Vol. 18, No. 47 – December 15, 2019
Outline for Chapter 9:
III. The Ministry of the Son of Man to Men, Luke 4:14-9:50.
D. Activities of His Ministry, Luke 7:1-9:50.
12. Ministry of prediction, Luke 9:18-50.
Topics of Chapter 9:
8. The argument among the apostles as to who was the greatest, vs. 46-50, (continued). This is paralleled in Mat 18:1-6, and Mark 9:33-37.
This is a real life example of what Jesus was teaching on humility. This is paralleled only in Mark 9:38-40, with an additional teaching in Mark 9:41. This probably happened when the disciples where out on their first solo missionary journey, vs. 1-6.
Luke 9:49, “John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name; and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow along with us”.”
John appropriately addresses Jesus as “Master,” EPISTATES, which is equivalent to Lord. He then states they saw someone casting out demons, DAIMONION, in Jesus’ name. Yet, they were “forbidding” Him to do so.
“Forbid” is the Imperfect, Active, Indicative of the Verb KOLUO, κωλύω that means, “stop, hinder, prevent, forbid, restrain, or withhold,” on an ongoing basis. In other words, they kept trying to stop this man from exorcising demons in Jesus’ Name. We noted this word in Luke 6:29, for not “withholding” your shirt if someone takes your coat. It is the same message here, humility. In this case, as we will see in Jesus’ rebuke in vs. 50, it is humility that is needed on the part of the Apostles and us, in regard to our service as messengers for Jesus. But John was not showing that humility in this response to Jesus. Yet, it is the lesson Jesus will teach them in the next verse.
John’s lack of humility is seen in his statement, “he does not follow along with us.” Because this man was not “one of them” in John’s eyes, once again reveals the disciples’ attitude of pride and rivalry, and maybe even jealousy. This man was not “one of them,” how dare he cast out demons! Their opposition boils down to one fact: he was not in their clique, their group, or their little tribe. So, they tried to shut him down. They raised their group above the mission itself. They raised their own personal ministries above the mission itself. That is what we call tribalism, not Christian ministry.
Yet, even though the man in question was not following Jesus “per se,” with the other disciples, he was still working “in Jesus’ name,” i.e., in the Name of the Lord! This reveals that that man was not operating under his own power but the power of God / Jesus. He was not promoting himself, but Jesus! And, he did not receive directly the DUNAMIS and EXOUSIA, (power and authority), to exorcise demons from Jesus as the others had in vs. 1. Therefore, because he was not ordained when they were, they were suspicious and jealous of him.
I wonder if this man was exorcising the kind of demons the disciples could not exorcise in vs. 40! That may have led to even more jealously on the part of the disciples, due to arrogance in their souls.
Luke 9:50, “But Jesus said to him, “Do not hinder (KOLUO) him; for he who is not against you is for you”.”
The last half of this verse is one of the most unknowingly quoted verses from the Bible. The reverse of this statement is found in Luke 11:23, “He who is not with Me is against Me….” Yet, it means the same thing. Jesus used both statements, in their contexts, without contradicting the truth of either statement. They both mean unity in humility. The humility is to receive Christ and preach Christ. The unity is the person of Christ, nothing else earthly or human, but the one who paid for our sins and gives us power and authority.
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus’ response to John was, “do not hinder him,” which uses the Negative Participle ME with the Verb KOLUO once again. This time, it is in the Imperative mood that means, “do not stop, hinder, prevent, forbid, restrain, or withhold.” This means it was a command from Jesus to the disciples to not interfere with this man’s ministry and this type of action. This man was working in the name of Jesus. The disciples where working in the name of Jesus. They were on the same side; just coming from different places.
Jesus’ response was the same as Moses’ in Num 11:26-29, in a similar situation. We have no information as to why these two, Eldad and Medad, did not go to the Tabernacle (a type of Christ) with the other seventy prophets and receive the Holy Spirit when they did. Yet, they too received the Holy Spirit and were able to prophesy just like Moses and the other seventy. This tells us that the Lord’s Spirit is not tied to places and relationships. Those two were as truly prophets as Moses, and he welcomed them as such. And in addition, he wished for all God’s people to be prophets and have the fullest possible blessing. And interestingly, we see young Joshua’s negative response toward Eldad and Medad being similar to that of John’s and the other apostles’ toward this man. Yet, Jesus’ response to John and the others is a positive one, just as Moses’ was to Joshua, as Jesus states, “whoever is not against you is for you.”
