Gospel of Luke
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:
6. The casting out of another demon, vs. 37-43a. This is a lesson on the refinement of faith. This scene is paralleled in Mat 17:14-18; Mark 9:14-27.
In Matthew and Mark, there is an added teaching from Jesus about faith with the analogy of faith the size of a mustard seed, Mat 17:19-21, (vs. 21, is not in the earliest and most reliable manuscripts, but is part of Mark 9:29). Mark gives the greatest detail about this scene.
Luke 9:37, “On the next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met Him.”
After the Transfiguration, which probably happened at night, on the “next day,” HEXES HEMERA, Jesus, Peter, John, and James “came down from the mountain” and were greeted by the large crowd once again.
What a contrast this must have been for all four men, as they saw the radiant glory of the Kingdom of God in all its perfection to now be descending into sickness, sin, and unbelief among the worldly people in Satan’s cosmic system.
Luke 9:38, “And a man from the crowd shouted, saying, “Teacher, I beg You to look at my son, for he is my only boy.”
Like several other scenes we have noted in Luke’s Gospels, Luke 8:42 for example, this boy is this man’s only begotten son, MONOGENES HUIOS, which is a type of Jesus who is God the Father’s only Son, John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9.
This man, “cried out,” which is the Verb BOAO, βοάω, “shout, cry out, or appeal to.” It has the sense of crying out for help here, as does “I beg you,” that uses DEOMAI, “beg, pray, beseech, request.” It was a frantic emotional appeal to Jesus for help; a form of petitionary intercessory prayer.
This man wanted Jesus to “look at,” EPIBLEPO his son, which reminds us of Moses’ healing in the wilderness regarding the poisonous serpents. In that scene, the people had to look at the standard of the Bronze Serpent to be healed, Num 21:6-9.
Num 21:9, “And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.”
In Luke’s scene, this man wanted Jesus to “look at” His son, which is a reversal of priorities for the faithful. The faithful will look to Jesus and His Word to be saved, rather than wanting Jesus to look at them. It is a subtle but strikingly important difference when it comes to salvation and the faith-rest life of the believer. Jesus used this imagery when speaking to Nicodemus in John 3:14-15, which is a type of the Cross that Jesus would be lifted up onto. Anyone who “looks at” (i.e., believes in), the Cross of Jesus Christ will be saved. In addition, for the believer, we look back to the Cross for the experiential forgiveness of our sins in applying 1 John 1:9.
John 3:14-15, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” Cf. John 8:28-30; 12:32-36.
Most people want God to take note of their situation and plight and do something about it. They want God to come to them! But, greater faith is found in the one who takes note of God and His Word and therefore knows how God applies it to their situation and plight. They go to God, rather than demanding that He come to them!
This, coupled with addressing Jesus as “Teacher,” DIDASKALOS, rather than Lord, shows a subtle lack of faith in the person of Jesus Christ. Certainly this man knew Jesus could heal, and believed that He could, but did he have true faith in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior?
Luke 9:39, “And a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly screams, and it throws him into a convulsion with foaming at the mouth; and only with difficulty does it leave him, mauling him as it leaves.”
This is the description of what this possessing demon would do to the boy. Here, this man calls it a “spirit,” PNEUMA.
- It seizes or “takes possession” of him, LAMBANO.
- It causes him to “suddenly scream out,” EXAIPHNES, “suddenly or unexpectedly,” with KRAZO, “call or cry out, scream.”
- It “throws him into convulsions,” SPARASSO, σπαράσσω, “to tear, convulse, throw into a (violent) spasm.”
- It causes him to “foam at the mouth,” APHROS, “foam or froth,” only used here in the NT. It is a medical term to describe the condition of an epileptic, cf. Mark 9:18-20.
And, when it would “leave him,” APOCHOREO, it was with “difficulty,” MOGIS or MOLIS, “with difficulty, hardly, or with toil,” which also means it did not happen that often, and it would “maul or bruise him,” SUNTRIBO, “break, shatter, beat, or bruise.”
