it is now his desire to do so. He has seen Christ and longed for Him; in so doing the disciple denies Himself in favor of belonging to Christ. The word "deny" is used several other times in the Gospels, primarily to describe the occasion when Peter denied that he knew Christ. We learn something from this. Peter was so intent on saving his skin that he vigorously denied Christ. In essence, he gave up Christ for self-protection. Now, turn that denial on its head. Christ calls for us to give up self-protection for Christ.
Matthew Henry stated, "The first lesson in Christ's school is self-denial" [quoted by Ligon Duncan, "The Essence of Kingdom Life,", p. 5]. It is first because until we come to the point of desiring Christ and turning from self, we will put self before everything. Is that where you find yourself this morning? Do you live as though you are the center of the universe, as though your way rules? Then Jesus Christ calls for you to deny yourself if you would come after Him. What does it mean to deny yourself in view of coming after Christ?
It's no slap on the wrist over some little desire. It is an alteration of one's life; it involves the essence of repentance in turning from self and sin in order to turn obediently to the Lord. It is the glad willingness to suffer loss for the sake of Christ (cf. Phil. 3). It is the resignation to press forward in thankfulness to Christ even when ridiculed and opposed because of your faith in Christ. John Calvin writes in his Institutes [III. 7. 10], "Therefore, he alone has duly denied himself who has so totally resigned himself to the Lord that he permits every part of his life to be governed by God's will." Such a one considers the commands of God before personal desires. Further, Calvin in his commentary on the Synoptic Gospels expands on denying self. "This self-denial is very extensive, and implies that we ought to give up our natural inclinations, and part with all affections of the flesh, and thus give our consent to be reduced to nothing, provided that God lives and reigns in us" [Calvin's Commentaries, vol. 16, 304]. The focus is on the reign and rule of God in our lives, and demonstrating our joy in His reign by denying selfish and self-centered desires.
Our Baptist forefather, John Broadus, breaks denying self down into three facets:
1. He will not have self for his ruler or his aim.
2. He determines not to live according to his own inclinations, but to do and bear whatever may be necessary in the course he has undertaken.
3. He must resolve to live not for pleasure, but usefulness; not for inclination, but for duty; not for self, but God (Rom. 14:7-9; 15:2) [Selected Works, vol. III, 366].
If you are denying yourself, then you are acknowledging your desire to enter into the life of Christ. What He faced for the sake of righteousness, you now accept as your own. If it means loss or persecution or criticism or even death, following Christ bears more weight than following your own desires. "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself."

2. A new attitude—"take up his cross"

The way of Christ is the way of a cross. In this case, Jesus does not tell us to bear His cross but bear your own cross. Christ bore a cross that we cannot bear. He carried the collective weight of our sins and God's judgment upon Him. Even before He climbed the path to Golgotha, He carried His cross in the same way that He calls upon us to do so as His followers. We see it in those times that He introduced to the disciples the impending suffering He would face. We see it when He rebuked Satan as Peter tried to dissuade Him from the cross. We see it in the Garden when He agonized over drinking the cup of divine wrath. Nothing turned Him from doing the Father's will; not suffering, not jeering, not misunderstanding, not slander, not even death. He calls us to the same. The call to "take up his cross" is not judicial as with Christ's death on the cross; rather it is evidentiary of one that has died to self in order to live unto Christ. It is a different attitude about all of life. It signifies that the way of Christ is now the believer's whole life.
Taking up a cross and heading to the site of crucifixion was not an uncommon sight in the first century. The disciples had no mystical ideas about what Jesus said. They understood it because they had witnessed the one-way, solitary march of those bearing their cross to death. At this point, they did not understand that Jesus was going to be crucified. But they understood what He meant by His statement. They were to live every day for Him without thought of turning back, dying to self, dying to the lusts of the flesh and of the eyes and of the pride of life. John MacArthur comments that Jesus' intention in these words expressed, "You must perceive following Me as putting on the instrument of your own execution" ["Winning by Losing: The Paradox of Discipleship," Matthew 16:24-28, page 5].
Does that cause you to recoil from the Christian faith? If we would have Christ then we must take up our cross. If the Father gave His Son a cross, then do we think that His intention for us to be conformed to Christ would leave us cross-less? "While he dwelt on earth," Calvin wrote, "he was not only tried by a perpetual cross but his whole life was nothing but a sort of perpetual cross. The apostle notes the reason: that it behooved him to "learn obedience through what he suffered" [Heb. 5:8]" [Institutes, III. 8. 1]. Christ learned obedience through suffering even though He had no sin. Can we, who still struggle with remaining sin, learn obedience without a cross? Luke's record of this same scene adds one word, "daily." "He must…take up his cross daily" (9:23). "Christ's meaning is, that there will be no end of our warfare till we leave the world" [Calvin, Commentaries, vol. 16, 304]. It is both a decisive action and a daily practice. It involves intentional dying to self and providential encounters that confront us with the way of Christ and the way of the world. Taking up your cross goes the way of Christ, not the world's way.
What does taking up one's cross involve? I found John Calvin's explanation [Institutes, 3.8.2-8] of taking up one's cross to be helpful.
1. The cross leads us to perfect trust in God's power…as we are by nature too inclined to attribute everything to our flesh—unless our feebleness be shown, as it were, to our eyes—we readily esteem our virtue above its due measure.
2. The cross permits us to experience God's faithfulness and gives us hope for the future…the cross strikes at our perilous confidence in the flesh.
3. The cross trains us to patience and obedience…Obviously, if everything went according to their own liking, they would not know what it is to follow God.
4. The cross as medicine…the Lord himself, according as he sees it expedient, confronts us and subjects and restrains our unrestrained flesh with the remedy of the cross. And he does this in various ways in accordance with what is healthful for each man.
5. The cross as fatherly chastisement…For he afflicts us not to ruin or destroy us but, rather, to free us from the condemnation of the world.
6. Suffering for righteousness' sake…For it ought to occur to us how much honor God bestows upon us in thus furnishing us with the special badge of his soldiery.
7. Suffering under the cross, the Christian finds consolation in God.

3. A new occupation—"follow Me"
The title "disciple" means a learner or a follower. We see disciples of the scribes and Pharisees, disciples of ancient philosophers, and other disciples in that era. But a disciple of Jesus Christ has particular focus—that of learning from Christ, being taught by Him through His Word, being shaped by His commands, learning to follow in His steps of obedience to the Father. "Follow Me," Jesus tells us, if we would come after Him. That's what He said to Peter and Andrew as well as to James and John. He did not give them a syllabus so that they would know what lay ahead. He offered no caveats so that they could retreat to safety if things got rough. "Follow Me," He commanded. Much like a military commander that calls upon his troops to follow his lead, Jesus Christ calls us to follow Him. We are to march to His orders; we are to keep our eyes on His leadership.
Think about life without Christ for a moment. All of us follow someone or something. One without Christ may follow his own self-centered desires that have been shaped by his world—how pathetic! Or he may follow the voice of the crowd—how cowardly! Or he may follow another god or another religion—how foolish! Each of us is following someone. You are not detached from the world in which you're living. You're not in isolation. Someone or some ideology or some philosophy or some influence has caught your affections—and you're following. Where is that other leader leading you? 'Oh, it's leading me to a good time; it's leading me to great ambitions; it's leading me to fame and success.' Whatever you might say or add to that, let me ask, what happens when you die? Where will all of the good time, ambitions, fame, and success leave you? Jesus Christ's way is the only way to the Father (John 14:6). His way is the only true life.
There's a reminder for all of us that profess to be Christians. Jesus calls us to follow Him. That means we listen to His instructions from His Word; it calls for paying close attention to the details and giving ourselves resolutely to obedience. Where will following Christ lead you? I do not know what path you or I will tread as disciples of Christ. There may be suffering and loss mixed with joy and peace. There may be persecution and death amidst the bounty of grace. But it's the way of Christ for each of us. The intention of His way is to prepare us for life with Him for eternity. He is shaping us in His image that we might reflect His life and glory. Following in the way of the cross fits us for eternity where luxuriating in flowery beds of ease never will.

II. Three arguments for true discipleship
I realize that some may object to the austerity of Christ's command to deny oneself, take up his cross, and follow Him. Indeed, here is where we part company with the soft, sanitized version of Christianity so popular in our day. Self-denial, the gore of a daily cross, the steadiness of following Him who was rejected and despised by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God—that's what's before us as disciples. Yet, though illogical to the world that lives for the moment, that pursues pleasure at every turn, and that recoils at hardship or loss—what Christ sets forth bears the clear logic of eternity. Here the Creator and Judge explains why the way of self-denial and the cross is the only eternally satisfying life. Each of the next verses begins with "For," showing it as a continuation and explanation of what He has demanded of disciples.

1. Divine mathematics: keeping is losing; losing is finding
It doesn't add up in the common scheme of things. Keeping is losing; losing is finding. Jesus strikes right at the heart of the desire for comfort and ease with no cross. "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." To save one's life, in this instance, doesn't refer to being careful while driving or watching your diet or not jumping out of airplanes. "Life" is the same word translated as "soul" in verse 26. The dual use is instructive. Verse 25 focuses on those whose chief aim in life centers on self. Saving his life means saving himself from self-denial and from cross-bearing and from following Jesus. It's an act of self-rule, establishing a mini-kingdom with oneself on the throne and one's desires as kingdom policy. That's the normal mode of humanity. It's the normal desire for self-protection that ultimately morphs into self-rule. It's what Paul put in other terms as he quoted the Psalmist. "There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one" (Rom. 3:11-12). If you try to save your life you will ultimately lose it. Jesus is dealing with not only the present life but eternity. He's calling each of us to consider that the soul lives on; either with Him or with His wrath.
To lose one's life for the sake of Jesus Christ means that one's whole life consciously belongs to Christ. It is giving up your perceived rights; it's giving up your fondest ambitions; it's giving over the reins of your life to the wise rule of the Lord. But, some might object to this. "How can I trust Christ with my life?" I would ask you, if you understand anything about yourself, how can you trust yourself with your own life and eternity? Lose your life to Christ and find more than you ever imagined and can ever fathom!

2. Divine question: what is comparable to the soul?
Jesus Christ asks two questions, first, quizzing us on the soul's value and second, seeing if there is any business deal that matches the worth of the soul. "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" What is the soul? It's the same word translated as "life" in the previous verse. Here, the soul is the real you that not only expresses your personality and distinctions but lives on in eternity. It is immaterial and eternal while your body is material and subject to decay and death. The Christian's bodily resurrection restores the original unity of the whole person that had been corrupted by sin in the fall. As the Creator, Jesus declares the soul to be of more value than the whole material world. Why is this so? The world will one day pass away (2 Pet. 3:10)—it's temporal while the soul is eternal.
So count it up. Add a country or two or three to your portfolio. Add the diamond mines of South Africa and the oil of the Persian Gulf. Move into the Biltmore Mansion as you primary residence and Buckingham Palace as your vacation home. But Jesus Christ said that compared with your soul, these things have no value. This implies that it is folly, pure folly to neglect your soul while you pursue the world that will perish.
So, will you strike a business deal? "What will a man give in exchange for his soul?" Would you forfeit eternity for a few paltry pleasures in this life? Are you so enchanted with "Turkish Delight," like Edmund in Chronicles of Narnia, that you forfeit everything for a few morsels of a sweet?

3. Divine government: a day of reckoning lies ahead
The last argument points to the great day of Christ as a reason to go the way of the cross. "For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds." It's Judgment Day that is ahead; each of us will come to that day. So would you face God's wrath on that day for the passing fancies of this world?

Conclusion It's the way of the cross or the way of destruction. There's no other option. Christ bids us come and die to self, following after Him. Hear Him and follow!(From A Disciple and His Cross)

Related Resources:

Taking Shortcuts

Read: Luke 9:57–62

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23

Sipping her tea, Nancy gazed out her friend’s window and sighed. Spring rains and sunshine had coaxed a riotous expanse of color from a well-groomed flowerbed of lilies, phlox, irises, and evening primrose.

“I want that look,” she said wistfully, “without all the work.”

The work of following Christ is difficult, but the reward is a full, joyful life now and forever.

Some shortcuts are fine—even practical. Others short-circuit our spirit and deaden our lives. We want romance without the difficulties and messiness of committing to someone so different from ourselves. We want “greatness” without the risks and failures necessary in the adventure of real life. We desire to please God, but not when it inconveniences us.

Jesus made clear to His followers that there is no shortcut that avoids the hard choice of surrendering our lives to Him. He warned a prospective disciple, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). To follow Christ requires a radical altering of our loyalties.

When we turn in faith to Jesus, the work just begins. But it is oh-so-worth-it, for He also told us that no one who sacrifices “for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age . . . and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:29–30). The work of following Christ is difficult, but He’s given us His Spirit and the reward is a full, joyful life now and forever.

Father, I will find the strength to do the work You have for me to do, only as I rely on Your Holy Spirit. Help me, please, to be sensitive to that today. By Tim Gustafson

Most things worth doing are difficult.

True Self-Denial

Read: Luke 9:18-25 

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. —Luke 9:23

Lent is a period of 40 days prior to Easter (excluding Sundays). For many people it commemorates Jesus’ fasting in the wilderness. They “give up something” for Lent every year, like sweets or TV. This can yield spiritual benefits, but denying yourself things and denying yourself aren’t the same. In Luke 9:23, Jesus taught the latter.

This verse can be broken down into three parts. In the statement “If anyone desires to come after Me,” the word desires indicates that this is for sincere disciples only. In the phrase “let him deny himself,” the words let and denyhimself imply a willingness to renounce one’s selfish will and ways. And in the statement “take up his cross daily,” the word daily emphasizes a continual dying to self-will.

It’s easier to give things than to give ourselves. Yet Jesus gave Himself, and so must we. To those who deny themselves in obedient service, He has promised, “Whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (v.24). And to His question, “What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed?” we are called to answer, “There is no profit!” We show that we believe this when we deny ourselves and follow Christ. -- Joanie Yoder

To follow Christ we must let go
Of all that we hold dear;
And as we do deny ourselves,
Our gains become more clear. 

By living for ourselves we die;
By dying to ourselves we live.

Dying To Live

Read: Luke 9:18-26

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. —Luke 9:23

The cross in Roman times was designed for death. It had no other use. So what did Jesus mean when He said that anyone who wants to follow Him must “take up his cross daily”? (Luke 9:23). He wasn’t saying that we must all be crucified. The “cross” to which He was referring is the act of putting to death our own heart’s desires and quietly submitting to God’s will.

Such dying is denying our need for larger homes, more compliant children, more accommodating mates. It’s putting up with misunderstanding, embarrassment, and loss of esteem. It’s accepting our unchangeable circumstances. Missionary and poet Amy Carmichael, who knew much about pain and suffering, wrote, “In acceptance lieth peace.”

Jesus said we must take up our cross daily. We are to rise each morning and cheerfully, bravely shoulder our load, because there is something else that is “daily.” It is the continuous, sufficient grace of the One whose strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), and who will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He promises that through our dying He will make us more alive than ever before (1 Corinthians 15:53-57).

Are you dying to live? - David H. Roper

Day by day, to fight the battle,
Day by day, Thy will to do,
Day by day, the cross to carry,
Seeking only to be true.

In acceptance we find peace

"Consumer Christianity"

Read: Luke 9:18-26

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. —Luke 9:23

In his book The Empty Church, historian Thomas C. Reeves says: “Christianity in modern America . . . tends to be easy, upbeat, convenient, and compatible. It does not require self-sacrifice, discipline, humility, an otherworldly outlook, a zeal for souls, a fear as well as love of God. There is little guilt and no punishment, and the payoff in heaven is virtually certain. What we now have might best be labeled ‘Consumer Christianity.’ The cost is low and customer satisfaction seems guaranteed.”

If we were only customers of Almighty God, we could be selective in our faith and reject anything we didn’t like. But that’s not an idea we get from Jesus. He pointed us to a cross, not to a spiritual check-out counter. He said: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24). Christ died on a cross for our sins, not for our satisfaction. And He calls us to trust in Him, then follow Him with a life of self-denial.

In a world where the customer is always right, it takes radical obedience to God to keep from buying into “Consumer Christianity.” -- David C. McCasland

When Jesus said to follow Him
Regardless of the cost,
He promised He would surely give
Much more than would be lost.

Following Jesus is not always easy, but it's always right.

Miserable Success

Read: Luke 9:18-27

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. —Luke 9:23

“In whatever a man does without God, he must fail miserably—or succeed more miserably,” wrote George MacDonald (1824–1905), a Scottish novelist, poet, and Christian minister. This intriguing statement is often cited by modern speakers and writers and appears in MacDonald’s book Unspoken Sermons.

MacDonald was dealing with the difficult subject of a Christian’s self-denial and how we are to apply this teaching of Jesus: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).

Rather than merely trying to suppress our natural desires, MacDonald said that true self-denial means “we must see things as [Christ] saw them, regard them as He regarded them; we must take the will of God as the very life of our being . . . . We are no more to think, ‘What should I like to do?’ but ‘What would the Living One have me do?’”

Getting only what we want is succeeding miserably. True success is found in “losing” our lives for Jesus’ sake and finding them again full and free in His will. --David C. McCasland 

More like the Master I would live and grow,
More of His love to others I would show;
More self-denial, like His in Galilee,
More like the Master I long to ever be.

The spirit of humility and self-denial precedes a deeper and closer walk with God.

Starting Today

Read: Matthew 16:21-28 

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. —Luke 9:23

When Charles Swindoll was a young boy, he was greatly influenced by this remark from an old Texan: “The problem with the Christian life is that it’s so daily.”

It’s true. Following Jesus is a lifestyle that builds on past lessons and decisions, but it also depends on our dedication day by day. We cannot live off yesterday’s successes, last week’s prayers, or the Bible stories we heard when we were children.

Each new day is both a challenge and an opportunity. Our faith will be challenged, and we can use that challenge as an opportunity to grow in our relationship with God. Jesus Himself said that those who wanted to be His disciples were expected to be in a continual attitude of self-denial and obedience to Him. Here’s how the Lord put it: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Lk. 9:23).

As each day unfolds, we must pause and remind ourselves that this is a day dedicated to God, that it is to be used for His glory, and that it is best lived with a continual recollection of what Jesus did for us on the cross.

Starting today, let’s look at life that way. It’s a daily commitment. - Dave Branon

The Christian life is more than just
A prayer of faith made in the past;
It's dedicating every day
To live for Christ and what will last.

Dedication to Christ is not just a one-time choice, it's a daily challenge.

Luke 9:24 "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.

KJV For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.


Hughes - Jesus said, "Losers are keepers." This is a fundamental law of life. No one is excepted, in time or eternity. (Ibid)

Adrian Rogers - When I was a child, we used to play a little game called "Finders, Keepers, Losers, Weepers." But our Lord is saying, "Losers, Finders, Keeper's, Weepers."

Parallel passages in Matthew and Mark

Matthew 10:39 “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.

Matthew 16:25 “For (term of explanation - explains Mt 16:24) whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

Mark 8:35 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

For (gar) is a term of explanation. Jesus is explaining why He placed supreme value on obedience to His commands deny self, take up your cross and follow Him. In comparison everything else was of minimal significance when viewed from an eternal perspective. Lose some of your "self rights" temporally now (which is the behavior a believer would practice, and being enabled to do so ONLY by the supernatural enabling power of the Holy Spirit) or lose your soul eternally forever.

Wishes (2309)(thelo) as an exercise of the will from a motive of desire (and so to wish). The present tense describes this as this person's lifestyle. This is what they live for so to speak. They live to save their life! They treasure the temporary and lose the eternal.

Save (4982) (sozo) has the basic meaning of rescuing one from great peril. Additional nuances include to protect, keep alive, preserve life, deliver, heal, be made whole. They fight in vain to keep their life (and all it's "goodies"), and to fill the "God shaped" hole in their soul whole by filling their life with pursuits and pleasures of this world which is passing away and even its lusts (1 John 2:17-note).

Life (soul)(5590)(psuche from psucho = to breathe, blow, English = psychology, "study of the soul") is the breath, then that which breathes, the individual, animated creature.

Lose (622)(apollumi from apo = away from or wholly + olethros = state of utter ruin <> ollumi = to destroy <> root of apollyon [Rev 9:11] = destroyer) means to destroy utterly but not to caused to cease to exist. The ultimate idea is to lose all worth to accomplish anything of eternal value. It describes that which is ruined and is no longer usable for its intended purpose.

The point Jesus is making is if one lives merely for this temporal life, the following life will be lost forever!

Stephen Olford - Anyone who hoards life selfishly will lose it. Life is like sand: the harder one tries to grasp it, the faster it flows through one’s fingers. There must be selfless sacrifice.

Whoever loses his life for My sake - No other saying of Jesus is given such emphasis as shown by the repetition of this idea in the Gospels. (see Lk 14:26-27; 17:33; Mt 10:38-39; 16:24-25; Mk 8:34-35; Jn 12:25).

Jesus is not saying works by us (self-effort) can save. In fact seeking to save yourself by good deeds will result in eternal loss of your soul! So what does Jesus mean? The only person who would willingly lose his life for Jesus is a person who has been born again by the Spirit of Jesus. He then has the indwelling Spirit of Jesus Who gives him supernatural desire to die to self and his innate selfishness (e.g., by serving others, giving to others, spending time with Jesus in His Word and prayer, etc). No man would die to self by himself! In other words the natural tendency of our flesh is to survive and to pamper self. But in our day to day life we encounter many opportunities to die to self interests (enabled by the Spirit) and to put the interests of God and others before our interests. This is absolute antithesis of the way the world works! The world's motto is "Look out for number one!" Jesus' motto is deny number one! And dying to self and living to God is the only way to a truly happy and fulfilling life in this world and the world to come. Selfless investment in time will yield priceless returns in eternity (cf Lk 19:11-27; Mt. 6:19-21; 19:27-30).

Cornerstone Biblical Commentary on losing temporarily paradoxically means gaining eternally – Perhaps this is what Hudson Taylor, the famous missionary to China, meant when, after a life of tremendous sacrifice, he solemnly declared, “I never made a sacrifice.” He had truly lost all for Christ but in return found his all in Christ. Like Paul, he could say, “I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him” (Phil 3:8-9).

William MacDonald - The natural tendency is to save our lives by selfish, complacent, routine, petty existences. We may indulge our pleasures and appetites by basking in comfort, luxury, and ease, by living for the present, by trading our finest talents to the world in exchange for a few years of mock security. But in the very act, we lose our lives, that is, we miss the true purpose of life and the profound spiritual pleasure that should go with it! On the other hand, we may lose our lives for the Savior's sake. Men think us mad if we fling our own selfish ambitions to the wind, if we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, if we yield ourselves unreservedly to Him. But this life of abandonment is genuine living. It has a joy, a holy carefreeness, and a deep inward satisfaction that defies description. (Believer's Bible Commentary)

He is the one who will save it - This refers to salvation by grace through faith. (Spirit energized) Self-sacrifice is the only way to self-discovery. Dying is the doorway to living. Giving is the key to receiving. However beware of the deceptive thought that your DOING in any way contributes to your salvation but to the contrary is the fruit of your salvation.

John Piper - The path of God—exalting joy will cost you your life. Jesus said, "Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it." In other words, it is better to lose your life than to waste it. If you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full. This is not ... about how to avoid a wounded life, but how to avoid a wasted life. Some of you will die in the service of Christ. That will not be a tragedy. Treasuring life above Christ is a tragedy.

Daniel Akin - If you save or treasure your life above all else, you will lose it. The one who plays it safe and considers his existence more important than Jesus will lose both Jesus and eternal life. In contrast, the one who gives his life for Jesus and the gospel will actually save it! Following Jesus involves risking it all—safety, security, satisfaction in this world. But He promises us that it leads to a reward this world can never, ever offer. There is a life worth giving for the glory of God and the gospel! It is a dying to self that others might live! It is not safe! But it is the normal Christian life! J. I. Packer says, “There are, in fact, two motives that should spur us constantly to evangelize. The first is love to God and concern for His glory; the second is love to man and concern for his welfare” (Evangelism, 73). C. T. Studd (1860-1931), missionary to China, India, and Sudan, said, “We will dare to trust our God ... and we will do it with His joy unspeakable singing aloud in our hearts. We will a thousand times sooner die trusting only in our God than live trusting in man” (Platt, Radical, 178). Your life is set free to live the normal/radical Christian life when you see death as reward, when you can say with Paul, “For me, living is Christ and dying is gain” (Phil 1:21). (Christ-Centered Exposition – Exalting Jesus in Mark)

ILLUSTRATION - John Sung, the apostle to China from 1928–1951, lost his faith in an American seminary. His liberal friends, thinking he had lost his mind, had him placed in a mental institution for 193 days. He was very sane, however, and with his brilliant mind he gave himself to unhurried Bible study and declared that the day of his release was his true graduation. Enroute home apart from a trophy kept to please his father Sung threw his academic prizes overboard. He died to the promise of a lucrative academic career and determined to live only for Christ. He had a profound influence on his generation.

ILLUSTRATION On Tuesday April 20, 1999, Cassie Bernal was in the Columbine Colorado high school library reading her Bible when the two students burst in carrying guns. According to one of the witnesses, her friend Josh, one of the killers pointed his gun at Cassie and asked, "Do you believe in God?"
"She paused," Josh stated later, "like she didn't know what she was going to answer, and then she said 'yes.' She must have been scared, but her voice didn't sound shaky. It was strong. Then they asked her why, though they didn't give her a chance to respond. They just blew her away."
Cassie's martyrdom was even more remarkable when you consider that just a few years ago she had dabbled in the occult, including witchcraft. She had embraced the same darkness that drove her killers to such despicable acts. But two years earlier, Cassie dedicated her life to Christ and turned her life around.
According to the Boston Globe, on the night of her death, Cassie's brother Chris found a Scripture she had written out just two days prior to her death. It read:
Now I have given up on everything else—I have found it to be the only way to really know Christ and to experience the mighty power that brought him back to life again, and to find out what it means to suffer and to die with him. So, whatever it takes I will be one who lives in the fresh newness of life of those who are alive from the dead. (Phil 3:10-11 TLB) Would you die for Jesus?

ILLUSTRATION: Dave Earley writes - "What else is better in this life? I have heard of nothing better." Jim Elliot was a promising student at Wheaton College in Illinois. He was a champion wrestler, honor student, amateur poet, and was warmly admired by students at Wheaton. He dated and married the prettiest girl at the school. He was truly the "big man" on campus.
In his studies, he read the words of Luke 9 and took them seriously. During his senior year, he wrote in his journal these now famous words: "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
God called him to take the gospel to an unreached tribe, the Waodomi people, called the Auca or Savage Indians in Ecuador. Elliot wrote, "Glad to get the opportunity to preach the gospel of the matchless grace of our God to stoical, pagan Indians. I only hope that He will let me preach to those who have never heard that name Jesus. What else is better in this life? I have heard of nothing better. 'Lord, send me!'"
Unfortunately, he and his four associates were killed by the warriors before they could share with them. Jim gave up what he could not keep. He gave up his earthly life to gain what he could not lose: eternal life.
Due to the publicity generated by the martyrdom of the missionaries, thousands of other young men and women committed to missions to take their place. Beyond that, the widows of the martyred missionaries went back to that tribe and led those warriors to Christ.
"Jim Elliot did not die in Ecuador." Years later, a young man traveling in Ecuador flew in a small plane over the country. The pilot knew of Jim Elliot's ministry.
"When we fly over the place where Jim Elliot and the others died, show me," the man said to the pilot.
"I can't take you there," replied the pilot.
"Why not?"
"Because Jim Elliot did not die in Ecuador."
Perplexed, the young man remarked, "Yes, I know Jim Elliot died here in Ecuador."
"Jim Elliot's body died in South America," the pilot said, "but Jim Elliot died while a college student at Wheaton College several years before when he yielded his life to God no matter the consequences."
Being a disciple requires that we follow Jesus to the cross. Would you be willing to die for Jesus Christ? Not unless you are living for Jesus right now. (Disciple Making Is...)

ILLUSTRATION - One hundred and eighty years after the death of Charlemagne, about the year 1000, officials of the Emperor Otho opened the great king's tomb, where in addition to incredible treasures they saw an amazing sight—the skeletal remains of King Charlemagne seated on a throne, his crown still on his skull, a copy of the Gospels lying in his lap with his bony finger resting on the text, "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" (Preaching the Word – Luke, Volume I: That You May Know the Truth)

ILLUSTRATION OF SAVING ONE'S LIFE BUT LOSING ONE'S SOUL - The most famous living author of the 1930s was William Somerset Maugham, "Willie." He was an accomplished novelist, playwright, and short story writer. His novel Of Human Bondage is a classic. His play The Constant Wife has gone through thousands of stagings. He was a man who lived for his own refined tastes, his comfort, and his sexual perversions. In 1965, at the age of ninety-one, he was still a fabulously rich man, although he had not written a word in years. He still received over three hundred fan letters a week.

What had life brought W. Somerset Maugham? The London Times carried this excerpt by his nephew, Robin Maugham:

I looked round the drawing room at the immensely valuable furniture and pictures and objects that Willie's success had enabled him to acquire. I remembered that the villa itself, and the wonderful garden I could see through the windows—a fabulous setting on the edge of the Mediterranean—were worth £600,000.

Willie had 11 servants, including his cook, Annette, who was the envy of all the other millionaires on the Riviera. He dined off silver plates, waited on by Marius, his butler, and Henri, his footman. But it no longer meant anything to him.

The following afternoon I found Willie reclining on a sofa, peering through his spectacles at a Bible which had very large print. He looked horribly wizened and his face was grim.

"I've been reading the Bible you gave me... And I've come across the quotation, 'What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?' I must tell you, my dear Robin, that the text used to hang opposite my bed when I was a child... Of course, it's all a lot of bunk. But the thought is quite interesting all the same."

Robin Maugham goes on to describe an empty, bitter old man who repeatedly fell into shrieking terrors, crying, "Go away! I'm not ready... I'm not dead yet... I'm not dead yet, I tell you..." He was a man who had gained the whole world and lost his own soul, a "keeper" who lost. On the other hand, there are "losers" who are the ultimate keepers. (R Kent Hughes - Preaching the Word - Mark, Volume I: Jesus, Servant and Savior)

“What can a man give in exchange for his life?” (Mk 8:37) The answer is nothing. On April 17, 1998, Linda McCartney, wife of Paul McCartney of the Beatles, died. Newsweek concluded its article on her death by saying, “The McCartney’s had all the money in the world.... Enough to afford their privacy. Enough to give them a beautiful view. But all the money in the world wasn’t enough to keep her alive” (Giles, “Lady McCartney,” 64).

Steven Cole - Why Crucify Self? (Luke 9:24-26)

ILLUSTRATION: Motivation is the key to doing some things that you’d rather not do. Sometimes the motivation is negative: Read the assignment or you’ll flunk the course. At other times, it may be more positive. I read of a mother who was worried because her daughter, who was away at college, had not replied to the mother’s letters. The father told his wife that he would get the daughter to write promptly without even asking her to do so. He wrote the daughter a letter, filled with news from home and that sort of thing. Then he casually added that he was enclosing a check. But he did not actually enclose the check. The daughter wrote back promptly, thanking him for the money, but pointing out that he must have forgotten to enclose it. Even college students can write to their parents if they’re motivated!

Jesus has just said some difficult things about His going to the cross and the fact that if anyone wants to follow Him, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily. As we saw in our last study, Jesus was talking about denying our selfishness and daily putting to death our sinful desires. Jesus’ words raise the question, “Why would anyone want to crucify himself every day?” Frankly, it doesn’t sound like a lot of fun! So Jesus goes on to give the explanation and motivation for why a person would want to do this. Verses Lu 9:24, Lu 9:25, and Lu 9:26 all begin with the word “for.” Jesus is explaining why it is essential to live in the difficult manner He has just outlined in verse Lu 9:23. To put it in the first person:

I should deny myself and take up my cross daily because I live in view of eternity.

Each of these three verses focuses on the eternal perspective. In verse Lu 9:24, Jesus shows that there is a paradox: the person who seeks to save his life by not denying self in the short run will lose his life in the end. In verse Lu 9:25 He shows that the profit of living for this world will be nothing compared with eternal loss of one’s soul. In verse Lu 9:26 He shows that the temporary shame of being identified with Jesus and His teaching is a small thing compared with having Jesus ashamed of us at His glorious second coming.

British scholar Harry Blamires, in his classic book, The Christian Mind [Vine Books], states,

“A prime mark of the Christian mind is that it cultivates the eternal perspective. That is to say, it looks beyond this life to another one” (p. 67). (Ed: This begs the question - how is your vision? Is it primarily oriented horizontally or is mainly oriented vertically? See discussion of "Vertical Vision")

I agree with Blamires that we have largely lost this in contemporary evangelicalism. (Ed: I would add the corollary teaching that about 1 in 25 NT verses focuses directly or indirectly on the Second Coming. What you are looking for will motivate what you are living for, time or eternity!) Our focus has become that of this world: What can Jesus do for me in the here and now? Heaven is nice and hell must be terrible, but those aren’t matters of concern for the present. Can Jesus fix my troubled marriage? Can He help me with my emotional troubles? Can He help me get that better job? The abundant life right now is our main concern. We have lost the eternal perspective. But in these three verses, Jesus shows us that to live wisely in the here and now, we must keep our focus on eternity:

1. The disciple daily crucifies self because he wants ultimately to be saved (Lk 9:24).

Jesus here presents a paradox that applies both to our ultimate salvation and to temporal matters of discipleship. If we pursue our own agenda, we will lose in the end. But, if we let go of our selfish aims and entrust ourselves to the Lord Jesus, living for His purposes, seeking His will, we will gain eternal life when we die and multiplied blessings while we live. Verse Lu 9:24 is really just a restatement of Mt 6:33 in its context. If we eagerly seek all the things the world seeks, we will come up empty. But if we abandon that pursuit and seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness, all these necessary things will be added unto us.

The principle applies first and foremost to the eternal salvation of our souls. The way of the world is that we seek eternal salvation by our good works in this life: Go to church, give money, do deeds of kindness and mercy, try to live a moral life, and you will earn salvation. But that approach does not deal the death blow to our pride. Rather, it feeds pride. If our approach to eternal life is that we merit it by our good deeds, we can look down on those who are not as good as we are. We mistakenly think that we can commend ourselves to God. But the fatal fallacy in this approach is that it does not deal with our sin before the holy God.


I read recently of a 67-year-old man who has given an amazing 100 pints of blood. He often gives blood every 56 days, which is as soon as the blood banks allow. His comment was, “When that final whistle blows and St. Peter asks, ‘What did you do?’ I’ll just say, ‘Well, I gave 100 pints of blood.’ That ought to get me in.” (Reader’s Digest [7/98], p. 85.)

Muhammad Ali, the former boxing champion, now suffers from Parkinson’s disease. He jokes about his illness, “It’s a blessing. I always liked to chase the girls—Parkinson’s stops all that. Now I might have a chance to go to heaven.” He devotes his time to a number of charity causes. “With everything I do,” he says, “I ask myself, Will God accept this? One day you’ll wake up and it’ll be Judgment Day, so you need to do good deeds. I love going to hospitals. I love sick people. I don’t worry about disease.” (Reader’s Digest [8/97], p. 83.)

Those two men are going to be shocked on judgment day. They are trying to save their souls by their good deeds. But they will lose their souls because they have not abandoned their good deeds as the basis of their acceptance with God and come, instead, to the cross where the Son of God offered Himself as the substitute for sinners. The cross, coupled with the doctrine of God’s sovereign grace, deals the death blow to our pride, as Paul clearly shows in 1Co 1:18-31. As Paul there sums it up (1 Co 1:28, 1 Co 1:29), “And the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no flesh should boast before God.”

Salvation is of the Lord, not of us. So the disciple abandons any self-approach to salvation (self-righteousness or good deeds) and casts himself completely on Jesus Christ to save. By losing his life, he gains it.

But the principle of Lu 9:24 also applies to all of the Christian life. It applies to our money, which is not ours, but the Lord’s. We mistakenly think that we gain financial security by hoarding our money and giving away very little. While the Scripture teaches that it is prudent to put aside enough to provide for future anticipated needs (Pr 6:6-11; 2Co 12:14; 1Ti 5:8), it also teaches that if we are generous in giving, God will generously supply all our needs (Lu 6:38; 2Co 9:8-11).

The principle of losing our life to gain it applies to our service to others. If we live for ourselves, never thinking of the needs of others, we will be lonely, miserly people. But if we give generously of our time in serving others for Jesus’ sake, it comes back to us many times over. I often find that if I give time that I don’t have to spare, the Lord makes up the time to me in other ways.

The principle also applies to your family life. Husbands are commanded to love their wives sacrificially, as Christ does the church (Eph 5:25-33). Such sacrificial love requires thinking often of your wife and her needs, and seeking to meet those needs. It means praying for your wife. It means serving her, even if you don’t get to pursue your favorite pastimes.

But many husbands think only of themselves. They want the family to serve them. They selfishly think, “I work hard all day. If I come home and serve my family, when will I get time for my needs to be met?” But if you serve your mate and your children, it comes back to you in the form of love, kindness, and close, caring relationships. But if you selfishly dig in your heels and say, “I’m not going to serve them any more than they serve me,” you’ll lose by not having your needs met at all.

The principle also applies to your relationship with the Lord. Many Christians think, “If I spend time in Bible reading, meditation on the things of God, and prayer, I won’t get everything done that I have to do.” They live at a frantic pace, seldom taking the time to spend in God’s presence, thinking about the things above and the life to come. They end up burning out, having stress-induced physical problems, and all sorts of other crises that make life careen out of control. But if we die to self by putting time with God as a priority, He puts the rest of life into perspective.

So the first motivating reason to die daily to self for Jesus’ sake is that when we do, He brings the blessings of salvation back upon us in the long run. When we live for self, we may gain in the short term, but we’ll come up empty in view of eternity.

2. The disciple daily crucifies self because he recognizes that this world is insignificant and fleeting in light of eternity (Lk 9:25).

If we could only keep it in mind: This life is a fleeting millisecond in light of eternity. (Ed: Watch Francis Chan's fascinating "Rope Illustration" dealing with the brevity of this life in comparison to the length of eternity!) And yet we devote all of our time and energy as if we will be on this earth forever and as if there were no eternity! Richard Baxter, in his profound book, The Saints’ Everlasting Rest ([Sovereign Grace Book Club], p. 151), writes,

Lord, what a strange madness is this, that men, who know they must presently enter upon unchangeable joy or pain, should yet live as uncertain what shall be their doom, as if they never heard of any such state; yea, and live as quietly and merrily in this uncertainty, as if all were made sure, and there were no danger! Are they awake or asleep? What do they think on? Where are their hearts? If they have but a weighty suit at law, how careful are they to know whether it will go for or against them! If they were to be tried for their lives at an earthly bar, how careful would they be to know whether they should be saved or condemned, especially, if their care might surely save them! If they be dangerously sick, they will inquire of the physician, What think you, sir, shall I escape, or not? But in the business of their salvation, they are content to be uncertain.

Someone recently told me of a young man whose family used to attend this church. He had become very successful in worldly terms. He picked up a friend to show him his new Ferrari, but never returned. They found the crashed car with the two young men’s bodies several days later. He gained the world, but may well have lost his soul.

ILLUSTRATIONS OF INVESTING ONE'S LIFE The famous evangelist George Whitefield once told of seeing some criminals riding in a cart on their way to the gallows. They were arguing about who should sit on the right hand of the cart with no more concern than children who are going somewhere with their parents. It seems absurd that men who are about to die would be arguing about who gets the best seat in the cart! Yet isn’t that an indictment of us all? We’re all about to die! This life is so fleeting and uncertain. Eternity is ahead. Yet we devote ourselves to gaining position and possessions in this world, with no thought of the world to come!

The irony of Jesus’ perceptive statement is magnified by the fact that few of us ever come close to gaining the whole world. But even if we could do it, Jesus says, what good is it if we forfeit our own soul? Alexander the Great conquered vast territories and even ordered that he be worshiped as god, but he caught a fever and died at age 33. What good did his conquests do him in light of eternity? Just over 50 years ago, Adolf Hitler tried to conquer the world, but he ended up committing suicide when his plans failed. Some business tycoons, like Ted Turner, reject God and commit themselves to amassing a fortune. He owns more land than almost any other human being. But he soon will die and face God’s judgment with nothing to cover his sin.

How much wiser was Jim Elliot, who was killed at 28 trying to take the gospel to the fierce Auca tribe in Ecuador. At age 22 he had written in his journal, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose” (Shadow of the Almighty [Zondervan], p. 15). Two years earlier he had prayed, “Lord make my way prosperous, not that I achieve high station, but that my life may be an exhibit to the value of knowing God” (ibid., p. 13).

The Christian life must be lived daily by keeping in view the shortness of this life and the insignificance of the things of this world in light of eternity. When he was just 19, Jonathan Edwards wrote down 34 resolutions that he committed himself to practice for God’s glory. Number 9 was, “To think much, on all occasions, of my dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death” (The Works of Jonathan Edwards [Banner of Truth], 1:xx). That may strike you as a bit morbid for a young man, but Edwards was seeking to live in the light of eternity. A few months later he wrote, “I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, That I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age” (ibid., 1:xxii).

To apply this, think about being at the end of your life. None of us knows how long we’ll live, but assume that the Lord gives you 80 years. In light of eternity, what would you want to accomplish as you look back on your life from that point? In light of this, write out a purpose statement that sums up what you want God to do through you in the years He gives you. Then write out some specific goals for the coming year in light of that overall purpose. Then, whether you live to be 80 or 40, you won’t spend your time trying to gain the world while losing your soul.

3. The disciple daily crucifies self because he lives in the light of the second coming of Jesus to judge the world (Lk 9:26).

Although Jesus had just predicted His own rejection and death (Lu 9:22), He makes it clear that that will not be the final chapter. He will come again in His own glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. The apostle Paul describes that awesome event as a time “when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2Th 1:7, 2Th 1:8). The Lord Jesus described His own “coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other” (Mt 24:30, Mat 24:31).

A main reason I should deny myself and take up my cross daily to follow Jesus is that He is coming again in power and glory to judge everyone. Either He will be ashamed of me on that day or He will confess me favorably before the Father and say to me, “Well done, good and faithful slave… Enter into the joy of your master” (Mt 25:21, Mat 25:23). I don’t know whether Jesus will speak to me in English or whether He will give me the ability to understand Hebrew or whatever language is spoken in heaven. But in English, you can tell by a person’s lips whether he is going to say, “Depart from Me” or “Well done.” I try to live each day so that when I stand before the Lord Jesus in all His glory, I see His lips form the words, “Well done.”

Note that Jesus says that there is the danger that we will be ashamed of Him and His words. He spoke often, more than anyone else in the Bible, about hell. Are you embarrassed to warn people about hell? It’s not a popular doctrine in our day of tolerance and relativism. It would be much easier to drop Jesus’ many references to hell out of our conversations with unbelievers: “Let’s take a more positive approach, telling them about God’s love, not about His judgment. It sells better.” I’m not advocating that we go to the other extreme and become insensitive, judgmental hell fire and damnation witnesses. But I am saying that if we do not lovingly warn people of the danger of hell and judgment, we are probably being ashamed of Jesus’ words.

Another hard thing Jesus spoke about is the inability of sinners to come to Him apart from the sovereign grace of God. Jesus spoke very plainly about this in Jn 6:26-65, where He repeats in verse Jo 6:65 what He had already stated in verse Jo 6:44: “No one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father.” This is a hard doctrine! Thus verse Jo 6:66 states, “As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore.” They didn’t like Jesus’ teaching because the doctrines of God’s sovereign grace humble the pride of the human heart. But we must bow before the hard sayings of Jesus, as well as the words that we like, if we confess Him as Savior and Lord.

To obey Lu 9:26, we have to elevate the fear of God above the fear of people. Later, in the context of repeating a similar warning about confessing Him before men (Lu 12:8, Lu 12:9), Jesus says, “My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who after He has killed has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” (Lu 9:4, Lu 9:5). If we live each day in light of Jesus’ glorious return to judge the earth, we can daily deny self in order to confess Him before others.


ILLUSTRATION In 1777, Dr. William Dodd, a well-known London clergyman, was condemned to be hanged for forgery (the penalties were a bit more severe back then!). When his last sermon, delivered in prison, was published, a friend commented to Samuel Johnson that the effort was far better than he had thought the man capable of. Dr. Johnson’s classic reply was, “Depend upon it, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”

If we would keep in mind that life is very short and that eternity is just ahead, it would concentrate our minds wonderfully! Even though it is difficult and painful, we would daily put self on the cross and follow Jesus because we will soon stand before Him on judgment day. Instead of getting caught up with the things of this world, we would live in view of the world to come. The reality of eternity is the motivation for living obediently now, even though it means a slow, painful death to self.

An Italian legend tells about a man who had a servant who was rather stupid. One day the master became exasperated and told the servant, “You’re the stupidest fellow I’ve ever known. I want you to take this staff and carry it with you. If you ever meet a man who is more stupid than you are, give him the staff.”

The servant took the staff. He met some pretty dumb men, but he wasn’t sure if they were dumber than he was, so he never gave away the staff. Then one day he was called back to the castle. He was ushered into the master’s bedroom, where the master was on his deathbed. He told the servant, “I’m going on a long journey.” The servant asked, “When will you be back?” The master replied that he would not return.

The servant asked, “Well, sir, have you got everything prepared for your journey?” The master said, “No, I’ve not really made much preparation for it.” The servant asked, “Could you have made preparation? Could you have sent something on?” The master said, “Yes, I guess I had a lifetime to do that, but I was just busy about other things.” The servant went on, “Then you won’t be back to the castle, to the lands, to the animals?” The master said he wouldn’t be back.

The legend says that the servant took the staff which he had carried for all those years and said to the master, “Here, you take the staff. I finally met a man who was more stupid than myself.”

We’re all going to take that journey. Jesus tells us how to prepare. Trust Him as Savior and follow Him as Lord, denying self even when it’s hard. One day you will see Him smile and say, “Well done!” Then it will be worth it all!

Discussion Questions

  • Lu 9:24 sounds as if Jesus is teaching that we gain salvation by our own efforts. Why is this not what He is teaching?
  • How can we keep eternity in focus in the midst of daily pressures?
  • How can we overcome the fear of men so that we will not be ashamed of Jesus and His words?
  • How can we warn people of the coming judgment without sounding like hell fire and brimstone preachers?

Willing To Jump

Read: Luke 9:18-26

Whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. —Luke 9:24

Russian revolutionary Vladimir Ilyich Lenin spoke of communists as “dead men on furlough.” Those dedicated followers of the atheistic philosophy were willing to die for the cause, and each new day was simply a reprieve.

If people were willing to risk everything for a cause based on a lie, how much more should we who know Christ be willing to do so for the truth! Jesus told those who wanted to be His disciples that they had to be willing to follow Him to death. It was to be a commitment of their entire life, no matter what the cost.

In his book One Crowded Hour, Tim Bowden describes an incident in Borneo in 1964. Nepalese fighters known as Gurkhas were asked if they would be willing to jump from airplanes into combat against the Indonesians. The Gurkhas didn’t clearly understand what was involved, but they bravely said they would do it, asking only that the plane fly slowly over a swampy area and no higher than 100 feet. When they were told that the parachutes would not have time to open at that height, the Gurkhas replied, “Oh, you didn’t mention parachutes before!”

Jesus calls us to follow Him with a similar kind of commitment and courage, willing to risk all for His sake. By Haddon W. Robinson

Halfhearted! Master, shall any who know Thee
Grudge Thee their lives, who hast laid down Thine own?
Nay! We would offer the hearts that we owe Thee,
Live for Thy love and Thy glory alone.

We may not walk to the martyr’s stake, but we must walk in the Master’s steps.

Risky Business

Read: Luke 9:18-27

Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. —Luke 9:24

As the worldwide financial crisis deepened in 2010, executives of a global banking firm were investigated for deceiving their customers about the risk involved in certain investments they were selling. While promising a high rate of return, the banking firm knew that the investments were destined to fail, leaving those who purchased them with nothing.

Deception is nothing new. Jesus described Satan as one who “does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him . . . for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). The enemy of our souls tells us, “Live only for the present,” when he knows it will result in our eternal loss.

Jesus, on the other hand, did not offer His disciples a life of prosperity and ease but called them to self-sacrifice and identification with Him. After telling them that He would be killed and raised from the dead, Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).

There are two voices telling us where to invest our lives. It’s risky business to follow the wrong one. -- David C. McCasland

When you hear the Shepherd’s voice
As He calls you, “Come to Me,”
In your life make Him your choice
And His faithful follower be.

If we hold on to God’s truth, we won’t be trapped by Satan’s lies.

Luke 9:25 "For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?

KJV For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

Parallel passages in Matthew and Mark

Matthew 16:26 “For (term of explanation - explains Mt 16:25 losing one's life by asking a rhetorical question) what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Mark 8:36 “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37 “For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

For (gar) is a term of explanation. Jesus continues to explain the value of His call to follow Him (discipleship) in Luke 9:23 by explaining the priceless value of losing one's life versus the incredible loss of trying to save it. If our goal is to gain the whole world, we are clearly not going to be individuals who deny our selfish desires and take up our cross for the cross speaks of death to self and those selfish desires (which we all have because we all have the fallen flesh we must battle daily, a battle Jesus called for in Lk 9:23-note).

