Starting to realize who Jesus really is
Disciples on a road trip1Jesus called his disciples together. He gave them the power and authority to exorcise demons and to cure diseases. 2Then he sent them on a road trip, with a mission: heal the sick and tell everyone about God’s kingdom. 3He gave them these instructions: “Don’t take anything extra with you. Don’t take a walking stick, a bag, bread, or money. Don’t even pack an extra pair of clothes.
4Whenever you go to a town, stay in one house the entire time you’re there. 5And wherever the people don’t welcome you, don’t stay. Shake the dust of that town off your feet. Use that to send your message of disapproval.” 6So the disciples left and traveled throughout the villages in the area. They taught the good news and healed people everywhere they went.
Herod’s curiosity about Jesus7Herod Antipas heard about what was going on. He didn’t know what to think about it. On the one hand, some people were saying that Jesus was John the Baptist who had come back from the dead. 8Others said it was Elijah who had come back. Still others picked other prophets from their history and said that’s who Jesus was.
9Herod said, “I beheaded John. So who is this guy I’ve been hearing so much about?” Herod kept looking for an opportunity to meet Jesus.
Picnic meal for 5,000, to go10When the apostles got back from their road trip, they told Jesus about everything they did. He took them on a retreat away from the crowds. They went to a town called Bethsaida.
11When the crowds found out, they followed him. He welcomed them. He taught them about God’s kingdom. And he cured everyone who needed healing. 12As the day started to slip away, the 12 disciples told Jesus, “You should probably send the crowd away so they can go into some of the nearby villages and the countryside homes. That’s where they can get some food and find a place to spend the night. We’re in a pretty isolated spot here.”
13Jesus said, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish. The only thing we can do to get more is to go and buy food for all of these people.” 14There were about 5000 men in this crowd. Jesus told his disciples, “Get them to sit in groups of about 50 people each.”
15The disciples did that. They had everyone sit down. 16Jesus took the five loaves and two fish. He looked up to heaven and said a blessing over the food. Then he broke the food into pieces and started handing it out to the disciples so they could pass it out to the crowd. 17The people ate all they wanted. Twelve baskets of leftovers were collected.
Peter: Jesus is the Messiah18One day when Jesus was praying by himself, the disciples approached him. He asked them, “Who does the crowd say I am?” 19They said, “John the Baptist. Others say Elijah. Some say one of the ancient prophets who has come back from the dead.”
20Then Jesus said to them, “What about you? Who do you say I am?” Peter said, “The Messiah sent by God.”
Bad news: Jesus says he will die21At this point, Jesus told them a secret. He wanted to warn them, but he didn’t want them to tell anyone about it.
22He said, “There’s something the Son of Humans has to do. He’s going to have to suffer a lot. He’s going to be rejected by the Jewish leaders: the elders, the top priests, and the scholars. He’s going to be killed. But on the third day he will come back to life.”
23Then he turned to the crowd and said, “If any of you wants to become one of my followers, you’re going to have to do things my way instead of your way. You will also have a heavy cross to carry every day. If you can handle that, come and follow me. 24But if you insist on living life your way instead of God’s way, you’ll be lost. Yet if you are willing to lose your life by putting yourself in my hands, you’ll be saved. 25Tell me this, what good would it do you if you bought the whole world but it cost you your life? 26I want you to know something. If you’re ashamed of me and embarrassed by what I teach, the Son of Humans will be ashamed of you when he comes back in a glorious return, with the Father and holy angels. 27I’m telling you, there is no doubt whatsoever that some of the people standing here right now will see God’s kingdom before they die.”
Jesus glows in a Transfiguration28Eight days later Jesus went up on a mountain to pray. He took Peter, John, and James with him. 29While he was praying, something happened to him. His face looked different and his clothing beamed a dazzling white.
30Two men appeared and started talking to him. They were none other than Moses and Elijah. 31There was something splendid and glorious about the way they looked. They were talking with Jesus about his leaving, as soon as he finished his work in Jerusalem.
32Peter and the others had been so exhausted that they fell asleep. But they woke up in time to see Jesus in this glorified state along with the two men standing with him. 33When Peter saw the men were about to leave, he told Jesus, “Sir, it’s an honor to be here. Let’s make three shelters: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Peter had no idea what he was talking about.
34While Peter was talking, a cloud descended on them. It scared the three disciples. 35From somewhere in the cloud a voice spoke: “This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen when he talks!” 36When the voice fell silent, the two who had been with Jesus were gone. The disciples who had been with Jesus didn’t tell anyone what they saw. They kept it secret for the time being.