Combined, it means that the demon would cause severe physical harm to this boy causing him great pain. Luke, being a physician himself, uses many medical terms that appear like someone with epilepsy experiencing an epileptic seizure
The father calls it a lunatic illness, Mat 17:15, SELENIAZOMAI, σεληνιάζομαι meaning, “to be epileptic, or a lunatic,” saying the boy has lost his mind. But this was no common illness or mental disorder, it was demonic possession
Luke 9:40, “I begged Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not.”
This man had “begged,” or petitioned, DEOMAI, the “disciples,” MATHETES, “to cast out,” EKBALLO, this demon, yet “they could not,” OUK DUNAMAI, which suggests they did not have the power to do so. The father asking the disciples to cast out this demon probably occurred during their first missionary expedition noted in vs. 1-6.
It is interesting that Jesus gave them “power and authority,” DUNAMIS and EXOUSIA, over all the demons during their mission, but here we see they could not cast out this demon. Does this mean that Jesus did not give them the sufficient power to overcome this demon? No! It shows the lack of faith the disciples had in trying to exercise this demon, which Jesus will reprimand them later about according to Mat 17:19-20; Mark 9:28-29.
Mark 9:28-29, “When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, “Why could we not drive it out?” 29And He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer”.”
Mark makes is seem like a subtle thing, which it is, but something that was not the fault of the disciples, although it was. Apparently this kind of demon is only exorcised when accompanied with prayer, which the disciples must not have done. Instead, they tried to use the power they had to exorcise it, forgetting that that power was from God and not themselves. This point is made in Matthew’s account.
Mat 17:19-20, “Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” 20And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you”.”
Matthew does not mention prayer in his account, although later manuscripts added vs. 21, to give us the context. But when comparing Matthew with Mark and Luke, we see the whole story and the lack of faith in the disciples’ first mission when they did not pray to God the Father in the work that they wanted to perform. Therefore, we see that faith and prayer go hand-in-hand, (notice the pun), and without both, we do not have the all-powerful faith God has provided for us.
This scene is also similar to 2 King 4:29-37, when Elisha had his servant named Gehazi go to a Shunammite woman’s house to heal / raise her son. Gehazi, though following Elisha’s instructions, was not able to heal / raise the boy. Yet, when Elisha came, he prayed to God first and then raised the boy, vs. 33, and gave him back to her.
Therefore, in order to have the faith life God has designed and desires for us all to have, we first must believe that God can do something, (He has the all sufficient power to do it), and then ask Him to do it, (pray to Him in petition for the need or thing to be accomplished); believing He will and can do. This means we recognize the source of the power in our faith, God the Father! And, we do not put ourselves and our power in the lead.
So, we see two subtle examples of lacking faith; first in the boy’s father and then in the disciples. Both are given as object lessons for us to learn from by their mistakes, as I am sure they did too.
In fact, this was the lesson for the boy’s father in Mark 9:22-24, when he asked Jesus to help the boy saying, “But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” Even though this is a first class “if,” meaning “if and you can,” the fact that he states it in any “if” statement brings a hint of doubt in this man’s mind, as subtle as it may be.
Mark 9:23-24, “And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ (notice the indignation in Jesus’ tone), All things are possible to him who believes.” 24Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief”.”
The boy’s father learned greater faith that day!
Luke 9:41, “And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you and put up with you? Bring your son here”.”
With the greater context of Matthew and Mark, using the example of the boy’s father and the disciples, we better understand Jesus’ response of disappointment, discouragement, and despair to the overall crowd. He addresses the entire “generation,” GENEA, “generation, offspring, family, race, or kind,” meaning first the people of Israel alive at that time, and secondly that era of people.
Notice also that this scene is in contrast to the great faith demonstrated by the Gentile Centurion in Luke 7:1-10.
Luke 7:9, “Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith”.”
Yet, here the people are “unbelieving,” which is the Adjective APISTOS, ἄπιστος that means, “unbelieving, unbeliever, unfaithful, faithless, incredulous, or incredible (not in the good sense).” Therefore, our Lord rebukes them for their lack of faith.
With this, He also calls them “perverted,” using the Verb DIASTREPHO διαστρέφω that means, “perverted, turned away, seduced, opposed, or corrupted.” Luke and Matthew’s reading of “perverse” may echo Deut 32:5, 20. In classical Greek, it was used as a technical term that acquired moral overtones. According to the ethical system of ancient Stoics, “The nature of man, which is originally good and oriented to the good, is ‘twisted’ (DIASTREPHETAI) by bad teaching and example, and by environmental influences of all kinds.” Yet, we know that sin is within man, and this is that which perverts or corrupts his thinking away from God in unbelief.
