Luke 9 Commentary

To go directly to that verse


From Jensen's Survey of the NT by permission
John MacArthur's Introduction to the Gospel of Luke
Charles Swindoll's Introduction to Luke
Luke Overview Chart by Charles Swindoll

Click chart to enlarge LIFE OF CHRIST IN GOSPEL OF LUKE (See Shaded Areas)
Chart from recommended resource  Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission

Ryrie Study Bible -Borrow

Source: ESV Global Study Bible


Lk 9:1 Christ sends his apostles to work miracles, and to preach.
Lk 9:7 Herod desires to see Christ.
Lk 9:10 Apostles return.
Lk 9:12 Christ feeds 5000
Lk 9:18 Inquires what opinion the world had of him; foretells passion;
Lk 9:23 proposes to all the pattern of his patience.
Lk 9:28 The Transfiguration.
Lk 9:37 Heals the Demon possessed boy
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 Would Be followers 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  - Text in bold not in Luke's account.

Matthew 10:1-15+ Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean (akathartos) 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 (akathartos) 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 (sugkaleo) - A divine summons. These would be the 12 apostle selected from the other disciples as described in Lk 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+) out of a larger group of disciples that were following Him, learning from Him. "This group was called not only the “Eleven” (Lk 24:9) but also the “Twelve” (1Co 15:5) even after one of the twelve original members fell away." (Keener)

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.” Morgan goes on to comment "That’s just about all the instructions He gave them. Why? In the next chapter, Luke 10, He sends them out again (ED: actually sends out 70) and this time He gives 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 (dunamis) and authority (exousia) over all the demons (daimonion) and to heal (therapeuo) diseases (nosos) - For a full orbed picture of Jesus' instructions one should read the parallel passages above. Jesus gave the disciples power and authority, bestowing it on them as a privilege, but a privilege that brings with it responsibility. It is significant that this is how Jesus Himself began His ministry in Lk 4:14+ in the power of the Holy Spirit. While the Holy Spirit is not mentioned in the three synoptic accounts, it is clear that the Source of the apostles' supernatural power was the Holy Spirit. He is the Source of every believer's power for ministry.

Don't try to minister without reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit!

NET Note - "And notice how Luke distinguishes between authority over all demons and diseases here." In other words, not all diseases are related to demonic activity. In fact most are not. 

THOUGHT - We too have been granted power and authority from Jesus (cf 2 Pe 1:3-4+, Acts 1:8+) 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 of 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 (cf 1Pe 4:10, 11+, 1Cor 4:1+) 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)

To reiterate whatever God has called you to do for the Kingdom, He will give you the power of the King to accomplish. The corollary is that apart from Him and His power and authority we can do absolutely nothing of eternal value (Jn 15:5, 15:16). One other point, if you are sure that He has called you and yet you don't sense He is equipping you, you may need to walk out "on the water" so speak and even like Peter cry "Lord, save me." (Mt 14:30). 

Before Jesus' final send off of the 11 apostles (minus Judas Iscariot) to "turn the world upside down" He promised the 11 “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.” (Lk 24:49+) Of course He was referring to the promised coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts 1:8+, the same SOURCE of POWER every disciple has access to EVERY DAY! ARE YOU LIVING UP TO YOUR POTENTIAL IN CHRIST?  See Spirit-Filled Believers Are Like Artesian Wells and The 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.

The Gospel is the dunamis of God for salvation (Ro 1:16+), because it has the intrinsic or inherent power to save sinners. This is good news about the good news if you feel inadequate -- that's a good place to be, for then God's Spirit gets "top billing." (see 2Cor 3:5-6+, 2Co 4:7+).

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+). 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.”

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! It also helps us understand how unbelievers can make the claims in Mt 7:22+ and Jesus does not refute their claims of supernatural manifestations. 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+

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)’”

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+) and that they be strengthened with power (dunamis) through (God's) Spirit in the inner man." (Eph 3:16, cf Eph 3:20+).

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;

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.

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

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 Old Testament and New Testament Words)

Borrow Dictionary of deities and demons in the Bible (DDD) - 950 pages (1995) Read some of the 65 ratings (4.8/5 Stars). A definitive in depth resource on this subject. Very expensive to purchase. 

Daimonion in Luke and Acts -  Lk. 4:33; Lk. 4:35; Lk. 4:41; Lk. 7:33; Lk. 8:2; Lk. 8:27; Lk. 8:29; Lk. 8:30; Lk. 8:33; Lk. 8:35; Lk. 8:38; Lk. 9:1; Lk. 9:42; Lk. 9:49; Lk. 10:17; Lk. 11:14; Lk. 11:15; Lk. 11:18; Lk. 11:19; Lk. 11:20; Lk. 13:32; Acts 17:18;

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

Diseases (3554nosos means a physical malady, disease, illness. BDAG adds it was "frequently  viewed in Mediterranean society as socially devaluing." BDAG says nosos was also used of moral malady but no uses like that in the NT (secular quote = "the adulterer gives satisfaction to his own diseased inclination"). Liddell-Scott adds the following on nosos - sickness, disease, malady, Hom., etc. II. generally, distress, misery, suffering, sorrow, evil, Hes., Trag. 2. disease of mind, Trag.; i.e. madness, Soph. 3. of states, disorder, sedition, Plat. 4. a plague, bane, of a whirlwind, Soph."

Nosos - 11v - Matt. 4:23; Matt. 4:24; Matt. 8:17; Matt. 9:35; Matt. 10:1; Mk. 1:34; Lk. 4:40; Lk. 6:18; Lk. 7:21; Lk. 9:1; Acts 19:12

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 - see Supreme Conqueror)

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 (apostello) them out - The 12 were apostles and here they have the first opportunity to live up to their designation as "sent one." The idea of sent out is to send out as an official or authoritative representative. 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+) 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 by the "evidence of two witnesses." (Dt 17:6+).

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, while the performance of healing was important to validate the veracity of the proclamation.


To proclaim the kingdom (basileia) of God (see Kingdom of God) - Proclaim is kerusso is in the present tense depicting their (and our) continuous proclamation (good model for us beloved! Continually proclaiming the good news of Jesus the Savior of mankind!) These 12 disciples functioned as Christ's "heralds" of the Good News, preaching like John  (Mt 3:2+) and like their Master (Mk 1:15+, Mt 4:17+). The Gospel was not to be altered or adulterated, a message every evangelical preacher needs to heed with sobriety, fear and trembling (cf 2Ti 4:2-4, 5+, Pr 30:6, Dt 4:2+ Dt12:32+ Rev 22:18,19+). One wonders what message Judas Iscariot proclaimed? In Mt 10:7+ we read "The kingdom of heaven is at hand" meaning it has drawn near where perfect tense speaks of permanence. What does it 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 hearing and believing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Mk 1:1+) that one is granted entrance into the Kingdom of God (cf Jn 3:3-5+, Jn 14:6, Acts 4:12+). This message is to proclaim the King of that Kingdom and His "royal decree" that He has good news for the poor, the prisoners, the blind and the oppressed (all spiritually speaking)( Lk 4:18+

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 Handbook for Power and 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+)

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!

Matthew 10:8+ adds several details - "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give."

Miracles were for authentication not for salvation

Perform healing (iaomai) - The purpose of healing (and the other signs described above in Matthew's version) was to validate or authenticate their apostolic ministry which in turn would affirm the truth of their 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+). "For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ." (Ro 15:18-19+) 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.

THOUGHT - This is true of all God's children - God's spiritual gifts given to us by His Spirit are to be used not for our acclaim but for His glory and the renown of the Name of His Son. As Peter affirms "As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold ("multi-colored") 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 by the strength which God supplies; so that (PURPOSE) in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to Whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Pe 4:10-11+).

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

Luke 5:17+ 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 us 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 (cf Lk 4:1+, Lk 4:14+)."

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).

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, a message that could not be changed in any way which is especially critical since in this context it was the Gospel. The Gospel was not to be altered or adulterated, a message evangelical needs to heed with sobriety and trembling. It  was to be announced with the suggestion of formality, gravity and an authority which must be listened to and obeyed. Greco-Roman rulers had special heralds made announcements to the people, were commissioned by the ruler, were to announce in a loud, clear voice so everyone could hear, were  not ambassador with privilege of negotiating, were messengers with a proclamation to be heard and heeded. Not to heed the ruler’s messenger was serious and to abuse the messenger was even worse.

Kerusso in Luke and Acts - Lk. 3:3; Lk. 4:18; Lk. 4:19; Lk. 4:44; Lk. 8:1; Lk. 8:39; Lk. 9:2; Lk. 12:3; Lk. 24:47; Acts 8:5; Acts 9:20; Acts 10:37; Acts 10:42; Acts 15:21; Acts 19:13; Acts 20:25; 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, and in context refers to that kingdom which is ruled by Christ the King of kings. In simple terms, there is His present invisible, internal (believer's heart) kingdom and the visible, external kingdom in the Millennium and then into Heaven and eternity forever and ever. Amen.

Basileia in Luke and Acts - Lk. 1:33; Lk. 4:5; 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. 11:2; Lk. 11:17; Lk. 11:18; Lk. 11:20; Lk. 12:31; Lk. 12:32; 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. 19:12; Lk. 19:15; Lk. 21:10; Lk. 21:31; Lk. 22:16; Lk. 22:18; Lk. 22:29; Lk. 22:30; Lk. 23:42; Lk. 23:51; Acts 1:3; Acts 1:6; Acts 8:12; Acts 14:22; Acts 19:8; Acts 20:25; Acts 28:23; Acts 28:31

The Kingdom of God - One must understand that there are several 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, Lord and Savior of their soul. (See Detailed notes on site related to the Kingdom of God) 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

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+ (in context clearly speaking of spiritual not physical healing - context is king for accurate interpretation!). 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 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). 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

Related Resources: Except for the first one, all are from

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. (Proclaiming the Good News)

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+) 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+) 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+)

Take (present imperative with a negativenothing for your journey neither a staff (rhabdos), nor a bag (pera), nor bread, nor money (argurion) -  The command to take nothing indicates this was to be an apostle's lifestyle, their continual practice. They were not to turn their evangelistic crusade into a show or a business enterprise! The idea was to go "lean and mean" taking nothing non-essential! The clear implication is that they were not to depend on their natural resources but upon God's supernatural resources. They were on a journey for Jesus (just as we are beloved) and as such were to "travel light!"

THOUGHT - While possessions can be nice, and the world tempts us to accumulate them, the sad truth is that too often our possessions end up possessing us, causing worry, angst and anxiety, and even outright spiritual bondage! Jesus' words still hold true - Travel Light because this world is not our home and when we leave after our short sojourn, we are taking nothing with us! 

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 Jesus' instructions is that the disciples were to trust God for whatever was needed to proclaim the Gospel.

When God calls, God provides to fulfill the call. 

THOUGHT - 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+)" These disciples would learn what we must also learn, that even though absent, the Lord provides for us. And we can depend upon Him. (Luke Commentary - Essentially Verse by Verse

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 6:8-9+ who adds a staff and sandals "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– but to wear sandals; and He added, “Do not put on two tunics.” According to the parallel version in Matthew and the additional note in Luke, they were to take neither (Mt 10:10; Luke 10:4). No widely accepted solution to this discrepancy has been offered but See discussion on Mark 6:8 and related discussion on Matthew 10:10. 

Louis Barbieri comments on the difference regarding staff - Mark, however, recorded that the apostles could take a staff (Mark 6:8). This problem is solved by observing that Matthew said they were not to "procure" (ktēsēsthe) extra items (Matt. 10:9), but Mark wrote that they could "take" (airōsen) any staffs they already had. (See Bible Knowledge Commentary)

These passages call us not to lose the forest for the trees. Jesus called his missionaries to travel simply, without the normal provisions for a journey. They had to depend on God for their support. What does that mean for us who call ourselves disciples of Jesus in our security-conscious age? When we would not think of setting off on any mission, ordered by God or not, without ten times the normal provision that Jesus prohibited (credit card as well as money; a suitcase of clothes, not just a change), the issue of whether or not sandals or a staff were or were not permitted to the Twelve fades into insignificance. (Scroll down to page 387 in Hard Sayings of the Bible) (See related discussion on Matthew 10:10)

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 "lean and mean"! 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. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that (PURPOSE) each one (INDIVIDUALLY) may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (2 Cor 5:9-10+)

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. (See All the Apostles of the Bible or borrow All the apostles of the Bible)

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

Craig 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). (See The IVP Bible 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+)

Do not even have two tunics (chiton) 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). (Proclaiming the Good News)

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+)

Rhabdos -11v - Matt. 10:10; Mk. 6:8; Lk. 9:3; 1 Co. 4:21; Heb. 1:8; Heb. 9:4; Heb. 11:21; Rev. 2:27; Rev. 11:1; Rev. 12:5; Rev. 19:15

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

Money (silver)(694argurion strictly refers to silver, and by metonymy always speaks of money (probably because silver was the most ancient form of money) except 1 Cor 3:12. Of silver money generally Ac 3:6; 7:16. Of particular silver coins silver shekel (worth about 4 drachmas) Mt 26:15; silver drachmas Ac 19:19 . Of money in general Mt 25:18, 27; Lk 9:3. Of a bribe Mt 28:15. It is notable that argurion is used 7 times in the Synoptic gospels in the context of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus for 30 “silver coins” (Mt 26:15; 27:3-9; Mk 14:11; Lk 22:5). The high priests also exchanged a large amount of silver coins for the cooperation of the guards at the tomb of Jesus, the guards agreeing to lie about His body being stolen (Mt 28:12-15).

Argurion - 21v -  money(10), pieces of silver(6), silver(5). Matt. 25:18; Matt. 25:27; Matt. 26:15; Matt. 27:3; Matt. 27:5; Matt. 27:6; Matt. 27:9; Matt. 28:12; Matt. 28:15; Mk. 14:11; Lk. 9:3; Lk. 19:15; Lk. 19:23; Lk. 22:5; Acts 3:6; Acts 7:16; Acts 8:20; Acts 19:19; Acts 20:33; 1 Co. 3:12; 1 Pet. 1:18

Tunics (garment) (5509chiton

Chiton - 10v - clothes(1), coats(1), garment(1), shirt(2), tunic(2), tunics(4). Matt. 5:40; Matt. 10:10; Mk. 6:9; Mk. 14:63; Lk. 3:11; Lk. 6:29; Lk. 9:3; Jn. 19:23; Acts 9:39; Jude 1:23

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: from

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)  (Treasures from the Scripture)

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.

Parallel Passages:

Matthew 10:11-13+ “And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay (aorist imperative - meno) 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.

Mark 6:10+  And He said to them, "Wherever you enter a house, stay (present imperative - meno) there until you leave town.


Whatever house you enter stay (menothere - No motels or hotels in ancient Israel! They were dependent on the hospitality of their fellow Jews. The disciples were to rely on those to whom they would go for nourishment. In this way they would learn to trust that Jehovah provides for His workers.

NET Note "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."

Matthew adds "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" (áxios) 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 (the Gospel of peace) as suggested by Matthew adding the phrase "heed (hear or listen with the implication that they obey) 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. (See The MacArthur Commentary)

Jesus repeats this instruction in Luke 10

“Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’ “If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. “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. “Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; (Lk 10:5-8+)

Stay (continue, endure, remain, stay) (3306) (meno) remain in the same place over a period of time (Mk 6:10). To remain, abide in reference to place, to sojourn, tarry, not to depart, to continue to be present, 

Meno in Luke and Acts -  Lk. 1:56; Lk. 8:27; Lk. 9:4; Lk. 10:7; Lk. 19:5; Lk. 24:29; Acts 5:4; Acts 9:43; Acts 16:15; Acts 18:3; Acts 18:20; Acts 20:5; Acts 20:23; Acts 21:7; Acts 21:8; Acts 27:31; Acts 27:41; Acts 28:16

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.

Matthew adds some details to Luke's record

Mt 10:13b-14+ - "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."

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 the Gospel of peace (Eph 6:15+) found in the Prince of peace, Christ Jesus (cf Eph 2:14+, Ro 5:1+). 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 (Ro 1:16), 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). (See The MacArthur Commentary)

Mark 6:11+ “Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off (aorist imperative) the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.”

Matthew 7:6+  “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Acts 13:51+ But they shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.

Acts 13:46+ Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. Mt 7:6

Acts 18:6-8+ But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 Then he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next to the synagogue. 8 Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized.

Acts 20:26-27+ -  Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.

2 John 1:10-11 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching (2Jn 1:9), do not receive (present imperative with a negative)  him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; (present imperative with a negative) 11 for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. 

Shake off the Dust & Move On!


And as for those who do not receive (dechomai) you - Mark 6:11+ adds "or listen to you" that is, listen to the Gospel and obey the Gospel. Receive (dechomai) figuratively pictures putting out the welcome mat for you! These inhospitable Hebrews slammed the door in their face (so to speak)! There were two choices - either they receive or they reject the good news of Jesus. 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+) 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 commanding all men to "Enter (aorist imperative - COMMAND - ONLY WAY ANY SOUL WILL ENTER THE NARROW GATE IS BY THE HEARING THE GOSPEL AND THE SPIRIT EFFICIENTLY WORKING IN THEIR HEART) through the narrow gate; for (A FRIGHTENING TERM OF EXPLANATION) the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many (cf "many" in Mt 7:22+) who enter through it. For the gate (THE GOSPEL OF JESUS) is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Mt 7:13-14+)

Shake the dust off (apotinasso) your feet as a testimony (marturion/martyrion) against them - The act of shaking is "personified" as a witness of the person's contempt and rejection of the Gospel! (See note below) It is like saying "You have had an opportunity to hear the Gospel of salvation, but you have rejected it and you will receive a just retribution for your rejection, a retribution proportional to the light you received." (Mt 11:21,23+)  Wikipedia has an interesting note about how Mormons frequently invoked this practice of shaking off dust in the past, which is truly ironic for they are the very ones who have rejected the true Gospel of Jesus Christ! 

THOUGHT - The principle of greater judgment for rejection of greater light (of the Gospel) is one reason after I have presented the Gospel and sense the person is rejecting the message, thereafter I tend to shy away from additional proclamation for fear that they will incur an even greater judgment. I continue to pray for their salvation and for God's Spirit to open a clear door of opportunity, but otherwise say little about the Gospel. This is not to say we turn away permanently from the person who initially rejects the Gospel. How many of us reading this rejected the Gospel the first time we heard it. So we need to use a mixture of Holy Spirit patience and longsuffering mixed with discernment regarding when we are casting pearls to swine. God's Spirit will lead us. 

John 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. (See The MacArthur Commentary) (Bold added)

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! More gospel light brings greater personal responsibility! And of course we know about the judgment of those sinful towns. His point was that the judgment of the Gospel rejecters in Israel would be greater because of the greater light they received. What this greater judgment entails in the lake of fire is uncertain, but it certainly is not good!

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.

Testimony (3142)(marturion/martyrion source of English "martyr") means evidence, proof. The content of what a witness tells, in this case with the action of shaking the dust off one's sandal! "Dust" would in a sense be a witness against them! 

Marturion 20v - testimony(19), witness(1). - Matt. 8:4; Matt. 10:18; Matt. 24:14; Mk. 1:44; Mk. 6:11; Mk. 13:9; Lk. 5:14; Lk. 9:5; Lk. 21:13; Acts 4:33; Acts 7:44; 1 Co. 1:6; 1 Co. 2:1; 2 Co. 1:12; 2 Thess. 1:10; 1 Tim. 2:6; 2 Tim. 1:8; Heb. 3:5; Jas. 5:3; Rev. 15:5

QuestionWhat does it mean to shake the dust off your feet? 

Answer: The command to “shake the dust off your feet” appears only four times in the New Testament. In each case the command is spoken by Jesus to His disciples when He sent them out two by two (Matthew 10:14; Luke 9:5). In Mark 6:11 Jesus says, “And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” In the Matthew 10 account, Jesus clarifies His meaning: “Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town” (verse 15).

Shaking the dust off one’s feet conveys the same idea as our modern phrase “I wash my hands of it.” Shaking the dust off the feet is a symbolic indication that one has done all that can be done in a situation and therefore carries no further responsibility for it. In the scriptural examples, Jesus was telling His disciples that they were to preach the gospel to everyone. Where they were received with joy, they should stay and teach. But where their message was rejected, they had no further responsibility. They were free to walk away with a clear conscience, knowing they had done all they could do. Shaking the dust off their feet was, in effect, saying that those who rejected God’s truth would not be allowed to hinder the furtherance of the gospel. Even the dust of those cities that rejected the Lord was an abomination and would not be allowed to cling to the feet of God’s messengers.

Embedded within this symbolic gesture was the implication that God also saw the dust-shaking and would judge people accordingly. There was a spiritual significance to a disciple of Jesus shaking the dust off his feet. It was a statement of finality about people who had been given the truth and who had rejected it. On their first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas put Jesus’ words into practice. They had been preaching in Pisidian Antioch, but some of the Jewish leaders of that city stirred up persecution against the missionaries and had them expelled from the region. “So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium” (Acts 13:51+). Antioch may not have welcomed the gospel as they should have, but that didn’t keep the message from spreading to other areas. Paul and Barnabas had done all they were sent to do, and the responsibility was now on the shoulders of those in Antioch. The apostles had proclaimed truth boldly. Some had accepted it eagerly; some had rejected it with violence. The apostles were not responsible for the Antiochians’ level of acceptance, only for their own obedience to God.

There are situations in our lives where God calls us to stand firm, proclaim truth, and give patient testimony. Sometimes we need to continue until we see the results of that testimony. Other times God gives us the freedom to move on. We figuratively “shake the dust off our feet” when, under the Holy Spirit’s direction, we surrender those people to the Lord and emotionally let go. We have the freedom then to move into the next phase of ministry. Jesus’ instruction to “shake the dust off our feet” reminds us that we are only responsible for our obedience to God, not for the results of that obedience.(Source:

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.

Mark adds some detail

Mark 6:12-13+ 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.

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)


Departing (exerchomai), they began going throughout (dierchomaithe villages, preaching the gospel (euaggelizo/euangelizo in present tense - continually) and healing (therapeuo) everywhere (pantachou)  - Notice that there is immediate obedience with no complaints, grumbling about the scant supplies, or attempts to negotiate for more supplies. They simply go, which in itself is evidence of their faith and trust in Jesus' instructions.  Everywhere means no exceptions and no partially. This reminds us of Jesus' commission in Mark 16:15 ""Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation."

