Reposted from Pastor McKinley
(62 verses, 7:43 to read)
What I am about to READ
- This chapter of Luke’s Gospel marks an important transition in the earthly ministry of our Lord Christ.
- Jesus sends out the the Apostles to preach the Gospel and heal the sick (vv. 1-6).
- A strange interlude, featuring King Herod, gives us the impression that there is much confusion about the person and work of Christ (vv. 7-9).
- Part of that confusion answered in the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 (vv. 10-17).
- Jesus further fleshes out His true identity as the Christ (vv.18-20).
- Following Peter’s confession, Jesus reveals the most striking feature of the office of Christ (vv. 21-22).
- In light of that revelation, Christ shows that Christians must also suffer the cross (vv. 23-27).
- The Transfiguration gives Peter, James, and John, further insight into who Christ is (vv. 28-36).
- Following the high of the Transfiguration, Jesus is plunged back into the battle with sin, death, and the devil (vv. 37-43a).
- Jesus makes another prediction of His death, almost as the second bookend to the Transfiguration (vv. 43b-45).
- The weakness of the disciples is on display as they argue who is the greatest among them (vv. 46-48).
- Jesus teaches how ecumenical relationships work for the benefit of the Church (vv. 49-50).
- Jesus is rejected by the Samaritans after having been rejected by his own people in chapter 4 (vv. 51-56).
- Finally, Jesus warns that following Him comes at no small cost to the disciple (vv. 57-62).
- Chapter 9 begins with a glimpse of how the Church’s mission would go after the Ascension of Christ into heaven. Even as all authority in heaven and on earth is given to Christ, He places men into an office established by His authority. All the apostles are able to accomplish is through the gifts Christ gives. They are to go without any provision for themselves but are to make their living from the Gospel (I Corinthians 9:14). This gave the Apostles the opportunity to see how their daily bread truly came from God’s hand. In turn, those who benefitted from the work of the Church were given the opportunity to support the preaching of the Gospel. Conversely, those who do not receive the message of the Gospel are to be left in the dust, so to speak, as a sign of the coming of God’s judgment against their unbelief. This helps us establish Christ’s identity as the Lord of the Church.
- Because the Christ’s ministry (and the Church’s ministry) are both public, there is confusion about them from those on the outside. Many different opinions about who Jesus is circulated in Israel. This shows us that we can also expect to have those outside of our congregations misunderstand what we say about Christ. Only through the faithful proclamation of the Word and the right administration of the Sacraments can we encounter Christ and learn His true identity.
- The feeding of the 5,000 as recorded by St. Luke unfolds Jesus’ identity further as the same God who provided manna in the wilderness to the sons of Israel.
- After these things, the disciples report to Jesus what people are saying about Him. Like with Herod, the average person has some confusion about Jesus’ identity. But Peter makes the confession that Jesus is the Christ of God. In Matthew’s record of this text (ch. 16), our Lord reveals that this is known to Peter by the Father. But how can this be? From the Scriptures, we learn that Jesus speaks on the Father’s behalf (John 12:49). Even more mysteriously, Jesus Himself is the Father’s Word Made Flesh (John 1). This means that through the Word Christ spoke–the Gospel of the kingdom of God (cf. Luke 9:2, 6, 11, for examples in this chapter alone!)–the Father showed Peter the true identity of Jesus. Again, this reminds that that we can only come to know the true Christ through the Word of God alone.
- Jesus is established as the Christ then through the Word (his teaching) and the miraculous signs He performs (John 10:37-38). But it’s clear that there is also confusion about what that means! Three times over the course of the Gospels does Jesus explicitly link the office of Christ to His impending suffering and death before actually going to the cross. In this chapter of Luke, these serve a few purposes. First, it helps the Peter and the Twelve fully understand what it means for Jesus to be the Christ of God (v. 20). Second, these two passion predictions serve as book ends for the Transfiguration (vv. 28-36). Though this affords us a picture of Christ in His glory, it is through His suffering that sinners come into contact with Christ. We, too, are joined to that suffering and death by our following Him in our Baptisms into His death (vv. 23-27 and 57-62). Even as Christ was raised from the dead, we, too, rise to live a new life (Romans 6).