Many times we find ourselves compartmentalizing our relationship with God as the only one and best one. We get into tribalism when we think all others are the enemy if they are not doing what we are doing. Yes, there are lines to be drawn between good and evil, sin and righteousness, belief and unbelief, truth and falsehood, etc. Regarding those things we do not hesitate to draw and defend lines. But tribalism occurs among people who all name Christ as Lord and believe the same gospel, as the Corinthians did by saying “I am of Peter, I am of Paul, etc.,” in 1 Cor 3:4-5.
Another pet peeve of mine is when Pastors use the phrase, “a follower of mine,” especially with the on-line access we have today to be part of a local assembly over the internet. Yet, many Pastors take pride in how many people are “following them,” on the internet, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Rather, we should look at these people as followers of Christ and term them as such, as He is the One we all should be preaching and proclaiming.
The secular world is all about the “us versus them” mentality, where pyramid building and numbers are the main indicators for success. But, Christianity is not like that. That is part of Satan’s cosmic system, but is not part of Christianity. Unfortunately, we try to take the indicators of the world that speak of success in the world and bring that into Christianity as indicators of success. But, as we noted in vs. 49, our Lord turned everything upside down compared to the World where in Christianity, the least will be the greatest in the Kingdom of God and the greatest in the world, will be the least in the Kingdom of God. Therefore, having the largest number of followers means nothing in regard to success in the spiritual life.
Another point is that we may be comfortable saying, “He who is not against you is for you” as long as we assume that we are the standard and others have to come to us. But, can we embrace the statement in the other direction? Can we joyfully proclaim, “If we are not against them, then we are for them?” If we cannot, then tribalism is in our hearts and will likely get in the way of our seeing the work of God being done by others. What a tragedy that would be, because it will push us into smaller and smaller tribes of isolation and make us doubt that God is at work in the world, especially if we think He is only working through us and our tribe.
In this narrative, we also see that citizens of Heaven do not become part of the Kingdom by passing a test, receiving a membership card, reporting to another citizen, or accepting an appointment to office. People become citizens by acknowledging the King’s authority and receiving His kindness. As such, they carry out the King’s agenda and are classified as citizens of Heaven, just as Jesus classified this man.
Therefore, humility is the continued theme, as we look to other Christians in our own church and other churches, who are doing the work of the Lord. As we look at them we should proclaim them as brothers and sisters, fellow citizens of heaven, and not look at them as the enemy to be defeated. Therefore, we are to “humble ourselves before the Lord and He will exalt you,” Mat 23:12; Luke 1:52; Rom 12:16; James 1:9; 4:6, 10; 1 Peter 3:8; 5:5-6.
James 4:10, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”
Rom 12:16, “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.”
James 4:6, “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble’.” (Prov 3:34)
1 Peter 5:5, “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble’.”
Luke 1:52, “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble.”
James 1:9, “But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position.”
1 Peter 5:6, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.”
Mat 23:12, “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”
1 Peter 3:8, “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit.”
IV. The Repudiation of the Son of Man by Men, Luke 9:51-19:27.
Here, we begin a new section in our outline of the Gospel of Luke. This section does not have exact parallels in Matthew or Mark though some of the information is found in other contexts in each, as we will note. This narrative tells of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem where He would be crucified. It tells of His encounters along the way. As such, some call this section the “travel narrative.”
In Chapter 9, we have two sections:
A. Rejection by Samaritans, Luke 9:51-56, which is our 9th topic, “The rejection by the Samaritans with James’ and John’s request to destroy them.”
B. Rejection by Worldly Men, Luke 9:57-62, which is our 10th topic, “The half-hearted requests to follow Jesus.”
Topics of Chapter 9:
9. The rejection by the Samaritans with James’ and John’s request to destroy them, vs. 51-56.
This is an example of Tribalism by both parties involved that we noted in the previous section, which should not be part of the Christian way of life.
This narrative also reminds us of Elijah’s encounter related to Samaria in 2 Kings 1:1-16, as we will note below.
Luke 9:51, “When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem.”
“When the days were approaching” literally reads “And it came to pass,” that occurs frequently in Luke, as a marker of transition. In Greek literature, it is often an indication of a new paragraph.
“Approaching,” is the Verb SUMPLEROO, συμπληρόω that means, “to be fulfilled,” and has the idea of coming to the end of a period of time with the implication of the completion of an implied purpose or plan. This was the end game in the plan of God for Jesus’ earthly ministry.