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. (Proclaiming the Good News)

Departing (1831)(exerchomai) means going forth or away, to move out of a well-defined area (e.g., Mk 1:35). Friberg -  (1) literally go or come out of (Jn 4.30); go forth or away, depart (Mk 1.35), opposite me,nw (remain); from a ship disembark (Mk 6.54); of liquids flow out (Jn 19.34); with an infinitive of purpose go forth or out to do something (Mt 11.7); (2) figuratively, of thoughts and words proceed, go forth, come out (Jas 3.10); (3) of evil spirits that leave a person come or go out (Mk 1.25); (4) euphemistically leave the world, die (1Co 5.10); (5) in John's Gospel of Jesus' birth come forth from God (Jn 8.42); (6) figuratively be gone, disappear (Acts 16.19)

Uses in Luke -  Lk. 1:22; Lk. 2:1; Lk. 4:14; Lk. 4:35; Lk. 4:36; Lk. 4:41; Lk. 4:42; Lk. 5:8; Lk. 5:27; Lk. 6:12; Lk. 6:19; Lk. 7:17; Lk. 7:24; Lk. 7:25; Lk. 7:26; Lk. 8:2; Lk. 8:5; Lk. 8:27; Lk. 8:29; Lk. 8:33; Lk. 8:35; Lk. 8:38; Lk. 8:46; Lk. 9:4; Lk. 9:5; Lk. 9:6; Lk. 10:10; Lk. 11:14; Lk. 11:24; Lk. 11:53; Lk. 12:59; Lk. 13:31; Lk. 14:18; Lk. 14:21; Lk. 14:23; Lk. 15:28; Lk. 17:29; Lk. 21:37; Lk. 22:39; Lk. 22:52; Lk. 22:62

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)

Dierchomai in Luke and Acts - Lk. 2:15; Lk. 2:35; Lk. 4:30; Lk. 5:15; Lk. 8:22; Lk. 9:6; Lk. 11:24; Lk. 17:11; Lk. 19:1; Lk. 19:4; Acts 8:4; Acts 8:40; Acts 9:32; Acts 9:38; Acts 10:38; Acts 11:19; Acts 12:10; Acts 13:6; Acts 13:14; Acts 14:24; Acts 15:3; Acts 15:41; Acts 16:6; Acts 17:23; Acts 18:23; Acts 18:27; Acts 19:1; Acts 19:21; Acts 20:2; Acts 20:25;

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.

Euaggelizo in Luke and Acts - Lk. 1:19; Lk. 2:10; Lk. 3:18; Lk. 4:18; Lk. 4:43; Lk. 7:22; Lk. 8:1; Lk. 9:6; Lk. 16:16; Lk. 20:1; Acts 5:42; Acts 8:4; Acts 8:12; Acts 8:25; Acts 8:35; Acts 8:40; Acts 10:36; Acts 11:20; Acts 13:32; Acts 14:7; Acts 14:15; Acts 14:21; Acts 15:35; Acts 16:10; Acts 17:18

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.

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;

Related Passage:

Matt. 14:1-12+ 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, 7 so 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. 10 He 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.

See notes on Mark's parallel account - Mark 6:14-29


John MacArthur helps set the context for why Herod was so perplexed - Jesus is coming to the end of His Galilean ministry and is about half-way through the three-year ministry, a little past eighteen months, and about eighteen months until He will be crucified.  He is not going to spend much more time in Galilee.  Very soon after this He's going to head west and north up to Tyre and Sidon and then He's going to swing back across the north end of the Sea of Galilee to Decapolis to the east and move south down to Jerusalem.  So Galilee doesn't have much more time.  Galilee (see map above) is not a big area -- 50 x 25 miles at the most. Josephus says, "Very densely populated area with as many as 204 towns and villages in that area, lots of people there."  Jesus knows the time is limited...before Galilee will no longer hear from Him. He wants to give one final, gracious blitz with the Gospel to that region. Up to this point, He's been the only preacher. That's because John the Baptist, who also preached repentance and the kingdom, has been put in prison by this Herod the Tetrarch....In one final flurry to get the Gospel across Galilee, Jesus sends out the twelve, gives them the message that He preached, "Preach that same message." He gives them the power to validate their message as from God as shown by the miracles. He delegates His miracle power to them through the power of the Holy Spirit so that they can do exactly what He did, raise dead people, heal diseased people and cast out demons. In short He multiplies Himself by twelve and sends the apostles out two by two to blitz Galilee in one final evangelistic enterprise. (Sermon)

Now Herod the tetrarch - Herod the tetrarch (see Lk 3:1+) refers to Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, who ruled over Galilee (see map) 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.

Heard of all that was happening - In the present tense indicates Herod was continually hearing about "all that was coming to pass." Galilee was being subjected to an evangelistic blitz by Jesus' 12 apostles going throughout the heavily populated region (Josephus said there were 204 towns) 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. 

TECHNICAL NOTE - 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+ 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 Resource: International Standard Bible 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." (Proclaiming the Good News)

And he was greatly perplexed (diaporeo- Herod "was very confused." Luke uses the imperfect tense describing Herod's continual state of mind as perplexed again and again. Herod did not know what to make of the flurry of supernatural activity occurring in Galilee. Remember that now it was not just Jesus carrying out supernatural activities, but 12 apostles. And given that Galilee was not that large geographically, one can only imagine the impact of miraculous powers multiplied by 12! His mind was spinning, and as we shall see his conscience was pricking him. Mark's account (Mark 6:20+) uses a different word for perplexed (aporeo/aporeomai) which means literally Herod was without a way. This presents the picture of a confused ruler who did not know which way to turn. He was "dazed and confused!"

William 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+." (Borrow Exposition of the Gospel of Luke)

Because - Term of explanation. Luke explains Herod's perplexed state. 

it was said by some that John had risen from the dead - Some of the Jews were convinced that Jesus was John the Baptist who had come back to life. This may seem 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+ has "Herod...kept saying (imperfect tense), “John, whom I beheaded, has risen!”

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, to be thoroughly at a loss, unable to find a way out!

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;

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.


And by some that Elijah had appeared (phaino) - Recall that Elijah had also boldly rebuked an evil king appearing suddenly in 1 Kings 17:1 to challenge King Ahab who ruled the northern kingdom of Israel from 874 to 853 BC. Elijah prophesied that a drought would come upon the whole land as consequence for King Ahab's evil (read 1 Ki 17:1–7). And similar to the situation with John the Baptizer, Elijah's life was sought by a wicked queen Jezebel, but unlike Herodias who was successful, Jezebel was unable to kill Elijah (see the story of Ahab and Jezebel and discussion of Was John the Baptist really Elijah reincarnated?)

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. (See Luke: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition)

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+; Mal 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). (Borrow ESV Study Bible

And by others that one of the prophets of old had risen again (anistemi)- Mark 6:15+ is slightly different = "He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old." They would say this because His message was like the prophets of old, with a heavy emphasis on "Repent!" (See What was a prophet in the Old Testament?)

Appeared (5316)(phaino from phos = light; gives us our English "phantom") made an appearance. This term appears from Homer (Eighth Century B.C.) on in the active voice meaning “to bring to light” or “to cause to appear.” When used in the passive voice (as in Luke 9:8) it means “to come to light” or “to appear.” Our English word phenomenon is a transliteration of one of its passive forms. It refers to “something which is visible, something which appears.” In some places phaino refers literally to the appearance of people or things -- an angel (Mt 1:20); a star (Mt 2:7); a dream or someone or something in a dream (Mt 2:13, 19). It is also used of Elijah (Lk 9:8); of sin (Ro 7:13); of vapor (Jas 4:14); of tares (Mt 13:26); of a sign (Mt 24:30); of a miracle (Mt 9:23); and of the resurrected Jesus (Mk 16:9). 

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. Anistemi was used to describe Jesus’ “rising from the dead” (e.g., the formula “the third day he will rise”; e.g., Matthew 17:23; 20:19; Luke 9:22; 18:33 cf Luke 16:31; 18:33; 24:7, 46; Acts 2:24.). It is also used in the Book of Acts of “raising” the sick, the dead, and the spiritually infirm (e.g., Acts 9:34, 40). In the Epistles anistēmi continues to be associated with the resurrection of both believers and Christ (1 Th 4:14, 16)

Anistemi in Luke and Acts - Lk. 1:39; Lk. 4:16; Lk. 4:29; Lk. 4:38; Lk. 4:39; Lk. 5:25; Lk. 5:28; Lk. 6:8; Lk. 8:55; Lk. 9:8; Lk. 9:19; Lk. 10:25; Lk. 11:7; Lk. 11:8; Lk. 11:32; Lk. 15:18; Lk. 15:20; Lk. 16:31; Lk. 17:19; Lk. 18:33; Lk. 22:45; Lk. 22:46; Lk. 23:1; Lk. 24:7; Lk. 24:12; Lk. 24:33; Lk. 24:46;Acts 1:15; Acts 2:24; Acts 2:32; Acts 3:22; Acts 3:26; Acts 5:6; Acts 5:17; Acts 5:34; Acts 5:36; Acts 5:37; Acts 6:9; Acts 7:18; Acts 7:37; Acts 8:26; Acts 8:27; Acts 9:6; Acts 9:11; Acts 9:18; Acts 9:34; Acts 9:39; Acts 9:40; Acts 9:41; Acts 10:13; Acts 10:20; Acts 10:23; Acts 10:26; Acts 10:41; Acts 11:7; Acts 11:28; Acts 12:7; Acts 13:16; Acts 13:33; Acts 13:34; Acts 14:10; Acts 14:20; Acts 15:7; Acts 17:3; Acts 17:31; Acts 20:30; Acts 22:10; Acts 22:16; Acts 23:9; Acts 26:16; Acts 26:30;

Related Resources:

Question - Why must Elijah return before the end times (Malachi 4:5-6)?

Answer: Malachi 4:5-6 offers an intriguing prophecy: “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” To this day, Jewish Seders include an empty chair at the table in anticipation that Elijah will return to herald the Messiah in fulfillment of Malachi’s word.

According to Malachi 4:6, the reason for Elijah’s return will be to “turn the hearts” of fathers and their children to each other. In other words, the goal would be reconciliation. In the New Testament, Jesus reveals that John the Baptist was the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy: “All the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come” (Matthew 11:13-14). This fulfillment is also mentioned in Mark 1:2-4 and Luke 1:17; 7:27.

Specifically related to Malachi 4:5-6 is Matthew 17:10-13: “His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. . . .’ Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.”

The scribes were the Jewish religious teachers, mostly Pharisees and Sadducees, who provided commentary on the Jewish Scriptures. Peter, James, and John were familiar with their teachings and asked Jesus about Elijah after seeing Jesus with Moses and Elijah at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8). Jesus clearly stated that Elijah had already come, but, tragically, he was not recognized and had been killed. Jesus then predicted He would likewise die at the hands of His enemies (17:13).

A brief look at the ministry of John the Baptist reveals many notable ways that he was “Elijah.” First, God predicted John’s work as being like that of Elijah (Luke 1:17). Second, he dressed like Elijah (2 Kings 1:8 and Matthew 3:4). Third, like Elijah, John the Baptist preached in the wilderness (Matthew 3:1). Fourth, both men preached a message of repentance. Fifth, both men withstood kings and had high-profile enemies (1 Kings 18:17 and Matthew 14:3).

Some argue that John the Baptist was not the Elijah to come because John himself said that he was not Elijah. “And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not’” (John 1:21). There are two explanations for this apparent contradiction. First, because Elijah had never died (2 Kings 2:11), many first-century rabbis taught that Elijah was still alive and would reappear before the Messiah’s arrival. When John denied being Elijah, he could have been countering the idea that he was the actual Elijah who had been taken to heaven.

Second, John’s words could indicate a difference between John’s view of himself and Jesus’ view of him. John may not have seen himself as the fulfillment of Malachi 4:5-6. However, Jesus did. There is no contradiction, then, simply a humble prophet giving an honest opinion of himself. John rejected the honor (cf. John 3:30), yet Jesus credited John as the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy regarding the return of Elijah.

As the metaphorical Elijah, John called people to repentance and a life of obedience, preparing the people of his generation for the coming of Jesus Christ, the One who had come “to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10) and to establish the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18).(Source:

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+). As least he accepts the blame! 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+ 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 6:20+). 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+ (Lk 5:21+; Lk 7:20+, Lk 7:49+, see also Lk 9:18–20; 20:2; 22:67–71; 23:3, 9)  This same question would 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 (ED: I FIND THIS AMAZING BECAUSE SOME OF THE JEWS ACTUALLY HEARD THE DEMONS TESTIFY - e.g., Mk 1:24+, Mk 3:11+). 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. (See The MacArthur New Testament Commentary) (Bolding added)

And he kept trying (zeteo) to see Him - Only Luke gives this detail. Kept trying is in the imperfect tense picturing Herod repeatedly 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? 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. See interesting perspective by J D Jones on Herod who finally got to see Him. When Herod finally saw Jesus at His trial, he wanted to see a miracle, but Jesus remained silent. This man's evil had silenced the voice of God to him, which is a frightening place for anyone to be! (cf Lk 23:6-12+). Don't ask for miracles dear seeker. Just ask to hear Him in His Word and you can experience the miracle yourself -- the new birth and reception of eternal life!. (Read the warnings on hearing and not heeding God's voice, which today is His Word - Heb 3:7, Heb 3:15, Heb 4:7). 

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.”

Robert 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). (See Luke: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition)


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.

William 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? (Borrow Exposition of the Gospel of Luke)

Kept trying (2212)(zeteo)  implies giving attention and priority to and deliberately pursuing after. Friberg - (1) as a searching for what is lost seek, try to find, look for (Lk 19.10); (2) of man's quest for God and what can be obtained only from him seek, search for, try to obtain (Acts 17.27 ); (3) of what God requires or expects from man seek, demand (Lk 12.48); (4) as making inquiry or investigation examine, question, deliberate (Jn 16.19); (5) of man's effort to obtain something pursue, endeavor to obtain, strive for (Mt 6.33); (6) of man's desire toward something seek for, wish for, want ( 1Co 10.24) (Borrow Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament)

Zeteo in Luke and Acts - Lk. 2:48; Lk. 2:49; Lk. 5:18; Lk. 6:19; Lk. 9:9; Lk. 11:9; Lk. 11:10; Lk. 11:16; Lk. 11:24; Lk. 11:29; Lk. 12:29; Lk. 12:31; Lk. 13:6; Lk. 13:7; Lk. 13:24; Lk. 15:8; Lk. 17:33; Lk. 19:3; Lk. 19:10; Lk. 19:47; Lk. 20:19; Lk. 22:2; Lk. 22:6; Lk. 24:5;  Acts 9:11; Acts 10:19; Acts 10:21; Acts 13:8; Acts 13:11; Acts 16:10; Acts 17:5; Acts 17:27; Acts 21:31; Acts 27:30

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 - Recorded in all 4 Gospel accounts. (See comparison of accounts on chart)

Matthew 14:13-21+ Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. 14 When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.  15 When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” 17 They *said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” 18 And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” 19 Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, 20 and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. 21 There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.

Mark 6:30-44+  The apostles *gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. 31 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.) 32 They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves. 33 The people saw them going, and many recognized them and ran there together on foot from all the cities, and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things. 35 When it was already quite late, His disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and it is already quite late; 36 send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 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?” 38 And He *said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go look!” And when they found out, they *said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 And He commanded them all to sit down by groups on the green grass. 40 They sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. 41 And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them; and He divided up the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and they picked up twelve full baskets of the broken pieces, and also of the fish. 44 There were five thousand men who ate the loaves.

John 6:1-14+ After these things Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberias). 2 A large crowd followed Him, (WHY?) because they saw the signs which He was performing on those who were sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat down with His disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near. 5 Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, *said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” 6 This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do. 7 Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.” 8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, *said to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted. 12 When they were filled, He *said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. 14 Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”

Robert 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). (See Luke: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition)

When the apostles (apostolos) returned (hupostrepho), they gave an account (diegeomai) to Him of all that they had done - Luke now picks up where Lk 9:1-6+ had left off. Jesus patiently listened to everything they had to tell regarding their evangelistic campaign. This must have been quite a follow-up session! Perhaps we will hear some details from Peter, et all, in the future external Kingdom of God. 

Robertson says they gave an account  means "to carry a narrative through to the end. Jesus listened to it all." Mk 6:30+ adds the apostles "reported to Him all that they had done and taught.(cf "went out and preached" - Mk 6:12+

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 who served as His official ambassadors, commissioned by Him.

William 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." (Borrow Exposition of the Gospel of Luke)

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 (ED: SEE THE TIMELINE AT TOP OF PAGE FOR CONTEXT). 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 (Borrow Luke Commentary in The Preacher's Outline & Sermon Bible – very helpful resource)

Taking them with Him, He withdrew (hupochoreo) by Himself to a city called Bethsaida (ISBE note - see location above) - The idea of withdrew is to move away a distance from a place and so to retreat or retire. Mark explains one of the reasons 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+) Another reason is given by Matthew "Now when Jesus heard about John (HIS EXECUTION), He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself" (taking the disciples with Him as explained in Lk 9:10) (Mt 14:13+)

Comment: Notice Mark's mention of "rest a while" which is the verb anapauo (ana = again, back, or intensifying + pauo = to cease or give rest) which means to cause someone to gain relief (by resting), refreshment, intermission from toil. Recall the disciples (and Jesus) had been preaching, teaching, healing, casting out demons and were doubtless physically and mentally exhausted. Even Spirit empowered ministry is hard work! 

John Phillips comments that "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 (ED: NOT REALLY A DESERT - GREEN GRASS IN Mk 6:39) 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. (See Exploring the Gospel of Luke:)

Robert Stein on Bethsaida - Mark and Matthew have “a solitary place.” Bethsaida lies just north of the Sea of Galilee on the eastern side of the Jordan River. Although it was technically part of Gaulanitis, it was usually associated with Galilee (cf. John 12:21). In Mark, Bethsaida is mentioned right after this account (Mark 6:45+) and just before the account of Peter’s confession (cf. Mark 8:22, 27–30+), and Luke also followed this account with Peter’s confession (Luke 9:18–21)...This miracle in the neighborhood of Bethsaida will be referred to in Lk 10:13–14+. (See Luke: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition)

A city called Bethsaida - Luke mentions the city in his description of the account of the feeding of the 5000. Matthew and Mark state that Jesus and His disciples went to a secluded place (eremos = "a deserted place") which suggests they did not actually enter the city of Bethsaida (Mt 14:13+, Mk 6:31+). Mark also records Jesus' "disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate...send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages (WHICH ALSO SUPPORTS THEY WERE NOT ACTUALLY IN THE CITY PROPER) and buy themselves something to eat.” (Mk 6:35-36+, compare similar description in Mt 14:15.)

Bethsaida was singled out by the Lord, along with Chorazin, as being more deserving of judgment than Tyre and Sidon (Luke 10:13+). (See Why did Jesus mention Tyre and Sidon in Luke 10:14? |

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 - (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. (Holman Bible Dictionary)

See note on Mk 6:45+ which mentions "Bethsaida" again but which most writers interpret to be a different Bethsaida then that described in the story of the feeding of the 5000.

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

Returned (5290hupostrepho from hupo = under + strepho = to turn, to change) means to turn back from or to return (go back to a location).

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.

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).

Only the resurrection and the feeding of the 5000 are found in all 4 Gospels. Clearly feeding of the 5000 is very significant and one of the main points is that this miracle (largest number of people affected by one miracle) was clear demonstration that Jesus was God and Creator! John MacArthur has an interesting statement that "In each gospel account this miracle is placed at the climax of the Lord’s ministry."


NOTE: Words in Bold are unique to that Gospel's account.


 Matthew 14:12–24

Mark 6:30–46

Luke 9:10–17

John 6:1–14


His disciples came and took away the body and buried it; and they went and reported to Jesus. - Mt 14:12+

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

When the apostles returned, they gave an account to Him of all that they had done. Lk 9:10a+

After these things  Jn 6:1a+


Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself - Mt 14:13a+

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.They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves.- Mk 6:31,32+

Taking them with Him, He withdrew by Himself to a city called Bethsaida Lk 9:10b+

Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberias). Jn 6:1b+


When the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities - Mt 14:13b+

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

But the crowds were aware of this and followed Him; Lk 9:11a+

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


When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd- Mt 14:14a+

When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd Mk 6:34a+


Then Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat down with His disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near. Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him Jn 6:3-5+


He felt compassion for them and healed their sick - Mt 14:14b+

He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things. Mk 6:34b+

Welcoming them, He began speaking to them about the kingdom of God and curing those who had need of healing. Lk 9:11b+



When it was evening...the hour is already late, Mt 14:15a+

When it was already quite late...already quite late Mk 6:35a+

Now the day was ending Lk 9:12a+



The disciples came to Him and said, “This place is send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”.- Mt 14:15b+

His disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate...send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”" Mk 6:35b-36+

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.” Lk 9:12b+



Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” Mt 14:16+

He answered them, “You give them something to eat!” Mk 6:37+

He said to them, “You give them something to eat!” - Lk 9:13a+

Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do. Jn 6:5b-6+



They said to Him, “Shall we go and spend 200 denarii on bread and give them something to eat?”  Mk 6:37b+

Unless perhaps we go and buy food for all these people.” Lk 9:13c+

Philip answered Him, “200 denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.” Jn 6:7+ (cf Jn 6:9b+)


They said to Him, “We have here only 5 loaves and 2 fish.”Mt 14:17+

He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Mt 14:18+

He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go look!” And when they found out, they said, “5 and 2 fish.”  Mk 6:38+

They said, “We have no more than 5 loaves and 2  fish Lk 9:13b+

One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has 5 barley loaves and 2 fish, but what are these for so many people?”  Jn 6:8-9+



Ordering the people to sit down on the grass Mt 14:19a+


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+



He said to His disciples, “Have them sit down to eat in groups of about fifty each. - Lk 9:14b+

They did so, and had them all sit down. - Lk 9:15+


Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. Jn 6:10a+


He took the 5 loaves and the 2 fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food Mt 14:19b+

He took the 5 loaves and the 2 fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food Mk 6:41a+

He took the 5 loaves and the 2 fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them Lk 9:16a+

Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, Jn 6:11a+


Breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, - Mt 14:19c+


He broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them; and He divided up the two fish among them all.  Mk 6:41b+

He broke them, and kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people. Lk 9:16b+

He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted. Jn 6:11b+


They all ate and were satisfied  - Mt 14:20a+

They all ate and were satisfied, Mk 6:42+

And they all ate and were satisfied; Lk 9:17a+

When they were filled Jn 6:12+


They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, 12 full baskets. - Mt 14:20+


They picked up 12 full baskets of the broken pieces, and also of the fish. Mk 6:43+ 

The broken pieces which they had left over were picked up, 12 baskets full.  Lk 9:17b+

He said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.” So they gathered them up, and filled 12 baskets with fragments from the 5 barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. Jn 6:12-13+


There were about 5000 men who ate, besides women and children.Mt 14:21+

There were 5000 men who ate the loaves. Mk 6:44+

There were about 5000 men - Lk 9:14a+

So the men sat down, in number about 5000. Jn 6:10b+





When the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jn 6:14+


Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. - Mt 14:22+

 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the crowd away. Mk 6:45+




 After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. Mt 14:23+

After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray.  Mk 6:46+


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+

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.

  • crowds were aware of this Matthew 14:14; Mark 6:33,34; Romans 10:14,17
  • and he Isaiah 61:1; John 4:34; 6:37; Romans 15:3; 2 Timothy 4:2
  • the kingdom Lk 8:1,10; Matthew 21:31,43; Acts 28:31
  • healing Lk 1:53; 5:31; Hebrews 4:16
  • Luke 9 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • Luke 9:10-17 - Steven Cole
  • Luke 9:10-11 The Range of Jesus' Compassion - John MacArthur


The crowds were aware of this and followed (akoloutheoHim - 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 says "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 it was 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! In fact after the great miracle of creation of bread for upwards to 20,000 people (see Mt 14:21+) After the miracle of the feeding of 5000 (really upwards to 20,000 people for 5000 referred to the men -  Mt 14:21+) , John records that "they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king" which caused Jesus to withdraw "to the mountain by Himself alone." (Jn 6:15+) As MacArthur says the 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+)."