William MacDonald - As the Savior talked with the twelve, He realized that the desire for material riches might be a powerful deterrent against full surrender. And so He said, in effect, "Suppose you could stockpile all the gold and silver in the whole world, could own all the real estate and property, all the stocks and bonds—everything of material value—and suppose that in your frantic effort to acquire all this you missed the true purpose of life, what good would it do you? You would have it for only a short while; then you would leave it forever. It would be an insane bargain to sell that one, short life for a few toys of dust."

Profited (5623) (opheleo from ophéllo = heap up or from ophelos = increase, profit) means to provide assistance, with emphasis upon the resulting benefit. To help, to be of benefit, to be of use, to be an advantage, to be advantageous. Passive sense - to have benefit from, to profit. To be useful or profitable. It is used usually with the sense of gain, profit in both a material and non-material sense.

Gains (2770)(kerdaino from kerdos = gain) means literally to procure an advantage or profit, to acquire by effort or investment (as in the parable of the talents Mt 25:16,17, 20, 22; James 4:13 = "make a profit"). The synoptic Gospels use kerdaino to emphasize the tragic state of a man who "gains" the whole world (Mt 16:26, Mark 8:36, Luke 9:25), this use speaking literally of money, possessions, investments, etc, but also figuratively of the position, power, acclaim, etc ("boastful pride of life" 1 Jn 2:16). The Spirit must consider this truth of great importance, to reiterate it in all three Gospels! Note also that world in each of these three passages is kosmos which

World (2889)(kosmos) refers to the world system of evil of which Satan is the head, all unsaved people his servants, together with the pursuits, pleasure, purposes, people, and places where God is not wanted. Kosmos defines the world not as a neutral influence but as an "evil force", the inveterate, incorrigible, intractable, intransigent, irrevocable enemy of God and of every believer. This begs the question "Why would any believer ever desire to befriend or be friends with such a 'ferocious' foe?"

Guzik - What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Avoiding the walk down death row with Jesus means that we may gain the whole world, and end up losing everything. Jesus Himself had the opportunity to gain all the world by worshipping Satan (Luke 4:5-8), but found life and victory in obedience instead (Ed: Obedience is a reflection of one's faith. No obedience, no faith in Jesus and His Gospel). Amazingly, the people who live this way before Jesus are the (only) ones who are really, genuinely happy (blessed). Giving our lives to Jesus all the way, and living as an others-centered person does not take away from our lives, it adds to it.

Loses (622)(apollumi from apo = away from or wholly + olethros = state of utter ruin <> ollumi = to destroy <> root of apollyon [Re 9:11] = destroyer) means to destroy utterly but not to caused to cease to exist.

Vincent on apollumi - "When he might have been saved" (Bengel). This word, in classical Greek, is used: 1. Of death in battle or elsewhere. 2. Of laying waste, as a city or heritage. 3. Of losing of life, property, or other objects. As an active verb, to kill or demolish. 4. Of being demoralized, morally abandoned or ruined, as children under bad influences. In New Testament of killing (Matthew 2:13; 12:14). 5. Of destroying and perishing, not only of human life, but of material and intellectual things (1 Corinthians 1:19; John 6:27; Mark 2:22; 1 Peter 1:7; James 1:11; Hebrews 1:11). 6. Of losing (Matthew 10:6, 42; Luke 15:4, 6, 8). Of moral abandonment (Luke 15:24, 32). 7. Of the doom of the impenitent (Matthew 10:28; Luke 13:3; John 3:15; John 10:28; 2 Peter 3:9; Romans 2:12.

Forfeits (Suffers loss) (2210)(zemioo from zemia) which means to affect with damage or to do damage to, to suffer injury, to suffer loss, to sustain damage, to forfeit or to fine. It means to experience the loss of something, with implication of undergoing hardship or suffering. Zemioo was a business term meaning to "punish by exacting a forfeit" (Vincent).

Himself (heauton) is a reflexive pronoun referring the action of the verb (in this case loses and forfeits) back on the subject! In a sense this self seeking soul brings the misery back upon his own head! The parallel passages in Mt 16:26 and Mk 8:36-37 both use the Greek word psuche meaning soul. The vital principle of this person will suffer eternal loss which is the wages for seeking temporal gain in a world system which is passing away (and even its lusts! - 1 Jn 2:17-note).

Bishop Trench summarizes the definition of the anti-God world system as "All that floating mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, aspirations, at any time current in the world, which it may be impossible to seize and accurately define, but which constitutes a most real and effective power, being the moral, or immoral atmosphere which at every moment of our lives we inhale, again inevitably to exhale."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) understood what the normal Christian life should look like. The way may be hard, but the path and the end are glorious.

The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death—we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.... But it is the same death every time—death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call. Jesus’ summons to the rich young man was calling him to die, because only the man who is dead to his own will can follow Christ. In fact every command of Jesus is a call to die, with all our affections and lusts. But we do not want to die, and therefore Jesus Christ and his call are necessarily our death as well as our life. The call to discipleship, the baptism in the name of Jesus Christ means both death and life. (Bonhoeffer, Cost, 99) (Quoted by Daniel Akin in Christ-Centered Exposition – Exalting Jesus in Mark)

ILLUSTRATION - Adrian Rogers tells this story about Ernest Hemingway - Ernest Hemingway was a remarkable man. He won a Pulitzer Prize. He won a Nobel Prize. He was a young reporter—already a news reporter—when World War I began. And, he went to the front and was wounded in Italy. He came back and had an exciting life as a big game hunter. He was a bullfighter. He was a sports fisherman, who would fish for marlin. And, when World War II came, he didn't want to be left out, so he took his fishing boat and rigged it with two 50-caliber machine guns, bazookas, hand grenades, and would cruise off the coast of Cuba, hoping that a German U-boat would surface. If he could see the conning tower or the periscope, or if he could see the water breaking over that steel skin of that U-boat, he would move toward it, expecting them to surface and get a boarding party to come and board his ship. And, he would remain about 50 yards away. And, when it would come up, and they would open the tower and come out on the deck, then he would increase speed and move toward them with machine guns firing, hoping to lob a grenade down the conning tower into the U-boat and to sink it. A daring man! He was in an airplane accident. He was hit by a taxi. He had all kinds of escapades. He was wounded in war. He lived in France. He lived in Italy. He lived in Cuba. He lived in Key West. He lived in Idaho. He was a man that did everything. But, he abused himself with alcohol and became just a slave to alcohol. He went through four marriages. He said, finally, at the end of all of this, thinking of his life—this great novelist, this great author—he said, "It seems that we are ants"—a-n-t-s—"ants on the end of a burning log." Do you know how he ended it all? With a shotgun to his head. Ernest Hemmingway—he did so much, seeking, everywhere, adventure. You talk about a man who had a full life and an empty life at the same time! His life was filled with futility—no purpose. "We're like ants—ants on the end of a burning log." An empty life.

ILLUSTRATION - Bob Hope was one of the most beloved comedians in American history. He had everything (just glance at his home which sold for $13 million). He had the world, but the question is did he have Jesus as His Savior? You be the judge - Here are two distinctly different critiques of his life to help you decide (and of course you and I are NOT the final judge - that right is God's alone!) - (1) Stories of Faith: Bob Hope Finds Real Hope in Jesus (2) The Death of Bob Hope - R L Hymers Finally see this article in Wikipedia regarding Hope's lifestyle. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?

Luke 9:26 "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.

KJV For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.


Parallel passages:

Matthew 10:32-33 “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 “But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

Mark 8:38 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Luke 12:8; 9 “And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; 9 but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.

For (gar) is a term of explanation. He is explaining the fate of the man who forfeits his soul! "For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?" (Lk 9:25)

The Son of Man will be ashamed of him - Some like J Vernon McGee feel this is a true believer, albeit one who is ashamed of Jesus and/or His words. I beg to disagree with Dr McGee on his interpretation.

Here are some other comments...

John MacArthur - Jesus identifies those who will not repent and believe in Him as those who are ashamed of Him and His words (cf. Matt. 10:32-33). To be ashamed in this context means to reject, despise, and find unacceptable. Such people are proud of what they should be ashamed of; their “glory is in their shame” (Phil. 3:19). (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Luke 6-10)

J C Ryle - The wickedness of being ashamed of Christ is very great. It is a proof of unbelief. It shows that we care more for the praise of men whom we can see, than that of God whom we cannot see. It is a proof of ingratitude. It shows that we fear confessing Him before man who was not ashamed to die for us upon the cross. Wretched indeed are they who give way to this sin. Here, in this world, they are always miserable. A bad conscience robs them of peace. In the world to come they can look for no comfort. In the day of judgment they must expect to be disowned by Christ to all eternity, if they will not confess Christ for a few years upon earth. Let us resolve never to be ashamed of Christ. Of sin and worldliness we may well be ashamed. Of Christ and His cause we have no right to be ashamed at all. Boldness in Christ's service always brings its own reward. The boldest Christian is always the happiest man. (Commentary)

Adam Clarke - As he refused to acknowledge me before men, so will I refuse to acknowledge him before God and his angels. Terrible consequence of the rejection of Christ! And who can help him whom the only Savior eternally disowns. Reader! Lay this subject seriously to heart (Commentary)

The Preacher's Outline & Sermon Bible – The point is clear: when Jesus comes in His glory, the materialist will not join Him. He will not be welcomed into the glory of the Lord. Why? Christ will be ashamed of him. He will be embarrassed by the man, too embarrassed to acknowledge that He knows the man.

John Martin - In the same manner Jesus noted that if one is ashamed of Him (i.e., will not identify with Him or believe on Him) and His words (i.e., His message), the Son of Man will be ashamed of him in the future. It was vital that the people of that generation side with Jesus and His disciples in order to escape future judgment. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary)

HCSB Study Bible - To be ashamed of Christ and His words indicates unbelief, which will bring eternal judgment (Lk 12:9; 2Ti 2:12) at His second coming.

Matthew Henry - When the service and honour of Christ called for his testimony and agency, he denied them, because the interest of Christ was a despised interest, and every where spoken against; and therefore he can expect no other than that in the great day, when his case calls for Christ's appearance on his behalf, Christ will be ashamed to own such a cowardly, worldly, sneaking spirit, and will say, "He is none of mine; he belongs not to me."

Robert Stein - This is another way of saying “to disown me,” and the opposite is “to acknowledge me” as Lk 12:8–9 points out (cf. Lk 22:54–61). The loyalty to ultimate values demanded in Lk 9:24 becomes more focused on Jesus. (New American Commentary – Volume 24: Luke)

William Hendriksen - To be ashamed of Jesus means to be so proud that one wants to have nothing to do with him and with his words. Jesus is going to be ashamed of such people. Cf. Matt. 7:23; Luke 13:27. At his return he will reject and condemn them. Cf. Matt. 25:41-46a. Note Christ's self-designation, "the Son of man," as in Lk 9:22; see on that verse and on Lk 5:24. (Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke)

NET Note - How one responds now to Jesus and His teaching is a reflection of how Jesus, as the Son of Man who judges, will respond then in the final judgment.

College Press NIV Commentary - Therefore, whoever wants to save his life (that is, whoever is ashamed of Jesus when persecution comes) will forfeit life in the kingdom of God.

MacArthur Study Bible - whoever is ashamed of Me. I.e., unbelievers. Cf. Mt 10:33; Ro 9:33; 10:11; 2Ti 2:12." In his sermon on Luke 9:26 MacArthur declares that if you are "ashamed of Jesus now, He will be ashamed of you then (Ed: When He comes in Judgment). The record of your shame will be displayed at the judgment, and you will spend the rest of eternity with nagging, gnawing torment in full recognition of your shame (Lk 13:28). Be ashamed of yourself now, be forgiven. Or be ashamed of yourself forever with no relief." (Luke 9:26 Who's Ashamed of Whom?)

ESV Study Bible - Being ashamed of Jesus means to deny any link with him (cf. Lk 22:54-61) and is the opposite of acknowledging him as one’s Lord and teacher (Lk 12:8-9; see note on Mark 8:38).

NIV Study Bible (note on parallel passage Mk 8:38) - A person who is more concerned about fitting into and pleasing his own "adulterous and sinful generation" than about following and pleasing Christ will have no part in God's kingdom.

Cornerstone Biblical Commentary - To shun the Son is to face the prospect of being shunned by him when he returns with the angels to exercise judgment in the power and glory of the Father (Mk 14:62). That is, to lose one’s soul.

William Barclay - Loyalty to Jesus will have its reward, and disloyalty its punishment. If we are true to him in time, he will be true to us in eternity. If we seek to follow him in this world, in the next he will point to us as one of his people. But if by our lives we disown him, even though with our lips we confess him, the day must come when he cannot do other than disown us. (The New Daily Study Bible – The Gospel of Luke)

What the Bible teaches - To be ashamed of the Lord and His words in this present time means that in the day of glory He will be ashamed of us....This is a test of the genuine against the false, real believers against mere professors, so this is the shame of those who reject the cross as well as cross-bearing. The loss is eternal.

John Piper - What’s the opposite of being ashamed of somebody? Being proud of them. Admiring them. Not being embarrassed to be seen with them. Loving to be identified with them. So Jesus is saying, “If you are embarrassed by Me and the price I paid for you (and He’s not referring to lapses of courage when you don’t share your faith, but a settled state of your heart toward him)—if you’re not proud of Me and you don’t cherish Me and what I did for you—if you want to put yourself with the goats that value their reputation in the goat herd more than they value Me, then that’s the way I will view you when I come. I will be ashamed of you, and you will perish with the people who consider Me an embarrassment.” (“The Son of Man”)

Ashamed...ashamed (1870)(epaischunomai from epi = upon or used to intensify the meaning of the following word + aischunomai from aischos = disfigurement & then disgrace) means to experience a painful feeling or sense of loss of status because of some particular event or activity. As denoting reluctance through fear of humiliation (Mk 8:38)

It describes one's consciousness of guilt or of exposure or the fear of embarrassment that one's expectations may prove false. Epaischunomai is associated with being afraid, feeling shame which prevents one from doing something, a reluctance to say or do something because of fear of humiliation, experiencing a lack of courage to stand up for something or feeling shame because of what has been done.

2 Timothy 1:12 For this reason (2 Ti 1:11) I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.

2 Timothy 2:12-13 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

Jesus has a similar statement in Luke 12

Luke 12:8-9 “And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; 9but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.

Comment - CONFESSES ME: The word has strong legal connotations. A person can confess to a charge in court and thus openly acknowledge guilt. Or one may agree with a court order and thus make a legally binding commitment to abide by it. This last sense is implied in passages that call on us to acknowledge Jesus. We are to express our binding commitment to Jesus publicly and thus acknowledge our relationship to him as our Lord. John puts the importance of this issue succinctly: "No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also" (1 Jn 2:23). Commitment to Jesus brings us into full relationship with God.

Me and My words - Jesus is clearly saying you cannot divide His words from His Person. To disown one is to disown the other.

In the book of Acts Stephen give us an example of a man who was not ashamed but in the face of confrontation "bravely gave his witness, and suffered as a martyr, believing that it was the right thing to do and that the Son of Man would welcome him into heaven (Acts 7:1-60; note especially Acts 7:56). In sum, the public confession of Christ as Savior and Lord was a matter of great significance and carried eternal consequences." (Cornerstone Biblical Commentary)

When He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels - So here Jesus is referring to His Second Coming (the first allusion in the Gospel of Luke), saying that the certainty of this future glorious event should serve to motivate present (unashamed) living for Christ. The coming of the Son of Man is also referred to in Lk 12:40; 17:22, 24, 26, 30; 18:8; 21:27, 36. In 2 Ti 4:1NLT-note Paul describes the Second Coming of "Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom."

Glory (1391)(doxa from dokeo = to think) in simple terms means to give a proper opinion or estimate of something. Glory is something that is a source of honor, fame, or admiration. It describes renown, a thing that is beautiful, impressive, or worthy of praise.

Charles Ryrie says that the glory of God "is the manifestation of any or all of His attributes. In other words, it is the displaying of God to the world. Thus, things which glorify God are things which show the characteristics of His being to the world."

Dr Walvoord echoes the New Testament emphasis of the return of the Lord writing that…

The revelation of the second coming of Christ is one of the most important and most frequently mentioned doctrines of the New Testament. One out of every twenty-five verses in the New Testament refers either to the rapture of the church or to Christ’s coming to reign over the world (cf. Jesse Forrest Silver, The Lord’s Return, p. 29). Though it is not always possible to distinguish references to Christ’s coming for the church from references to His coming to establish His earthly kingdom, there are many passages which clearly present a premillennial coming at the close of the great tribulation to judge the world and to bring in the righteous reign of the King. Approximately twenty major references are found in the New Testament alone (Mt 19:28; 23:39; 24:3-25:46; Mark 13:24-37; Luke 12:35-48; 17:22-37; 18:8; 21:25-28; Acts 1:10-11; 15:16-18; Ro 11:25-27; 1Cor 11:26; 2Thess 1:7, 8, 9,10; 2:8 ; 2Pet 3:3, 4; Jude 1:14,15 ; Rev 1:7-8; 2:25, 26, 27, 28; 16:15; 19:11-21; 22:20). (The Prophetic Context of the Millennium — Part III: The Second Coming of Christ in the New Testament) (Comment: Read the first sentence again. Do you notice how even Dr Walvoord uses "the second coming" as a term to include the Rapture and the Second Coming.)

Paul describes the glorious return of Jesus in graphic terms:

For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed–for our testimony to you was believed.(2 Thes. 1:6-10)


The certainty of Jesus Second Coming begs the question of EVERY ONE of us needs to seriously ponder -- Which command would I rather hear from the lips of the King of kings - ENTER or DEPART? To hear "ENTER" we first must "ENTER through the narrow gate" (Mt 7:13-14-note) by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9).

“Well done, good and faithful slave… ENTER into the joy of your master” (Mt 25:21, 25:23).

'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.' (Mt 7:23-note)

The Fellowship of the Unashamed

I'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed, I have the Holy Spirit power, the die has been cast, I have stepped over the line, the decision has been made: I'm a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I do not have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean in His presence, walk by patience, am uplifted by prayer, and I labor with power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I won't give up, shut up, let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up for the cause of Jesus Christ.

I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till everyone knows, work till He stops me, and when He comes for His own, He will have no trouble recognizing me because my banner will have been clear.

These words were found in the possession of a young African after he was martyred for his faith in Zimbabwe. He denied himself, took up his cross and fully followed Jesus.

ILLUSTRATION on UNASHAMED - Wouldn't you like for Him to call your name in Heaven today? Wouldn't you like for Him to say, "She's mine; he's mine. They gave their heart to Me. They turned from their sin. They embraced the cross. They're not ashamed of Me. They confess Me; and now, Lord, I confess them"?
You say, "Adrian, coming forward in the service—does that save me?" No. Trusting Jesus is what saves you.
But, let me tell you a story—I heard this years ago—about a revival crusade. And, they were giving a public invitation, and a little girl was in the back—a young teenager, I suppose—and she was weeping, under deep conviction of sin. A personal worker went back there to talk to her and said, "Won't you come forward and confess Christ as your personal Savior?" She said, "No, I can't go down there in front of all of those people. I can't do that. Can't I be saved back here?" The personal worker said, "No, if you want to be saved, you've got to come forward." Now, I know what you're thinking, but let me get finished. "If you want to be saved, you've got to come forward." She said, "I can't do it."
The next night, under deep conviction again, the same thing happened—same song, second stanza. The worker went back and said, "Young lady, won't you please come forward and confess Christ as your personal Savior and Lord?" She said, "I just can't do that—not in front of all of these people. I can't do that. Can't I be saved back here?" He said, "No, you cannot."
The third night—the same thing. He went back there, said, "Young lady, will you come forward and confess Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?" Do you know what she said? She said, "Yes, I will. I'll go anywhere. I'll do anything, if I can be right with God." He said, "Now you don't need to come forward; you can be saved back here."
Do you understand that? Do you understand what it's all about? Jesus is simply saying, "If you are ashamed of Me, I'll be ashamed of you." And, the faith that will not lead to confession will not lead to Heaven. You're not saved by walking down an aisle. But, when you are saved, the Bible says, "When you believe on Jesus, you'll not be ashamed of Him." You're not going to slip into Heaven as a secret disciple. He hung naked on a cross for you, and He is saying to you today, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36). (Adrian Rogers - The Value of a Human Soul)

Rod Mattoon - ILLUSTRATION - May we never be ashamed of the Lord or the suffering that is attached to following Christ. The great Reformer John Hus (see youtube video) (Watch John MacArthur speak of John Hus) was not ashamed of his Lord, and for it, paid the ultimate physical price. In 1415, when he was a pastor in Prague, this unashamed follower of Christ was arrested, condemned, and sentenced to burn at the stake for preaching the true gospel. As the flames engulfed his body, he was heard praying, "O my God, I trust in Thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me (Ps. 25:2)." John was not afraid of dying, only of being ashamed of his Master. God grant us grace to do the same! Amen.

Joseph Grigg sums all this up so well in his hymn Jesus and Shall it Ever Be:

Jesus, and shall it ever be,
A mortal man ashamed of thee?
Ashamed of thee, whom angels praise,
Whose glories shine through endless days!

Ashamed of Jesus, that dear Friend,
On whom my hopes of heaven depend!
No! When I blush, be this my shame,
That I no more revere his name.

Luke 9:27 "But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God."

KJV But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.


Here are the synoptic parallel passages:

Matthew 16:28 “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

Mark 9:1 And Jesus was saying to them, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.

There are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God - First we do well to acknowledge that this is a difficult statement to interpret with any degree of dogmatism. Notice Matthew's version adds the time phrase ("until" is a time sensitive we always do well to pause and ponder) "until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” In addition Mark adds "after it has come with power.” So let's take this passage phrase by phrase.

See kingdom of God

Steven Cole summarizes the four most common interpretations of Jesus' words about the "kingdom of God" in this passage - There are various interpretations of what Jesus meant by this. Some liberals say that it was a mistaken prediction that Jesus would come back before some of the apostles died. We can dismiss this as the stupid ramblings of irreverent men. Others relate it to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, but it is difficult to see why that event represented the coming of God’s kingdom. Others interpret it as a reference to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the rule of Christ through His church. But it seems to me that Jesus is referring to something more spectacular than that. I agree with many of the early church fathers who believed that Jesus was referring to the event that immediately follows, namely, His transfiguration. Three of the disciples there got a glimpse of what Jesus will be like in that coming kingdom, when He comes in the glory of the Father and His holy angels (Lk 9:26).

But I say to you - First notice the but (de) a term of contrast. What is Jesus contrasting? He has just described individuals who will be ashamed "when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels." (Lk 9:26) This coming in context is a reference to His Second Coming in power and glory as He described in Mt 24:30 when all "will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory." And so in the immediate context Jesus has just alluded to His Second Coming.

There are some of those standing here - The "some" is identified specifically in Lk 9:28 as Peter, John, and James.

Notice the word "not" which is the double negative (ou me) in Greek, , which is the strongest possible way to state this in the negative. "Absolutely will not" is the idea.

Taste death is a Hebrew colloquial expression for dying and implies the full experience of all the bitterness of death. The writer of Hebrews uses this phrase of Jesus writing that "by the grace of God He (Jesus) might taste death for everyone." (Heb 2:9-note)

NET Note adds that taste "does not mean "sample a small amount" (as a typical English reader might infer from the word "taste"), but "experience something cognitively or emotionally; come to know something." The meaning of the statement that some will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God is clear at one level, harder at another. Jesus predicts some will experience the kingdom before they die. When does this happen? (1) An initial fulfillment is the next event, the transfiguration. (2) It is also possible in Luke's understanding that all but Judas experience the initial fulfillment of the coming of God's presence and rule in the work of Acts 2. In either case, the "kingdom of God" referred to here would be the initial rather than the final phase.

John MacArthur entitles his section on Lk 9:27-36 "Previewing the Second Coming" and interprets Jesus' words as a "preview glimpse (at the Transfiguration) they (the 3 disciples in Lk 9:28) would receive of His divine nature to be fully revealed at His return (which) was a gift to encourage their weak faith.

Darrell Bock sees an interpretation of Lk 9:27 as an allusion to both His transfiguration and the coming of the Spirit writing that "In the midst of this warning Jesus offers a promise: some will not see death until they see the kingdom of God. Contextually this is a reference to the preview of glory some of the disciples get in the transfiguration, an event recorded in Lk 9:28–36. Seen in light of Luke’s development in the book, the arrival of the kingdom also is made visible in Jesus’ current ministry (Lk 11:20; 17:20–21). In fact, the benefits of promise are distributed in Acts 2 (Lk 24:49 with Acts 2:30–36). So Jesus has in view both the preview of total glory and the initial arrival of promise as a result of his ministry. Those disciples who were present at the transfiguration, as well as those who shared in Pentecost, shared in the sneak preview of the kingdom’s arrival before they “saw death.”" (Luke 9:18-50 Christological Confession-Discipleship)

Related Resource:

What the Bible Teaches - The difficulty of this verse is the meaning of the words, "till they see the kingdom of God". Matthew says "till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom" (Mt 16:28). Mark says, "till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power" (Mk 9:1). Any interpretation must satisfy all these expressions. In the many interpretations that have been given to this verse, differing views on the course of future events are evident. Amillennialists, who do not distinguish between Israel and the church, interpret the coming of the kingdom of God as the day of Pentecost or the spread of the gospel throughout the world. Others say that the Lord is referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in ad 70, and use Luke 21:5-20 to support this view. It is very difficult to see how the destruction of Jerusalem was "the Son of man coming in his kingdom". Some teach that the Lord is not referring to the actual disciples who heard Him that day, but that He is viewing them as being representative of the faithful remnant at the close of the tribulation. Still others say it refers to the resurrection and ascension of the Lord, but the problem with this latter interpretation is that He called His death, resurrection and ascension His going away, not His coming back. In all three synoptic Gospels these words immediately precede the display of the glory of the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration; therefore the immediate context is the glory that was seen by Peter, James and John. These three men correspond to "some standing here", but was this "the Son of man coming in his kingdom" with power? Peter believed that it was, for this is the very language he used about his experience on the mount, "we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty" (2 Pet 1:16-note). He then describes the glory that he and the two others saw on the mount, linking it to the "power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ", of which it was a preview. (What the Bible teaches – Luke)

Luke 9:28 Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.

KJV And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.

Luke 9:28-36

Parallel Passages in the Synoptic Gospels - Matt. 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8

Matthew 17:1-8 Six days later Jesus *took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. 2 And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. 7 And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” 8 And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.

Mark 9:2-8 Six days later, Jesus *took with Him Peter and James and John, and *brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; 3 and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them. 4 Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. 5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified. 7 Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!” 8 All at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Jesus alone.

Walter Liefeld writes that the Transfiguration was "“the most significant event between [Christ’s] birth and passion." (Expositor's Bible Commentary)

Daniel Akin has some interesting introductory thoughts on the Transfiguration (He Was God Incognito) - Things are not always as they seem.” “Looks can be deceiving.” Never was this more true than when the Son of God left heaven and came to earth, when “the Word became flesh and took up residence among us” (John 1:14), when the fullness of deity came and dwelt in a body (Col 2:9), when the essence of God “did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead, He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men” (Phil 2:6-7). The transfiguration of Jesus confirms that, despite having the outward appearance of a mere mortal man, Jesus of Nazareth is in His nature and essence God—deity dressed in a body. Although He is not the kind of Messiah Savior the nation of Israel was expecting, He is exactly the Messiah Savior they needed. He looks defeated, but He is actually victorious. He dies and is buried by men, but He will be raised and exalted by God. He looks like a regular dude, but in actuality He is deity! The transfiguration is something of “a preview of coming attractions.” (Christ-Centered Exposition – Exalting Jesus in Mark)

John MacArthur on eight days - Matthew (Mt 17:1) and Mark (Mk 9:2) place the transfiguration six days after the Lord spoke these words. There is no contradiction between their accounts and Luke’s; the latter merely bookended the six days by adding the day Jesus made this statement and the actual day of the transfiguration. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Luke 6-10)

After these sayings - This would serve to tie the transfiguration closely with Jesus prediction of His coming death in Lk 9:27.

Warren Wiersbe on Peter and John and James - Peter, James, and John had accompanied Jesus when He raised Jairus' daughter from the dead (Luke 8:51ff), and they would accompany Him when He prayed in the Garden (Matt. 26:36-46). These three occasions remind me of Philippians 3:10, "That I may know Him [the Transfiguration], and the power of His resurrection [raising the girl], and the fellowship of His sufferings [in the Garden]." (Bible Exposition Commentary)

MacArthur adds that "those three men, along with Andrew, made up the innermost circle of the apostles (cf. Lk 8:51; Mark 14:33). Jesus’ choice of three men reflects the law’s requirement that “on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed” (Deut. 19:15; cf. Matt. 18:16; 2 Cor. 13:1; 1 Tim. 5:19; Heb. 10:28)." (Ibid)

Constable on the Transfiguration - This event is the climax of the "identity of Jesus" motif in all the Synoptics. Here the disciples saw and heard who Jesus really was. Luke's particular emphasis was the sufferings of Jesus that were coming. This comes through in his description of Jesus' conversation with Moses and Elijah (Lk 9:30-31) and his interpretation of what the heavenly voice said (Lk 9:35). The whole scene recalls God's appearance to Moses on Mt. Sinai (Exod. 24), and it anticipates the second coming of Christ. There is a recurrence of the three themes of Jesus' identity (Lk 9:20), His passion (Lk 9:22), and glory (Lk 9:26) from the previous pericope but in reverse order (Lk 9:29, 30, 35). These are the main points the reader should identify as significant in Luke's narrative.

The mountain - Definitive article suggests a specific mountain, but it is not designated.

To pray (see Greek word proseuchomai below) - This fact is not mentioned in either Matthew 17:1-2 or Mark 9:2. Note that the purpose for Jesus going to the mountain is stated "to pray."

Steven Cole sets the context for the Transfiguration - We’ve all heard the expression that someone is so heavenly minded that he is no earthly good. I suppose that there are people whose heads are so much in the clouds that they don’t accomplish much in practical terms. But the truth of the matter is, most of us are so earthly minded that we are of no earthly or heavenly good. The Bible is clear that if we want to walk in a manner pleasing to the Lord, we must set our minds on the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (Col 3:1-2). There is nothing quite so practical as gaining a clearer vision of the glory of Christ. Like Peter, John, and James, we must come down off the mountain to deal with difficult situations, but we will deal with them more effectively if we have seen the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

To understand the transfiguration, we must see it in its context. Luke has been gradually revealing to us the identity of Jesus Christ. People had different views—He is John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the prophets come back (Lu 9:19). But by divine revelation, Peter acknowledged that Jesus is the Christ of God (Lu 9:20; see Mt 16:17). But immediately after Peter’s confession, Jesus told the disciples of His impending death and resurrection. This jarred them and they did not understand what He was talking about, in spite of His repeated references to it (Lu 9:44-45; Lu 18:31-34). They understood Christ as King, but they did not yet understand that He first must suffer and then enter into His glory (Lu 24:26).

Jesus also has made it plain that those who follow Him must follow in the way of the cross (Lu 9:23-26). Jesus did not come to please Himself, but to do the will of the Father, which supremely included the cross. Those who are His disciples must also deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow Him, even if it means persecution or martyrdom. Jesus concluded that discourse with a difficult verse: “But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who shall not taste death until they see the kingdom of God” (Lu 9:27).

There are various interpretations of what Jesus meant by this. Some liberals say that it was a mistaken prediction that Jesus would come back before some of the apostles died. We can dismiss this as the stupid ramblings of irreverent men. Others relate it to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, but it is difficult to see why that event represented the coming of God’s kingdom. Others interpret it as a reference to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the rule of Christ through His church. But it seems to me that Jesus is referring to something more spectacular than that. I agree with many of the early church fathers who believed that Jesus was referring to the event that immediately follows, namely, His transfiguration. Three of the disciples there got a glimpse of what Jesus will be like in that coming kingdom, when He comes in the glory of the Father and His holy angels (Lu 9:26).

Jesus’ comment about not tasting death refers back to verse Lu 9:24. He is saying that although some of those who follow Him will lose their lives for His sake, some of them would see a manifestation of the coming kingdom before they faced martyrdom, because to see Jesus in His glory is to see a preview of that day when He will return to reign.

Thus in the context, the transfiguration served to encourage the three disciples by showing them that even though their Master would suffer and die and though they, too, must follow Him in the path of the cross, the future glory of Jesus and of all who follow Him is certain. The disciples’ understanding, like their sleepiness and the cloud on the mountain, was foggy at first. But later this unforgettable experience came back to them with clarity and insight. (Sermon Luke 9:27-36)

Luke 9:29 And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming.

KJV And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.


Parallel Passages in the Synoptic Gospels - Matt. 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8

Matthew 17:2 And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.

Mark 9:2 Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and *brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; 3 and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them.

And while He was praying - The change occurred while Jesus was in communion with His Father. While the Gospels do not telling us what Jesus was praying for, the implication is that His Transfiguration is the Father's answer to His prayer! While we want to be careful not to go too far, would it be reasonable to consider that when we sincerely supplicate ourselves before God, we too are in a sense transformed? I know of 2 men who would meet on Saturday at the Church to pray together on their faces. One of the men commented that one day a janitor working at the church saw them come out of the room they were praying in and their was something radiant about their faces.

Rod Mattoon on praying -Jesus prayed and His countenance was changed. Let me say that prayer will change your countenance, too. The power of prayer can replace perplexity with peace, fear with faith, consternation with confidence and courage, discouragement with dedication and determination, and hopelessness with hope. There is a bumper sticker that says, "Prayer changes things." It does. Prayer changes you. This is why we are to pray for our enemies because this not only helps to change our enemies, it changes us. Fellowship and communion with God is essential to a transformed life. (Mattoon's Treasures – Treasures from Luke, Volume 2)

Steven Cole on while He was praying - Why would the eternal Son of God need to pray? Because He took on human flesh, yet without sin, and He lived in perfect dependence on the Father to show us how we, too, should live. In the incarnation, Jesus’ glory was veiled and He voluntarily limited the use of certain of His divine attributes as He took on the form of a servant and became obedient to death on the cross (Php 2:5-8). He did not surrender any of His divine attributes or He would have ceased to be God (which is impossible), but He took on the limitations of our humanity, apart from sin. As a man, Jesus needed to pray....while as a man in dependence on the Father, Jesus was praying, that His glory burst forth like the sun coming from behind a cloud. This was the intrinsic glory of Jesus that He shared with the Father before the creation of the world (Jn 17:5). It is the glory He now possesses as He sits at the right hand of God. When the apostle John later saw the glorified Jesus, he fell at his feet as a dead man (Rev 1:17). Jesus is undiminished deity and perfect humanity united in one person forever. (Luke 9:27-36)

Praying (4336)(proseuchomai from pros = toward, facing, before [emphasizing the direct approach of the one who prays in seeking God’s face] + euchomai = originally to speak out, utter aloud, express a wish, then to pray or to vow. Greek technical term for invoking a deity) in the NT is always used of prayer addressed to God (to Him as the object of faith and the One who will answer one’s prayer) and means to speak consciously (with or without vocalization) to Him, with a definite aim (See study of noun proseuche). Proseuchomai encompasses all the aspects of prayer -- submission, confession, petition, supplication (may concern one's own need), intercession (concerned with the needs of others), praise, and thanksgiving.

Wuest adds that the prefixed preposition pros (in proseuchomai) "gives it the idea of definiteness and directness in prayer, with the consciousness on the part of the one praying that he is talking face to face with God...(thus proseuchomai) speaks also of the consciousness on the part of the one who prays, of the fact of God’s presence and His listening ear."

Luke's uses of proseuchomai -

Lk. 1:10; Lk. 3:21; Lk. 5:16; Lk. 6:12; Lk. 6:28; Lk. 9:18; Lk. 9:28; Lk. 9:29; Lk. 11:1; Lk. 11:2; Lk. 18:1; Lk. 18:10; Lk. 18:11; Lk. 20:47; Lk. 22:40; Lk. 22:41; Lk. 22:44; Lk. 22:46; Acts 1:24; Acts 6:6; Acts 8:15; Acts 9:11; Acts 9:40; Acts 10:9; Acts 10:30; Acts 11:5; Acts 12:12; Acts 13:3; Acts 14:23; Acts 16:25; Acts 20:36; Acts 21:5; Acts 22:17; Acts 28:8

The appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming - Luke's description is what both Matthew 17:2 and Mark 9:2 describe with the Greek verb "transfigured." This verb is also used of believers who are being transformed (2 Cor 3:18-note, Romans 12:2-note). This reminds us of Moses' face shining with a bright light when he received the tablets of the Law (Ex. 34:29-35).

The appearance of His face became different - Literally, “the appearance of his face became different” where different is the Greek word heteros which means another kind, another, different, in another form. Jesus has a totally different body here.

This change in appearance of His face (Mt 17:2 = "His face shone like the sun") was a manifestation of the Shekinah glory of the Lord that had been manifested repeatedly in the Old Testament. (See also Glory of God) Notice that the change in His face was not from the outside, but from the INSIDE out. Notice also that His face changed first. It was His Person showing forth and this preceded any change in His clothing.

Transfigured (Mt 17:2, Mk 9:2)(3339)(metamorphoo from metá = denotes change of place or condition + morphoo = to form from morphe = form, shape referring to the essential form of a thing) describes a change in appearance that comes from within. It has the basic meaning of changing into another form and is the term from which we get metamorphosis, which in biology denotes the amazing change of a lowly caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. So the change in view here is not a superficial fluctuation, but a vital change revealing a new life (when used of believers. When metamorphoo describes Jesus' transfiguration the word indicates that His glory shone through His garments so that what Jesus really was on the inside was made manifest on the outside to Peter, John and James (Mt 17:2, Mk 9:2)

Rod Mattoon - That which took place on this mountain is like the experience of a caterpillar. First you have the caterpillar, then it encases itself in the cocoon, and out comes a butterfly. Having a new, glorified body after we die, is the desire of most of mankind. When we see the Lord Jesus Christ transfigured on the mount, we are seeing exactly what is going to take place in that day when we are given an incorruptible body from the Lord. The dead in Christ shall be raised, and those who are alive shall be changed or undergo metamorphosis. All believers will be changed and will be brought into the presence of God. - see 1 Thes 4:16-17.1 Cor 15:51-57....On that mountain of transfiguration, men were given a glimpse of what Jesus was like in Heaven before He robed Himself with human flesh and what He will be like when He returns in power and glory as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We too, are given a glimpse of what we will be like! (Mattoon's Treasures – Treasures from Luke, Volume 2)

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Dr. Helen Roseveare, missionary to Zaire, told the following story: "A mother at our mission station died after giving birth to a premature baby. We tried to improvise an incubator to keep the infant alive, but the only hot water bottle we had was beyond repair. So we asked the children to pray for the baby and for her sister.

One of the girls responded. 'Dear God, please send a hot water bottle today. Tomorrow will be too late because by then the baby will be dead. And dear Lord, send a doll for the sister so she won't feel so lonely.'

That afternoon a large package arrived from England. The children watched eagerly as we opened it. Much to their surprise, under some clothing was a hot water bottle! Immediately the girl who had prayed so earnestly started to dig deeper, exclaiming, 'If God sent that, I'm sure He also sent a doll!' And she was right! The heavenly Father knew in advance of that child's sincere requests, and 5 months earlier He had led a ladies' group to include both of those specific articles. Never underestimate the power of prayer.

Early African converts to Christianity were earnest and regular in private devotions. Each one reportedly had a separate spot in the thicket where he would pour out his heart to God. Over time the paths to these places became well worn. As a result, if one of these believers began to neglect prayer, it was soon apparent to the others. They would kindly remind the negligent one, "Brother, the grass grows on your path." Is the grass growing on your path? (Mattoon)

Hot Water Bottle Prayer - The LORD is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous. (Pr 15:29) - Dr. Helen Roseveare, missionary to Zaire, told the following story. "A mother at our mission station died after giving birth to a premature baby. We tried to improvise an incubator to keep the infant alive, but the only hot water bottle we had was beyond repair. So we asked the children to pray for the baby and for her sister. One of the girls responded. 'Dear God, please send a hot water bottle today. Tomorrow will be too late because by then the baby will be dead. And dear Lord, send a doll for the sister so she won't feel so lonely.' That afternoon a large package arrived from England. The children watched eagerly as we opened it. Much to their surprise, under some clothing was a hot water bottle! Immediately the girl who had prayed so earnestly started to dig deeper, exclaiming, 'If God sent that, I'm sure He also sent a doll!' And she was right! The heavenly Father knew in advance of that child's sincere requests, and 5 months earlier He had led a ladies' group to include both of those specific articles." Not all of our prayers are answered so dramatically, but we know that God always sends what is best. —H. G. Bosch

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God not only prompts the asking
but He also provides the answers.

J Vernon McGee comments on metamorphoo - That which took place is like the experience of the caterpillar; first you have the caterpillar, then it encases itself in the cocoon, and out comes a beautiful butterfly. The Transfiguration does not set forth the deity of Christ, but the humanity of Christ. Transfiguration is the goal of humanity. When you see the Lord Jesus Christ transfigured there on the mount, you are seeing exactly what is going to take place in that day when we are translated. The dead shall be raised, and those who are alive shall be changed; that is, they shall undergo metamorphosis. Then they will all be translated and brought into the presence of God. (Thru The Bible)

Wiersbe applies the truths of Jesus "metamorphosis" to the daily life of believers - there is also a practical lesson here, for we can have a spiritual "transfiguration" experience each day as we walk with the Lord. Romans 12:1-2 and 2 Corinthians 3:18 tell us how. As we surrender body, mind, and will, the Lord transforms us from within so that we are not conformed to the world. As we behold Him in the Word (the mirror), we are "transfigured" by the Spirit "from glory to glory." The theological name for this experience is sanctification, the process by which we become more like the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Father's goal for each of His children (Rom. 8:19; 1 John 3:2). Note that our Lord was once again praying, which suggests that prayer is one of the keys to a transformed life. (The Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament, Volume 1)

R Kent Hughes - For a brief moment the veil of his humanity (cf Php 2:8) was lifted, and his true essence was allowed to shine through. The glory that was always in the depths of his being rose to the surface that one time in his earthly life. This was both a glance back into his pre-human glory and a look forward into his future glory! (Ibid)

As an aside one might ask why Luke did not use metamorphoo in his Gospel like Matthew and Mark? While we cannot be definitive he may have wanted to avoid this term for his Hellenistic (Greek) readers. The TDNT note on metamorphoo says "A common religious belief is that the gods can change into other forms. In apocalyptic and mysticism humans change into a supraterrestrial form. In Judaism such a change is a gift of eschatological salvation. In the mysteries it involves liberation from the body and deification. Magic promises a change into divine form, and magicians claim a godlike nature through union with the divine form."

Robert Stein comments on why Luke may have avoided metamorphoo - Luke may have done this to avoid any similarity with pagan religious myths. (Cf. Acts 14:11, “The gods have come down to us in human form!”) (New American Commentary – Volume 24: Luke)

White (3022)(leukos) is an adjective which means (1) bright, shining, gleaming Mt 17:2; Lk 9:29 or (2). white (Mt 5:36; Mk 9:3; 16:5; Lk 9:29; J 4:35; Ac 1:10; Rv 1:14; 2:17; 6:2; 7:9, 13; 19:11, 14; 20:11). In the Septuagint leukos was used to describe manna (Ex 16:31), a sign of skin disease (Lev 13:3, 4, et al), the Ancient of Days (Da 7:9), horses (Zech 1:8, 6:3, 6).

Compare our English words leukocyte (white blood cell), etc.

R Kent Hughes writes that "bright" here is leukos—"white"—the grand apocalyptic color, the color representative of what is beyond; cf. Rev. 2:17; Rev. 6:2; Rev. 20:11 (Preaching the Word – Luke, Volume I: That You May Know the Truth)

Zodhiates on leukos - of clothing sometimes in the sense of bright (Matt. 17:2; 28:3; Mark 9:3; 16:5; Luke 9:29; John 20:12; Acts 1:10); of hair (Matt. 5:36; Rev. 1:14); of harvest meaning ripe (John 4:35); of stone (Rev. 2:17); symbolically (Rev. 3:4, 5, 18; 4:4; 6:11; 7:9, 13; 19:14); of a horse (Rev. 6:2; 19:11, 14); of a cloud (Rev. 14:14); of the throne of God (Rev. 20:11). (The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament)

Gilbrant - In classical Greek leukos describes, among other things, the color of snow, hair, stones, clothing, and dust. Like the opposite color melas (“black”), leukos assumes a figurative meaning, with the former symbolizing that which is morally evil and the latter symbolizing purity, holiness, and divinity. In classical texts leukos is the color of sacrificial animals and priestly clothing. Indeed, Plato suggests that the color white is pleasing to the gods (cf. Liddell-Scott). Septuagint Usage = The religious practices of the Hebrews indicate that they held white in similar esteem. In addition to its ordinary literal usages, leukos appears in the Septuagint as the color of priestly garments. Figuratively leukos symbolizes purification from sin (Psalm 51:7; Isaiah 1:18), and a vision of God is dominated by the color leukos (Daniel 7:9). Apart from the four instances mentioned in the previous paragraph, the New Testament uses leukos as the color associated with heaven. Most references are to white clothing, as in the descriptions of the transfiguration of Jesus, the post-Resurrection appearances of angels, or the heavenly citizens in the Book of Revelation. (See, for example, Matthew 17:2; Matthew 28:3; Acts 1:10; Revelation 3:4,5.) Even the throne of God is white (Revelation 20:11). Revelation 1:14 portrays the victorious Christ in terms reminiscent of the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7:9; both of these scenes are dominated by white.

Vincent on leukos - In classical Greek very indefinite as an expression of color; being used, not only of the whiteness of the snow, but of gray dust. Its original sense is clear. All three evangelists use the word, but combined with different terms. Thus, Matthew, as the light. Mark, στίλβοντα, glistering (see Mark 9:3). Luke, ἐξαστράπτων (only here in New Testament), flashing as with the brilliance of lightning. Rev., dazzling.

Leukos - 25x in 23 verses - all translated white

Matt. 5:36; Matt. 17:2; Matt. 28:3; Mk. 9:3; Mk. 16:5; Lk. 9:29; Jn. 4:35; Jn. 20:12; Acts 1:10; Rev. 1:14; Rev. 2:17; Rev. 3:4; Rev. 3:5; Rev. 3:18; Rev. 4:4; Rev. 6:2; Rev. 6:11; Rev. 7:9; Rev. 7:13; Rev. 14:14; Rev. 19:11; Rev. 19:14; Rev. 20:11

Leukos - 30x in 26v in the Septuagint -

Gen. 30:35; Gen. 30:37; Gen. 31:8; Gen. 49:12; Exod. 16:14; Exod. 16:31; Lev. 13:3; Lev. 13:4; Lev. 13:10; Lev. 13:13; Lev. 13:16; Lev. 13:17; Lev. 13:19; Lev. 13:20; Lev. 13:21; Lev. 13:24; Lev. 13:25; Lev. 13:26; Lev. 13:42; Lev. 13:43; Eccl. 9:8; Cant. 5:10; Dan. 7:9; Zech. 1:8; Zech. 6:3; Zech. 6:6;

Gleaming (became bright as a flash of lightning)(1823) (exastrapto from ek = out + astrapto = to lighten forth, flash out as lightning as in Ezek 1:4 from astrape = lightning) is used only here in the NT and means to flash forth and so to gleam like lightning. There are 4 uses in the Septuagint - Ezek. 1:4; Ezek. 1:7; Da 10:6; Nah. 3:3

MacArthur notes that the "Greek word translated gleaming means “emitting light,” and describes a brilliant, flashing light like lightning. Jesus will manifest that same blazing glory in its fullness at His second coming (Matt. 16:27; 25:31)."

While this is the only NT use the root word has some interesting uses summarized by Gilbrant -

Exastrapto is a verb which refers to a dazzling brilliance and could be translated “flashing forth like lightning.” In its only New Testament occurrence its form is that of an adjective used to describe Jesus’ garment at the Transfiguration (Luke 9:29). Astrapē (796) means “lightning” and is used to describe the appearance of the angel who rolled the stone back from Jesus’ grave (Mt 28:2-3). Astrapē is also the word used in the Septuagint to describe the lightnings on Mount Sinai when Moses met with God (Exodus 19:16). Exastraptō has essentially the same meaning and is the word used to describe the appearance of Ezekiel’s vision of God (Ezekiel 1:4,7), and the flashing weapons of Nahum 3:3 (cf Ps 144:6). (The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

NET Note - In 1st century Judaism and in the NT, there was the belief that the righteous get new, glorified bodies in order to enter heaven (1 Cor 15:42-49; 2 Cor 5:1-10). This transformation means the righteous will share the glory of God. One recalls the way Moses shared the Lord's glory after his visit to the mountain in Exod 34. So the disciples saw the appearance of his face transformed, and they were getting a sneak preview of the great glory that Jesus would have (only his glory is more inherent to him as one who shares in the rule of the kingdom).

