The previous two lessons were about Jesus training the disciples through words and deeds. In the passage we will be studying in this lesson, the training now becomes more and more focused. He also let the disciples participate in His work while teaching them lessons on discipleship. The aim is to let the disciples truly recognize Christ’s mission and identity, as well as their own roles in the ministry.
Did You Know...?
1. “Shake off the very dust from your feet” (9:5): With this symbolic gesture, the disciples would show that they had no part in the sins of those who rejected the gospel.
2. Herod the tetrarch (9:7) bore the distinctive name of Antipas. He was Herod’s younger son by Malthace, and inherited the Galilaean and Perean portions of his father’s kingdom…He was the ablest of Herod’s sons, and like his father was a great builder; the city of Tiberias on the Lake of Galilee was built by him (AD 22) and named in honor of the Emperor Tiberius. He married the daughter of the Nabataean king Aretas IV (q.v.), but divorced her in order to marry Herodias (q.v.), the wife of his half-brother Herod Philip. [ref]
3. Bethsaida (9:10) was on the northeast shore of the Sea of Galilee. Philip the tetrarch rebuilt Bethsaida and named it “julias,” after Julia,daughter of Caesar Augustus.5/1458 [ref]
4. The Christ (9:20), or “the Messiah” in Hebrew, means “the Anointed One.”
- Sending out the Twelve (9:1-6)
- Herod’s Perplexity (9:7-9)
- Feeding the Five Thousand (9:10-17)
- Christ’s Identity, Suffering, and Glory (9:18-27)
- Peter’s confession of Christ (9:18-20)
- Prediction about suffering, death, and resurrection (9:21-22)
- Losing life for Christ’s sake (9:23-27)
- The Transfiguration (9:28-36)
- Healing of A Boy with An Unclean Spirit (9:37-45)
- Two Cases of Rivalry (9:46-50)
What kind of training did the disciples receive in each of these events? a. Being sent out (1-6) b. Feeding the five thousand (11-17) c. The Transfiguration (28-36)
What was the twofold ministry that the Lord commissioned the disciples?Hide Answer
See verses 2 and 6.
How did Jesus equip the apostles? What can we learn from this about our ministry?Hide Answer
He gave them power and authority (1). He also gave them instructions about how to conduct their ministry (3-5). As messengers of the gospel, we cannot rely on our own strength or eloquence. Rather, we need to receive power, authority, and instruction from the One who sent us in order to successfully carry out our commission. We need to pray for signs and miracles to confirm the message we preach (cf. Mk 16:19-20). We must also learn to submit to the guidance and instruction of the Lord in everything we do.
Why do you think the apostles were instructed not to take anything for the journey?Hide Answer
Workers of God are entitled to the hospitality of the people they minister to (10:7). Instead of being weighed down by much possession, preachers need to live simply and learn to depend on God’s daily provision through the hospitality of the believers.
How does this paragraph relate to the context of the entire passage?Hide Answer
The key statement of this paragraph is Herod’s question, “who is this of whom I hear such things?” (9). This opens the theme of Jesus’ identity, which is picked up again in verse 18.
Observe the interaction between Jesus and the disciples in this story. What role did Jesus want them to play?Hide Answer
Jesus involved the disciples in every step of this miracle (13-16). He gave them the responsibility of feeding the multitude as part of their ministry to the people. From this miracle, the disciples learned responsible service, dependence on God, and Christ’s marvelous provision.
What is the significance behind Jesus’ actions in verse 16?Hide Answer
The action of looking up to heaven teaches us that the power and blessings of our ministry come from God. Giving the bread to the disciples to set before the multitude could be symbolic of Christ commissioning the disciples to minister to all the people.
Compare the five loaves of bread and two fish with the twelve baskets of leftover fragments. What can we learn here about God’s provision in our ministry?Hide Answer
With the blessings of God, even limited resources can result in overflowing abundance that goes beyond our expectations (Eph 3:20).
Compare Jesus’ two questions in 18 and 20. Why did Jesus make this distinction?Hide Answer
While many had various views about Jesus’ identity, Jesus did not want His followers to have only a second-hand knowledge of Him and be swayed by popular opinion. As disciples, they must have a personal knowledge and conviction in the Lord in order to follow Him to the end.
Do you truly know who Jesus is? Why do you follow Him?
What is the meaning of “the Christ of God”?Hide Answer
It literally means “the anointed of God.” In other words, Jesus was sent by God with a special mission. This term is a reference to Jesus’ kingship as the fulfillment of the Messianic promises (Ps 2:2; Isa 9:6-7; 11:1-16; Lk1:32).
Why did Jesus command them not to tell anyone about His identity?Hide Answer
The people at that time had a false expectation of what the Messiah would be. Declaration that Jesus was the Messiah at this time would only further mislead the people or even hinder the ministry. The disciples were told to preach that Jesus was the Christ only after His resurrection (Mt 17:9). Jesus wanted the people to come to believe Him not because they expected him to be a national hero, but through belief, repentance, and obedience. Another possible reason for concealing His identity is that widespread proclamation of his Messiahship might bring about intense opposition prematurely.
Explain these terms about discipleship and apply them to your walk with the Lord: a. “Deny himself” b. “Take up his cross daily” c. “Follow Me” d. Saving and losing lifeHide Answer
a. Giving up of one’s will and desires.
b. The man condemned to crucifixion would be forced to take up his cross. This command means being ready to go through suffering and death for Christ. It involves putting to death the sinful nature (Rom 8:13; Gal 5:24; 6:14).
c. Following the footsteps of Christ, doing what He would do(1Pet 2:21; Jn 12:26; 1Cor 11:1; 1Jn 2:6).
d. The first “life” refers to things of the world, i.e. walking according to our desires (1Jn 2:15-17). The second “life” refers to spiritual, or eternal, life and the glory that we will receive (26,27). We cannot have eternal life unless we deny our own will and follow the will of God in our lives.