And welcoming (apodechomai) them, He began speaking to them about the kingdom (basileia) of God (see kingdom of Godand curing those who had need of healing - Note the compassion of Jesus. He had come for rest and the crowd pursued and found Him and instead of telling them to go, He received them hospitably. He began speaking to them on how one could enter the Kingdom. He refers to the Kingdom later saying that the person who enters  the Kingdom must do so like a child (Lk 18:17+, Mt 18:3, Mk 10:14+) and adds how hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! (Lk 18:24+) In John 3:5+ Jesus explained to Nicodemus “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit (cf Jn 3:3+) he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Mark 1:15+ summarizes the requirement to enter the Kingdom of God declaring "Repent and believe in the gospel.” (Both verbs are in present imperative). And so here we see that even though Jesus sought rest, in His compassion He demonstrates that "the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Lk 19:10+) He was redeeming the time (Eph 5:16+), for He knew the Galilean ministry was just about to end. He had ministered there for 18 months but the Galileans for the most part had rejected His message. It was time for Him to set His face like flint toward Jerusalem and the old rugged Cross! O, how we all need to imitate our Lord and redeem the precious moments we have left on earth to share the Gospel with the lost. Are you redeeming the time, the time of your life? 

The only kingdom that will prevail in this world is the kingdom that is not of this world!
-- Amen and Amen!

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 in Luke 9:1) and in a figurative sense to follow Jesus as a disciple. In the context of disciples akoloutheo implies fellowship, joint-participation, a side-by-side walking with another. Thus it has come to mean, "to join one as a disciple, to cleave steadfastly to one, conform wholly to his example, in living and, if need be, in dying."  In sum this verb is used frequently to describe "disciples," but as we see in John 6:66, these followers are not always genuine believers, but false disciples or what I refer to as "fair weather disciples." Follow is a key verb in Luke 9. 

Akoloutheo in Luke's Gospel = Lk. 5:11; Lk. 5:27; Lk. 5:28; Lk. 7:9; Lk. 9:11; Lk. 9:23; Lk. 9:49; Lk. 9:57; Lk. 9:59; Lk. 9:61; Lk. 18:22; Lk. 18:28; Lk. 18:43; Lk. 22:10; Lk. 22:39; Lk. 22:54; Lk. 23:27

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).

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.


John's Gospel adds some details not found in the synoptic accounts - "Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” This He was saying to test (peirazo) him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do." (Jn 6:5b-6+)

Lenski helps set the context - At this point we must turn to John 6:5–7+. When Jesus first stepped out of his retirement on the mountain side he put the question to Philip about buying bread for all these people. Jesus did this in advance in order to test out one of his disciples. Already then Jesus knew what he would do when evening would come. But all that Jesus got from Philip was that it would take more money than they had in their treasury to provide even a very little for so many people—not an inkling that Philip remembered Cana or thought of miraculous help on the part of Jesus in any way. Disappointed in Philip, Jesus descends to the multitude, heals the sick, and teaches about the kingdom until evening had actually come—entirely unconcerned about the bodily needs of the people and the passing of the time. The question put to Philip was evidently intended to have him report to the other apostles, and thus that all of them might think about it as the hours wore on. They did that but arrived at nothing. (See The Interpretation of St. Mark's Gospel)

Now the day was ending - Ending is klino which means literally to cause to  bend and in this case used of the day coming to an end, probably between 3:00 and 6:00 P.M.  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.

Send the crowd away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging (kataluo) and get (heurisko) something to eat (episitismos); for here we are in a desolate (eremosplace  - Send is apoluo (dismiss, send away), a command in the aorist imperative (Do it now! Do not delay!) Think about the hubris to issue a command like this to Jesus! 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 (Read  Php 2:3-5+).

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. (See Holman New Testament Commentary

Warren Wiersbe - Jesus sent the 12 Apostles out to minister because He had compassion on the needy multitudes (Matt. 9:36–38). This time, the needy multitudes came to them—and the disciples wanted to send them away! As yet, they had not learned to look at life through the eyes of their Master. To them, the crowds were a problem, perhaps even a nuisance, but to Jesus, they were as sheep without a shepherd. When D.L. Moody was building his great Sunday School in Chicago, children came to him from everywhere. They often passed by other churches and Sunday Schools to be with Mr. Moody. When asked why he walked so far to attend Moody’s Sunday School, one boy replied, “Because they love a fella over there!” The children could tell the difference.(Borrow Be Compassionate)

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. The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key says literally, to unharness the pack animals, to rest, to find lodging. 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. Gilbrant adds "In classical Greek kataluō can describe the “breaking up” or the “putting down” of something, such as a democracy (cf. Liddell-Scott). When applied to laws, customs, and the like, it means “annul, abolish,” i.e., “bring to an end.” 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)." 

Kataluo - 16v -  abolish(2), destroy(5), destroyed(1), find lodging(1), guest(1), overthrow(1), overthrown(1), tear down(1), torn down(4). Matt. 5:17; Matt. 24:2; Matt. 26:61; Matt. 27:40; Mk. 13:2; Mk. 14:58; Mk. 15:29; Lk. 9:12; Lk. 19:7; Lk. 21:6; Acts 5:38; Acts 5:39; Acts 6:14; Rom. 14:20; 2 Co. 5:1; Gal. 2:18

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).

Heurisko in Luke and Acts - Lk. 1:30; Lk. 2:12; Lk. 2:45; Lk. 2:46; Lk. 4:17; Lk. 5:19; Lk. 6:7; Lk. 7:9; Lk. 7:10; Lk. 8:35; Lk. 9:12; Lk. 9:36; Lk. 11:9; Lk. 11:10; Lk. 11:24; Lk. 11:25; Lk. 12:37; Lk. 12:38; Lk. 12:43; Lk. 13:6; Lk. 13:7; Lk. 15:4; Lk. 15:5; Lk. 15:6; Lk. 15:8; Lk. 15:9; Lk. 15:24; Lk. 15:32; Lk. 17:18; Lk. 18:8; Lk. 19:30; Lk. 19:32; Lk. 19:48; Lk. 22:13; Lk. 22:45; Lk. 23:2; Lk. 23:4; Lk. 23:14; Lk. 23:22; Lk. 24:2; Lk. 24:3; Lk. 24:23; Lk. 24:24; Lk. 24:33 Acts 4:21; Acts 5:10; Acts 5:22; Acts 5:23; Acts 5:39; Acts 7:11; Acts 7:46; Acts 8:40; Acts 9:2; Acts 9:33; Acts 10:27; Acts 11:26; Acts 12:19; Acts 13:6; Acts 13:22; Acts 13:28; Acts 17:6; Acts 17:23; Acts 17:27; Acts 18:2; Acts 19:1; Acts 19:19; Acts 21:2; Acts 23:9; Acts 23:29; Acts 24:5; Acts 24:12; Acts 24:18; Acts 24:20; Acts 27:6; Acts 27:28; Acts 28:14

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 (hapax legomenon). 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 (secluded) (2048)(eremos) when used as an adjective, normally describes places which are abandoned, desolate, or unpopulated. a deserted  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. Eremos is used several times in the description of the Feeding of the 5000 - Mt 14:13, 15, Mark 6:31, 32, 33, Lk 9:12, Jn 6:31. 

Eremos in Luke and Acts  Lk. 1:80; Lk. 3:2; Lk. 3:4; Lk. 4:1; Lk. 4:42; Lk. 5:16; Lk. 7:24; Lk. 8:29; Lk. 9:12; Lk. 15:4; Acts 1:20; Acts 7:30; Acts 7:36; Acts 7:38; Acts 7:42; Acts 7:44; Acts 8:26; Acts 13:18; Acts 21:38; 

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 (ED: MIRACLE OF RESURRECTION IN ALL 4 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? (Our Inadequacy, Christ's Adequacy)

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.

A Little is a Lot with the Lord


Other than the resurrection this is the only miracle of Jesus' ministry that appears in all four Gospels (see preceding chart comparison).

You give them something to eat!"- 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. They commanded send in the aorist imperative and Jesus commands give in the same tense! 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+)

THOUGHT - God’s way of provision always begins with what we already have. He wants us to use what we already have wisely. Don’t foolishly pray for more from God if you don’t use what He already has given you in a godly way. (Guzik)

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. Carson adds that “If they remembered the miracle of the wine in Cana (John 2:1–11), they should have asked Jesus to meet the need, not send the people away.”

THOUGHT - 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! God increase our faith so that we are willing to put our little in your hand for You to use as You please and for Your glory. In Jesus' all sufficient Name. Amen. Luke Application Study Note adds "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+)

Gotquestions - At this point, the disciples should have recalled the many miracles they had seen Jesus do. Perhaps some of them did, but Andrew asked, “What are [five loaves and two fish] for so many?” (John 6:9). And Philip exclaimed, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” (Jn 6:7).

 "The first step is not to measure our resources,
but to determine God’s will and trust Him to meet the need."
--Warren Wiersbe

Guzik comments that "it never entered their minds that Jesus might provide for the multitude with a miracle. God has resources that we know nothing about, so we can trust Him and be at peace even when we can’t figure out how He will provide."

God uses us as instruments
To help someone in need,
So we must trust Him to supply
When following His lead.

When God says do it, He’s already planned the resources we need to accomplish the task.  
-- Randy Kilgore

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. (See The MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

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."

Brian Bell - Christ can take our little and make it much. [Moses’ stick. David’s rock. Elijah’s mantle/cloak. Widows jar/oil. Samson’s donkey jawbone. A lil lad’s lunch... Your monthly missionary support check. Your prayer. Your individual tithe. Your prep time for your SS class] Our means, His power.

Charles Spurgeon aptly declared "He it was who thought of the way of feeding them, it was a design invented and originated by himself. His followers had looked at their little store of bread and fish and given up the task as hopeless; but Jesus, altogether unembarrassed, and in no perplexity, had already considered how he would banquet the thousands and make the fainting sing for joy. The Lord of Hosts needed no entreaty to become the host of hosts of hungry men."

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. Matthew adds "There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children. (Mt. 14:21+) With the women and children the number would be up to 20,000 mouths to feed.

THOUGHT - This number of mouths clearly emphasizes it would be humanly impossible to feed this many. But God specializes in stepping into impossible circumstances, for as Jeremiah 32:17+ 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!

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 "Where's the beef?" (again forgetting all of the other miracles they had already seen 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. (SO IT WAS DESOLATE BUT NOT DESERT) 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.

THOUGHT - 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" but more like a picnic. Mark 6:40+ says "They sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. "What a feast this was! Christ for the Master of the feast; apostles for butlers; thousands for numbers; and miracles for supplies!” (Spurgeon)

Jesus is the Good Shepherd and His command reminds us of Psalm 23:2-3+ - The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.  2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.  3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

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.

Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed (eulogeo) them (NET - gave thanks) - To bless or eulogize someone was to express gratitude for them. 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. Jesus is acknowledging God as the source of all provision. This description is similar to the table fellowship of the Last Supper (Lk 22:19 - eucharisteo) and Jesus' meal with some of the disciples after His resurrection (Lk 24:30 - eulogeo).

“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+)

McNeil - In working for God, first look to Heaven. It is a grand plan. Over and over again our Lord Jesus Christ looked to Heaven and said, “Father.” Let us imitate Him; although standing on the earth, let us have our conversation in Heaven. Before you go out, if you would feed the world, if you would be a blessing in the midst of spiritual dearth and famine, lift up your head to Heaven. Then your very face will shine, your very garments will smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces where you have been with your God and Saviour. There will be stamped upon you the dignity and power of the service of the Most High God. 

Cleon Rogers -  In Judaism it was a stringent rule that nothing should be eaten without thanking God before and after the meal (Borrow The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament)

Bob Utley on looking up toward heaven - The common physical position for Jewish prayer was standing with the arms and head raised and eyes open. Jesus was showing that the source of His authority was the heavenly Father.

Lane - “Jesus faithfully followed the accepted form: he took the bread in his hands, pronounced the blessing, broke the bread into pieces and distributed it. The only deviation from normal practice was that while praying Jesus looked toward heaven rather than downward, as prescribed.” (NICNT-Mark)

And broke them, and kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people - Kept giving is in the imperfect tense, over and over and over again! This describes the miracle of creating bread and fish out of nothing much like the Creation of the universe.

THOUGHT - Jesus provided extravagantly, yet simply. As long as He was making food miraculously, He could have provided steak and lobster and any number of other great things. But He simply gave people bread and fish. When Jesus provides, don’t be surprised if He provides simply. The assurance that Jesus can provide—even miraculously—for all of our needs should be precious to us; it was to the earliest Christians. On the walls of the catacombs, and other places of early Christian art, loaves and fishes are common pictures.(Guzik)

Warren Wiersbe -  The miracle took place in His hands, not in theirs; for whatever we give to Him, He can bless and multiply. We are not manufacturers; we are only distributors. (See Be Diligent)

Gotquestions - It is noteworthy that Jesus fed the people through the agency of His disciples. He could have simply snapped His fingers and caused everyone present to have a meal, but He didn’t. Instead, He “gave . . . to his disciples to distribute to the people” (Mark 6:41). In this way, the disciples had to trust the Lord for everything they distributed. They could only give as they received. Philip, Andrew, and the rest were put in a position of total dependence upon the Lord for the supply. God still uses people the same way today. (What can we learn from Jesus' feeding of the 5000?)

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). (Borrow ESV Study Bible)

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. (See Luke Commentary)

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) (Borrow the POSB Luke Commentary)

Plummer notes that the Jews had a tradition that when Messiah came He would feed the people with bread from heaven as Moses had done (Dt. 18:15) This may have prompted the reaction in John 6:14-15. One is also reminded of Elisha feeding 100 men (2Ki 4:42–44). 

Brian Bell - The sequence of verbs (blessed/give thanks, broke, gave) occurs again in Matt 26:26, which may hint that it represented a traditional blessing.  Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, Take, eat; this is My body....Whatever He blesses, He breaks. Are we willing to be broken?

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. Of man's duty to speak well of God in the form of praise or thanksgiving praise,When God blesses men He grants them favor and confers happiness upon them.

Eulogeo in Luke and Acts - Lk. 1:28; Lk. 1:42; Lk. 1:64; Lk. 2:28; Lk. 2:34; Lk. 6:28; Lk. 9:16; Lk. 13:35; Lk. 19:38; Lk. 24:30; Lk. 24:50; Lk. 24:51; Lk. 24:53; Acts 3:26

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.


Yes, they were physically satisfied, but their souls were still empty! They lacked the heart attitude which Jesus had promised to bless in the Sermon on the Mount. Sadly, they hunger for physical sustenance, not spiritual sustenance! 

 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied (same verb used here - chortazo).  (Mt 5:6+)

They all ate and were satisfied (chortazo - When Jesus feeds you, you will be satisfied! He gives more than enough! This reminds us of Ephesians 3:20+ And think about the food they were eating -- bread and fish that was created out of nothing (so it would have been untainted by effects of sin). This may have been the best tasting bread and fish that they had ever eaten

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.
-- Ephesians 3:20

Spurgeon on THE EATING. The disciples distributed the bread and the fish as quickly as they could and the people began to eat. They all ate of the provision and they were all filled. Now, what should every soul, here, conclude, but this—if Jesus has provided spiritual meat, He has not provided it to be looked at. He has not set it before us that we may merely hear about it. He has provided it that it might all of it be eaten. What is there for me? Lord, I am hungry, grant me a meal. O, souls, if you would hear sermons with the view of knowing what there is in them for yourselves—that you might feed upon them—what blessed work it would be to preach to you! (The Miracle of the Loaves)

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. (See Luke Application Study Notes

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 (kophinosfull - Why 12 baskets? Well, He had 12 hungry apostles! The 12 baskets full ensures that Jesus would feed His own men. Nothing was wasted. Note that this miracle does not describe the crowd's reaction and therefore seems to be 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. (Borrow the Believer's Bible Commentary )

Brian Bell - Jesus didn’t only feed the 5000, but he taught the 12. He sent them home w/a doggie-bag reminder. [maybe Jesus has em carry the big basket all the way home so they don’t forget this lesson] 1. Twelve baskets full - 1 per disciple. In the OT, God fed His people with manna, but there were no edible leftovers. Christ can overcome every difficulty and feed the multitudes. The disciples had many excuses - not enough $, the wrong place, the wrong time - but Christ took what they had and met the need. He will do this today.

THOUGHT -  God will shatter the pint-sized expectations of what His followers can do if they would learn to bring Him what they have already been given. “Little is much when God is in it.” When Christians are willing to offer their lives sacrificially, relinquishing their hold on whatever God has given them in terms of time, money, talents, etc., God will use these ordinary things to create extraordinary things. Christians must never believe their resources are too little to serve God. God delights in taking a humble, seemingly insignificant person and using him or her for His glory (see 1 Corinthians 1:27). (Gotquestions)

Guzik - Jesus "knew that wastefulness didn’t glorify the God of all provision."

Where we see a lack He sees an abundance.
Where we see human problems
He sees and accomplishes divine possibilities.
A little can become a lot with Jesus!
-- Daniel Akin

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 used chortazo 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."

Bob Utley - This statement is used in the Septuagint (i.e. the Greek translation of the OT) for the OT people of God being filled by the manna and quail (cf. Ps. 78:29; 105:40). This OT theme is developed in John 6 where Jesus fulfills the rabbinical expectation of providing food as Moses did. Jesus is the new Moses; His deliverance is the new exodus; and He brings the new age of abundance (cf. Ps. 132:15; Isa. 49:10).

Chortazo - 15v -  fed(1), filled(4), satisfied(8), satisfy(2). Matt. 5:6; Matt. 14:20; Matt. 15:33; Matt. 15:37; Mk. 6:42; Mk. 7:27; Mk. 8:4; Mk. 8:8; Lk. 6:21; Lk. 9:17; Lk. 16:21; Jn. 6:26; Phil. 4:12; Jas. 2:16; Rev. 19:21

Baskets (2894)(kophinos) a wicker basket typically used by Jews for carrying along Levitically clean food and apparently smaller than the (spuris). All uses describe the 12 baskets of broken pieces of bread after the feeding of the 5000. In both Matthew and Mark when Jesus describes these events He uses these two words with the same distinction (Mark 8:19-20+.; Matt. 16:9-10+). As Robertson says "Surely it is easier to conceive that Jesus wrought two such miracles than to hold that Mark and Matthew have made such a jumble of the whole business." 

Kophinos - 6x - Matt. 14:20; Matt. 16:9; Mk. 6:43; Mk. 8:19; Lk. 9:17; Jn. 6:13. Twice in Septuagint - Jdg 6:19, Ps 81:6. 

Gathered fragments remind us that:

  1.  Another Day of Need Will Surely Come
  2. The Blessings of God Should Not Be Wasted
  3. Grateful Hearts Make Full Use of God’s Blessings (John Mayshack)

Twelve has always been a symbolic number of organization
1.      outside the Bible
      a.      twelve signs of the Zodiac
      b.      twelve months of the year
2.      in the OT
      a.      the sons of Jacob
      b.      reflected in
         (1)      twelve pillars of the altar in Exod. 24:4
         (2)      twelve jewels on the high priest’s breastplate in Exod. 28:21
         (3)      twelve loaves of bread in the holy place of the tabernacle in Lev. 24:5
         (4)      twelve spies sent into Canaan in Num. 13
         (5)      twelve rods (tribal standards) at Korah’s rebellion in Num. 17:2
         (6)      twelve stones of Joshua in Josh. 4:3, 9, 20
         (7)      twelve administrative districts in Solomon’s administration in 1 Kgs. 4:7
         (8)      twelve stones of Elijah’s altar to YHWH in 1 Kgs. 18:31
3.      in the NT
      a.      twelve apostles chosen
      b.      twelve baskets of bread (one for each Apostle) in Matt. 14:20
      c.      twelve thrones on which NT disciples sit (referring to the 12 tribes of Israel) in Matt. 19:28
      d.      twelve legions of angels to rescue Jesus in Matt. 26:53
      e.      the symbolism of Revelation
         (1)      144,000 (12x12) in 7:4; 14:1, 3
         (2)      twelve stars on the woman’s crown in 12:1
         (3)      twelve gates, twelve angels reflecting the twelve tribes in 21:12
         (4)      twelve foundation stones of the new Jerusalem and on them the names of the twelve Apostles in 21:14
         (5)      twelve thousand stadia in 21:16 (size of new city, New Jerusalem)
         (6)      twelve gates of pearl in 21:21
         (7)      trees in new Jerusalem with twelve kinds of fruit (one each month) in 22:

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.”

Luke skips over subjects covered by the other Gospel writers (Mt. 14:22-16:12; Mk 6:45-8:26; Jn 6:16-66) presumably to more closely link Herod's questions about Jesus' identity with Peter's answer. 

Robert 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).

John 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 (proseuchomai) alone the disciples (mathetes) were with Him - 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. This note is interesting in that one one hand Jesus was praying alone suggesting in private, on the other hand His disciples were with Him. Was he off in another area? The text does not say. 

He showed Jesus praying before many important events in His ministry. He was evidently praying privately, though the disciples were with Him. Lk 11:1+ has a similar statement.

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. (See The MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

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 in Luke and Acts - 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

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; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again. - The disciples repeat the same possibilities mentioned in Luke 9:7-8+ 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 Israel's 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. (See Luke Commentary)

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. (See Luke Commentary)

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 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 Who do you say (present tense = continually) I am - Addressed to the entire group. In fact this question is addressed to every soul ever born, which explains the title above. 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.

William Hendriksen - 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. (Borrow Exposition of the Gospel of Luke).

Peter answered and said, "The Christ of God" - Peter was the spokesman for the other disciples and doubtless expressed their heart conviction (albeit what about Judas Iscariot?) In essence Peter said Jesus was the long expected "Anointed One," (Christos) the Messiah sent from God. Matthew recorded Peter's full confession including, "the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16). While they now have come to recognize Jesus as  Messiah, they still lacked a full-orbed sense of His mission, which was 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 telling the Jews about a Messiah who would save Israel from Roman oppression and establish the kingdom of God on earth, not a Messiah who would save sinners!

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

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. (Borrow Exposition of the Gospel of Luke)

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.

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+ and Daniel 9:26+. The idea, without the title, appears in such passages as Isaiah 9:6-7+; Isaiah 11:1-16+." (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, (Psalm 2:2+)

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. (Daniel 9:26+)

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;


But He warned (epitimao) them and instructed (paraggello) them not to tell this to anyone, - The natural question is why? See thoughts below. Instructed is more like a command as used in the military. Warned is the same word used two more times in this chapter, in Lk 9:42 where Jesus "rebuked (epitimao) the unclean spirit" and in Lk 9:55 where He rebuked (epitimao) the sons of thunder, James and John for considering calling down fire from heaven on the Samaritans who had refused hospitality. First, the warning rebuke and then the teaching.

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. (See The MacArthur New Testament Commentary) (See also  so-called "Messianic Secret.")

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 (FREE FOOD!) 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 = "perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king,"). 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). (Borrow Exposition of the Gospel of Luke).

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.(See Luke: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition )

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). 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." Gilbrant - In classical Greek the verb epitimaō can mean both “to honor” and “to censure or penalize.” The positive and negative meanings are similar to those carried by the English word citation. Epitimaō is used for rebuking people (e.g., Mark 8:32, 33; 10:13, 48; Luke 9:55; 19:39; 23:40) and for rebuking demons in order to silence them and to effect their exorcism (e.g., Mark 1:25; 9:25). Jesus cured a fever by rebuking it (Luke 4:39) and stilled a storm by rebuking it (Mark 4:39). The noun cognate epitimia (1993) occurs in 2 Corinthians 2:6 where Paul called for “censure” or “punishment” to be applied to wayward members of the congregation. (Complete Biblical Library)

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.