How can we today behold the glory of the Christ? Paul gives us a "clue" writing

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. (2 Cor 3:18-note)

Comment: Implicit in Paul's statement is that we behold the glory of the Lord in the Word of the Lord. A mirror is used as a metaphorical description of the Word of God in James 1:23-24. And most importantly note that our beholding of the Lord's glory should result in progressive transformation from one degree of glory to another, becoming increasing like the Son. This supernatural transformation is accomplished by the Holy Spirit as we imbibe the Holy Word. This begs an important question -- are you daily looking in the "mirror" of God's Word? If you you need to begin today and make it a daily devotion to see Jesus the Living Word in the Bible the written Living Word.

See also Steven Cole's 4 points on How to See the Glory of Christ.

William MacDonald on Christ's glory - this prefigured the glory which would be His during His coming kingdom. While He was here on earth, His glory was ordinarily veiled in His body of flesh. He was here in humiliation, as a Bondslave. But during the Millennium, His glory will be fully revealed.

ILLUSTRATION - One of the most glorious sections of Handel’s masterpiece Messiah is the chorus “And the Glory of the Lord,” which draws its text from Isaiah’s prophecy. Speaking of the coming Messiah, Isaiah wrote, “Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isa. 40:5). That text reveals that the Lord Jesus Christ is the glory of God manifest in the incarnation.

Steven Cole - We’ve all heard the expression that someone is so heavenly minded that he is no earthly good. I suppose that there are people whose heads are so much in the clouds that they don’t accomplish much in practical terms. But the truth of the matter is, most of us are so earthly minded that we are of no earthly or heavenly good. The Bible is clear that if we want to walk in a manner pleasing to the Lord, we must set our minds on the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (Col. 3:1-2). There is nothing quite so practical as gaining a clearer vision of the glory of Christ. Like Peter, John, and James, we must come down off the mountain to deal with difficult situations, but we will deal with them more effectively if we have seen the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

To understand the transfiguration, we must see it in its context. Luke has been gradually revealing to us the identity of Jesus Christ. People had different views-He is John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the prophets come back (Lk 9:19). But by divine revelation, Peter acknowledged that Jesus is the Christ of God (Lk 9:20; see Matt. 16:17). But immediately after Peter’s confession, Jesus told the disciples of His impending death and resurrection. This jarred them and they did not understand what He was talking about, in spite of His repeated references to it (Lk 9:44-45; 18:31-34). They understood Christ as King, but they did not yet understand that He first must suffer and then enter into His glory (Lk 24:26).

Jesus also has made it plain that those who follow Him must follow in the way of the cross (Lk 9:23-26). Jesus did not come to please Himself, but to do the will of the Father, which supremely included the cross. Those who are His disciples must also deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow Him, even if it means persecution or martyrdom. Jesus concluded that discourse with a difficult verse: “But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who shall not taste death until they see the kingdom of God” (Lk 9:27).

There are various interpretations of what Jesus meant by this. Some liberals say that it was a mistaken prediction that Jesus would come back before some of the apostles died. We can dismiss this as the stupid ramblings of irreverent men. Others relate it to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, but it is difficult to see why that event represented the coming of God’s kingdom. Others interpret it as a reference to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the rule of Christ through His church. But it seems to me that Jesus is referring to something more spectacular than that. I agree with many of the early church fathers who believed that Jesus was referring to the event that immediately follows, namely, His transfiguration. Three of the disciples there got a glimpse of what Jesus will be like in that coming kingdom, when He comes in the glory of the Father and His holy angels (Lk 9:26).

Jesus’ comment about not tasting death refers back to Lk 9:24. He is saying that although some of those who follow Him will lose their lives for His sake, some of them would see a manifestation of the coming kingdom before they faced martyrdom, because to see Jesus in His glory is to see a preview of that day when He will return to reign.

Thus in the context, the transfiguration served to encourage the three disciples by showing them that even though their Master would suffer and die and though they, too, must follow Him in the path of the cross, the future glory of Jesus and of all who follow Him is certain. The disciples’ understanding, like their sleepiness and the cloud on the mountain, was foggy at first. But later this unforgettable experience came back to them with clarity and insight.

Luke 9:30 And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah,

KJV And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias:

Parallel Passages in the Synoptic Gospels - Matt. 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8

Matthew 17:3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.

Mark 9:4 Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus.


Behold (2400)(idou) is the second person singular aorist middle imperative of eidon which means to see, perceive, look at. In the NT idou is used as a demonstrative particle that draws attention to what follows. Idou in the middle voice means "you yourself look, see, perceive!" The aorist imperative is a command emphasizing "Do it now! Don't delay!" Spurgeon reminds us that "Behold is a word of wonder; it is intended to excite admiration. Wherever you see it hung out in Scripture, it is like an ancient sign-board, signifying that there are rich wares within, or like the hands which solid readers have observed in the margin of the older Puritanic books, drawing attention to something particularly worthy of observation." I would add, behold is like a divine highlighter, a divine underlining of an especially striking or important text. It says in effect "Listen up, all ye who would be wise in the ways of Jehovah!"

Two men were talking - Vincent observes "The imperfect tense is graphic; as the vision revealed itself, the two were in the act of talking."

Robert Stein - Do these men represet (1) the law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah)—cf. Luke 16:29, 31; 24:27; (2) heavenly figures who were expected to return at the end time; or (3) two OT prophetic figures who had not experienced death? The first possibility seems best. The reference to “two men” ties together the transfiguration, resurrection (Lk 24:4), and ascension (Acts 1:10). The presence of Moses and Elijah refutes the incorrect guesses about Jesus’ identity given in Luke 9:8, 19. (New American Commentary – Volume 24: Luke)

John Martin on Moses and Elijah - The bodies of Moses and Elijah were never found. God buried Moses' body (Deut. 34:5-6), and Elijah did not die but was taken up to heaven (2 Kings 2:11-12, 15-18). These two men represent the beginning and the end of Israel, for Moses, as the Lawgiver, founded the nation, and Elijah is to come back before the great and terrible day of the Lord (Mal. 4:5-6). (The Bible Knowledge Commentary)

Steven Cole on Moses and Elijah - Scholars debate the significance of Moses and Elijah appearing with Christ, but it seems to me that the natural connection is that Moses represents the Law and Elijah the Prophets. As such, the entire Old Testament (the Law and the Prophets) bears witness to Jesus as Lord and Christ. Beyond this association, Moses also had a mountaintop experience where his face shone (Ex 34:30). In the exodus, he led the people of God out of bondage. Our text states that Moses and Elijah were talking with Jesus about the exodus (literal Greek transliteration of “departure”) that He was about to accomplish in Jerusalem (Lu 9:31). Elijah is associated with the future coming of Messiah, when he would appear to turn the hearts of the people back to God and to prepare the way of the Lord (Mal 3:1; Mal 4:4-6; Mt 11:9-14). It is also interesting that both Moses and Elijah had unique departures from this earth. Moses died on the mountain and God buried him (De 34:6). Elijah was carried to heaven without dying in a chariot of fire (2Ki 2:11). Jesus also had a unique departure: angels guarded His tomb and then, after His resurrection, He ascended bodily into heaven. But even though Moses and Elijah were two of the greatest men of God in the Old Testament, Jesus is far superior to them. We see this in Peter’s inept comment and the response from the heavenly voice. Peter, perhaps to prolong the glorious occasion, suggests celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles by building three booths, one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. While he meant well, Peter’s comment was off because it put Jesus on the same footing as Moses and Elijah. The voice from heaven corrects this by removing Moses and Elijah and by stating emphatically, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” (Lu 9:35). These words also fulfill De 18:15, where Moses predicts that God will raise up another prophet and commands, “You shall listen to him.” Thus, the glory of Christ shows His superiority to and fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. (Luke 9:27-36)

John MacArthur - Why Moses and Elijah? Well I thought about this and I thought, well, if I could go back to the Old Testament and think of which two characters most prominent in the Old Testament had unusual demises, or unusual exits out of this world, the first two that come to my mind are Moses and Elijah. Most people, they died and he was buried with his fathers, right? You go through Genesis, he died and he was buried, he died and he was buried. You know, it's kind of a routine thing. It's still going on, obviously, but not Moses and Elijah. Moses had a very unusual death and his body was never found. His body was never found because there was a battle over his body between Satan and Michael and they were fighting over the body of Moses. Satan wanted to do something really bad with the body of Moses. We don't know what because he didn't succeed. They were contending for the body of Moses and it tells us in Deuteronomy 34:6 that God just took his body and buried it Himself. Nobody knows where. So somebody could raise the question: Well what happened to Moses? We're not sure what happened to Moses? Well good news, he's over there on the other side. You may not be able to find his body, you may wonder about where it is and why he disappeared in such a strange way, but the good news is he's over there because here he is appearing on the other side. And Elijah, do you remember what happened to him? He didn't die. He had a private rapture. He went to heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11) So that's the second person who had the sort of strange exodus. And so here is Moses who had a strange exodus and here is Elijah who had a strange exodus and they're talking with Jesus about His exodus. (Luke 9:26-31 A Glimpse of the King's Return, Part 1)

R Kent Hughes on Moses and Elijah - Why Elijah and Moses? Why not Isaiah and Jeremiah, or Daniel and Joseph? There are several reasons. Both these men had previously conversed with God on mountaintops—Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 31:18) and Elijah on Mount Horeb, another name for Sinai (1 Kings 19:8ff.). They both had been shown God's glory. Both also had famous departures from this earth. Moses died on Mount Nebo, after which God buried him in a grave known only to himself. Elijah was taken up alive in a chariot of fire. Both were expected to return again at the end of the age (concerning Elijah, cf. Lk 1:17; 9:8, 19; concerning Moses cf. Deuteronomy 18:15, 18). Moses was the great lawgiver, and Elijah was the great prophet. Moses was the founder of Israel's religious economy, and Elijah was the restorer of it. Together they were a powerful summary of the entire Old Testament economy. (Preaching the Word – Luke, Volume I: That You May Know the Truth)

NET Note is slightly different on Moses and Elijah - Commentators and scholars discuss why Moses and Elijah are present. The most likely explanation is that Moses represents the prophetic office (Acts 3:18-22) and Elijah pictures the presence of the last days (Mal 4:5-6), the prophet of the eschaton (the end times).

ESV Study Bible - Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets; their appearance refutes the incorrect guesses of Lk 9:8, 19, indicating that Jesus is the fulfillment of both

Luke 9:31 who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.

KJV Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.


This description of their discussion of Jesus' departure is only given by Luke and not in Matt. 17:1-8 or Mark 9:2-8.

Who, appearing in glory - Moses and Elijah were glorified. NLT says "They were glorious to see."

Hughes - What an amazing sight! Luminous, dazzling Jesus is talking to Moses who had been dead over 1,400 years and to Elijah who had been gone for about 900. And they are talking about his exodus—his imminent death for our sins. (Ibid)

Glory (1391)(doxa rom dokeo = to think) in simple terms means to give a proper opinion or estimate of something. Glory is something that is a source of honor, fame, or admiration. It describes renown, a thing that is beautiful, impressive, or worthy of praise. It follows that the glory of God expresses all that He is in His Being and in His nature, character, power and acts. He is glorified when He is allowed to be seen as He really is. To be where God is will be glory (regarding which Moses and Elijah give us a small foretaste). To be what God intended will be glory. To do what God purposed will be glory. Dear storm tossed saint, hold on. The end of our voyage is GLORY! Hallelujah!

Were speaking - imperfect tense - graphic picture of an ongoing conversation. Wouldn't you like to have eavesdropped? At least Luke gives us the general subject they were discussing - Jesus' death and departure from Jerusalem.

Were speaking of His departure - The KJV has "spake of his decease" (the event of dying or departure from life). Remember that Peter, John and James are asleep and did not overhear them speaking of His departure (His "exodus" from this world, His death). While Moses the law giver led the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt, God had promised to raise up a prophet like Moses (Dt 18:15, 18) Who would lead the people of God out of slavery to sin, an "exodus" made possible by His death as the Lamb of God (Jesus fulfilling the shadow of the Passover lambs in Egypt).

Daniel Akin in comparing the mission of Moses with that of Jesus adds that "This is not Mount Sinai all over again. No, this is a Gospel mountain, not a Law mountain. Here the Law of God and the Grace of God converge in the One who is God incarnate and the fulfillment of all the Old Testament promised. Look at Him and believe His Gospel." (Ibid)

Bock observes regarding Jesus' "departure" that "the disciples do not grasp this discussion's significance at the time(Ed: It is not clear they actually heard the conversation if one compares Lk 9:32), since they struggle with Jesus' predictions of His death later when they approach Jerusalem (Luke 18:31-34)." (Luke 9:18-50 Christological Confession-Discipleship)

MacArthur - What was hard for the apostles to accept, Jesus’ death, was in the divine plan and these Old Testament representatives understood that fact in their perfect knowledge. Moses and Elijah had been in the presence of God since their departures from this world, where they had known and worshiped Jesus and understood the plan of redemption....The question arises as to why the two men had visible bodies, since the Old Testament saints are described in Hebrews 12:23 as “the spirits of the righteous made perfect” and do not receive their glorified bodies until after the tribulation (Dan. 12:1-2). Evidently they either received the bodies they appeared in temporarily for that occasion, or God gave them their permanent resurrection bodies early. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Luke 6-10)

Departure ("exodus")(1841)(exodos from ex = out + hodos = way) is literally "the road out" or "the way out"! Exodos was used as a euphemism describing one's departure from among the living for death. In 2 Pe 1:15 Peter is saying he is not dying but just departing for home! Exodos is used in Heb 11:22 to describe "the exodus of the sons of Israel" from Egypt. Luke's use of exodus is the only other use of this word in the NT. Exodus is a beautiful euphemism for death. Elijah and Moses, having already made their exodus from earth to heaven were anticipating Jesus' exodus via His death and resurrection.

NET Note says that exodus "refers to Jesus' death in Jerusalem and journey back to glory. Here is the first lesson that the disciples must learn. The wondrous rule comes only after suffering."

A T Robertson on exodos in this context - Moses had led the Exodus from Egypt. Jesus will accomplish the exodus of God's people into the Promised Land on high.

Mattoon - Jesus was to accomplish a new exodus, a new saving deliverance, except this time it was to be for the entire world. All men who put their faith in Christ will be delivered from the bondage of sin, death, and Hell to eternal life in Heaven. (Ibid)

Accomplish (fulfill)(4137)(pleroo) has several nuances but in this context means to bring to completion, to be finished, to bring to completion an activity in which one has been involved from its beginning (cf Lk 7:1, Acts 12:25, Acts 13:25, Rev 6:11). This verse prepares the reader for Lk 9:51ff. The idea of pleroo here is that Jesus would FULFILL the prophecy of the "Suffering Servant."

Compare to other uses of pleroo that speak of fulfillment of a divine prophecy or promise - Mt 1:22; 5:17; 13:35; 26:54, 56; Mk 14:49; Lk 9:31; 22:16; J 18:9, 32; 19:24, 36; Ro 13:8; Gal 5:14

Luke's uses of pleroo - Lk. 1:20; Lk. 2:40; Lk. 3:5; Lk. 4:21; Lk. 7:1; Lk. 9:31; Lk. 21:24; Lk. 22:16; Lk. 24:44

Robert Stein - Luke purposefully mentioned Jerusalem, for it was in this city that the redemptive acts of salvation history took place. These acts included the announcement in the temple to Zechariah (Luke 1:5–23); the dedication of Jesus (Lk 2:22–38); the yearly pilgrimage to Jerusalem (Lk 2:41); Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem (Lk 9:51f.); the crucifixion, resurrection, post-resurrection appearances, ascension, and the coming of the Spirit. Jerusalem also would be significant as the center of world evangelism and the site of the Jerusalem Council. (New American Commentary – Volume 24: Luke)

At Jerusalem - This fact leaves no doubt that they were discussing Jesus "exodus" via crucifixion. One can only imagine the content of this incredible conversation. And look who's sleeping through it all! (Lk 9:32). Jesus mentioned several more times in Luke that He was headed toward Jerusalem (Luke 9:51, 53; 13:33; 17:11; 18:31).

Luke's uses of Jerusalem - It is surprising that Jerusalem is mentioned only once in Matthew (Mt 23:37) and not in either Mark or John. Most of the NT uses by far are found in Luke's writings.

Lk. 2:25; Lk. 2:38; Lk. 2:41; Lk. 2:43; Lk. 2:45; Lk. 4:9; Lk. 5:17; Lk. 6:17; Lk. 9:31; Lk. 9:51; Lk. 9:53; Lk. 10:30; Lk. 13:4; Lk. 13:33; Lk. 13:34; Lk. 17:11; Lk. 18:31; Lk. 19:11; Lk. 21:20; Lk. 21:24; Lk. 23:28; Lk. 24:13; Lk. 24:18; Lk. 24:33; Lk. 24:47; Lk. 24:52; Acts 1:8; Acts 1:12; Acts 1:19; Acts 2:5; Acts 2:14; Acts 4:5; Acts 4:16; Acts 5:16; Acts 5:28; Acts 6:7; Acts 8:26; Acts 8:27; Acts 9:2; Acts 9:13; Acts 9:21; Acts 9:26; Acts 9:28; Acts 10:39; Acts 11:2; Acts 11:22; Acts 12:25; Acts 13:27; Acts 13:31; Acts 15:2; Acts 20:22; Acts 21:11; Acts 21:12; Acts 21:13; Acts 21:31; Acts 22:5; Acts 22:17; Acts 22:18; Acts 23:11; Acts 24:11; Acts 25:3

Bock writes that ""Much of Luke's Gospel from here through chapter 19 concerns preparation of the disciples for ministry in light of his departure."

What the Bible teaches - There are lessons to learn about the appearance of Moses and Elijah regarding departed loved ones:

  1. They lived on even though they had left earth hundreds of years before.
  2. They could be identified without any formal introduction.
  3. They could speak to each other.
  4. Their intelligence was not impaired.
  5. They knew about coming events.
  6. They showed no dread in the presence of the glory of Christ.
  7. They were able to commune with Christ (Matt 17:3).

Related Resource:

Luke 9:32 Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him.

KJV But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.


Moody Bible Commentary - How was this a taste of the kingdom (cf. "kingdom" in Lk 9:27-note)? First, it occurred on earth, where Jesus will reign. Second, Jesus was glorified, as He will be then. Third, all necessary kingdom people are represented: saints in physical bodies (the three disciples), saints who experience death and resurrection (Moses), and saints who will not die but be translated to heaven (Elijah).

This description of the sleepy disciples and then the fully awake disciples is only given by Luke. Indeed, the three were getting a taste of the glory we shall all one day celebrate. And notice that they did not want it to end (thus Peter's suggestion for 3 tabernacles). Here is the practical point - Once we fall asleep in Jesus (or are raptured), we will not miss our past because for the incredible glory of our future! Don't dread dying! It is our entree into eternal glory in the unhindered presence of the Glorious One!

Overcome with sleep - Greek idiom = "weighed down with sleep". Luke alone tells of their sleep. Apparently this happened while Jesus was praying, the same thing that would occur in the Garden of Gethsemane (cf Mt 26:43). This would also support that this was a nocturnal event, and if so would make the Glory of the Son whose "face shone like the sun" (Mt 17:2) that much more dramatic.

ILLUSTRATION - Eight-year-old Peter Sweeney of Rockville Centre, NY, wrote a get-well letter to President Reagan after he had been shot. The President decided to use the letter in the middle of an economic address to a joint session of Congress which was being televised. Unfortunately, Peter was asleep in bed when the program came on the screen. Thus, the lad slept through his big moment and was told about it only the next day. How many significant moments we lose because we are asleep spiritually! In this passage, we find that an incredible event was taking place on this mountain, but Peter, James, and John were unaware and out of touch of what was happening. If they could have stayed awake, they would have been witnesses to an incredible conversation. What a huge blessing they missed because they were asleep. They were in the presence of great men and did not realize the blessing and privilege that were under their nose. Beloved, get to know great men and women for Christ. Seek them out! Cherish the opportunity of being able to learn from them and enjoy their presence. Many of them are in your own church. Think for a moment, what a blessing it would have been to enjoy the presence of great people in the past.....Wait a minute. Before we get too tough on Peter, James, and John for sleeping, let's take a good, hard look at ourselves. How many blessings have you missed? What have you failed to learn because of those times in your life when you were spiritually or physically snoozing? How many sermons have you missed at church that could have changed your life because you slept in on Sunday? What opportunities have you lost to serve the Lord because you were in a spiritual slumber? Paul urged us repeatedly to stay awake spiritually. Romans 13:11-note, Ephesians 5:14-note, 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8-note. When you fall asleep spiritually, your catnapping creates complications for you and a carnal lifestyle. Your drowsiness results in defeat and dropped opportunities to serve God. When you are insensible you become indifferent toward spiritual matters. God says, "Wake up!" Why do we get spiritually sleepy? Have you thought about this? (Mattoon)

Overcome (weighed down) (916)(bareo from baros = weight, heaviness, figuratively a burden as in Gal 6:2) means to lay on a heavy load; to encumber with weight, to weigh down, to burden. Figuratively, to oppress with any thing grievous; as, to burden a nation with taxes. The effect of drowsiness = "Heavy eyes" (Mt 26:43, Mk 14:40) "Overcome (heavy) with sleep" (Lk 9:32).

Sleep (5258)(hupnos; English hypnosis) in Scripture usually refers to literal sleep (Mt 1:24, Lk 9:32, Jn 11:13). The same word is used of the eyes of these three disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:43) and of the hearts of many (Luke 21:34).

Vincent adds this note on overcome - The perfect participle. Lit., burdened or oppressed. "It was but natural for these men of simple habits, at night, and after the long ascent, and in the strong mountain air, to be heavy with sleep; and we also know it as a psychological fact, that, in quick reaction, after the overpowering influence of the strongest emotions, drowsiness would creep over their limbs and senses" (Edersheim).

Ryle - Let it be noted that the very same disciples who here slept during a vision of glory were also found sleeping during the agony in the garden of Gethsemane. Flesh and blood does indeed need to be changed before it can enter heaven. Our poor weak bodies can neither watch with Christ in His time of trial nor keep awake with Him in His glorification. Our physical constitution must be greatly altered before we could enjoy heaven.

When they were fully awake - The vision fully awakened them much like a man out of drunken stupor at some incredible vision.

Martin - Three disciples were with Jesus. This number is reminiscent of Moses' three companions—Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu—who saw God (Ex. 24:9-11).

They saw His glory and the two men standing with Him - Notice the emphasis is on the glory of Jesus. The men standing with Him take second place.

Luke 9:33 And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah"--not realizing what he was saying.

KJV And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.

Parallel Passages in the Synoptic Gospels - Matt. 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8

Matthew 17:4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

Mark 9:5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified.

And as these were leaving Him - Only Luke mentions that Moses and Elijah were leaving. Notice also that Peter recognized the two men, even though they had died centuries prior. Even in heaven our unique identity we had on earth will be preserved forever (glorified of course!).

Master, it is good for us to be here - Indeed it is good to be in the presence of the Glorious One and this will be the joy of every blood bought, heaven bound believer -- forever in the presence of our Master...eternally good! It doesn't get much better than that!

Wiersbe on let us make three tabernacles - Peter's suggestion reminds us of the Jewish "Feast of Booths" that in the Bible is related to the future (Millennial) kingdom (Lev. 23:33-44-note; Zech. 14:16-21). Peter wanted Jesus to hold on to the glory apart from the suffering, but this is not God's plan. (Ibid)

MacArthur - A number of things prompted Peter’s hope that what he was witnessing was the inauguration of the kingdom. First, the Feast of Tabernacles was being celebrated at that time. Since that feast celebrated Israel’s exodus from Egypt, what better time could there be for Jesus’ exodus from the world? Further, Peter knew from Zechariah 14:16-19 that the Feast of Tabernacles was to be celebrated in the millennial kingdom. He also knew that according to Malachi 3:1 and Mal 4:5-6 that Elijah was associated with the coming of the kingdom. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Luke 6-10)

Mattoon - Why did Peter want to build these three shelters? Where did this come from? New Testament chronologists have determined that the Jewish month in which the transfiguration took place was Tishri (October), the sixth month before Passover and therefore six months before Jesus' crucifixion. During this month the Jews celebrated the feast of Tabernacles, or Booths, and it is possible that at this very time the feast was being observed in Jerusalem. During a period of seven days the people lived in small shelters, or booths, made of boughs, symbolizing the temporary dwellings of their forefathers in the wilderness. It was a memorial to God's preservation of His chosen and redeemed people. The feast's being close at hand may therefore have caused Peter to suggest building the three tabernacles. (Treasures from Luke, Volume 2)

Tabernacles (dwellings, tents) (4633)(skene is a tent, booth, hut, tabernacle, any covered or shaded place. The first use is of skene is in the transfiguration where Peter sought to build "three tabernacles here, one for (Jesus), and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (Mt 17:4, cp Mk 9:5).

In Luke 16:9 skene is used in referring to the final state of the righteous as “eternal dwellings."

Bock adds that "Peter suggests they together celebrate Tabernacles, a feast that looked forward to the eschaton (also called the Feast of Ingathering, Ex 23:16; 34:22; Lev 23:34; Deut 16:13; Zech 14:16-21 (Ed: Neh. 8:14-17)." (Luke 9:18-50 Christological Confession-Discipleship)

John Martin - Peter may have been thinking of the Feast of Booths, a feast of ingathering long associated with the coming kingdom (cf. Zech. 14:16-21). Peter seemed to have assumed that the (Millennial) kingdom had arrived. (Ibid)

NET Note - By making three shelters Peter apparently wanted to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths that looked forward to the end and to treat Moses, Elijah, and Jesus as equals. It was actually a way of expressing honor to Jesus, but the remark at the end of the verse makes it clear that it was not enough honor.

Not realizing what he was saying - Peter assumed this was indicative of the bringing in of the Kingdom (cf even Acts 1:6 indicates the disciples were looking for the Kingdom). In so doing Jesus would have to bypass the Cross, but He knew His mission was to suffer as an atoning sacrifice and that before the Crown, He must endure the Cross. The Millennial Kingdom would come for God had promised it. What the disciples did not understand is that it would not come until after the Church Age. At the end of the Church Age Jesus would return as conquering King, defeat His (and Israel's enemies) and set up His 1000 year earthly kingdom. Peter's eschatology was not totally wrong, just poorly timed! Martin adds "The thought is not that Peter misunderstood the significance of the kingdom setting—he was correct in that. The problem was that he forgot Jesus' prediction that He would suffer (Luke 9:23-24)."

MacArthur adds that "Before the crown comes the cross; the path to the kingdom lies through Calvary. Before Jesus reigns as king, He must be the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. But the glorious vision they experienced that day would stay with the three apostles for the rest of their lives (2 Peter 1:16-18), reassuring them of the reality of the coming kingdom." (Ibid)

Rod Mattoon - Luke mentions that he didn't know, understand, or realize what he was actually saying. The point of what was happening was that Jesus was the unique Son of God, the king of glory. Moses and Elijah were there to honor him, but Peter's suggestion had the effect of putting Jesus, Moses, and Elijah on the same footing. People make the same mistake today by putting Jesus on the same level as Buddah, Allah, Abraham, Moses, or Mohammed. They claim all religions lead to God. Such teaching may sound good and be inoffensive. This philosophy, however, is not true because religion does not save a man. Jesus did not start a religion. He was the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. Religious works do not redeem or save a man from Hell. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not religious deeds. Christianity is a relationship with God, not a religion composed of dead works and traditions. (Treasures from Luke, Volume 2)

Hendriksen - "The trouble with Peter was that too often he spoke first and did his thinking afterward, if at all. So also here. Still, we should not be too hard on him, for he had just been awakened out of a deep sleep and, as the text indicates, did not know what he was saying...It might be said in Peter's favor that he at least submits the suggestion to the Lord, so that the latter may decide. On the other hand, this apostle's very desire to prolong the glory-scene ("how good it is for us to be here!") shows that he had not yet fully taken to heart what Jesus had taught him (see Lk 9:22). From suffering, from the cross, whether for Jesus or for himself, he wishes to stay far removed." (Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke)

Luke 9:34 While he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.

KJV While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.

Parallel Passages in the Synoptic Gospels - Matt. 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8

Matthew 17:5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”

Mark 9:7 Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!”


A cloud formed - This reminds us of God's appearances in the OT...

Exodus 13:21-22 The LORD was going before them in a pillar of (Shekinah) cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 He did not take away the pillar of (Shekinah) cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.

Exodus 14:19; 20 The angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of (Shekinah) cloud moved from before them and stood behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the (Shekinah) cloud along with the darkness, yet it gave light at night. Thus the one did not come near the other all night.

Exodus 40:35; 38 Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the (Shekinah) cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 38 For throughout all their journeys, the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.

1 Kings 8:10-11 It happened that when the priests came from the holy place, the (Shekinah) cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the (Shekinah) cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.

While he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them - Imagine you are speaking and you are interrupted by God the Father! The cloud is surely the Shekinah glory cloud. Peter's question regarding three tabernacles was about to be clarified by the Father Himself (Lk 9:35). This emphasized as Luke had just stated regarding Peter's question that "foot in the mouth" Peter did not realize "what he was saying." (Lk 9:33)

Rod Mattoon on the cloud

  • This was the cloud that passed by Moses as God covered him in the cleft of the rock with his hand, so that Moses only saw the afterglow.
  • It was the cloud that guided Israel out of Egypt.
  • It was the cloud that rested upon the tabernacle and above the Mercy Seat in the Most Holy Place.

As an aside it had been 600 years since anyone in Israel had seen the Shekinah glory. The last mention of the glory of the LORD is found in Ezekiel 11:23 "The glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood over the mountain (Olivet) which is east of the city." It is notable that the Mount of Olives is the same mountain from which Jesus ascended into heaven, and to which He will return (Zech 14:4). So between those two appearances of the glory of the LORD, we have the Transfiguration of Jesus, demonstrating the glory with which He will return as described in Rev 19:11-16-note. See an overview of the glory of the LORD, past, present and future.


As an aside, if you have never read Ezekiel's record of the progressive withdrawal of the Shekinah glory from the Temple, you need to take some time to read and ponder this most tragic event, surely one of the saddest events in the entire Old Testament! You will need to begin reading in Ezekiel 8 and go through the end of Ezekiel 11. Kent Hughes gives you a preview writing "Over the years, despite some bright spots, the slide continued until some 400 years later seventy elders of the house of Israel assembled in the Temple—each in front of his own painted idol and each offering incense to it (cf. Ezekiel 8:7-16-note). The very walls of the temple had been painted with "all kinds of crawling things and detestable animals and all the idols of the house of Israel" (Ezekiel 8:10-note). The glory was about to leave the temple! Ezekiel's vision in chapter 10 records that unforgettable departure. Four awesome cherubim (angels of God's presence) assembled on the south side of the temple. Each had four faces and four wings, so they could move in any direction without turning. Beneath each angel there was a turning wheel completely filled with eyes (Ezekiel 10:12). These were called the "whirling wheels" (Ezekiel 10:13). In the expanse above the angels was something that looked like "a throne of sapphire" (Ezekiel 10:1). As the cherubim took their places on the temple's south side, the Shekinah glory filled the inner court, then rose above the cherubim engulfing the sapphire throne (Ezekiel 10:3). Then the glory moved to the door of the temple's threshold, filling everything with "the radiance of the glory of the Lord" (Ezekiel 10:4). The roar of the cherubim's wings was "like the voice of God Almighty when he speaks" (Ezekiel 10:5). "Then," as Ezekiel tells it, "the glory of the Lord departed from over the threshold of the temple and stopped above the cherubim. While I watched, the cherubim spread their wings and rose from the ground, and as they went, the wheels went with them. They stopped at the entrance to the east gate of the Lord's house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them" (Ezekiel 10:18, 19). (See also summary of the Glory of God)

Constable agrees that "The cloud was undoubtedly the Shekinah, the visible vehicle for God's localized presence during the wilderness wanderings (Ex. 13:21-22; 16:10; 24:16; 40:34-38). It would also accompany the Son of Man's coming (Isa. 4:5; Da 7:13). (Luke 9)

Stein on a cloud - Clouds are also a means of taking people up to heaven (Acts 1:9; 1 Thess 4:17; Rev 11:12) and are associated with the parousia (Mark 13:26; Matt 24:30). In Luke 21:27 Luke used the singular “cloud” rather than the plural found in Mark 13:26 and Matt 24:30, tying the parousia more closely to the transfiguration. He also used the singular “cloud” in Acts 1:9. (New American Commentary – Volume 24: Luke).

Hughes - The cloud is also a prophecy. In the future, in death, believers will meet the risen Christ in the incandescent clouds to be with him forever (1 Thessalonians 4:17, 18). Peter, James, and John were to put their arms around this blessed experience and pull it within themselves. So must we! It is our hope. First Thessalonians 4:17b says that the same Lord is going to return in a cloud of glory, and that those who die before are going to rise up and meet him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16), and that the living are going to meet him in the air too (1 Thessalonians 4:17)—in that great cloud of glory. Someday we are going to be in that cloud! The Shekinah glory is going to surround us! (Ibid)

Overshadow (1982)(episkiazo from epi = upon + skia = shadow) "literally, as darkening by partially blocking out a source of light" (Friberg) and so to throw a shadow upon as in Acts 5:15. To cover as with a cloud. The more common literal use of episkiazo describes the transfiguration where a cloud formed (probably the Shekinah glory cloud) and overshadowed Jesus and the 3 disciples Peter and John and James.

Earlier Luke used episkiazo in the angel's announcement to Mary ", "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. (Lk 1:35-note)

John MacArthur comments that episkiazo "means “to surround,” “to encompass,” or in a metaphorical sense, “to influence.” The creative influence of the Spirit of God would overshadow Mary to produce a child in her womb."....This was a creative act of the Holy Spirit, not the sort of divine-human cohabitation sometimes seen in pagan mythology. It engulfed Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, leaving the apostles outside, since when they heard God’s voice it came out of the cloud.

The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery - On the basis of the LXX use of episkiazō (cf. Ex 40:35 and esp. Ps 91:4), the NT uses the image of “overshadowing” to depict not so much divine protection as a divine presence or power, such as that of the Holy Spirit at the conception of Jesus (Lk 1:35) or the cloud at the transfiguration (Mt 17:5). The popular power of such an image is seen in the effort to find healing power in the shadow of Peter (Acts 5:15).

They were afraid as they entered the cloud - In addition to their fear here, Matthew describes them as terrified when they heard God's voice from heaven (Mt 17:6).

Luke 9:35 Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!"

KJV And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.


Parallel Passages in the Synoptic Gospels - Matt. 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8

Matthew 17:5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified.

Mark 9:7 Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!”

Matthew adds detail to the response of the disciples when they heard the Father speak from heaven - "When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. 7 And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” (Mt 17:6-7)

Falling on one's face is frequently seen in the Bible when human beings are confronted with a Theophany. Notice John's reaction probably some 50+ years later in Rev 1:17-note

"When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,"

Tony Garlard comments: This is the unrehearsed response of all who have been privileged to see the glory of the Lord (Isa. 6:4; Ezek 1:28; 3:23; 43:3; 44:4; Da 8:17; 10:8, 16-17; Mt 17:6; Acts 9:4). It is as much in recognition of the power and might of God as in a realization of their utter unworthiness (Jdg. 6:22; 13:22; Isa. 6:5, 7). “The beloved disciple, who had handled the Word of life, lain in his Lord’s bosom in the days of his flesh, can as little as any other endure the revelation of his majesty.”

This is My Son, My Chosen One - Note that the KJV has "This is my beloved Son: hear him" which is similar to the other two synoptic Gospels (Mt 17:5, Mk 9:7), but most modern translations (NAS, NET, ESV, NLT, CSB NIV, et al) clearly favor the reading "My Son, My Chosen One." In other words Luke adds the detail that the Father sovereignly chose Jesus to fulfill His eternal purpose of redemption.

My Son recalls the Father's words in the Messianic psalm...

“I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. (Ps 2:7-commentary)

Steven Cole adds "The word “accomplish” in Lu 9:31-note means to fulfill. It emphasizes what Scripture often teaches, that the death of Jesus was not an accident that spoiled the divine plan. Rather, He knowingly and willingly laid down His life for His sheep (Jn 10:11, Jn 10:17-18; Is 53:10-12). And yet, those who killed the Lord of glory were responsible for their own heinous sin (Ac 2:23; 1Co 2:8). The sovereignty of God from start to finish in our salvation should give us great hope. It assures us that we are not saved because of our feeble will, but because of God’s mighty will, which He purposed in Christ before the foundation of the world. It shows us that although evil men rage against God and His servants, they cannot triumph. Even in the death of the Savior, wicked men were merely carrying out the divine purpose, while at the same time increasing their own condemnation, all to the glory of God! As we think about this mystery, with Paul we should exclaim, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Ro 11:33). (Sermon)

NET Note on Chosen One - The participle ho eklelegmenos, which could be translated "the One who has been chosen," is best understood as a title rather than a descriptive phrase, probably deriving from Isa 42:1 (LXX) which uses the similar ho eklektos which also appears in Luke 23:35 ("let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One [eklektos].”)

Isaiah 42:1 “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one (Lxx = eklektos from verb eklego) in Whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations (How? His atoning sinless sacrifice on the Cross).

Chosen (1586)(eklego from ek = out, out of, out from + légo = select, choose) (see also word study on related word eklektos) means literally to select out, single out or choose out of. The idea in eklego speaks of the sizable number from which the selection is made. It implies the taking of a smaller number out of a larger. For example, in secular use, Virgil's Eclogues (from eklego) are short, selected excerpts taken from a more larger collection of poems.

Compare the Father's affirmation of Jesus at His baptism, the "inauguration" of His earthly ministry. Now at the "terminus" of that ministry, again the Father affirms His Son.

Luke 3:22-note and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”

Matthew 3:17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

The Transfiguration reaffirms that Jesus is the Son of God (reiterating the truth revealed at His baptism) and the command to listen to Him identifies Him as God's messenger and mouthpiece.

Hughes - Jesus is a far greater authority than Moses or Elijah. The Law and the Prophets were only partial expressions, but here is the final statement, so "Listen to him."

Listen to Him - The verb for listen (akouo - hear, heed, listen to) is a command in the present imperative. Keep on listening to Jesus. Make this your habitual practice. Do you daily listen to Jesus? Are you daily in His Word? If you are not in His Word, it is difficult to listen to Him. An exception is of course His Word that you have memorized -- then you can hear from Him anywhere, anytime as the Spirit of Jesus recalls the verses to mind!

Why should we listen to Jesus? Hebrews explains that the Father "in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, Whom He appointed heir of all things, through Whom also He made the world." (Heb 1:2-note)

The Father's command to Listen to Him hearkens back to the OT prophecy of a Prophet greater than Moses

“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.....18‘I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you (Moses), and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. ‘It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him. (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18; 19 )

Notice from this OT prophecy that one reason the Father wants us to listen to Jesus is because the Father has placed His own words in Jesus' mouth. And so when Jesus speaks, He speaks the words of God the Father (cf Jesus' always does the will of the Father - see Jn 5:19-20, Jn 5:30, 8:28)

Hendriksen adds "Now if these men knew their Bible and interpreted it correctly, they realized that the voice—ending with "listen to him"—was a clear confirmation of Jesus' messiahship, for it reflected Deut. 18:15, a messianic passage (see Acts 3:22; 7:37) containing similar words ("to him y o u must listen"). (Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke.)

Peter testifies to this event in Lk 9:35 in his second epistle...

For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”–and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. (2 Peter 1:17,18)

In John Jesus clearly explains why it is so important to listen to Him (to hear and heed)...

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. (John 5:24)

Wiersbe on the Father's command "Listen to Him" - As wonderful as these experiences are, they are not the basis for a consistent Christian life. That can come only through the Word of God. Experiences come and go, but the Word remains. Our recollection of past experiences will fade, but God's Word never changes. The farther we get from these events, the less impact they make on our lives. That was why the Father said, "Hear Him!" and why Peter made this same emphasis on the Word in his report (2 Peter 1:12-21) (Ed comment: Compare especially 2 Pe 1:16-18 with 2 Peter 1:19-note - "we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts."). Our own personal "transfiguration" comes from inner renewal (Rom. 12:1-2), and that comes from the Word (2 Cor. 3:18-note). (BEC)

ILLUSTRATION - Writer Charles Swindoll once found himself with too many commitments in too few days. He got nervous and tense about it. Here is what Swindoll shared: "I was snapping at my wife and our children, choking down my food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated at those unexpected interruptions through the day," he recalled in his book Stress Fractures. Before long, things around our home started reflecting the pattern of my hurry-up style. It was becoming unbearable. I distinctly remember after supper one evening, the words of our younger daughter, Colleen. She wanted to tell me something important that had happened to her at school that day. She began hurriedly, 'Daddy, I wanna tell you somethin' and I'll tell you really fast.' Suddenly realizing her frustration, I answered, 'Honey, you can tell me -- and you don't have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly.' I'll never forget her answer: 'Then listen slowly.'" Beloved, we also need to learn to listen slowly to the Lord and what He is trying to say to us. The psalmist put it this way, "Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10a)." (Mattoon's Treasures – Treasures from Luke, Volume 2)

ILLUSTRATION OF LISTEN TO HIM - Every time I come to this passage a particular American commercial rings in my ears. It has various versions, but one of them is a scene of people sitting in the stands at a tennis match, their heads turning to and fro in unison, following the progress of the tennis ball during the point. Then a man in the stands turns to his friend and says, "My broker works for E. F. Hutton, and E. F. Hutton says..." Suddenly every head stops and everyone leans in to hear the financial advice. The closing line of the ad is "When E. F. Hutton talks, everybody listens." (Darrell Bock)

Luke 9:36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent, and reported to no one in those days any of the things which they had seen.

KJV And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.

Parallel Passages in the Synoptic Gospels - Matt. 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8

Mt 17:8 And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.

Mark 9:8 All at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Jesus alone.

And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone - Bock comments "Instantly everything returns to normal. The disciples are so overwhelmed that they remain silent about this event for years. The testimony of 2 Peter 1:16-21 tells us why. Only in light of the resurrection did they come to understand Jesus' majesty and glory. The transfiguration was confirming testimony to the glory of Christ, and the resurrection was the crowning endorsement. Revealed in light, he is the light. With the "exodus" came understanding—but only after much listening. When we are with Jesus, we experience the cloud of glory, if we have ears to hear. (Luke 9:18-50 Christological Confession-Discipleship)

And they kept silent, and reported to no one in those days any of the things which they had seen - Why did they keep silent over such an incredible site? Luke does not tell us. However Mark and Matthew add that the Lord gave the disciples instructions not to speak of His Transfiguration until after the resurrection, which Jesus had alluded to earlier in Lk 9:33-note. Clearly, they obeyed Jesus' command.

As they were coming down from the mountain, He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man rose from the dead. (Mark 9:9)

And as they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, "Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead." (Mt 17:9)

Criswell explains "The disciples would be prepared to interpret the significance of the transfiguration only after the resurrection. If any account of this episode were related to the public, it would only fan the fires of popular messianic expectations and hinder the redemptive purpose of the Suffering Son of Man, the Messiah who must die on a cross....After the resurrection, all believers are sent into the world "to tell" (cf Mt 28:7,8, 18-20, Mk 16:7, Lk 24:9, 44-47)." (Believer's Study Bible)

MacArthur - Matthew reveals the reason for their silence: “As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, ‘Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead’” (Matt. 17:9). The Lord had brought them there to be witnesses; why then would He command them not to reveal what they had seen? There were several features to Christ’s prohibition. First, what they had witnessed was so far removed from everyday reality that most people probably would not have believed the apostles’ report. They would have been casting this precious pearl before swine (cf. Matt. 7:6). Further, speaking openly of the kingdom might have caused the Romans, ever on guard against the possibility of insurrection, to prematurely execute Jesus and the apostles. Additionally, news of the vision could easily have incited the Jews to try again to make Jesus the leader of a revolt against Rome (cf. John 6:14-15). But most important, they could not preach a glorified Christ without the truth of His death and resurrection. Only after the resurrection would Peter (2 Peter 1:16-18), John (John 1:14), and James testify to the glorious preview of the second coming they had seen, in its proper relation to the cross and empty grave. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Luke 6-10).

Ramsey offers these concluding throughts regarding the Transfiguration - "The Transfiguration seems to stand at a watershed in the ministry of Jesus, and to be a height from which the reader looks down on one side upon the Galilean ministry and on the other side on the Via Crucis (“way of the Cross”). The story resembles the Baptism of Jesus, inasmuch as it culminates in a heavenly voice proclaiming the Sonship; and it resembles the agony of Gethsemane, inasmuch as it shows the three disciples witnessing a decisive moment in the relation of Jesus to the Father." (Quoted in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary)

Notice that Luke's focus was on Jesus and thus he omitted the discussion about Elijah that followed and was recorded in the other two synoptic Gospels...

Matthew 17:10-13 And His disciples asked Him, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” 11 And He answered and said, “Elijah is coming and will restore all things; 12 but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist.

Mark 9:10-13 They seized upon that statement, discussing with one another what rising from the dead meant. 11 They asked Him, saying, “Why is it that the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” 12 And He said to them, “Elijah does first come and restore all things. And yet how is it written of the Son of Man that He will suffer many things and be treated with contempt? 13 “But I say to you that Elijah has indeed come, and they did to him whatever they wished, just as it is written of him.”

Steven Cole discusses - How to see the glory of Christ: (See related topic above)

1. To see the glory of Christ, we must spend time alone with Him.

It was as Peter, John, and James were on the mountain with Jesus to pray that they got this vision of His glory (Lu 9:28). If Jesus had invited them to go with Him and they had said, “Not this time, Lord—there’s a great game on TV that I don’t want to miss,” they would have missed this life-changing glimpse of His glory.

Why did the Lord pick these three disciples and not at least the rest of the twelve? I’m not sure. He chose the same three to witness the raising of Jairus’ daughter and to draw apart with Him in Gethsemane. If we had been orchestrating this event, we would have done it in front of the whole multitude with the TV cameras running. But He just chose these three, who were especially close to Him. I’m glad Peter was there, since it shows us God’s grace. Jesus had recently rebuked Peter with the strong words, “Get behind Me, Satan” (Mk 8:33). Jesus knew that Peter would later deny Him. Yet His grace prevailed in Peter’s life. James and John clamored for first place among the twelve. James wouldn’t even live long enough to have much of a ministry, since he was killed by Herod. But the Lord picked them.

But while God is sovereign in His choice, we have a choice about whether we spend time alone with Him. We’re all busy, but we can make time for the things that are important to us. You may need to put on your calendar a half day to meet with the Lord. I can say for certain that if you don’t spend consistent time alone with God, you will not gain a greater vision of the glory of Christ.

2. To see the glory of Christ, we must shake off our spiritual lethargy.

It seems incredible that the disciples would sleep through an event like this, but at first that’s what happened (Lu 9:32). But then, “when they were fully awake, they saw His glory.” The same thing happened later in the Garden of Gethsemane, where the disciples were sleeping when they should have been praying. Jesus warned them, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mt 26:41).

I often feel spiritually sluggish and lethargic. My quiet times sometimes are real quiet, because I fall asleep! My mind wanders to other things as I try to pray or read the Word. I am too easily distracted from seeking the Lord. My only counsel is to keep fighting off spiritual lethargy and do what you have to do to be alert. I find that praying while I walk helps. I’ve got to fight off distractions to meet with the Lord.

3. To see the glory of Christ, we must exalt Him above all else.

The disciples rightly feared as they entered the cloud, which was the Shekinah glory of God. We need reverent fear if we would see His glory. Then God proclaimed, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” (Lu 9:35). After this, they saw Jesus alone (Lu 9:36). Even though Moses and Elijah appeared in glory, which must have been impressive, Jesus alone is to be the disciples’ vision and ours.

It’s easy to get distracted with good things that fall short of Christ. Paul mentions men who had become inflated with self-abasement, worship of the angels, and visions they had seen, but who were not holding fast to Christ (Col 2:18). We can get caught up with spiritual experiences rather than with Christ Himself! We can get enamored with our theological knowledge and miss Christ. We need to exalt Jesus alone and keep our eyes on Him.

4. To see the glory of Christ, we must obey Him.

That is the meaning of God’s command, “Listen to Him!” The reason the disciples did not go down the mountain and start telling everyone what had happened was that Jesus had commanded them to be quiet until after His resurrection (Mk 9:9). That would have been a difficult command to obey, especially when they saw the other disciples! But they obeyed.

The path of obedience, as we have seen, is the way of self-denial and daily crucifixion of our sinful desires (Lu 9:23). It means continually losing our selfish lives for Jesus’ sake (Lu 9:24) and seeking His kingdom above the things of this world (Lu 9:25). It means confessing Him openly in this evil world (Lu 9:26). In thus losing our lives for His sake, we gain eternal life with Him.

Moses and Elijah, who appeared here with Jesus, give us a glimpse of the truth of His promises. Moses had considered “the reproach of Christ greater than the treasures of Egypt” (Heb 11:26). He had been dead now for 1,500 years. Elijah had boldly confessed God before the wicked Ahab. He had gone to heaven over 800 years before. Yet here they were in glory with Jesus! We don’t know how the disciples recognized them, but they did. They show us that although we may suffer as we obey Him in this life, we will enjoy the reward of being with Him forever! If you had asked Moses and Elijah, “Was it worth it to endure hardship for Christ’s sake when you were on earth?” they would look at you as if you were crazy. “Worth it? To know the eternal glory of Christ?”