Jesus, the exorcist37The day after, when they came down the mountain, they found a huge crowd standing there waiting for Jesus. 38Suddenly, from somewhere in the crowd a man screamed, “Teacher, I’m begging you. Have pity on my son. He’s my only child.
39Some kind of spirit takes control of him. It makes him cry out. It thrashes him around in convulsions. And it makes him foam at the mouth. Eventually it leaves him, but when it does it leaves him banged up and bruised. 40I begged your disciples to banish it, but they couldn’t do it."
41Jesus said, “My goodness, you people of zero faith and twisted ways! How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring your son here.” 42While the boy was on his way to Jesus, the demon threw the boy down and turned on the convulsions. Jesus ordered the unholy spirit to stop it. Then Jesus healed the child and gave him back to his dad.
Jesus: betrayal ahead43The people who saw this were astonished at the magnificent display of God’s power. While the people stood there in awe over what they had seen, Jesus turned to his disciples and said,
44“Listen to me, and let this sink into your heads. The Son of Humans is going to get betrayed very soon. He’s going to end up in the hands of some other people.”
45His disciples were clueless. They had no idea what he was talking about, and they were afraid to ask him to explain it. 46The disciples got into a bit of an argument about which one of them was the most important—the big boy.
47Jesus knew what was going on. He asked a little boy to stand beside him. 48Jesus said, “If you warmly welcome this child just as you would welcome me, you are in fact welcoming me. And if you warmly welcome me, you are welcoming the one who sent me. What I’m saying is this: The little one among you who is considered the least important is the big boy who is the most important.”
49John replied, “Sir, we saw someone performing an exorcism by using your name to expel demons. We tried to stop him because he’s not in our group, following you around like we do." 50Jesus said, “Don’t try to stop him. If someone’s not against you, they’re for you.”
The not-good Samaritans51Jesus knew he was running out of time and he would soon be lifted up into the sky. He made up his mind to go face what was coming in Jerusalem. 52Jesus sent an advance team ahead to make arrangements for his trip. Jesus and his disciples arrived at a Samaritan village.
53When those Samaritans found out that the people were making arrangements for Jesus, who was headed to Jerusalem, they refused to let him stay there. 54James and John went ballistic when they heard about this. “Sir, do you want us to burn the city to ashes by calling down a lightning storm of fire from the sky?”
55Jesus not only declined their offer, he let them know they had gone too far. 56They went to another city instead.
Top priority: following Jesus57As they walked on one of the roads, someone told him, “I’ll go with you wherever you’re going.” 58
Jesus told the man, “Foxes have holes to sleep in. Birds have their nests. But you should know that the Son of Humans has no place of his own to lay his weary head.” 59Jesus invited another person to come along with him: “Follow me.” That person said to him, “Please sir, I need to go home first and bury my father.” 60Jesus told him, “Make other arrangements. It’s more important that you tell people about God’s kingdom.”
61Another man told Jesus, “I’ll follow you, sir, but please excuse me while I go say goodbye to my family at home.” 62Jesus told him, “You plow the ground in front of you. If you’ve got your hands on the plow and you’re looking behind you, you’re not going to make it to the kingdom of God.”
More literally, Jesus tells the disciples to shake the dust off their feet as “a testimony against them.” It’s unclear what exactly Jesus meant. Some Bible experts say this may have been a warning, urging the people to repent. Or it may have been a bit like a witness in court testifying against a defendant. In this case, the disciples were testifying in advance against these people who would one day face their final judgment.
Herod Antipas was the ruler of Galilee, where Jesus lived and ministered.
“Messiah” is the Hebrew version spoken by Jewish people. “Christ” is the Greek version, spoken as the international language of Jesus’ day. Both words mean “anointed one,” as in a prophet anointed by God, or a king anointed by a nation. See how Matthew and Mark quoted Peter: Matthew 16:17, Mark 8:29.
See 5:24 note.
Peter may have been suggesting they build memorials. Or he may have been suggesting that they celebrate the Feast of the Tabernacles right there on the mountain – perhaps as a way of extending this glorious moment. The kind of temporary shelters he seemed to be suggesting are those that Jews would build once a year when they celebrated the Feast that commemorates the Exodus out of Egypt.
It’s unclear why Luke included this sentence. One theory is that the three shelters suggests the three men were equals, though only one was the Son of God.