Paraggello - 30v - charge(1), command(4), commanded(4), commanding(1), direct(1), directed(2), gave(1), give...order(1), give instructions(1), giving...instruction(1), instruct(2), instructed(3), instructing(3), ordered(3), Prescribe(2). Matt. 10:5; Matt. 15:35; Mk. 6:8; Mk. 8:6; Lk. 5:14; Lk. 8:29; Lk. 8:56; Lk. 9:21; Acts 1:4; Acts 4:18; Acts 5:28; Acts 5:40; Acts 10:42; Acts 15:5; Acts 16:18; Acts 16:23; Acts 23:22; Acts 23:30; 1 Co. 7:10; 1 Co. 11:17; 1 Thess. 4:11; 2 Thess. 3:4; 2 Thess. 3:6; 2 Thess. 3:10; 2 Thess. 3:12; 1 Tim. 1:3; 1 Tim. 4:11; 1 Tim. 5:7; 1 Tim. 6:13; 1 Tim. 6:17

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; 1Corinthians 15:4; 1Peter 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 first "Passion Prediction" in Luke. Of course there have been allusions to His death (Lk 2:35+, Luke 5:35+), but this is the first time in Luke that Jesus plainly 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 Liefeld 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.(Borrow The Expositor's Bible Commentary)

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+, Acts 1:8+).

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

Son of Man - This designation is used 84x in 80v in the 4 Gospels and most of the uses are by Jesus Himself. It calls to mind the famous Messianic Prophecy in Daniel 7:13+. It emphasizes Jesus' humanity, which had to be fulfilled in order for Him to accomplish His role as our Kinsman-Redeemer (see in depth study)

The Son of Man in the NT - 88x in 84v - 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

Must (dei) suffer (pascho) many things - This is the first of six passion summaries in Lk  9:44; Lk 17:25; Lk 18:31–33; Lk 24:7 and Lk 24:46–47. Must (in the present tense - continual necessity) speaks of an obligation, and thus indicates that His suffering were not optional but absolutely necessary. Certainly His crucifixion was not optional but here we see the sufferings that preceded the actual crucifixion were also part of God's plan for His Son.  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.

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)

And be rejected (apodokimazo) 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!; same verb Luke uses = Lxx = apodokimazo) has become the chief Corner Stone." (Ps 118:22, cf Isa 28:16 = "costly cornerstone") This Messianic Prophecy is cited many times in the NT - Mt 21:42; MK 12:10, 11; Lk 20:17; Acts 4:11; Ep 2:20; 1Pe 2:4-7).

THOUGHT - 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! Play Leon Patillo's oldie but goldie Cornerstone

Leon Morris notes that apodokimazo is "a technical term for rejection after a careful legal scrutiny (ED: RECALLS HIS 3 MOCK TRIALS!). It implies that the hierarchy would consider Jesus’ claims but decide against Him."  (Borrow The Gospel According to St. Luke: An Introduction and Commentary

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.

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." (Revelation 5:11, 5:12+)! And all God's people say "Amen!"

"The subject of these verses (Lk 9:22-27) is death—Jesus' death and His followers' deaths"
-- John Martin

And be killed (apokteino) - 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+). The charge that the Jews killed their Messiah is alluded to in several NT passages (cf. John 11:45-53; Jn 18:28-31; also Acts 2:23, 36; Acts 3:13-15; Acts 4:10; Acts 7:52; Acts 10:39; Acts 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. And we also do well to remember that it was our own personal sins that put Him on that old rugged Cross to die as a perfect blood atonement of our sins, paying the debt in full. We owed a debt we could not pay. Jesus paid a debt He did not owe. Hallelujah! Amen! 

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. (See Bible Knowledge Commentary

Related Resource:


Be raised up (egeiro) on the third day - Be raised in the divine passive (cf  Who resurrected Jesus? | The resurrection is the Father's "AMEN" to the Son's "IT IS FINISHED!" (Jn 19:30+). It is notable that earlier Luke wrote that God "has raised up (egeiro) a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant" (Lk 1:69+). This could conceivably be seen as a prophetic allusion to the resurrection. Notice that be raised up is spoken of in the past tense with a futuristic intent (proleptic aorist tense), because the resurrection of Jesus from the dead was so certain that it Jesus speaks of it as if it had already been accomplished (cf 1Co 15:4+)! Christ's "Mission Impossible" was fully accomplished when He was "raised up (egeiro) on the third day!" Playing Casting Crowns' Glorious Day

One day they led Him up Calvary's mountain
One day they nailed Him to die on a tree
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He
Hands that healed nations, stretched out on a tree
And took the nails for me

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He's coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose, over death He had conquered
Now is ascended, my Lord evermore
Death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him
From rising again

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.

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.

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). (Borrow Holman Christian Standard Bible Study Bible)

Luke's use of dei - Lk. 2:49 = “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?”; Lk. 4:43 = "I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.” 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

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 - Complete Biblical Library)

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,

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.

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.((Wuest Word Studies - Eerdman Publishing Company - used by permission)

Killed (615) (apokteino from apó = intensifies meaning + kteíno = slay) means to kill outright or to put to death in any manner. Most often apokteinō should be taken literally (e.g., Matthew 23:34; 24:9; Mark 9:31; Luke 13:31; John 5:18). In classical Greek apokteinō (also spelled apoktennō) has the consistent definition of “to kill.” It ordinarily functioned in a literal capacity, but it was also used figuratively. It could mean “to murder” (an illegal act) or “to execute” (within the law).

Uses of apokteino in Luke -  Lk. 9:22; Lk. 11:47; Lk. 11:48; Lk. 11:49; Lk. 12:4; Lk. 12:5; Lk. 13:4; Lk. 13:31; Lk. 13:34; Lk. 18:33; Lk. 20:14; Lk. 20:15; Acts 3:15; Acts 7:52; Acts 21:31; Acts 23:12; Acts 23:14; Acts 27:42;

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'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 (Borrow 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 (áxios) of Me. 39 “He who has found his life will lose (apollumi) it, and he who has lost (apollumi) his life for My sake will find it.

Matthew 16:24-26+ Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone (WHO?) 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 (apollumi) it; but whoever loses (apollumi) his life for My sake will find it. 26 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits (zemioo) 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 "If anyone wishes (thelo) to come after Me - Anyone means Jesus not just addressing His 12 apostles but anyone and everyone!  Wishes is present tense (continually) and active voice (a choice of one's will), a desire which is energized by the Spirit, because as Paul says no man seeks after God. So to desire to come after Jesus is a desire we are to  act upon but one which is initiated by the sovereign power of the Spirit, this interaction of God's sovereignty and human responsibility being a mystery. 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. Hal-hearted 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.

The result is the great scandal of Christendom today,
so-called “nominal Christianity.”
-- John Stott

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. (See Basic Christianity or borrow Basic Christianity)

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 (Mt. 5:10-12; see also Ro 8:17; 2Th  1:5).

He must deny (arneomai) himself - Deny is aorist imperative a command to do this now, don't delay, it is urgent. Do it once and for all. Just try to do this in your own strength! You can't! Paul gives us a clue in Titus 2 writing "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny (arneomai - middle voice) ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age." (Titus 2:11-12+)

In Luther's 95 Theses, in number 4 he mentions "hatred of self" which is essential to entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. Self-hatred is the equivalent of self-denial. MacArthur adds that "once you’ve gone through self-denial, or self-hate, or self-loathing because you no longer want to associate with the sinner you are, you’re that desperate. At that point when Jesus says to you, “I’m asking for a whole life commitment,” you’re in the position to make the response because you’ve just abandoned yourself completely, that’s the first half. And now you’re ready to embrace the lordship of Christ with unswerving loyalty and unhindered devotion. We need to be calling sinners to follow Jesus as a way of life." True Christianity is not seasonal, it’s not even Sunday, it’s a way of life. It is following Jesus all the time in joyous self-denial. It is that willingness to deny yourself, take up your cross, that is deny yourself to the degree it might cost you your life, and follow Me. And you welcome the opportunity to do that because you know how bankrupt you are, you’ve already past the Rubicon, as it were, in self-denial. Now following Christ brings the only hope and the only joy and the supreme joy available to you. The conditions of salvation are set by our Lord Himself.In fact, it’s always amazed me how many people Jesus had a conversation with and He put a barrier up between them and salvation. It wasn’t easy to get saved if you were talking to Jesus. He never led anybody to a superficial response to Him whatsoever, even people who believed in Him. He always raised the barrier of sin and self-denial and taking up a cross and hating family and being willing to give up everything you have. I mean, how important is this to you, is really the issue. It isn’t that He’ll necessarily ask for all of that, but if Jesus Christ is important enough to you, then you would be happy to receive Jesus Christ under any conditions that He might ask for. I’ve subtitled that book, Hard To Believe, The high cost and infinite value of following Jesus. And the reason you’re willing to pay the high cost is because of the infinite value. (See full sermon Barriers to True Discipleship) (Borrow his related book Hard to Believe : the high cost and infinite value of following Jesus)

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+) which is the same as working out our salvation in fear and trembling. (Php 2:12+).

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. 3:1-4, 8+). It is the resignation to press forward (even to strive - Lk 13:24+) in thankfulness to Christ even when ridiculed and opposed because of your faith in Christ. (See Newton's entire sermon below)

The Lord doesn't want you to dedicate yourself to Him,
He wants you to deny yourself!
--Adrian Rogers

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. 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 (ED: I RECALL SUNDAY EVENING SERVICES WHEN THE PASTOR WOULD OFFER "RE-DEDICATIONS" AND EVERY SUNDAY EVENING ONE GIRL WENT DOWN...EVERY SUNDAY!).....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 (ED: NOTE PLATT USES DISCIPLE AS A SYNONYM FOR A GENUINE BELIEVER AND NOT A "SECOND-STAGE," ELITE GROUP OF BELIEVERS - THIS HAS BEEN FALSELY TAUGHT IN MANY EVANGELICAL CHURCHES!) of Jesus are not marked by self-righteousness or self-indulgence; they are marked by self-denial: crucifying themselves for the glory of God (ED: cf Gal 2:20+). 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 (ED: cf Mk 8:35+). 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 (ED: AKA "LEGALISM") 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.(See Exalting Jesus in Matthew)

John MacArthur on some descriptions of denial of self, dying to self  -   Self denial becomes a life pattern. Now what does it mean as a Christian?  Here are some practical things.  

  1. When you are not forgiven, or neglected, or purposely set aside, and you sting and hurt with the insult or oversight, but your heart is happy and you’re content to be counted worthy to suffer for Christ, that’s dying to self
  2. When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice is disregarded, your opinions are ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart or even defend yourself, but take it all in patient, loyal silence, that is dying to self.
  3. When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, or any annoyance, when you can stand face-to-face with foolishness, extravagance, spiritual insensitivity and endure it as Jesus endured it, that is dying to self.
  4. When you’re content with any food, any offering, any clothes, any climate, any society, any solitude, any interruption by the will of God, that is dying to self.
  5. When you never care to refer to yourself, or to record your own good works, or seek commendation, when you can truly love to be unknown, that is dying to self.
  6. When you see another brother prosper and have his needs met, and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy, nor even question God while your own needs are far greater and in desperate circumstances, that is dying to self.
  7. When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself, and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart, that is dying to self.

So, you come to Christ with an attitude of self denial and you grow down from there.  Our self denial isn’t perfect.  Our self suicide isn’t perfect.  We resurrect our egos and our own wills, and thrust them out, and intrude into the will of God, and we have to seek His grace and forgiveness when we do that, but that is the deepest, and purest, and truest desire, and longing, and aspiration, of our redeemed heart, even though it’s far short of what we would want it to be. (The Necessary Components of Saving Faith)

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. (Borrow Exalting Jesus in Mark Christ-Centered Exposition)

We are not instructed to TRY (to do better),
but to DIE!

Take up (airohis cross dailyTake up is in the aorist imperative is a command to do this now, don't delay, it is urgent. How often? 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, motivated and empowered by the indwelling Spirit of Christ!

Take up (airo) 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, Lk 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.

Liefeld - 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, The Gospel According to St. Luke, p. 170). To take up the cross daily is to live each day, not for self, but for Christ. (Borrow The Expositor's Bible Commentary)

Cleon Rogers - Taking up one’s cross refers to the attitude of self-denial (Marshall). This refers to carrying the horizontal beam (patibulum) to the place of crucifixion past a mocking, jeering mob (BBC). It is the readiness to renounce self and be ready to die a shameful death. (Borrow The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament)

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. (See Mark: 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? (See Luke (2 volumes in 1 / ESV Edition): That You May Know the Truth)

Take up (airo) 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)

A W Tozer said  to be crucified with Christ means "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."

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." (See MasterLife: Developing a Rich Personal Relationship)

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." (Who Owns Your Life?)

Bob Briner - "Take up (airoyour 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. (Borrow Disciple's Study Bible)

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). (The Son of Man Must Suffer Many Things)

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" (Borrow 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.

James Edwards - Faith entails affirming the truth that Jesus is Messiah, but it also entails more than this. It entails acting on that truth by following Jesus in daily discipleship


And follow (akoloutheo) Me - Follow is in the (present imperative) which calls for following in our Master's steps to be our lifestyle, the habitual practice of our life. Of course the only way we can follow Him in this manner is by continual dependence on the Holy Spirit to obey this command. This is in essence a "working definition" (or description) of a disciple, a follower of Jesus. Does this "definition" describe your life?

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! 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

Based on the truth in these passages,
would you call yourself a follower of Jesus?

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.

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

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 (Luke 9 The New Daily Study Bible – The Gospel of Luke)

John MacArthur on the dangerous teaching of "second level" Christians - There has been this movement in evangelicalism, and it’s still around.... This movement separates salvation from obedience, separates Jesus as Savior from Jesus as Lord, separates believing from obeying, separates justification from sanctification....It’s a gospel scandal. Sinners are told if they want to be saved and go to heaven, they just need to accept Jesus Christ, accept the fact that He died for them. They just need to ask Jesus to come into their hearts, or invite Him in - common and unbiblical phrases, by the way, suited to a deluded gospel. Very little is ever said about how they have to view themselves. Those people who hold this position discard the evangelistic intent of virtually every recorded invitation Jesus gave. They turn Jesus into a deeper life (ED: SEE HIGHER LIFE BELOW) teacher, or a higher life teacher, somebody who is saying to people who are already saved, “You need to come on up and be a disciple. You need to come on up and get serious. You need to start obeying. You need to start self denying.”  That’s the second level of saved experience.  So they take everything Jesus said like “Follow Me and deny yourself, and take up your cross, and obey Me, and keep My Word, and keep My commandments, and love Me, and love one another,” as not spoken to those people who need to understand that that’s the attitude of a person who comes for salvation, but rather making it an attitude of somebody who is already a Christian moving to a second level. So Jesus instead of being an evangelist preaching the gospel, becomes a deeper life teacher.  A sort of a Keswick speaker wanting to move people to another level of spirituality.....such as that distinction between salvation and discipleship, making them two different things. No distinction has done so much to undermine the authority and the accuracy of Jesus’ evangelistic message. Everything that takes that side strips Jesus of the evangelistic intent of what He says. That’s not a small issue. (The Necessary Components of Saving Faith)

Related Resource:

Wishes (desires) (2309thelo see study of derivative thelema; see synonyms boule and boulomai) is a very common NT verb (208x) which 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) Thélo =  desire that comes from one’s EMOTIONS <> active decision of the will, IMPLYING VOLITION & PURPOSE; conscious willing and denotes a more active resolution urging on to action; expresses a purpose or determination or decree; denotes one's active resolution, the will urging on to action; indicates the impulse of the will.

Thelo in Luke and Acts -  Lk. 1:62; Lk. 4:6; Lk. 5:12; Lk. 5:13; Lk. 5:39; Lk. 6:31; Lk. 8:20; Lk. 9:23; Lk. 9:24; Lk. 9:54; Lk. 10:24; Lk. 10:29; Lk. 12:49; Lk. 13:31; Lk. 13:34; Lk. 14:28; Lk. 15:28; Lk. 16:26; Lk. 18:4; Lk. 18:13; Lk. 18:41; Lk. 19:14; Lk. 19:27; Lk. 20:46; Lk. 22:9; Lk. 23:8; Lk. 23:20;  Acts 2:12; Acts 7:28; Acts 7:39; Acts 10:10; Acts 14:13; Acts 16:3; Acts 17:18; Acts 17:20; Acts 18:21; Acts 19:33; Acts 24:6; Acts 24:27; Acts 25:9; Acts 26:5

After (3694opiso from opis = a looking back) Among classical writers opisō (also spelled opissō) was an adverb of time (“hereafter, following, after”) or of place (“behind, backwards”). In the New Testament opisō functions as an adverb or a preposition. Adverbially, in answer to the question “Where?” or “Whither?” it means “behind” or “back.” In Luke 7:38 the sinful woman was standing “behind” Jesus at His feet.  Thus opiso can refer to a position behind another (Lk 7:38), as a marker of one who is followed as a leader - "If anyone wishes to come after Me," (Mt 16:24). In a negative sense 1 Ti 5:15, Rev 13:3). It can describe time - "after me One is coming" (Mk 1:7), "He who comes after me" (Jn 1:15, 27, 30). It means to fall back (Jn 18:6); look backward (Luke 9:62); turn back (Mt. 24:18; Mk 13:16; Lk 17:31; Jn 6:66; Jn 20:14;  Ge 19:17, 26; 2 Sa 1:22; 1 Ki 18:37) It is used metaphorically in Php 3:13 "forgetting what lies behind" Paul alluding to his former human accomplishments.Friberg on opiso -  adverb; (1) of place, with a verb of motion behind, back (Mt 24.18); neuter as a substantive  what is behind (Php 3.13); idiomatically literally go back to what lies behind, i.e. no longer follow (Jn 6.66); (2) as an improper preposition with the genitive; (a) of place behind ( Mt 16.23); (b) of following in close relation after (Mt 4.19+); idiomatically literally go after strange flesh, i.e. practice homosexuality (Jude 1:7); (c) of time after (Mt 3.11) (Borrow Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament)

Opiso -34v - after(18), around(1), back(2), back*(3), behind(5), follow(2), follow*(2), withdrew*(1). Matt. 3:11; Matt. 4:19; Matt. 10:38; Matt. 16:23; Matt. 16:24; Matt. 24:18; Mk. 1:7; Mk. 1:17; Mk. 1:20; Mk. 8:33; Mk. 8:34; Mk. 13:16; Lk. 7:38; Lk. 9:23; Lk. 9:62; Lk. 14:27; Lk. 17:31; Lk. 19:14; Lk. 21:8; Jn. 1:15; Jn. 1:27; Jn. 1:30; Jn. 6:66; Jn. 12:19; Jn. 18:6; Jn. 20:14; Acts 5:37; Acts 20:30; Phil. 3:13; 1 Tim. 5:15; Jude 1:7; Rev. 1:10; Rev. 12:15; Rev. 13:3

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 something. Gilbrant - Classical writers understood arneomai to mean “to refuse.” Under certain conditions other shades of meaning appear, such as “to reject” or “to decline”; the word can even mean “to deny something or someone.” It was during the Hellenistic period that arneomai first denoted the meaning so dominant in the New Testament—“to renounce, to deny.” 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.  Gingrich - 1. deny Lk 8:45; Jn 1:20; 2 Ti 3:5; 1 Jn 2:22.  disregard oneself Lk 9:23, but be untrue to oneself 2 Ti 2:13 .—2. repudiate, disown Mt 10:33; 1 Ti 5:8; 2 Ti 2:12; Titus 1:16 .—3. refuse Hb 11:24 Friberg - (1) in relation to a question or demand = deny (Lk 8.45), opposite homologeo (admit, confess); (2) in relation to a claim refuse, disown, not consent to (Heb 11.24); (3) in relation to God or a person deny, disown, renounce (1Jn 2.23); (4) in relation to the Christian faith, usually in the sense of apostasy deny, repudiate (1Ti 5.8); (5) as saying no to oneself in order to live wholly for Christ -- disregard, pay no attention to one's own desires (Lk 9.23); as turning from ungodly conduct renounce, deny (Titus 2.12); (6) as acting contrary to one's true character be untrue, be false to oneself (2Ti 2.13) (Borrow Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament)

GilbrantArneomai is set in antithesis to homologeō (3533) “to confess”: “He (John the Baptist) confessed, and denied not; but confessed” (John 1:20). Just as homologeō can apply to confessing one’s sin as well as confessing one’s faith, so too, arneomai/ aparneomai (529) can indicate denial from two widely different perspectives. It can mean to “renounce” or “deny” oneself, i.e., self-denial, but it can also denote “to deny” the faith or God. Self-denial is regularly expressed with the intensive form aparneomai, but arneomai occurs in Titus 2:12 when Paul wrote that grace disciplines us to “renounce” ungodliness and worldly pleasures (cf. Hebrews 11:24, where the same word is used of Moses’ refusal to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter). Self-denial involves giving way to God’s desires and others’ before our own. To renounce worldly pleasures involves rejection of their rule and power in our lives. The term arneomai appears in 1 John 2:22 concerning denying the Father (i.e., atheism). Some, through their conduct and evil acts, demonstrate that for all practical purposes they have renounced God (Titus 1:16). The New Testament is most concerned with someone denying Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:33; Mark 14:31; Luke 12:9; John 13:38; Acts 3:13; 2 Timothy 2:12; etc.). In every instance to deny Him means to reject or to denounce association with Him. Renunciation is therefore actually a denial of discipleship. To “deny Jesus Christ” can involve denial of His person (2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 2:22f.); His name (Revelation 3:8); the Faith (Revelation 2:13; cf. 1 Timothy 5:8); and the power of Christianity (2 Timothy 3:5). Such rejection is fatal to man and tantamount to a denial by God of that person at the Day of Judgment. Jesus himself confirmed this: “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:33; cf. Luke 9:26; 2 Timothy 2:12). Nevertheless, the denial of Christ is not an unforgivable sin. Jesus declared that even if someone speaks against the Son of Man, he could receive forgiveness (Matthew 12:32). Peter denied Jesus, but God fully forgave him and restored him totally. “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). (Complete Biblical Library)

Arneomai - 30v denied(10), denies(5), deny(12), denying(2), disowned(3), refused(1). Matt. 10:33; Matt. 26:70; Matt. 26:72; Mk. 14:68; Mk. 14:70; Lk. 8:45; Lk. 9:23; Lk. 12:9; Lk. 22:57; Jn. 1:20; Jn. 13:38; Jn. 18:25; Jn. 18:27; Acts 3:13; Acts 3:14; Acts 4:16; Acts 7:35; 1 Tim. 5:8; 2 Tim. 2:12; 2 Tim. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:5; Tit. 1:16; Tit. 2:12; Heb. 11:24; 2 Pet. 2:1; 1 Jn. 2:22; 1 Jn. 2:23; Jude 1:4; Rev. 2:13; Rev. 3:8

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 the context of Luke 9:23 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+). 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. Gingrich - 1. raise, lift, take up, pick up Mt 16:24; Lk 17:13; Jn 8:59; keep in suspense Jn 10:24; weigh (anchors) Acts 27:13; take or carry along Mt 16:24; 27:32;  cry out loudly Lk 17:13. The transition to mng. 2 may be seen in Jn 1:29, where ai means both take up and remove.—2. take or carry away, remove Lk 6:29; Jn 2:16; 19:38. Do away with, kill Jn 19:15; sweep away Mt 24:39; conquer, take over Jn 11:48; expel 1 Cor 5:2; cut off Jn 15:2. 