In His rebuke, Jesus proclaims “how much longer shall I be with you,” showing the strain on His patience, especially after teaching and performing miracles over and over again, yet seeing much unbelief. In addition, this goes with several discussions He has had about going to Jerusalem and being lifted up. It will not be much longer now.
In addition He states, “and put up with you?” This statement uses, the Verb ANECHOMAI, ἀνέχομαι that means, “to bear with, endure, forbear, tolerate, receive, accept, or to have patience with.” This is used in all three synoptic gospels. As the Complete Biblical Library states, “After His meeting with the perfected, holy ones from heaven—Moses and Elijah—the contrast must have been so great that Jesus may have felt a deep reluctance to deal with these difficult and unbelieving men. Having to deal with difficult and unbelieving men was a tribulation so heavy that Jesus found it almost unbearable.” (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary.)
Yet, in compassion, grace, and love, Jesus commands the boy’s father to “bring your son here,” that uses the Aorist, Active, Imperative of the Verb PROSAGO, προσάγω that means “bring toward, lead to, come near, or approach.” This word is used only four times in the NT, first here in Luke 9:41; then in Acts 16:20; 27:27; and 1 Peter 3:18.
Interestingly, in Classical Greek, it frequently embodied mostly cultic overtones with the sacrificial sense of “offering.” The worshiper would therefore bring the sacrifice to or before the deity, approaching it in reverence. This act in itself was part of the offering ritual whether the sacrifice was live or inanimate.
It also reminds us of Abraham bringing his only son Isaac before the Lord at His command for sacrifice in Gen 22:1-14. Because of Abraham’s great faith, God abundantly blessed him, vs. 15-18. This was a type of God the Father sacrificing His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, as noted in 1 Peter 3:18, where PROSAGO is also used.
1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.”
Luke 9:42, “While he was still approaching, the demon slammed him to the ground and threw him into a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the boy and gave him back to his father.”
In rebellion, the “demon,” DAIMONION, was not done abusing this boy, and in one final battering it “slammed” Him to the ground, which uses the Verb RHEGNUMI, ῥήγνυμι that means, “break, throw down, or dash to the ground,” that we noted in Luke 5:37, regarding putting new wine into old wineskins, cf. Mat 9:17; Mark 2:22; 9:18. Jesus was about to make this boy new, and needed to get the old demon out of him.
So, the demon threw him into a “convulsion,” the Verb SUSPARASSO, συσπαράσσω that means, “cause one to shake or convulse violently, throw into a fit.” It is only used here and Mark 9:20, for this scene. Its root word SPARASSO, “to tear, convulse, throw into a (violent) spasm,” was used in vs. 39. So SUSPARASSO is used for even more intensity in the type of convulsion or spasm the demon threw this boy into. Luke’s medical background once again provides vivid details of the physical effects of demonic possession in this instance.
Then, Jesus, “rebuked,” EPITIMAO, “rebuke, censure, warn, admonish,” which means to sharply reprimand someone expressing disapproval, cf. Luke 4:35, 39, 41; 8:24; 9:21, the “unclean spirit,” AKATHARTOS PNEUMA, cf. Luke 4:33; 8:29, and “healed,” IAOMAI, “healed, cured, restored,” cf. Luke 4:18; 5:17; 6:18, 19; 7:7; 8:47; 9:2, 11, the “boy,” PAIS.
Then Jesus, “gave him back to his father,” APODIDOMI AUTOS HO PATER AUTOS, which completes the analogy of Abraham and Isaac, as God gave Abraham back his son Isaac, just as God the Father received back His Son Jesus Christ in resurrection and ascension, after Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins.
Luke 9:43, “And they were all amazed at the greatness of God. But while everyone was marveling at all that He was doing, He said to His disciples.”
As a result of this event, the people “were all amazed,” EKPLESSO, ἐκπλήσσω that means, “be amazed, overwhelmed, or strike with astonishment.” It is the word used in reference to the activities of Jesus and the effect it had on those who observed and heard Him, cf. Luke 2:48; 4:32.
