The Initial Reception of the Son of Man, cont’d. Luke 4:31-9:50
Luke 9:37-42 He Casts a Demon out of a Boy and Gains Popularity
Luke 9:37-43- The next day they came down from the mountain. All three of the Synoptic Gospels record this event. In doing so, Matthew directs our attention to the power of faith…nothing is impossible (see January 24, Matthew 17); Mark emphasizes the prerequisite of faith…prayer (see March 2, Mark 9:1-29); and Luke accentuates the result of faith…God receives glory (:43-44). They arrive to find a man whose son is demon-possessed. This demon seems to take particular wicked delight in causing the boy physical and emotional harm. And, it’s been happening since he was just a small child (Mark 9:21). Notice how the Gospels portray the result of this demon’s attack…Matthew 17:15-“he is a lunatic and very ill; for he often falls into the fire, and often into the water”; Mark 9:17-18-“possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth, and stiffens out; Luke 9:39-“a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly screams, and it throws him into a convulsion with foaming at the mouth, and it mauls him, it scarcely leaves him”. The father had asked the disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so. Remember, only a short time before, Jesus had given them “power and authority over all the demons” (9:1). So something else must be involved, here. Jesus chastises them for being “unbelieving”…for not having enough faith in Him.
Jesus casts out the demon and heals the boy. “And they were all amazed at the greatness of God.” These verses should be the anchor for the prayers for every parent who has a wayward child. Notice what it says, “Jesus…gave him back to his father” (:42). Every parent should come to Jesus and plead with Him to rescue their child from the forces of darkness and give their child back to them.
Luke 9:43-45 He Speaks about the Danger of Popularity
Luke 9:44-45-Jesus tells the disciples to keep the words that they had heard on the mountain (and those being spoken of Him after this miracle, :43-44) engrained in their minds…because He was soon going to be crucified and they would need to remember this incident so that at that time they would be strong in their faith in Him.
Luke 9:46-48 His Warns the Disciples against Seeking Popularity
Luke 9:46-48-Jesus had just predicted His death but they don’t understand it. Then, right on the heel of these two statements…about God’s greatness and about His death (in other places Jesus would equate this with true greatness)…the disciples start to argue about which one of them was the greatest. Jesus says that greatness is about being the “least among you”. Jesus uses a child as an illustration of this principle. He says that whoever receives a child in His name (meaning: in His behalf)…is in all actuality receiving Him (meaning: what you do in the name of Jesus, in behalf of Jesus, you are actually doing to Jesus, Himself). We should never refuse to receive someone because we think that we are their superior. Instead, we should always think of those whom receive as being superior to ourself.
Luke 9:49-50 He Accepts Others Ministering in His Name
Luke 9:49-50-The disciples tell Jesus that they had tried to stop a man from casting out demons in His name (see March 3, Mark 9:30-50). Jesus tells them to not do so because if they are not against you, then they are for you. It is interesting that they were trying to stop a man from doing what they were unable to do themselves (:40; cp. also 11:23).
The Growing Resistance Against the Son of Man Luke 9:51-11:54
Luke 9:51-56 Resistance from the Samaritans
Luke 9:51-56-Jesus determines that He must go to Jerusalem, because the day for His ascension is quickly approaching. As they are traveling to Jerusalem, the residents of a Samaritan village refuse lodging to Jesus (because they know that He is on the way to Jerusalem to worship and they believe that their temple is the only true place of worship). James and John want to command fire to fall from heaven to destroy them. Jesus said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy lives, but to save them.” (these words are not found in all of the ancient copies of the Scriptures). The point is that Jesus is telling them that when you encounter someone who has a misunderstanding about truth, you do not seek to destroy them, but to save them from their error. They had taken it personally, as an insult…when in reality, the insult was against God, not them. If God wants them to be destroyed, He will do so. As for you, tell them the truth. We are to be about the redemption of men, not their destruction.
Luke 9:57-62 Resistance from the Non-committed
Luke 9:57-62-Three men say they want to follow Jesus, but each one (for a different reason) is not willing to be totally committed. The first man says that he will follow Jesus “wherever You go”. But Jesus responds that, “the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head”. Did this man’s words betray that he was anticipating that Jesus would “go” somewhere, as in become something (perhaps the king, etc.) and Jesus knew that he did not qualify to follow Him because he would not go where He was really heading? Or, was this man assuming a level of worldly security and certainty…that Jesus said would not be present? The second man said, “permit me first to go bury my father”. On the surface, that doesn’t sound like too unreasonable of a request. But Jesus says, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead, but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Jesus tells this man that his priorities were out of order. Following Him was not something that he could do whenever, or however he chose. This man wanted to put off the decision until there was nothing else to do, nothing else standing in the way, when it was convenient and not disruptive. Jesus told him to “go” now. The request of the third young man betrayed his unwillingness to follow Jesus completely. He will always be second-guessing his decision to leave home. Jesus tells him that once he makes the decision to follow Him…there is no turning back. So, the responses of Jesus tell us that we must be willing to follow Him (1)-without qualification; (2)-without hesitation; (3)-without limitation.
Prayer: Lord, please use my life so that people will be amazed at Your greatness…“the greatness of God.”