Airo in Luke and Acts - Lk. 4:11; Lk. 5:24; Lk. 5:25; Lk. 6:29; Lk. 6:30; Lk. 8:12; Lk. 8:18; Lk. 9:3; Lk. 9:17; Lk. 9:23; Lk. 11:22; Lk. 11:52; Lk. 17:13; Lk. 17:31; Lk. 19:21; Lk. 19:22; Lk. 19:24; Lk. 19:26; Lk. 22:36; Lk. 23:18; Acts 4:24; Acts 8:33; Acts 20:9; Acts 21:11; Acts 21:36; Acts 22:22; Acts 27:13; Acts 27:17

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.

Akoloutheo - 89x in 86v -  follow(35), followed(36), following(17), follows(1). Matt. 4:20; Matt. 4:22; Matt. 4:25; Matt. 8:1; Matt. 8:10; Matt. 8:19; Matt. 8:22; Matt. 8:23; Matt. 9:9; Matt. 9:19; Matt. 9:27; Matt. 10:38; Matt. 12:15; Matt. 14:13; Matt. 16:24; Matt. 19:2; Matt. 19:21; Matt. 19:27; Matt. 19:28; Matt. 20:29; Matt. 20:34; Matt. 21:9; Matt. 26:58; Matt. 27:55; Mk. 1:18; Mk. 2:14; Mk. 2:15; Mk. 3:7; Mk. 5:24; Mk. 6:1; Mk. 8:34; Mk. 9:38; Mk. 10:21; Mk. 10:28; Mk. 10:32; Mk. 10:52; Mk. 11:9; Mk. 14:13; Mk. 14:54; Mk. 15:41; Lk. 5:11; Lk. 5:27; Lk. 5:28; Lk. 7:9; Lk. 9:11; Lk. 9:23; Lk. 9:49; Lk. 9:57; Lk. 9:59; Lk. 9:61; Lk. 18:22; Lk. 18:28; Lk. 18:43; Lk. 22:10; Lk. 22:39; Lk. 22:54; Lk. 23:27; Jn. 1:37; Jn. 1:38; Jn. 1:40; Jn. 1:43; Jn. 6:2; Jn. 8:12; Jn. 10:4; Jn. 10:5; Jn. 10:27; Jn. 11:31; Jn. 12:26; Jn. 13:36; Jn. 13:37; Jn. 18:15; Jn. 20:6; Jn. 21:19; Jn. 21:20; Jn. 21:22; Acts 12:8; Acts 12:9; Acts 13:43; Acts 21:36; 1 Co. 10:4; Rev. 6:8; Rev. 14:4; Rev. 14:8; Rev. 14:9; Rev. 14:13; Rev. 19:14

Arthur Bennett, The Valley of Vision [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1977], xv

 Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly…
   Let me learn by paradox
    that the way down is the way up,
    that to be low is to be high,
    that the broken heart is the healed heart,
    that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
    that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
    that to have nothing is to possess all,
    that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
    that to give is to receive…
   Let me find thy light in my darkness,
      thy life in my death,
      thy joy in my sorrow,
      thy grace in my sin,
      thy riches in my poverty,
      thy glory in my [humiliation].

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 Song of the Year 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.

A. J. GORDON  We are wont to say that Christ died that we might not die. We should speak more truly if we affirmed that He died that we might die. He died for sin that we might die to sin; He bore our guilt in His own body that we might bear about His dying in our bodies.…

Our wills surrender to Christ’s, even as His will was surrendered to the Father’s; our self-pleasing daily foregone for His sake Who “pleased not Himself”; our ease surrendered day by day in order that we may endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ,—these are the crucial tests of discipleship. Our souls are saved only by Christ’s outward cross of atonement; they are sanctified only by His inward cross of self-abnegation.

Three Friends - Robert Morgan - From This Verse

They were best friends, the three. Alanson Work was sandy haired, married, father of four. George Thompson was young and single, with thick black hair and a five-feet frame. The third man, James Burr, was six-feet-four. But they were united by a common devotion to Christ and a joint hatred of slavery.

In 1841, arrested for trying to smuggle slaves from Missouri, they were chained to each other and held without bail. Outside, a mob chanted for their deaths, while inside the three knelt in prayer. Thompson later wrote: Our singing and happy contentment in our prisonhouse much annoyed the consciences of the [town’s] inhabitants. They preached to the crowds before and during their trial, then were sentenced to 12 years hard labor at the state penitentiary.

Arriving in prison, the men’s heads were shaved, they were garbed in prison rags, and were repeatedly threatened with forty lashes. Their food consisted of hard cornbread, rotting bacon, cold potatoes, and “various animal intestines.” During the cold winters, they nearly froze until they were allowed to sleep together. We could take turns getting into the middle. If an outside one was becoming frostbitten, he only had to request the middle one to exchange places awhile.

Night after night, the men read to one another from the Bible and joined together in singing and praying. Soon they were evangelizing and teaching the other prisoners. On Sunday, May 14, 1843, George Thompson’s sermon from Luke 9:23 sparked a prison revival.

The most glorious day I have seen! The power of God wonderfully displayed. In prayer meeting, four new cases of conversion; cell crowded to overflowing; converts mounting higher and growing stronger; while the long-harded tremble like Belshazzar. Preached to 12 converts, in my cell, from Luke 9:23. In the afternoon, a powerful sermon—six new ones came forward. I talked and prayed with them, no man forbidding. Glory to God.

Work was finally released in 1845. Burr and Thompson were pardoned the next year, the latter becoming a missionary to Africa.

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.

o 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. (See Luke: 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.

It’s Not A Game

Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. — Mark 8:34

Today's Scripture: Mark 8:31-38

My former neighbor often talked about “the game of life,” and I can understand why he did. It’s part of human nature to approach life as one big game made up of a lot of little games. Competing can be fun, exciting, and stimulating.

But life is a whole lot more than a game—especially for a follower of Jesus Christ. When a believer needs to own the biggest house, drive the largest SUV, get the promotion first, and win every argument, something’s terribly wrong from God’s point of view. It’s not right to run over people’s feelings, bend or break the rules, and gloat over victories.

To approach life as one big game that you always have to win is to live in hopeless delusion and fantasy. While material possessions, professional success, and personal victories are enjoyable, they last only for this life. Then they’re all left behind.

Jesus instructed His disciples to deny themselves, identify with His cross, and follow Him in self-denial, and for some that even meant death (Mark 8:34-35). He made it clear to His disciples that artificial victories in “the game of life” don’t count for much. What really counts is what’s done for the Lord. By:  David C. Egner (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Follow Me

Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. —Mark 8:34

Today's Scripture: Mark 8:34-38

During World War II, B-17 bombers made long flights from the US mainland to the Pacific island of Saipan. When they landed there, the planes were met by a jeep bearing the sign: “Follow Me!” That little vehicle guided the giant planes to their assigned places in the parking area.

One pilot, who by his own admission was not a religious man, made an insightful comment: “That little jeep with its quaint sign always reminds me of Jesus. He was [a lowly] peasant, but the giant men and women of our time would be lost without His direction.”

Centuries after our Savior walked the streets and hills of Israel, the world with all its advances still needs His example and instruction. When His ways aren’t followed, numerous problems and evils arise in our world—including immorality, crime, and greed.

How do we follow Jesus’ ways? First of all, we turn from our sin and entrust our lives to Him as our Savior and Lord. Then, we seek His will in His Word each day and put it into practice by the power of the Holy Spirit within us. We learn to deny our selfish desires and give ourselves completely to following Jesus (Mark 8:34-35).

If you want to get in line with the purposes of God, respond to Jesus’ invitation: “Follow Me!” By:  Vernon Grounds  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

For help on your Christian journey,
read the online booklet What Does It Take To Follow Christ?

To find your way through life, follow Jesus.

Subtle Wisdom

If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. —John 12:26

Today's Scripture: Mark 8:34-38

When I was in college, my co-worker Bud, a fork-truck driver, often enriched my life with his pithy wisdom. We were eating lunch one day, sitting on the back of his fork truck, when I announced that I was transferring to another school.

“Why?” he asked.

“All my friends are transferring,” I answered.

Bud chewed his sandwich for a moment and then replied quietly and with subtle irony, “I guess that’s one way to pick a school.”

His words struck me with rare force. Of course, I thought. But is this the only way to choose a school? Will I follow my friends for the rest of my days, or will I follow Jesus? Will I seek His face and His will and go where He wants me to go?

Twenty-five times in the New Testament, Jesus said to His disciples, “Follow Me.” In Mark 8:34, He said, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” No matter what others do or what direction their lives may take, we must do what He asks us to do.

The words of an old song come to mind: “My Lord knows the way through the wilderness; all I have to do is follow!” By:  David H. Roper  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Cafeteria Christianity

Read: Mark 8:34-38 

Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. —Mark 8:34

In his book Thinking in the Future Tense, Edward B. Lindaman refers to “the cafeteria culture of our age.” It’s the tendency to shy away from life’s unpleasant disciplines and seek only what brings immediate pleasure.

Christians are not exempt from this tendency. Some persuasive preachers promote an “abundant life” of success and prosperity through positive thinking, more faith, or giving money to get God’s blessing in return.

The Bible, of course, teaches us to think positively (Phil. 4:8) and to give liberally (2 Cor. 8:2). But much “prosperity preaching” lacks the nourishing truths of Christ’s sacrifice for sin and His demand for godly living. Our God is not only loving, good, and generous; He is also righteous, holy, and demanding. He hates sin and will not compromise with evil.

It’s wonderful to hear about the blessings Christ offers, but we also need to experience repentance and self-denial. The picking and choosing of a cafeteria-style Christianity is no substitute for a well-rounded diet, which includes the tough truths of taking up Christ’s cross and following Him (Mark 8:34). That kind of nourishment stimulates the growth of spiritual muscle and Christlike character. And I need all of that I can get, don’t you? By Dennis J. DeHaan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakenings;
Not thus are spirits fortified,
Not this way went the Crucified.

To be conformed to Christ, let God’s Spirit form Christ in you.

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, See his comments on Mark 8:34ff in the The Bible Knowledge Commentary). 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 Himas 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.

. 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.

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.


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."

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


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 no 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.

Whoever wishes (thelo) to save (sozohis life (soul - psuche) will lose (apollumi) it Wishes describes 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 are focused on the NOW and to their peril forget about the THEN! They live to save their life (soul - psuche), which in the end is the ultimate exercise in futility, for only One Name can save their life (Acts 4:12+)! They treasure the temporal but will lose the eternal! That's a tragic tradeoff! Save (sozo) pictures them in a futile fight 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+)! 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).

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 apollumihis life (psuche) 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).

Alison Trites 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). (See Luke, Acts -Cornerstone Biblical Commentary)

Norval Geldenhuys -  Everyone who tries selfishly to secure for himself pleasure and happiness in life will in fact doom his life to failure—he will never find real joy or full life. He commits spiritual suicide. But he who lays his life upon the altar in the service of Christ, who strives for His honour and for the extension of His kingdom, while keeping self in the background, will spontaneously find true joy and life—here and hereafter.(Borrow Commentary on the Gospel of Luke

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. (Borrow Believer's Bible Commentary)

He is the one who will save (sozoit - 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. (From Preface of Don't Waste Your Life

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). (Borrow Exalting Jesus in Mark Christ-Centered Exposition)

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. Sozo is sometimes used of physical deliverance from danger of perishing (see Mt 8:25; Mt 14:30; Lk 23:35; Acts 27:20, 27:31), physical healing from sickness (Mt 9:21, 22; Mk 5:23, Acts 4:9), and deliverance from demonic possession (Lk 8:36). More often sozo refers to salvation in a spiritual sense to rescue or preserve from eternal death, from judgment, sin, bring salvation, bring to salvation (active sense = Mt 18:11; Lk 7:50; Jn 12:47; Ro 11:14; 1 Cor 1:21; 7:16; Titus 3:5; Hb 7:25; Jas 4:12; 5:20; 1 Pet 3:21 or passive sense =  be rescued or saved, attain salvation = Mt 24:13; Mk 10:26; Lk 13:23; 18:26; Jn 3:17; Jn 5:34; Acts 11:14; 15:1, 11; Ro 8:24; 11:26; 1 Cor. 3:15; 5:5; Eph 2:5, 8; 1 Ti 2:4). Jesus' very Name speaks of His primary purpose to save men from their sin - "She (Mary) will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save (sozo) His people from their sins." (Mt 1:21)  In Mt 1:21 sozo is equated with deliverance from sins (guilt and power of) with Jesus' Name being a transliteration of Joshua meaning "Jehovah is salvation".

Sozo in Luke and Acts - Lk. 6:9; Lk. 7:50; Lk. 8:12; Lk. 8:36; Lk. 8:48; Lk. 8:50; Lk. 9:24; Lk. 9:56; Lk. 13:23; Lk. 17:19; Lk. 18:26; Lk. 18:42; Lk. 19:10; Lk. 23:35; Lk. 23:37; Lk. 23:39;; Acts 2:21; Acts 2:40; Acts 2:47; Acts 4:9; Acts 4:12; Acts 11:14; Acts 14:9; Acts 15:1; Acts 15:11; Acts 16:30; Acts 16:31; Acts 27:20; Acts 27:31;

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. Psuche refers to whole person ( LXX Ge 2:7) particularly inner, immortal person who lives in the mortal body. Psuche denotes life in two chief respects: (1) breath of life, the natural life, (e.g., Mt 2:20, 6:25, Mk 10:45, Lu 12:22, Acts 20:10, Rev 8:9, 12:11,  Lev 17:11, Esther 8:11) (2) seat of personality (Lu 9:24 )

Psuche in Luke and Acts - Lk. 1:46; Lk. 2:35; Lk. 6:9; Lk. 9:24; Lk. 9:56; Lk. 10:27; Lk. 12:19; Lk. 12:20; Lk. 12:22; Lk. 12:23; Lk. 14:26; Lk. 17:33; Lk. 21:19;  Acts 2:27; Acts 2:41; Acts 3:23; Acts 4:32; Acts 7:14; Acts 14:2; Acts 14:22; Acts 15:24; Acts 15:26; Acts 20:10; Acts 20:24; Acts 27:10; Acts 27:22; Acts 27:37

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. Thus 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. Luke has some interesting uses in the previous passages -  Lk. 4:34; Lk. 5:37; Lk. 6:9; Lk. 8:24. 

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.

Apollumi in Luke and Acts - Lk. 4:34; Lk. 5:37; Lk. 6:9; Lk. 8:24; Lk. 9:24; Lk. 9:25; Lk. 9:56; Lk. 11:51; Lk. 13:3; Lk. 13:5; Lk. 13:33; Lk. 15:4; Lk. 15:6; Lk. 15:8; Lk. 15:9; Lk. 15:17; Lk. 15:24; Lk. 15:32; Lk. 17:27; Lk. 17:29; Lk. 17:33; Lk. 19:10; Lk. 19:47; Lk. 20:16; Lk. 21:18; Acts 5:37; Acts 27:34;

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 [borrow], 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 [Borrow this book], 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?

A Life That Satisfies

Read: Mark 8:34-38

Whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. —Mark 8:35

In his book Facing Loneliness, J. Oswald Sanders writes, “The round of pleasure or the amassing of wealth are but vain attempts to escape from the persistent ache. . . . The millionaire is usually a lonely man, and the comedian is often more unhappy than his audience.”

Sanders goes on to emphasize that being successful often fails to produce satisfaction. Then he refers to Henry Martyn, a distinguished scholar, as an example of what he is talking about.

Martyn, a Cambridge University student, was honored at only 20 years of age for his achievements in mathematics. In fact, he was given the highest recognition possible in that field. And yet he felt an emptiness inside. He said that instead of finding fulfillment in his achievements, he had “only grasped a shadow.”

After evaluating his life’s goals, Martyn sailed to India as a missionary at the age of 24. When he arrived, he prayed, “Lord, let me burn out for You.” In the next 7 years that preceded his death, he translated the New Testament into three difficult Eastern languages. These notable achievements were certainly not passing “shadows.”

Real fulfillment comes in following Christ. A life lived fully for the Lord is a life that truly satisfies. By Richard DeHaan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

If we commit ourselves to Christ
And follow in His way,
He’ll give us life that satisfies
With purpose for each day.

A fulfilled life is a life full of love for the Lord and others.

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 (psuche)?

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+).

What is a man profited (opheleoif he gains (kerdaino) the whole world (kosmos), and loses (apollumi) or forfeits (zemioo) himself - Jesus uses hyperbole because no one could even come close to gaining the whole world. The paradox is that all profit in this world will lead to all loss in the next world! Don't be a fool. To paraphrase Jim Elliot he is no fool to give up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose! Don't be a fool and fall prey to temporal trinkets that will soon disappear!  Gains (kerdaino) is often used of the pursuit of wealth, earthly riches, business success. Forfeits means to suffer loss or receive damage.

What does it avail a man if he becomes a ruler and possessor of the world,
but lacks fellowship with God, so that he incurs eternal destruction?
-- Norval Geldenhuys

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." (Borrow Believer's Bible Commentary)

Getting everything one wants gets one nowhere.
-- David Garland

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.

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+).

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." (Trench's Synonyms)

QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND (1603 ), sometimes called "The lion-hearted Elizabeth". It is said that she embodied the traits of a haughty temper, strong self-will, love of pomp and magnificence, combined with caution, prudence and suspicion. At her death she had about two thousand costly dresses in her wardrobe. Just before her death she uttered the words: "All my possessions for one moment of time." (ED: O, HOW SHE WOULD HAVE BENEFITED FROM JESUS' WARNINGS AND WOULD HAVE GAINED A NOT A MOMENT IN TIME BUT A FOREVER IN ETERNITY WITH HIM, WHO PAID THE PRICE IN FULL Jn 19:30+) (From Herbert Lockyer's fascinating compilation of The Last Words of Saints and Sinners - free to borrow at  

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. Gilbrant - This general term for various expressions of help, aid, benefit, or service is found extensively throughout the history of classical Greek. The general nature of the word makes it necessary for the reader to supply from the context the specific identity of what is being valued or gained. For example, in Matthew 16:26 Jesus placed the accumulation of wealth in its eternal perspective (cf. Mark 8:36 and Luke 9:25) by challenging His listeners to see that the only true profit comes through a life of self-denial and discipleship. 

Opheleo - 15v - accomplishing(1), benefit(1), benefited(1), doing...good(1), help(2), helped(1), profit(4), profited(1), profits(2), value(1). Matt. 15:5; Matt. 16:26; Matt. 27:24; Mk. 5:26; Mk. 7:11; Mk. 8:36; Lk. 9:25; Jn. 6:63; Jn. 12:19; Rom. 2:25; 1 Co. 13:3; 1 Co. 14:6; Gal. 5:2; Heb. 4:2; Heb. 13:9

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").  Kerdaino is often used of the pursuit of wealth, earthly riches, business success. 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!  Gilbrant - In classical Greek kerdainō means “to gain something,” “to profit,” or “to advantage.” A secondary meaning is “the desire to gain or profit” and is sometimes used to speak of craftiness or cunning. The New Testament uses kerdainō in the literal sense of “to gain something,” as in the case of the man who gains the whole world but loses his soul (Matthew 16:26). Kerdainō also has a second literal meaning of “to get gain” or “to make a profit.” This is the usage found in James to describe people who buy and sell to get gain (James 4:13). For Christ to be totally in control of a person’s being is also recognized as gain by the New Testament (Philippians 3:8).

Kerdaino - 16v - gain(2), gained(4), gains(2), incurred(1), profit(1), win(5), won(2). Matt. 16:26; Matt. 18:15; Matt. 25:16; Matt. 25:17; Matt. 25:20; Matt. 25:22; Mk. 8:36; Lk. 9:25; Acts 27:21; 1 Co. 9:19; 1 Co. 9:20; 1 Co. 9:21; 1 Co. 9:22; Phil. 3:8; Jas. 4:13; 1 Pet. 3:1

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?"

Kosmos in Luke and Acts -  Lk. 9:25; Lk. 11:50; Lk. 12:30;  Acts 17:24

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). All 6 NT instances refer to some kind of personal loss. In its use by Jesus in Matthew 16:26 the gaining of the whole world is contrasted with the loss of one’s soul (which in this context may mean the loss of one’s life). The obvious conclusion is that the losing of one’s soul is in no way compensated for by winning the whole world. Paul used the word in his teaching on the loss of rewards at the judgment seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:13–15; 2 Corinthians 5:10) and for the loss of personal attainments such as are listed in Philippians 3:5,6.

Zemioo - 6v -  forfeit(1), forfeits(2), suffer loss(2), suffered the loss of(1). Matt. 16:26; Mk. 8:36; Lk. 9:25; 1 Co. 3:15; 2 Co. 7:9; Phil. 3:8

The Treasure Myth

Read: Psalm 37:7-20 

What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul. —Mark 8:36

When the great ocean liner Titanic sank in 1912, it was rumored to have gone down with a fortune in jewels and gold. That longstanding myth was dispelled, however, by the discovery of the ship’s manifest, which showed that the ship was carrying raw feathers, linen, straw, hatter’s fur, tissue, auto parts, leather, rabbit hair, elastics, hair nets, and refrigerating equipment.

There is another persistent rumor about riches. It is widely believed that a wealthy person should be honored and valued, even though he may be ungodly. On the other hand, a godly, self-disciplined person is considered by some to be of little worth if he is not wealthy.

David, the author of Psalm 37, cautioned the poor and needy not to be envious of the rich and prosperous. In time, the cargo manifest of the ungodly will be uncovered, revealing that their lives contain nothing of enduring value.

This life is only the beginning of an everlasting existence. So don’t look longingly at the ungodly and their riches. They have no lasting treasures. Instead, be like those who wait with patience for their eternal God (vv.7,9)—no matter what their economic situation may be. They alone know where to find real treasure.By Mart DeHaan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Some people think they have it all
When riches come their way;
But their great loss will be revealed
On God's accounting day.

It's better to be poor and walk by faith than to be rich and walk by sight.

Related Resource

  • See The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn. 

    “Supercharged with stunning, divine truth! Lightning struck over and over as I read it.”  -John Piper

    “The Treasure Principle will change your life! This book is destined to become a classic.”  -Howard Dayton, Co-CEO, Crown Financial Ministries 

    “The Scripture passages and illustrations really ring true. Just what I needed!”  -Hugh Maclellan, President, The Maclellan Foundation 

    “I enthusiastically endorse The Treasure Principle. I hope millions will read it.” -Ronald W. Blue, Founder and CEO, Ronald Blue & Company 

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 Borrow Exalting Jesus in Mark Christ-Centered Exposition))

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 (or here) 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. Some like J Vernon McGee (who is usually rock solid) feel this is a true believer, albeit one who is ashamed of Jesus and/or His words. However, it seems he has taken the text out of its context and remember context is king for the most accurate interpretation. Jesus has clearly been speaking of who is a true disciple beginning in Lk 9:23-26. These passages are clearly connected. Notice Lk 9:26 begins with "for" (gar) which underscores that being ashamed is explaining something. In the immediate context Jesus had just stated "For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?" (Lk 9:25) It follows that this passage is a severe warning and that Jesus is explaining the fate of the man who forfeits his soul is the one who is ashamed of Him and His Words! Now let's be honest, have you ever been ashamed to mention the Name "Jesus" in a company of pagans? I will confess that I have. That is not what Jesus is talking about. After all Peter was "ashamed" in the sense that he denied Jesus 3 times and yet he returned and repented and confessed Christ before a crowd of several thousand Jews on the day of Pentecost. (See comment by John Piper below)

Whoever is ashamed (epaischunomai) of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed (epaischunomai) of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. - Son of Man (first in Da 7:13+) was a favorite title Jesus used to describe Himself. What are My Words? What words had Jesus been proclaiming for 18 months in Galilee? The Kingdom of God and specifically the Gospel of that Kingdom! Compare Paul's declaration in Romans 1:16+ "For I am not ashamed (epaischunomai) of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." What if Paul had been ashamed of Jesus' Words? That's a rhetorical question of course. 