Conclusion - (ILLUSTRATION) At the end of World War Two, a man named Murdo McDonald spoke to his American colleagues through the fence of a German concentration camp, where they were prisoners. He had to speak in Gaelic, since English was forbidden. He told them the news that the war was over. Germany was defeated; the Allies had won. It would still be three days before the Germans learned that news for themselves. During those three days, the Americans were still prisoners. They still suffered the poor food, the mistreatment, the confinement, and all the other hardships of being in a prisoner-of-war camp. Nothing had changed except the news that the war was over. But that news spread throughout the camp and transformed the response of the prisoners to their situation. Suddenly there was hope! Germany had been defeated. Victory was assured. They could endure the trials because of the truth that they were on the winning side. The transfiguration of Jesus gives us a preview glimpse of the fact that He is the victorious Lord who is coming again in great power and glory. Jesus will reign and His truth will triumph over evil. If we can gain a vision of the glory of Christ, it will enable us to follow Him in the way of the cross.

Discussion Questions

  1. How would you feel if you had been one of the nine excluded from the transfiguration? What lessons can we learn from this?
  2. What part do spiritual experiences have in the life of faith? Should we seek such experiences?
  3. Is sound doctrine essential to sound Christian living? Why/ why not?
  4. Discuss: Martyn Lloyd-Jones used to say that the main problem of the church today is that we do not really know God.

(The Glory of Christ Luke 9:27-36)

J C Ryle comments on the Transfiguration in Luke 9:28-36 - The event described in these verses, commonly called "the transfiguration," is one of the most remarkable in the history of our Lord's earthly ministry. It is one of those passages which we should always read with peculiar thankfulness. It lifts a corner of the veil which hangs over the world to come, and throws light on some of the deepest truths of our religion.

In the first place, this passage shows us something of the glory which Christ will have at His second coming. We read that "the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His clothing was white and glistering," and that the disciples who were with Him "saw His glory."

We need not doubt that this marvelous vision was meant to encourage and strengthen our Lord's disciples. They had just been hearing of the cross and passion, and the self-denial and sufferings to which they must submit themselves, if they would be saved. They were now cheered by a glimpse of the "glory that should follow," and the reward which all faithful servants of their Master would one day receive. They had seen their Master's day of weakness. They now saw, for a few minutes, a pattern and specimen of His future power.

Let us take comfort in the thought, that there are good things laid up in store for all true Christians, which shall make ample amends for the afflictions of this present time. Now is the season for carrying the cross, and sharing in our Savior's humiliation. The crown, the kingdom, the glory, are all yet to come. Christ and His people are now, like David in the cave of Adullam, despised, and lightly esteemed by the world. There seems no form or loveliness in Him, or in His service. But the hour comes, and will soon be here, when Christ shall take to Himself His great power and reign, and put down every enemy under His feet. And then the glory which was first seen for a few minutes, by three witnesses on the Mount of Transfiguration, shall be seen by all the world, and never hidden to all eternity.

In the second place, this passage shows us the safety of all true believers who have been removed from this world. We are told that when our Lord appeared in glory, Moses and Elijah were seen with Him, standing and speaking with Him. Moses had been dead nearly fifteen hundred years. Elijah had been taken up by a whirlwind from the earth more than nine hundred years before this time. Yet here these holy men were seen once more alive, and not only alive, but in glory!

Let us take comfort in the blessed thought that there is a resurrection and a life to come. All is not over, when the last breath is drawn. There is another world beyond the grave. But, above all, let us take comfort in the thought, that until the day dawns, and the resurrection begins, the people of God are safe with Christ. There is much about their present condition, no doubt, which is deeply mysterious. Where is their local habitation? What knowledge have they of things on earth? These are questions we cannot answer. But let it suffice us to know that Jesus is taking care of them, and will bring them with Him at the last day. He showed Moses and Elijah to His disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration, and He will show us all who have fallen asleep in Him, at His second advent. Our brethren and sisters in Christ are in good keeping. They are not lost, but gone before us.

In the third place, this passage shows us that the Old Testament saints in glory take a deep interest in Christ's atoning death. We are told that when Moses and Elijah appeared in glory with our Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration, they "talked with Him." And what was the subject of their conversation? We are not obliged to make conjectures and guesses about this. Luke tells us, "they spoke of His decease, which He should accomplish at Jerusalem." They knew the meaning of that death. They knew how much depended on it. Therefore they "talked" about it.

It is a grave mistake to suppose that holy men and women under the Old Testament knew nothing about the sacrifice which Christ was to offer up for the sin of the word. Their light, no doubt, was far less clear than ours. They saw things afar off and indistinctly, which we see, as it were, close at hand. But there is not the slightest proof that any Old Testament saint ever looked to any other satisfaction for sin, but that which God promised to make by sending Messiah. From Abel downwards the whole company of old believers appear to have been ever resting on a promised sacrifice, and a blood of almighty efficacy yet to be revealed. From the beginning of the world there has never been but one foundation of hope and peace for sinners — the death of an Almighty Mediator between God and man. That foundation is the center truth of all revealed religion. It was the subject of which Moses and Elijah were seen speaking when they appeared in glory. They spoke of the atoning death of Christ.

Let us take heed that this death of Christ is the ground of all our confidence. Nothing else will give us comfort in the hour of death and the day of judgment. Our own works are all defective and imperfect. Our sins are more in number than the hairs of our heads. (Psalm 40:12.) Christ dying for our sins, and rising again for our justification, must be our only plea, if we wish to be saved. Happy is that man who has learned to cease from his own works, and to glory in nothing but the cross of Christ! If saints in glory see in Christ's death so much beauty, that they must needs talk of it, how much more ought sinners on earth!

In the last place, the passage shows us the immense distance between Christ and all other teachers whom God has given to man. We are told that when Peter, "not knowing what he said," proposed to make three tabernacles on the mount, one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah, as if all three deserved equal honor, this proposal was at once rebuked in a remarkable way — "There came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son, hear Him." That voice was the voice of God the Father, conveying both reproof and instruction. That voice proclaimed to Peter's ear that however great Moses and Elijah might be, there stood One before him far greater than they. They were but servants; He was the King's Son. They were but stars; He was the Sun. They were but witnesses; He was the Truth.

Forever let that solemn word of the Father ring in our ears, and give the key-note to our religion. Let us honor ministers for their Master's sake. Let us follow them so long as they follow Christ. But let it be our principal aim to hear Christ's voice, and follow Him wherever He goes. Let some talk, if they will, of the voice of the Church. Let others be content to say, "I hear this preacher, or that clergyman." Let us never be satisfied unless the Spirit witnesses within us that we hear Christ Himself, and are His disciples.

Luke 9:37 On the next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met Him.

KJV And it came to pass, that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill, much people met him.

Here are the parallel passages in the synoptic Gospels of Matthew and Mark...

Matthew 17:14 When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying,

Mark 9:14 When they came back to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. 15 Immediately, when the entire crowd saw Him, they were amazed and began running up to greet Him. 16 And He asked them, “What are you discussing with them?”


MacArthur outlines this section which begins with a descent from a mountain and ends with a demon being cast out of a young boy:

  • Demon Possession (Lk 9:37-39)
  • Disciple Perversion (Lk 9:40-42a)
  • Divine Power (Lk 9:42b)
  • Dazzling Person (Lk 9:43-45)

The next day - Time phrase which begs the question when? In context it is the day after Jesus' transfiguration on the mountain. As Wiersbe wisely reminds us "We dare not stay on the glorious mountaintop when there are battles to fight in the valley below."

The idea of God coming down (the God-Man Jesus) reminds us of Moses' record in Exodus...

Exodus 3:8  “So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.

Comment: Little did the crowd or the disciples for that matter comprehend that this is indeed what Jesus had come down to do, to deliver sinners from the power of sin, Satan and self! Thank You Lord!

Came down  (2718)(katerchomai from kata = down + erchomai = to come) literally means to come or go down as from a higher to a lower place come or go down, descend (Lk 4.31), as a nautical technical term for ships and those who sail in them, to ‘come down’ from the ‘high seas’ or into harbor ( Acts 21.3) and once figuratively, of earthly, unspiritual wisdom not sent from God (Jas 3.15) In Liddell-Scott to go down to the grave, to come back from exile, Hdt.,  in pass. sense,  to be brought back by him, Thuc. As noted below this verb is used almost exclusively by Luke.

BDAG adds that katerchomai means to move in a direction considered the opposite of up but not necessarily with suggestion of a gradient. 

Gilbrant In classical Greek erchomai means “to come” or “to go,” and the basic meaning of kata is “down from” or “toward” something. The compound term designates action away from one place and toward another in the papyri (Ed: Not always involving a descent in gradient), Septuagint, intertestamental literature, and Philo. Of special interest is the use of the word in these sources to describe the “coming down” of a deity to earth. Homer used the term in a different sense to depict the sailing and landing of ships which “come down” from the high seas and “arrive” or “land” at a harbor (Homer Odyssey 1.182). Although erchomai is used in the Septuagint for 35 Hebrew words, the compound form appears only 5 times and only once in the canonical portion of the Old Testament (Esther 3:13).

Katerchomai - 15x in 15v - came down(6), comes down(1), down(1), landed(3), went down(4).

Luke 4:31  And He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and He was teaching them on the Sabbath;

Luke 9:37  On the next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met Him.

Acts 8:5  Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them.

Acts 9:32  Now as Peter was traveling through all those regions, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda.

Acts 11:27  Now at this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.

Acts 12:19  When Herod had searched for him and had not found him, he examined the guards and ordered that they be led away to execution. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and was spending time there.

Acts 13:4  So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

Acts 15:1  Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved."

Acts 15:30  So when they were sent away, they went down to Antioch; and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter.

Acts 18:5  But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.

Acts 18:22  When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and went down to Antioch.

Acts 21:3  When we came in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left, we kept sailing to Syria and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unload its cargo.

Acts 21:10  As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.

Acts 27:5  When we had sailed through the sea along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we landed at Myra in Lycia.

James 3:15  This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.

A large crowd met Him - Interesting that Luke did not say "met them." The crowd was there for Jesus, not the 3 other disciples. In fact as Mark 9:14 says "the scribes (grammateus) were arguing" with the other 9 disciples. Mark (alone) records that when the large crowd saw Jesus, they were amazed, Mark using the verb ekthambeo (only in Mark - 4 times) which speaks of a "relatively intense emotional state because of something causing great surprise or perplexity." (BDAG) This verb can also mean be overwhelmed, be alarmed (Mk 16:5-6) or bee distressed (Mk 14:33) (Cp. thambeo in Mk 1:27; 10:32) In context, the scribes must have been arguing over the failure of the 9 disciples to cure the demonically influenced boy. A T Robertson says "It was just like the professional scribes to take keen interest in the failure of the nine disciples to cure this poor boy. They gleefully nagged and quizzed them. Jesus and the three find them at it when they arrive in the plain. The sudden and opportune appearance of Jesus in the midst of the dispute when no one was looking for him turned all eyes to him. He would not fail, however the disciples might do so. The people were awed for the moment and then running began to welcome him (protrechontes ēspazonto). Present participle and imperfect middle indicative."

Constable - Luke is the only Gospel writer who mentioned that the descent happened the day following the Transfiguration. This notation has the effect of contrasting the glorious manifestation on the mountain with the mundane world of sin and unbelief below. Some commentators thought that Luke's comment implies that the Transfiguration happened at night, but that is an unnecessary supposition.

MacArthur notes the striking contrast between the mountain top experience and that in the valley - The contrasts between the two incidents are striking. One happened on a mountain, the other in a valley. There was glory on the mountain, tragedy in the valley. On the mountain Jesus Christ displayed His glorious majesty, while in the valley Satan displayed his ugly, cruel violence. Two sons are in view, one God-possessed, the other demon-possessed; one in whom His Father was well pleased, the other whose father was tortured with displeasure over his condition. One Son fulfilled the glorious plan of the ages, confirmed by both Old Testament and New Testament saints; the other son was disassociated, disconnected, demented, and chaotic, without purpose or value to anyone. One Son was the destroyer of demons; the other son was destroyed by demons. Both sons were given back to their fathers. The demon-possessed son was delivered and returned to his father; the Son of God was killed, rose from the dead, and ascended back to His Father.

Brian Bell outlines this last section of Luke 9 he entitles "Failure, Frustration and Moving Forward"

Introduction - 1.1.    Someone asked an ex-paratrooper how many jumps he had made. He said, "None! I was pushed out 18 times!"

In our text this morning the disciples didn't fail 18 times…only 6! So we'll be talking about failing!  Think you're the only one that's made mistakes? Hardly!   Imagine if you had been the president of a Michigan bank who advised Henry Ford's lawyer not to invest in the new motor company, assuring him, "The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty."  Or there was Gary Cooper's comment about Clark Gable accepting the role of Rhett Butler which he had turned down: "Gone With the Wind is going to be the biggest flop in Hollywood history. I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling flat on his face and not Gary Cooper."  We all make mistakes, including the experts. The key is not to live in the mistakes of the past, but to move forward learning from those mistakes!

2.    FAILURE TO PRAY & FAST! (Luke 9:37-42)

2.1.    The only Son heals an only son.
2.2.    (Luke 9:40) The 9 waiting below the Mount of Transfiguration were in trouble. 
2.2.1.    They couldn't heal a demon-possessed boy brought by his father.
2.2.2.    On top of that religious leaders were arguing w/ the disciples(Mk 9:14)    They were probably also ridiculing them for their feeble efforts.

2.3.    (Luke 9:41) What strange words from Jesus! "How long shall I be with you & bear with you?"
2.3.1.    Yet we'll see Him bearing with their/our unbelief & failure(here); w/spiritual blindness(Luke 9:43-45); w/pride(Luke 9:46-48); w/lack of love(Luke 9:49-56); & lack of dedication(Luke 9:57-62).
2.3.2.    Q: Haven't you ever said the same(or at least thought the same) regarding your own children?    You were frustrated…but you knew the answer…forever! 
Yes, forever! [w/the son struggling with his pot or cocaine addiction; w/the daughter that continues to cut herself]    And we have the following verses to prove Jesus' answer was the same!!!
2.3.3.    Q: Is Jesus blessing you or bearing with you? (www)
2.4.    (Luke 9:42) So they were given the power in vs.1 of this ch. but something had happened?
2.4.1.    Apparently they stopped praying & fasting! 
2.4.2.    Their faith had become weak!
2.4.3.    Read Mark 9:22-25 & 29.

3.    FAILURE TO PERCEIVE HIS PLAN! (Luke 9:43-45)

3.2.    This is the 2nd time He explains His passion(yet right after Moses/Elijah discussed it w/Jesus).

4.    FAILURE TO LOVE EACH OTHER! (Luke 9:46-48)

4.1.    Did the failure of the 9, & the privilege of the 3, create a jealous rivalry?

4.3.    A humble, childlike trust & a tolerant spirit toward others are the marks of followers of Jesus. 
4.3.1.    See, whenever there is trouble over who is the greatest there is trouble over who is the least!    Most of us know that we'll never be the greatest; just don't let us be the least! [never hear, "I'm last, I'm last!"]

4.4.    Pastor Armando shared last week about the choice God gives all of us…"walk humbly, or be humbled!"
4.4.1.    Micah 6:8 "He has shown you, O man, what is good;  And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy,  And to walk humbly with your God?"
4.4.2.    Jesus showed that true greatness comes from being insignificant in the eyes of the world.
4.4.3.    Love always stoops! - True greatness in serving lowest & least.

4.5.    Phil.2:3,4 "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others."


5.1.    Did you see John quickly change the subject? :
5.1.1.    He was far more at home struggling w/a knotty theological problem.

5.2.    SECTARIANISM! [dogmatic and intolerant: rigidly adhering to a particular set of doctrines and intolerant of other views]
5.2.1.    How to love others who are not part of your special group!

5.3.    John thought he was being spiritual by forbidding the anonymous man from serving. [sounds like Numb.11:24-30]

5.4.    (Luke 9:50) Don't stop him! Anyone who is not against you is for you.
5.5.    It isn't ours to forbid any work done, however imperfectly, in Christ's name.
5.5.1.    Take heed to this sober warning saints!
5.5.2.    To me this is our "Non-Denomination's Denomination" biggest sin.    You mean God accepts other denominations? Amazing!    Let it be never said of us! - Rejoice in Rancho Community's beautiful new building; the growth at Revival & Cornerstone.    "But they do things differently"…So What! [same purpose; same love; same Kingdom we're fighting for; same King!]

5.5.3.    They may say shibboleth instead of siboleth(Judges 12:6); his accent may not be your accent; her method may not be your method; but if done in the name of Christ…be careful!

6.    FAILURE TO LOVE THEIR ENEMY! (Luke 9:51-56)

6.1.    A new section starts here, but I include it hear because it records more failure.
6.2.    (Luke 9:51) He set His face to go to Jerusalem - a Hebraism implying fixedness of purpose, esp. in the prospect of difficulty or danger. He made His decision.

6.3.    (Luke 9:53) They did not receive Him - 
6.3.1.    Same issue in the same place today(Samaria/Palestinian occupation). 
6.3.2.    Most Arab nations will not admit tourists you into their country if they've been in Israel. 

6.4.    (Luke 9:54) James & John's response shows just how far they were from sharing Jesus' commitment to the way of the cross!
6.4.1.    Known as "the sons of thunder"(possibly for their thunderous temperament) they seem to want to be also known as "the sons of lightening!"

6.4.2.    They were given the power back in vs.1 of this chapter.    And they were eager to duplicate Elijah's feat in 2 Kings 1.    Especially because they just saw Elijah 8 days ago!    As kids they would have grown up hearing the incredible stories from these OT heroes! {better than any comic book hero!}

6.5.    James, John, this is no way to turn your enemy into a friend!
6.5.1.    Story: John & Lisa when 1st got to Belize we're told by many missionaries, "don't buy at the Supoul family's shops, they don't like missionaries & they hike up the prices." John turned to Lisa & said guess where we're shoppin! - Paid extra for a long time…but won their friendship & now very good friends. :

7.    FAILURE IN LOOKING BACK! (Luke 9:57-62)

7.1.    3 prospective disciples who lacked commitment!
7.1.1.    Discipleship is not a frivolous decision. 
7.1.2.    His disciples must 1st count the cost before making such a commitment.
7.1.3.    These 3 promise to follow Him, but then draw back!

7.3.    He volunteered to follow Jesus anywhere…till Jesus warned that discipleship might be uncomfortable! 
7.4.    Hardship keeps him from following! "Let me count the cost before I shoot of my mouth!"
7.5.    "A person desiring to follow Him must give up what others consider necessities." 
7.5.1.    So He asks him, can you give up some of the comforts of life?

7.7.    Kinship keeps him from following! "Let me wait & bury my father"
7.8.    The father hadn't died yet! Because they buried them the same day & he would have been home with dad in that process.
7.8.1.    The son wishes to go home, live in comfort with his father till his death (perhaps years away), collect his inheritance, and then at his leisure…become a disciple. 
7.8.2.    We spell this P-r-o-c-r-a-s-t-i-n-a-t-i-o-n!

7.9.    (Luke 9:60) Let the spiritually dead, bury the physically dead.
7.9.1.    The proclaiming the kingdom of the God was so important that it could not wait!
7.9.2.    So He asks him, can you give up the warmth of family ties?
7.9.3.    This man was concerned with the wrong funeral! (see 9:23)

7.10.    D. L. Moody spoke against certain parts of the church of his time for its misappropriation of energies. He said, the church reminded him of firemen straightening pictures on the wall of a burning house.
7.10.1.    We can't forget our basic activity given to us by the Lord…"preach the kingdom of God!"
7.10.2.    See, only the spiritually alive can save the spiritually dead.

7.12.    He just wanted only a little time to say goodbye to some of the home folks, then someday soon, he would follow. I'm sure it will be, tomorrow! tomorrow! tomorrow!

7.13.    "I will" "but" - I will but I'm too afraid of losing friends; I will but it may cause them displeasure about me going on the mission field.
7.13.1.    What is our "but"!

7.14.    Kinship also keeps him from following! "Let me say goodbye"
7.14.1.    Long involved goodbyes…he might be liable to forget his call & not return. Feelings change when one looks back.
7.14.2.    So He asks him, can you set your eyes in the right direction?

7.15.    PAUL THE PLOWBOY! (Luke 9:62)
7.16.    Jesus wants "now disciples!"
7.16.1.    He is looking for disciples who will put his/her hand to the plow, w/o looking back, move straight out to do God's will! 

7.17.    Looking back is a waste of time, it slows you down, your path goes crooked.
7.17.1.    That blade must stay level & steady. Only by looking ahead, with eyes fixed on your guiding marks, can you get your job done.
7.17.2.    So Jesus says, fix your eyes ahead on Me, & don't look back.
7.18.    Q: Are you looking back to your spiritual yesteryear? Holding on to yesterdays spiritual accomplishments as today's spirituality?
7.18.1.    We cannot live & serve on the basis of past victories!

7.19.    Q: Why do we think God had changed & now accepts weak commitments? 
7.20.    To all the excuses the bible has answers.

7.21.    Some Christians are so afraid of failure that they become reserved, overly cautious, and uninvolved in life. They follow a policy of guarded living, holding back time, talents, and treasure from God's service. Their motto is: To keep from failing -- don't try! On the other hand, those who are willing to make mistakes and risk failure are the ones who ultimately achieve great things. Instead of being filled with fear, they go forward in faith. Problems are challenges. While they may not all be solved, these courageous people would rather live with that reality than have a clean record of no failures and no accomplishments. Benjamin Franklin said one time, "The man who does things makes many mistakes, but he never makes the biggest mistake of all…doing nothing."

7.22.  ILLUSTRATION  In Yorkshire, England, during the early 1800s, two sons were born to a family named Taylor. The older one set out to make a name for himself by entering Parliament and gaining public prestige. But the younger son chose to give his life to Christ. He later recalled, "Well do I remember, as in unreserved consecration I put myself, my life, my friends, my all, upon the altar. I felt I was in the presence of God, entering into covenant with the Almighty." With that commitment, Hudson Taylor turned his face toward China and obscurity. As a result, he is known and honored on every continent as a faithful missionary and the founder of the China Inland Mission (now known as Overseas Missionary Fellowship). for the other son, however, there is no lasting monument. He became known simply as "the brother of Hudson Taylor." 
7.22.1.    Not saying Missions is better than Politics - Its motivation & dedication to the field Christ's calls you to is what is important!

"Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently." (Henry Ford)

Karen Mains, With My Whole Heart

Nature shouts of this beginning-again-God, this God who can make all our failures regenerative, the One who is God of risings again, who never tires of fresh starts, nativities, renaissances in persons or in culture. God is a God of starting over, of genesis and re-genesis. 
He composts life's sour fruits, moldering rank and decomposing; 
He applies the organic matter to our new day chances; 
He freshens the world with dew; 
He hydrates withered human hearts with his down-pouring spirit. 

Down From The Mountain

 Read: Luke 9:28-42

When they had come down from the mountain, . . . a great multitude met Him. —Luke 9:37

Years ago our family lived in Switzerland. I’ll never forget one idyllic afternoon I spent on a mountaintop. The only thing I heard was the sound of silence. The air was clean and sweet. As I lay on the grass, I became still and sensed God’s presence in a special way. It was good, even glorious, being there away from people and alone with Him. I longed to cling to this experience and resisted going back down to civilization. I recalled Peter’s similar reaction on another mountain when Jesus was transfigured before his eyes.

No wonder Peter wanted to stay there. Although his mountaintop experience far exceeded mine, I knew what my response needed to be. Like Peter, I needed to come down from the mountain and return, refreshed, to a multitude of needy people.

I once heard a preacher say, “Great experiences must bring us back to everyday life. They must be related to the heartbreaks of people. Mountaintops don’t mean anything without the valleys.”

If you’re weary from your labors in the valley, the Lord may be saying to you, “Come aside . . . and rest a while” (Mk. 6:31). But if you’re on a mountaintop, don’t stay there. God wants to work through you in other people’s lives. By Joanie Yoder

Go up to the mountain of blessing and share
Alone with your Savior and Master in prayer,
Then go to the work in the valley below,
Your face with the love-light of Jesus aglow.

The closer you are to God, the more you'll have a heart for people.

True Greatness

Read: Luke 9:28-29,34-42

Now it happened on the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, that a great multitude met Him. —Luke 9:37

On the 50th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary’s historic ascent of Mt. Everest, a television newsman said that much of Hillary’s status as a hero in Nepal was “not about what he did when he stood on top of the world, but what he did when he came back down.” After conquering the world’s highest mountain with his climbing companion Tenzing Norgay in 1953, Edmund spent the next five decades helping to build schools, hospitals, and bridges for the Sherpa community.

The contrast between Edmund Hillary’s moment on the mountain and his service in the valley brought to mind Jesus’ experience on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36). It was a pinnacle of blessing when our Lord’s appearance became radiant and the Father said, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” (v.35).

But Jesus didn’t stay on the mountain. He came down to the crowd, where He freed a boy from an evil spirit. He was determined to go to Jerusalem and fulfill His mission, where He would willingly die on the cross for our sins.

Jesus told His disciples, “He who is least among you all will be great” (v.48). Our Lord’s life shows us that true greatness is found in humbly serving God and others in the valley of need.By David C. McCasland

Whether on the mountaintop
Or the valley down below,
True greatness is in serving
Wherever we may go.
—D. De Haan

In God's eyes, true greatness is serving others.

Luke 9:38 And a man from the crowd shouted, saying, "Teacher, I beg You to look at my son, for he is my only boy,

KJV And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child.


Here are the parallel passages in the synoptic Gospels of Matthew and Mark. Only Matthew identifies the boy's condition as epilepsy ("Lunatic").

Matthew 17:14 When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him (NOT IN LUKE) and saying, 15 “Lord, have mercy (LUKE HAS "Teacher, I beg You") on my son, for he is a lunatic (seleniazomai: to be moonstruck, spec. be epileptic supposedly influenced by the moon - here and Mt 4:24) and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 “I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.”

Mark 9:17 And one of the crowd answered Him, “Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute;

Behold (2400)(idou) is a command the purpose which is to arrest the reader's attention. For reasons unclear to me behold (which is in the Greek text) is omitted from the NAS95 translation but is found in the Lk 9:38ESV. Spurgeon reminds us that "Behold is a word of wonder; it is intended to excite admiration. Wherever you see it hung out in Scripture, it is like an ancient sign-board, signifying that there are rich wares within, or like the hands which solid readers have observed in the margin of the older Puritanic books, drawing attention to something particularly worthy of observation." I would add, behold is like a divine highlighter, a divine underlining of an especially striking or important text. It says in effect "Listen up, all ye who would be wise in the ways of Jehovah!"

Shouted (994)(boao from boé 995) means raise a cry, call or shout of joy, pain, etc, by using one’s voice with unusually high volume. In several of the NT contexts (and many more of the Septuagint = LXX uses) crying out was in the context of one seeking help or assistance. Some uses mean simply a loud cry but in some of these situations the cry reflects a state of agitation. Boáō is used 12 times in the NT (Mt. 3:3; Mk. 1:3; 15:34; Lk. 3:4; 9:38; 18:7, 38; Jn. 1:23; Acts 8:7; 17:6; 25:24; Gal. 4:27). Boao is related to the verb boetheo used in the parallel account in Mark 9:22 where the father calls on Jesus to help  (boetheo from boé = a cry, exclamation + théō = to run) means to run on hearing a cry in order to give assistance.

Luke uses boao 7/12x in the NT -  Lk. 3:4; Lk. 9:38; Lk. 18:7; Lk. 18:38;  Acts 8:7; Acts 17:6; Acts 25:24;

Teacher (1320)(didaskalos from didasko = teach to shape will of one being taught by content of what is taught <> cp didaskalía) is one who provides instruction or systematically imparts truth. The teacher teaches in such a way as to shape will of one being taught by content of what is taught.

Luke's use of didaskalos

Lk. 2:46; Lk. 3:12; Lk. 6:40; Lk. 7:40; Lk. 8:49; Lk. 9:38; Lk. 10:25; Lk. 11:45; Lk. 12:13; Lk. 18:18; Lk. 19:39; Lk. 20:21; Lk. 20:28; Lk. 20:39; Lk. 21:7; Lk. 22:11; Acts 13:1

In Mt 17:14 the man calls Jesus Lord (kurios) which MacArthur suggests could be a reference to Jesus' deity, but it does not always have that connotation for it is translated simply as "Master" some 50 times in the NT. In this context however Lord could well signify Jesus' deity, as One who had power over the demons, something His disciples had lacked in this incident. What is of note is that the father's appeal is clearly as expression of his faith, weak as it was. Notice that Jesus responded to even his weak faith. O, how we need to take heart from this story for we also too often (especially when being storm tossed by one wave of adversity after another) are weakened in our faith and yet the lesson from this father is that we should beg Jesus for His aid in our time of need (cf Heb 4:16-note). There's an old Motown song by the Temptations entitled "Ain't to proud to beg," and that should be the life long song of every believer!

Beg (beseech, request, pray)(present tense = continually begging) (1189) (deomai from deo = to bind) means to ask for something with the sense of pleading, beseeching or begging. To request, to ask for with a sense of urgency and a presumed need. When used in the context of prayer deomai means to make petition, to plead, to ask in prayer, to implore (pray for earnestly) and emphasizes the existence of a need. Deomai is a strong way to ask for something - a leper imploring Jesus to heal him (Lk 5:12), a father's desperate plea to Jesus to cast a demon out of his son (Lk 9:38). To beg in English means to ask for earnestly, urgently or insistently. It implies more urgency than simply asking.

Luke's uses of deomai

Lk. 5:12; Lk. 8:28; Lk. 8:38; Lk. 9:38; Lk. 9:40; Lk. 10:2; Lk. 21:36; Lk. 22:32; Acts 4:31; Acts 8:22; Acts 8:24; Acts 8:34; Acts 10:2; Acts 21:39; Acts 26:3

Look at (regard, pay special attention, look with concern) (1914)(epiblepo from epi = upon + blepo = to look) means to "look intently, to pay close attention to. To look in a negative sense by showing special attention to the "rich and famous" - Jas 2:3. To look attentively at with implication of personal concern for someone or something. This latter nuance speaks of God's loving care in Luke 1:48-note. The use in James also conveys the sense of caring too much about or being partial toward. These nuances are interesting to consider as you ponder Lot's wife turning to look back (Lxx = epiblepo) and turning into a pillar of salt (Ge 19:26, cf epiblepo by Lot in Ge 19:28)

The father was asking Jesus to show special attention to his son, much like a doctor would to his patient, and indeed he was addressing the Great Physician Jehovah Rapha: (Jehovah Rophe) The LORD our Healer. It is likely the father chose the verb epiblepo because his son had evidence of the demon's torment (bruises, frequently thrown in the fire). 

My only boy (3439)(monogenes from monos = alone + genos = birth, race, kind <> from ginomai = to come into being, to become) means that which is the only one of its kind of class or specific relationship and thus is unique or "one and only." The son of the widow of Nain was her only child; and Jairus' daughter was his only child. Only Luke notes the detail that the boy was his father’s only son (cf. Lk 7:12; 8:38). 

This expression "only begotten" expresses both uniqueness and the deep affection of the father for him (cf Abraham in Ge 22:1, 2). Not to mention that if his son dies, the family line will be terminated!

Luke 9:39 and a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly screams, and it throws him into a convulsion with foaming at the mouth; and only with difficulty does it leave him, mauling him as it leaves.

KJV And, lo, a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him hardly departeth from him.

Here are the parallel passages in the synoptic Gospels of Matthew and Mark...

Matthew 17:15 “Lord, have mercy (LUKE HAS "Teacher, I beg You") on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 “I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” 16 “I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” 17 And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.”

Mark 9:17 And one of the crowd answered Him, “Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; 18 and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.”

The NAS does not translate the "behold" which is present in the Greek. The ESV is more accurate here "And behold, a spirit seizes him."

Gilbrant - since Luke was a physician, it is interesting that he does not identify the boy's affliction as epilepsy (cf. Matthew 17:15). Thus, Luke clearly is more concerned with the demonic aspect of the boy's condition (verse 42).

Behold (2400)(idou) is the second person singular aorist middle imperative of eidon which means to see, perceive, look at. In the NT idou is used as a demonstrative particle that draws attention to what follows. Idou in the middle voice means "you yourself look, see, perceive!" The aorist imperative is a command emphasizing "Do it now! Don't delay!"

Luke's frequently uses idou (80/200 uses in the NT)

Lk. 1:20; Lk. 1:31; Lk. 1:36; Lk. 1:38; Lk. 1:44; Lk. 1:48; Lk. 2:10; Lk. 2:25; Lk. 2:34; Lk. 2:48; Lk. 5:12; Lk. 5:18; Lk. 6:23; Lk. 7:12; Lk. 7:25; Lk. 7:27; Lk. 7:34; Lk. 7:37; Lk. 8:41; Lk. 9:30; Lk. 9:38; Lk. 9:39; Lk. 10:3; Lk. 10:19; Lk. 10:25; Lk. 11:31; Lk. 11:32; Lk. 11:41; Lk. 13:7; Lk. 13:11; Lk. 13:16; Lk. 13:30; Lk. 13:32; Lk. 13:35; Lk. 14:2; Lk. 15:29; Lk. 17:21; Lk. 17:23; Lk. 18:28; Lk. 18:31; Lk. 19:2; Lk. 19:8; Lk. 19:20; Lk. 22:10; Lk. 22:21; Lk. 22:31; Lk. 22:38; Lk. 22:47; Lk. 23:14; Lk. 23:15; Lk. 23:29; Lk. 23:50; Lk. 24:4; Lk. 24:13; Lk. 24:49; Acts 1:10; Acts 2:7; Acts 5:9; Acts 5:25; Acts 5:28; Acts 7:56; Acts 8:27; Acts 8:36; Acts 9:10; Acts 9:11; Acts 10:17; Acts 10:19; Acts 10:21; Acts 10:30; Acts 11:11; Acts 12:7; Acts 13:11; Acts 13:25; Acts 13:46; Acts 16:1; Acts 20:22; Acts 20:25; Acts 27:24

A spirit seizes him - Luke 4:33-36-note dealt with a man in the synagogue with a demon. Jesus Himself was accused of having a demon in Lk 7:33-note. In Lk 8:27-39 -note Luke recorded the famous incident of the Gadarene demoniac made well by Jesus. Luke's last record of Jesus casting out a demon was Lk 11:14-note.

Beloved, is not this story a picture of the effect of the Evil One on the lives of so many people today who are caught in the grips of the power of the demons, especially in the drug culture where drugs open their minds to demonic oppression if not even overt possession. The answer for this boy was Jesus and He is still the answer for all men caught in the grips of sin, Satan and self. Are you boldly speaking forth the Gospel, telling men and women about the Great Physician? He is their only Hope for deliverance!

He suddenly screams - Why? Because the demon was in control or possession of his physical faculties!

Suddenly (1810)(exaiphnes from ek = of + aíphnēs = suddenly) means happening unexpectedly, quickly without warning, unexpectedly, at once. Referring to the unexpected nature of Christ's Second Coming (Mk 13:36). Luke describes the sudden appearance of that "a light (the radiant Redeemer!) from heaven flashed around" Saul of Taursus (Acts 9:3, 22:6).

Hendriksen on suddenly This is exactly the kind of word Luke, a doctor, would be using in connection with an epileptic attack. But he uses it also to picture the dramatic appearance of a heavenly host (Lk 2:13), and the unexpected flashing of a bright, encircling light (Acts 9:3; 22:6). In Mark 13:36 the word indicates the sudden arrival of "the owner of the house."

Vincent adds this note on suddenly "Naturally, frequent in medical writers, of sudden attacks of disease. Luke has more medical details in his account than the other evangelists. He mentions the sudden coming on of the fits, and their lasting a long time. Mr. Hobart remarks that Aretaeus, a physician of Luke's time, in treating of epilepsy, admits the possibility of its being produced by demoniacal agency. Epilepsy was called by physicians "the sacred disease.""

Screams (present tense = continually screams)(2896)(krazo) refers to a loud cry or vociferation, expressing deep emotion. Krazo is one of those onomatopoeic words, the very pronunciation of which imitates the hoarse cry (or "croak") of the raven. The first use of krazo in the NT is of demons crying out (Mt 8:29) See below for other uses of krazo in the Gospels for who cries out and why they cry out.

Krazo - 53 verses

Matt. 8:29; Matt. 9:27; Matt. 14:26; Matt. 14:30; Matt. 15:22; Matt. 15:23; Matt. 20:30; Matt. 20:31; Matt. 21:9; Matt. 21:15; Matt. 27:23; Matt. 27:50; Mk. 3:11; Mk. 5:5; Mk. 5:7; Mk. 9:24; Mk. 9:26; Mk. 10:47; Mk. 10:48; Mk. 11:9; Mk. 15:13; Mk. 15:14; Lk. 9:39; Lk. 19:40; Jn. 1:15; Jn. 7:28; Jn. 7:37; Jn. 12:44; Acts 7:57; Acts 7:60; Acts 14:14; Acts 16:17; Acts 19:28; Acts 19:32; Acts 19:34; Acts 21:28; Acts 21:36; Acts 23:6; Acts 24:21; Rom. 8:15; Rom. 9:27; Gal. 4:6; Jas. 5:4; Rev. 6:10; Rev. 7:2; Rev. 7:10; Rev. 10:3; Rev. 12:2; Rev. 14:15; Rev. 18:2; Rev. 18:18; Rev. 18:19; Rev. 19:17

And it throws him into a convulsion with foaming at the mouth - In Mt 17:15 the father refers to his son with a term signifying epilepsy (lunatic cf only other NT use in Mt 4:24 - the verb seleniazomai - to be moonstruck, specifically to experience epileptic seizures, of one being mentally out of control, supposedly influenced by the moon distinguished from daimonizomai - be tormented by or demonized). Mark adds that the demon slams the boy to the ground (Mark 9:18).

A T Robertson on it throws him into a convulsion with foaming - Literally, "It tears him with (accompanied with = meta) foam" (old word, aphros, only here in the N.T.). From sparasso, to convulse, a common verb, but in the N.T. only here and Mark 1:26; Mark 9:26 (and susparasso, Mark 9:20). See Mark 9:17; Matthew 17:15; Luke 9:39 for variations in the symptoms in each Gospel. The use of meta aphrou ("with foam") is a medical item.

Foaming (876)(aphros) a medical technical term describing foam or froth appearing at the mouth during a seizure. Liddell-Scott mentions uses describing of foam of the sea, of an angry lion, foam, froth, and of frothy blood, Aesch. In the Greek word we see the derivative word Aphrodite. According to mythology Aphrodite sprang from the foam of the sea. For the cognate verb aphrizo see Mark 9:18, 20.

MacArthur says the father "understood that his son’s condition was not physiological, but demonic. Matthew adds that the demon repeatedly attempted to destroy the boy by throwing him into the open fires and pools or wells of water that were common in Israel (Matt. 17:15; cf. Mark 9:22). Mark notes that the demon had made the boy deaf and mute (Mark 9:17, 25), and that it had afflicted him since he was a child (Mk 9:21). How, why or at what age the child became demon possessed is not revealed, so it is futile to speculate. God ultimately permitted it to happen, as He did in the case of the man born blind (John 9:1-3), for His glory in demonstrating Christ’s power. The boy’s condition also illustrates the reality that everyone who is outside the kingdom of God is under the power of Satan (Eph. 2:2). It is only a question of degree."

And only with difficulty does it leave him - The demon continually plagued the child and clearly did not want to leave him. The statement suggest however that the demon did leave the boy, so that it was an "intermittent" possession, albeit clearly a possession when the demon was on the scene. A very strange dynamic to have a demon that comes and leaves!

Difficulty (3433)(molis from molos = toil, labor pains, drudgery, hardship) means scarcely (barely able), hardly (pertains to being hard to accomplish). In Ro 5:7 molis refers to rarity on a scale of occurrences. Luke uses this adverb to describe their difficult ocean voyage in Acts 27:7, 8, 16 where molis demonstrates the “toil” of laboring against the storm which eventually caused Paul’s shipwreck.  Molis means barely able to be done and pictures a struggle to attain something worthwhile only after great effort. In 1 Peter 4:18 molis suggests the narrow margin for error and danger of complacency by rendering molis as “scarcely be saved.”

Molis - 7x in the NT -  difficulty(4), hardly(1), only with difficulty(1), scarcely(1).

Luke 9:39  and a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly screams, and it throws him into a convulsion with foaming at the mouth; and only with difficulty does it leave him, mauling him as it leaves.

Acts 14:18  Even saying these things, with difficulty they restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them.

Acts 27:7  When we had sailed slowly for a good many days, and with difficulty had arrived off Cnidus, since the wind did not permit us to go farther, we sailed under the shelter of Crete, off Salmone;

Acts 27:8  and with difficulty sailing past it we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea.

Acts 27:16  Running under the shelter of a small island called Clauda, we were scarcely able to get the ship's boat under control.

Romans 5:7  For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.


Mauling him as it leaves - NET Note says "Or "bruising," or "crushing." This verb appears to allude to the damage caused when it throws him to the ground. According to L&N 19.46 it is difficult to know from this verb precisely what the symptoms caused by the demon were, but it is clear they must have involved severe pain. The multiple details given in the account show how gruesome the condition of the boy was." These violent, sustained demonic assaults are not unlike the bizarre behavior of the men in Gadara (Lk 8:26-39-note)

Mauling (4937)(suntribo from sun = together or intensification of meaning of the root word + tríbo = wear away, rub, break in pieces; see cognate word suntrimma) means literally to rub together, crushing together, to crush completely, to shatter, or to break in pieces. It is interesting that this is very verb used in Ro 16:20 meaning to break the strength and power of Satan once and for all! This is a strong verb which leaves no doubt as to who is the winner in this battle. Glory! Unfortunately, in the current incident the demon appears to be "winning," but He is about to meet his match in Jesus!

Suntribo - 7x - Mt 12:20; Mk. 5:4; Mk. 14:3; Lk. 9:39; Jn. 19:36; Ro 16:20; Rev 2:27

Mark 9:18 adds detail that

"whenever it seizes (katalambano - a verb used by Galen and Hippocrates for fits and gives us our English word catalepsy) him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds (makes harsh and creaking sounds; as made with the teeth grinding or gnashing - used only here) his teeth and stiffens out (word for drying or withering as of grass in James 1:11). I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it (They did not have the strength = ischus).”

Related Resources:

Luke 9:40 "I begged Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not."

KJV And I besought thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not.

Here are the parallel passages in the synoptic Gospels of Matthew and Mark...

Matthew 17:16 “I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure (therapeuo - to treat medically, to heal, cure) him.”

Mark 9:17b I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.”

This episode should be compared with that described in Luke 9:49,50.

I begged Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not - The disciples’ inability to heal highlights Jesus’ greater ability. We learn from Matthew that the reason they could not cast it out was a deficient their faith (Mt 17:19-20) and Mark adds there was a shortage of prayer (Mk 9:28-29). I wonder sometimes when I pray if I truly believe God hears and can answer the prayer. We are all more like these first disciples than we would like to admit.

Begged (beseech, request, pray) (1189)(deomai  from deo = to bind) or ask with the sense of pleading and a sense of urgency for a need.

Disciples (3101)(mathetes from manthano = to learn which Vine says is "from a root math, indicating thought accompanied by endeavor". Gives us our English = "mathematics") describes a person who learns from another by instruction, whether formal or informal. Discipleship includes the idea of one who intentionally learns by inquiry and observation (cf inductive Bible study) and thus mathetes is more than a mere pupil. A mathetes describes an adherent of a teacher. 

Cast out (1544)(ekbállō from ek = out + bállō = to cast, throw, drive) means to cast, throw out often with the idea of force (Mt. 8:12; 15:17; 25:30; Acts 16:37, 27:38; Lxx - Lev. 14:40). To throw out of an area or object, throw out, jettison (Mt 21:39 Acts 27:18). Frequently used of casting out demons  (Mt 7:22, Mt 8:16, 31,9:34, 10:1, etc). Used of casting or throwing unbelievers into outer darkness (hell). In Luke 6:22 ekballo means to scorn one's name ("cast it out" so to speak). Mark 1:12 "Immediately the Spirit impelled Him (Jesus) to go out into the wilderness."

Could not (ouk dunamai) absolutely could not. 

Could (1410)(dunamai) conveys the basic meaning of that which has the inherent ability to do something or accomplish some end. Thus dunamai means to be able to, to be capable of, to be strong enough to do or to have power to do something. It is usually translated able (50x), can (61x and cannot 58x) or could. Mark uses a different verb  ischuo which means to be strong in body or in resources. Marshall writes that Luke and Matthew use dunamai "different from Mark ischuo, which is used more fittingly of strength than ability." (NIGTC) This seems to be an especially strong demon regarding which MacArthur writes "Evidently demons vary in strength just as humans do. For example in Daniel 10:12-14-note, a holy angel sent with a message for Daniel was held up by a stronger fallen angel until Michael the archangel intervened.) Having discerned the strength of the demon inhabiting this boy, the apostles should have sought God’s help in believing prayer (Mark 9:29). If they had done so with even a tiny amount of faith—“faith the size of a mustard seed” (Matt. 17:20)—they could have handled even extreme difficulties (symbolized by the Lord’s metaphorical statement, “you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move”). The word had been spoken, the promise given, the will of God made manifest. All the apostles needed to have done was to believe and ask God for the power. Unfortunately, in this instance they did not." (Click here for more on demons)

To reiterate Jesus had granted His disciples authority as in Matthew 10:1  

Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. 

Constable - The failure of the disciples (cf. 2 Kings 4:31) set the stage for a great demonstration of Jesus' unique power and authority (Lk 9:42)

Hendriksen Note the contrast between The Twelve (the three plus the nine), on the one hand; and Jesus, on the other: As to The Twelve, on the mountain we found the slumbering three (Luke 9:32a); and now, in the valley we see the bumbling nine. Meanwhile on the mountain Jesus was fully awake, steadfast, and loyal; and now, in the valley he is signally alert, strong, and loving. Let us therefore heed Heb. 4:14-16. (Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke)

Luke 9:41 And Jesus answered and said, "You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you and put up with you? Bring your son here."


KJV And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither.

  • O faithless Lk 8:25; Mark 9:19; John 20:27; Hebrews 3:19; 4:2,11
  • perverse Deuteronomy 32:5; Ps 78:8; Matthew 3:7; 12:39,45; 16:4; 23:36; Acts 2:40
  • how Exodus 10:3; 16:28; Numbers 14:11,27; Jeremiah 4:14; Matthew 17:17; John 14:9
  • and suffer Acts 13:18; Romans 2:4; Hebrews 3:9-11
  • Bring 2 Kings 5:8; Matthew 11:28; Mark 10:14,49; Hebrews 7:25
  • Luke 9 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • Luke 9:37-45 - Steven Cole
  • Luke 9:37-42 The Significance of Faith, Part 1 - John MacArthur
  • Luke 9:37-45 An Addendum of Faith - John MacArthur

Here are the parallel passages in the synoptic Gospels of Matthew and Mark...

Matthew 17:17 And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.”

Mark 9:19 And He answered them and said, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!”

You unbelieving and perverted generation - In the OT we read a similar rebuke of the nation of Israel in the Song of Moses (Dt 32:1-43) for her lack of faith...

Deuteronomy 32:5 “They have acted corruptly toward Him, They are not His children, because of their defect; But are a perverse and crooked generation.

Deuteronomy 32:20 “Then He said, ‘I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end shall be; For they are a perverse generation, Sons in whom is no faithfulness (Lxx uses pistis = faith, faithfulness and modifies it with the Greek adverb "ouk" signifying strong negation)

MarshallThe phraseology (unbelieving and perverted) thus reflects that of God when confronted by the faithless and disobedient generation in the wilderness. (The New International Greek Testament Commentary – The Gospel of Luke)

ESV Study Bible - The fundamental problem of the people (the opponents, the spiritually oppressed, and even the disciples) is that they are faithless (cf. Mk 6:6; 9:23). Jesus’ burdened expression echoes that of the prophets (e.g., Deut. 32:5, 20; Isa. 6:11; Jer. 5:21-22; cf. Mark 8:12).

Wiersbe - When you analyze this section of Luke's Gospel, you can better understand why Jesus spoke those words: He was grieved over the failures of His followers. He had given His Apostles authority over Satan (Ed: cf Lk 9:1-note), yet they were too weak to cast out a demon (Luke 9:37-45). In feeding the 5,000, Jesus gave them an example of compassion, yet they persisted in manifesting selfishness and lack of love (Luke 9:46-56). He taught clearly what it meant to follow Him, yet the volunteers turned out to be "me first" disciples (Luke 9:57-62). No wonder He was grieved! (The Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament, Volume 1)

MacArthur says You unbelieving and perverted generation "encompassed the entire nation of Israel, whom He denounced on other occasions as a generation of “vipers” (Matt. 12:34; cf. Mt 23:33), an “evil and adulterous generation” (Matt. 12:39; 16:4), a “wicked generation” (Luke 11:29), and an “adulterous and sinful generation” (Mark 8:38). They were acting as if they were no different from their fathers, whom Moses characterized as “a perverse and crooked generation” (Deut. 32:5). Deficient in their knowledge of the true and living God, the people of Israel had become perverse, twisted, and faithless—the ultimate manifestation of which was their rejection and murder of His Son. Sadly, the specific targets of the Lord’s rebuke on this occasion appear to have been His own apostles. Though not lacking in saving faith like the unbelieving crowd, their faith too was perverted in that they consistently failed to believe what He told them. His exclamation, “How long shall I be with you and put up with you?” reflects the disappointment and pain that their constant failure to believe and trust in what He told them caused Jesus."

