Friday, February 26
Luke 9:37-62 — Healing, Death, Opposition & Cost
37 The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. 38 A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him.
40 I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.”
41 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.”
42 Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. 43 And they were all amazed at the greatness of God.
While everyone was marveling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, 44 “Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be delivered over to human hands.” 45 But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask Him about it.
46 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. 47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. 48 Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For whoever is least among you all is the greatest.”
49 “Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”
50 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”
51 As the time approached for Him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 And He sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for Him; 53 but the people there did not welcome Him, because He was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 Then He and his disciples went to another village.
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.”
62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Points of Interest:
- (v.40) “but they could not”—from Wednesday’s passage, we know that they have the power and authority to do this. Nonetheless, they can’t do it this time.
- (v.41) “unbelieving and perverse generation”—Even with all of the miracles Jesus has performed, everything quickly reverts as soon as He leaves to the way it was before. This is of especial concern for Jesus because He knows that He doesn’t have much time left. Perverse in this situation means “crooked.” Jesus is finding it hard to get through to people, because the path to their hearts is winding and complicated.
- (v.46) “An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest”—they’re probably thinking about the Messianic kingdom. When they ride into glory in Messiah Jesus’ wake, who will get the top jobs? Who will be prime minister? Who will be general? Who will get to rule his own small kingdom?
- (v.49) “we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us”—This man is casting out demons in Jesus’ name. It’s one of the primary signs that Jesus has brought God’s kingdom to earth—and it’s something that the disciples were recently unable to do—but they stop him, because he’s not part of their club. The Twelve may disagree about which one of them is greatest, but they’re in complete agreement that it’s going to be one of them—not some outsider. For Jesus, who is doing it isn’t important; what’s important is that people are being freed from demonic oppression.
- (v.52) “a Samaritan village”—after the reign of Solomon (about 1000 years ago), David’s kingdom divided in two: Judah, with Jerusalem as the capital; and Israel, with Samaria as the capital. The two kingdoms spent much of the next 300 years fighting one another, like two siblings squabbling over their father’s inheritance. Israel was eventually conquered by the Assyrians, who scattered the Israelites and re-settled the area with other conquered people. The Samaritans (so named after their capital) retained some of the culture and religion as the Jews, but mixed with lots of outside influences. The bitter sibling rivalry continued to the time of Jesus, and was mixed with fights about the purity of their religion: the Jews criticized the Samaritans for their syncretism, and the Samaritans responded defensively. The Jews lived in Judea and Galilee, and Samaria lay in between the two; so Jesus is cutting through Samaria to get from Galilee to Judea.
- (v.54) “do you want us to call fire down from heaven?”—The disciples are trying to model Elijah when he called down fire from heaven to show God’s power. But Jesus didn’t come to bring fire; He came to bring freedom and healing. His followers are called to bless those who curse them (Luke 6: 28), not burn them.
Taking it home:
- For you: Jesus invited his disciples to be followers of him in every way, including healing the sick and freeing people from spiritual oppression. It is easy to feel frustrated or even not good enough when trying to follow Jesus into some of these areas. Maybe you have had an experience like the disciples where you felt like a failure in a spiritual situation. Pray that Jesus would step into that situation this week and bring His healing and freedom. Pray for confidence and boldness to act like Jesus when it feels high-risk.
- For your Six: Many people have a great deal of respect for Jesus’ teaching, but they have a hard time understanding His death or believing in His resurrection. Is Jesus’ death or resurrection something getting in the way of any of your Six believing in him? Pray that your Six would have the faith, the interest, and the boldness to ask their questions about the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
- For our church/ILTJ: Jesus makes a point by welcoming the children around him and obviously sees their encounters with him as significant. Pray today that God would do something amazing in our next generation. Pray for our giving to complete all the upgrades in the kid’s area so that any child who comes to our church would feel welcome and personally experience the love of God.
- To Talk About: Sometimes God’s Word is hard to understand – maybe even these verses are confusing. I take comfort that Jesus’ disciples got confused too and they were with Him in physical person. It also says they were afraid to ask Him about what confused them. I think we can learn a couple things from this: 1. What is something that confuses you about God or His Word? 2. Are you afraid to ask God about that? Be encouraged that God is not surprised that you are confused or maybe afraid to talk to Him. He already knows that you are and He wants you to bring your questions to Him.
- To Do: Do it now – share with each other some of the things that confuse or frustrate you about God. Then pray together and ask the Lord to help give you clarity to understand some things better and peace about those things you don’t or may never understand.