And so I beg to strongly disagree with Dr McGee on his interpretation of Luke 9:26 as descriptive of believers. Below are numerous other commentators who disagree with McGee. It is interesting also that a number of sources give vague or open-ended comments on this verse. For example, the NET Note (which I greatly respect) says "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." That comment really does not make a dogmatic statement as to the eternal fate of those who are ashamed of Jesus and His Words. Many commentaries have a similar genre of non-commital comments or simply don't say anything which is very surprising. I think Jesus does not want us to vacillate on what He is saying because eternity hangs in the balance.

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. (Borrow Luke Commentary)

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. (See Bible Knowledge Commentary)

Grassmick - To be "ashamed" of Jesus is to reject Him (cf. Mk 8:34-35a) and to retain allegiance to "this generation" because of unbelief and fear of the world's contempt. In return, when Jesus comes in glory as the awesome Judge, He will refuse to claim those as His own (cf. Mt. 7:20-23; Lk 13:22-30), and they will experience shame (cf. Isa. 28:16; 45:20-25; Ro 9:33; 10:11; 1Pe 2:6, 8). (See comments on Mark in 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. (Borrow Holman Christian Standard Bible Study Bible)

Norval Geldenhuys - Even though Jesus is to enter upon the way of suffering and death, as recently predicted by Him, He proclaims just as clearly that He will eventually be revealed in glory with the Father and the holy heavenly beings as final Conqueror, and will appear as the divine Judge of the World (cf. Dan. 7:13 and Matt. 26:64). Then He, the Glorified One, will decide the eternal destiny of all; and those who have rejected Him through love of the world or of their own honour, their own convenience or anything else, will receive eternal condemnation as their self-chosen portion. From Jesus they can expect nothing but the sorrowful words: “I never knew you.” (Borrow Commentary on the Gospel of Luke

I Howard Marshall - In the fourth saying the element of loyalty to Jesus which appeared in vs. 23f. comes to fuller expression. The issue in the earlier verses was that of costly discipleship as the way to ultimate salvation. Now it is made clear why the choice between following and not following Jesus is so crucial. It is upon one’s attitude to Jesus now that ultimate salvation depends; the point is put negatively: to refuse Jesus leads to rejection by the Son of man at the judgment. The saying is concerned with the possibility of being ashamed of Jesus. ἐπαισχύνομαι is found only in this saying in the Gospels, but the thought of being ashamed of the gospel occurs in Rom. 1:16 (cf. 2 Tim. 1:8, 12, 16), and it has been plausibly argued that the Pauline statement is closely related to this saying (C. K. Barrett*, 116–143). (See The Gospel of Luke 

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. (See Luke: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture)

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. (See Exposition of the Gospel of Luke)

Mark Black - 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. (See Luke

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). (Borrow ESV Study Bible)

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. (Borrow NIV Study Bible)

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. (See Mark)

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”) (The Son of Man Must Suffer Many Things )

Jesus has a similar statement in Luke 12 -  “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 (TERM OF CONTRAST) he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God." (Luke 12:8-9+)

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." (Alison Trites - see Luke, Acts Cornerstone Biblical Commentary)

What (Who) you are looking for will (should) impact (motivate)
what (Who) you are living for!

When He comes in His glory (doxa), and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels - First note that He is coming again. In fact 1 in 20-25 NT verses refer to the Second Coming. The Spirit wants this on the "radar screen" of our mind! Jesus is  obviously referring to His Return (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+ 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."

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.(2Th. 1:6-10+)

Related Resource:

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 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.

Epaischunomai - 11x in 9c - am...ashamed(2), ashamed(9). Mk. 8:38; Lk. 9:26; Rom. 1:16; Rom. 6:21; 2 Tim. 1:8; 2 Tim. 1:12; 2 Tim. 1:16; Heb. 2:11; Heb. 11:16

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.

Uses of Doxa in Luke and Acts - approval(2), brightness(1), glories(1), glorious(5), glory(155), honor(1), majesties(2). Lk. 2:9; Lk. 2:14; Lk. 2:32; Lk. 4:6; Lk. 9:26; Lk. 9:31; Lk. 9:32; Lk. 12:27; Lk. 14:10; Lk. 17:18; Lk. 19:38; Lk. 21:27; Lk. 24:26; Acts 7:2; Acts 7:55; Acts 12:23; Acts 22:11


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)


  INTRODUCTION.—What is it to be ashamed? What to be ashamed of Christ?

            I.      To be ashamed to confess faith in Him as the Son of God.

            II.      To be ashamed to forsake sin through regard for Him.

            III.      To be ashamed to obey His commandments.

            IV.      To be ashamed to own allegiance to His cause.

            V.      To be ashamed to grant Him the chief place in our lives.

            VI.      To be ashamed of the church—His body.

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)

From among the finest athletes in the Roman Empire, Nero selected a group called The Emperor’s Wrestlers. Their motto was: "We, the wrestlers, wrestling for thee, O Emperor, to win for thee the victory and from thee, the victor’s crown."

The wrestlers were also soldiers and were often sent out on special military campaigns. On a certain mission in Gaul (modern France), many of the wrestlers were converted to Christ. Upon hearing the news, Nero ordered the commander, Vespasian, to execute any wrestler who refused to renounce Christ and swear religious as well as military allegiance to the emperor.

The emperor’s orders were received in the dead of winter, as the men were encamped on the shore of a frozen lake. When Vespasian assembled the soldiers and asked how many were Christians, forty men stepped forward. Hoping not to lose any of these fine men, many of whom were his friends, he gave them until sundown the next day to reconsider.

But at the given hour, all of them still refused to renounce Christ. In order that they not die at the hands of their comrades, the commander ordered the forty men to disrobe and walk naked out onto the ice.

Throughout the night the soldiers on shore could hear the forty sentenced men singing triumphantly, "Forty wrestlers, wrestling for Thee, O Christ, to win for Thee the victory, and from Thee, the victor’s crown."

The singing grew fainter as morning neared, and at dawn a lone figure walked back and approached the fire. He confessed that his faith was not strong enough to face death.

When Vespasian heard the faint strains of "Thirty-nine wrestlers, wrestling for Thee, O Christ," he was so moved that he threw off his armor and clothes and marched out to join the others, shouting as he went, " 40 wrestlers, wrestling for Thee, O Christ, to win for Thee the victory, & from Thee, the victor’s crown."

So those are the requirements that Jesus spells out here for being a disciple

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.

Would you be willing to die for Jesus Christ? Obviously, you would never really die for Jesus unless you are unashamedly speaking up for Jesus right now.

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 or another 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.   (Treasures from the Scripture)

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 (See 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.

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, drinking it to the dregs as it were. 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+)

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.”" (Christological Confession and the Road of 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. (ED: NOTICE HOW THIS GENRE OF INTERPRETATION JETTISONS A LITERAL, NORMATIVE READING OF THE TEXT!) 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 (ED: ONCE AGAIN CONTEXT IS KING IN INTERPRETATION!) 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+). 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)

QUESTION -  Was Jesus’ statement that “some who are standing here will not taste death” in Luke 9:27 (also Matthew 16:28; Mark 9:1) incorrect?

ANSWER - Luke 9:27 says, "I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God." See also Matthew 16:28 and Mark 9:1 for the parallel quotes. In each of the synoptic Gospels, the next event immediately after this promise from Jesus is the transfiguration. Rather than interpreting Jesus’ promise as referring to His coming to establish His kingdom on earth, the context indicates that Jesus was referring to the transfiguration. The Greek word translated "kingdom" can also be translated "royal splendor," meaning that the three disciples standing there would see Christ as He really is—the King of heaven—which occurred in the transfiguration.

The "transfiguration" refers to the event described in the above cited passages when Jesus took Peter, James, and John to the top of the mountain, where He met with Moses and Elijah—representing the Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament—and spoke with them. The disciples saw Jesus in all His glory and splendor, talking with a glorified Moses and Elijah. This is a glimpse of what will occur in Jesus’ kingdom. The disciples were dumbstruck at the sight and "fell on their faces" (Matthew 17:6).

It seems most natural to interpret this promise in Matthew 16:28; Mark 9:1; and Luke 9:27 as a reference to the transfiguration, which "some" of the disciples would witness only six days later, exactly as Jesus predicted. In each Gospel, the very next passage after this promise from Jesus is the transfiguration, which shows Jesus in all His glory which will be seen again in the Kingdom of God. The contextual links make it very likely that this is the proper interpretation.

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.

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.



Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray (proseuchomai) 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." MacArthur points out that "Jesus took them with Him in accord with the Law’s requirement that truth be confirmed by two or three witnesses (Deut. 17:6; cf. Matt. 18:16; 2 Cor. 13:1; 1 Tim. 5:19; Heb. 10:28). (See Mark Commentary) Note that the mountain has the definitive article which speaks of a specific mountain, but the name is not given.

Brooks remarks, “The exact site, however, is unknown and unimportant. What is significant is that a high mountain in the Bible was often the place of revelation." While not identified in any  of the Gospel accounts, in the map above the high mountain (9200 feet), Mt Hermon, is only about 15 miles north of Caesarea Philippi. So it may have been that mountain per se or some of the foothills surrounding it. Some have suggested Mt Tabor but it is not a high mountain (only 2000 feet) and it is far south of Caesarea Philippi. Hiebert adds "The traditional identification of the place with Mt. Tabor is improbable since it is too far south, was not a high mountain, and apparently had a fortification on it at the time. A southern spur of Mt. Hermon, which is truly a high mountain, is now generally accepted, but one of the three different mountains, each over four thousand feet high, southeast of Caesarea Philippi, is also possible." (Gospel of Mark - An Expositional Commentary)

THOUGHT - Because it is “a mountain apart,” Mount Tabor convinces others that it was the place of the transfiguration. The church at the summit has a glorious mosaic in gold, which is illuminated by the sun’s rays through the western window at the end of the day and reminds viewers of the transfiguration itself. THIS IS THE PROBLEM WITH SO-CALLED "HOLY PLACES" IN THE HOLY LAND -- THEY ARE MANY TIMES MEN'S CONJECTURE AND AS DISCUSSED MOUNT TABOR IS ALMOST SURELY NOT THE SITE OF THE TRANSFIGURATION.

Peter and James and John - These 3 disciples are clearly Jesus' "inner circle" and experienced events the other disciples did not such as raising of Jairus' daughter (Mk 5:37+) and Jesus' Gethsemane experience (Mk 14:33+).  POSB asks the question "Why were these three chosen to receive these additional revelations? What is known is this. Each was being chosen for a very special leadership role. They were not aware of it yet, but they were to fill unique positions.  Peter was to be the leader of the early church, the one who was to open the door of the gospel to both Jew and Gentile after Pentecost (Acts 2:1f; Acts 10:1f). James was to be the head of the first great church which was to be at Jerusalem (Acts 15:13). John was to receive The Revelation from God to close out the Scripture. (See The Preacher's Outline & Sermon Bible – Mark)

David Garland observes that "In Mark’s Gospel, the greater the revelation, the smaller the number of people who witness it: three male disciples behold Jesus’ transfiguration, and three women followers discover the empty tomb and first learn of Jesus’ resurrection (16:1–8). The three disciples mentioned here figure prominently in this Gospel. They were the first called (Mk 1:16–20), and their names head the list of the Twelve (Mk 3:16–17). Jesus also chose them to come with him when he raised Jairus’s daughter from the dead (Mk 5:37–43). Peter is the first to confess Jesus as the Christ (8:27–30); and James and John will be the first to try to exploit their close ties to Jesus to get seats of power in his kingdom (10:35–45). During the dark hours in Gethsemane, Jesus will take these three with him when he separates himself from the other disciples to pray (14:33). Then they will witness his great distress and agitation; now they witness his glory as he is “altered to a purer and brighter essence.” They also hear the same divine voice that spoke at Jesus’ baptism and identified him as God’s unique Son. These select disciples are therefore the first persons in the Gospel to receive information about Jesus that only the readers of the prologue and the malevolent demons know." (NIVAC-Mark)

Walter Liefeld writes that the Transfiguration was "“the most significant event between [Christ’s] birth and passion." (Borrow The 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.” (Borrow Exalting Jesus in Mark Christ-Centered Exposition)

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. (See The MacArthur New Testament Commentary )

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]." (Borrow Be compassionate )

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)." (See The MacArthur New Testament Commentary )

The transfiguration recalls God's appearance to Moses on another mountain, Mt. Sinai (Ex 24) which was also associated with His Shekinah glory cloud.

Guzik points out that "This was not a new miracle, but the temporary pause of an ongoing miracle. The real miracle was that Jesus, most of the time, could keep from displaying His glory. “For Christ to be glorious was almost a less matter than for him to restrain or hide his glory. It is forever his glory that he concealed his glory; and that, though he was rich, for our sakes he became poor.” (Spurgeon). Jesus did this because He just told His disciples that He was going the way of the cross (Mark 8:31) and that spiritually they should follow Him in the way of the cross (Mark 8:34–38). It was easy for them to lose confidence in Jesus after such a negative statement.. But now, as Jesus displayed His glory as King over all God’s Kingdom, the disciples knew that Jesus knew what He was doing. If He was to suffer, be rejected and killed, He was still in control.. Jesus also dramatically showed that cross bearers would be glory receivers. The goal isn’t the cross. The cross is the path to the goal, and the goal is the glory of God.

Oswald Chambers - The sphere of exaltation

Jesus leadeth them up into a high mountain apart by themselves. Mark 9:2.

We have all had times on the mount, when we have seen things from God’s standpoint and have wanted to stay there; but God will never allow us to stay there. The test of our spiritual life is the power to descend; if we have power to rise only, something is wrong. It is a great thing to be on the mount with God, but a man only gets there in order that afterwards he may get down among the devil-possessed and lift them up. We are not built for the mountains and the dawns and aesthetic affinities, those are for moments of inspiration, that is all. We are built for the valley, for the ordinary stuff we are in, and that is where we have to prove our mettle. Spiritual selfishness always wants repeated moments on the mount. We feel we could talk like angels and live like angels, if only we could stay on the mount. The times of exaltation are exceptional, they have their meaning in our life with God, but we must beware lest our spiritual selfishness wants to make them the only time.

We are apt to think that everything that happens is to be turned into useful teaching, it is to be turned into something better than teaching, viz., into character. The mount is not meant to teach us anything, it is meant to make us something. There is a great snare in asking—‘What is the use of it?’ In spiritual matters we can never calculate on that line. The moments on the mountain top are rare moments, and they are meant for something in God’s purpose.

QUESTION -  Why did Jesus choose Peter, James, and John to be His inner circle?

ANSWER - Jesus officially chose His twelve disciples in Luke 6:12–16. That group comprised Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot. Of those twelve, three disciples (Peter, James, and John) seem to have been the closest to Jesus and acted as an “inner circle” to Christ.

Peter, James, and John were among the earliest of Jesus’ disciples who had been with Him the longest (Luke 5:4–11). But the Bible does not say why Jesus chose Peter, James, and John as His inner circle. These three men were present with Jesus during special events, being eyewitnesses of Jesus’ transfiguration (Mark 9:2–3), witnessing Jesus raise Jairus’s daughter from the dead (Luke 8:49–56), and accompanying Him while He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36–38). Thus, these three witnessed Jesus’ greatest moments of glory and His darkest trials. They were His closest friends.

Perhaps the reason why Peter, James, and John were chosen to be Jesus’ inner circle was that He was making a special effort to prepare these three for the leadership roles they would later occupy in the fledgling church. Peter, whose nickname meant “the rock,” was the first of the disciples to express faith in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God (Matthew 16:16). After his failure and denial of Jesus, the Lord restored him, and Peter went on to be a leader in the early church (John 21:15–19). Significantly, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter boldly preached to the crowd, and the Holy Spirit worked in the hearts of the listeners, so that 3,000 people put their faith in Jesus that day (Acts 2:41).

James and John, who were nicknamed “Sons of Thunder” because of their boldness (Mark 3:17; Luke 9:54), also became prominent leaders in the early church. They both expressed a willingness to be martyred because of their faith in Jesus (Matthew 20:22), and they both suffered for Christ. James was the first of the disciples to be slain for Christ (Acts 12:1–2), and John was the last of the Twelve to die, after being exiled for his faith (Revelation 1:9).

Jesus deliberately chose His twelve disciples and purposefully chose His inner circle, as well. At the ascension of Christ, the eleven remaining apostles were given the same mission, to spread gospel and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18–20). Peter, James, and John, Jesus’ “inner circle,” were instrumental in fulling that mission. Having been eyewitnesses to several amazing events in Jesus’ ministry, the three were well-prepared for their future service.

The special attention Jesus gave to Peter, James, and John was, according to author Michael Hyatt, part of Jesus’ leadership strategy. Rather than try to build a broad reach for His ministry, Jesus shunned popularity and “focused on true depth and long-term impact” (“The Leadership Strategy of Jesus,”, accessed 5/27/20). Jesus’ teaching was rooted deeply in these three men, and each one made a lasting impact in the church for the glory of God. These three fishermen were truly made into “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19)

QUESTION -  What was the meaning and importance of the transfiguration?

ANSWER - About a week after Jesus plainly told His disciples that He would suffer, be killed, and be raised to life (Luke 9:22), He took Peter, James, and John up a mountain to pray. While praying, His personal appearance was changed into a glorified form, and His clothing became dazzling white. Moses and Elijah appeared and talked with Jesus about His death that would soon take place. Peter, not knowing what he was saying and being very fearful, offered to put up three shelters for them. This is undoubtedly a reference to the booths that were used to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, when the Israelites dwelt in booths for 7 days (Lev. 23:34–42). Peter was expressing a wish to stay in that place. When a cloud enveloped them, a voice said, “This is My Son, whom I have chosen, whom I love; listen to Him!” The cloud lifted, Moses and Elijah had disappeared, and Jesus was alone with His disciples who were still very much afraid. Jesus warned them not to tell anyone what they had seen until after His resurrection. The three accounts of this event are found in Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:2-8, and Luke 9:28-36.

Undoubtedly, the purpose of the transfiguration of Christ into at least a part of His heavenly glory was so that the “inner circle” of His disciples could gain a greater understanding of who Jesus was. Christ underwent a dramatic change in appearance in order that the disciples could behold Him in His glory. The disciples, who had only known Him in His human body, now had a greater realization of the deity of Christ, though they could not fully comprehend it. That gave them the reassurance they needed after hearing the shocking news of His coming death.

Symbolically, the appearance of Moses and Elijah represented the Law and the Prophets. But God’s voice from heaven – “Listen to Him!” - clearly showed that the Law and the Prophets must give way to Jesus. The One who is the new and living way is replacing the old – He is the fulfillment of the Law and the countless prophecies in the Old Testament. Also, in His glorified form they saw a preview of His coming glorification and enthronement as King of kings and Lord of lords.

The disciples never forgot what happened that day on the mountain and no doubt this was intended. John wrote in his gospel, “We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only” (John 1:14). Peter also wrote of it, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to Him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with Him on the sacred mountain” (2 Peter 1:16-18). Those who witnessed the transfiguration bore witness to it to the other disciples and to countless millions down through the centuries.

QUESTION - What is the Mount of Transfiguration?

ANSWER - The Mount of Transfiguration is the mountain upon which Jesus was transfigured (Matthew 17, Mark 9, Luke 9). The actual location of the mountain is unknown.

In Matthew 16, Jesus tells the disciples that He will be killed and raised to life (verse 21). Peter rebukes Him: “Never, Lord!” he says. “This shall never happen to you!” (verse 22). Jesus has to rebuke Peter and goes on to explain that whoever will be His disciple must “take up his cross,” that is, be willing to die also. In the final verse of chapter 16, Jesus makes a rather enigmatic statement: “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (see also Luke 9:27).

In the next event recorded in Matthew and Luke, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John with Him up to a “high mountain.” This unnamed mountain is what we call the Mount of Transfiguration today, because of what takes place next: “There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus” (Matthew 17:2–3).

The transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain is significant, for it gave those three disciples a glimpse of the glory that Jesus had before the Incarnation and that He would have again. Perhaps it was also the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy that some of the disciples would see Him coming in the kingdom before they died (Matthew 16:28).

What happened on the Mount of Transfiguration has parallels to what happened on Sinai. Moses went up to a mountain to meet the Lord and came back with his face shining (Exodus 34). In the New Testament, Jesus goes up a mountain and meets with Moses; however, a voice from heaven makes it clear that Jesus is the primary character, not Moses: “While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’ When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. ‘Get up,’ he said. ‘Don’t be afraid.’ When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus” (Matthew 17:5–8). Just as the meeting on Sinai between Moses and the Lord signified a new era in God’s dealing with His people, so this meeting between the Lord and Moses signifies a new era in redemption history.

The “high mountain” that we call the Mount of Transfiguration is never clearly identified in Scripture. Both Mount Tabor and Mount Hermon have been identified as the Mount of Transfiguration by various traditions. Mount Tabor is a little less than 2,000 feet, but it stands alone in the area. The earliest tradition identifies Mount Tabor as the Mount of Transfiguration, and it is the location of the Church of the Transfiguration, which is built on the ruins of fourth-century church. Mount Hermon is a much higher mountain, almost 10,000 feet, and it is closer to Caesarea Philippi where the previous events in Matthew 16 took place. For these reasons, some scholars feel that Mount Hermon is a more likely candidate to be the Mount of Transfiguration.

In the final analysis, we simply do not know what mountain is the Mount of Transfiguration. It could be Tabor or Hermon or another mountain that no one has suggested. The fact that the transfiguration happened on a mountain is an important point in the recapitulation of Moses’ meeting on Mount Sinai. However, the importance of the transfiguration is not bound to what mountain it occurred on.

Years later, Peter refers to this event: “For we did not follow cleverly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice from the Majestic Glory came to Him, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And we ourselves heard this voice from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain” (2 Peter 1:16–18).

Unfortunately, there are too many “cleverly devised fables” that try to identify specific locations in the Holy Land, such as the site of the Mount of Transfiguration, while losing sight of the more important

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 (proseuchomai) - 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 there 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.   (Treasures from the Scripture)

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)

The appearance (eidos) of His face became different (heteros), and His clothing became white (leukosand gleaming (exastrapto) - 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+, Romans 12:2+). This reminds us of Moses' face shining with a bright light when he received the tablets of the Law (Ex. 34:29-35). 

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) Wiersbe says "transfigured describes a change on the outside that comes from the inside. It is the opposite of ‘masquerade,’ which is an outward change that does not come from within.”

