google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html Luke Looks Back 12

Luke Looks Back 12

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Study 12 - Luke 9: 1 - 50

The end of the ministry in Galilee

This is an important chapter for at least 3 reasons:

  1. it contains the important question ‘who is this’ 9: 9
  2. the even more important answers ‘the Messiah’ (v 20) and ‘the Son of God’ (v 35). That Jesus calls himself ‘the Son of Man’ (v 22) is also important.
  3. it ends the second and long section of Luke’s Gospel Chapters 3 to 9: 50. Telling us that Jesus sets out for Jerusalem in verse 51 indicates the end. This whole section is about Jesus’ Ministry in Galilee.

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Read verses 1 to 9.

Jesus gives surprisingly detailed instructions about how the apostles were to go on the very first mission in the first 6 verses. Of course the culture in which they were to operate was very different from today’s – anywhere in the world. We might wonder if he sent us on mission what Jesus would forbid today. Would it be car, mobile phone, ipod, radio, credit card, bottle of spring water? Would we survive without these things?

Question 1 - Under what circumstances should we ‘shake the dust off our feet’ as Jesus told his disciples to do if they were not welcomed?

This is a tricky one to answer. Perhaps Paul did this in Philippi. It says ‘they went to Lydia’s house. Then they left.’ The locals could not be said to have welcomed him. It says ‘the crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas’. But there are stories in the history of the church where people have worked and ministered in a new area for a very long time before anyone has come to faith. When that has finally happened there has often been a real movement of the Spirit. It is hard to say the workers should not have waited.

The next story is of the feeding of 5000 people. We read that in v 10 - 17.

The account of the feeding of the 5000+ (v 10 – 17) is written so as to remind us of the last supper. It includes the words: taking bread – giving thanks – broke – gave to.

Question 2 - What do the statements ‘Jesus said “you give them something to eat” ‘ and ‘the disciples picked up 12 basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over’ mean as comments on the Lord’s Supper?

We meet at the table of our Lord to receive grace and renewal from him as we remember the most significant event in history. Yet we bring food to the table – we have a part to play in the ceremony. Such is the grace of God that we have much left over afterwards. For all the wonder of the simple ceremony we have a part to play.

By the order Luke puts things in he suggests that in the eating of bread they recognized the Messiah. In the eating of bread on the way to Emmaus they recognized the Lord (24: 30, 31 which says: When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.

Question 3 - How does that thought, whether taken from this story of the feeding of the 5000 or the event on the Emmaus road, translate into our communion service?

It is his ceremony, not ours. We are to see, beyond the bread and the cup that he is there and blesses us.

Read verses 18 – 27.

Herod asked ‘who is this’ earlier in the chapter. Peter answers here, as Jesus prayed and talked to his disciples in a way that was completely meaningful in that culture.

Question 4 - Peter said that he was the Christ or the Messiah of God. What is the best and most accurate way to answer the question ‘who is this’ in your culture?

The answer will depend on where you are. To many people to say he is the Christ is only to give him a name, so that is not very meaningful. The Son of God is one possibility, but that can be misunderstood in some cultures. The Saviour is another possibility.

The title Jesus used of himself ‘Son of Man’ is difficult and puzzling, which is perhaps why Jesus used it. It meant no more than ‘a male human being’ but is used almost as a title in Dan 7: 13 of a person who seems to represent the people of God (Dan 7: 22, 27). Jesus may have used it as a clean sheet of paper on which he was able to write a meaning himself.

The question ‘who is this’ receives a further answer in what we call the transfiguration, that is the event when the whole appearance of Jesus was radically changed.

Read verses 28 – 36.

Question 5 - We must try to think of what this would have meant to the 3 disciples who witnessed what happened. What will their first reaction have been to the presence of the 3 figures? What will the brightness of Jesus’ clothes have meant to them? And then what will they have thought when they heard the voice from heaven?

There are really 3 questions there. Seeing the 3 figures they will have thought Jesus was of the same importance as Moses and Elijah. Then seeing how changed he was in appearance they will have decided he was the most important of the three. Finally the voice will have said to them that he was fundamentally different and important in a completely different way than Moses and Elijah, who represented the Law and the Prophets and therefore the whole of the OT and Judaism. The voice that told them to ‘listen to him’ also tells us ‘to listen to him’.

Finally we read verses 36 – 50. We will stop there and not at the end of the chapter because the next verse says ‘Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem’ and there are many statements that he was ‘on his way’ in the next 11 chapters. Luke has written a journey documentary in those chapters. This is the end of his ministry in Galilee, the northern province of that area, and the furthest from Jerusalem.

These 2 episodes both remind us that the Christian way is not one of human strength and power. Not only are the disciples unable to heal the boy with the evil spirit and required to start acting in a more childlike and less assertive way but Jesus is going to be betrayed and killed as we read further back in the chapter. This has been well summarized in the phrase ‘the way up is down’.

Question 6 - when we kneel before Jesus and confess our sins we say we are down. He will then lift us up. That is the Christian way. Have you set out on that way for yourself? Only yourself and the Lord know the answer to that question. I hope it is the right one! May the Lord be with you.

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