“His ascension,” is the Noun ANALEMPSIS, ἀνάλημψις that literally means, “a receiving up” and also means, “to be taken up or ascension.” It is only used here in the NT. As a turning point in Luke’s Gospel, he gives us a glimpse of the future exaltation of Jesus that lay ahead in Jerusalem. Thus, the time had come, not only for Jesus to face the Cross, but also for His exaltation!
As Jesus had spoken three times prior in this chapter, vs. 22, 31, 44, He needed to go to Jerusalem and suffer for our sins. This passage uses an idiom, STERIZO AUTOS PROPSOPON that means to “set firmly His face,” which means “have a determination to do something,” as it is translated here. What Jesus was determined to do was “go to Jerusalem,” HIEROUSALEM, Ἱερουσαλήμ; the place of the fulfillment of God’s Plan for His life. It indicates the courage and determination of Jesus to complete His mission, cf. Num 24:1; Isa 50:7; Ezek 21:2-3. Therefore, Jesus was determined to fulfill God’s plan for His life, just as we should be every day!
Luke 9:52, “And He sent messengers
on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him.”
In the Greek, it says “he sent messengers before his face,” using PROSOPON again meaning “He sent messengers beforehand to the place of His determination.”
On their way from Galilee to Jerusalem, they would pass through Samaria and needed lodging for the night.
The “Samaritan village,” SAMAREITES, Σαμαρείτης, KOME, κώμη, is the designation for a member of an ethnoreligious group that seems to have originated sometime during the Persian occupation of Palestine. They were part Jew and part Gentile. This group continues in existence, in very limited numbers, to the present. They were composed of a mixture of native Israelites, probably of the lower socioeconomic groups who were not deported at the time of the Assyrian deportation, and foreign colonists who had settled into the area. According to Jewish tradition, the Samaritans were descended from the colonists brought into Israel by the Assyrian king Shalmaneser following the conquest of the northern tribes and the deportation of their populations, cf. 2 Kings 17. The Samaritans, however, claimed to be the legitimate descendants of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, since only a small portion of the population was actually deported. The historical reality is probably somewhere between these two traditions.
Over the years there was great tension between the Jews and the Samaritans, and their claims of legitimacy especially in regard to the religion of Israel. As such, the Samaritans opposed the reconstruction of the temple in Jerusalem by the Jews, who returned from the Babylonian captivity, about 538 B.C.; cf. Ezra 4. The Samaritans themselves constructed a temple on Mount Gerizim around the time of Alexander the Great, about 332 B.C. This Samaritan temple was destroyed by the Maccabean ruler John Hyrcanus, about 128 B.C. Later, the Samaritans defiled the Jerusalem temple by scattering human bones within it, about A.D. 6–9. See Josephus Antiquities 18.2.2. See also John 4:20, for the debate about the placement of the true Temple.
Related to the issue of temple worship was the rejection by the Samaritans of all the books of the Old Testament except the Pentateuch. They argued that the Prophets and the Writings (as divisions of the Jewish canon) supported the “apostate” temple worship in Jerusalem. Thus, their messianic expectations, cf. John 4:25, were based on the “prophet like Moses” in Deut 18:15-19, rather than a view of the Messiah as a “Son of David.”
Josephus tells us that Samaritans were not unwilling to ill-treat pilgrims going up to Jerusalem, even to the extent of murdering them on occasion, (Wars of the Jews 2.232; [Morris, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, 3:196]). The Jews, John 8:31, used the name Samaritan as a term of derision against Jesus and associated it with demonic possession, John 8:48, and the prejudices of the Samaritans are evidenced in Luke 9:52f., where they denied hospitality to Jesus because He was in route to the Jerusalem temple. Therefore, it did not help that Jesus was not only a Jew, but He was also on His way to Jerusalem, a place that Samaritans refused to acknowledge as the true center of worship.
Nevertheless, the most “positive” attitudes toward the Samaritans are found in Luke–Acts. Luke recorded Jesus’ rebuke of the disciples’ hatred for the Samaritans in our passages, and used Samaritans as positive examples, e.g., the “Good Samaritan” of Luke 10:25-37 and the one “thankful leper” of Luke 17:11-19. The Samaritans also played an important transitional role in the spread of the gospel among all people: Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” This was partly fulfilled in Acts 8:25. In addition, we see the demoniac of the Gerasenes witnessing to his own people who would later receive Jesus’ teaching. Compare the use of the word SAMAREITES in our verse and Mat 10:5; Luke 10:33; 17:16; John 4:9, 39-40; 8:48; Acts 8:25.