Wuest on transfigured - The simple verb refers to the act of giving outward expression of one’s inner character, that outward expression coming from and being truly representative of that inner character. The prefixed preposition signifies a change, here of the outward expression. The translation expanded, thus reads, “The manner of His outward expression was changed before them, that outward expression coming from and being truly representative of His inner nature.” The usual outward expression of our Lord in His humiliation was that of the Man Christ Jesus, the Man of Sorrows, the One acquainted with grief. He, to the world, was the travel-stained, itinerant preacher, the claimant to the Jewish Messiahship. What the world saw was a peasant from Galilee, clad in homespun, the son of the carpenter of Nazareth. But now, that outward expression was changed. Out from within the inmost being of the Son of God, there shone that dazzling glory of the essence of Deity which He possesses co-eternally with God the Father and God the Spirit. It shone right through the clay walls of His humanity and through the clothing He wore. It was that same dazzling radiance which the angels saw in His preincarnate state (Phil. 2:6), but given through a physical medium, not a spiritual one as in the case of the angels.  (Wuest Word Studies - Eerdman Publishing Company Volume 1Volume 2Volume 3 - used by permission)

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.

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!   (Treasures from the Scripture)

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. (Borrow Luke - 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. (Borrow Be compassionate)

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! (See Luke: That You May Know the Truth)

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!”) (See Luke: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition)

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)." (See Luke Commentary)

MacArthur - Jesus had possessed essential glory from all eternity (John 17:5) but veiled it until this moment. His glory will be fully revealed to the whole world in the future when “the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and … all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30; cf. 25:31 and the description of that event in Rev. 19:11–16). (MNTC-Mk

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).

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. (Borrow Believer's Bible Commentary)

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+)

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.

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

Appearance (1491eidos from eído = see) literally means that which is seen or what is visible and then the external appearance (shape and structure) of something as it appears to someone. In classical Greek eidos is related to the verb eidō, “see.” It denotes a person or thing’s visible form, but it also stresses the link between appearance and reality. For example, when Homer praised the eidos of a woman, he meant not only her outward beauty but her inward character. (1) with a passive sense, as what is visible to the eye form, (external) appearance (Lk 3.22); (2) with an active sense sight, what one sees (2Co 5.7); (3) (particular) kind, sort ( 1Th 5.22)

Eidos - 5v - appearance(1), form(3), sight(1). Lk. 3:22; Lk. 9:29; Jn. 5:37; 2 Co. 5:7; 1 Thess. 5:22

Different (2087heteros has the basic meaning of the other of two or more but specifically different. So the idea is qualitatively another of a different kind, and so not identical with what was previously referred to (Ro 7:23 "different law," Gal 1:6 - "different Gospel"). A second sense of heteros is numerically speaking and thus denoting a new member distinct in kind from those that preceded another (e.g., someone else, something else) (1 Cor 12:8-10+ - " another", Lk 8:6-8 of seed "other seed fell on rocky soil...and other seed fell among the thorns").

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. The adjective leukos comes from a root that means “bright” or “radiant” and is the general term for the color white. 

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). (Borrow 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. (Complete Biblical Library)

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

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). (Complete Biblical Library)

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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?   (Treasures from the Scripture)

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.

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.

Transfiguration by Bellinni
More accurate than Raphael's Painting Below


Behold (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 with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah - Notice that this passage affirms life after death and that they were recognizable. Talking with (sullaleo) means to speak together, conversing back and forth the imperfect tense pictures the continued conversation. These two men were speaking with the transfigured Christ!  

Robert Stein - Do these men represent (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. (See Luke: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition)

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). (See 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. (See Luke: 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 (Borrow ESV Study Bible)

Were talking with (4814) (sullaleo from sun/syn = with, speaks of intimacy + laleo = to talk, speak) means to talk together or with, to converse.  BDAG = " to exchange thoughts with." Gilbrant on sullaleo - In extra-Biblical literature prior to the New Testament it can mean “to talk together with” or “to carry on a conversation with” (Moulton-Milligan; cf. Bauer). The word appears in the Septuagint in passages such as Exodus 34:35, of Moses talking with God; Proverbs 6:22, of the commandments talking with an individual; and Isaiah 7:6, of men conferring together. (Complete Biblical Library)

Sullaleo - 6x in 6v - - Usage: conferred(1), discussed(1), talking(4). Matt. 17:3; Mk. 9:4; Lk. 4:36; Lk. 9:30; Lk. 22:4; Acts 25:12

Sullaleo - 4x in the Septuagint - Ex. 34:35; Prov. 6:22; Isa. 7:6; Jer. 18:20

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 (doxa) - Moses and Elijah were glorified. NLT says "They were glorious to see." 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!

R Kent 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. (See Luke: That You May Know the Truth)

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 (exodos) - 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." (Borrow Exalting Jesus in Mark Christ-Centered Exposition)

Darrell 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)." (See Christological Confession and the Road of Discipleship 9:18-50)

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. (See Luke Commentary)

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.   (Treasures from the Scripture)

Which He was about to accomplish (pleroo) 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). 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." Jesus mentioned several more times in Luke that He was headed toward Jerusalem (Luke 9:51, 53; 13:33; 17:11; 18:31).

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. (See Luke: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition)

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

Darrell 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." (See Christological Confession and the Road of Discipleship 9:18-50)

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 (Mt 17:3).

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.

Doxa in Luke and Acts -Lk. 2:9; Lk. 2:14; Lk. 2:32; Lk. 4:6; Lk. 9:26; Lk. 9:31; Lk. 9:32; Lk. 12:27; Lk. 14:10; Lk. 17:18; Lk. 19:38; Lk. 21:27; Lk. 24:26;  Acts 7:2; Acts 7:55; Acts 12:23; Acts 22:11

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.

Exodos - 3v - departure(2), exodus(1). Lk. 9:31; Heb. 11:22; 2 Pet. 1:15

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). 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

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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.

The Transfiguration by Raphael, c. 1520


Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep (hupnos) - Companions, were James and John (Mk 9:2+). 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.

Moody Bible Commentary has a wonderful comment asksing "How was this a taste of the (ED: MILLENNIAL) kingdom (cf. "kingdom" in Lk 9:27+)? 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). (See The Moody Bible Commentary)

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.

but when they were fully awake, - The vision fully awakened them much like a man out of drunken stupor at some incredible vision. 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).

THOUGHT - 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! WE ARE HOME AT LAST! 

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). (See The Bible Knowledge Commentary)

They saw His glory (doxaand the two men standing with Him - Notice the emphasis is on the glory of Jesus. The men standing with Him take second place. That mortal men could behold His glory is amazing. 

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).

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?   (Treasures from the Scripture)

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.


To mouth off means to speak without discretion. This was Peter's "specialty!" What does the Bible say about talking too much / being talkative?

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 (epistates), it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles (skene) - 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 (skene) - 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+; Zech. 14:16-21). Peter wanted Jesus to hold on to the glory apart from the suffering, but this is not God's plan. (Borrow Be compassionate )

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. (See The MacArthur Commentary)

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 the Scripture)

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)." (Christological Confession and the Road of Discipleship Lk 9:18-50))

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. (See Bible Knowledge Commentary)

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 of kings (Rev 19:11-21+), 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." (See The MacArthur Commentary) (Bold added)

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 the Scripture)

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." (Borrow Exposition of the Gospel of Luke

Master (1988epistates from ephistemi =  to set over) means "superintendent," overseer, administratorar, person of high status, chief, commander. All NT uses are by Luke, all spoken by the disciples (except the use by the 10 lepers in Lk 17:13) 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. 

Gilbrant - This word occurs in a wide range of meanings in classical Greek. It can denote “one who stands near,” as in the case of one who stands behind the front-rank soldier in battle. Or it can refer to “one who stands or is mounted upon,” like a charioteer (Liddell-Scott). More often, it refers to one who was set over some area of responsibility, whether as one who watches over herds, an inspector of public works, the leader of a temple, a music teacher, or the head of an athletic training group. The president of the ruling council of Athens was called an epistatēs. It was used at times for an overseer or headmaster of a group of children being educated. In the Septuagint epistatēs maintains its general meaning of one in authority in a variety of settings. It is used in Exodus 1:11 and Ex 5:14 of the Egyptian overseers who directed the Jewish forced labor crews. In the New Testament only Luke used epistatēs, always as a title addressed directly to Jesus. It is a translation of the Aramaic, rabbi. Examination of the parallels in Matthew and Mark shows that Luke used epistatēs for the Hebrew rabbi, or “teacher” (Luke 9:33; cf. Mark 9:5), perhaps as a way to make the concept clearer to his Hellenistic audience. (Complete Biblical Library)

Epistates - 7x in 6v - Lk. 5:5; Lk. 8:24; Lk. 8:45; Lk. 9:33; Lk. 9:49; Lk. 17:13

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."

Skene - 20v - dwellings(1), tabernacle(15), tabernacles(3), tents(1). Matt. 17:4; Mk. 9:5; Lk. 9:33; Lk. 16:9; Acts 7:43; Acts 7:44; Acts 15:16; Heb. 8:2; Heb. 8:5; Heb. 9:2; Heb. 9:3; Heb. 9:6; Heb. 9:8; Heb. 9:11; Heb. 9:21; Heb. 11:9; Heb. 13:10; Rev. 13:6; Rev. 15:5; Rev. 21:3

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 (nephele) formed and began to overshadow (episkiazo) them - Overshadow means to throw a shadow upon or to envelope in shadow. 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)

Wuest on formed is the "translation of egeneto “to become,” ingressive aorist signifying entrance into a new condition. The word is used by Mark (AND LUKE) to speak of the suddenness of the appearance of the cloud and the remarkable nature of the event. The word “cloud” here is nephele speaking of a cloud that has definite form and is of a limited size, as against nephos, which speaks of the shapeless collection of vapor obscuring the heavens. This cloud was of course, not a cloud of vapor, but the Shekinah glory cloud which guided Israel out of Egypt, which rested above the Mercy Seat beneath the golden Cherubim in the Holy of Holies."  (Wuest Word Studies - Eerdman Publishing Company 

Rod Mattoon (Treasures from the Scripture) 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 (but see John 1:14+) ( shekinah in Exodus - Ex. 13:21-22; 16:10; 24:16; 40:34-38, cf shekinah in Isa. 4:5+; Da 7:13+). 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+. 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)

Robert 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. (sEE Luke: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition).

R Kent 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. 1Thess 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! (See Luke: That You May Know the Truth)

They were afraid (phobeo) as they entered the cloud (nephele) - The first they is Peter, James and John, but the second they is not as clear. Given the contextual proximity one would logically think this was the triad of disciples but it is more likely the glorified triad who entered the cloud. One support for this premise is that the Father spoke "out (ek) of the cloud," implying the disciples, the addressees ("listen to Him") were outside of the cloud. In addition to their fear here, Matthew describes them as terrified when they heard God's voice from heaven (Mt 17:6). This is holy fear on steroids! 

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+)

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. (See Luke Commentary)

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). (Dictionary of Biblical Imagery - free for use online with no restrictions)

Afraid (5399phobeo from phobos = fear source of our English "phobia") means to be in an apprehensive state that can range from mild uneasiness to stark terror as when one is frightened, terrified or alarmed. (Mt 10:31). Phobeo can be a fear of man (Lk 20:19, Mt 2:22, Mt 21:26, 46) as when Peter feared "the party of the circumcision" (Gal 2:12) which motivated him "to withdraw and hold himself aloof." Pilate experienced fear when he was about to sentence Jesus to death (Jn 19:8). Fear of people kept religious leaders from laying hands on Jesus (Luke 20:19) On the other hand Moses did not fear man (pharaoh - Heb 11:27) Believers were afraid of Paul after his Damascus Road experience, not realizing he had been born again (Lk 9:26).

Phobeo in Luke and Acts -  Lk. 1:13; Lk. 1:30; Lk. 1:50; Lk. 2:9; Lk. 2:10; Lk. 5:10; Lk. 8:25; Lk. 8:35; Lk. 8:50; Lk. 9:34; Lk. 9:45; Lk. 12:4; Lk. 12:5; Lk. 12:7; Lk. 12:32; Lk. 18:2; Lk. 18:4; Lk. 19:21; Lk. 20:19; Lk. 22:2; Lk. 23:40; Acts 5:26; Acts 9:26; Acts 10:2; Acts 10:35; Acts 13:16; Acts 13:26; Acts 16:38; Acts 18:9; Acts 22:29; Acts 23:10; Acts 27:17; Acts 27:24; Acts 27:29

Cloud (3507nephele is a diminutive of nephos and thus refers to a small cloud. (Luke 12:54 [cf. 1 Ki 18:44). Nephos is repeatedly associated with appearances of God -- God the Father spoke from a cloud (Mt 17:5, Mark 9:7. Lk 9:35), the Son departed in a cloud (Acts 1:9) and will return in a cloud (Mt 24:30, 26:64, Mk 13:26, 14:62, Lk 21:27, Rev 1:7, cf Rev 14:14-16-+), the Son was transfigured  in a cloud (Lk 9:34-35), saints will meet the Son in the clouds (1 Th 4:17).

Nephele - 21v - Matt. 17:5; Matt. 24:30; Matt. 26:64; Mk. 9:7; Mk. 13:26; Mk. 14:62; Lk. 9:34; Lk. 9:35; Lk. 12:54; Lk. 21:27; Acts 1:9; 1 Co. 10:1; 1 Co. 10:2; 1 Thess. 4:17; Jude 1:12; Rev. 1:7; Rev. 10:1; Rev. 11:12; Rev. 14:14; Rev. 14:15; Rev. 14:16

Cloud: the cloud enveloped both Jesus and the three disciples. The cloud and the voice of God terrified the disciples and caused them to fall immediately upon their faces, prostrate and unable to look up. As mortal men they were paralyzed in fear. Note three facts.

1.  The cloud was "a bright cloud." This was the Shekinah glory, the cloud that symbolized God's presence. It was the cloud that guided Israel out of Egypt and that rested upon the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-38) and above the Mercy Seat in the Most Holy Place. God "only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto" (1 Tim. 6:16). God dwells in unapproachable light upon which no man can look. Peter later called it "the excellent glory" (2 Peter 1:17).

2.  The "bright cloud" overshadowing Jesus is in contrast to the dark and threatening cloud that overshadowed the giving of the old covenant to Moses, that is, the law (Exodus 19:18; Exodus 20:21). There is a point to be made here. The law (old covenant) was dark and threatening (see Deeper Study #2—Galatians 3:10); the new covenant (the love of Christ) is bright and is given to save and bless, not to threaten and condemn (Hebrews 12:18-24. Cp. Hebrews 8:6-13.)

3.  The voice speaking actually says in the Greek, "This is My Son, the Beloved One." Note the two facts stressed. Jesus is God's Son, and He is the Beloved One. The idea is that Jesus is the "only begotten Son" who was to be given for the world (John 3:16). (See The Preacher's Outline & Sermon Bible – Mark)

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!”

2 Peter 1:17-18+  (PETER FINALLY IS ALLOWED TO SPEAK ABOUT THE TRANSFIGURATION) 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”– 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain



Then a voice came out of the cloud (nephele), saying "This is My Son, My Chosen (eklego) 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)

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+

"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 Garland 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.”

Steven Cole adds "The word “accomplish” in Lu 9:31+ 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).

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+ 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." (See Luke: That You May Know the Truth)

Listen to Him - The verb for listen (akouo - hear, listen to - it implies to hear and heed, not in one ear and out the other!) is a command in the present imperative. Keep on listening to Jesus. Make this your habitual practice. Make this your "daily bread." 

THOUGHT - Our Father's command begs the question - do you daily listen to Jesus? How can we listen to Him today? Is God alluding to some mystical experience? Absolutely not - He is the Word (Jn 1:1) and to be in the Word of God is to be daily hearing from the God of the Word! Are you daily in His Word (Mt 4:4+)? If you are not in His Word, it is difficult to listen to Him. An exception is of course His Word which you have memorized -- then you can hear from Him anywhere, anytime as the Spirit of Jesus recalls the verses to mind! Memorization is the best discipline you will ever practice as a believer as it fuel prayer, worship, work, etc. 

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+)

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"). (Borrow Exposition of the Gospel of 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+ - "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+). (Borrow Be compassionate)

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.

Eklego - 20v - choose(4), chose(7), chosen(8), made a choice(1), picking(1), select(1). Mk. 13:20; Lk. 6:13; Lk. 9:35; Lk. 10:42; Lk. 14:7; Jn. 6:70; Jn. 13:18; Jn. 15:16; Jn. 15:19; Acts 1:2; Acts 1:24; Acts 6:5; Acts 13:17; Acts 15:7; Acts 15:22; Acts 15:25; 1 Co. 1:27; 1 Co. 1:28; Eph. 1:4; Jas. 2:5

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)." (Treasures from the Scripture)

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

Matthew 17:7-9 "Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone. 9 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.”

Mark 9:8-9+  All at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Jesus alone. 9 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.


And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone - Notice Mark's note that "All at once they looked around (periblepo) and saw no one with them anymore." Matthew 17:7 adds "Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself 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. (Christological Confession and the Road of Discipleship )

And they kept silent (sigao), and reported (apaggello) 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+. 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)." (The 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. (See The MacArthur New Testament Commentary).

Some would classify this call to silence a so-called "Messianic Secret (click for more detail)."

Ramsey offers these concluding thoughts 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 on Luke, Acts)

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.”

Jesus only.

The fullness of heaven is Jesus Himself.
The duration of heaven is the eternity of Jesus.
The light of heaven is the face of Jesus.
The joy of heaven is the presence of Jesus.
The melody of heaven is the name of Jesus.
The harmony of heaven is the praise of Jesus.
The theme of heaven is the work of Jesus.
The employment of heaven is the service of Jesus.

Silent (4601sigao from sige = silence) mean to be silent, to "hold one's peace", to keep in silence or keep secret. The idea is to say nothing, keep still, keep silent (eg, Lk 9:36) or to stop speaking (eg, Lk 18:39). In the passive voice sigao means to be kept in silence. Finally, sigao can convey idea of keeping something from becoming known, to be concealed or to be kept secret (the only NT use with this meaning being here in Ro 16:25)

Sigao - 10v - became silent(1), keep silent(3), kept secret(1), kept silent(2), quiet(1), silent(1), stopped speaking(1). Lk. 9:36; Lk. 18:39; Lk. 20:26; Acts 12:17; Acts 15:12; Acts 15:13; Rom. 16:25; 1 Co. 14:28; 1 Co. 14:30; 1 Co. 14:34

Reported (declare, tell, announce, proclaim) (518apaggello from apó = from + aggéllo = tell, declare from aggelos = messenger, one who speaks in place of one who has sent him) means to bring a message from any person or place. To bring tidings from a person or thing. To relate, inform, tell what has occurred. In the present context the idea is to announce openly. Apaggello is the carrying of tidings or messages from the authentic source.

Apaggello in Luke and Acts - ; Lk. 7:18; Lk. 7:22; Lk. 8:20; Lk. 8:34; Lk. 8:36; Lk. 8:47; Lk. 9:36; Lk. 13:1; Lk. 14:21; Lk. 18:37; Lk. 24:9;  Acts 4:23; Acts 5:22; Acts 5:25; Acts 11:13; Acts 12:14; Acts 12:17; Acts 15:27; Acts 16:36; Acts 16:38; Acts 17:30; Acts 22:26; Acts 23:16; Acts 23:17; Acts 23:19; Acts 26:20; Acts 28:21

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...

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' 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!

When they came down (katerchomaifrom the mountain, a large crowd met Him - Talk about descending to the "lowlands of reality." Luke alone mentions this descent the next day and it serves to highlight the difference between the future glorious kingdom and the fallen world to which the quartet returned.  These three men had seen the King of glory. They had received a preview of coming attractions, the Messianic Kingdom on earth. They saw something no other men had ever seen. So they were coming down in elevation, but surely the were coming down in elation! But they would never forget this time of Jesus' transfiguration. So they come back to reality - a large crowd! 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 be 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."

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. (See The MacArthur Commentary)

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.

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.

Related Passage: 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 (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!"

And a man from the crowd shouted (boao), saying, "Teacher (didaskalos), I beg (deomai) You to look at (epiblepo) my son, for he is my only boy (monogenes) - 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).  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.

THOUGHT - 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!

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

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)

Epiblepo - 3x - Lk. 1:48; Lk. 9:38; Jas. 2:3

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!

Monogenes - 9x - only(3), only begotten(6). Lk. 7:12; Lk. 8:42; Lk. 9:38; Jn. 1:14; Jn. 1:18; Jn. 3:16; Jn. 3:18; Heb. 11:17; 1 Jn. 4:9

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.

Related Passage:

Matthew 17:15 “Lord, have mercy (LUKE HAS "Teacher, I beg You") on my son, for he is a lunatic (selemiazomai = to be moonstruck, mentally out of control of oneself - only other use Mt 4:24 - "epileptics") 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 (present imperative) 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" (idou) which is present in the Greek to grab our attention. The ESV is more accurate here "And behold, a spirit seizes him." Lk 9:39ESV

Gilbrant - since Luke was a physician, it is interesting that he does not identify the boy's affliction as epilepsy (cf. Matthew 17:15NET - "has seizure"). Thus, Luke clearly is more concerned with the demonic aspect of the boy's condition (verse 42). (Complete Biblical Library)

And a spirit seizes (lambano) him, and he suddenly (exaiphnes) screams (krazo) - Why does he suddenly scream? Because the demon was in control or possession of his physical faculties! Luke 4:33-36+ dealt with a man in the synagogue with a demon. Jesus Himself was accused of having a demon in Lk 7:33+. In Lk 8:27-39+ 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+.

THOUGHT - 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! (My Deliverer)

MacArthur on spirit - Demons have been actively doing Satan’s bidding in the world ever since the fall. They do not usually make their presence known, choosing rather to operate covertly by disguising themselves as angels of light (cf. 2 Cor. 11:14+). During Jesus’ earthly ministry, however, they launched an all-out assault against Him, manifesting themselves more often openly and to some degree more willingly than is their normal practice. But Jesus unmasked them, forcing them to reveal themselves even when they were unwilling to do so. This demon would likely have preferred to have remained undiscovered in the boy. Although his father had discerned that his son’s condition was the result of demonic activity, others may have diagnosed him as having some kind of a mental disorder. (See Mark 9-16 MacArthur New Testament Commentary

Hendriksen on suddenly (exaiphnes) - 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; Acts 22:6). In Mark 13:36+ the word indicates the sudden arrival of "the owner of the house." (Borrow Exposition of the Gospel of Luke)

Vincent adds this note on suddenly (exaiphnes) "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."

And it throws (sparassohim into a convulsion (sparassowith foaming (aphros) 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.

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." (See The MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

And only with difficulty (molis) does it leave him mauling (suntribo) him as it leaves  - 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. This is a very strange dynamic to have a demon that comes and 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+)

Akin - There is an old hymn entitled “Just When I Need Him Most.” The 4th stanza says, “Just when I need Him, He is my all. Answering when up on Him I call; Tenderly watching lest I should fall.” The disciples have a ways to go before they learn this lesson. A father with a suffering son, on the other hand, is about to plumb the depths of this marvelous truth

Seizes (take, took) (2983lambano means to take or grasp, receive or accept an object or benefit for which the initiative rests with the giver, but the focus of attention in the transfer is upon the receiver, of personally appropriating the thing to be received. To take something into one’s possession. It can indicate both benevolent and hostile actions, and have as object either people or things; e.g. take a wife, collect taxes, accept a verdict, take a road, and figuratively take courage.

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).