Unbelieving (571)(apistos from a = without + pistos = believing, faithful) means lacking in faith, faithless, unbelieving. It is used once to describe that which is incredible (Acts 26:8), but most NT uses describe those without faith, not trusting, unfaithful. Here are all the uses of apistos in the Gospels - Mt 17:17; Mk 9:19; Lk 9:41; 12:46; Jn 20:27

Perverted (1294)(diastrepho from dia = separation, in two, throughout + strépho = turn, English = diastrophism = the process of deformation that produces in the earth’s crust its continents and ocean basins) is literally to twist throughout or to distort thoroughly. To turn different ways. To twist about. Diastrepho is used metaphorically in the NT meaning to pervert or to distort. The idea is to cause one to depart from an accepted standard of oral or spiritual values. In the perfect tense it describes a permanently distorted condition (literally the perfect tense pictures permanently "turned aside") (see parallel description in Mt 17:17; See Paul's uses in Acts 20:30-note; Php 2:15-note).

As an aside, the verb  epistrepho which means "be converted" uses the same root, but the different prefix makes it mean "to turn" around instead of "to be twisted".  the perverted need to be converted! The twisted are going in the wrong direction (to hell) and need to be turned around (toward heaven) by the Gospel!

Constable - Jesus' statement to the father and the crowd recalls Deuteronomy 32:20 where God rebuked the unbelieving Israelites in the wilderness. Jesus went on to express disappointment with these people's lack of faith. By omitting the further conversation between Jesus and the father in which Jesus stressed the importance of faith in Him (cf. Mark 9:21-24), Luke focused attention on Jesus' power.

Leon Morris on how long shall I be with you and put up with you - The question, how long …? (cf. Num. 14:27), shows that Jesus was concerned at the lack of faith and purpose of which he speaks. People were seeing the miracles as wonders, but not as signs of God’s presence and of his demand for repentance.

Put up with (430)(anechomai from aná = in, up + echomai, the middle voice of echo = to have, to hold) means literally to hold one’s self up, erect, upright and by extension firm against a person or thing. Thus anechomai means to put up with, to bear with (equanimity or evenness of mind especially under stress), to tolerate, to forbear, to be patient with.

Hendriksen When we are in deep distress, we are prone to lose interest in others. On the other hand, Jesus, even in his deepest sorrows—see also Luke 23:34, 43; John 19:26—still thinks of others, and even helps and saves them!

Luke 9:42 While he was still approaching, the demon slammed him to the ground and threw him into a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the boy and gave him back to his father.

KJV And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father.


Here are the parallel passages in the synoptic Gospels of Matthew and Mark with the most complete description in Mark's account. It is surprising that the physician Dr Luke does not give as graphic a description as does Mark.

Matthew 17:15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16“I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” 17 And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once.

Mark 9:20 They brought the boy to Him. When he (THE DEMON) saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion (susparasso), and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth (aphrizo - only Mk 9:18, 20). 21 And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 “It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy (apollumi) him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” 23 And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” 25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.” 26 After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, “He is dead!” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up.

Unlike Mark's version which has a longer record of the conversation between Jesus and the father, Luke (and Matthew) focus primarily on the cure. 

While he was still approaching - This refers to the demon possessed boy.

Mark adds several details not recorded by Luke...

And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 “It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” 23 And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:21-24)

Robertson notes "Jesus had asked (Mark 9:21) the history of the case like a modern physician. The father gave it and added further pathetic details about the fire and the water. The failure of the disciples had not wholly destroyed his faith in the power of Jesus, though the conditional form (first class, assuming it to be true) does suggest doubt whether the boy can be cured at all. It was a chronic and desperate case of epilepsy with the demon possession added."

Note that in Mark 9:22 the word help, is a command in aorist imperative (Do this now! Don't delay!) which is the verb boetheo from boé = a cry, exclamation + théō = to run) means to run on hearing a cry, to give assistance.

MacArthur comments - Jesus did not usually call for faith in those He healed. In this case, however, He intended to use this man as an illustration for the apostles of what even imperfect faith in Him can accomplish. In brutal honesty “the boy’s father cried out and said, ‘I do believe; help my unbelief’” (v. 24). Desperately, he pleaded for Jesus to give him whatever was lacking in his faith....“All things are possible to him who believes,” is the lesson Jesus intended to teach. This was not the first time He had spoken of the importance of faith (cf. Mark 5:34-36; 6:5-6), nor would it be the last (cf. Mark 10:27; 11:22-24). The lesson that faith is essential to access the power of God applied to all the unbelieving crowd, the father, who was struggling to believe, as well as to the disciples, whose faith was weak and wavering. The disciples especially needed to learn this lesson, since after Christ’s death, they would need to access divine power through believing prayer (Matt. 7:7-8; 21:22; Luke 11:9-10; John 14:13-14; 15:7; 16:24; 1 John 3:22; 5:14-15). (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Mark 9-16)

The demon slammed him to the ground - "threw him to the ground" (NET) One gets the picture of a body slam like in professional wrestling matches. The fact that the demon asserted itself violently (see Mk 9:26) is different than earlier "exorcisms" (Mk 1:25-26, Mk 5:6-10). Luke's version leaves out some significant details. Mk 9:26 says the demon obeyed Jesus, leaving the boy in a deathlike state which onlookers took for death. In Mk 9:27 Jesus raises the boy up which would give the disciples an object lesson regarding His soon to follow death and resurrection.

While Matthew 17:15 identifies the boys condition as epilepsy ("lunatic") and Lk 9:42 links it with demonic influence, it should be stated that the majority of epilepsy as we know it today is not associated with demonic influence. Unfortunately through history some people have equated epilepsy with demon possession because of similar symptoms.

Demon (1140)(daimonion from daímon = demon) most often describes demons or evil spirits who have supernatural powers and are neither human nor divine (Mt 7:22).

Slammed (4486)(rhegnumi) means to separate or cause to separate abruptly. To tear in pieces (wineskin - Mk 2:22, attack by a animal Mt 7:6). In classical Greek rhegnumi has a variety of meanings much like the various usages of the English word break. It is used of breaking through a battle line, of a ship being broken up or wrecked at sea, of a river breaking over its banks, of breaking out into song, and of infants beginning to speak. Here and in Mk 9:18 it speaks of of a demonic attack on a demon-possessed person by throwing them into a fit or dashing them to the ground (Mk 9.18)

Vincent adds the form rhesso is used in classical Greek of dancers beating the ground, and of beating drums. Later, in the form rhassein, a term of fighters: to fell, or knock down. (This gives us a vivid, dramatic picture of what the demon is doing to this boy!)

Convulsion (4952)(susparasso from sun = with, together + sparasso = to mangle, convulse) means to tear or lacerate altogether, completely. To throw into strong spasms. To "pull about, rend in pieces, tear; as the effect of a demonic attack on the human body convulse, throw into convulsions, cause a fit" (Friberg) Susparassō is not found in any extant Greek texts prior to the New Testament, although its related term sparassō (“rend, tear apart, convulse”) is found in both classical Greek and the Septuagint (2 Sa 22:8; Jer 4:19).

Gilbrant - The demon was “tearing violently” or “pulling apart” the boy. Luke’s medical background provided vivid details of the physical effects of demonic possession in this instance. (Ibid)

Wiersbe - The devil tried one last throw (a wrestling term in the Greek), but Jesus rebuked the demon and cast him out.

Jesus rebuked (commanded) (2008)(epitimao from epi = upon + timao = to honor) means literally to put honor upon and then to mete out due measure and so then to find fault with, to censure severely, to rebuke, to express strong disapproval of, or to denounce (cp the incredible example in Mt 16:22). Note that one may rebuke another without producing conviction of guilt, either because, as in Mt 16:22 (Jesus rebuked by Peter, cp similar uses in Mt 19:13; Mk 8:32; 10:13; Lk 18:15; 19:39) the one rebuked is not guilty of any fault or the rebuke may be insufficient to produce acknowledgement of fault by the offender (cf the repentant thief's rebuke of the non-repentant thief on the cross = Lk 23:40). Epitimao also conveys the sense of to command or warning which includes an implied threat (Lk 8:24; Mt 16:20)

Luke's uses of epitimao - Lk. 4:35; Lk. 4:39; Lk. 4:41; Lk. 8:24; Lk. 9:21; Lk. 9:42; Lk. 9:55; Lk. 17:3; Lk. 18:15; Lk. 18:39; Lk. 19:39; Lk. 23:40

Wuest notes that epitimao "In classical Greek its predominating sense is that of severe, strenuous reproach for unworthy deeds or acts. In this sense, the word carries at bottom, a suggestion of a charge under penalty."

The other use of the phrase "the unclean spirit" is in Mk 9:25 where Mark adds that not only did Jesus rebuke the demon but commanded him. Jesus clearly was displaying His power and His authority over demonic forces.

When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.” 26 After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, “He is dead!” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up.

Healed (cured) (2390)(iaomai) means to cure, to heal, to restore. Iaomai is used literally of deliverance from physical diseases and afflictions and so to make whole, restore to bodily health or heal. To cause someone to achieve health after having been sick. In the passive it means to be healed or cured. Figuratively, iaomai speaks of deliverance from sin and its evil consequences and thus to restore (to spiritual good health), make whole, renew (Mt 13.15). In the passive, iaomai figuratively means to be restored, to recover or to be healed as in 1Pe 2.24. Iaomai refers primarily to physical healing in the NT (although clearly there is overlap because some of these instances involved demonic oppression as in this verse - Lk 9:42), and much less commonly to spiritual healing or healing (saving) from "moral illnesses" and the consequences of sin. When used in this latter sense iaomai has much the same meaning as sozo, to save, make whole, restore to spiritual health. Here are the uses of iaomai used with a spiritual meaning = Mt 13:15, John 12:40, Acts 28:27 - preceding quotes from Isa 6:10, 1Pe 2:24 = quote from Isa 53:5.

It is interesting that most of the NT uses in the Gospels refer to physical healing by Jesus (excepting the physical healing that resulted by release from demonic oppression). However in the OT (Lxx) uses iaomai refers primarily to spiritual healing by the Messiah (Isa 53:5, Isa 61:1, et al).

Presumably the fact that Luke was a physician explains why he made frequent use of iaomai (14/26x).

Matt. 8:8; Matt. 8:13; Matt. 13:15; Matt. 15:28; Mk. 5:29; Lk. 5:17; Lk. 6:18; Lk. 6:19; Lk. 7:7; Lk. 8:47; Lk. 9:2; Lk. 9:11; Lk. 9:42; Lk. 14:4; Lk. 17:15; Lk. 22:51; Jn. 4:47; Jn. 5:13; Jn. 12:40; Acts 9:34; Acts 10:38; Acts 28:8; Acts 28:27; Heb. 12:13; Jas. 5:16; 1 Pet. 2:24

Constable - Luke also stressed Jesus' compassion by noting that He gave the boy back to his father (cf. Lk 7:15).

What the Bible teaches – The final effort of the demon to keep the boy within his power is characteristic. In Mark 1:23-27 the man in the synagogue at Capernaum was just about to be delivered when the unclean spirit made one last, mighty effort to hold him or destroy him. Rev 12:12 refers to a coming day, but we are seeing a great display of Satan's rage in these last days because he knows that his time is short and the church is about to be delivered forever out of his reach. We have often seen Satan make a gigantic last effort to hold a sinner who is on the very threshold of salvation. We should not miss Luke's statement that the Lord did three things: He "rebuked the unclean spirit", "healed the child", and "delivered him again to his father". The healing of the child was a necessary thing for Mark says that when the spirit was commanded to come out of him, it "rent him sore ... and he was as one dead". It was a complete deliverance, for He commanded the spirit never to enter into him again (Mark 9:25). The Lord does not give a partial deliverance.

Luke 9:43 And they were all amazed at the greatness of God. But while everyone was marveling at all that He was doing, He said to His disciples,

KJV And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, he said unto his disciples,

Here are the parallel passages in the synoptic Gospels of Matthew and Mark...

Matthew 17:18 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” 20 And He *said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. 21 [“But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”]

NET Note on Mt 17:21 - Many important MSS (a* B Q 0281 33 579 892* pc e ff(1 )sy(s,c )sa) do not include 17:21 "But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting." The verse is included in a(2 )C D L W ¦(1, 13 )Û lat, but is almost certainly not original. As B. M. Metzger notes, "Since there is no satisfactory reason why the passage, if originally present in Matthew, should have been omitted in a wide variety of witnesses, and since copyists frequently inserted material derived from another Gospel, it appears that most manuscripts have been assimilated to the parallel in Mk 9.29" (TCGNT 35). The present translation follows NA(27 )in omitting the verse number as well, a procedure also followed by a number of other modern translations.

Ron Dunn on faith and mountains - In the Bible, mountains are used to symbolize barriers and hindrances. They represent immovable objects, insurmountable problems that block the path of God's people, making progress impossible. For instance, Isaiah the prophet speaks of the time when the people will be released from their captivity and return to their homeland. But standing between them and their destination are mountains, towering barricades shouting like Amalek, "This is as far as you go." Speaking through the prophet, God says, "I will make all My mountains a road" (Isa. 49:11). God promises to turn the mountains into a freeway; in other words, the mountains will be cast into the sea, leaving the path open and clear. A mountain is anything that threatens to halt or hinder our God-appointed journey. It is anything that prevents us from doing what God has commanded, or becoming what God has promised. Jesus is telling us that if we can believe, there is nothing that can keep us from doing what God has commanded us to do or becoming what God has saved us to be. And that, dear friend, is good news. An Amazing Promise: "All Things Are Possible" To the questioning father of the demon-possessed boy, Jesus said, "All things are possible to him who believes" (Mark 9:23). Whatever obstacle stands between us and the will of God can be uprooted by the command of faith. Just think of it. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that can keep us from doing the will of God—if we believe. Behind the will of God is thrown the power of God. When God commands us to be or do something, he places at our disposal all the resources of heaven. And faith is the key that releases those resources into our situation. If I know God's will in a given circumstance, I can be assured that he stands ready to supply whatever is needed to accomplish that will.

Mark 9:28-29 When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, “Why could we not drive it out?” 29 And He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.”

Hendriksen on "this kind" - "This kind" says Jesus, "can come out only by prayer." He is saying, therefore, that in the world of the demons there are differences: some are more powerful and more malignant than others. The disciples, therefore, should not have allowed their faith to flag, their prayers to take a holiday. Not only does Jesus urge his followers to pray; he also encourages them to persevere in prayer (Matt. 7:7; Luke 18:1-8; 21:36). So does Paul (Col. 1:9; 1 Thess. 5:17; 2 Thess. 1:11). (Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark)

Luke omits the reasons Jesus gives for why the disciples could not cast out the demon (see Scripture in bold above) - (1) the "littleness of faith" (Mt 18:20) and (2) "prayer" (Mk 9:29).

ESV Study Bible comments on “Why could we not cast it out?” Besides lacking understanding (Mk 8:17-18, 21; 9:5), the disciples lack the ability to fully carry out their commission from Jesus (cf. Mk 6:7, 13; 9:18). Their failure is an occasion for encouragement to more prayer (cf. Mk 4:10; 7:17; 10:10), implying that more time and effort in prayer (and therefore in closer fellowship with God) leads to growth in faith."

Wiersbe - When you study all three reports (Matt. 17; Mark 9), you discover what was lacking in their lives. First on the list was faith (Matt. 17:19-20); they were part of an unbelieving generation and had lost the confidence that they needed in order to use their power. But prayer and fasting were also lacking (Mark 9:29), which indicates that the nine men had allowed their devotional disciplines to erode during their Lord's brief absence. No matter what spiritual gifts we may have, their exercise is never automatic.

Note that the miracle by Jesus caused the crowd to focus on God, not Himself (although of course He was God!) Everything we are privileged to accomplish for the Kingdom should result in God being glorified, not ourselves! Are you challenged by this statement? I am! As Leon Morris says "Jesus did not attract attention to himself, but brought glory to the Father."

And they were all amazed at the greatness of God - This description is unique to Luke (as is the statement about marveling). Mark 9:26-27 helps us understand why the were amazed and marveling because in those passages Mark says that after the demon had been commanded to leave the boy "became so much like a corpse that most of them said, “He is dead!” But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up." (cf the little girl who had truly died in Lk 8:52-56-note, Mk 5:39-42, 41).

What the Bible teaches - Half of this verse belongs to the preceding section, but the latter half of it gives us the circumstances under which the prediction of His death was given. Everyone in the crowd is marveling, not only because of the complete deliverance of the demon-possessed boy, but at all the miracles that the Lord has done. It is a high point of acceptance by the multitude, but the Lord knew their hearts and all the pathway of rejection and suffering that lay before Him.

Constable - Jesus' miracle amazed (Gr. exeplesonto, cf. Lk 4:32) the people who recognized it as a demonstration of God's great power (cf. Lk 5:25; 7:16, 18; Acts 2:11; 19:27; 2 Pet. 1:16).

Amazed (1605)(ekplesso from ek = out + plesso = strike) (imperfect tense) means strike out, expel by a blow, drive out or away, force out or cast off by a blow. The idea is "struck out of their senses" and so gives the idea of being driven out of one’s senses with amazement. Some versions render it astonished which is a good translation of ekplesso. It is interesting to note that our English word "astonish" which is derived from the Latin word extonare meaning to strike with thunder! What a picture of Jesus' manifestation of power over the forces of darkness which must have struck His hearers like thunder! Figuratively ekplesso means to drive out of one's senses by a sudden shock or strong feeling, or "to be exceedingly struck in mind". It means to cause to be filled with amazement to the point of being overwhelmed (struck out of one's senses). It encompasses the ideas of wonder, astonishment or amazement. Ekplesso expresses a stunned amazement that leaves the subject unable to grasp what is happening.

Luke's two other uses of ekplesso

Luke 2:48 When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.”

Luke 4:32 and they were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority.

Ekplesso - 13v most often the Gospels -

Matt. 7:28; Matt. 13:54; Matt. 19:25; Matt. 22:33; Mk. 1:22; Mk. 6:2; Mk. 7:37; Mk. 10:26; Mk. 11:18; Lk. 2:48; Lk. 4:32; Lk. 9:43; Acts 13:12

ESV Study Bible - The healing performed by Jesus (Lk 9:37-42) is credited to the majesty of God. Compare the close tie between the glory of the Son and of the Father (Lk 9:26), the interchangeableness of declaring what God has done and what Jesus has done (Lk 8:39), and being astonished/marveling with respect to God and Jesus (Lk 9:43).

Greatness(majesty)(3168)(megaleiotetos from megaleíos = great, glorious from from mégas, great, indicating great works or miracles) refers to as a demonstration of great power (2 Pe 1:16 referring to Jesus "majesty" at His transfiguration). As a state of greatness - importance, prominence (Acts 19:27). BDAG says megaleiotes was used of "the pyramids as an awesome sight" and "in our literature only of a divine figure or of divine attributes."

Was marveling (2296)(thaumazo from thauma [from thaomai = to wonder] = wonder, admiration) means to wonder, marvel, be struck with admiration or astonishment. Thaumazo describes the human response when confronted by divine revelation in some form (Mt 9.33). In other words it means to be filled with wonder and astonishment at something outside the realm of human explanation.

Disciples (3101)(mathetes from manthano = to learn which Vine says is "from a root math, indicating thought accompanied by endeavor". Gives us our English = "mathematics") describes a person who learns from another by instruction, whether formal or informal. Discipleship includes the idea of one who intentionally learns by inquiry and observation (cf inductive Bible study) and thus mathetes is more than a mere pupil. A mathetes describes an adherent of a teacher.

ILLUSTRATION - Years ago a seagoing captain had his family on board as his ship crossed from England to America. One night, when everyone was asleep, a sudden squall hit and the ship rocked violently. The passengers woke up, frightened by the storm. The captain’s eight-year-old daughter also woke up. At first she was scared as she asked her mother what was happening. Her mother explained that there was a sudden storm. The girl asked, “Is father on deck?” “Yes,” her mother replied, “father is on deck.” Hearing this, the little girl snuggled back under her covers and in a few minutes was sound asleep. The winds still blew and the waves still hit the ship, but she could rest peacefully because she knew her father was at the helm (in “Our Daily Bread,” 1985).

Whatever our needs and however strong the enemy, we know that our Heavenly Father is even more powerful. Even if we face death itself, we know that our mighty Savior went to the cross and was victorious over sin and death there. In our great need, we can lay hold of God’s mighty power through faith. If this distraught father had not had this problem with his son, he might never have trusted in the Lord Jesus. While the problem was not pleasant, it was the means that God used to deliver the man from that unbelieving and perverted generation. If you let your problems drive you to Christ, you also will be delivered from this unbelieving and perverted generation. We are needy people, but Christ is a mighty Savior! - Steven J. Cole

Luke 9:44 "Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.

KJV Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.

Luke 9:44-45

Similar predictions in Matthew and Mark

Matthew 17:22 And while they were gathering together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men;

Mark 9:31 For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.”

Let these words sink into your ears - "Place these words into your ears," is an idiom which means to pay very close attention. Keep the context in mind. What had been the response of the crowds? They were amazed and marveled at Jesus' power of the demon that had exerted such a violent effect on the boy. "The disciples are set in contrast to the general public who did no more than wonder at the miracles." (Morris) Jesus now draws his disciples back to reality, for these same crowds would in a short time be crying to Pilate "Crucify! Crucify!" Their praise and adulation was shot-lived and fickle.

Mattoon - In the midst of their amazement (Lk 9:43), He interrupts them with a sobering statement. He tells them that He would be scourged, condemned, punished, or "delivered" into the hands of men in spite of His power. They did not, however, understand what the Lord was trying to tell them and they did not press the issue to inquire further.

NET Note adds "The meaning is either "do not forget these words" or "Listen carefully to these words". See also Ex 17:14. For a variation of this expression, see Luke 8:8."

Wiersbe - took the Twelve aside for another lesson about the cross. After all, it was at the cross that Jesus would give Satan that final blow of defeat (John 12:31-32; Col. 2:15).

For (gar) explains why they needed to let the words sink in (see term of explanation).

The Son of Man - This term was used frequent by Ezekiel to describe the prophet himself, but Daniel used Son of Man to refer to a prophecy of the Messiah (see below). In the NT Son of Man is used in 84 verses the majority referring to Jesus. Son of Man was Jesus' favorite description of Himself. By using the phrase "of Man" Jesus demonstrates His compassionate willingness to identify with fallen mankind.

Son of Man- Matt. 8:20; Matt. 9:6; Matt. 10:23; Matt. 11:19; Matt. 12:8; Matt. 12:32; Matt. 12:40; Matt. 13:37; Matt. 13:41; Matt. 16:13; Matt. 16:27; Matt. 16:28; Matt. 17:9; Matt. 17:12; Matt. 17:22; Matt. 18:11; Matt. 19:28; Matt. 20:18; Matt. 20:28; Matt. 24:27; Matt. 24:30; Matt. 24:37; Matt. 24:39; Matt. 24:44; Matt. 25:31; Matt. 26:2; Matt. 26:24; Matt. 26:45; Matt. 26:64; Mk. 2:10; Mk. 2:28; Mk. 8:31; Mk. 8:38; Mk. 9:9; Mk. 9:12; Mk. 9:31; Mk. 10:33; Mk. 10:45; Mk. 13:26; Mk. 14:21; Mk. 14:41; Mk. 14:62; Lk. 5:24; Lk. 6:5; Lk. 6:22; Lk. 7:34; Lk. 9:22; Lk. 9:26; Lk. 9:44; Lk. 9:56; Lk. 9:58; Lk. 11:30; Lk. 12:8; Lk. 12:10; Lk. 12:40; Lk. 17:22; Lk. 17:24; Lk. 17:26; Lk. 17:30; Lk. 18:8; Lk. 18:31; Lk. 19:10; Lk. 21:27; Lk. 21:36; Lk. 22:22; Lk. 22:48; Lk. 22:69; Lk. 24:7; Jn. 1:51; Jn. 3:13; Jn. 3:14; Jn. 5:27; Jn. 6:27; Jn. 6:53; Jn. 6:62; Jn. 8:28; Jn. 9:35; Jn. 12:23; Jn. 12:34; Jn. 13:31; Acts 7:56; Heb. 2:6; Rev. 1:13; Rev. 14:14

Daniel prophesied of the Messiah's coming...

“I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. (Da 7:13-note)

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary on Son of Man - Of all the titles commonly used of Jesus in the New Testament, ‘Son of man’ was the one most used by Jesus himself and least used by others. It hardly occurs at all outside the Gospels (Acts 7:56; Revelation 1:13; Revelation 14:14), and inside the Gospels is used almost solely by Jesus. By using this unusual title for himself, Jesus made people think carefully about who he was and what his mission involved (John 12:34; John 13:31-32). (Click for complete description) (Here is another good description of Son of Man).

NET Note - The term Son of Man, which is a title in Greek, comes from a pictorial description in Da 7:13-note of one "like a son of man" (i.e., a human being). It is Jesus' favorite way to refer to himself. Jesus did not reveal the background of the term here, which mixes human and divine imagery as the man in Daniel rides a cloud, something only God does. He just used it. It also could be an idiom in Aramaic meaning either "some person" or "me." So there is a little ambiguity in its use here, since its origin is not clear at this point. However, the action makes it clear that Jesus used it to refer to himself here.

Wiersbe on Son of Man - In Luke 5:24, we have the first recorded use of the title Son of man in Luke’s Gospel, where it is found twenty-three times (see list above). Our Lord’s listeners were familiar with this title. It was used of the Prophet Ezekiel over eighty times, and Daniel applied it to the Messiah (Dan. 7:13, 18). “Son of man” was our Lord’s favorite name for Himself; this title is found at least eighty-two times in the Gospel record. Occasionally He used the title “Son of God” (Matt. 27:43; Luke 22:70; John 5:25; 9:35; 10:36; 11:4), but “Son of man” was used more. Certainly the Jewish people caught the messianic character of this title, but it also identified Him with the people He came to save (Luke 19:10). Like Ezekiel, the Old Testament “son of man,” Jesus “sat where they sat” (Ezek. 3:15). (Ibid)

Leon Morris on the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of me - This is not very specific, which may be part of the reason why they did not understand this saying. But more importantly, it was concealed from them, which may mean that there was opposition from the forces of evil (though Hendriksen thinks God hid it). Luke goes out of his way to emphasize their inability to grasp the saying, for his words are much stronger than those in the other Gospels.

Delivered (betrayed, handed over) (3860)(paradidomi from para = alongside, beside, to the side of, over to + didomi = to give) conveys the basic meaning of to give over from one's hand to someone or something, especially to give over to the power of another. Jesus used this same verb in similar prophetic declarations...

Matthew 20:18 "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death,

Matthew 20:19 and will hand Him over to the Gentiles (Pilate, Romans) to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up."

Matthew 26:2 "You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion."

Matthew 26:15 (Religious leaders to Judas) and said, "What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?" And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him. 16 From then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus.

Matthew 26:21 As they were eating, He said, "Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me."

Matthew 26:23 And He answered, "He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me. 24 "The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born." 35 And Judas, who was betraying Him, said, "Surely it is not I, Rabbi?" Jesus said to him, "You have said it yourself."

Matthew 26:45 Then He came to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 "Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!"...Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, "Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him."

Matthew 27:2 and they bound Him, and led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate the governor.

Matthew 27:3 Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." But they said, "What is that to us? See to that yourself!"

Matthew 27:18 For he knew that because of envy they had handed Him over.

Matthew 27:26 Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.

Acts 3:13 "The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him.

John MacArthur explains that "ultimately, it was God Himself who delivered His Son to be killed: “The Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief” (Isa. 53:10). In Romans 8:32 Paul wrote that God “did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all.” It is not true, as some skeptics claim, that Jesus intended to bring in the kingdom, but His plans went awry and He was killed. The plan of God from the beginning was that Jesus would offer Himself as a sacrifice for sin. He was, as Peter said, “delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God… [and] nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men” (Acts 2:23). Therefore it was absolutely necessary for the Lord to “go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day” (Matt. 16:21). Before the kingdom came the cross. Jesus had to die; the plan of God could not be set aside (cf. Matt. 26:24, 54; Luke 24:25-26, 46). (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Luke 6-10).

Summary of Jesus' Nine Prophecies of His Passion (See also preceding list)

  Matthew Mark Luke
First passion announcement Mt 16:21–23 Mk 8:31–33 Lk 9:22+
Second passion announcement Mt 17:22–23 Mk 9:30–32 Lk 9:43–45+
Third passion announcement Mt 20:17–19 Mk 10:32–34 Lk 18:31–34+

Luke 9:45 But they did not understand this statement, and it was concealed from them so that they would not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this statement

KJV But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.

Jesus had alluded to His death earlier in this chapter but even in this much clearer declaration, the disciples failed to grasp what He was saying...

“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.”  (Lk 9:22-note)

Leon Morris rightly reminds us that "On the other side of the cross it must have been terribly difficult to grasp the truth that Jesus’ Messiahship meant his death."

Bock on they did not understand this statement  What they fail to grasp is its import. How can the promised one, the recently confessed Messiah, possibly accomplish God's will and be rejected? Is he not to be a glorious, victorious figure? Is he not to bring deliverance? The disciples fail to grasp the answers to questions like these. Their lack of understanding is why they must listen to him. The lessons are just beginning, and some expectations need revision. (Luke 9:18-50 Christological Confession-Discipleship)

Not understand (50)(agnoeo from a = not + noéo = perceive, understand) not have information about, to not know, to not understand (Mk 9:32, Lk 9:45), to be unaware of, to not recognize (Ac 13:27), to be ignorant of (to lack information concerning something). Agnoeo conveys the nuance of lacking the ability to understand in He 5:2 and of inexcusable moral/ethical ignorance (even disregard) in Ro 10:3). This verb gives us our English agnostic.

Was concealed (was hidden from) (3871)(parakalupto from para = beside, intensive + kalupto = to conceal thoroughly), is found only in Luke 9:45, of "concealing" from the disciples the fact of the delivering up of Christ to be crucified. Zodhiates adds that parakalupto meant To cover over or hide, especially by putting something out of sight, or near or before an object, e.g., the eyes (Sept.: Ezek. 22:26). Metaphorically in Luke 9:45, referring to the saying of Jesus."

So that (hina) term of purpose or result - Why was the purpose of Jesus' saying being concealed?

Perceive (143)(aisthanomai) means to be aware of something by means of the senses, grasp, understand. To have the capacity to discern and therefore understand what is not readily comprehensible (Only here in NT but 6x in Lxx = Job 23:5; 40:23; Pr 17:10; 24:14; Isa. 33:11; 49:26)

NET NoteThe passive verb had been concealed probably indicates that some force was preventing them from responding. It is debated whether God or Satan is meant here. By Lk 24:25 it is clear that their lack of response is their own responsibility. The only way to reverse this is to pay careful attention as Luke 24:44a urges

Robertson on it was concealed from them so that they would not perceive it - "This explanation at least relieves the disciples to some extent of full responsibility for their ignorance about the death of Jesus as Mark 9:32 observes, as does Luke here that they were afraid to ask him. Plummer says, "They were not allowed to understand the saying then, in order that they might remember it afterwards, and see that Jesus had met His sufferings with full knowledge and free will." Perhaps also, if they had fully understood, they might have lacked courage to hold on to the end. But it is a hard problem."

J C Ryle on Luke 9:37-45 - The event described in these verses took place immediately after the transfiguration. The Lord Jesus, we should remark, did not tarry long on the Mount of Olives. His communion with Moses and Elijah was very short. He soon returned to His accustomed work of doing good to a sin-stricken world. In His life on earth, to receive honor and have visions of glory was the exception. To minister to others, to heal all who were oppressed by the devil, to do acts of mercy to sinners, was the rule. Happy are those Christians who have learned of Jesus to live for others more than for themselves, and who understand that it is "more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35.)

(1) We have first, in these verses, an example of what a parent should do when he is troubled about his children. We are told of a man in severe distress about his only son. This son was possessed by an evil spirit, and grievously tormented by him, both in body and soul. In his distress the father makes application to our Lord Jesus Christ for relief. "Master," he says, "I beseech You, look upon my son — for he is my only child."

There are many Christian fathers and mothers at this day who are just as miserable about their children as the man of whom we are reading. The son who was once the "desire of their eyes," and in whom their lives were bound up, turns out a spendthrift, a profligate, and a companion of sinners. The daughter who was once the flower of the family, and of whom they said, "This girl shall be the comfort of our old age," becomes self-willed, worldly minded, and a lover of pleasure more than a lover of God. Their hearts are well near broken. The iron seems to enter into their souls. The devil appears to triumph over them, and rob them of their choicest jewels. They are ready to cry, "I shall go to the grave sorrowing. What good shall my life do to me?"

Now what should a father or mother do in a case like this? They should do as the man before us did. They should go to Jesus in prayer, and cry to Him about their child. They should spread before that merciful Savior the tale of their sorrows, and entreat Him to help them. Great is the power of prayer and intercession! The child of many prayers shall seldom be cast away. God's time of conversion may not be ours. He may think fit to prove our faith by keeping us long waiting. But so long as a child lives, and a parent prays, we have no right to despair about that child's soul.

(2) We have, secondly, in these verses, an example of Christ's readiness to show mercy to young people. We are told in the case before us, that the prayer of the afflicted parent was graciously granted. He said to him, "Bring your son here." And then "He rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father." We have many similar cases in the Gospels. The daughter of Jairus, the nobleman's son at Capernaum, the daughter of the Canaanitish woman, the widow's son at Nain, are all instances of our Lord's interest in those who are young. The young are exactly those whom the devil labors to lead captive and make His own. The young seem to have been exactly the people whom our Lord took a special delight in helping. Three He plucked out of the very jaws of death. Two, as in the case before us, He rescued from the complete dominion of the devil.

There is a meaning in facts like these. They are not recorded without a special purpose. They are meant to encourage all who try to do good to the souls of the young. They are meant to remind us that young men and young women are special objects of interest to Christ. They supply us with an antidote to the common idea that it is useless to press religion on the attention of young people. Such an idea, let us remember, comes from the devil and not from Christ. He who cast out the evil spirit from the child before us, still lives, and is still mighty to save. Let us then work on, and try to do good to the young. Whatever the world may think, Jesus is well pleased.

(3) We have, lastly, in these verses, an example of the spiritual ignorance which may be found even in the hearts of good men. We are told that our Lord said to His disciples, "The Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men." They had heard the same thing from His lips little more than a week before. But now, as then, the words seemed lost upon them. They heard as though they heard not. They could not realize the fact that their Master was to die. They could not realize the great truth that Christ was to be "cut off" before He was to reign, and that this cutting off was a literal death upon the cross. It is written, "They understood not this saying" — "it was hidden from them," they perceived it not."

Such slowness of understanding may surprise us much at this period of the world. We are apt to forget the power of early habits of thought, and national prejudices, in the midst of which the disciples had been trained. "The throne of David," says a great divine, "did so fill their eyes that they could not see the cross." Above all, we forget the enormous difference between the position we occupy who know the history of the crucifixion and the Scriptures which it fulfilled, and the position of a believing Jew who lived before Christ died and the veil was rent in twain. Whatever we may think of it, the ignorance of the disciples should teach us two useful lessons, which we shall all do well to learn.

For one thing, let us learn that men may understand spiritual things very feebly, and yet be true children of God. The head may be very dull when the heart is right. Grace is far better than gifts, and faith than knowledge. If a man has faith and grace enough to give up all for Christ's sake, and to take up the cross and follow Him, he shall be saved in spite of much ignorance. Christ shall own him at the last day.

Finally, let us learn to bear with ignorance in others, and to deal patiently with beginners in religion. Let us not make men offenders for a word. Let us not set our brother down as having no grace, because he does not exhibit clear knowledge. Has he faith in Christ? Does he love Christ? These are the principal things. If Jesus could endure so much weakness in His disciples, we may surely do likewise.

Luke 9:46 An argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest.

KJV Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be geatest.


Parallel passages in the synoptic Gospels

Matthew 18:1-5 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me;

Mark 9:33-37 They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. 35 Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” 36 Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.” In 

The other 2 Gospel accounts add several details to Luke 9:46-48. Mark says that this event occurred on the way to Capernaum  (Mk 9:33-34). Matthew says they came straight to Jesus with this question about who "is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" (Mt 18:1) When Jesus confronted them in Mark's version, they wisely kept silent (Mt 9:34), for they knew they were wrong to seek self-glorification! Jesus sat down like a rabbi would do to teach his students (Mk 9:35). He teaches them that the way to be great (Mark says "first") is to be last and to be a servant not of some but of  all (Mk 9:35). In Mt 18:4 Jesus described the one who is greatest as the one who humbles himself." Instead of "going up the ladder," he falls down (so to speak) at the foot of the Cross, which is level ground for every child of God. 

Argument (reasoning, disputing, deliberating)(1261) (dialogismos from diá = through or as a preposition to intensify meaning of + logizomai = reckon, take an inventory, conclude; source of our English dialogue) means literally reasoning through and so to think or reason with thoroughness and completeness, think out carefully, reason thoroughly, consider carefully, weighing. In the Greek writings dialogismos described the thinking of a man deliberating with himself. It refers to calculated consideration (good or bad as discussed below). It pictures one deliberating with one’s self which conveys the basic meaning of inner reasoning.

Now think about why they were disputing among themselves. Clearly as Matthew's version shows, they were concerned about their rank in Christ's Kingdom, a Kingdom they seem to still think is imminent. As an aside, it is clear that these first century Jews were looking for Messiah to establish an earthly kingdom (cf Acts 1:3,6). 

MacArthurIronically, while Jesus spoke of His personal suffering, they argued about their personal glory. This was a disturbing and potentially disastrous development. These men were the first generation of gospel preachers, and would be the leaders of the soon to be founded church. With so much riding on them and so much opposition from the hostile world, they needed to be unified and supportive of each other. The danger revealed here is that pride ruins unity by destroying relationships. Relationships are based on loving sacrifice and service; on selfless deferring to and giving to others. Pride, being self-focused, is indifferent to others. Beyond that, it is ultimately judgmental and critical, and therefore divisive. Because of that, pride is the most common destroyer both of relationships and churches. It plagued the Corinthian church, causing Paul to ask, “For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?” (1 Cor. 3:3; cf. 2 Cor. 12:20). Knowing that pride is the wedge Satan uses to split churches and splinter relationships, the Lord stressed to the disciples the crucial necessity of humility.

As to which of them might be the greatest - The 12 are arguing about who is "Numero Uno" (Number one) which is amazing considering that they are in the presence of the Greatest One in all eternity! Unbelievable! Fallen flesh is always interested in self, which was clearly the case here.

As Leon Morris this says "How far the disciples were from the spirit of Jesus...Jesus had just spoken of his sacrificial death for sinners. They were speaking of their pride of place. This may be part of the reason for their inability to understand. They were thinking of themselves, he of others."

MacArthur Pride results in thinking oneself superior and ranking others lower in an arbitrary fashion.

Greatest (3173)(megas) is used 230 times in the NT most often translated as great. Great means which is of major significance or importance!

Rod Mattoon - Where in the world did this come from? How did they get to this point? We are informed in Luke 9:1-note that these men had power to heal and perform miracles. This was a great and wonderful accomplishment, but unfortunately, it started fueling the flames of pride in some of the men. When Peter, James, and John were asked to go up to the mountain with Jesus and they saw Moses and Elijah, they became inflated and infatuated with themselves, instead of elated. Evidently, they felt they deserved some special status of greatness because they were eyewitnesses to this event. This grasp for greatness got so bad, that James and John manipulated their mother to ask Jesus to let her sons have important, powerful positions in His kingdom. This really ticked off the disciples (see Mt 20:20-24) Whether you are rich or poor, young or old, the grasp for greatness has a way of pulling at the heart in some way or another, no matter who you are. People grasp for greatness because they mistakenly believe that greatness will make them more valuable or important to others. They believe greatness will make them happy and satisfy their soul. The grasp for greatness created dander, disputes, and division among the disciples. How did all this arguing lead to happiness? It didn't. The grasp for greatness has the same effect among people today, causing disunity, disharmony, and jealousy. Paul gave a warning about having the wrong attitude in grasping for greatness. (cf Galatians 5:26) The next time you get into a dispute with someone, ask yourself, "Am I angry because I am grasping for greatness?" Some may say at this point, "I don't care about greatness. I'm not concerned about this at all." By the time we get finished, I believe you will see that your sentiment is not quite accurate. Everyone, whether young or old has struggled with this desire in their lifetime and most people battle with it until the day they die. The desire of the first couple in the Garden of Eden was to be like a god. There is something in our nature that reflects the desire of Adam and Eve to be great. The grasp for greatness surfaces in so many ways in so many places.

Luke 9:47 But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side

KJV And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him,


MacArthur In His omniscience, the Lord knew what they were thinking in their heart (cf. Lk 5:22; 7:39-40; John 2:25).

Knowing  (1492)(eido)  literally means perception by sight (perceive, see) as in Mt 2:2 where the wise men "saw His star". This knowledge speaks of absolute, beyond the chance of a doubt knowledge, a knowledge that is self-evident, to know absolutely and to know absolutely. 

What they were thinking - Luke uses the same verb (dialogismos) translated arguing in Lk 9:46. 

Uses of dialogismos by Luke - Lk. 2:35; Lk. 5:22; Lk. 6:8; Lk. 9:46; Lk. 9:47; Lk. 24:38

Heart (2588)(kardia) does not refer to the physical organ but is always used figuratively in Scripture to refer to the seat and center of human life. The heart is the center of the personality, and it controls the intellect, emotions, and will. No outward obedience is of the slightest value unless the heart turns to God.

In short, the disciples had a "heart problem" - "The depraved heart (Jer. 17:9; Rom. 2:5) is the source of all the defiling speech that flows out of the mouth, since the “mouth speaks from that which fills [the] heart” (Luke 6:45). In Mark 7:14-15 Jesus, “after He called the crowd to Him again… began saying to them, ‘Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man.’” (MacArthur)

Jesus...took a child and stood him by His side - The disciples had a pride problem in their heart, so Jesus illustrates humility, the antithesis of pride, by taking a child and standing him beside Himself. "Since all who enter the kingdom are considered the greatest in it, there is no spiritual ranking; greatness in the kingdom is absolute, not relative (cf. Luke 18:15-17). Jesus used the most insignificant of all to teach what it really is to be the greatest of all." (MacArthur)

Jesus spoke of children several times in Luke - Lk 10:21; 17:2; 18:16

Bock writes, “In Judaism, children under twelve could not be taught the Torah, and so to spend time with them was considered a waste” (Luke 1:1-9:50)

Child (3813)(paidion diminutive of país - child) refers to a little child of either sex, ranging from an infant (Mt 19:13, 14; Mk 10:13-15; Lk 18:16, 17, etc) to children who are older (Mt 11:16; Mt 14:21; 15:38; 18:2-5, etc) Paidion is used repeatedly of the infant Jesus in Matthew (Mt 2:8-9, 11, 13-14, 20-21) Paidion is used as a term of comparison, Jesus making the point that we are to become like a little child (Mk 10:15 Lk 18:17), the implication of course being that this is not an infant but a child old enough to express saving faith in the Messiah! In Jesus' time children were considered as some of the most insignificant, weak members of the society, which leads to Jesus use of the word "least" in Lk 9:48. 

Paidion stresses the need for moral training and guidance.

Luke's uses of paidion - Lk. 1:59; Lk. 1:66; Lk. 1:76; Lk. 1:80; Lk. 2:17; Lk. 2:27; Lk. 2:40; Lk. 7:32; Lk. 9:47; Lk. 9:48; Lk. 11:7; Lk. 18:16; Lk. 18:17; 

Luke 9:48 and said to them, "Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.

KJV And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.


Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me - Jesus is using the child as an object lesson, symbolic of believers and also an example of those considered helpless or unimportant. To receive Jesus is to be brought into covenant with Him, to be in union with Him, or as Paul said “the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1 Cor. 6:17).

Stein Insight into the meaning of this comes from a rabbinic saying in Berakot 5:5, “A man’s representative is like the man himself.”...The hospitality believers receive reveals the attitude people have toward Jesus (cf. Acts 16:33–34). (New American Commentary)

NET Note Children were very insignificant in ancient culture, so this child would be the perfect object lesson to counter the disciples' selfish ambitions.

Leon Morris says "The test of loving service is that we receive such (as this helpless child) in the name of Christ." (Tyndale NT Commentary)

Whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me - That is receives God the Father, the One Who sent Him. To reject Jesus is also to reject the Father. John echoes this truth writing

For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.  (Jn 5:22-23).

MacArthurSo strongly does Jesus identify with believers that He declared that those who lure them into sin are deserving of the most horrifying death imaginable. 

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6).

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven” (Mt 18:10).

Stein This verse is a good example of step parallelism in which the first thought (child—me) is raised a step higher in the second thought (me—him who sent me). Even as a child is received as a representative of Jesus, so Jesus is received as the representative of God (cf. Luke 10:16). There is a strong emphasis here on the idea that Jesus’ mission originated with God (cf. Lk 4:18, 43). (Ibid)

Receives (welcomes - all three are the same verb)(1209)(dechomai = middle voice of a primary verb) means to to receive something offered or transmitted by another (Luke 2:28). To "put the welcome mat out" (so to speak), to be receptive to someone (Mt 10:14, 40). To take a favorable attitude toward something (Mt 11:14). As used by Jesus dechomai describes the way that humble, childlike believers (Mt 18:5, compare faithful preachers of the gospel - Mt 10:14, and the Gospel itself -Luke 8:13; cf. Acts 8:14; 17:11) should be received. 

Him who sent Me - This is a short description of Jesus' mission to planet earth.

Sent (649)(apostello from apo = from, away from + stello = to withdraw from, avoid) means to send off, to send forth, to send out. To send out; to commission as a representative, an ambassador, an envoy. The idea is to send forth from one place to another. But the meaning of apostello is more than just to send because it means "to send off on a commission to do something as one’s personal representative, with credentials furnished" (Wuest) To send upon some business (Mt. 2:16; 10:5; 20:2). To send away in the sense of to dismiss (Mk 12:3, 4). To send or thrust forth as a sickle among corn (Mk 4:29).

Luke uses apostello more than any other NT writer - 

Lk. 1:19; Lk. 1:26; Lk. 4:18; Lk. 4:43; Lk. 7:3; Lk. 7:20; Lk. 7:27; Lk. 9:2; Lk. 9:48; Lk. 9:52; Lk. 10:1; Lk. 10:3; Lk. 10:16; Lk. 11:49; Lk. 13:34; Lk. 14:17; Lk. 14:32; Lk. 19:14; Lk. 19:29; Lk. 19:32; Lk. 20:10; Lk. 20:20; Lk. 22:8; Lk. 22:35; Acts 3:20; Acts 3:26; Acts 5:21; Acts 7:14; Acts 7:34; Acts 7:35; Acts 8:14; Acts 9:17; Acts 9:38; Acts 10:8; Acts 10:17; Acts 10:20; Acts 10:36; Acts 11:11; Acts 11:13; Acts 11:30; Acts 13:15; Acts 15:27; Acts 15:33; Acts 16:35; Acts 16:36; Acts 19:22; Acts 26:17; Acts 28:28


For (gar) is a term of explanation. What is Jesus explaining?

The one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great - This is counter-intuitive! Heavenly esteem is the antithesis of worldly esteem! Here the least is the least and is sadly often exploited for that very reason. Heavenly greatness is the opposite of earthly greatness! In Mt 18:4 Jesus equates "least" with humbling of one's self as the criteria of greatness in the kingdom of heaven. Luke did not touch on this lesson from Jesus' teaching.

Least is mikros (3398)(English microscopic) which means small or literally literally, but also of little importance (insignificant, lowly, unimportant). 

SteinThe term “least” has nothing to do with rank, talent, or importance but refers instead to the one most willing to humble himself in order to serve others (cf. Mark 9:35). (Ibid)

MacArthur The truly great in the heavenly kingdom are not those who claw their way to the top and seek for people to give them honor, but those who humbly defer to others, considering them more important than themselves and looking out for their interests (Phil. 2:3-4). It is the humble, not the proud, that God will exalt (1:52; 14:11; 18:14; Matt. 23:5-12; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6).

Great (3173)(megas) is used 230 times in the NT most often translated as great. Great means which is of major significance or importance!

Morris adds that Jesus says "is great" and "does not say ‘greatest’. In the kingdom people do not compare themselves with one another. True greatness consists in lowly service."