Luke 9:53, “But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem.”
This is tribalism at its best. As noted above, the Jews and Samaritans were always bias towards each other. They were tribal. The Samaritans in this village, thought that Jesus was demonstrating prejudice towards them because He was not trying to secure lodging so that He could stay and preach to them, but only to sleep there while He was on His was to Jerusalem. They felt slighted by Jesus in this case, so they did not allow His disciples to secure lodging for them in that village.
Prejudice has many preconceived notions about people; how they act, how they think, what their intentions or motives are, etc. Many times our preconceived notions about people turn out to be false, with the result that we have mistreated them, when we thought they would mistreat us.
Luke 9:54, “When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?””
This is tribalism at its worst. Here, the two sons of Zebedee, part of Jesus’ most intimate inner circle, wanted to destroy the Samaritan’s in this village because of their prejudice towards Jesus and the disciples, and their refusal to allow them to lodge there. Their request of Jesus to “command fire to come down from heaven and consume them,” may be the reason Jesus nicknamed them “Boanerges” that means, “The sons of thunder,” HUIOS BRONTE, Mark 3:17. BOANERGES is a Hebrew word from BEN, “son,” and REGESH, “thunder.”
The word “consume,” is the Verb ANALISKO, ἀναλίσκω that means, “consume or destroy,” and is only used three time in the NT, here, Gal 5:15; 2 Thes 2:8. In 2 Thessalonians, Jesus will destroy the Anti-Christ at the end of the Tribulation. In Galatians, it refers to destroying each other because of our words.
The principle that we have is that tribalism merely aggravates and inconveniences when it exists by itself (as in the case of the Samaritans), but when you add power and anger to tribalism, a destructive potential results (as in James and John).
In our passage, it is a request to literally destroy these people, just as Elijah destroyed two companies of soldiers sent to retrieve him by the King of Northern Israel, Ahaziah who was injured in Samaria and seeking an oracle from the pagan god Baal-Zebub, 2 Kings 1:1-16. That is a scene that must have been well known to any devout Jews who read or heard the Scriptures with regularity. Because of the similarity to Elijah’s encounter and that the narrative of the Transfiguration, which included Elijah, was just noted, some later manuscripts added to vs. 54, “just as Elijah did?” This is found in the KJV, ISV, and others.
Baal par excellence, was the name of an ancient pagan god that was wide spread throughout the ancient Near East. The Ugaritic texts speak of him as “the god of storm and fertility,” who appears in different local manifestations and nuances. (Here you see a link to the nicknames of John and James). These local manifestations are revealed in the names of Baal that contain geographical or other elements. For example, Baal-Peor, Baal-Berith, and Baal-Zebub are titles of the god Baal. In addition to these three titles of Baal, the name “Baal” frequently occurs in other geographical names: Baal-Gad, Baal-Hamon, Baal-Hazor, Baal-Hermon, Baal-Meon, Baal-Perazim, Baal-Shalishah, Baal-Tamar, Baal-Zaphon, Bamoth-Baal, and Kiriath-Baal. As far as history of religion is concerned, very little is to be learned from these place names; but this list shows how widespread the Baal cult was in Palestine.
Baal-Peor, Num 25:3, 5, Duet 4:3; Hosea. 9:10; Psa 106:28, was worshipped on the mountain of Peor in Moab east of the Dead Sea. His cult was characterized by sacral prostitution and by eating a sacrificial meal, by means of which an intimate relationship was established between the god and his worshippers. This Baal was worshipped in a sanctuary, as is clear from the expression beth peʿor, “house (temple) of Peor,” Duet 3:29; 4:46; 34:6; Joshua 13:20. The location of this sanctuary has not yet been determined.
Baal-Berith, Judges 8:33; 9:4, is the god of Shechem. Judges 9:46, speaks of him, but it is questionable whether this god is to be identified with Baal-Berith or whether we are to assume that there were two gods with two temples in Shechem. Judges 8:33, says that this Baal was a Canaanite god. This is supported by Judges 9:27, which speaks of a thanksgiving festival in the sanctuary of the god after the grape gathering. Thus Baal-Berith was certainly also a god of vegetation and a local manifestation of the Baal par excellence.