“Greatness,” is the Noun MEGALEIOTES, μεγαλειότης that means, “greatness, grandeur, magnificence, or majesty,” with HO THEOS, “of God.” Thus, the manifestation of great power displayed by Jesus so overwhelmed / amazed the crowd that they knew it was an act of God.
MEGALEIOTES is only used here and Acts 19:27, and in 2 Peter 1:16 for Peter recalling the Transfiguration and proclaiming the majesty of Jesus Christ in that scene.
2 Peter 1:16, “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.”
Therefore, this praise is similar to what the demon possessed man of the country of the Gerasenes did when he was healed by Jesus, Luke 8:39. As such, Luke ends this healing scene with the people praising God’s majesty as revealed through the works of Jesus.
In addition, it is also important to note that Jesus did not attract attention to Himself, but, as we see from Luke’s description, brought glory to God the Father.
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:
7. The prediction of His crucifixion, vs. 43b-45. This is paralleled in Mat 17:22-23; Mark 9:30-32.
In the second half of vs. 43, and through vs. 45, Jesus tells His disciples a second time He was going to be “delivered into the hands of men.” While the people “were marveling” at all the things that Jesus did, He turned to His disciples to renew His prediction of His Cross. The people saw a miracle, but Jesus wanted His disciples to see the Cross.
Luke 9:43b, “…But while everyone was marveling at all that He was doing, He said to His disciples.”
In addition to “being amazed,” “all were marveling,” which is the other word Luke uses for people’s astonishment or amazement that is THAUMAZO, “wonder, admire, be astonished, and be amazed,” cf. Luke 1:21, 63; 2:18, 33; 4:22; 7:9; 8:25, regarding peoples’ reaction to Jesus and His works; “at all that He was doing,” just as we should in our lives every day.
As Jesus, turned to tell them about His suffering, He wanted to equate the “majesty of God” that astonished and amazed the people, would also be seen in His crucifixion. Not only was Jesus here to heal and cure from illness and possession, but He was here to suffer and die, and be raised again! This was His ultimate course or purpose that went beyond miracles.
Luke 9:44, “Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.”
“Let these words sink into your ears” is literally “place these words into your ears,” using TITHEMI, “to put, set, place, or lay down,” in the Aorist, Middle, Imperative. It is an idiom that means, “learn well and remember what I am about to tell you.”
“Son of Man,” HUIOS ANTHROPOS, is used for the 7th time in Luke’s Gospel, out of 26 times he uses it in his Gospel. It is a favorite title for the Messiah that emphasizes His identity with humanity.
“Is going to be,” is stated a little more urgently in the Greek that uses the Present, Active, Indicative of the Verb MELLO that means, “is about to be, is intended, is purposed, etc.” BDAG states, “to be inevitable, be destined, or inevitable,” an action that follows a Divine decree
“Delivered up,” which is the Present, Middle, Infinitive of the Verb PARADIDOMI, παραδίδωμι that means, “handed over or deliver up,” into the hands of men,” EIS CHEIRAS ANTHROPOS. PARADIDOMI has two predominant uses. The first is “to transfer responsibility,” Luke 1:2; 10:22; 12:58; 23:25.
Luke 23:25, “And he released the man they were asking for who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, but he delivered Jesus to their will.”
The second is “to betray,” Luke 21:16; 22:4, 6, 21-22, 48.
Luke 22:48, “But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?””
Jesus will be handed over in both senses of the word. First, God will hand Him over to men, who will not receive Him as their king but unjustly condemn Him to death. In the process, He will secondly be betrayed by Judas and delivered to the Sanhedrin, who will hand Him over to the Romans, who will then try to give responsibility to another, (i.e., Herod), but will eventually hand Him over to the executioners. In other words, Jesus is destined to be delivered into the hands of men; He is going to be arrested, suffer, and die.
Therefore, once again Jesus is stating His mission and purpose for going to Jerusalem, as He told His disciples in Luke 9:22, and had the discussion with Moses and Elijah, (that Peter, James, and John overheard), during the Transfiguration, vs. 30-31. “So far, every confrontation with evil had resulted in an easy victory for Jesus; soon, He would begin a journey to confront evil in a fight to the death—His own death.” (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary)
Luke 9:45, “But they did not understand this statement, and it was concealed from them so that they would not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this statement.”