Thomas Constable says that "The second lesson (first was about humility) was that acceptable service involves caring about people, even insignificant people such as children (Matt. 18:5; Mark 9:37). That is the lesson Luke included in his account of this teaching (Lk 9:48). It reflects his interest in neglected people. A child was the least significant person in Jewish and in Greco-Roman culture. Jesus meant that instead of seeking status for themselves His disciples should give their attention to the needs of people who have no status, people like children. The disciple who ministers to a person with no status as though he or she was ministering to Jesus does indeed minister to Jesus and to God the Father. The principle is that the disciple who is willing to sacrifice personal advancement to serve insignificant people, as the world views people, is truly great in God's estimation (cf. Matt. 25:35-40; Mark 9:41). (Luke 9)

Life Application Study Bible - Our care for others is a measure of our greatness. How much concern do you show for others? This is a vital question that can accurately measure your greatness in God's eyes. How have you expressed your care for others lately, especially the helpless, the needy, the poor—those who can't return your love and concern? Your honest answer to that question will give you a good idea of your real greatness.

Candidates For Humility

Read: Mark 9:30-37

He who is least among you all will be great. —Luke 9:48

“What do you think of the candidates?” That’s what a reporter for a news magazine asked a young woman at Dartmouth University after a debate among presidential hopefuls. She didn’t say a word about their positions on the issues or their skill at debate. She simply remarked, “None of them seems to have any humility.”

Benjamin Franklin, the early American statesman, made a list of character qualities that he wanted to develop in his own life. When he mastered one virtue, he went on to the next. He did pretty well, he said, until he got to humility. Every time he thought he was making significant progress, he would be so pleased with himself that he became proud.

Humility is an elusive virtue. Even Jesus’ disciples struggled with it. When Jesus learned that they had been arguing about who was the greatest, He responded, “If anyone desires to be first, he should be last of all and servant of all” (Mk. 9:35). Then He took a little child in His arms and indicated that we need to humbly serve others as if we were serving Christ.

If a news reporter were to talk to our friends, neighbors, or fellow church members and ask them to describe us, would they use the word humble? By David C. Egner

True greatness does not lie with those
Who strive for worldly fame;
It lies instead with those who choose
To serve in Jesus' name. —DJD

Humility can be sought but never celebrated.

Bring Them Joy

Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me. —Luke 9:48

Poet Shel Silverstein wrote a heart-touching verse titled, “The Little Boy and the Old Man.” In it he portrays a young boy talking to an elderly gentleman.

The boy says, “Sometimes I drop my spoon.” “I do that too,” replies the old man.

“I often cry,” continues the boy. The old man nods, “So do I.”

“But worst of all,” says the boy, “it seems grownups don’t pay any attention to me.” Just then the boy feels “the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.” “I know what you mean,” says the little old man.

But do we really know what those two meant? Are we like the righteous patriarch Job, who was a man of compassion, helping the helpless? (Job 29:12-13). We consider Job good and godly (Job 1:8) because he demonstrated love to others, not just because he believed in God and offered prayers for his own family. He had Christlike compassion long before Jesus walked this earth.

The concerns of the Lord’s heart have not changed. He still is asking all who have accepted Him as Savior to be instruments of His love for those who need help (Mt. 22:39; Lk. 10:30-37; 1 Cor. 13; 1 Pet. 3:8). He longs to touch others’ lives through you and me. By Mart DeHaan

I long to have a caring heart,
To show God's love to those in need;
So help me, Lord, to share a part
Of all I have through word and deed. —Hess

People with a heart for God have a heart for people

Steven Cole - What can we learn here about pride and humility?

A. Pride begins in the heart and must be dealt with on the heart level.

Jesus knew “what they were thinking in their heart” (Lu 9:47). Pride was at the root of the original sin, where Eve thought that she could be like God if she disobeyed Him and ate the forbidden fruit. It is at the root of almost all sin, because we proudly think that we know better than God who has given us His commandments. We wrongly think that we know what is best for us, even if it goes against what God has clearly said. So to deal with pride, we must confess our selfish rebellion against God and humble ourselves before Him. If God gave us what we deserve, we would go straight to hell! We must repent of pride and seek His grace.

Also, dealing with pride on the heart level means examining our motives for what we do. Why do I serve Christ? Is it out of love and gratitude to Him, or is it to be recognized by others? What happens if I don’t receive the recognition that I think I deserve? Do I get hurt feelings and quit? Do I grow jealous of those who seem to be in the limelight? Or, do I truly rejoice with the success of other servants of the Lord because the name of the Lord is being glorified?

So often we’re like Linus in the Peanuts cartoon strip. His sister, Lucy, asks him what he wants to be when he grows up. He replies that he wants to be a humble country doctor. He says that he will live in the city and every day he will get in his sports car and drive to the country where he will heal everyone. In the last frame he says that he will be a world-famous humble little country doctor. So often, in our hearts we want to be world-famous humble servants of Jesus!

B. Pride is fed by competition; humility is fed by cooperation.

There can only be one “greatest” disciple, and the way you determine the winner is by making comparisons. But Jesus totally disarms this way of thinking. He makes no comparisons among the twelve, or between them and anyone else. The apostle Paul does the same thing with the factious Corinthians when he says, “What do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1Co 4:7). In other words, God has given us everything that we are and have. We are only stewards or managers of it for His sake. Since it all comes from Him, it is ridiculous for us to be puffed up over our own gifts or abilities and to look down on others who don’t have what we have.

As Americans, we especially have to be on guard because our culture thrives on competition, not cooperation. We want to win, even (or, especially!) if it means crushing our opponents and making them look bad. If we promote teamwork, it’s only so that our team beats the other team. Imagine the idea of all the teams in the National Football League cooperating so that everyone ended the season as winners!

I read a great story about a missionary to the Philippines who was trying to teach a remote native tribe how to play croquet. He explained the rules and showed them how they could knock their opponents’ ball away. But these people lived in a culture that survived through cooperation, not competition. They were confused: why would you want to smash your opponent’s ball out of the court? “So you can win,” the missionary explained.

But these “primitive” tribesmen, playing in their loincloths, wouldn’t do it. After the first man got his ball through all the wickets, he went back and coached the others on how to do it. Finally, when the last man hit his ball through the last wicket, they all jumped up and down and shouted, “We won! We won!”

That’s the spirit we need if we want to avoid pride and promote humility. Paul wrote to the rivals in the church at Philippi, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Php 2:3-4). Rather than being jealous because someone else has some spiritual experience or recognition that we lack, we should rejoice because the Lord’s team has won.

C. Pride is fed by our association with the “important”; humility is fed by our association with the “lowly.”

The disciples were arguing about who was the greatest disciple of Jesus. At this point, Jesus was riding a wave of popularity. Crowds thronged around Him wherever He went. When Jesus was arrested and about to be crucified, it was a different story: they all left Him and fled. But for now, it made them feel important to be identified with Jesus.

To correct their pride, Jesus took a child and stood him at His side. In the Judaism of that day, a child under 12 could not be taught the Torah, and so to spend time with them was considered a waste (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament [Eerdmans], 5:646-647). But Jesus was showing that His followers must welcome and be kind to those whom society regarded as unimportant. Not only was this child not unimportant; by receiving ones such as this, Jesus’ disciples actually receive Him and the Father who sent Him. This shows us God’s concern for every person, no matter how unimportant our society may regard him or her. And it shows us that if we think we’re something because we know some “important” people, our focus is wrong. The only thing that makes us “something” is our association with Jesus, and that isn’t because of anything good in us, but only by His undeserved grace.

D. Humility grows when we focus on Christ’s omniscient presence and on the cross.

Perhaps there were some obvious non-verbal signs that showed Jesus what the disciples were discussing. But Lu 9:47 indicates that He had supernatural knowledge of what they were thinking. Scripture tells us that there is nothing hid from His sight (Heb 4:13). He knows every proud and jealous thought we entertain. If we would only keep that in mind, we would be quick to judge our proud thoughts the second we recognized them!

Also, as I mentioned, this debate about who is the greatest occurs in the context of the cross (Lu 9:44, Lu 9:51). If we would keep in view the suffering that Jesus went through to save us from our sins, how could we go on exalting ourselves over others? It was my pride and selfishness that put the sinless Savior on the cross. As Isaac Watts put it in his great hymn,

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

So to grow in our usefulness to the Savior, we must grow in humility and judge our pride. (Luke 9:46-56 Relational Lessons for Christian Service)

J C Ryle - Luke 9:46-50 WHO WILL BE THE GREATEST

The verses we have now read contain two most important warnings. They are directed against two of the commonest evils which are to be found in the Church of Christ. He who gave them knew well what was in the heart of man. Well would it have been for the Church of Christ, if His words in this passage had received more attention!

(1) In the first place, the Lord Jesus gives us a warning against pride and self-conceit. We a re told that "there arose a reasoning among the disciples which of them should be the greatest." Astonishing as it may seem, this little company of fishermen and publicans was not beyond the plague of a self-seeking and ambitious spirit. Filled with the vain notion that our Lord's kingdom was to appear immediately, they were ready to wrangle about their place and precedency in it. Each thought his own claim the strongest. Each thought his own deserts and right to honor most unquestionable. Each thought that whatever place was assigned to his brethren, a principal place ought to be assigned to himself. And all this happened in the company of Christ Himself, and under the noon-tide blaze of His teaching. Such is the heart of man.

There is something very instructive in this fact. It ought to sink down deeply into the heart of every Christian reader. Of all sins there is none against which we have such need to watch and pray, as pride. It is a pestilence that walks in darkness, and a sickness that destroys at noon-day. No sin is so deeply rooted in our nature. It cleaves to us like our skin. Its roots never entirely die. They are ready, at any moment, to spring up, and exhibit a most pernicious vitality. No sin is so senseless and deceitful. It can wear the garb of humility itself. It can lurk in the hearts of the ignorant, the ungifted, and the poor, as well as in the minds of the great, the learned, and the rich. It is a quaint and homely saying, but only too true, that no pope has ever received such honor as pope "self."

Let a prayer for humility and the spirit of a little child, form part of our daily supplications. Of all creatures none has so little right to be proud as man, and of all men none ought to be so humble as the Christian. Is it really true that we confess ourselves to be "miserable sinners," and daily debtors to mercy and grace? Are we the followers of Jesus, who was "meek and lowly of heart," and "made himself of no reputation" for our sakes? Then let that same mind be in us which was in Christ Jesus. Let us lay aside all high thoughts and self-conceit. In lowliness of mind, let us esteem others better than ourselves. Let us be ready, on all occasions, to take the lowest place. And let the words of our Savior ring in our ears continually, "He that is least among you all the same shall be great."

Luke 9:49 John answered and said, "Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name; and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow along with us.

KJV And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.


Mark has a parallel passage:

Mark 9:38-40 John said to Him, “Teacher (cf John 13:13), we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. 40“For he who is not against us is for us.

Jesus will use the disciple's prideful, jealous response to this man to teach on humility.

Stein on John As one of the “inner three,” John assumed authority and exercised it by forbidding those outside of the immediate fellowship of disciples to minister in Jesus’ name. (New American Commentary)

Master (1988)(epistates from ephistemi =  to set over) means a person of high status, chief, commander. All NT uses by Luke (except the 10 lepers in Lk 17:13), all spoken by the disciples and all refer to Jesus. Matthew and Mark use either "Teacher" or "Rabbi" instead of Master. TDNT comments that "the transcription rabbi used by the other Evangelists is avoided by the Hellenist Luke (directed to Greek audiences who would not understand "rabbi")." Luke employed epistates as an equivalent of didaskalos, “teacher” (Luke 8:24; cf. Mark 4:38; 9:38; Luke 9:49). Epistates could describe  a chief commander, a magistrate, a governor of a city, or a president of a college, but one thing all have in common is authority. In using Master Simon recognized Jesus' authority.

What a paradox - This strange interloper was able to accomplish what the 12 had been unable to accomplish with the demon possessed boy! O, how quickly the flesh loses sight of what is of eternal value for the Kingdom, especially if their method is not exactly like mine! We are all guilty of this sin of comparison and exclusivity from time to time. "That pastor just uses too much distracting alliteration!" or "That pastor never uses helpful alliteration!" You get the point!

Leon Morris quips that "This has been the error of Christians in every age and it is interesting to see it in the very first generation of Jesus’ followers."

Casting out (driving) (1544)(ekbállō from ek = out + bállō = to cast, throw, drive) means to cast, throw out often with the idea of force. Used of our Lord’s expulsion of demons 
(Mt 9:34; Mk 1:34,39). 

Casting out demons in Your Name - see Luke 10:17; Acts 3:6; 4:7, 10, 30; 16:18; 19:13–16.

Demons (1140) (daimonion) refers to unclean, wicked, or evil spirits that sought habitation in men's bodies.

Leon Morris on in Your name - Some commentators reject this, saying that exorcism in the name of Jesus is unlikely to have been carried out in his lifetime. They think Luke is reading back the experience of the church into the time of Jesus. But this seems superficial. When Jesus was as successful in casting out demons as the preceding chapters show, nothing is more natural than that someone should attempt the same in his name. (TNTC)

Hendriksen With this man the phrase "in Christ's name" was not a magical formula; it was reality. 

To hinder (2967)(koluo from kólos = docked, lopped, clipped, kolazo = curtail) means to cut off, to cut short, to weaken and generally to hinder, to prevent, to check, to restrain or to forbid by word or act. The idea is to cause something not to happen. Koluo can describe the keeping back of something from someone (Acts 10:47 referring to the Holy Spirit - see verse below). To hinder means to make slow or difficult the progress of something by interfering in some way with the activity or progress thereof. In short koluo means to make it difficult for someone to do something or for something to happen.

Luke uses the imperfect tense which means either "we were trying to hinder  him" or "we kept (repeatedly) hindering him." In either case, their efforts to hinder this man were sadly and paradoxically a hindrance to the work of God!

Luke's uses of koluo - Lk. 6:29; Lk. 9:49; Lk. 9:50; Lk. 11:52; Lk. 18:16; Lk. 23:2; Acts 8:36; Acts 10:47; Acts 11:17; Acts 16:6; Acts 24:23; Acts 27:43

Because (hoti) is a  a term of explanation. What is John explaining to Jesus?

He does not follow along with us - Notice they did not say he did not follow Jesus. It is quite possible he is a follower of Jesus, and certainly he followed His example and gave glory to His Name. He may have been among the 70 in Lk 10:17-note. We need to avoid (deny self) the natural (fleshly, self-centered) tendency to look down on other believers who do not "do it" exactly the way we do it! You've never done that have you? (That's a rhetorical question!). 

Follow along (190)(akoloutheo from a = expressing union/likeness + keleuthos = way, road) means going in the same way, walking the same road. The idea being "to follow with" another. It implies fellowship, joint-participation, a side-by-side walking with another and was the common verb describing the action of a disciple (Mt 4:20, 22, 25; 9:9; 19:27, 28; 27:55; Mk 1:18; 9:38; Jn 1:41; 12:26). 

This man was not a disciple of Jesus, certainly not in the same sense as John and the others. He was a stranger, an outside to their cliche! Jesus is warning us against the ever present dangers of intolerance or narrow exclusivism.

Hendriksen Even today that spirit of narrow exclusivism is at times mistaken for loyalty to one's church or denomination. We hear people say, "Our denomination is the purest manifestation of the body of Christ on earth." As long as we are on this sinful earth, a terrain where hypocrisy in high places frequently corrupts not only political but even ecclesiastical life, would it not be better to leave such judgments to God? Let us not be more restrictive than was Moses. Let us not be less broad-minded than was Paul (Phil. 1:14-18). Let us follow the teaching of Jesus and, while maintaining what we ourselves regard as purity of doctrine, let us reach out the hand of brotherhood to all those who love the Lord Jesus Christ and build upon the firm foundation of his infallible Word. Doing this, let us pray that we may be instrumental in leading others to the way of salvation, to the glory of God (I Cor. 9:19, 22; 10:31, 33). (Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke)

Rod MattoonThey were still struggling with this "number one" or "being the greatest" issue. So the disciples opposed or "forbad" him. It is the same word that is translated "hinder" in Acts 8:36.—And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said. See. here is water: what doth hinder me to be baptized? The response of the Lord is very clear, "Forbid him not! Don't get in his way! He is for us not against us." The attitude of the disciples has managed to float down the stream of time to our present day ocean. Nothing has changed because this same mentality still exists today. It is sad that Bible-believing churches or Bible colleges will oppose or fight with one another in order to make claims of being the best, the biggest, or the greatest. These groups will oppose a good work in three basic ways:

  1. Confrontation, fighting, or arguing with people in these churches or schools.
  2. Constant criticism of the ministry.
  3. Conspiracy to destroy the work through slander, public attacks, or destruction of property. Where are we commissioned to do this in the Bible?

There are many churches and Bible colleges today that believe the Bible is the Word of God, and preach the truth of the Gospel, but don't have the name "Baptist" in their name. Are they our enemies? Good heavens, "No," yet, some believers act like it. Do I like or agree with their methods or some of the things that they do in their assembly? No, but that doesn't mean they are my enemies. There are Baptist churches and colleges that do things I don't agree with at all. As long as they are not preaching lies or false doctrine, and as long as they are preaching salvation through Christ alone, I'll thank the Lord for them, even though I am not in total-agreement with some of the things they do in their organization. Paul was faced with this type of problem, when he was in jail at Philippi, only his situation was worse. What did he do? He rejoiced that Christ was preached.  (Treasures from Luke, Volume 2)

Luke 9:50 But Jesus said to him, "Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you.

KJV And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.


This vignette is similar to that described by Paul in prison -

Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; 16the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,(Philippians 1:15-18-note)

Do not hinder (2967) see this verb koluo above. The present imperative with a negative is a command to stop an action they are already doing. 

For (gar) is a term of explanation. What is Jesus explaining? Clearly Jesus is telling His men why to not hinder other kingdom workers that may not do it exactly like they do it! (Which was ineffective in the case of the demon possessed boy!). In Mark 9:39 Jesus gives a slightly different explanation writing "for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me."

He who is not against you is for you - As the title above notes, there is no neutrality. One is either working for the King and the eternal Kingdom of light or one is working (overtly or indirectly) for the would be "king" (Satan) and his passing kingdom of darkness. Clearly this "stranger" to the "inner 12" was the "real deal" and was also a disciple of Jesus, albeit just not in the inner circle (cf Lk 11:23). "The Lord removed any doubt that this man was a genuine disciple, since He would never have forbidden the apostles to rebuke a false teacher." (MacArthur)

The opposite of this "proverb" is found in Luke 11:23a  “He who is not with Me is against Me." Stein comments that "These (Ed: two opposite proverbs) complement, rather than contradict, each other and reveal that one cannot be neutral with respect to Jesus."

Against is kata (down on) which speaks generally of a downward movement and here speaks specifically against, opposed to, in conflict or disagreement with. 

For is huper which means on behalf of, in favor of and "on your side."

Leon Morris - Anyone who opposes demons in Jesus’ name is to be welcomed, not opposed. He is on the right side. Plummer aptly points out that this gives the test we should apply to others, whereas the saying ‘He who is not with me is against me’ (Lk 11:23) we should apply to ourself.

Henry Morris on not against you - This seems to conflict superficially with Christ's statements in Luke 9:23; 11:23; etc. However, they refer to two different situations. When people attempt to be neutral about Christ, they are really against Him. However, when people are sincerely trying to honor Him but doing it more out of ignorant zeal than full understanding, the Lord recognizes that they are really for Him and will not discourage them from their efforts. In fact, by implication, Christ will somehow see to it that sincerity will be rewarded with greater understanding (Hebrews 11:6; John 7:17).

MacArthur Pride promotes exclusivity, but humility promotes unity. We cannot embrace those who claim to be Christ’s but do not preach the truth of Christ. However we must embrace all who both name the name of Christ and also speak His truth, whatever organization they belong to. Christians must have the attitude of Paul, who rejoiced when the truth was proclaimed—even when those preaching it were cruelly hostile to him (Phil. 1:15-18). (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Luke 6-10).

William BarclayThere is no passage in which Jesus so directly teaches the duty of tolerance as in this. In many ways tolerance is a lost virtue, and often, where it does exist, it exists from the wrong cause. Of all the greatest religious leaders none was such a model of tolerance as John Wesley. 'I have no more right', he said, 'to object to a man for holding a different opinion from mine than I have to differ with a man because he wears a wig and I wear my own hair; but if he takes his wig off and shakes the powder in my face, I shall consider it my duty to get quit of him as soon as possible... The thing which I resolved to use every possible method of preventing was a narrowness of spirit, a party zeal, a being straitened in our own bowels—that miserable bigotry which makes many so unready to believe that there is any work of God but among themselves... We think and let think.' When his nephew, Samuel, the son of his brother Charles, entered the Roman Catholic Church, he wrote to him, 'Whether in this Church or that I care not. You may be saved in either or damned in either; but I fear you are not born again.' The Methodist invitation to the sacrament is simply, 'Let all who love the Lord come here.' (Luke 9)

ConstableThis incident exposed an attitude of rivalry among the Twelve that existed toward other disciples of Jesus. This was not a problem of orthodoxy; the exorcist believed in Jesus. It was rather a problem of fellowship or association; he was not one of the Twelve. He appears to have been on the fringe of Jesus' followers. The Twelve wanted to exclude him, but Jesus wanted to include him. Jesus' reply was proverbial. He had stated the reverse truth earlier (Matt. 12:30). Disciples should regard people who do not oppose them as associates rather than as enemies. This incident concludes the section of Luke's Gospel that records Jesus' ministry in and around Galilee (Lk 4:14-9:50). Its major emphasis has been the identity of Jesus.

Life Application Study Bible - The disciples were jealous. Nine of them together had been unable to cast out a single evil spirit (Lk 9:40), but when they saw a man who was not one of their group casting out demons, they told him to stop. Our pride is hurt when someone else succeeds where we have failed, but Jesus says there is no room for such jealousy in the spiritual warfare of his Kingdom. Share Jesus' open-arms attitude toward Christian workers outside your group. Rejoice when they are able to bring people to Christ.

J C Ryle In the second place, our Lord Jesus Christ gives us a warning against a bigoted and illiberal spirit. As in the preceding verses, so here, the occasion of the warning is supplied by the conduct of His own disciples. We read that John said to Him, "Master, we saw one casting out devils in your name — and we forbade him, because he follows not with us." Who this man was, and why he did not associate with the disciples, we do not know. But we do know that he was doing a good work in casting out devils, and that he was doing what he did in the name of Christ. And yet John says, "we forbade him." Very striking is the reply which the Lord at once gave him — "Forbid him not — for he that is not against us is for us."

The conduct of John and the disciples on this occasion is a curious illustration of the sameness of human nature, in every age. Thousands, in every period of Church history, have spent their lives in copying John's mistake. They have labored to stop every man who will not work for Christ in their way, from working for Christ at all. They have imagined, in their petty self conceit, that no man can be a soldier of Christ, unless he wears their uniform, and fights in their regiment. They have been ready to say of every Christian who does not see everything with their eyes, "Forbid him! Forbid him! for he follows not with us."

The solemn remark of our Lord Jesus Christ, on this occasion, demands our special notice. He pronounces no opinion upon the conduct of the man of whom John speaks. He neither praises nor blames him for following an independent course, and not working with His disciples. He simply declares that he must not be forbidden, and that those who work the same kind of work that we do, should be regarded not as enemies, but allies. "He that is not against us is for us."

The principle laid down in this passage is of great importance. A right understanding of it will prove most useful to us in these latter days. The divisions and varieties of opinion which exist among Christians are undeniably very great. The schisms and separations which are continually arising about Church-government, and modes of worship, are very perplexing to tender consciences. Shall we approve those divisions? We cannot do so. Union is strength. The disunion of Christians is one cause of the slow progress of vital Christianity. Shall we denounce, and hold up to public reprobation, all who will not agree to work with us, and to oppose Satan in our way? It is useless to do so. Hard words never yet made men of one mind. Unity was never yet brought about by force. What then ought we to do? We must leave alone those who do not agree with us, and wait quietly until God shall think fit to bring us together. Whatever we may think of our divisions, the words of our Lord must never be forgotten — "Forbid them not."

The plain truth is, that we are all too ready to say, "We are the men, and wisdom shall die with us." (Job 12:2.) We forget that no individual Church on earth has an absolute monopoly of all wisdom, and that people may be right in the main, without agreeing with us. We must learn to be thankful if sin is opposed, and the Gospel preached, and the devil's kingdom pulled down, though the work may not be done exactly in the way we like. We must try to believe that men may be true-hearted followers of Jesus Christ, and yet for some wise reason may be kept back from seeing all things in religion just as we do. Above all, we must praise God if souls are converted, and Christ is magnified — no matter who the preacher may be, and to what Church he may belong. Happy are those who can say with Paul, "If Christ be preached, I rejoice, yes and will rejoice," (Phil. 1:18.) and with Moses, "Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them all!" (Num. 11:29.)

Luke 9:51 When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem

KJV And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,


When the days were approaching for His ascension - This is clearly an expression of time and in the context of Luke's Gospel marks a very important juncture, for from here on we find Jesus setting His sights on accomplishing the mission for which He was sent, to die on the Cross and provide redemption from the penalty of sins for all who would believe on Him. This phrase also signifies that some time had elapsed following the events of Lk 9:46-50. 

See Irving Jensen's overview of the book of Luke with a major turning point at Luke 9:51, Lk 9:51 through Lk 19:27 beginning His last 6 months, primarily in Judea and Perea, which would involve primarily instruction, including many parables, and with about 60% of this section being unique to the Gospel of Luke. 

H A Ironside entitles Luk 9:51-19:27 "The Savior's Work and Teaching After Leaving Galilee Up to the Entrance Into Jerusalem."

John MacArthur - Up to this point, Luke has focused on Jesus’ coming, detailing the angelic announcement of His birth to Mary the account of His birth, the incident in the temple when He was twelve, His baptism by John, His temptation by Satan, and the first two and a half years of His ministry as Messiah, reaching its pinnacle at the transfiguration. But at this point, the whole tenor of Luke’s gospel changes. The focus is no longer on Jesus’ coming, but on His goingThe Galilean ministry is over, and He is on His way for the final time to His passion in Jerusalem. Although the Lord would, in the few intervening months of His Judean ministry, make brief return visits to Galilee (e.g., Lk 17:11-37), Galilee was no longer His base of operations. Much of the material in this travelogue (cf. Lk 9:52, 57; 10:1, 38; 13:22, 33; 17:11; 18:35; 19:1, 11, 28-29) of Christ’s final journey to the cross (Lk 9:51-19:27) is unique to Luke’s gospel. Of the other gospel writers, only John records features from the months in Judea (John 7-11). (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Luke 6-10.)

John PhillipsLuke has been dwelling on the work in Galilee and the Lord's anointing has been prominent (Luke 4:14-9:50). We have followed the Lord's path from the Temptation to the Transfiguration. From now on, every step will be dogged by opposition. As we glance down the chapters ahead, we are amazed by the variety of approaches that the enemy uses to hinder and halt the Lord in His mission on earth. The first tactic we can call the scholastic approach. It was headed by an attorney. However, Luke gives us some background information first. He records the Lord's inflexible determination to follow a path that would take Him at last to the cross: "And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51). He "crossed the Rubicon," as the Romans would have said. Most likely, the disciples themselves were cheered by this steady march south. Where else could a king be crowned than Jerusalem? The proper question to ask would be where else a rejected king could be crucified. (Exploring the Gospel of Luke: An Expository Commentary)

Rod MattoonAs through His lifetime from a child to a man, Jesus was "focused on His finish" in the final months of His life. His responsibility to be the mediator between God and men was in Jerusalem, and He was resolved to break the tape and cross the finish line that had been determined before the foundation of the world. He resolved to do His Father's will and complete the task that would affect the destiny of all people that would put their faith in Him for all eternity. He did not run and hide from what was ahead. No, He willingly headed to Jerusalem to sacrifice His life for all of us. Jesus was journeying from Galilee to Jerusalem, so he had to travel south. Samaria lay between Galilee and Judea, thus he would have to travel through that region. As He traveled to Jerusalem, messengers were sent ahead to the village of the Samaritans to make preparations for food and lodging. (Treasures from Luke, Volume 2)

Constable The heart of this part of the Gospel is Jesus' preparation of the disciples for their second mission. The contrast between disciples and non-disciples becomes stronger, and the duties and privileges of discipleship emerge clearer. (Luke 9)

Hendriksen This portion of Luke's Gospel has always been considered one of the most precious parts of Scripture. It contains such oft-quoted passages as Lk 9:51, 57, 58, 62; 12:4-7, 22-34; 15:7; such instructive stories as that of Christ's visit to the home of Martha and Mary (Lk 10:38-42) and that of the cleansing of ten lepers, only one of whom—and he a Samaritan!—returned to give glory to God (Lk 17:11-19); and no less than 21 of Luke's 27 parables! In fact, of the 18 parables that are peculiar to Luke's Gospel, this Central Section contains 16. Among these 16 are The Samaritan Who Cared (Lk 10:25-37) and The Lost ("Prodigal") Son (Lk 15:11-32). Even apart from many parables much that is found here is without parallel. But there are also many paragraphs that are duplicated elsewhere, at least to some extent (Lk 9:57-62; 10:13-16, 21-24, etc.). The parallels are nearly always found in Matthew's Gospel, not nearly as often in Mark.

When the days were approaching - Lit., in the fulfilling of the days. This refers to God's timetable and purpose for His Son to provide redemption for the world. NET Note adds "There is literary design here. This starts what has been called in the Gospel of Luke the “Jerusalem Journey.” It is not a straight-line trip, but a journey to meet his fate (Luke 13:31-35)."

Approaching (4845)(sumpleroo from sún = an intensifier + pleróo = to fill) to fill to the brim, fill completely. Used only in the passive in the NT - be fulfilled or be completed. In the literal sense described the boat becoming filled completely with water (Luke 8:23 [cf. Mark 4:37]). Sumpleroo is used figuratively in the other two uses in the NT to speak of time which has arrived and is "the timely moment for an event to take place" (BDAG) and so to be fulfilled or fully come (used here in Luke 9:51; and lastly in Acts 2:1). The shadow (type), the Feast of Pentecost, was described in Lv 23:15-21  and in Acts 2:1ff  we see the fulfillment (sumpleroo) of the OT "shadow".

MacArthur on approaching (fulfilled) - God’s plan of redemption was to be fulfilled by Christ’s going to Jerusalem to die as a sacrifice for sin, and He always operated on a divinely pre-written timetable (cf. Luke 13:31-33; John 7:8, 30; 8:20). In Gethsemane Jesus rebuked Peter for his valiant but wrongheaded attempt to prevent His arrest, asking him, “How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?” (Matt. 26:54; cf. v. 56; Luke 22:37). On the road to Emmaus after His resurrection, Jesus reminded two of His disciples, “All things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44). Peter declared to the Jewish people that “the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled” (Acts 3:18), while Paul told the Gentiles in Pisidian Antioch, “Those who live in Jerusalem, and their rulers, recognizing neither [Jesus] nor the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled these by condemning Him” (Acts 13:27). (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Luke 6-10)

His ascension (KJV = be received up) is literally His "taking up" which is the noun analempsis (from analambano = to receive up) found only here and means "ascension." The root verb analambano is used to describe Jesus' ascension into heaven in several passages (Mk 16:19, Acts 1:2, 1:11, 1:22, "taken up to glory" = 1 Ti 3:16). Analambano was used in the Septuagint for the departure of Elijah (read 2 Kings 2:9 "before I am taken from you.”). Clearly Luke is alluding to the completion of Jesus' mission, including His crucifixion, resurrection, ascension and seating at the right hand of His Father (OT priests did not sit in the Holy Place -- there was no chair! Why? They work was never done, but only served to point to the finished sacrifice of the perfect, sinless Lamb of God on the Cross of Calvary. Jesus could sit because His work was finished, even as He Himself declared when he said "It is finished," the great Greek word  tetelestai).

While most of the translations and commentaries interpret "His ascension" or more literally "His being taken up" this word does recall the event that is associated specifically with His death, that is, His lifting up on the Cross as He predicted declaring "As Moses lifted up (hupsoo) the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up (hupsoo)." (John 3:14) So it is reasonable to consider the phrase "His being taken up" as referring to His approaching death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, and not just restricted to His literal ascension (Acts 1:9-11).

He was determined - Literally "set His face." No turning back is the idea. The Cross was before Him. He is on His way for the preface, the Triumphal Entry, which will end in His total agony in the Garden and on the Cross. Mission Impossible (sinners forgiven) would soon be Mission Him-possible (atonement accomplished)! Set His face reminds one of Ezekiel 6:2; 13:17; 14:8; 15:7.

NET Note comments that "Set His face" is "a Semitic idiom that speaks of a firm, unshakable resolve to do something."

Gen 31:21 So he fled with all that he had; and he arose and crossed the Euphrates River, and set his face toward the hill country of Gilead.

Isa 50:7 For the Lord GOD helps Me, Therefore, I am not disgraced; Therefore, I have set My face like flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed. 

Comment: This is a clear OT statement by the Messiah describing His future mission to redeem "Paradise Lost."

Luke 9:51 is the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy in Isaiah 50:7 (see Messianic Prophecies) where the Messiah declares "For the Lord GOD helps Me, therefore, I am not disgraced. Therefore, I have set My face like flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed." Notice that the phrase Like a flint indicates stone-like, steely determination in the face of opposition (cf Ezek 3:8, 9) and vile treatment which would tempt any normal man to shrink back from the call. Jesus "was determined to follow God’s plan and deliberately initiated the precipitating events, showing that he was in control of what was about to happen." (Stein)

Constable Jesus' resoluteness in view of the suffering that lay ahead of Him also gives a positive example to readers

Face (4383)(prosopon from pros = towards + ops = eye, the part around the eye and so the face) means literally toward the eye or face. Of the face of Jesus transfigured (Mt 17:2), of His face spat in (Mt 26:67) and slapped (Mk 14:65). 

The setting of Christ's face depicts His unshakable, unwavering, unhesitating resolve to fulfill the Father's will for His life and to endure the shame of the Cross even as recorded in Hebrews 12:2-note where the writer says of Jesus "for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." 

Was determined (4741)(sterizo from histemi = to stand) means to make firm or solid, to set fast, to fix firmly in a place, to establish, figuratively to cause to be inwardly firm or committed. The basic idea is that of stabilizing something by providing a support, so that it will not totter. Jesus steadfastly set his face to go. He set forth with fixed purpose. Luke uses sterizo two more times, once to describe the gulf or chasm between Paradise and Hell and then in Jesus prayer for Peter after he had denied Him and returned that Peter would be enabled to strengthen his brethren...

Luke 16:26‘And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’

Luke 22:32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Jesus resolutely setting His face recalls an OT illustration of a young man who was resolute

But Daniel made up his mind ("placed it on his heart") that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself. (Da 1:8-see commentary)

Leon Morris - There is no real parallel to this section in any of the other Gospels, though some parts of it are like passages in Matthew and, after Lk 18:15, in Mark also. Luke speaks of Jesus as travelling to Jerusalem; but his ministry is far from over and there is much that he has yet to teach the disciples. This section is largely (though not exclusively) concerned with teaching, just as the preceding one has concentrated on Jesus’ deeds. There can be no doubt about the idea of a journey. Luke speaks specifically of Jesus as travelling to Jerusalem (an important place for Luke) a number of times (Lk 9:51, 53; 13:22, 33; 17:11; 18:31; 19:11, 28) and there are other, less specific indications of a journey (Lk 9:57; 10:1, 38; 14:25). But a problem arises when we try to trace its course. From Lk 9:51ff. Jesus appears to be going by the shorter route through Samaria, but later we find him passing through Jericho (Lk 19:1) which lay on the longer route through Perea. In Lk 10:38 he is at the village of Martha and Mary, i.e. Bethany (John 11:1), only a couple of miles from Jerusalem. But in Lk 17:11 he is ‘between Samaria and Galilee’. (TNTC)

Jerusalem -

Stein on Jerusalem (Wikpedia) -  This is the city of Jesus’ destiny (Luke 9:22). It is central to Luke’s view of God’s plan in that his Gospel also begins (Lk 1:9) and ends there (Lk 24:53). Furthermore, Acts also begins in Jerusalem (Acts 1:4), and it soon becomes the center of the church (Lk 8:1, 14; 15:1–2) with Paul returning to Jerusalem after every missionary journey.

W A Criswell on Jesus' last Journey to Jerusalem  -   Jesus' last ascent to Jerusalem began on the eastern side of the Jordan.  After crossing the river, He entered Jericho, then ascended the mountain to Bethany and Jerusalem.  There He was crucified. "The time had come for Him to be received up" is referring to His ascension (cf. Lk 24:49-53; Acts 1:1-11). In the LXX the same word which appears here describes Elijah's translation into heaven, but Luke refers to the entire passion experience, including Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension. At this place Luke begins a new section of his Gospel: the journey to Jerusalem, sometimes referred to as the "travel narrative" (Lk 9:51-19:27).

Life Application Study Bible - Although Jesus knew he would face persecution and death in Jerusalem, he was determined to go there. That kind of resolve should characterize our lives as well. When God gives us a course of action, we must move steadily toward our destination, regardless of the potential hazards that await us there.

Defending God

Read: Luke 9:51–56

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

The anti-God bumper stickers covering the car seized the attention of a university professor. As a former atheist himself, the professor thought perhaps the owner wanted to make believers angry. “The anger helps the atheist to justify his atheism,” he explained. Then he warned, “All too often, the atheist gets exactly what he is looking for.”

In recalling his own journey to faith, this professor noted the concern of a Christian friend who invited him to consider the truth of Christ. His friend’s “sense of urgency was conveyed without a trace of anger.” He never forgot the genuine respect and grace he received that day.

A gentle answer turns away wrath. Proverbs 15:1

Believers in Jesus often take offense when others reject Him. But how does He feel about that rejection? Jesus constantly faced threats and hatred, yet He never took doubt about His deity personally. Once, when a village refused Him hospitality, James and John wanted instant retaliation. “Lord,” they asked, “do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” (Luke 9:54). Jesus didn’t want that, and He “turned and rebuked them” (v. 55). After all, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17).

It may surprise us to consider that God doesn’t need us to defend Him. He wants us to represent Him! That takes time, work, restraint, and love.

Lord, when we are confronted with hate, help us not to be haters but to respond as Your Son did: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) - Tim Gustafson

The best way to defend Jesus is to live like Him.

INSIGHT: Luke 9:51 says, “Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Christ was deliberately going to Jerusalem to face even more opposition because of His commitment to die on the cross for our redemption. When James and John rightly perceived opposition to their Master, they wrongly responded with an attitude of vindictive punishment. Most likely they were thinking of Elijah calling down fire from heaven (2 Kings 1:10–12) and the fire that fell in judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19). Yet they missed the point that Jesus’s truth claims are submitted for human consideration without coercion or duress.

As one theologian wisely said: “God is a Gentleman and will not violate our own free will.” The time of judgment that is most certainly coming has its own set time in God’s calendar. Before it arrives, each human being who hears the gospel has the freedom to believe it or reject it. God is “patient with [us],” the apostle Peter wrote, “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

How might you show grace and faithfulness in letting your gospel light shine today regardless of the response?

Peripheral Vision

Read: Luke 9:51-62

Now it came to pass, when the time had come for [Jesus] to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem. —Luke 9:51

Peripheral vision enables us to be aware of our surroundings while remaining focused on our destination. What we see from “the corner of our eye” can be useful, unless it distracts us from our goal.

During the weeks leading to Easter, as we think about the cross, we may be struck by our Lord’s purposeful approach to the city where He knew crucifixion and resurrection awaited Him. “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). From that moment on, Jesus’ eyes were on the cross. Every obstacle to accomplishing His Father’s will became part of His peripheral vision.

When a man professed an interest in following Him, Jesus told him: “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (v.62). The issue was probably not the man’s family (v.61) but his focus.  We can’t move ahead while looking at what we’ve left behind.

Neither cries of “Hosanna” nor shouts of hatred could deter Jesus from His goal “to give His life a ransom for many” and to pay the price to set us free (Matt. 20:28).

Where is our focus today? -- David C. McCasland

Some people follow Jesus Christ,
Then obstacles get in their way;
But if they’ll focus on the Lord,
They won’t be led astray. 

You don’t need to know where you’re going if you know the One who does.

Luke 9:52 and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him

KJV And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.

He sent messengers on ahead of make arrangements for Him - Is this not a description of all His disciples ever since? Are we not sent into all the world to proclaim the Gospel which is in a very real sense making "arrangements for Him?" You are sent! Have you went?

Ahead of him (pros prosopon) is literally the idiom "“sent messengers before his face."

Sent (649)(apostello from apo = from, away from + stello = to withdraw from, avoid) means to send off, to send forth, to send out. To send out; to commission as a representative, an ambassador, an envoy. The idea is to send forth from one place to another.

Messengers (32)(aggelos/angelos  possibly from ago = to bring) literally means a messenger (one who bears a message - Lk 1:11, 2:9, etc or does an errand). Most of the NT uses refer to heavenly angels (messengers) who are supernatural, transcendent beings with power to carry out various tasks. The identity of these messengers is uncertain - it could have been some of the 12 disciples but the text simply does not say. 

A T Robertson has an interesting note - As a precaution since he was going to Jerusalem through Samaria. The Samaritans did not object when people went north from Jerusalem through their country. He was repudiating Mount Gerizim by going by it to Jerusalem. This was an unusual precaution by Jesus and we do not know who the messengers (angels) were.

Leon Morris these messengers "went on ahead to prepare lodgings for the little band. A group of a dozen or so would strain the resources of a small village if they arrived unexpectedly." 

Went (4198)(poreuo/poreuomai - Vine says it is derived from poros, a passage, a ford, Eng., pore) means primarily to go, journey, travel, proceed. To move from one place to another. Literally Poreuomai means to go from one place to another and thus to travel or journey (Lk 13:33). Poreuomai is also used to speak of the point of origin which conveys the sense of to depart (from). (Mt 25:41, Lk 13:31). Poreuomai can also be used with the sense of indicating a destination which conveys the sense of to go (to the destination), to proceed (toward the destination) (Acts 1:25, Acts 18:6).

A village of the Samaritans - The mutual hatred of the Jews and the Samaritans is evident in such passages as John 4:9; 8:48. 

Stein - Only Luke, of the Synoptic writers, referred to Jesus’ ministry to the Samaritans (Cf. Luke 10:25–37; 17:11–19; Acts 1:8; 8:1, 4–25; 9:31; 15:3. Note, however, John 4:4–42.). A journey through Samaria would normally take about three days.

Mattoon There was great hatred between the Jews and Samaritans. In fact, the animosity was so intense that many Jews would actually go out of their way to NOT travel through the central region of Samaria which was between the Galilee region in the north and the region of Judea in the south. What the Jews would do, is cross the Jordan River and travel on the other side of the river until they would pass Samaria, and then they would cross back over the river. Jesus did not hold this prejudice in His heart toward these people and checked into getting lodging there. In fact, when He did this, the Lord was extending a hand of friendship to people who were considered enemies. In this case, not only was hospitality refused, but the offer of friendship was spurned.

Hendriksen on Samaritans (see Wikipedia article) - There had long been a feud between the Jews and the Samaritans, a mixed race (2 Kings 17:24-41). In order to gain an insight into the extent of the bitterness between Jews and Samaritans one should read Josephus, Jewish War II.232-246; Antiquities XX. 118-126. Frequently, as Josephus informs us, Galilean Jews, on their way to Jerusalem to attend a religious festival, would pass through Samaria. So implacable was the resentment of Samaritans toward such Jewish pilgrims that, instead of showing hospitality, they would hinder the travelers in every way, even to the extent of actually murdering some of them. See also N.T.C. on John, Vol. I, pp. 159-161.

John Phillips on SamaritansThe Samaritans were a mongrel people, descendants of settlers brought into the area by the Assyrian conqueror Esarhaddon to replace the Hebrews he had deported. The Samaritans adopted a cultic form of Judaism and built a rival temple on Mount Gerizim. The Jews detested them. During the dreadful days of Antiochus Epiphanes, the Samaritans were quick to come to terms with the Syrian despot. They denied all relation to Israel and dedicated their temple to Jupiter. The Maccabees, led by John Hyreanus, eventually took and destroyed the Samaritan temple. It has not been rebuilt. (Exploring the Gospel of Luke: An Expository Commentary)

Related Resource:

Make arrangements (2090)(hetoimazo  from heteos = fitness - see related hetoimasia) means to make ready, specifically to make ready beforehand for some purpose, use, or activity.

Luke's other uses of hetoimazo

Lk. 1:17; Lk. 1:76; Lk. 2:31; Lk. 3:4; Lk. 9:52; Lk. 12:20; Lk. 12:47; Lk. 17:8; Lk. 22:8; Lk. 22:9; Lk. 22:12; Lk. 22:13; Lk. 23:56; Lk. 24:1;Acts 23:23

My favorite use of this verb hetoimazo is by Jesus giving an incredible promise to His disciples (us included)...

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself (the rapture) that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:2-3)

Luke 9:53 But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem

KJV And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.


But - Always pause to ponder this term of contrast for it will usually force you to re-read the immediate preceding context (never a bad thing!). Ask yourself "What is Luke contrasting?" It may seem simplistic and straightforward but it begins to develop the discipline of "interacting" with the text which is living and active and the Author of the text, the Holy Spirit, Who is your teacher. You may be surprised at insights you begin to glean from such a simple practice. 

But they did not receive Him - They did not "put out the welcome mat" for Jesus. The Greek word for "not" (ouk) means absolute negation. One can just feel the cold shoulders these Jewish messengers received from the Samaritans who probably would barely crack their doors open to see their hated enemies!

Regarding the rejection by the Samaritan village NET Note adds "Jerusalem is to be the place of rejection, as Luke 9:4-note suggested. Jesus had resolved to meet his fate in Jerusalem, so the rejection was no surprise."

Receive (1209)(dechomai) means to to receive something offered or transmitted by another (Luke 2:28). It includes the idea of offering hospitality. Dechomai is the same verb used in Luke 9:48-note.

Because (hoti) is a  a term of explanation. What is Luke explaining about why the Samaritans did not receive Jesus?

Young's Literal has "because his face was going on to Jerusalem."  Was is in the  imperfect tense so He was again and again going toward (eis - denoting motion toward) Jerusalem. As Robertson quips this "was reason enough to the churlish Samaritans."

Traveling (4198) see poreuomai above. 

Toward (1519)(eis) means motion toward a place and found after verbs of going (in this case traveling). 

Jerusalem - The site of the His Crucifixion, burial, ascension and return.

Leon Morris notes that the "feud with the Jews was so bitter that they would not help anyone travel to Jerusalem, though apparently they did not mind receiving Galileans as such. Josephus tells us that Samaritans were not averse to ill-treating pilgrims going up to Jerusalem, even to the extent of murdering them on occasion." (TNTC)

Robert Morgan - In chapter 9, Jesus goes into a Samaritan village and is more-or-less kicked out of town, and His disciples are very angry about it. But in Luke 10:25-37-note, Jesus tells a story and the hero is a Samaritan. He is saying, “The Samaritan is a good neighbor. The Samaritan can be better and more loving that a Jewish Priest or Levite.” What was He doing? He was changing the way the disciples viewed the Samaritans.

Notice that Jesus' refusal to retaliate against His opponents provided a positive example for His disciples then and now for most of us from time to time encounter antagonists who are similar to the Samaritans. Peter learned well for in his first epistle he wrote...

For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. 21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously. (1 Peter 2:20-23-note)

Life Application Study Bible - After Assyria invaded Israel, the northern kingdom, and resettled it with its own people (2 Kings 17:24-41), the mixed race that developed became known as the Samaritans. "Purebred" Jews hated these "half-breeds," and the Samaritans in turn hated the Jews. So many tensions arose between the two peoples that Jewish travelers between Galilee and southern Judea often would walk around rather than through Samaritan territory, even though this would lengthen their trip considerably. Jesus held no such prejudices, and he sent messengers ahead to get things ready in a Samaritan village. But the village refused to welcome these Jewish travelers who were headed for Jerusalem.

Luke 9:54 When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?

KJV And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?


When His disciples James and John saw this -  "Saw the messengers returning." (A  T Robertson)

Disciples (3101)(mathetes from manthano = to learn which Vine says is "from a root math, indicating thought accompanied by endeavor". Gives us our English = "mathematics") describes a person who learns from another by instruction, whether formal or informal. Discipleship includes the idea of one who intentionally learns by inquiry and observation (cf inductive Bible study) and thus mathetes is more than a mere pupil. A mathetes describes an adherent of a teacher. As discussed below mathetes itself has no spiritual connotation, and it is used of superficial followers of Jesus as well as of genuine believers.

James and John sought to avenge he Samaritans' insult - This was too much for these two men "James, the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James (to them He gave the name Boanerges (see Wikipedia article), which means, “Sons of Thunder”)." (Mk 3:17) "Their request went far beyond what Jesus taught in Luke 9:5-note." (Stein)

Lord (master, owner)(2962)(kurios) means from kuros = might or power, related to kuroo = to give authority) primarily means the possessor, owner, master, the supreme one, one who is sovereign (used this way of Roman emperors - Act 25:26) and possesses absolute authority, absolute ownership and uncontested power. Kurios is used of the one to whom a person or thing belonged, over which he has the power of deciding, the one who is the master or disposer of a thing (Mk 7:28). This is the first use in Luke 9 with two more uses in Luke 9:54 and Luke 9:61. 