Baal-Zebub is mentioned as the god of the Philistine city of Ekron, 2 Kings 1:2f., 6, 16. The only discernible function of this deity given to us in the Bible is that of giving advice and help in cases of illness or injury. Baal-Zebub means, “lord of the flies,” and is probably a deliberate distortion of BʿL ZBL or ZBL BʿL. Since Baal-Zebub means “lord of flies,” interpreters believe that “flies” may involve a mocking alteration of ZEBUL, that means, “prince, high place, or dais.” Some earlier Jewish literature, including the OT, corrupts the name to Baal + Zebub, which turned the name into a taunt: “lord of the flies.” In addition, in Ugaritic literature, Baal is referred to as a prince. In the NT “Beelzebub” is called “the prince of the devils.”
Beelzebul was a Philistine deity. The name is a combination of Baal, “lord” or “master,” and Zebul, “of the height or of the house.” This Philistine deity was primarily worshiped in the town of Ekron. And, as we have noted in 2 Kings 1, one of Israel’s kings, Ahaziah, fell ill and sent messengers to that city to “inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I will recover from this sickness,” 2 Kings 1:2. They were turned back by Elijah, and because the king did not acknowledge the God of Israel, he died of his illness rather than receive the healing that could have been his by faith, 2 Kings 1:16-17.
Finally, Jesus was mocked by the Jews for exorcising demons and was said to be possessed by Baal-Zebub, (Beelzebul) cf. Mat 10:25; 12:24, 27; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15, 18-19.
Tribalism coupled with revenge motivation wants to destroy people. Love wants to heal and save people. Here we are reminded of James 1:20, “For the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”
Luke 9:55, “But He turned and rebuked them, [and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of, 56for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”] And they went on to another village.”
The brackets on the second half of vs. 55, and first half of vs. 56, indicate that early and reliable manuscripts do not include this portion. So, we cannot say what actual words where in Jesus’ rebuke, but only that He did rebuke them, which means He firmly and adamantly disagreed with their request and scolded them for suggesting such a thing. Even though the part of this addition that is found in vs. 56, is true and a nice sentiment, we cannot say this was Jesus’ rebuke of them. We can only say that He rebuked them for saying this and having this sentiment in their heart. John and James probably thought the Lord would be pleased by their zeal, but instead He rebuked them.
“Rebuke” is the Verb EPITIMAO, ἐπιτιμάω that means, “censure, warn, admonish,” which we have seen in Luke 4:35, 39, 41; 8:24; 9:21, 42. It is a strong word used in exorcisms of rebuking demons, and only here and in Mark 8:33; and parallels of rebuking disciples.
Mark 8:33, “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.”
The reason for Jesus’ rebuke of the “sons of thunder,” was because there should never be any talk such as this among Jesus’ followers. Disciples should not talk of revenge or violence.
It is interesting that in vs. 5, Jesus had previously instructed the disciples regarding what to do if someone did not receive them. Apparently John and James forgot that piece of doctrine, so Jesus reprimanded them of their sin.
The principle is:
“If people in the community reject Christ and us, we should not call for judgment. Judgment will come soon enough. That will be a great and terrible day. While it’s still day, our job is to announce the good news: there is a way to escape the coming judgment through repentance and faith in Christ.” (Christ-Centered Exposition – Exalting Jesus in Luke).
These Samaritans were not rejecting Jesus and His message, but simply Jews who were going to Jerusalem. And, as a result of the Samaritan’s rejection, Jesus shook the dust off His feet and they traveled to another village that did accept them, where we can assume it was also a Samaritan village where they spent the night. “The Lord turns us from pride to humility, from tribalism to cooperation, and from vengeance to mercy.”
Outline of Luke:
IV. The Repudiation of the Son of Man by Men, Luke 9:51-19:27.
B. Rejection by Worldly Men, Luke 9:57-62.
Topics of Chapter 9:
10. The half-hearted requests to follow Jesus, vs. 57-62.
In these passages, we have three examples of people who wanted to follow Jesus, yet the cares of this life and this world were more important to them than their relationship with Jesus Christ. The first two are paralleled in Mat 8:19-22, which in Matthew’s Gospel occurred after Jesus healed Peter’s mother and before He calmed the storm and the sea, which Luke noted in chapter 4:38-41 and chapter 8:22-25, respectively. In these three examples, Jesus called His disciples for unreserved sacrifice, undivided devotion, and unwavering commitment.