“But they did not understand,” uses the Imperfect, Active, Indicative of the Verb AGNOEO, ἀγνοέω that means they continue to, “not know, be ignorant, not understand, ignored, or disregarded.” As we have noted previously, the disciples did not understand what Jesus had to accomplish, until after He accomplished it.
Luke then says they did not understand because, “it was concealed from them,” that uses the Perfect, Middle, Participle of the Verb PARAKALUPTO, παρακαλύπτω that means, “cover beside, conceal, hide, or veil.” This word is only used here in the NT. In classical Greek PARAKALUPTO is used literally to mean, “cover by hanging something beside” and therefore, “cloak, disguise, or conceal.” In other words, their spiritual minds were unable to comprehend this truth because they shared the common Jewish viewpoint that saw the Messiah only as the coming King. As a result, they saw Jesus in that sense only and His lessons about suffering and dying were “concealed” or “hidden” from them.
Luke states it in a way that looks like it was not their fault, as this was done, “so that they would not perceive it,” that uses the Aorist, Middle, Subjunctive of the Verb AISTHANOMAI, αἰσθάνομαι that means, “understand or perceive.” This word is also only used here in the NT. It refers to perception or intellectual understanding. Yet, this word implicates a lack of wisdom and insight that would have enabled them to perceive adequately what Jesus was saying in advance of its occurrence, given the plain warnings of Jesus. But instead, they continued to remain spiritually dense and confused.
We also see that “they were afraid (the Imperfect of PHOBEO) to ask Him about this statement.” Why did they not ask Jesus about this statement?
- They did not want to reveal their ignorance. Given their discussions about who is greater in the next verse, if they asked about this that would reveal their lacking.
- They did not want to hear any bad news.
- They did not want to lose Jesus.
- They did not want to lose the Kingdom come, which is the most probable.
Matthew and Mark are not so gentle with the disciples’ lack of perception here.
Mat 17:22-23, “And while they were gathering together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; 23and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.” And they were deeply grieved.”
In Matthew’s account, they also were told about His resurrection, yet they still were “deeply grieved,” SPHODROS, “greatly or exceedingly,” with LUPEO, λυπέω, “grieve, distress, sorrow, pain (someone), mourn, be sorrowful, or sad.” Their emotions took over because of their perceived loss of Jesus.
Mark 9:30-32, “From there they went out and began to go through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know about it. 31For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” 32But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.”
Mark, like Luke uses the Imperfect, Active, Indicative of AGNOEO and PHOBEO, but does not say it was “concealed from them.” Therefore, like Matthew, he places the ignorance on the shoulders of the disciples in their lack of understanding, and that their emotions were running too high, so that they did not fully comprehend what Jesus was saying to them, and that they did not want to believe it because it meant they would lose Him, even though He said He would be raised on the third day.
Therefore, because of their emotional revolt of the soul, they were unable to comprehend and understand what Jesus was saying to them at this time. Their emotions ran so high that they did not even want to ask a follow up question for clarification from Jesus.
1. We must keep our emotions in check, so that we are able to learn, understand, and apply God’s Word in our lives. If we let our emotions control our soul, we will not be able to learn or apply God’s Word to the situations of life, especially in times of trials, tribulations, or disasters.
2. Sometimes we get to playing church and we are afraid to say we do not understand or know something with the result we do not ask questions. That is the mistake these disciples make. We should learn from their mistake. We should not be afraid of asking questions about God and His Word when we have them. It is by seeking the things we do not know that we come to know Jesus better, which is God’s goal and desire for us. In addition, we should ask God, in prayer, to get to know Him better, James 1:5-8.
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. This is paralleled in Mat 18:1-6, and Mark 9:33-37. Mark gives the greatest detail about this scene and bridges what Matthew and Luke tell. Luke also records that the disciples had this same argument after the Lord’s Supper in Luke 22:24-30. Cf. also Mark 10:35-37.
Luke 9:46, “An argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest.”