Want (2309)(thelo) primarily refers to exercising of one's will with the underlying sense of to be willing, to desire, to want or to wish (in Jn 15:7 in context of prayer). To apply oneself to something (or to will). Thelo "expresses not simply a desire, but a determined and constant exercise of the will." (W E Vine)

John Phillips on fire Fire on Samaria? All in good time—not punitive fire but Pentecostal fire, the fire of a different day and age, the blessed fire of a day of grace that was yet to come (Acts 2:1-4; 8:5-25).

Come down (2597)(katabaino from kata = down, against + baino = to go) means to come or go down, descend from a higher to a lower place.

Morris on their desire to command fire to come down from heaven and consume the Samaritans - There is great faith in Jesus in this question. In the face of the insult to their Master they felt they had only to call for the fire in Jesus’ name and it would be given. But this does more credit to their zeal and their devotion to Jesus than to their understanding of the nature of Christian service.

Consume (355)(analisko from ) means literally to use up and so when spoken of fire meant to consume or burn up. Figuratively it describes the destruction of the Antichrist by the Christ (2 Th 2:8KJV not NAS or ESV). In the passive voice analisko describes the effects of strife within a group and thus meant to be ruined or destroyed (Gal 5.15)

Gilbrant The semantic range of analiskō includes “to consume or engulf, to destroy, to use up.” The figure probably points to something like a beast of prey that devours its victim, or to enemies who consume what they have conquered, or to a fire which devours, consumes, and destroys. These senses are all attested in classical Greek literature. The Septuagint uses analiskō approximately 20 times. The sense “consume, devour, destroy” predominates (e.g., Genesis 41:30, of a famine; Proverbs 30:14 [LXX 24:37], of human devouring and consuming of the oppressed and poor). The Hebrew verb ākhal, “to eat,” is translated by analiskō on several occasions with a metaphorical idea, “to consume” (e.g., Ezekiel 19:12: “fire consumed [ate] it”). Analiskō also translates mûth, “to die, to be killed,” on one occasion (Ezekiel 5:12).The word is found three times in the New Testament. Luke 9:54 records that James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were offended because a Samaritan city refused to receive Jesus. James and John asked Jesus for permission to “command fire to come down from heaven, and consume (analiskō)” the inhabitants. In Galatians 5:15 Paul gave a stern warning concerning the assembly’s internal strife: “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed (analiskō) one of another.” Finally, analiskō was used by Paul in the eschatological-apocalyptical section found in 2 Thessalonians 2. In verse 8 Paul said the Lord Jesus shall devour or destroy the man of sin “with the brightness of his (Christ’s) coming.” (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

Liddell-Scott - To use up, to spend, lavish or squander money, Thuc. upon a thing, Plat., etc.; -Pass. the monies expended, Id. 2. metaph.,  hast wasted words, Soph.; II. of persons, to kill, destroy, Trag.:-Med. to kill oneself, Thuc.

Analisko - 13x in the Septuagint -

Gen. 41:30; Num. 14:33; Prov. 23:28; Prov. 24:22; Prov. 30:14; Isa. 32:10; Isa. 66:17; Ezek. 5:12; Ezek. 15:4; Ezek. 15:5; Ezek. 19:12; Joel 1:19; Joel 2:3

The request of John and James recalls the episode with Elijah

2 Kings 1:10; 12  Elijah replied to the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. 12 Elijah replied to them, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. 

It is clear that the disciples had not yet taken to heart the lesson of Exod. 23:4, 5; II Kings 6:21-23; Matt. 5:44 (cf. Rom. 12:19-21).

Life Application Study Bible - When the Samaritan village did not welcome Jesus and his disciples, James and John didn't want to stop at shaking the dust from their feet (Lk 9:5). They wanted to retaliate by calling down fire from heaven on the people, as Elijah had done on the servants of a wicked king of Israel (2 Kings 1:1-18). When others reject or scorn us, we, too, may feel like retaliating. We must remember that judgment belongs to God, and we must not expect him to use his power to carry out personal vendettas.

Mattoon Later on, in Acts 8, the Samaritans allowed the disciples to preach the Gospel to them (Acts 8:25). It's a good thing they were not burned to pieces by some hot heads. Beloved, the Lord was not focused on feuding, but on finishing what He needed to do. We are to have that same kind of focus in our life.

NET Note on consume them (as Elijah did alluding to 2 Kgs 1:10, 12, 14) - Most manuscripts, especially the later ones (A C D W Θ Ψ 1,13 33  it), read here “as also Elijah did,” making the allusion to 2 Kgs 1:10, 12, 14 more explicit. The shorter reading has better and earlier support (45,75 ℵ B L Ξ 579 700* 1241 pc lat sa). It is difficult to explain how the shorter reading could have arisen from the longer, especially since it is well represented early on. However, the longer reading looks to have been a marginal note originally, incorporated into the text of Luke by early scribes.
NET Bible.

ILLUSTRATION - FOCUS ON THE FINISH Unlike Carl Lewis and Daley Thompson, Derek Redmond is not a name that conjures up memories of Olympic gold medals, but it is Redmond who defines the essence of determination. Derek Redmond arrived at the 1992 Olympic Summer Games in Barcelona determined to win a medal in the 400 meter race.

The color of the medal was meaningless; he just wanted to win one, just one. He had been forced to withdraw from the 400 at the 1988 Games in Seoul, Korea, only 10 minutes before the race, because of an Achilles tendon injury. He then underwent five surgeries over the next year. This was the same runner who had shattered the British 400-meter record at the age of 19. So when the 1992 Games arrived, this was his time, his moment, his stage, to show the world how good he was and who he was.

Derek's father, Jim, had accompanied him to Barcelona, just as he did for all world competitions. They were as close as a father and son could be. They were almost inseparable and were the best of friends. The day of the race finally arrived. Father and son reminisced about what it took for Derek to get to this point. They talked about ignoring past heartbreaks, past failures. They agreed that if anything bad happened, no matter what it was, Derek has to finish the race, period.

The top four finishers in Derek's heat would move onto the final race. The stadium was packed with 65,000 fans, bracing themselves for one of sport's greatest and most exciting spectacles. The race finally began and Redmond broke from the pack and quickly seized the lead. Down the backstretch, only 175 meters away from finishing, Redmond was expected to make the finals with no problems at all. Suddenly, he heard a pop in his right hamstring. He pulled up lame, as if he had been shot. The pain was absolutely intense.

His leg quivering, Redmond began hopping on one leg, then slowed down and fell to the track. Rolling on the track, clutching his right hamstring, a medical personnel unit ran toward him. At the same time, Derek's father saw that his son was in trouble, and raced down from the top row of the stands. He had no credential to be on the track, but all he thought about was getting to his son, to help him up. He told the media later, "I wasn't going to be stopped by anyone."

As the medical crew arrived with a stretcher, Redmond told them, "No, there's no way I'm getting on that stretcher. I'm going to finish my race." Then, in a moment that will live forever in the minds of millions, Redmond lifted himself to his feet, ever so slowly, and started hobbling down the track. The other runners had finished the race. Suddenly, everyone realized that Redmond wasn't dropping out of the race by hobbling off to the side of the track. No, he was actually continuing on one leg. He was going to attempt to hobble his way to the finish line.

Slowly, the crowd, in total disbelief, stood up to their feet and began to roar. Louder and louder the people cheered. Derek said, "Whether people thought I was an idiot or a hero, I wanted to finish the race." With each painful step, Derek limped onward and the crowd went crazy. His father finally got to the bottom of the stands and leaped over the rail. He ran out to his son with two security guards running after him. He yelled at them and said, "That's my son and I'm going to help him." At the final curve of the track, with about 120 meters to go, Jim reached his arm around his son's waist and said, "I'm here Son. We'll finish together." Determined to finish, Derek put his arms around his father's shoulders and sobbed.

Together, arm in arm, father and son, with 65,000 people cheering, clapping and crying, they finish the race, just as they vowed they would. A couple steps from the finish line, and with the crowd in an absolute frenzy, Jim released the grip he has on his son, so Derek could cross the finish line by himself. Then he threw his arms around Derek again, both crying, along with everyone in the stands and on TV.

This father loved his son dearly. He did not baby his boy when he got out on the track. He went out there because they both had a goal that was important to them both. They were focused on finishing and that goal is what rallied an entire stadium and millions of people across the world to their feet. This guy just wouldn't quit! He was focused on finishing.

Beloved, it is that same resolve that every Christian should have in their own life. Finishing our race for Christ is thousands of times more important than finishing an Olympic race because our race has eternal consequences for people who do not know the Lord and could be reached by us.

You may fall, you may mess up, you may suffer from great trials, but thank God we have a Savior that is with us to help us along the way and get us back on our feet when we get the wind knocked out of us! Focus on your finish, beloved!

The next question is, "How do I do this? How do I focus on my finish?" The Bible has the answer. (Rod Mattoon)

Overcome Evil With Good

 Read: Luke 9:51-56

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. —Romans 12:21

As Jesus began to make His way to Jerusalem, He sent messengers ahead to prepare a Samaritan village along the way for His arrival. But the people there rejected Him.

When James and John heard about their refusal, they fumed, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (Luke 9:54). They had just been on the Mount of Transfiguration and had seen their Lord with Moses and Elijah (vv.28-36). The account of Elijah and the fire from heaven must have come to their minds (1 Kings 18:36-39). But when they asked if they could call down fiery judgment on the Samaritans, Jesus rebuked them.

It is not our business to judge God’s enemies. “‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19). Our business is to tell the world, and even those who oppose us, about His offer of salvation.

Paul gave us these instructions: “‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink’ . . . . Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (vv.20-21). We must overwhelm evil opponents with love if we can, bring them to Jesus if they will come, and leave judgment with God.  -- David H. Roper

It's easy to be kind and good
To those who show us love,
But loving those who won't respond
Takes grace from God above. —Sper

The best weapon to use against your enemy is love.

Luke 9:55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of

KJV But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.


But He turned and rebuked them - Clearly this was the "Jesus way" to spread the Gospel. We all probably have those we would love to call fire down upon, but if we seek to follow Jesus, we will confess and turn from such sinful thoughts. Jesus' point is that of toleration and not retaliation for rejection! Jesus' response to the rude rejection recalls Paul's words to all of us...

Romans 12:14-note  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

Romans 12:17-21-note Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. 20 “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Turned (4762)(strepho from trope = a turn "trope") means turn oneself, turn around. "Dramatic act." (Robertson) Can you imagine the shock of the disciples!

Stein - The disciples had not only failed to understand Jesus’ teaching concerning his passion (9:45) but also much of his ethical teaching as well (cf. Lk 6:27–31). Jesus once again had to censure the disciples’ misconception about authority and power (Lk 9:46–50). (Ibid)

NET NoteThe point of the rebuke is that now was not the time for judgment but patience; see 2 Pet 3:9. (The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.)

Rebuked (2008)(epitimao from epi = upon + timao = to honor) means literally to put honor upon and then to mete out due measure and so then to find fault with, to censure severely, to rebuke, to express strong disapproval of, or to denounce (cp the incredible example in Mt 16:22). Note that one may rebuke another without producing conviction of guilt, either because, as in Mt 16:22 (Jesus rebuked by Peter, cp similar uses in Mt 19:13; Mk 8:32; 10:13; Lk 18:15; 19:39) the one rebuked is not guilty of any fault or the rebuke may be insufficient to produce acknowledgement of fault by the offender (cf the repentant thief's rebuke of the non-repentant thief on the cross = Lk 23:40). Epitimao also conveys the sense of to command or warning which includes an implied threat (Lk 8:24; Mt 16:20)

NET Note -  Many manuscripts have at the end of the verse (with slight variations) "and he said, 'You do not know what sort of spirit you are of, for the Son of Man did not come to destroy people's lives, but to save [them].'" This variant is clearly secondary, as it gives some content to the rebuke. Further, it is difficult to explain how such rich material would have been omitted by the rest of the witnesses, including the earliest and best manuscripts. 

ESV marginal note - Some manuscripts add and he said, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man came not to destroy people's lives but to save them" 

Steven Cole - As Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem, He sent messengers ahead into Samaria to make arrangements. But the Samaritans did not receive Him because they heard that He was going to Jerusalem, and they despised the Jews. There had been a centuries-long hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans, who were viewed as religious half-breeds. So the slightest provocation set off James and John who wanted to call down fire to consume these pagans. But Jesus rebuked them and they went on to another village. (The most reliable manuscripts omit the bracketed words of Jesus’ rebuke, and those that have them contain many variants.)

This incident shows our propensity to misuse the Scriptures to justify our own sinful anger. James and John thought that they were acting in the spirit of Elijah, who called down fire to consume the wicked King Ahaziah’s messengers who came to arrest him (2Ki 1:1-16). They could cite chapter and verse to show that their anger was justified. But, they were wrong. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, not to destroy them.

While rejection is always difficult to handle, if our Lord was rejected, we can expect the same treatment in this wicked world. He deliberately steeled Himself for the coming rejection in Jerusalem (Lu 9:51). As His followers, we must steel ourselves for rejection and not take it personally, even if it is meant that way.

We should let the Lord be the judge. In this case, Jesus judged this village by leaving them in their state of rejection. They would have to answer to God at the judgment for not welcoming Christ into their village. While there is a proper time to “shake the dust off our feet” in protest against those who reject the gospel (Lu 9:5), we should be careful not to jump the gun. God is patient, not willing for any to perish (2Pe 3:9), and we must reflect His love and patience toward those who are opposed, praying that God would grant them repentance.

Conclusion - Living as we do in a culture that is seething with anger and that elevates pride to a virtue, we can have some great opportunities for witness if we will learn the lessons of humility and love for others. If you are mistreated, but you respond with humility and love, you will stand out as a light in the darkness. Be ready to let others know that it is only Christ in you that makes the difference.

If you struggle with pride and anger and have failed often, these verses offer hope. James and John were known as the Sons of Thunder. Matthew Henry observes that here they even want to add lightning to their repertoire! But James went on to give up his life as a martyr and John grew to be known as the Apostle of Love. If the grace of the Lord Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit could change these hotheads, there is hope for us all! Change begins when we acknowledge our sin and come to the cross in repentance. We should walk in the same way (Col 2:6). If you have wronged someone through pride or anger, humble yourself, go and ask their forgiveness. As you learn to practice humility and love, even toward those who have wronged you, you will become an effective servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Luke 9:46-56 Relational Lessons for Christian Service)

Luke 9:56 for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." And they went on to another village

KJV For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.


The Son of Man - This term was used frequent by Ezekiel to describe the prophet himself, but Daniel used Son of Man to refer to a prophecy of the Messiah (see below). In the NT Son of Man is used in 84 verses the majority referring to Jesus. Son of Man was Jesus' favorite description of Himself. By using the phrase "of Man" Jesus demonstrates His compassionate willingness to identify with fallen mankind. (see full note above)

Did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them - A truth reiterated elsewhere in the NT

Matthew 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

John 3:17  “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

John 12:47 “If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.

1 Timothy 1:15  It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.

Destroy (622)(apollumi from apo = away from or wholly + olethros = state of utter ruin <> ollumi = to destroy <> root of apollyon [Re 9:11] = destroyer) means to destroy utterly but not to caused to cease to exist. Apollumi as it relates to men, is not the loss of being per se, but is more the loss of well-being. It means to ruin so that the person (or thing) ruined can no longer serve the use for which he (it) was designed. To render useless. The gospel promises everlasting life for the one who believes. The failure to possess this life will result in utter ruin and eternal uselessness (but not a cessation of existence).

Lives (5590)(psuche from psucho = to breathe, blow) refers to the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing, the human soul. Jesus came to same our souls from eternal destruction and this is why He had set His face toward Jerusalem and the Cross.  

Went on (4198)(poreuo/poreuomai) means primarily to go, journey, travel, proceed. To move from one place to another. Literally Poreuomai means to go from one place to another and thus to travel or journey (Lk 13:33). 

Save (4982) (sozo) has the basic meaning of rescuing one from great peril. Additional nuances include to protect, keep alive, preserve life, deliver, heal, be made whole. The antithesis of save is destroy.

They went on to another village Another is heteros, another of a different kind, presumably not the kind that would not welcome them.

J C Ryle - Let us notice in these verses, the steady determination with which our Lord Jesus Christ regarded His own crucifixion and death. We read that "when the time was come that He should be received up, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem." He knew full well what was before Him. The betrayal, the unjust trial, the mockery, the scourging, the crown of thorns, the spitting, the nails, the spear, the agony on the cross — all, all were doubtless spread before His mind's eye, like a picture. But He never flinched for a moment from the work that He had undertaken. His heart was set on paying the price of our redemption, and going even to the prison of the grave, as our surety. He was full of tender love towards sinners. It was the desire of His whole soul to procure for them salvation. And so, "for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame." (Heb. 12:2.)

Forever let us bless God that we have such a ready and willing Savior. Forever let us remember that as He was ready to suffer, so He is always ready to save. The man that comes to Christ by faith should never doubt Christ's willingness to receive Him. The mere fact that the Son of God willingly came into the world to die, and willingly suffered, should silence such doubts entirely. All the unwillingness is on the part of man, not of Christ. It consists in the ignorance, and pride, and unbelief, and half-heartedness of the sinner himself. But there is nothing lacking in Christ.

Let us strive and pray that the same mind may be in us which was in our blessed Master. Like Him, let us be willing to go anywhere, do anything, suffer anything when the path of duty is clear, and the voice of God calls. Let us set our faces steadfastly to our work, when our work is plainly marked out, and drink our bitter cups patiently, when they come from a Father's hand.

Let us notice, secondly, in these verses, the unusual conduct of two of the apostles, James and John. We are told that a certain Samaritan village refused to show hospitality to our Lord. "They did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem." And then we read of a strange proposal which James and John made. "They said, Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, even as Elijah did?"

Here was zeal indeed, and zeal of a most plausible kind — zeal for the honor of Christ! Here was zeal, justified and supported by a scriptural example, and that the example of no less a prophet than Elijah! But it was not a zeal according to knowledge. The two disciples, in their heat, forgot that circumstances alter cases, and that the same action which may be right and justifiable at one time, may be wrong and unjustifiable at another. They forgot that punishments should always be proportioned to offences, and that to destroy a whole village of ignorant people for a single act of discourtesy, would have been both unjust and cruel. In short, the proposal of James and John was a wrong and inconsiderate one. They meant well, but they greatly erred.

Facts like this in the Gospels are carefully recorded for our learning. Let us see to it that we mark them well, and treasure them up in our minds. It is possible to have much zeal for Christ, and yet to exhibit it in most unholy and unchristian ways. It is possible to mean well and have good intentions, and yet to make most grievous mistakes in our actions. It is possible to imagine that we have Scripture on our side, and to support our conduct by scriptural quotations, and yet to commit serious errors. It is as clear as daylight, from this and other cases related in the Bible, that it is not enough to be zealous and well-meaning. Very grave faults are frequently committed with good intentions. From no quarter perhaps has the Church received so much injury as from ignorant but well-meaning men.

We must seek to have knowledge as well as zeal. Zeal without knowledge is an army without a general, and a ship without a rudder. We must pray that we may understand how to make a right application of Scripture. The word is no doubt "a light to our feet, and a lantern to our path." But it must be the word rightly handled, and properly applied.

Let us notice, lastly, in these verses, what a solemn rebuke our Lord gives to persecution carried on under color of religion. We are told that when James and John made the strange proposal on which we have just been dwelling, "He turned and rebuked them, and said, You know not what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." Uncourteous as the Samaritan villagers had been, their conduct was not to be resented by violence. The mission of the Son of man was to do good, when men would receive Him, but never to do harm. His kingdom was to be extended by patient continuance in well doing, and by meekness and gentleness in suffering, but never by violence and severity.

No saying of our Lord's, perhaps, has been so totally overlooked by the Church of Christ as that which is now before us. Nothing can be imagined more contrary to the will of Christ than the religious wars and persecutions which disgrace the annals of Church history. Thousands and tens of thousands have been put to death for their religion's sake all over the world. Thousands have been burned, or shot, or hanged, or drowned, or beheaded, in the name of the Gospel, and those who have slain them have actually believed that they were doing God service! Unhappily, they have only shown their own ignorance of the spirit of the Gospel, and the mind of Christ.

Let it be a settled principle in our minds, that whatever men's errors may be in religion, we must never persecute them. Let us, if needful, argue with them, reason with them, and try to show them a more excellent way. But let us never take up the "carnal" weapon to promote the spread of truth. Let us never be tempted, directly or indirectly, to persecute any man, under pretense of the glory of Christ and the good of the Church. Let us rather remember, that the religion which men profess from fear of death, or dread of penalties, is worth nothing at all, and that if we swell our ranks by fear and threatening, in reality we gain no strength. "The weapons of our warfare," says Paul, "are not carnal." (2 Cor. 10:4.) The appeals that we make must be to men's consciences and wills. The arguments that we use must not be sword, or fire, or prison, but doctrines, and precepts, and texts. It is a quaint and homely saying, but as true in the Church as it is in the army, that "one volunteer is worth ten men who have been pressed into service."

Luke 9:57 As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, "I will follow You wherever You go.

KJV And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.


Leon Morris entitles this last section (Lk 9:57-62) "Whole-heartedness."

Hendriksen Christ's firm determination to go to Jerusalem, there to die for all those who would place their trust in him, is here contrasted with the weak, conditional commitment of three would-be followers. It is as if Jesus were saying, "My own determination to accomplish the task assigned to me, whatever the cost, must be an example to all my followers."

As they were going along the road - As they were walking. The location is "the road" which is an appropriate designation because Jesus is on the road to the Cross to die. Therefore to walk on the same road as Jesus calls for His followers to take up their cross (death to self and self-interests) and follow Him. (See Lk 9:23ff-note). 

They were going (4198)(poreuo/poreuomai)

Road is hodos which is the same word (THE WAY) used to describe followers of Jesus in Acts (Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22; cf. "the way" in Acts 16:17; 18:25–26) 

Someone said to Him - Matthew says this "someone" is a scribe (see grammateus) who addresses Jesus as Teacher (seemingly offering to be a pupil of Jesus! - see Mt 8:19), which is surprising in that the scribes were generally hostile to Jesus  (Matt. 9:3; 12:38-42; 15:1-2; 16:21; 20:18; 21:15-16; 23:1-36; 26:57; 27:41; Mark 2:6-7, 16; 3:22; 12:38; 14:1, 43; Luke 5:21, 30, 6:7; 9:22, 11:53-54, 15:2; 19:47, 20:1-2, 20:19; 22:2, 66-71, 23:10).

I will follow You wherever You go - Notice that this is an actual encounter, not a parable or story. Notice also that this individual is "offering" to follow Jesus no matter the cost, but in the next verses (Lk 9:58, 60, 62) Jesus explained the cost which quenched the fire of his commitment! This scribe had good intentions, but good intentions will never follow Jesus to the Cross. The road to heaven is paved with a whole-hearted commitment to follow Jesus and contrasts radically with "The road to hell which is paved with good intentions."

"Jesus knows the measure of the scribe's enthusiasm" (Plummer).

The scribes' good intentions remind us of Ruth's declaration which was whole-hearted

Ruth 1:16; 17 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. 17 “Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.”

Parallel in Matthew

Matthew 8:19-20  Then a scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” 20 Jesus *said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 

Follow (190(akoloutheo from a = expresses union with, likeness + keleuthos = a road, way) means to walk the same road. Ponder that simple definition dear believer - Am I willing to walk the same road as Jesus? This individual says he will follow Jesus wherever, but read on. 

Phillips The next incident teaches us not only the character of our discipleship but also the cost of our discipleship. Financial considerations can be a hindrance (Lk 9:57-58).

Stein - The three sayings (Lk 9:57-62) remind Luke’s Christian readers of the stringent nature of discipleship. They are absolute in nature, for Jesus demands unqualified commitment, far beyond what a rabbi might require of his disciples. The first saying shows that Jesus seeks no flippant, frivolous decision to follow him. Following Jesus means becoming a stranger and exile on earth (Heb 11:13). Those who volunteer to be disciples must first count the cost.

BarclayTo the first man, his advice was, 'Before you follow me, count the cost.' No one can ever claim to have been induced to follow Jesus under false pretences. Jesus has paid us the compliment of pitching his demands so high that they cannot be higher. It may well be that we have done great hurt to the Church by letting people think that church membership need not make so very much difference (Ed: Of course church membership per se saves no one - he seems to be speaking of the true Body of Christ, the Church composed only of believers). We ought to tell them that it should make all the difference in the world. We might have fewer people; but those we had would be really pledged to Christ.

Oswald Chambers on Luke 9:57 - The “Go” of Renunciation  - Our Lord’s attitude toward this man was one of severe discouragement, “for He knew what was in man” (John 2:25). We would have said, “I can’t imagine why He lost the opportunity of winning that man! Imagine being so cold to him and turning him away so discouraged!” Never apologize for your Lord. The words of the Lord hurt and offend until there is nothing left to be hurt or offended. Jesus Christ had no tenderness whatsoever toward anything that was ultimately going to ruin a person in his service to God. Our Lord’s answers were not based on some whim or impulsive thought, but on the knowledge of “what was in man.” If the Spirit of God brings to your mind a word of the Lord that hurts you, you can be sure that there is something in you that He wants to hurt to the point of its death.

Luke 9:58. These words destroy the argument of serving Jesus Christ because it is a pleasant thing to do. And the strictness of the rejection that He demands of me allows for nothing to remain in my life but my Lord, myself, and a sense of desperate hope. He says that I must let everyone else come or go, and that I must be guided solely by my relationship to Him. And He says, “…the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

Luke 9:59. This man did not want to disappoint Jesus, nor did he want to show a lack of respect for his father. We put our sense of loyalty to our relatives ahead of our loyalty to Jesus Christ, forcing Him to take last place. When your loyalties conflict, always obey Jesus Christ whatever the cost.

Luke 9:61. The person who says, “Lord, I will follow You, but…,” is the person who is intensely ready to go, but never goes. This man had reservations about going. The exacting call of Jesus has no room for good-byes; good-byes, as we often use them, are pagan, not Christian, because they divert us from the call. Once the call of God comes to you, start going and never stop.

We never enter into the kingdom of God by having our head questions answered, but only by commitment. (My Utmost for His Highest)

Rod MattoonThis man's promise is a good one. His attitude is great! Following Christ begins with this kind of desire. The sentiment of every one of us should be, "Lord, I will follow you wherever you go." It should also characterize our conduct. Unfortunately, this man was charmed, but not changed. He looked upon Jesus as a leader, but not as his Lord.

I like what a banner said over the desk of a college freshman. This banner baffled his friends when they read it and also created curiosity. It read, "I am willing to be third." The friends inquired and wanted to know what it meant. He answered with a big smile, "Jesus first, others second, and myself third." This is the ideal attitude for every believer.

Like the sound of distant drums that echo through mountain valleys and forests, the drum-beats of godly Christians in the past, that made their lives count for Christ, continue to echo down the halls of time even today, "Lord I will follow you wherever you go."

We can still hear the heartbeat of folks like Adoniram Judson, William Carey, David Livingston, D.L. Moody, John Wesley, Fanny Crosby, Charles Spurgeon, and George Mueller. The list goes on and on. These folks gave the Lord a blank check to their lives by saying, "Lord I will follow thee wherever you go." That is an extremely powerful statement which will be tested for sure. If you recall, Peter made such a statement and was tested.John 13:37

Steven Cole - (ILLUSTRATION) A cartoon showed a church building with a large billboard in front that proclaimed: “The LITE CHURCH: 24% fewer commitments, home of the 7.5% tithe, 15 minute sermons, 45 minute worship service; we have only 8 commandments—your choice. We use just 3 spiritual laws and have an 800 year millennium. Everything you’ve wanted in a church…and less!” (Leadership [Summer, 1983, p. 81).

Sadly, there is more truth than fiction in that cartoon! Many churches are lowering the commitment level to attract attenders. They’re afraid that if they preach against sin, they might offend some folks, so they focus on the positive and speak about sin only in the most general terms. They don’t want to deal with touchy doctrinal issues, because people in our culture want to be tolerant and non-judgmental. They wouldn’t dream of practicing church discipline! Their focus is on being upbeat so that everyone feels loved and accepted unconditionally. As a result, we have millions of churchgoers who call themselves Christians, but who are not fully committed to Jesus Christ and the gospel.

George Gallup contends that fewer than ten percent of evangelical Christians could be called deeply committed. The majority who profess Christianity do not know basic Christian teachings and do not act differently because of their Christian experience. As a Lutheran pastor put it, “Ninety percent of our parishes across the country require less commitment than the local Kiwanis club” (Wayne Pohl, Leadership [Winter, 1982], p. 95).

In our text, Jesus makes some radical demands on His followers. Interestingly, just two verses later He laments that the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few (Lu 10:2). If Jesus had hired a marketing consultant, he would have said, “Lord, if you want more workers, you’re going to have to be a bit more realistic. You just lost three good volunteers because you demanded all or nothing!”

But Jesus didn’t lower the standard. Following Christ is like taking a class on the pass/fail system. There is no curve. You either make it or you don’t. He requires that you devote everything that you are and have to Him or nothing at all. It is important to realize that these verses are not just directed to those who are considering “full-time” Christian service. They are addressed to everyone who would consider being a follower of Christ or disciple (the terms are synonymous). The Lord draws a line in the sand: The only way to follow Jesus is totally.

In the context, Jesus has twice announced to the disciples His impending rejection and death (Lu 9:22, Lu 9:44). He has resolutely set His face toward Jerusalem and the cross (Lu 9:51). He has also taught His followers that the first requirement of following Him is to embrace self-denial and the cross (Lu 9:23-note). Here we encounter two men who volunteer to be Jesus’ followers and one whom Jesus calls to follow Him. We don’t know whether these men responded or not, although the sense I get is that they did not. But Luke doesn’t focus on their response because he wants us to apply Jesus’ words to our own hearts: Am I following Jesus totally or just casually? As someone has observed, “There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstances permit. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results” (Art Turock, Reader’s Digest [11/94], p. 212). (Luke 9:57-62 The Only Way to Follow Jesus)

ILLUSTRATION - C. T. Studd (1860-1931) (biography)(Sermon on Studd's Life)(C T Studd "The Chocolate Soldier") was the most outstanding cricket player in England at the end of the nineteenth century. By 1882, he was considered one of the best cricket players in the world and, probably, the best known athlete of his day in England. However, in 1884, after his brother George became seriously ill, Studd was confronted by the question: "What is all the fame and flattery worth when a man must face eternity?"

His brother's illness had a profound impact on him. Consequently, and against the wishes of his family, he decided to forsake fame to serve the Lord through missionary work in China. Along with six other students from Cambridge (together they became known as "the Cambridge Seven"), Studd served as a pioneer missionary under Hudson Taylor with the China Inland Mission.

On his twenty-fifth birthday, Studd inherited $145,000, a vast fortune in that day. He had already determined it would all go into the work of the Lord. He sent out huge checks to several ministries and gave the rest to his new wife, Priscilla.

Priscilla, who also viewed herself as a disciple of Jesus, refused. She said, "Charlie, what did the Lord tell the rich young man to do?" "Sell all." "Well then, we will start clear with the Lord at our wedding." They proceeded to give all of the rest of the money away for the Lord's work.

After ten years in China, Studd and his family began a ministry in India, hoping the climate would be better for his asthma. The Lord used them greatly as people were converted to Jesus every single week. After nearly a decade in India, they returned to England because of his wife's health. There, Studd heard about the urgent need for missionaries in the wild, unexplored interior of Africa. He was fifty years old and had become something of a Christian celebrity in England. Yet, after discussing it with his now nearly invalid wife, Priscilla, they agreed that he should go to Africa without her. She would stay home and recruit others to join him.

Studd left his family in England, compelled to go where no Christian had ever been before. He went into the fiercest place on earth in order to take the gospel to those who needed to hear. One of the last messages he gave in England was on counting the cost:

What are the conditions? They are the same, "Sell out!" God's price is one. There is no discount. He gives all to such as give all. "All! All! Death to ALL the world, ALL the flesh, to the devil, and perhaps to the worst enemy of all: YOURSELF!" ... I don't care what happens to me, life or death, aye, or hell, so long as my Lord Jesus is glorified! (Disciple Making Is...)

Luke 9:58 And Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."

KJV And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.


Hendriksen makes an interesting observation - Nevertheless, as Christ's answer clearly indicates, this man's intentions were not altogether honorable. He saw crowds, miracles, enthusiasm, etc. It seemed so good to be closely associated with the One who was in the very center of all this action. So, he wanted to be Christ's disciple, but he failed to understand the implications of discipleship, namely, self-denial, sacrifice, service, suffering!

Stein - The main emphasis here is less on the loss of creaturely comfort (a place to sleep) than with the rejection (Lk 9:22, 44; 17:25; 20:17).

NET NoteThe idiomatic expression “birds of the sky” refers to wild birds as opposed to domesticated fowl. Jesus' reply is simply this: Does the man understand the rejection he will be facing? Jesus has no home in the world (the Son of Man has no place to lay his head).

MacArthur writes that "as He does with all men (John 2:23-25), Jesus saw beneath the outer veneer of enthusiasm to his heart and refused to embrace his eager offer. The Lord knew that the scribe, having seen the crowds and the miracles and having heard Jesus’ incomparable teaching, wanted to be associated with the one in the center of all the action, who had an unequalled potential future of elevation. Jesus shattered the man’s ambitious expectations with His surprising response (in this verse)."

The Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head - The one who seeks to become rich in worldly terms will not follow the way of Jesus. What a slam this is to the religious hucksters on television who preach a Gospel of "Name it, Claim it" and "Jesus wants you to be rich." 

Gotquestions In what ways should Christians be prepared to step outside their comfort zone?

The Son of Man - This term was used frequent by Ezekiel to describe the prophet himself, but Daniel used Son of Man to refer to a prophecy of the Messiah (see below). In the NT Son of Man is used in 84 verses the majority referring to Jesus. Son of Man was Jesus' favorite description of Himself. By using the phrase "of Man" Jesus demonstrates His compassionate willingness to identify with fallen mankind. (see full note above

John PhillipsIn Matthew's account of this incident, the volunteer was a scribe, an educated man of the upper middle class. As a group, the scribes were hostile to Jesus because He totally rejected their false traditions (Matt. 8:19). Evidently, this man was prepared to give up a great deal to be enrolled as a disciple of Jesus. The Lord, however, saw the weak spot in this man's soul. Privation, not promotion, was all that Jesus offered. He was on His way to crucifixion, not coronation.

MacArthur quips that "The Creator had fewer creature comforts than the animals He had created!"

Hendriksen on foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests Foxes were plentiful in the country of Christ's travels (Judg. 15:4; Neh. 4:3; Ps. 63:10; Song of Sol. 2:15; Lam. 5:18; Ezek. 13:4). Their holes, dens, or lairs were often burrows in the ground. From these they would make their nightly raids, not only hunting frogs, rabbits, mice, poultry, and birds, but also devouring eggs, fruits, etc., and devastating the fields, orchards, and vineyards. The point Jesus emphasizes is, however, that these animals have their definite dwelling-places, their homes to which they return again and again. The same is true also with respect to birds. Ecological conditions (weather, food supply) permitting, they have their definite roosts, temporary lodging places, the place where they, as it were, pitch their tents. If "enemies" try to intrude, they drive them away if they can at all do so. For "the Son of man" (see on 5:24), things are entirely different, however. In his wandering from place to place he, for whom there was no room in the inn, has no place on which he can figure to spend the night. As the story develops, Judea rejects him (John 5:18), Galilee casts him out (John 6:66), Gadara begs him to leave its district (Matt. 8:34), Samaria refuses him lodging (Luke 9:53), earth will not have him (Matt. 27:23), and finally even heaven forsakes him (Matt. 27:46). Therefore let the scribe figure the cost before he builds the tower. Let him consider that permanent discipleship implies struggle and warfare. It is said that at the time of the Civil War (U.S.) there were many volunteers who eagerly joined the ranks, as if going to war meant nothing more than taking part in parades, drills, and reviews, and receiving medals and honors! To be sure, there are glorious rewards for all true followers of the Lord, but it is ever the way of the cross that leads home (Matt. 10:24; Luke 14:26; John 16:33; II Tim. 3:12; Heb. 13:13). Whether this scribe ever became a steadfast follower is not recorded. After all, that is not nearly as important as is the lesson itself.

MacArthur summarizes several of the episodes of rejection of Jesus - In the previous passage, Jesus had been denied lodging by a Samaritan village (Lk 9:51-53). Even though He had cast the demons out of a maniac who had terrorized their region, “all the people of the country of the Gerasenes and the surrounding district asked Him to leave them, for they were gripped with great fear” (Luke 8:37). The people of His hometown of Nazareth “drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff” (Luke 4:29). Capernaum, where He settled after leaving Nazareth (Matt. 4:13), also rejected Christ, causing Him to declare, “And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will be brought down to Hades!” (Luke 10:15). Eventually the nation as a whole would reject Jesus and the crowds would scream, “Crucify Him!” (Matt. 27:22) and, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!” (Mt 27:25). His followers could expect no better. When He sent the Twelve out to preach the gospel, Jesus warned them of the hostility and opposition they would face (Read Mt 10:16-25).

Steven Cole - I pondered this verse as I was sitting in front of my fireplace in my comfortable home, sipping some hot coffee! Does Jesus mean that to follow Him, we must sell our homes, deny ourselves all comforts in life, and become itinerant jungle missionaries? If so, very few would qualify. Even many missionaries have comfortable homes to live in. I think that Jesus was pointing out what He had already said in Lu 9:23, that to follow Him requires a life of self-denial, not of self-indulgence. As J. C. Ryle explains,

He would have no man enlisted on false pretences. He would have it distinctly understood that there is a battle to be fought, and a race to be run,—a work to be done, and many hard things to be endured,—if we propose to follow Him. Salvation He is ready to bestow, without money and without price. Grace by the way, and glory in the end, shall be given to every sinner who comes to Him. But He would not have us ignorant that we shall have deadly enemies,—the world, the flesh, and the devil, and that many will hate us, slander us, and persecute us, if we become His disciples. He does not wish to discourage us, but He does wish us to know the truth (Expository Thoughts on the Gospels [Baker], 3:339).

When I joined the Coast Guard Reserves the recruiter was not exactly honest. Honesty got in the way of their recruitment quotas, so it wasn’t high on their priorities! The recruiter learned that I liked to read, so he told me that there was a library on the base. What he didn’t tell me is that no recruit could go there until he earned the privilege, and that no one could possibly earn the privilege before the sixth week in boot camp, and then it would only be for an hour a week! One guy became the laughingstock of the base when he showed up for boot camp with his fishing pole and water skis, because the recruiter had told him that the base was on an island (true) and that you could fish and water ski there (true, a person might do that, but false if that person was a recruit!). Jesus wasn’t a dishonest recruiter. He wants us to know up front that He is enlisting us in warfare against the powers of darkness, and that warfare is often difficult. If we’re looking for a program where our personal comfort is paramount, we should look elsewhere. Following Jesus must be more important than our personal comfort. (Luke 9:57-62 The Only Way to Follow Jesus)

Rod Mattoon - Jesus is responding to the statement made by the man who said, "Lord, I will follow you wherever you go!" Christ brings the man down to planet earth and gives him a dose of reality. Following Him can be very difficult. There were times that Jesus did not have a place to lay His head.

Most recruiters tell the people they are trying to convince to sign up with them, all the good, and positive reasons why they should do so. The Lord, however, doesn't do this. Instead, He tells the man the negative aspects of following Him. Why would He do this? Jesus is trying to get this man to count the cost in following Him. He was saying, "You must give up everything for the Son of Man, but you must not give up the Son of Man for anything." He is not telling the man "No, you can't follow me." He wants the man to have a clear picture of what he is facing. The Lord does not need a big baby on his hands or a troublemaker.

ILLUSTRATION: One of the famous liberators of Italy was a man named Garibaldi. He set out to liberate Italy and he asked the young people to follow him. "What do you offer?" they asked. He said, "I offer you hardships, hunger, thirst, sickness, suffering, and victory in the noblest cause you ever faced." They counted the cost and followed him. Are you willing to follow Christ?

Counting the cost involves three key areas.

A. Counting the Cost with Self

Counting the cost may involve giving up power, prestige, popularity, or positions. Are you willing to say, "Good-bye" to these things? Are you willing to give up your plans to do the will of God? Are you willing to follow the Lord wherever He leads? If you have not made up your mind, you will struggle in your dedication. You will be inconsistent and unstable because you have not nailed down the identity of your master. You can only serve one. Who will it be?

James 1:8—A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

Matthew 6:24—No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Jesus willingly gave up His own desires and will to do His Father's will. His quest was not one for prestige, power, and popularity. Instead, He willingly humbled Himself.

Philippians 2:5-8... Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

B. Counting the Cost with Society

Society can make your path most difficult if you choose to follow Christ. People have that capability of making life miserable for others. Like tiny splinters that infect the finger, there seems to always be a small segment of people that can create stress in your life through misunderstanding, mocking, mischief, being maligned, or being physically man-handled. To some folks, we are like garbage and they treat us like garbage. Unfortunately, some of these people claim to be Christians.

1 Corinthians 4:13—when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now. 

Our job is to be faithful, no matter what society does to us.

1 Corinthians 15:58—Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

C. Counting the Cost of Security and Sacrifices

Serving the Lord may involve giving up or doing without things that seem to be precious or give us a sense of security. It may involve financial sacrifice as you give up lucrative careers or material possessions to do what the Lord leads you to do. The lack of a large income can make you feel insecure and somewhat scared. Are you willing to face the insecurity of the unknown? Your sacrifice may also involve what you give to the Lord's work to further the cause of Christ.

When we look at the Lord, we find that He gave up financial security to do His Father's will.

2 Corinthians 8:9—For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.

Other sacrifices made by believers in following Christ may be in the areas of health. Many missionaries have contracted diseases and health problems by serving the Lord in the jungles of foreign countries in order to win people to Christ. They made their bodies a living sacrifice. Romans 12:1

Related Resources:

Luke 9:59 And He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father."

KJV And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.


Parallel in Matthew

Matthew 8:21 Another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.”

And He said to another - Presumably there were others following Jesus on the road and in fact Matthew's parallel calls him a disciple. Keep in mind that disciple as used in the NT in a number of contexts did not equate with those who necessarily believed in Jesus (e.g., see the action of the "disciples" in John 6:66)  But physical following and spiritual following are worlds apart (pun intended) and that is what Jesus is teaching in this concluding section of chapter 9. The first man in Lk 9:57 approached Jesus with good intentions led to Jesus' radical description of the cost of those intentions! Now Jesus issues a personal call of discipleship to another man on the road. 

A T RobertsonMatthew 8:21 omits Christ's "Follow me" (akolouthei moi) and makes this man a volunteer instead of responding to the appeal of Jesus. There is no real opposition, of course. In Matthew's account the man is apologetic as in Luke. Plummer calls him "one of the casual disciples" of whom there are always too many. The scribes knew how to give plausible reasons for not being active disciples.

Follow Me was the same command Jesus gave to Matthew.

After that He went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me.” (Lk 5:27-note)

And what was his response?

"And he left everything behind, and got up and began to follow Him. " (Lk 5:28).

Notice the same command and response with Peter and Andrew...

Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. (Mt 4:18-20)

And again notice the same response when Jesus called James and John...

And going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. 20  And immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him. (Mark 1:19-20)

So the description in Luke 9:57-62 which Jesus is giving for a disciple and specifically the cost of being His disciple is not some new teaching but is the "norm" for those who would follow Jesus. Matthew left his lucrative tax collecting trade. Peter and Andrew left their nets, their source of income as fishermen. And James and John left their father to follow Jesus. 

Follow Me (190)(akoloutheo) is a command in the present imperative. Jesus is calling not for an occasional following of Himself, but a veritable lifestyle of walking where Jesus walked (cp 1 Jn 2:6-note). Yes, this is a call to become His disciple. However, it is not a call issued to just a "select group" of radical believers, but a command Jesus issued to all believers (we are all to be "radical" for Jesus!) because all believers are His disciples. See earlier discussion of "Follow Me".

Phillips observes that "family considerations can be a hindrance to discipleship (Lk 9:59-60)....The Jews in that hot climate buried their dead within a day. But that was not the end of it; the mourning period dragged on for ten days. By that time, all sense of urgency as to discipleship might well have evaporated. Then would come the reading of the will and all of the involvement in the distribution of the property, arrangements for the widow, maybe, and all of the other activities. All of them were legitimate concerns—but not for a disciple. The Lord was not against treating one's parents with honor; He was against its becoming an excuse." (Ibid)

But Terms of contrast are always worth pausing to pondering, but this "BUT" is especially significant, because it may well have determined this man's eternal destiny! Remember that "but" is a word which in effect changes the direction of thought and in this crucial case may well have changed the direction of this man's life in time and eternity. When Jesus speaks (your time in the Word, prayer and the urging of the Spirit), be careful that you don't begin your answer to Him with a "but." For example, He says you need to forgive that one who hurt you so deeply this week. And you reply "But Lord, their words cut so deeply and painfully, I could never really forgive them for that because every time I would see them in the future I would be reminded of how they once deeply wounded me with their words! Remember that when Jesus commands us to forgive, His Spirit gives us the supernatural desire and power to enable us to follow through by speaking those words from our heart "I forgive you." (cf Mt 6:12-note, Mt 6:14-15-note)

Steven Cole adds "That word “but” has kept many well-meaning people out of the kingdom of God!"

Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father - For Jews the burial of the dead was a religious duty that took precedence over everything. Sadly, in this case it took precedence over a genuine relationship with Jesus! Are you guilty of practicing temporal religion all the while missing the eternal relationship with Jesus? 

Stein comments "Only in the case of a temporary Nazirite vow (Nu 6:6–7) or if one were the high priest (Lev 21:10–11) could one be absolved from this duty. The seriousness of this responsibility is seen in Tobit’s first two deathbed requests of his son, “My son, when I die, bury me, and do not neglect your mother” (Tobit 4:3RSV), and in one of the son’s greatest fears in dying—that his parents would have no one to bury them (Tobit 6:14RSV; cf. Ge 50:5). Jesus demands an allegiance transcending even this greatest of filial obligations. Some interpreters have sought to relieve the hardness of this saying by assuming that the father was not yet dead and that the son was saying, “Wait until my father dies, and then I will follow you.” There is, however, no hint of this in the text."

Mattoon The reason is not given why he felt he had to bury his father first, but whatever it was, the man wanted to do it "first." Whether his concern was fulfilling a duty, having financial security by getting his inheritance, keeping family approval, or something else, he did not want to commit himself to Jesus just yet. He wanted to serve the Lord on "his" time table, not God's. Serving the Lord at the present time was not convenient for him. Does this sound familiar? Christians make the same type of excuse today when they say, "I will serve the Lord later in my life at a more convenient time. I have too much to do right now." Let me ask, "Does this describe you? Do you find yourself "putting off what God wants you to do today?" If you are a Christian, then live your life for Christ now. Don't let procrastination, serenade you into spiritual slumber and slothfulness. Satan's lullaby will leave you drowsy, defeated, drained, discouraged, and depressed. His temptation to do nothing can cause you to become apathetic and indifferent. Don't waste your life, beloved! 

ILLUSTRATION Dr. George Sweeting wrote this story in Special Sermons for Special Days: "Several years ago our family visited Niagara Falls. It was spring, and ice was rushing down the river. As I viewed the large blocks of ice flowing toward the falls, I could see that there were carcasses of dead fish embedded in the ice. Sea Gulls by the score were riding down the river feeding on the fish. As they came to the brink of the falls, their wings would go out, and they would escape from the falls. I watched one gull which seemed to delay and wondered when it would leave. It was engrossed in the carcass of a fish, and when it finally came to the brink of the falls, out went its powerful wings. The bird flapped and flapped and even lifted the ice out of the water, and I thought it would escape. But it had delayed too long so that its claws had frozen into the ice. The weight of the ice was too great, and the gull plunged into the abyss." Beloved, the finest attractions of this world become deadly when we become overly attached to them. They may take us to our destruction if we cannot give them up, and as George Sweeting observed, "Oh, the danger of delay!" If you have the opportunity to serve God, don't throw away your opportunities. If you have never put your faith in Christ, then don't put that decision off any more. (Rod Mattoon)

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Hendriksen on Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father According to custom, burial generally took place very soon after death (John 11:1, 14, 17; Acts 5:5, 6, 10). In Israel giving an honorable burial to the dead was considered a duty and a kindness (Mic. 6:8) that ranked higher than any other service requiring attention. Filial piety obliged a son to attend to this bestowal of the final act of devotion. Cf. Gen. 25:9; 35:29; 49:28-50:3; 50:13, 14, 26; Josh. 24:29, 30; etc. According to the rabbis, providing a decent burial for one's dear one took precedence over almost everything else, including attending religious services, studying the law, etc. It is not surprising therefore that Jesus was asked by this man for permission to first bury his father. On the surface the request for delay seemed to be reasonable.

Life Application Study Bible - Luke does not say whether the father is already dead or terminally ill. It seems likely that if the father were dead, the son would have been fulfilling the burial duties. Jesus was saying that true discipleship requires instant action. Jesus did not teach people to forsake responsibilities to family, but he often gave commands to people in light of their real motives (Ed: Not a "gut check" but a "motive check!"). Perhaps this man wanted to delay following Christ and was using his father as an excuse. Following Jesus has a cost, and each of us must be ready to serve, even when it requires sacrifice.