1) The first test, vs. 57-58. This is the test of leaving your physical comforts behind – unreserved sacrifice.
Luke 9:57, “As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go”.”
Jesus, with His face towards Jerusalem,
i.e., traveling to Jerusalem, encountered a seemingly zealous person. In Matthew’s account this “someone” is said to be one of the Scribes.
“I will follow you,” is the Future, Active, Indicative of the Verb AKOLOUTHEO, ἀκολουθέω that means, “follow, accompany, or to cleave steadfastly to one,” with the Pronoun SU, “you.” It is more than just a physical following here, but a mental/spiritual following too. It means, “to go the same way/path that Jesus is going,” both physically and spiritually, including following His mandates and Word, and worship, cf. Luke 5:11, 27-28; 7:9; 9:11, 23, 49.
Therefore, the man was willing to follow Jesus wherever He went. Yet, the idea is that of belonging to the close group of disciples who accompanied Jesus on His travels rather than to the wider group who were not called to be with him in this way. It was not unusual for “disciples,” i.e., students, to travel with their teacher in order to be instructed.
We especially noted APOLOUTHEO in vs. 23, where Jesus stated, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” This “denying of self,” means both the lust of the Old Sin Nature, (OSN) and the mental and physical things of this life inside of Satan’s cosmic system.
This gentleman also took it up a notch in his proclamation to follow Jesus, by saying, “wherever you go,” EAN HOPOU APERCHOMAI, in the Present, Middle, Subjunctive. This was a statement of an absolute following, using a type of 3rd Class “if” statement, without a “then” or apodosis statement.
It means future probability that is highly likely. Yet, from the next verse, we see that this did not occur, as the things of this world were more concerning to this man than his relationship with Jesus.
Luke 9:58, “And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
Although the Scribe appeared willing, Jesus’ reply indicates that he had not seriously considered what it would cost to follow Him, cf. Luke 14:28, “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?”
“Foxes have holes,” is the Noun ALOPEX, ἀλώπηξ with the Noun PHOLEOS φωλεός that means “den, burrow, or hole.” Both are only used for this narrative here and in Mat 8:20, and in Luke 13:32, where Jesus derisively calls Herod a fox.
“Birds of the air have nests,” uses the Noun PETEINON, πετεινόν with OURANOS that means, “heaven,” where we are talking about the 1st heaven, the sky/atmosphere, cf. Luke 8:5 with 2 Cor 12:2, and the Noun KATASKENOSIS, κατασκήνωσις that means, “a place to live, lodging, or a roost,” that too is only used here and Mat 8:20.
Jesus used the fox and the birds to illustrate to the disciples the extent of the demands placed on Him as the Son of Man and on His followers. He states that these lower creatures have earthly dwelling places that give them shelter and comfort, yet He does not, as He states, “but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” The Creator of the universe was homeless in His own creation. That is humility and sacrifice. He divested Himself of all the glories and privileges of heaven to enter creation homeless, Phil 2:6-7.
Phil 2:6-7, “Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but deprived Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”
To follow this Lord, means following Him into the very life He lives. As such, He is speaking of self-denial, sacrifice, and suffering!
“Lay,” is the Verb KLINO, κλίνω that means, “lay, bow (the head), fall (over), decline, or recline.” The NT uses the verb seven times (the number of spiritual perfection), Mat 8:20; Luke 9:12, 58; 24:5, 29; John 19:30; Heb 11:34. There are, however, 15 other words, (nouns, adjectives, and compounds), in the NT that come from this root. We noted this word in vs. 12, at the miraculous feeding of the 5,000, where it meant, “lodging.”
So, we see that Jesus did not have place to call “home,” with all the accompanying comforts that go along with that. Here, He is stating that to be His follower, you have to have the mentality that the comforts of this world, including your home, are not an issue in regard to following Him. You put Him first! Therefore, He is speaking of self-denial, sacrifice, and suffering, as this first man had clearly spoken out of impulse and not intelligence, (i.e., he did not think about what he was saying and what it would cost him).
It is striking to note that the one place where the Lord did “lay His head” was on the cross, John 19:30. This was the deliberate act of Jesus when He bowed His head for the final time and offered His spirit to the Father. Therefore, we see the “carry your own cross” tie in once again.
2) The second test, vs. 59-60. This is the test of leaving your family behind; a test in your relationship with God the Father – undivided devotion.
Luke 9:59, “And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father”.”