You would think that after the Transfiguration the disciples would be humbled and obedient to the Lord’s will. Yet, on the contrary, they became ambitious. They were thinking of the crown and ignored the Cross as they were arguing as to who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of God. They were desirous of vainglory. This is the warning of 1 John 2:16.
1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”
“Argument,” is the Noun DIALOGISMOS, διαλογισμός that means, “thought, inward reasoning, doubt, questioning.” In the language of the Greek philosophers it denoted, “verbal interaction and debate.” As such it was used for the process of deliberating, considering, reckoning, weighing, and discussing issues. So, it literally means, “to argue about differences of opinion.” In the NT, it is primarily used with a negative connotation where the inner life/thought causes both sinful and carnal motives.
This argument, coming right after Jesus once again proclaimed He would have to suffer in Jerusalem, must also have been taxing on His soul, as the disciples’ were unable to understand what Jesus was trying to teach them. As it appears, their attitude displayed immediately following His statement was one of self-centeredness, rather than mission; the mission of Christ.
Jesus was thinking about what He would have to endure and suffer on behalf of others; the disciples were arguing about which of them would have the highest rank in the kingdom. Can you imagine what Jesus was thinking at this time about them! Yet, Jesus kept on thinking of others, even as they were thinking of themselves.
Therefore, Jesus tried to put the thought life in proper perspective with this illustration of a child, who represents the principle that “he that is least among you is the greatest, (MEIZON, used in the superlative degree).” He was trying to drive home the thought life of humility that leads to service of others, as He had within His soul.
Luke 9:47, “But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side.”
“Jesus,” (IESOUS), “knew,” (OIDA), “their thinking,” (DIALOGISMOS, “thought, inward reasoning, doubt, or questioning), that came from their “heart,” (KARDIA). In other words, this was what was cycling through their soul at this time due to arrogance led by the OSN. Jesus again supernaturally perceived their thoughts.
To answer their question, which they did not present to Jesus but to each other, Jesus “took a child (PAIDION) and stood him by His side.” Jesus identified the child with Himself, and vice versa, in this action. He used the child for this object lesson to the disciples to rebuke them by embracing a child; someone too small, too weak, and too helpless to be great. The child was the lowliest member in the society, without power and authority. This reminds us of Jesus being born in a lowly state as a child born in a manger.
Luke 9:48, “And said to them, “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great”.”
Jesus’ response has two sections in this verse. The first has to do with our relationship with Jesus and the Father. The second has to do with our status in the Kingdom of God.
First, we have Jesus’ comparative response. In it, He uses the third class “if” statement, (HOS EAN and the Subjunctive Mood of DECHOMAI, “receive or accept”), that presents the condition of uncertainty of fulfillment but likely. In other words, maybe you will and maybe you will not.
To “receive” someone in the ancient Near Eastern world meant hospitality, to welcome as family, and to care for one’s needs. Therefore, to receive means, to treat like family.
To complete the “if statement,” the Protasis, He added “this child in My Name,” PAIDION EPI HO EGO ONOMA. Here, the child is the helpless stranger with a message. He is the messenger. And his message is “the name of Jesus,” which means the gospel and Word of God. Therefore, we have a helpless, humble messenger teaching the Word of God.
In addition, “in My name” links our motivation to His. To do something in someone else’s name is to act on his or her behalf. This is our service. To receive the helpless as Jesus would receive the helpless. In other words, we are to give the gospel to those who need it, having no expectation of reward.
Next, is the “then statement,” the Apodosis, “receives Me,” the Present, Middle, Indicative of DECHOMAI with EGO. Therefore, if we receive the message from the messenger we receive Jesus, that is, salvation, an eternal relationship with our Lord, including our union with Him. We receive Him and are part of His family!
Jesus then compounds it by using another third class “if,” with the premise of “receiving Him,” that has the “then statement” of “receives the one who sent (APOSTELLO) Him,” which we know is God the Father, the Sender of the messengers and message. This also means we get the Eternal One, and that we get heaven / the Kingdom of God. Therefore, if we receive the child (the message/Gospel), we get Jesus (salvation), when we get Jesus, we get the Father too, (Heaven / the Kingdom of God)!
As the child is received as a representative of Jesus, so Jesus is received as the representative of God the Father. This leads to what Jesus will teach in Luke 10:16.