- Now that we have unfolded the identity of Christ, we can also begin to see what implications this has for the Christian life. Our lives are marked by suffering, even as Christ’s life is marked by His suffering. This has been true to varying degrees throughout our world’s history, from the martyrs of the early Church to now. As those who have been marked as redeemed by Christ the crucified in Baptism and carry His Word into the world around us, we can expect to suffer for it. We can either give up our identity as Christians and forfeit our eternal lives in Him, or we can suffer in this life with Christ and receive eternal life in Him.
- The account of the Transfiguration gives three of the Apostles a glimpse at the glory that was Christ’s from eternity and would be again after His resurrection. The Father’s voice speaks again that Christ is the only-begotten Son of God, whose Word we should listen to. Peter later reflected on this event in II Peter 1, saying it was a confirmation of the truth of their witness, which was the basis for their preaching. Christianity, unlike any other religion, is grounded in historical fact. The location of the Transfiguration account here in this chapter also gives the Apostles a future glimpse of the glory awaits Christ on the other side of His suffering. Jesus’ suffering is the greatest salvation event in the history of the world, transcending even the glory of the Exodus. In the conversation between Moses, Elijah, and Jesus, the two events are linked. When they speak of Christ’s departure in v. 31, the Greek word used is Exodus.
- Upon coming down from the mountain, Jesus finds his disciples are engaged in an argument with the scribes (see Mark 9’s account of this event), because the disciples were unable to free a boy from demonic possession. This shows that Jesus came to do battle with the forces of spiritual darkness that hold all in captivity until Christ frees them by the power of His Word. Interestingly, the witnesses to the miraculous exorcism marvel at the majesty of God (v. 43).
- This is striking, coming right on the heels of the Transfiguration and Jesus’ next passion prediction. Where is the true majesty of God found? In the suffering of Jesus! Jesus tells the disciples to let the His Words about His suffering sink into their ears. But this is hidden from the disciples by God (notice the divine passive in v. 45), in order that the rejection of Christ might be complete.
- This leads to an argument among the disciples about who is the greatest. The way St. Mark lays this out in his Gospel, it’s apparent that this argument stems from the disciples inability to cast the demon out of the boy. With their collective pride now wounded, attempt to justify themselves by comparison with one another. However, like the disciples, we aren’t called to be holier than the next guy, we are called to be as holy as God Himself. Jesus demonstrates that He is the greatest by becoming the least in His service to mankind by His death.
- Masterfully (or so he thinks), the Apostle St. John tries a different tact in an attempt to justify himself by comparing himself to another exorcist who wasn’t in the company of the apostles. However, Jesus rebukes him again. This reminds us that there are members of the Visible Church (the Church we can observe here on earth) who are true Christians, even if they don’t belong to the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. Though we are not to ignore false teaching and practice, we can rejoice that Christ’s saving work has reached many.
- Verse 51 marks an important transition in Luke. Having accomplished one part of His earthly ministry, Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem, where He would accomplish what He has spent so much time talking about in this last chapter: His suffering and death. Having been rejected in His own hometown, the rejection of Jesus continues in the Samaritan village and will culminate in the final rejection of Jesus at the cross. Notice Jesus’ mercy toward the Samaritans, withholding final judgment until the last day. As St. Peter reminds us, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (II Peter 3).
- Finally, we see another warning from Jesus about the cost of following Him. Perhaps some of that suffering we face is estrangement from our families, even as some of Christ’s own family rejected Him. Ultimately, our eternal life depends on Christ, not on any one person or group of people. Though we may lost those whom we love in this life to unbelief, we can joyfully hold on to our true family–the Church. Jesus reminds us that in Him, we gain a large family that has been joined together in Baptism (see Mark 10:29-31).
- Prayer: Heavenly Father, in the voice from heaven, you proclaimed Christ as Your Son. We pray that we may cling to Him by faith in order that we might be delivered from the suffering and death that are our lot in this mortal life. By His suffering and death, bring us to the joys of Your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
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-Rev. Jordan McKinley, pastor
Trinity Lutheran Church, Vallonia, IN