In this test, Jesus called / invited someone to “follow” Him, (just as we all are), which uses AKOLOUTHEO in the Present, Active, Imperative that can be viewed as a command. Yet, this person wanted Jesus to first “permit” him to “bury his father,” “Permit,” is the Verb EPITREPO, ἐπιτρέπω that means, “allow, permit, or give permission,” and is in the Aorist, Active, Imperative of Request from a subordinate to a superior. This man was requesting that Jesus allow him to “first go bury my father,” PROTON THAPTO HO PATER MOU.
Given the use of the Aorist tense in both “permit” and “bury,” this might not have been an immediate necessity due to his father’s recent death, but more on the lines of, “after my father dies, then I will follow you.” He was placing his relationship with his immediate family, his earthly father, as the first priority in his life, especially in priority over following Jesus. Remember how Levi (Matthew), Peter, Andrew, James, and John followed Jesus immediately and left all behind. Well, this man was looking for an unidentified extension of time.
Another thought is that this man was waiting until his father died to receive his inheritance, then he would follow Jesus to have some security rather than following Him poor. Therefore, whether this man was a devoted son, honoring his mother and father, Ex, 20:12; Deut 5:16, etc., or waiting for a pay day, these both remind us of Jesus’ teaching in Mat 10:37-38; Luke 14:26-27.
Mat 10:37-39, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”
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. 27Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
As Jesus was about to lay His head on the Cross, His “followers” need to lay their head on whatever their “cross” might be. When they do, they are true followers of Jesus.
Luke 9:60, “But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God”.”
This was Jesus’ response. It seems rather harsh and callous, but the point is striking. Think of what Jesus had on His mind as His face was pointed towards Jerusalem.
“Allow” is the Aorist, Active, Imperative for a command of the Verb APHIEMI, that means to “let go” with many other nuances including “pardon, remit, and forgive.” Here, it is the command to let “the dead bury the dead,” HO NEKROS THAPTO HO NEKROS. This is a dysphemism that correlates the physical dead with the spiritual dead.
To “follow” Jesus conveys faith in Him, which means you have a spiritual life as a born again believer. To not follow Jesus means you do not believe in Him and remain in your spiritually dead state. In other words, those who are preoccupied with God’s kingdom are alive; the rest of the world is in the sphere of death. So, to not follow Jesus in this case, is the spiritually dead burying the physically dead, who would rather stay home than go out to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God, as is stated next.
The alternative is to “go forth,” APERCHOMAI, “proclaiming everywhere,” DIANGELOO, “proclaim, declare, or announce everywhere,” extensively and publically, (which is only used here and Act 21:26; Rom 9:17), “the kingdom of God,” HO BASILEIA HO THEOS.
Rom 9:17, “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth”.”
This phrase means to work in the ministry with the spiritual gift God has given you, which is in fact “carrying your own cross.” Because we are all royal priests and royal ambassadors, whatever it is that God has given you to do with your gift and ministry, you will be “proclaiming everywhere the kingdom of God,” as a member of the body of Jesus Christ.
Because of our relationship to Jesus, as members of His body, and our relationship with God the Father, as His children, we are to be doing their work by witnessing and evangelizing, especially to those who are spiritually dead in this world.
Therefore, the point is not that those who follow Jesus are forbidden to attend funerals or attend to religious duties. Jesus was making a point by contrast. These are only secular affairs, which people, whose lives are entirely devoted to such affairs, can take care of without the help of those whose attention is commanded by God in the spiritual affairs of life. Besides, if this man had expressed positive volition to follow Jesus right then and there, Jesus might have compelled him to remain and take care of his temporal duties, as He did with the Gerasene man, Luke 8:38-39.
3) The third test, vs. 61-62. This is a test of leaving your place of comfort behind; the looking back to Egypt test – unwavering commitment.
Luke 9:61, “Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home”.”
This one is not paralleled in Matthew’s or Mark’s Gospels. Here, we have the third person, and the second to say they will “follow,” the Future, Active, Indicative of APOLOUTHEO, “the Lord,” KURIOS. But, he too had a priority stipulation; “First permit me to say good-bye to those at home,” PROTON EPITREPO APOTASSO, (“say farewell or good-bye,”) “to those at home,” HO EIS HO OIKOS MOU.