“God sent Jesus to be the ultimate example of someone helping the helpless. Jesus receives humanity, welcoming sinners despite their sin and meeting the deepest needs of the least deserving. This practice essentially removes worthiness as a criterion for anything in the new kingdom. People are to be welcomed and served because of their relationship to the King, not because of their rank, power, or ability to benefit those who treat them nicely.” (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary.)
The Second lesson is regarding status in the Kingdom of God, i.e., heaven.
“For the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.”
“Least,” is the Adjective MIKROS that is used here in regard to a person’s status in the earthly realm compared to “great,” which is the Adjective MEGAS used here in regard to a person’s status in the Kingdom of God / Heaven. The term “least” has nothing to do with rank, talent, or importance but refers instead to the one most willing to humble himself in order to serve others, cf. Mark 9:35.
Mark 9:35, “Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all”.”
So the object lesson includes:
1) Children owe obedience and need discipline and instruction, just as the believer should and does.
2) Children are generally considered unimportant, inferior, and as having no status. This is the principle of having humility.
3) Whoever received a child in His name, is receiving Him.
4) Those things in the world that are considered unimportant or insignificant to the world are important to Him. 5) If they are important to Jesus, then they are important to God the Father.
6) We should receive those who have no status (in contrast to the disciples’ argument), as if they had the most status, i.e., those who are least are great!
7) If we humble ourselves in this life and serve one another, as Jesus did, we will be great in the eyes of God, and greatly rewarded in the eternal state.
Jesus makes a powerful point by putting this child at His side and saying, in effect, the least of persons in society are greater than you. It is a humbling thing. The attitude adjustment Jesus teaches His followers is to turn them from pride to humility. Given that they were arguing “who is the greatest,” tells us that they all had some degree of pride or arrogance within their soul. And, compared to what Jesus had just told them about His impending suffering in Jerusalem, this must have seemed quite childish in the Lord’s eye. Therefore, He uses a child to make His point.
In using the child, the Lord teaches why being like children makes you great in the kingdom. The logic is given to us, as the child is great because the child brings Jesus with him, i.e., “receive this child in My name.” “In my Name,” means the teaching of Jesus, the message of Jesus, the gospel of Jesus preached. Therefore, the child equates to the message of Christ, the Gospel.
And with the “if” statement it means, if we receive the child / the Gospel, we receive Jesus, i.e., salvation and union with Christ. Therefore, Jesus is telling them that the message, (the Gospel that gives us Jesus), is greater than the messenger (the Apostles). Even if the message comes from a little child, the Lord is offering Himself to the world in the message. Therefore, the Christ preached is greater than the preacher of Christ.
Why is that so great? It is because in receiving Jesus you also receive God the Father. Which is greater the child or God? Neither, because they are one and the same; the gospel, Jesus, the Father. For this reason the messenger is always lower than the message. The main thing is not the giver of the message, but God in the message.
We need to know this especially today when preachers, their gifts, and their platforms are so widely idolized and self-aggrandized. Knowing that the message is greater than the messenger keeps us from arguing about who the “great preachers” are. It keeps us from being like the Corinthians in 1 Cor 3:4-5.
We have to remember that the preachers serve the message, and the truly great preachers do not boast in their preaching ability or verbal prowess. The truly great preachers boast in the Lord! As such, there should be no famous preachers, only a famous Savior.
Therefore, the Lord checks our pride because the message will be lost in our arguing about who is “greatest.” If our argument continues unchecked, we will offer the world more of ourselves rather than more of Jesus. Unfortunately, sometimes fallen men love themselves too much and exalt Christ too little.
The King, the greatest of all leaders in the kingdom of God, is the One who made Himself the servant of all humanity, suffering our penalty for sin, receiving all who trust in Him, and giving us eternal life. Those who imitate the King share a measure of His kingly status. In the kingdom of God, we are to serve others as though they were kings. As the hierarchy has been inverted in the new kingdom, the true leaders act like servants. Therefore, the greatest saints are the unknown people in our churches who quietly and faithfully serve Him.
Matthew also adds a warning for not operating this way and causing some to stumble in Mat 18:6, “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Mark also does in Mark 9:42.
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.” (Christ-Centered Exposition)
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.