What it Means to Follow Christ

Luke 9 SCC 4/17/16


            The chapter repeatedly mentions the disciples engaged in several events as teaching moments (v 1-2; 10; 12; 18; 28; 40; 43; and 54). This is designed to teach readers what it means to be a follower of Christ. While the disciples are engaged in this process, we too, learn what following Jesus means.



            The disciples went sent out to heal and proclaim the kingdom v 2. This two-fold purpose was accomplished because Jesus gave them power and authority over demons and diseases v 1. They were given two basic instructions (1) Take nothing for your journey v 3: (2) Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that city v 4-5. It seems the need created by (1) inspired the hospitality of (2) among those who accepted Jesus as Christ. Jesus changed that command just before his arrest:

Luke 22:35: And He said to them, “When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.”

Luke 22:36: And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one.

            Earlier Jesus instructed the disciples to travel light and depend on hospitality v 3 but now they would need to provide for themselves and protect themselves with a sword. We know Peter had one, for soon he cut off Malchus’s ear. Today Peter may have carried a gun. Or possibly a symbol of readiness now that they will be serving Jesus on their own.  Luke added that Herod wanted to speak with Jesus v 9, but He went to Bethsaida. Actually Jesus refused to speak to Herod, even at His trial. This heightens the uncertainty surrounding Jesus identity both with the crowds, individuals and the disciples.

NB: As disciples of Christ, we should provide our disciples with teaching, examples, and real-life assignments. It is true that Jesus gave the twelve power over demons and diseases for this trip. But that does not mean Jesus gives everybody the same abilities for every ministry. The application is to use whatever abilities you have been given to do what Christ is doing.



            This debriefing retreat with the disciples was interrupted by the crowds who found them and began gathering v 11. The 5,000 “males” is no doubt a round figure v 14. Counting the women and children the total might have been over 15,000 (Matt 14:21). They were fed from 5 loaves and 2 fish v 13. The 12 baskets left over indicates that everyone had enough v 17. He began by intentionally making the statement, you give them something to eat v 13 and this forced the disciples to admit the inadequacy of their provisions v 13. Even though that was insufficient, Christ used it to miraculously feed the 5,000. This demonstrated the point—what we have plus Christ is enough.

NB: We should bring the resources we have to God to be used by Him. What the disciples did not do was ask Jesus to provide. They still needed to learn that lesson. We can be comforted by the power that Jesus has to care for his own. It is a dependent spirit Jesus wishes to foster in his disciples. We are responsible for inputs. Jesus is responsible for outputs. He can be counted upon to do so with his ability to provide.



            After asking the crowd v 18-19, Jesus asked who do you say that I am, v 20 and Peter says he is the Christ that is, the Messiah, Christ is the Greek word for Messiah. Jesus urges silence about this because misunderstanding is possible. Even the disciples had contrary expectations about Christ’s teaching on his death. Then Jesus tells them he would suffer die and rise from the dead v 22. If they wish to follow Him they need to deny themselves, seek heavenly not earthly salvation, and have a heavenly profit motive v 25. He then specified that you should set your mind on God’s interests by; (1) denying yourself, (2) losing your life for Christ’s sake, and (3) taking up your cross (which is apparently your life situation), and (4) following Him. Luke 9: 27 Transitions to the Mount of Transfiguration in the next paragraph.

NB: Christlikeness means taking your life situation and following Christ with it by denying yourself. The passage teaches losing and denying yourself while taking up your cross (your life situation) as your ministry assignment from God for Christ. Focus your attention on God’s interests while living your life. Solomon says do this all your life—lean into your eternity building your eternal profit Ecc. 12:7, 13-14.