Luke also used APOTASSO in Luke 14:33, in the sense of “giving up something;” “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.” Jesus explained that the disciple must “give up” everything he has if he or she wants to truly follow Him. This “giving up” is either mentally, in priority less than Jesus, or physically, whichever is necessary to make it a lesser priority compared to Jesus. Yet, it is interesting that Jesus did not say the disciple must be “willing” to “renounce” everything; He said that person must “say good-bye to them,” that is giving it up!
This reminds us of 1 Kings 19:20-21, another of Luke’s recurring figures of Elijah, when he called Elisha to follow him, (using the Hebrew equivalent to AKOLOUTHEO, which is HALAKH). Elijah allowed Elisha to say goodbye to his family and then follow Elijah because he knew Elisha’s true heart, as noted in that narrative; one that placed God in first priority. Jesus then was saying in effect to this potential disciple, “I wish you had the heart of Elisha in asking to say good-bye to your people at home.” He wanted from His disciples unwavering commitment, declaring that anything less would make for a bad “fit.”
So, these are not hard fast principles, but are shown to identify what is in a man’s heart. Like Elisha, if someone has a heart for God, His will, and His plan for their lives, then saying goodbye is ok. But, if a man’s heart puts family and things before God, then the desire to say goodbye shows that, and he will not be a true and faithful follower of Jesus / God, cf. once again, Mat 10:37-39; Luke 14:26-27.
“Anyone not completely committed to the cause of the kingdom would never find a home in it. In fact, the demands of citizenship will chafe uncommitted shoulders like an ill-fitting yoke.” (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary)
Luke 9:62, “But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Jesus then gave another parable-like response to this man’s request. In fact, it is a Semitic idiom. It has the idea of beginning some activity requiring close attention, but then changing your mind about proceeding. That is, to start to do something and then to hesitate, or to begin but have second thoughts. This is the looking back to Egypt principle.
“Plow,” is the Noun AROTRON, ἄροτρον that is only used here in the NT; an hapaxlegomena. It is used for the disciple who must renounce his own will, Mat 10:38, and studiously avoid the temptation to return to the things that he renounced to follow Christ, Luke 2:49; 17:31. It also reminds us of how Elijah found Elisha in 1 Kings 19: “Plowing a field.”
In regard to the 2nd half of the Tribulation and the 2nd Advent of our Lord, Luke 17:31-33 says, “On that day, (the desolation of abomination; the antichrist defiling the Temple in Jerusalem), the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must not go down to take them out; and likewise the one who is in the field must not turn back. 32Remember Lot’s wife. 33Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”
The Oriental house had a flat roof which was accessible from the outside as well as from within the house. The housetop was used for fellowship and for sleeping during the hot season. Because of the dangerous nature of this period of time, the people are warned to flee from the housetop and from the fields without returning to their houses for their valuables. The attempt to retain one’s possessions would encumber and slow down one’s flight.
“Jesus applied the illustrations in a familiar way. One can cling to only one kind of “life.” The life of this world, defined by the pursuit of “wealth” (16:13), will result in eternal, spiritual death. Life in the kingdom demands putting to death any desire for “wealth.” We must not become like Lot’s wife when it comes to preserving our earthly comforts. We must move toward the kingdom with haste, as though the world were on fire. It soon will be.” (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary.)
As such, the third man’s heart was divided, he was “double minded,” cf. James 1:7-8; 4:7-8. Therefore, like the rebellious Israelites, Ex 16:3; Num 20:5, and Lot’s wife, Gen 19:17, 26, we must not look back desirably to our former life, thinking things were better then, 1 Kings 18:21. Instead we are to look forward and upward to the new life we have in Christ, as we walk with and serve God daily. Therefore, the correct attitude is that of Paul’s in Phil 3:13-16.
Phil 3:13, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; 16 however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.”
Each of these is a failure to commit to Christ at the cost of comfort. Our desire for comfort and security often hinders our obedience to the Great Commission. This is the real life example of the seed sown on hard-packed, rocky, and thorny soils, symbols for how the Word of God is “choked with worries, riches, and pleasures of life, and produce no mature fruit,” Luke 8:14. A lot of people find it difficult to follow Jesus because they love the world, and security many times smothers sacrifice. Yet, we need to have a sacrificial attitude because time is short, hell is real, and souls are at stake. So, do not let the fuzzy, conflicted, wishy-washy priorities of life and others distract you from your own mission in Christ. Keep going forward in your walk with Him.
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If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:
#19-132 & 19-133 & 19-134
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A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us.
Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life.
So right now, you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ,
died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!