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 in Luke and Acts -  Lk. 9:39; Lk. 19:40; 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

Throws into a convulsion (4682sparasso  means to convulse, throw into a (violent) spasm, shake to and fro, to pull to and fro. Three times in the NT - Mk. 1:26; Mk. 9:26; Lk. 9:39. Liddell-Scott adds sparasso means -to tear, rend in pieces, mangle, Lat. lacerare, Eur., Ar.:-Med., to tear one's hair, Eur. 2. to rend asunder, Aesch. 3. metaphorically. to pull to pieces, attack, In nonbiblical usage the word can mean “to tear, maul,” or “rend asunder (as by violent animals), to attack violently, to retch in spasms”. Medical writers used sparasso of the convulsive action of the stomach

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.

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 (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).”

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

Related Resources: All from

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 (deomaiYour disciples (mathetes) to cast it out (ekbállō), and they could (dunamainot - 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. Could not uses the absolute negative (ouk) indicating they absolutely could not. 

Luke renders could with dunamai but 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+, 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." (See The MacArthur New Testament Commentary) (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. 

In 2 Kings 4:31 Gehazi's failure to bring about a miracle in a child's life, set the stage for Elisha's miracle much 9 disciples failure in the "Demon Casting Out Test" set the stage for Jesus to once again demonstrate His supreme authority over the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places and in people. (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. (Borrow Exposition of the Gospel of Luke )

POSB -  Power, Lack of: What happens when the servants of God have no power? What are the results of a powerless life and ministry?
       ⇒      No power causes embarrassment and shame.
       ⇒      No power causes the world to question and ridicule and belittle.
       ⇒      No power questions the deity (validity) of Christ and God.
       ⇒      No power causes the questioning of God and His ability to deliver.  (See The Preacher's Outline & Sermon Bible – Mark)

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."

Ekballo in Luke and Acts - Lk. 4:29; Lk. 6:22; Lk. 6:42; Lk. 9:40; Lk. 9:49; Lk. 10:2; Lk. 10:35; Lk. 11:14; Lk. 11:15; Lk. 11:18; Lk. 11:19; Lk. 11:20; Lk. 13:28; Lk. 13:32; Lk. 19:45; Lk. 20:12; Lk. 20:15; Acts 7:58; Acts 9:40; Acts 13:50; Acts 16:37; Acts 27:38

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.

Dunamai in Luke and Acts - Lk. 1:20; Lk. 1:22; Lk. 3:8; Lk. 5:12; Lk. 5:21; Lk. 5:34; Lk. 6:39; Lk. 6:42; Lk. 8:19; Lk. 9:40; Lk. 11:7; Lk. 12:25; Lk. 12:26; Lk. 13:11; Lk. 14:20; Lk. 14:26; Lk. 14:27; Lk. 14:33; Lk. 16:2; Lk. 16:13; Lk. 16:26; Lk. 18:26; Lk. 19:3; Lk. 20:36; Lk. 21:15;  Acts 4:16; Acts 4:20; Acts 5:39; Acts 8:31; Acts 10:47; Acts 13:39; Acts 15:1; Acts 17:19; Acts 19:40; Acts 20:32; Acts 21:34; Acts 24:8; Acts 24:11; Acts 24:13; Acts 25:11; Acts 26:32; Acts 27:12; Acts 27:15; Acts 27:31; Acts 27:39; Acts 27:43

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.

  • You unbelieving  Lk 8:25; Mark 9:19; John 20:27; Hebrews 3:19; 4:2,11
  • and perverted generation Deuteronomy 32:5; Ps 78:8; Matthew 3:7; 12:39,45; 16:4; 23:36; Acts 2:40
  • You unbelieving and perverted generation Exodus 10:3; 16:28; Numbers 14:11,27; Jeremiah 4:14; Matthew 17:17; John 14:9
  • and put up with your 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 17:17-20 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.  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.

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!”....9:23 And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.”

Acts 2:40+ And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!”

Acts 13:18+  “For a period of about forty years He put up with them in the wilderness.

Mark 6:6+ And He wondered at their unbelief. And He was going around the villages teaching.



You unbelieving (apistos) and perverted (diastrepho - twisted, crooked) generation (genea) - Note the order - first unbelieving and then the fruit of unbelieving which is perversion. Since Jesus used the designation generation, He is clearly primarily speaking to the entire nation, but in the present context He is also clearly alluding to the "littleness" of the faith of His 12 disciples. Why was their faith so little? First, they had been clearly told they had power to cast out ALL demons (Lk 9:1), with no qualifications about whether it was a stronger (like the present case) or weaker demon. Second, they themselves had experienced the power. They had believed Jesus' bestowal of power and authority (Lk 9:1) and they had acted with faith on that word as described in Mt 10:8+. Perverted is in the perfect tense which describes their state or abiding condition of unbelief, in this case, most in total unbelief but others like the father and the 9 disciples (Peter, James and John get a pass on this one since they were on the mount of transfiguration!) with some degree of unbelief. 

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)

Marshall - The phraseology (unbelieving and perverted) thus reflects that of God when confronted by the faithless and disobedient generation in the wilderness. (See 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). (Borrow ESV Study Bible)

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+), 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! (Borrow Be compassionate)

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." (See The MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

How long shall I be with you and put up with (anechomai) you? Bring your son here." - "The question, how long? (cf. Nu. 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." (Leon Morris Borrow The Gospel According to St. Luke: An Introduction and Commentary)

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! (Borrow Exposition of the Gospel of Luke )

Unbelieving (571)(apistos from a = privative - 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.  Among classical writers it was used in both the active (e.g., of a person who is “mistrusting”) and passive (e.g., of a person “not to be trusted”). Its range of definition spans from “incredible, unbelievable” to “untrusting, untrustworthy.” Most of the uses below (especially in the Corinthian letters) refer to "unbelievers," those who do not believe the Gospel (or have not yet believed the Gospel). 

Apistos - 21v - incredible(1), unbeliever(4), unbelievers(7), unbelieving(10), unbelieving one(1). Matt. 17:17; Mk. 9:19; Lk. 9:41; Lk. 12:46; Jn. 20:27; Acts 26:8; 1 Co. 6:6; 1 Co. 7:12; 1 Co. 7:13; 1 Co. 7:14; 1 Co. 7:15; 1 Co. 10:27; 1 Co. 14:22; 1 Co. 14:23; 1 Co. 14:24; 2 Co. 4:4; 2 Co. 6:14; 2 Co. 6:15; 1 Tim. 5:8; Tit. 1:15; Rev. 21:8

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!

Diastrepho - 7v - make crooked(1), misleading(1), perverse(1), perverse things(1), perverted(2), turn...away(1). Matt. 17:17; Lk. 9:41; Lk. 23:2; Acts 13:8; Acts 13:10; Acts 20:30; Phil. 2:15

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.

Anechomai - 14v -  bear(3), bearing(2), endure(3), put(4), showing tolerance(1), tolerate(2). Matt. 17:17; Mk. 9:19; Lk. 9:41; Acts 18:14; 1 Co. 4:12; 2 Co. 11:1; 2 Co. 11:4; 2 Co. 11:19; 2 Co. 11:20; Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:13; 2 Thess. 1:4; 2 Tim. 4:3; Heb. 13:22

C H Spurgeon - Morning and Evening - “Bring him unto me.”  —Mark 9:19

Despairingly the poor disappointed father turned away from the disciples to their Master. His son was in the worst possible condition, and all means had failed, but the miserable child was soon delivered from the evil one when the parent in faith obeyed the Lord Jesus’ word, “Bring him unto me.” Children are a precious gift from God, but much anxiety comes with them. They may be a great joy or a great bitterness to their parents; they may be filled with the Spirit of God, or possessed with the spirit of evil. In all cases, the Word of God gives us one receipt for the curing of all their ills, “Bring him unto me.” O for more agonizing prayer on their behalf while they are yet babes! Sin is there, let our prayers begin to attack it. Our cries for our offspring should precede those cries which betoken their actual advent into a world of sin. In the days of their youth we shall see sad tokens of that dumb and deaf spirit which will neither pray aright, nor hear the voice of God in the soul, but Jesus still commands, “Bring them unto me.” When they are grown up they may wallow in sin and foam with enmity against God; then when our hearts are breaking we should remember the great Physician’s words, “Bring them unto me.” Never must we cease to pray until they cease to breathe. No case is hopeless while Jesus lives.

The Lord sometimes suffers his people to be driven into a corner that they may experimentally know how necessary he is to them. Ungodly children, when they show us our own powerlessness against the depravity of their hearts, drive us to flee to the strong for strength, and this is a great blessing to us. Whatever our morning’s need may be, let it like a strong current bear us to the ocean of divine love. Jesus can soon remove our sorrow, he delights to comfort us. Let us hasten to him while he waits to meet us.

Mark 9:19 Bring The Boy To Me - [Jesus] answered him and said, “. . . Bring him to Me.” —Mark 9:19

“I don’t believe in God and I won’t go,” Mark said.

Amy struggled to swallow the lump in her throat. Her son had changed from a happy boy to a surly and uncooperative young man. Life was a battleground, and Sunday had become a day to dread, as Mark refused to go to church with the family. Finally his despairing parents consulted a counselor, who said: “Mark must make his own faith journey. You can’t force him into the kingdom. Give God space to work. Keep praying, and wait.”

Amy waited—and prayed. One morning the words of Jesus that she had read echoed through her mind. Jesus’ disciples had failed to help a demon-possessed boy, but Jesus had the answer: “Bring him to Me” (Mark 9:19). The sun shone through the window at Amy’s side, making a pool of light on the floor. If Jesus could heal in such an extreme situation, then surely He could also help her son. She pictured herself and Mark standing in that light with Jesus. Then she mentally stepped back, leaving her son alone with the One who loved him even more than she did.

Every day Amy silently handed Mark to God, clinging to the assurance that He knew Mark’s needs, and would in His time and in His way, work in his life. (ED; WE DO NOT KNOW THE END OF THIS STORY, BUT WE KNOW GOD DID HIS PART. COULD WE ASK FOR ANYTHING MORE, ANYTHING BETTER?) By Marion Stroud (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Father, I lift my beloved to You, knowing that You love him even more than I do and You understand just what to do to meet his need. I commit him to Your care.

Prayer is the voice of faith trusting that God knows and cares.

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 9:20-27+ 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 "he" 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 (apollumi) him. But if  (1st class condition - assumes following to be true - therefore was a manifestation of some degree of faith of the father in Jesus and His power over the demon) You can do anything (cf Jer 32:17, 27), take pity (splanchnizomai) on us and help us!” 23 And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” ("As to the 'if thou canst,' all things can (dunata) to the one who believes.")  24 Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:21-24+)

Robertson notes (commenting on Mark 9:22) "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) which means to run on hearing a cry, to give assistance.

Faith is essential to access the power of God...

MacArthur comments on the parallel passage in Mark 9:20-27 - 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. (ED: THE CONTEXT IS THE "LITTLENESS" OF HIS DISCIPLES' FAITH WHO FAILED TO ACT ON THE TRUTH OF WHAT HE HAD SAID IN Lk 9:1 - PERHAPS BECAUSE THIS DEMON WAS STRONGER THAN MOST. DEMONS DIFFER IN THEIR POWER). In brutal honesty “the boy’s father cried out and said, ‘I do believe; help my unbelief’” (Mk 9:24+). Desperately, he pleaded for Jesus to give him whatever was lacking in his faith....“All things are possible to him who believes,”  (Mk 9:24+) is the lesson Jesus intended to teach. This was not the first time He had spoken of the importance of faith (cf. Mk 5:34-36; Mk 6:5-6), nor would it be the last (cf. Mk 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 (Mt. 7:7-8; 21:22; Lk 11:9-10; Jn 14:13-14; 15:7; 16:24; 1Jn 3:22; 5:14-15). (See The MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

The demon (daimonionslammed (rhegnumihim to the ground and threw him into a convulsion (susparasso) - "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.

But Jesus rebuked (epitimaothe unclean spirit and healed (iaomai) the boy and gave him back to his father - Mark 9:25-27+ adds detail - "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. 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!” But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up.” Rebuked (epitimao) also conveys the sense of to command or warning which includes an implied threat. We again see the compassion of Christ as in Luke 7:15+ where "The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother." The devil tried one last throw (a wrestling term in the Greek), but Jesus rebuked the demon and cast him out." (Wiersbe)

MacArthur commenting on Jesus' power over the demon says "It’s always so matter of fact in the Scripture. No fanfare, just absolute matter of fact simple language describing what He did." (Luke 9:42-43 The Significance of Faith, Part 2)

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.

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.

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)

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). (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

QUESTION -  Is epilepsy mentioned in the Bible?

ANSWER - An account of a boy with epileptic-like seizures is recorded in three of the four Gospels (Matthew 17:14–18; Mark 9:14–29; Luke 9:38–42). Only in Matthew’s account (in the ESV and NKJV) is the word epileptic used to describe the boy; the NASB and KJV say “lunatic,” based on the original Greek word’s meaning of “moonstruck.” The NIV says, “He has seizures.” In Mark and Luke, the father of the boy states that his son is “possessed by a spirit” and “a spirit seizes him.” Comparing the three accounts in the Gospels, the boy’s symptoms included sudden screaming, foaming at the mouth, lack of speech, falling, rigidity, and self-harm.

Matthew 17:14–18 says, “When they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, said, ‘Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.’ And Jesus answered, ‘O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.’ And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly” (ESV).

It is important to note that epilepsy was the father’s assessment of his son’s situation. Jesus, Matthew, Mark, and Luke all call it a demon, and Jesus cast it out as He did other demons. The seeming discrepancy in the three biblical accounts is probably due to the fact that the father said a lot of things in trying to get Jesus’ attention. He was distraught, desperate for help, and at a loss to describe what was happening to his son. The fact that the father speaks of epilepsy in Matthew’s account and calls it a “spirit” in the other two Gospels does not create an irreconcilable difference. The father could easily have said all of the above as he described his son’s condition. He did not know what was wrong. He only knew that he needed help.

The term epileptic is used only twice in the New Testament, in Matthew 17:15 and Matthew 4:24. The word translated “epileptic” comes from the Greek word for “lunatic.” In those days, the term could be applied to any type of seizures or behavior that resembled insanity. In New Testament times, people had no way to differentiate between brain disorders and demonic possession. Little was known about the causes or treatment of epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, or dementia, so it is understandable that the father in Matthew 17 would describe his son’s behavior as epilepsy. But we know from Jesus’ treatment of this boy that the child was in fact demon possessed (Mark 9:26).

However, the Bible does mention epilepsy as a condition separate from demon possession. Matthew 4:24 says, “So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them” (emphasis added). Here epilepsy is listed with other physical ailments, indicating that epilepsy is a medical condition that can cause symptoms similar to demonic possession. Jesus healed epileptics, and He also cast out demons. The two conditions were not synonymous.

Although many inexplicable behaviors that affect the personality can be attributed to demonic oppression, we should never rush to judgment. Demons are still active and can possess and oppress people. Prayer and spiritual warfare can enable us to help those who are oppressed (2 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:12–17). But brain abnormalities or injury can also affect human behavior and can respond to medical treatment. Jesus always treated the individual, and He rarely healed the same disease in the same way. This shows us that we should also respond to individuals with sensitivity and discernment, using everything at our disposal to help and heal any way we

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...note the words in bold are not in Luke.

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)

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." (Borrow ESV Study Bible) (Mt 17:20 explains why they could not cast it out - "because of the littleness of your faith"


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).

And they were all amazed (ekplesso) at the greatness (megaleiotetos - majesty) of God -  What is amazing about their amazement at the greatness of God is their absolute blindness to the Great God Who stood in their very midst!  This description greatness (megaleiotetos) of God  is unique to Luke (as is the statement about marveling). Mark 9:26-27 helps us understand why they 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+, Mk 5:39-42, 41+).

The sad irony is that the miracle by Jesus caused the crowd to focus on God, not on Him (even though course He was God!)

THOUGHT- 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."

But (term of contrast) while everyone was marveling (thaumazo) at all that He was doing, He said to His disciples - It is time to take them to school. 

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. (Borrow Be compassionate)

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.

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).  (Borrow ESV Study Bible)

John MacArthur - Jesus didn’t always require faith for healings, didn’t require faith for the casting out of demons. In fact, rarely in the healing ministry of Jesus did He call out to a person that they had to believe. But here in this context, the point of everything is to teach the Apostles that the power promised them is available to them if they will believe. God is not going to grant that power to them if they don’t believe because that would reinforce their doubt. That would mean that they could come up short of really having a true view of the Lord, true view of His power and total trust in Him. If they have that, then that power is available to them. But He will not honor their twisted theology and He will not honor their lack of faith. So He takes this man out of the crowd who has just some faith, not a perfect faith (see Mark 9:24+), and uses him as an illustration of what just some faith in the Lord will do. (Luke 9:42-43 The Significance of Faith, Part 2)

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

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.

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+

QUESTION - How many times did Jesus predict His death?

ANSWER - Jesus’ death was the final sacrifice that paid the debt of sin for all (Hebrews 9:28). His death was the ultimate purpose of His ministry. In fact, Jesus predicted His death at least three times in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), and the book of John offers even more predictions.

The first time Jesus predicted His death is detailed in Matthew 16:21–23, Mark 8:31–32, and Luke 9:21–22. Jesus had just fed the multitudes, and He said that the “Son of Man must suffer many things” (Mark 8:31); be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes; be killed; and be raised again. Peter then rashly began to rebuke Jesus, and Christ responded, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:33; Mark 8:33). Jesus knew that His death must happen. It was necessary in God’s plan to save the world.

Jesus predicted His death a second time in Matthew 17:22–23, Mark 9:30–32, and Luke 9:43–45. This occurred shortly after the Transfiguration, when Peter, James, and John saw Christ in His heavenly glory. Perhaps this was the reason the disciples were so confused by Jesus telling them He was going to die. At this point, they believed His kingdom was just around the corner. Despite their lack of understanding, they were “afraid to ask” for clarification (Mark 9:32; Luke 9:45).

Matthew 20:17–19, Mark 10:32–34, and Luke 18:31–34 describe the third time Jesus predicted His death. He spoke to His disciples as they were heading up toward Jerusalem for Passover, and He told them how He would be mocked, scourged, crucified, and then rise again. On this occasion also, the disciples did not understand Jesus’ saying because the meaning was hidden from them. They would soon learn what Jesus meant in the events of Good Friday and following.

The Gospel of John gives a few more predictions of Jesus’s death, but they are slightly more subtle. For instance, when Mary anointed Jesus with the costly perfume, and Judas asked if she should have sold it for the poor, Christ said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me” (John 12:7–8). While not an explicit prediction like the previous three, this statement of Jesus clearly pointed to His coming death and burial. Again, in John 13:33, Jesus hinted that His time was short as He told the disciples, “Where I am going you cannot come.” Finally, in John 14:25, Jesus talked about giving the Holy Spirit in His absence, which hinted at His death as well as the future of the church.

Jesus intentionally came to earth to die for our sins. Jesus gave His disciples predictions about His death and the events that followed “so that when it does take place you may believe” (John 14:29). -

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.

Similar predictions in Matthew and Mark

Matthew 16:21-23+ From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must (dei - speaks of necessity, not optional!) 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.”

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 - Let...sink is a command in the aorist imperative. "Place these words into your ears," It is the idea of laying something in your ear. I got a piece of tape stuck in my ear this week and I could not rest until I managed to get it out. That's the idea of Jesus' words -- that they would "stick" in their ears! It was an idiom which meant 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 over the strong demon that had exerted such a violent effect on the boy. Morris makes the point that the "but in verse 43 serves to set the disciples "in contrast to the general public who did no more than wonder at the miracles." Jesus now draws His disciples back to reality, for these same crowds that are in awe and wonder (and in Jn 6:15 would have made Him king) would soon be crying to Pilate "Crucify! Crucify!" Their praise and adulation was shot-lived and fickle. The disciples needed to understand that cheers would turn to boo's so to speak and He did not want His "first team" caught unawares. Jesus did not want His disciples to have false grandiose expectations and nurture their messianic hopes that He was going to bring in the Kingdom (at that time) which they were expecting and hoping for. He is trying to help them understand that His cross must proceed His crown. 

The euphoria of their praise would soon give way to the reality of His passion.

Rod 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.  (Treasures from the Scripture)

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).(Borrow Be compassionate)

For (gar) explains why they needed to let the words sink in (see term of explanation).

The Son of Man is going to be delivered (paradidomi - handed over, betrayed) into the hands of men - Going to be is more literally "about to be," emphasizing this would happen in the near future. Delivered is in the divine passive indicating that ultimately it was God the Father Who delivered Him over! Yes it was Judas (Mt 26:24). Yes it was the Jews (Acts 3:13+). And yes it was Pilate (Mt 27:26). All those delivered Him and all are culpable, but ultimately it was God who delivered Him Acts 2:23+ stating that "this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death." Isaiah 53:10+ says "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. Delivered was used of handing someone over into the power of another as when a criminal was handed over for punishment. This is His second passion prediction in this chapter (Lk 9:21+). It is interesting that this time Jesus does not specifically state the purpose or result of His deliverance into hands of men, that is, that the deliverance was for the purpose of killing Him. Of course, His death is implied by being delivered over. Even though this reference was vague, it was made even more "vague" because as stated in the next verse it was concealed from them. 

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). (See Luke 6-10 MacArthur New Testament Commentary

The Son of Man - This term was used frequently 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- 88X IN 84 verses - 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+)

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.

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.

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 9:45 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 clearly 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+)

But - Term of contrast. His passion prediction instead of sinking into their ears sank to the bottom, period! 

They did not understand (agnoeo) this statement (rhema), and it was concealed (parakalupto) from them so that (term of purpose) they would not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this statement - Did not understand is the verb agnoeo from which we get agnostic. The disciples were "functional agnostics." At this point Jesus could have been very frustrated with them and expressed His frustration. Instead God concealed the truth, where concealed is divine passive, emphasizing that God (probably the Spirit) hid this truth from them. This would protect them from the agonizing thoughts of His coming death.  As the time draws nigh for the Cross, Jesus will get more specific with them as in Luke 18:31+ where Luke records "Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold (idou), we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished." Note that demonstrative particle Behold (idou) calling for their complete attention. He wants them to understand the time is at hand.

THOUGHT - So sometimes God wants us to know the future, but other times He does not. He knows what is best and we are grateful that He does not tell us things in our earthly future. The only future we really need to know is our future with Christ in eternity future. And that future is our blessed hope (Titus 2:13+, cf 1Jn 3:2-3+), a hope that is an anchor for our souls, one which is "both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, 20where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. (Heb 6:19-20+)

Leon Morris rightly reminds us that even "On the other side of the cross it must have been terribly difficult to grasp the truth that Jesus’ Messiahship meant his death." (See The Gospel According to St. Luke: An Introduction and Commentary)

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. (Christological Confession and the Road of Discipleship)

NET Note - The 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."

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.

Statement (4487rhema from verb rheo = to speak - to say, speak or utter definite words) refers to the spoken word, especially a word as uttered by a living voice. Laleo is another word translated speak but it refers only to uttering a sound whereas rheo refers to uttering a definite intelligible word. Rhema refers to any sound produced by the voice which has a definite meaning. It focuses upon the content of the communication. For example in Luke we read "And they understood none of these things, and this saying (rhema) was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend the things that were said." (Luke 18:34+)

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."

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.” 

The other 2 Gospel accounts add several details to Luke 9:46-48. Mark says that this event occurred at 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. 

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). 

MacArthur- Ironically, 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 b