Some ancient manuscripts quote God as saying, “This is my dearly loved Son.”
Literally, “in my name.”
Literally, “taken up,” most likely a reference to the Ascension (Luke 24:50-53).
Jerusalem was a Jewish city. Samaritans and Jews did not generally get along. Their relationship was about as unfriendly as that of Israelis and Palestinians today. For this reason, Jews traveling between Jerusalem and northern territories such as Galilee generally bypassed the Samaritan region in between the two.
More literally “fire down from heaven.”
The cryptic line from Jesus is more literally, “Let the dead bury their own dead.” Some scholars translate that a bit like this paraphrase: “Let the spiritually dead bury the physically dead.” Whatever the case, Jesus knows he’s going to be crucified soon and then ascend to heaven. And so as important as it is in Jewish tradition for a son to bury his dead father or perhaps to wait for his deathly ill father to die, it’s even more important to follow Jesus.
Literally, the man is not “fit for the kingdom of God.” Some Bible experts say this seemingly harsh statement illustrates that Jesus realized he was approaching the climax of his mission on earth, and that he and his followers needed to stay focused on that.
Jesus gave his disciples “the power and authority to exorcise demons” (9:1). Do you think there’s a place for that kind of ministry in the church today? Or do you think the “demons” that were exorcised were more likely physical or mental problems, such as epilepsy or multiple personality disorders?
Story of Jesus feeding “5000 men” (9:14), not counting women and children, is one of the more famous stories about him. With five loaves of bread and two fish, he hosts a whopper of a picnic. All four Bible books about Jesus tell that story: (Matthew 14:15-21; Mark 6:32-44; John 6:1-13). And two books add the story of another picnic for 4,000: (Matthew 15:38; Mark 8:1-10). Let’s assume these stories are not some kind of metaphor, but that the miracles really took place. What do you think was the point of the miracle, if there was a point beyond simply feeding hungry people?
When Jesus asks his disciples who they think he is, Luke reports that Peter said, “The Messiah sent by God” (9:20). Mark reports the same thing (8:29). But Matthew takes that further. He says Peter declared Jesus not only the Messiah but the Son of God (Matthew 16:16). Do you think there’s a possibility that Matthew exaggerated a little, or possibly misremembered?
Clearly, Jesus told his disciples he was going to die soon: “The Son of Humans is going to get betrayed very soon” (9:44)….“he’s going to be killed” (9:22). Yet the crucifixion will seem to catch them completely off guard. Why do you think they didn’t get what Jesus said?
In the Transfiguration story, Luke reports that two Old Testament figures met with Jesus on the mountain: Moses and Elijah. The prophet Malachi predicted the return of Elijah (Malachi 3:1; 4:5). Jesus said John the Baptist, at least figuratively, fulfilled that prophecy (Matthew 11:10). So what do you think was the point of having the authentic Elijah show up in the Transfiguration?
What do you think is going on in the story of the Transfiguration? Why does Jesus apparently tell the disciples not to say anything about it? And when they are finally allowed to tell the story, what do you think is the message of the story?
What do you think irritated Jesus so much that it provoked him to tell a group of folks, “My goodness, you people of zero faith and twisted ways! How much longer do I have to put up with this?” (9:41).
To settle an argument about which disciple was most important—it was Peter by the way, who always gets listed first when the Holy Dozen show up in the Bible—Jesus uses a little child to make his point. What point do you think he was trying to make?
James and John who “went ballistic” (9:54) were brothers whom Jesus nicknamed the Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17). If you had to place a bet, would you bet the nickname came before or after this event of them volunteering to call down “a lightning storm of fire from the sky”?
In the last few verses of this chapter, as Jesus walks to Jerusalem, he says some strange things to strangers. He tells a man who wants to go home and bury his father before he joins up with Jesus and the disciples that the grieving man should “Make other arrangements” (9:60). And he tells another man who simply wants to go home and say goodbye to his family first that if “you’re looking behind you, you’re not going to make it into the kingdom of God” (9:62). Well, if you’re going to say strange things like that, you might as well say them to strangers. What’s the point of this section? Why do you think Luke thought it was important enough to include in the story of Jesus?
LIFE APPLICATION. Jesus told his disciples that if people did not welcome them or welcome their teachings, they should “Shake the dust of that town off your feet” (9:5). Do you think there’s a message in there for us when we try to tell other people about Jesus and the Christian faith?