What type of followers of Christ are ashamed of Him and His words?Hide Answer
They are those who do not have the courage to live according to Christ’s teachings because of the pressure of secular values and opinions.
Have you ever been ashamed of Christ and His words? How so?
What was Jesus referring to in 27?Hide Answer
According to the Lord Jesus, some of the people of His time would live to see the kingdom of God. Out of many interpretations that have been offered on this verse, two are most plausible. The first interpretation states that the coming of the kingdom of God refers to the Transfiguration, which would take place six days after its prediction (17:1ff). During the transfiguration, the disciples witnessed Christ in his glory, and the subject of Christ’s conversation with Moses and Elijah was the glory that would be achieved through suffering (Lk 9:31). The second interpretation, which is linked to the first, believes this prediction to be referring to the mighty work of the Holy Spirit in the church after Jesus’ ascension. The kingdom of God was manifest in the church through powerful preaching, large numbers of conversions, and signs and miracles.
What was the significance of the appearance of Moses and Elijah?Hide Answer
Their appearance tells us who Jesus was. Both were great prophets and mighty workers in the Old Testament. Moses represented the Law and Elijah the Prophets, both of which Jesus fulfilled (Mt 5:17; 11:12-13). The Transfiguration teaches us that Jesus, being greater than Moses and Elijah, was the one all the prophets had been waiting for.
What was the subject of Jesus’ conversation with Moses and Elijah? Why?Hide Answer
The subject of Jesus’ departure at Jerusalem highlights the purpose of Jesus’ mission (a theme central to Luke)—death on the cross for salvation. It further sheds light on Jesus’ role as the suffering Messiah.
Why were Peter’s words in 33 inappropriate?Hide Answer
As Moses and Elijah “were parting from Him,” Peter tried to keep them from leaving (33). He did not understand that it was the Lord Jesus that they must look to and “hear” (35). The appearance of Moses and Elijah was only to confirm that Jesus was the Christ and the beloved Son of God. Christ alone deserves attention and glory. That was the final message of the Transfiguration experience: “Jesus was found alone” (36). Peter’s desire to remain on the mountain was also out of place because the Lord did not intend to stay on the mountain. He had to continue his mission and suffer in order to achieve glory. Likewise, the disciples must also suffer for the kingdom before they could receive the glory in the future.
Explain the significance of the voice in 35.Hide Answer
Jesus is the beloved Son of God, who came to do the will of the Father. The Lord’s ministry and ultimate sacrifice were truly pleasing to God (Jn 8:29; Heb 10:5 10). The words also recall Moses’ prophecy about the Messiah (Deut 18:15). The Lord Jesus was sent from God; His words are the word of God. We will not escape if we ignore His solemn message (Heb 2:3 4). But if we hear His voice and obey Him, we will have life.
What was the purpose of the Transfiguration?Hide Answer
1. To confirm that Jesus was the Christ whom the prophets of the past had spoken about.
2. To let the disciples understand that the Christ must go through sufferings and death before receiving glory.
3. To give the disciples a preview of the Son of Man in glory so that they know for certain that the followers of Christ will receive reward on that day (24-27; Mt 16:27). The experience left a deep impression on the three apostles. Peter could still recall this experience in his old age when he witnessed to the believers about the coming of the Lord (2Pet 1:16 18).
What did Jesus mean by what He said in 41?Hide Answer
If we cross-reference the account in Mark (Mk 9:14-29), we understand that the father of the boy was in total despair, and he had probably lost his faith in God after the disciples’ failure to cast out the evil spirit. On top of the distresses of the father and the disciples, there were scribes present who disputed with the disciples, probably in an attempt to discredit Jesus (Mk 9:14). So Jesus’ statement in 41 might have been addressed to the father, the disciples, as well as the scribes. It’s also possible that Jesus was expressing His grief over the people in general, seeing the sufferings caused by demonic torment and men’s inability to do anything about it because of lack of faith.
Why did Jesus predict His suffering to His disciples again while the people were all amazed at the miracle?Hide Answer
Having witnessed the Transfiguration and the powerful healing on the boy, it must have been difficult for the disciples to foresee any suffering or death in Jesus’ life. Therefore, Jesus reminded them again with very solemn words about His impending betrayal to call their attention to His true identity and mission, and so that when all these things happened according to His predictions, the disciples might recall them and fully understand the purpose of Christ’s ministry.
According to the Lord’s words, how can we become “the least”?Hide Answer
By receiving a little child. In other words, we should care for those who are lowly on behalf of Christ (cf. Rom 12:16; Mt 25:34 40; Lk 14:12-14). Doing such acts, which are often not prominent and seemingly unrewarding, calls for great humility. Only if we consider ourselves “the least” would we be able to “receive a little child”.
What was John’s reasoning for forbidding someone else to cast out demons in Jesus’ name?Hide Answer
According to Jesus, what was wrong with such mentality?Hide Answer
A disciple should look to the Lord’s interest rather than his own. When someone else accomplishes God’s work, we should rejoice even if we were not included (cf. Php1:15-18). Such attitude calls for self-denial, a requirement for discipleship.
How are the lessons in this section important to our ministry?Hide Answer
Pride and self-centeredness is a great hindrance to our ministry. Only when we humble ourselves and remove our ego can we serve together in unity and carry out God’s work for His glory.