For an introduction to this series, click here.
March 1, 2007
This is a very long chapter, and it has a lot of stuff in it. This chapter starts out with the sending out of the disciples. Luke does not go into the detail that Matthew does, he just tells us that Jesus sent them out to teach and heal among the people.
Next we have a very interesting parenthetical statement that somehow Luke found out. Remember that in the previous chapter Luke mentions that the wife of Herod's steward contributed to Jesus' ministry. Perhaps Luke learned about this from her: “Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen. Herod said, ‘John I beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?’ And he sought to see him.” (9:7-9) Herod was perplexed by Jesus; he didn't know what to think. Eventually Herod did meet Jesus, but he showed his unbelief and did not save Him from death. Lots of people are intrigued by Jesus, but they don't want to commit their lives to Him.
Next we have the feeding of the 5,000, followed by Peter's confession of Jesus as "The Christ of God." This is followed by the transfiguration. Then we have the demonstration by Jesus that the one who believes as a child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (I am really moving fast, but I feel like I have already covered these stories.)
That is followed by a couple of storied unique to Luke's Gospel that involve John the Apostle. Remember that John was likely a teenager when he followed Jesus. John, ever the zealot, comes up to Jesus and says that they found a man casting out demons in Jesus' name, and they tried to stop him. Jesus tells them, "Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you." (9:50, ESV) This is an important lesson for everyone to learn. It's easy to get distracted into thinking of people we disagree with as our enemies, but the reality is that our ultimate enemy is Satan. He will use anything to keep us from following Jesus, including controversies over minor points with fellow believers.
Next we have a Samaritan village. This could have been the same trip through Samaria that Jesus made when He visited with the Samaritan woman in John 4, but then again maybe not. Jesus was certainly not the type to bypass Samaria when traveling from Judea to Galilee as were most Jews of the time. Anyway, there was a Samaritan town that would not receive Jesus. The disciples, particularly James and John, were furious with them, and asked Jesus if they could call down fire from heaven and burn them up. Jesus "rebuked them" and they went on. Now I don't know how much of John and James' statements were based on racism, but it's a pretty safe bet there were lots of Jewish towns that rejected Jesus, and , as far as we know, they never wanted to rain down fire on them. I'm not wanting to be too hard on them, I just want to point out that the Gospels do paint a frank picture of everyone involved, including the Apostles who would become the foundation of the church. I am glad Luke mentions this story. It gives us some neat insight into the disciples.