            Three significant things happened: (1) Jesus was transfigured v 29. This gives us a glimpse of Jesus in His glorified state as in Revelation 1. (2) Moses and Elijah appeared v 30. This tells us we are the same people after death (Moses and Elijah had not received their resurrected bodies, so this is how we will be when we go to heaven and before our resurrection). Also, eternity seems to be another dimension rather than a far off place. (3) God said: This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him! v 35. This declares the deity of Christ and gives verifiable evidence to Jesus’ claim since three disciples heard it. The disciples kept quiet about this encounter v 36. Peter later verifies that this was indeed a real historical event which he witnessed. 2 Pet. 1:16-18:  For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 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.

NB: So Jesus is God the Son. We do not have permission to believe alternate realities about Jesus. The evidence reveals He is the Son of God. Modifying Jesus into a non judgmental Jesus or a tolerant Jesus or a multi cultural Jesus or a love wins Jesus or a teacher Jesus or a mythical Jesus is idolatry not worship denying his identity. Christianity is a faith of the apostles. They testified of Christ as God’s Son.    



The priority of paying attention to Christ’s words 37-45

            Jesus exorcises a demon possessed boy v 38-39, which the disciples couldn’t do v 40, and predicts his arrest v 44, which the disciples couldn’t understand v 45. Jesus arrest, his conviction, his death and resurrection were not in play for the disciples. The disciples lack of faith to heal and their lack of understanding Jesus purpose in coming show their need to listen and trust his words even when it does not square with their expectations v 44. Jesus knows where his God is taking Him.

NB: As one travels down an unknown path it is important to keep one’s ear attuned to the Word of God. Disciples need to be patient with the Word of God when it does not meet expectations. God’s Word often challenges our paradigms and we must rearrange our prejudices. Pay attention to it.    

The priority of applying status to everyone 46-48

            There was an argument among the disciples about who was the greatest v 46. Jesus uses a child to say, the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great v 48. The child represents the one who is least, and that one will be great, that is have the greatest heavenly rewards. He was referring to being the least in sense of financial, religious, political, or social positions of authority—like a child.

NB: Lead people away from defining greatness by a position of authority. Following Jesus in this passage means leading people away from the whole idea of greatness being connected to a position of authority in any group. Greatness is in the sense of eternal profit. That comes by prioritizing status to everyone.

The priority of encouraging ministry from others 49-50

            The disciples’ report about people casting out demons, whom they tried to hinder because those people weren’t part of Christ’s group. Jesus said they should leave them alone.

NB: Encourage disciples to not hinder groups who oppose Satanic activity. Christ told His disciples not to hinder other groups casting out demons. Jesus did condemn lots of other groups—the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the scribes, and the chief priests. The point of the passage is not to avoid hindering any group who is conducting ministry consistent with Jesus message and priorities.

The priority of leaving judgment to God’s timing 51-56

            As they made their way south toward Jerusalem v 51, they went through Samaria v 52. Since the Samaritans and the Jews had a racial hatred for each other, the Samaritans wouldn’t allow them accommodations v 53. James and John suggested they call down fire from heaven on those Samaritans, but Jesus rebuked them for that response v 54-56.

NB: Lead people away from focusing on those who wrong them and on to the kingdom of God. Jesus rebuked the disciples for focusing on destroying the people who wronged them. The issue is the revenge focus of the disciples. Leave judgment, if necessary, in God’s hands and in God’s timing. Stay focused.

The priority of not being distracted 57-62

            As they were going along the road, three people discuss discipleship with Jesus v 57. All of them fail to follow Christ because they have earthly concerns. The first wanted to follow Christ because he thought Jesus would be some earthly temporal benefits. Jesus said don’t expect that v 58. The second wanted to first bury his father v 59. Jesus said there was no time to make this worlds problems a priority v 60. The third wanted to say good-bye to those at home v 61. Jesus responded with the example of a single-furrow horse- (or oxen-) drawn hand plow v 62. This requires your total attention to stay in a straight line and turn over a furrow. The kingdom of God demands that kind of attention.

NB: If you choose to follow Christ, you don’t need a rear-view mirror. If you choose to follow Christ, don’t look back or be distracted. When you choose to follow Christ, what’s behind you is not important.