Steven Cole - The second man thought that following Jesus was important, but not more important than family obligations. When Jesus said, “Follow Me,” he replied, “Permit me first to go and bury my father” (Lu 9:59). Commentators differ over whether the man’s father had just died, whether he was near death, or whether he had a few years to go. I am inclined toward either of the last two views, since if his father had just died, he probably wouldn’t be tagging along after Jesus at that moment. G. Campbell Morgan refers to a traveler in the Middle East who was trying to enlist a young Arab man as his guide. The man replied that he could not go because he had to bury his father. When the traveler expressed his sympathy, he learned that the young man’s father had not died, but that this was an expression meaning that he had to stay with his father as long as he was alive (The Gospel According to Luke [Revell], p. 133). So probably the man Jesus was calling was saying, “After my father is gone, I will follow You.”

The Bible teaches that we should care for our elderly parents. The fifth commandment enjoins us to honor our father and mother. Paul states that if we do not take care of our own families, we are worse than unbelievers and have denied the faith (1Ti 5:8). Certainly, Jesus was not negating the Ten Commandments. He came to fulfill the Law, not to abolish it (Mt 5:17). But, if our commitment to family is greater than our commitment to Jesus Christ and His kingdom, we’ve got it wrong. Jesus’ reply, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead,” means, “Let those who are spiritually dead tend to such matters.” Then He adds, “But as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”

In our day there has been a resurgence of emphasis on the family in evangelical circles. Much of this emphasis is a needed corrective to the neglect of family relationships that often characterized Christian homes in the past. For example, missionaries in the past often would ship their young children off to missionary schools, where they were away from their parents during their formative years. Even Hudson Taylor sent his children back to England for their education, rather than keeping them with him and his wife in China. They viewed it as the cost of discipleship. I think that this practice is a gross misapplication of Christ’s words. If God calls me to the mission field and also gives me children, I believe He is calling me to have them with me on the field. If that is not possible, my first responsibility is to care for my children until they are old enough to be separated from me without causing them serious problems.

But, having said that, it is possible to be sinfully selfish about the family, where we wrongfully exalt the family over God’s kingdom purposes. I have heard of Christian families who do not get involved in serving the Lord because it would interfere with their family time. Some even stay away from church because they need a family day together. This teaches the children that family is more important than God and His work in this world. Some parents prohibit their children from involvement with missions because they fear that they could get killed in another country. If I may get personal, as many of you know, we almost lost our daughter Joy last summer in an accident in Mexico. I easily could have said, “You’re not going down there again.” I don’t want to lose her, and it is risky to drive on those roads. But to prohibit her from going would be a selfish command that puts family above the kingdom of God. If His kingdom is the priority, I must let her go, entrusting her to God’s protection. (Luke 9:57-62 The Only Way to Follow Jesus)

Luke 9:60 But He said to him, "Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God."

KJV Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.


Parallel Passage

Matthew 8:22 But Jesus *said to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.” (Notice that Luke adds "go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.")

Allow the dead to bury their own dead - In context of the call to follow Jesus, He states that the spiritually dead (Eph 2:1) are those who should bury the physically dead. This helps understand Jesus' hard saying in Luke 14:26 (cf Lk 12:53, Lk 18:29-30). As noted above Luke adds "go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God" which is added "to help his readers understand that Jesus’ uncompromising command is uttered in light of the supreme good of proclaiming the good news." (Stein)

“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

ESV Study note - “Hating” is a Semitic expression for loving less (cf. Gen. 29:30–31; Deut. 21:15–17; Matt. 10:37).

MacArthur Study Bible note - A similar statement in Mt 10:37 is the key to understanding this difficult command. The “hatred” called for here is actually a lesser love. Jesus was calling His disciples to cultivate such a devotion to Him that their attachment to everything else—including their own lives—would seem like hatred by comparison. See Lk 16:13; Ge 29:30, 31 for similar usages of the word “hate.”

Gotquestions What did Jesus mean when He said 'Let the dead bury the dead' (Luke 9:60)?

MacArthur notes that this man is "like the rich young ruler, he was more committed to personal riches than spiritual truth. It is impossible to serve both God and riches (Luke 16:13), and when forced to choose the men both chose riches."

Leon Morris on let the dead bury their own dead - the words have an even greater urgency if the father was dead. The Jews counted proper burial as most important; to leave the father unburied ‘was something scandalous to a Jew’ (Marshall). The duty of burial took precedence over the study of the law, the temple service, the killing of the Passover sacrifice, the observance of circumcision and the reading of the Megillah (Megillah 3b). But the demands of the kingdom are more urgent still. Jesus could not wait until the man got through all that burial meant. So he says, Leave the dead to bury their own dead. Jesus has called the man. He is to proclaim the kingdom of God. Let those without spiritual insight perform the duties they can do so well; burial is very much in keeping for the spiritually dead. But the man who has seen the vision must not deny or delay his heavenly calling.

NET NoteThere are several options for the meaning of Jesus' reply Leave the dead to bury their own dead: (1) Recent research suggests that burial customs in the vicinity of Jerusalem from about 20 b.c. to a.d. 70 involved a reinterment of the bones a year after the initial burial, once the flesh had rotted away. At that point the son would have placed his father's bones in a special box known as an ossuary to be set into the wall of the tomb. Thus Jesus could well be rebuking the man for wanting to wait around for as much as a year before making a commitment to follow him. In 1st century Jewish culture, to have followed Jesus rather than burying one's father would have seriously dishonored one's father (cf. Tobit 4:3-4RSV). (2) The remark is an idiom (possibly a proverbial saying) that means, “The matter in question is not the real issue,” in which case Jesus was making a wordplay on the wording of the man's (literal) request (see L&N 33.137). (3) This remark could be a figurative reference to various kinds of people, meaning, “Let the spiritually dead bury the dead.” (4) It could also be literal and designed to shock the hearer by the surprise of the contrast. Whichever option is preferred, it is clear that the most important priority is to preach the gospel (proclaim the kingdom of God).

Mattoon A later Jewish precedent says that if there were enough people in attendance, a student of the Torah or the first five books of the Bible, should not stop his studying to bury the dead. Jesus placed commitment to God even above these precedents. Even family loyalty was not to take priority over the demands of obedience to the command to go and preach the coming of the Kingdom of God. see Luke 14:26  Jesus is not saying that we should hate or neglect our family. He is saying that our love for Christ should be so great, that our love for our family would look like hatred in comparison. The Lord is to be first in our lives. Our love for our family should not weaken our love for Jesus Christ. If Christ is first in your life, understand that many times that decision will be tested, especially by family members. Many Christians have had to make a choice of whether to follow the Lord or the wishes of their family. Jesus' direct challenge here forces all Christians to evaluate their priorities. The pressing of the Lord with this man indicates not only a peek at our priorities, it also stresses the matter of urgency in serving God. The Lord urged this man to deal with his distractions and just "preach!" If preaching the Word was urgent 2000 years ago, just think how urgent it is today as His coming approaches. The Second Coming of Christ and the death of unsaved men, make the matter of sharing the Gospel an urgent matter. Circumstances change and opportunities can be lost (Jn 9:4, Ro 13:11-12, 1 Cor 7:29, Ps 90:12). (Mattoon's Treasures from Luke, Volume 2)

A T RobertsonThis paradox occurs so in Matthew 8:22. The explanation is that the spiritually dead can bury the literally dead. For such a quick change in the use of the same words see John 5:21-29 (spiritual resurrection from sin in John 5:21-27, bodily resurrection from the grave, John 5:28-29) and John 11:25-26. The harshness of this proverb to the scribe probably is due to the fact that he was manifestly using his aged father as an excuse for not giving Christ active service.

Barclay has some interesting comments - Jesus' words to the second man sound harsh, but they need not be so. In all probability the man's father was not dead, and not even nearly dead. His saying most likely meant, 'I will follow you after my father has died.' The story is told of a very brilliant young Arab who was offered a scholarship to Oxford or Cambridge. His answer was, 'I will take it after I have buried my father.' At the time his father was not much more than forty years of age. The point Jesus was making is that in everything there is a crucial moment; if that moment is missed the thing most likely will never be done at all. The man in the story had stirrings in his heart to get out of his spiritually dead surroundings; if he missed that moment he would never get out. Psychologists tell us that every time we have a fine feeling, and do not act on it, the less likely we are to act on it at all. The emotion becomes a substitute for the action. Take one example—sometimes we feel that we would like to write a letter, perhaps of sympathy, perhaps of thanks, perhaps of congratulations. If we put it off until tomorrow, it will in all likelihood never be written. Jesus urges us to act at once when our hearts are stirred.

Constable It is hard to imagine how Jesus could have set forth the importance of immediate and wholehearted participation in God's program more forcefully.

Jesus' instructions here remind us of similar instructions to the rich young ruler...

Luke 18:22 When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

A T Robertson The scribe's duty is put sharply (But do thou, su de). Christ called him to preach, and he was using pious phrases about his father as a pretext. Many a preacher has had to face a similar delicate problem of duty to father, mother, brothers, sisters and the call to preach. This was a clear case. Jesus will help any man called to preach to see his duty. Certainly Jesus does not advocate renunciation of family duties on the part of preachers.

Proclaim everywhere (give notice) (1229)(diaggello from diá = through + aggéllo = to tell, declare) means to herald thoroughly, to declare fully or far and wide and so to declare plainly, fully and exactly. The preposition dia conveys the idea of throughout all regions. Thayer - "to carry a message through, announce everywhere, through places, through assemblies of men, etc.; to publish abroad, declare."

NET Note on Kingdom of God The kingdom of God is a major theme of Jesus. It is a realm in which Jesus rules and to which those who trust him belong. See Luke 6:20-note; Luke 11:20-note; Luke 17:20-21-note.

See kingdom of God

Kingdom (932)(basileia from basileus = a sovereign, king, monarch) denotes sovereignty, royal power, dominion. Basileia can also refer to the territory or people over whom a king rules. It has been well said that the only kingdom that will prevail in this world is the kingdom that is not of this world! Amen!

What does it mean to proclaim the kingdom of God? Clearly this is synonymous with the proclamation of the Gospel (Lk 9:6), for it is only through the believing of the Gospel that one gains entrance into the Kingdom of God (cf Jn 3:3-5). It is proclaiming the King of that Kingdom and His "royal decree" that He has come to set the captives free. To proclaim the kingdom of God is to proclaim the good news of the King, Christ Jesus. In the last book of Acts (the Christian's handbook for evangelizing the world) Luke records that even in confinement Paul was...

And Jesus was going about in all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. (Mt 4:23, 9:35, Mt 24:14-note, Mk 1:15, Lk 16:16)

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ILLUSTRATION - DON'T THROW IT AWAY One fine day in 1941, Violet Bailey and her fiance Samuel Booth were strolling through the English countryside, deeply in love and engaged to be married. A diamond engagement ring sparkled on Violet's finger like the rays of the sun that sparkle like thousands of diamonds on the surface of a gentle river. This ring was her most treasured possession. Their romantic bliss, however, was interrupted and suddenly ended. One of them said something that hurt the other. An argument ensued, then escalated. At its worst point, Violet became so angry, she pulled the diamond engagement ring from her finger, drew back her arm, and hurled the treasured possession with all her might into the field like a St. Louis Cardinal outfielder throwing a baseball to home plate. The ring sailed through the air, fell to the ground, and nestled under the grass in such a way that it was impossible to see. Violet and Samuel kissed and made up. Then they walked and walked through that field, hunting for the lost ring. Unfortunately, they never found it. It was a treasure that had become wasted and buried under the rubble of the field. Violet and Samuel went on with life and were married two months later. They had a child and eventually a grandson. Part of their family lore was the story of the lost engagement ring. For over a half a century, Violet and Samuel grew old together, and in 1993 Samuel died. Fifteen years passed, but the ring was not forgotten. One day in 2008, Violet's grandson got an idea. Perhaps he could find his grandmother's ring with a metal detector. He bought one and went to the field where Violet had hurled her treasured possession 67 years earlier. He turned on his metal detector and began to crisscross the field, waving the detector over the grass. After two hours of searching, he found what he was looking for. Later, filled with great joy and pride, he placed the treasured diamond ring into the hand of his astonished grandmother Violet. The diamond ring had finally come home. Beloved, enjoying God's salvation and knowing the Gospel is a treasure that must not be buried or thrown away like this diamond ring. Our fellowship with Christ should not be neglected, wasted, or taken for granted. If we have drifted from God or spiritually cooled, then our responsibility is to diligently search for the Lord in His Word and in prayer. In so doing, we will find Him and regain that love, passion, urgency, and dedication for Jesus that we once had in our heart. You have to want this in your life. If you want to be close to the Lord, then make the choice to get close. - Read Jeremiah 29:13 and Isaiah 55:6-7. (Rod Mattoon - Treasures from Luke, Volume 2)

Luke 9:61 Another also said, "I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home."

KJV And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.


Another also said I will follow You - More good intentions like the first aspirant (Lk 9:57)!

Follow (190) see akoloutheo

Phillips observes that "formal considerations can be a hindrance to discipleship (Lk 9:61-62). It was not just a matter of saying good-bye—even the stern prophet Elijah permitted that (1 Kings 19:19-21). Elijah read Elisha's heart just as Jesus read this man's heart. Elisha had no willingness to dillydally and delay. He was following the plow when the great master, Elijah, called him. Within the day, he had made a fire of his plow and a holocaust of his oxen and was hard on the heels of his new lord. The man here in Luke's story might well have been secretly hoping that his family would talk him out of all of his notions of being a disciple. He was already looking back even while volunteering to go forward. Nobody can plow a straight furrow when he keeps looking back.The fatal flaw in the last two men leaps out at us. Both of them said, "Me first!" Any man who wants to start his discipleship with such words simply does not qualify. Come the first hard test, and he'd be off, heading for the family or the farm."  (Ibid)


Notice the scene. He steps forward with a great opening declaration. But his next two words are his Achilles heel - "but first"! This man was not totally committed because the Lord was not really first in his heart. He wanted to serve God on his own terms and his own time-table.

But first permit me to say good-bye to those at home - More bad priorities! Jesus Who could "read" what was in people's hearts saw that this man who was ostensibly sincere, nevertheless had a divided heart. 

Permit (2010)(epitrepo from epi = upon + trepo = to turn) means to turn to, entrust, hence to permit. In Mark 5:13, John 19:38, and Acts 21:39 it carries the sense of release from restraint in order to have freedom of choice. For example, in Mark 5:13 Legion gained freedom from being sent away, and instead was permitted to enter a herd of swine (see Mark 5:8-13).

Gilbrant Epitrepō differs from aphiemi which is occasionally translated “allow” or “permit” in that aphiēmi lacks the sense of release from restraint. For example, in Matthew 7:4, “Allow me to remove the speck . . . ,” aphiēmi suggests a request that would meet no resistance. Epitrepō, on the other hand, carries the sense of release from a restraining activity to freedom or permission to engage in a preferred activity. Paul’s request in Acts 21:39 to preach the gospel in the face of a restraining order best illustrates this nuance In classical Greek epitrepō means “to allow or grant permission.” In the Septuagint (Genesis 39:6) Joseph is said to have certain responsibilities “entrusted” or “committed” to his care (see also Job 32:14). The Septuagint adds the meaning of “commission with duty or responsibility.” It is related to the primary meaning in that one is “permitted” to assume certain responsibilities.

Thayer 1. “to turn to, transfer, commit, intrust”. 2. “to permit, allow, give leave”: 1 Corinthians 16:7; Hebrews 6:3; τινι, Mark 5:13; John 19:38; with an infinitive added, Matthew 8:21; 19:8; Luke 8:32; 9:59,61; Acts 21:39f; 1 Timothy 2:12; and without the dative Mark 10:4; followed by an accusative with an infinitive Acts 27:3 (where L T Tr WH πορευθεντι); cf. Xenophon, an. 7, 7, 8; Plato, legg. 5, p. 730 d. Passive επιτρεπεται τινι, with an infinitive: Acts 26:1; 28:16; 1 Corinthians 14:34.*

Epitrepo - 18x in 17v - allow(2), allowed(2), gave...permission(2), given...permission(1), granted permission(1), permit(4), permits(2), permitted(4).

Matthew 8:21  Another of the disciples said to Him, "Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father."

Matthew 19:8  He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.

Mark 5:13  Jesus gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea.

Mark 10:4  They said, "Moses permitted a man TO WRITE A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY."

Luke 8:32  Now there was a herd of many swine feeding there on the mountain; and the demons implored Him to permit them to enter the swine. And He gave them permission.

Luke 9:59  And He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father."

Luke 9:61  Another also said, "I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home."

John 19:38  After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body.

Acts 21:39  But Paul said, "I am a Jew of Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no insignificant city; and I beg you, allow me to speak to the people."

Acts 21:40  When he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the stairs, motioned to the people with his hand; and when there was a great hush, he spoke to them in the Hebrew dialect, saying,

Acts 26:1  Agrippa said to Paul, "You are permitted to speak for yourself." Then Paul stretched out his hand and proceeded to make his defense:

Acts 27:3  The next day we put in at Sidon; and Julius treated Paul with consideration and allowed him to go to his friends and receive care.

Acts 28:16  When we entered Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him.

1 Corinthians 14:34  The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says.

1 Corinthians 16:7  For I do not wish to see you now just in passing; for I hope to remain with you for some time, if the Lord permits.

1 Timothy 2:12  But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.

Hebrews 6:3  And this we will do, if God permits.

Epitrepo - 3x in the Septuagint - Ge 39:6, Esther 9:14, Job 32:14. 

Say good-bye (657)(apotasso from apo = from + tasso = to place in order) means to assign to different place, to allot. However in the NT it is only found in the middle voice and has the meaning of to part from, to take leave of, to say good-bye. Figuratively, apotasso means to dismiss, forsake, renounce or give up (as of possessions) and in Lk 14:33-note where it carries the notion of putting something aside (perhaps in its correct priority) to prevent it from being a hindrance or gaining excessive control. It is interesting that Jesus did not say the disciple must be “willing” to “renounce” everything; He said that person must give it up! In the majority of the NT uses apotasso means separating oneself from others, places, or things and so bidding them farewell or saying good-bye (Mark 6:46; Acts 18:18, 21; 2 Cor. 2:13). 

Marvin Vincent on apotasso meaning to bid farewell In this sense the word is used only in later Greek. In classical Greek it signifies to set apart or assign, as a soldier to his post or an official to his office, and later to detach soldiers. Hence to dismiss one with orders. This latter sense may, as Kypke suggests, be included in the meaning of the word in this passage; the man desiring to return home, not merely to take formal leave, but also to give his final instructions to his friends and servants. Similarly, Acts 18:18, of Paul taking leave of the brethren at Corinth, and, presumably, giving them instructions at parting. In the New Testament the word is used invariably in the sense of bidding farewell. Mark 6:46 is rendered by Rev. after he had taken leave of them. See note there, and compare Luke 14:33; 2 Corinthians 2:13.

Gilbrant As many as four distinct definitions for apotassō can be found in classical Greek: “to set apart,” “to appoint,” “to exclude,” and “to leave” (middle voice; Liddell-Scott). Later it acquired a stronger negative force, thus it meant “to get rid of (someone), do away with.”

Apotasso - 6x in 6v - bidding...farewell(1), give(1), say good-bye(1), taking...leave(1), taking leave(1), took leave(1).

Mark 6:46  After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray.

Luke 9:61  Another also said, "I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home."

Luke 14:33  "So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

Acts 18:18  Paul, having remained many days longer, took leave of the brethren and put out to sea for Syria, and with him were Priscilla and Aquila. In Cenchrea he had his hair cut, for he was keeping a vow.

Acts 18:21  but taking leave of them and saying, "I will return to you again if God wills," he set sail from Ephesus.

2 Corinthians 2:13  I had no rest for my spirit, not finding Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went on to Macedonia.

The lone Old Testament canonical instance of apotassō occurs in Ecclesiastes 2:20 in the Septuagint (Hebrew yā’ash). Here the idea is “to despair” (from a heart which “leaves”).

ILLUSTRATIONA young man put his hand to the plow, as he pastored a church. His salary was small and his burdens were big. The world did its best to woo him. When the devil couldn't allure him, he attacked him. He used the saints as well as the sinners. Disheartened and discouraged, this gifted and gracious man boarded a train for California. He was going back, broken in heart and in funds, but the Lord wanted him and wooed him. He counted the cost, cut the connections, and Herbert Buffum confirmed his consecration by saying, "I'm going through whatever the price may be." Finding a piece of paper he wrote:

I'm going through, yes, I'm going through.
I'll pay the price whatever others do;
I'll take the road with the Lord's despised few;
I'm going through, Jesus, I'm going through.

Herbert ended up writing 10,000 Gospel songs, with 1000 being published. When he died, the Los Angeles Times called him "The King of Gospel Song Writers." On his grave the epitaph reads: I have fought a good fight. He was determined to put the Lord first in his life. Unfortunately, this man was not. (Mattoon)

Steven Cole - The second man thought that following Jesus was important, but not more important than family obligations. When Jesus said, “Follow Me,” he replied, “Permit me first to go and bury my father” (Lu 9:59). Commentators differ over whether the man’s father had just died, whether he was near death, or whether he had a few years to go. I am inclined toward either of the last two views, since if his father had just died, he probably wouldn’t be tagging along after Jesus at that moment. G. Campbell Morgan refers to a traveler in the Middle East who was trying to enlist a young Arab man as his guide. The man replied that he could not go because he had to bury his father. When the traveler expressed his sympathy, he learned that the young man’s father had not died, but that this was an expression meaning that he had to stay with his father as long as he was alive (The Gospel According to Luke [Revell], p. 133). So probably the man Jesus was calling was saying, “After my father is gone, I will follow You.”

The Bible teaches that we should care for our elderly parents. The fifth commandment enjoins us to honor our father and mother. Paul states that if we do not take care of our own families, we are worse than unbelievers and have denied the faith (1Ti 5:8). Certainly, Jesus was not negating the Ten Commandments. He came to fulfill the Law, not to abolish it (Mt 5:17). But, if our commitment to family is greater than our commitment to Jesus Christ and His kingdom, we’ve got it wrong. Jesus’ reply, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead,” means, “Let those who are spiritually dead tend to such matters.” Then He adds, “But as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”

In our day there has been a resurgence of emphasis on the family in evangelical circles. Much of this emphasis is a needed corrective to the neglect of family relationships that often characterized Christian homes in the past. For example, missionaries in the past often would ship their young children off to missionary schools, where they were away from their parents during their formative years. Even Hudson Taylor sent his children back to England for their education, rather than keeping them with him and his wife in China. They viewed it as the cost of discipleship. I think that this practice is a gross misapplication of Christ’s words. If God calls me to the mission field and also gives me children, I believe He is calling me to have them with me on the field. If that is not possible, my first responsibility is to care for my children until they are old enough to be separated from me without causing them serious problems.

But, having said that, it is possible to be sinfully selfish about the family, where we wrongfully exalt the family over God’s kingdom purposes. I have heard of Christian families who do not get involved in serving the Lord because it would interfere with their family time. Some even stay away from church because they need a family day together. This teaches the children that family is more important than God and His work in this world. Some parents prohibit their children from involvement with missions because they fear that they could get killed in another country. If I may get personal, as many of you know, we almost lost our daughter Joy last summer in an accident in Mexico. I easily could have said, “You’re not going down there again.” I don’t want to lose her, and it is risky to drive on those roads. But to prohibit her from going would be a selfish command that puts family above the kingdom of God. If His kingdom is the priority, I must let her go, entrusting her to God’s protection.

The third man volunteers to follow Jesus, but with the stipulation that he first be allowed to go home and say good-bye to everyone. He thought that following Jesus was important, but not important enough to let go of the old relationships and ways. The Lord could tell that the man’s heart was divided. Like Lot’s wife, he just couldn’t quite cut the ties with the old life. He wanted to keep the door open so that if things didn’t work out, he could always go back. He wasn’t willing to make a clean break with the old contacts and way of life.

Jesus replies, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Lu 9:62). In other words, His followers must be totally focused on His purpose. They can’t keep one foot in the world just in case things don’t work out in the Kingdom. Their hearts cannot be divided between living for the old way of life and living for Jesus Christ. In a picture of total dedication to a task, the ancient writer, Hesiod, speaks of “one who will attend his work and drive a straight furrow and is past the age of gaping after his fellows, but will keep his mind on his work” (cited by Darrell Bock, Luke [Baker], 2:983). Another writer explains, “Following him is not a task which is added to others like working a second job.… It is everything. It is a solemn commitment which forces the disciples-to-be to reorder all their other duties” (Karris, cited by Bock, p. 984).

When Jesus talks of putting one’s hand to the plow and turning back, He is not referring to someone who starts out in so-called “full time Christian service” but then leaves the ministry for “secular” work. He isn’t referring to how a person earns a living, but rather to a basic focus in life. The disciple must fix his eyes on Jesus Christ and His cause. He must seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Mt 6:33). Whether he earns his living digging ditches or preaching the gospel, his consuming purpose in life is to know Jesus Christ and to make Him known. Thus,

2. Following Jesus is not just an important thing—it’s the most important thing in life.

It’s not just a slice of life, something that rounds out your life and makes it a bit nicer. It’s the center, the hub of your life. Everything else revolves around Jesus and His kingdom purpose. My career must be subservient to the will of God and His kingdom purpose. My family life must be centered on following Jesus Christ and serving Him. My spare time is not my own, to do with as I please. It must be yielded to Jesus Christ and His purpose. This is not to say that every spare minute must be spent in serving the Lord. He made us so that we require rest and recreation. We need not feel guilty about taking appropriate time off for leisure activities. But the reason for the time off is so that we will be refreshed to serve the Lord better.

I think that Christians need to do some careful thinking about the subject of retirement. While there’s nothing wrong with the concept of retirement, per se, Christians should view it much differently than the world does. We should view it as an opportunity to be freed up from our jobs so that we can be devoted to the Lord’s work. To dream of getting your Winnebago and parking it in Yellowstone every summer and Yuma every winter is not a godly focus, unless your purpose is to reach out to those in Yellowstone and Yuma! For the life of me, I can’t figure out why many pastors and missionaries retire from the Lord’s service at 65! I realize that we may need to slow down a bit as our bodies get older. But why should we ever retire from the Lord’s service? I’ll preach as long as some church will tolerate the old geezer!

Making our commitment to Jesus Christ the most important thing in life means several things:

Commitment to Christ cannot be based on an emotional, idealistic decision.

The first man was probably caught up with the euphoria of the moment. Crowds were following Jesus. Hundreds were being healed. Jesus’ disciples were a part of this exciting movement. The man wanted in on the action. So he gushes, “I will follow You wherever You go.”

But Jesus realized that the man had not thought it through carefully. He had not considered the cost. He hadn’t thought of the hardship, the rejection, and the persecution that would inevitably follow. He had an idealized, glamorous view of what it meant to follow Jesus. But it wouldn’t carry him through the tough times.

Profession is easy. Practice over the long haul is the test. You can attend an evangelistic meeting where the music is captivating. There is a wonderful spirit in the air. The preacher tells a moving story and gives an invitation and people start streaming down the aisles. You feel good about what he has said. You realize that you have some needs in your life that Jesus could meet. So you go forward and meet with a counselor. He explains that by believing in Jesus you can have all your sins forgiven and be assured of going to heaven. So you pray to receive Jesus.

But does that make you a follower of Jesus? Did you truly become a child of God at that moment? Maybe, but not necessarily! Do you understand that following Jesus and living for self are mutually exclusive, and that you are committing yourself to follow Jesus? Do you understand that following Jesus and clinging to your sins are not compatible, and that when you trust in Christ as Savior, you begin a lifelong battle against sin? Do you understand that while salvation is totally God’s gracious gift, apart from any merit or works on our part, the one who receives God’s gift is no longer his own; he has been bought with a price? He must now live for the One who loved him and gave Himself for him. Commitment to Christ as Savior cannot be based on good vibes.

Commitment to Christ cannot be a casual, whenever-you-find-the-time matter.

What could be more noble and biblical than burying one’s father? But Jesus won’t allow this would-be follower to postpone his commitment until it’s convenient, even for this noble purpose! If heaven and hell are true (and every follower of Jesus must believe that they are, since He taught both so clearly and forcefully), and if death is a daily potentiality for every person, then the message of the kingdom of God is urgent! The people we encounter each day are heading toward the glory of heaven or toward the agonies of hell, and they are a heartbeat away from their eternal destiny! We can’t be casual about our commitment to Christ in light of these solemn truths!

Commitment to Christ cannot be a phase in life that you put behind you someday.

To leave your options open so that you can go back to the old life if things don’t work out as a Christian is to reject following Jesus. Jesus later mentions Lot’s wife as a sober example to everyone who would follow Him when He says, “Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to keep his life shall lose it, and whoever loses his life shall preserve it” (Lu 17:32-33). While the Christian life is a process of daily yielding more and more to the Lord, it can never be approached from the mentality, “I’ll try it and see if it works. Otherwise, I’ll go back to the old ways or try some other way.” If Jesus is the Lord, then the only way is to go forward with Him. Turning back is not even an option.

Conclusion - Since the only way to follow Jesus is totally, each one of us must soberly ask ourselves the question, “Am I following Jesus totally?” Am I holding back something for myself? Am I keeping one foot in the world just in case? Am I hanging on to some secret sins, just so I won’t miss out on what the world has to offer? Am I trying to serve Christ and mammon? Am I saying, “I’ll follow You, Lord, but …?” Everything after that “but” needs to go!

There’s a danger that you will hear a message like this and in a moment of emotion say, “All right, I’m giving everything to Jesus! I’m going all out for Him! I’ll be a missionary, even a martyr if necessary.” But, if you don’t count the cost, you will be like the first man. How do we implement total commitment to Jesus on a daily basis?

Someone observed that we think giving our all to the Lord is like taking a $1,000 bill and laying it on the table. “Here’s my life, Lord. I’m giving it all.” But the reality for most of us is that He sends us to the bank and has us cash in the $1,000 for quarters. We go through life putting out 25 cents here and 50 cents there. Listen to the neighbor kid’s troubles instead of saying, “Get lost.” Go to a committee meeting. Give a cup of water to a shaky old man in a nursing home.

Usually giving our life to Christ isn’t glorious. It’s done in all those little acts of denying self for Jesus’ sake, 25 cents at a time. It would be easy to go out in a flash of glory; it’s harder to live the Christian life little by little over the long haul (Fred Craddock, in Leadership [Fall, 1984], p. 47).

That kind of daily commitment in small increments begins with a total entrusting of your life and eternal destiny to Jesus Christ. He gave Himself on the cross so that you would not have to face God’s wrath on account of your sins. Jesus calls you to turn from your selfishness and sin and to follow Him. If you say, “I’ll follow Jesus, but …” you must erase the “but.” The only way to follow Jesus is totally. (Luke 9:57-62 The Only Way to Follow Jesus)

Luke 9:62 But Jesus said to him, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

KJV And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Jesus (2424)(Iesous) is transliteration of the Greek Iesous, which in turn is the transliteration of the Hebrew name Jehoshua (Yehoshua) or Jeshua (Yeshua) which mean Jehovah is help or Jehovah is salvation. Stated another way the Greek Iesous corresponds to the OT Jehoshua (Yehoshua) which is contracted as Jeshua(Yeshua).

A T RobertsonThis agricultural proverb is as old as Hesiod. Pliny observes that the ploughman who does not bend attentively to his work goes crooked. It has always been the ambition of the ploughman to run a straight furrow. The Palestine fellah had good success at it.

Godet - The figure is that of a man who, while engaged in labor, instead of keeping his eye on the furrow which he is drawing, looks behind at some object which attracts his interest. He is only half at work, and half-work only will be the result. (Ed: And in the economics of Jesus' Kingdom it would actually be "zero" work of eternal value - cf Jn 15:5!)

No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God - The cost is clear and the cost is high. Practically, it is difficult to plow a straight row if one is looking behind rather than forward! This reminds me of Paul's spiritual walk with Jesus when he wrote "forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Php 3:13-14-note) Elijah made a similar call to the people of the northern kingdom of Israel "Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a word." (1 Kings 18:21) Paul's heart was undivided, whereas this man's heart was divided. Jesus made it clear that “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth." (Mt 6:24-note).

Paul like a military general gave Timothy and all other would-be disciples a similar command to be obeyed...

Suffer hardship (aorist imperative conveys a sense of urgency, even like a sharp military command - Do this now! Don't delay! It is urgent!) with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that (purpose clause - What purpose? What keeps us from fulfilling our purpose?) he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. (2 Ti 2:3-4-note)

See discussion Give Me An Undivided Heart

NET NoteJesus warns that excessive concern for family ties (looks back) will make the kingdom a lesser priority, which is not appropriate for discipleship. The image is graphic, for who can plow straight ahead toward a goal while looking back? Discipleship cannot be double-minded.

Putting his hand to the plow and looking back recalls the warning in Hebrews and the tragic example of Demas


for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. (2 Timothy 4:10-note)

In a different context Jesus gave a warning to not look back and backed it up with an OT example:

Luke 17:31 “On that day, the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must not go down to take them out; and likewise the one who is in the field must not turn back. 32) “Remember Lot’s wife.

Looking (991)(blepo)  basically means to have sight, to see, to look at, then to observe, to discern, to perceive with the eye, and frequently implies special contemplation. The present tense indicates this is not just a casual, momentary glance over one's shoulder, but that this look reflects the person's lifestyle. They are habitually looking back. That makes it impossible to go forward, especially if one is to follow Jesus!

Stein - The third man’s request was similar to that of Elisha in 1 Kgs 19:19–21. Yet although Elijah granted the young man’s request, Jesus did not. God’s kingdom has come, and the summons to follow Jesus takes precedence over everything else. The old family relationships are part of what one must leave behind to follow him (Luke 5:11, 28).

Fit (useful)(2111)(euthetos from eu = well, good + tithemi = to place) literally means well-placed, well-situated, suited for, adapted to, convenient and so ready for use. Only 3 uses in NT:

Luke 14:35  “It (salt that has become tasteless - Lk 14:33) is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Hebrews 6:7-note For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God;

Kingdom (932) see discussion of basileia above. 

Barclay His words to the third man state a truth which no one can deny. No ploughman ever ploughed a straight furrow looking back over his shoulder. There are some whose hearts are in the past. They walk forever looking backwards and thinking wistfully of the good old days. The story is told of a certain famous preacher who, when visiting the seaside with his little grandson, met an old minister. The old man was very disgruntled and, to add to all his troubles, he had a slight touch of sunstroke. The little boy had been listening but had not picked it up quite correctly; and when they left the grumbling complaints of the old man, he turned and said, 'Grandad, I hope you never suffer from a sunset!' The Christian advances, not to the sunset, but to the dawn. The watchword of the kingdom is not 'Backwards!' but 'Forwards!' To this man Jesus did not say either 'Follow!' or 'Return!' He said, 'I accept no lukewarm service,' and left the man to make his own decision.

Bruce comments on the 3 would be disciples - The first case is that of inconsiderate impulse, the second that of conflicting duties, the third that of a divided mind. 

As Spurgeon rightly observed "'NOW' is the watchword of the wise." LATER may be too late! Right NOW counts for ever. How goes your preparation for the future dear saint? It's now or never. "Time is the seed of eternity." To make our life count for eternity, we must be wise in how we spend our time today. What will your eternal destiny/harvest be? 

Life Application Study Bible - What does Jesus want from us? Total dedication, not halfhearted commitment. We can't pick and choose among Jesus' ideas and follow him selectively; we have to accept the cross along with the crown. We must count the cost and be willing to abandon everything else that has given us security—without looking back. With our focus on Jesus, we should allow nothing to distract us from following him.

John MacArthurThe issue in view in all three of these encounters was not fitness for service by those in the kingdom, but saving faith by which one enters the kingdom. Those unwilling to part with something—comfort, riches, relationships, or anything else—cannot enter the kingdom of God; salvation is for those who have come to complete self-denial. “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me,” Jesus declared, because “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” (Luke 9:23-24).

Have you ever sung the hymn "All to Jesus I Surrender?" Did you do it? Did you really mean what you sang? Sometimes I think when we sing hymns like this (sometimes even with tears) and we deceive ourselves into believing that our singing is a substitute for our surrender! We mouth the words with our head but they are too often far removed from our heart. Lest you think I am being too hard on you, I am describing what I have often done. There have been a couple of times where the Spirit so convicted me that I simply would not sing the words, knowing full well I would not follow through with my vocal commitment. Sounds a lot like the three men in Luke 9:57-62. Good intentions, external sincerity, but a paucity of internal integrity of heart. O, not always, but often enough. If we are all honest, these hard sayings of Jesus challenge everyone of us at our very core - will it be self or Savior?

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

 I surrender all,
  I surrender all.
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
    I surrender all.

If words mean anything, I think this is one of those songs we should sing only if we truly mean what we are singing. I wonder how loud the congregation's singing would be if the song leader challenged everyone "Don't sing these words unless you are ready to deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Him!" Woe!

ILLUSTRATION - The Problem of Preoccupied Plowers - History provides an incident illustrating this important principle. When Julius Caesar landed on the shores of Britain with his Roman legions, he took a bold and decisive step to ensure the success of his military venture. Ordering his men to halt on the edge of the Cliffs of Dover, he commanded them to look down at the water below. To their amazement, they saw every ship in which they had crossed the channel engulfed in flames. Caesar had deliberately cut off any possibility of retreat! Now that his soldiers were unable to return to the continent, there was nothing left for them to do but to advance and conquer! And that is exactly what they did. This is the principle that Jesus was teaching here. The plower that keeps looking back is going to develop some problems for himself and for others that are dependent upon him. Looking back, causes the plower to create a crooked row. When you are constantly focused on your past life, whether it is your success, your suffering, or your sin, it can create a crooked life, too. We must not allow sins of the past to call us away from our duty today. Both Demas and Lot's wife attest to the damage and destruction that can take place by looking back to the old lifestyle. I like the story of the little boy and his mother who went to see the movie of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. They arrived late and saw the witch giving Snow White the poisoned apple. When they came around to that point in the movie again, the mother took the boy by the hand and started to leave the theater. The little boy was looking back at the screen as the witch holding out the apple for Snow White to take it. The little boy said out loud, "Snow White, if you eat that apple again, you are crazy!" He was right! The lure of old sinful habits and friends can create inconsistency and instability in your life if you begin again to indulge in these ways. You become double-minded or double-souled.

The plowman that looks back is demonstrating that he is not totally committed to his task and is easily distracted. He may quit at any time, leaving the job incomplete. He looks back because he thinks he is missing out on something. He is not.

The problem for many Christian workers today is they leave open their avenue of retreat. When times get tough, they quit. When they do quit, when they do give up, they find it is difficult to get back behind the plow. A little girl was praying the Lord's Prayer. She meant to pray, "Forgive us our trespasses." By mistake she prayed, "Forgive us our trash baskets." Beloved, we need a trash basket into which we can place the past successes, sufferings, and sins that pull at our heart.

"Ready for Either," speaking of service or sacrifice, is the significant legend that underspans the seal of the Baptist Missionary Union, which presents an ox standing with a plough on one side, and an altar on the other. None of us are truly free to be Christ's disciples until we break with everything that hinders our commitment to the Lord. Misplaced affections must be abandoned, for they bind us to that which is passing away. Let me ask, "Are there things or people in your past that are causing you to keep glancing over your shoulder?" Realize that we are in a race for Christ, and like a runner that looks back in his race and loses his pace, our stride and pace for Christ are broken, too. In fact, we can trip and fall. Keep your eyes on the Lord and beware of the backward look.

Philippians 3:13-14... Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, [14] I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

In Switzerland, in a church graveyard near the base of a great mountain, there is a special tombstone. It is the tombstone of a man who died on a mountain climb. These words are upon it: "He Died Climbing." Let that be our spiritual epitaph. Let me ask, "Are you climbing for Christ or are you a spiritual deadbeat?" We are not going to reach people for Christ with an attitude of apathy or when we are distracted with the lures of this world.(Rod Mattoon)

Saying Goodbye

Read: Luke 9:57-62

No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God. Luke 9:62

Saying goodbye is hard—to family and friends, to a favorite and familiar place, to an occupation or livelihood.

In Luke 9:57-62 our Lord describes the cost of being His disciple. A would-be follower says to Jesus, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus responds, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (vv. 61-62). Is He asking His followers to say goodbye to everything and every relationship considered precious?

God wants what is best for us.

In the Chinese language there is no direct equivalent of the English word goodbye. The two Chinese characters used to translate this word really mean “see you again.” Becoming a disciple of Christ may sometimes mean others will reject us, but it does not mean we say goodbye to people in the sense that we are to forget all our past relationships. Saying goodbye means that God wants us to follow Him on His terms—wholeheartedly. Then we will see people again from the right perspective.

God wants the best for us, but we must allow Him to take priority over everything else. -- C. P. Hia

Dear Lord, I want to follow You wholeheartedly. Help me not to place anything or anyone before You.

When we follow Jesus we get a new perspective.

A Call To Commitment  Read: Luke 9:57-62 

No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. —Luke 9:62

Many health and fitness centers expect a flood of people to join every January who will come only a few times. They don’t mind if people pay the fee and never return. But fitness trainer Jesse Jones takes the opposite approach. If you sign up and don’t show up, he will terminate your membership. Jones says, “Save your money. Come see me in a few months when you’re serious. My passion is not for another three-month payment . . . we’re making people accountable to reach their goals.”

In Luke 9:57-62, we encounter three people who told Jesus they wanted to follow Him, and all received what seem to be harsh replies from the Lord: “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (v.58). “Let the dead bury their own dead” (v.60). “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (v.62). For each person, Jesus stated the sacrifice and commitment required to become His disciple.

A man I admire as a dedicated and sensitive follower of Christ says that Christians need to be “ready for radical commitment and change.” The Lord calls us not only to leave the status quo, but also to take that calling seriously by following Him. By David C. McCasland

Lord, I want to be sold out for You. I want to
love You with my whole heart, soul, mind, and
strength. Give me the power to be who You want me
to be, and to walk in Your ways.

Following Jesus demands our all.

No Looking Back

Read: Luke 9:57-62 

No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. —Luke 9:62

When I was a boy on the farm, my dad would tell me, “You can’t plow a straight row if you look back.” You can test this for yourself by looking back as you walk through snow or along a sandy beach. Your tracks won’t be straight.

A good farmer doesn’t look back once he has put his hand to the plow. Jesus used this analogy to teach us that if we are to be His disciples we must make a complete break with all loyalties that hinder our relationship with Him.

Total allegiance to God is a principle that is rooted in the Old Testament. The Israelites, after being freed from slavery and fed by supernatural means, looked back longingly to the days when they enjoyed fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic in Egypt (Numbers 11:5-6). God was greatly displeased, and He judged His people. Their looking back indicated a lack of commitment to Him.

Today, people who cling to old sins and the worldly pleasures they enjoyed before becoming Christians cannot be loyal disciples of Jesus Christ. When we repent and believe in Him, we become citizens of a new kingdom. We are to break with the sins of the past.

Discipleship means no looking back. By Herbert Vander Lugt 

As a follower of Jesus,
I am walking in His way;
Straight ahead till life is over,
I will walk with Him each day. —Hess

In the dictionary of discipleship, you won't find the word "retreat."

J C Ryle - Luke 9:57-62 THE COST OF FOLLOWING JESUS - The passage of Scripture we have just read is a very remarkable one. It contains three short sayings of peculiar solemnity, addressed by our Lord Jesus Christ to three different people. We know nothing of the names of those people. We know nothing of the effect which our Lord's words produced upon them. But we need not doubt that each was addressed in the way which his character required, and we may be sure that the passage is specially intended to promote self-inquiry.

The first of these sayings was addressed to one who offered to be a disciple unconditionally, and of his own accord. "Lord," said this man, "I will follow you wherever you go" — That offer sounded well. It was a step in advance of many. Thousands of people heard our Lord's sermons who never thought of saying what this man said. Yet he who made this offer was evidently speaking without thought. He had never considered what belonged to discipleship. He had never counted the cost. And hence he needed the grave reply which his offer called forth — "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has not where to lay his head." He must weigh well what he was taking in hand. He must not suppose that Christ's service was all pleasure and smooth sailing. Was he prepared for this? Was he ready to "endure hardness?" (2 Tim. 2:3.) If not, he had better withdraw his application to be a disciple.

Let us learn from our Lord's words on this occasion, that He would have all who profess and call themselves Christians reminded that they must carry the cross. They must lay their account to be despised, and afflicted, and tried, like their Master. He would have no man enlisted on false pretenses. He would have it distinctly understood that there is a battle to be fought, and a race to be run — a work to be done, and many hard things to be endured — if we propose to follow Him. Salvation He is ready to bestow, without money and without price. Grace by the way, and glory in the end, shall be given to every sinner who comes to Him. But He would not have us ignorant that we shall have deadly enemies — the world, the flesh, and the devil, and that many will hate us, slander us, and persecute us, if we become His disciples. He does not wish to discourage us, but He does wish us to know the truth.

Well would it have been for the Church if our Lord's warning had been more frequently pondered! Many a man begins a religious life, full of warmth and zeal, and by and bye loses all his first love, and turns back again to the world (2 Ti 4:10). He liked the new uniform, and the bounty money, and the name of a Christian soldier. He never considered the watching, and warring, and wounds, and conflicts, which Christian soldiers must endure. Let us never forget this lesson. It need not make us afraid to begin serving Christ, but it ought to make us begin carefully, humbly, and with much prayer for grace. If we are not ready to take part in the afflictions of Christ, we must never expect to share His glory.

The second of our Lord's sayings is addressed to one whom Jesus invited to follow Him. The answer He received was a very remarkable one. "Lord," said the man, "allow me first to go and bury my father." The thing he requested was in itself harmless. But the time at which the request was made was unseasonable. Affairs of far greater importance than even a father's funeral demanded the man's immediate attention. There would always be plenty of people ready and fit to take charge of a funeral. But there was at that moment a pressing need of laborers to do Christ's work in the world. And hence the man's request drew from our Lord the solemn reply — "Let the dead bury their dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God."

Let us learn, from this saying, to beware of allowing family and social duties to interfere with our duty to Christ. Funerals, and marriages, and visits of courtesy, and the like, unquestionably are not in themselves sinful. But when they are allowed to absorb a believer's time, and keep him back from any plain religious duty, they become a snare to his soul. That the children of the world, and the unconverted, should allow these kind of things to occupy all their time and thoughts is not astonishing. They know nothing higher, and better, and more important. "Let the dead bury their dead." But the heirs of glory, and children of the King of kings, should be men of a different stamp. They should declare plainly, by their conduct, that the world to come is the great reality which fills their thoughts. They should not be ashamed to let men see that they have no time either to rejoice or to sorrow like others who have no hope. (1 Thess. 4:13.) Their Master's work waits for them, and their Master's work must have the chief place in their hearts. They are God's priests in the world, and, like the priests of old, their mourning must be kept carefully within bounds, (Lev. 21:1.) "Weeping," says an old divine, "must not hinder working," and mourning must not be allowed to run into excess.

The third of our Lord's sayings in this passage was addressed to one who volunteered to follow Him, but marred the grace of His offer by interposing a request. "Lord," he said, "I will follow you; but let me first go bid them farewell which are at home at my house." The answer he received shows plainly that the man's heart was not yet thoroughly engaged in Christ's service, and that he was therefore unfit to be a disciple. "Jesus said unto him, No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

We learn from this saying that it is impossible to serve Christ with a divided heart. If we are looking back to anything in this world we are not fit to be disciples. Those who look back, like Lot's wife, want to go back. Jesus will not share His throne with anyone — no, not with our dearest relatives. He must have all our heart, or none. No doubt we are to honor father and mother, and love all around us. But when love to Christ and love to relatives come in collision, Christ must have the preference. We must be ready, like Abraham, if needs be, to come out from kindred and father's house for Christ's sake. We must be prepared in case of necessity, like Moses, to turn our backs even on those who have brought us up, if God calls us, and the path is plain.

Such decided conduct may entail sore trials on our affections. It may crush our hearts to go contrary to the opinions of those we love. But such conduct may sometimes be positively necessary to our salvation, and without it, when it becomes necessary, we are unfit for the kingdom of God. The good soldier will not allow his heart to be entangled too much with his home. If he daily gives way to unmanly repinings about those he has left behind him, he will never be fit for a campaign. His present duties — the watching, the marching, the fighting — must have the principal place in his thoughts. So must it be with all who would serve Christ. They must beware of softness spoiling their characters as Christians. They must endure hardness, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. (2 Tim. 2:3.)

Let us leave the whole passage with many searchings of heart. The times are undoubtedly much changed since our Lord spoke these words. Not many are called to make such real sacrifices for Christ's sake as when Christ was upon earth. But the heart of man never changes. The difficulties of salvation are still very great. The atmosphere of the world is still very unfavorable to spiritual religion. There is still need for thorough, unflinching, whole-hearted decision, if we would reach heaven. Let us aim at nothing less than this decision, Let us be willing to do anything, and suffer anything, and give up everything for Christ's sake. It may cost us something for a few years, but great will be the reward in eternity.