Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.
And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.
And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.
And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart.
And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.
And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where.
Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead;
And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again.
And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him.
And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.
See the Matthew 14:13-21 notes, and Mark 6:30-44 notes.
Bethsaida - A city on the east bank of the river Jordan, near where the river enters into the Sea of Tiberias. In the neighborhood of that city were extensive wastes or deserts.
And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.
And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place.
Day began to wear away - To decline, or as it drew near toward evening.
But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people.
For they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company.
And they did so, and made them all sit down.
Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude.
And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets.
And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?
They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again.
He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God.
The Christ of God - The "Anointed" of God. The "Messiah" appointed by God, and who had been long promised by him. See the notes at Matthew 1:1.
And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing;
Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?
For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.
But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.
And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.
And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.
The fashion - The "appearance."
Glistering - Shining like lightning - of a bright, dazzling whiteness. As Mark says, "more white than any fuller could make it."
And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias:
Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.
In glory - Of a glorious appearance. Of an appearance like that which the saints have in heaven.
His decease - literally, his "exit" or "departure." The word translated here "decease" - that is, exit, or "going out" - is elsewhere used to denote death. See 2 Peter 1:15. Death is a departure or going out from this life. In "this" word there may be an allusion to the "departure" of the children of Israel from Egypt. As that was going out from "bondage," pain, and humiliation, so death, to a saint, is but going forth from a land of captivity and thraldom to one of plenty and freedom; to the land of promise, the Canaan in the skies.
He should accomplish - Which was about to take place.
But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.
Heavy with sleep - Borne down with sleep - oppressed, overcome with sleep. It may seem remarkable that they should fall asleep on such an occasion; but we are to bear in mind that this may have been in the night, and that they were weary with the toils of the day. Besides, they did not "fall asleep" while the transfiguration lasted. While Jesus was praying, or perhaps after he closed, they fell asleep. "While" they were sleeping his countenance was changed, and Moses and Elias appeared. The first that "they" saw of it was after they awoke, having been probably awakened by the shining of the light around them.
And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.
While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.
And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.
Jesus was found alone - That is, the two men had left him. In respect to "them" he was alone.
And it came to pass, that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill, much people met him.
And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child.
And, lo, a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him hardly departeth from him.
And I besought thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not.
And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither.
And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father.
And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, he said unto his disciples,
Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.
Let these sayings - Probably this refers to the "sayings of the people," who had seen his miracles, and who on that account had praised and glorified God. On that ground they had acknowledged him to be the Christ. As if he had said, "I am about to die. "You" will then be disconsolate, and perhaps doubtful about my being the Christ. "Then" do you remember these miracles, and the confessions of the people - the evidence which I gave you that I was from God." Or it may mean, "Remember that I am about to die, and let my sayings in regard to that sink down into your hearts, for it is a most important event; and you will have need of remembering, when it takes place, that I told you of it. This last interpretation, however, does not agree as well with the Greek as the former.
But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.
It was hid from them - They had imbibed the common notions of the Jews that he was to be a prince and a conqueror, to deliver the nation. They could not understand how that could be, if he was soon to be delivered into the hands of his enemies to die. In this way it was hid from them - not by God, but by their previous false belief. And from this we may learn that the plainest truths of the Bible are unintelligible to many because they have embraced some belief or opinion before which is erroneous, and which they are unwilling to abandon. The proper way of reading the Bible is to lay aside all previous opinions and submit entirely to God. The apostles should have supposed that their previous notions of the Messiah were wrong, and should have renounced them. They should have believed that what Jesus "then" said was consistent with his being the Christ. So "we" should believe that "all" that God says is consistent with truth, and should forsake all other opinions.
Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.
And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him,
And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.
And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.
And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.
And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
Should be received up - The word here translated "received up" means literally a removal from a lower to a higher place, and here it refers evidently to the solemn ascension of Jesus to heaven. It is often used to describe that great event. See Acts 1:11, Acts 1:22; Mark 16:19; 1 Timothy 3:16. The time appointed for him to remain on the earth was about expiring, and he resolved to go to Jerusalem and die. And from this we learn that Jesus made a voluntary sacrifice; that he "chose" to give his life for the sins of people. Humanly speaking, had he remained in Galilee he would have been safe; but that it might appear that he did not shun danger, and that he was really a voluntary sacrifice that no man had power over his life except as he was permitted (John 19:11 - he chose to put himself in the way of danger, and even to go into scenes which he knew would end in his death.
He stedfastly set his face - He determined to go to Jerusalem, or he set out resolutely. When a man goes toward an object, he may be said to set his face toward it. The expression here means only that he "resolved" to go, and it implies that he was not appalled by the dangers - that he was determined to brave all, and go up into the midst of his enemies - to die.
And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
Sent messengers - In the original the word is "angels;" and the use of that word here shows that the word "angel" in the Bible does not always mean heavenly beings.
To make ready - To prepare a place, lodgings, refreshments. He had no reason to expect that he would experience any kind treatment from the Samaritans if he came suddenly among them, and if they saw that he was going to Jerusalem. He therefore made provision beforehand, and thus has shown us that it is not "improper' to look out beforehand for the supply of our wants, and to guard against want and poverty.
And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
They did not receive him - Did not entertain him hospitably, or receive him with kindness.
Because his face was ... - Because they ascertained that he was going to Jerusalem. One of the subjects of dispute between the Jews and Samaritans pertained to the proper situation of the temple. The Jews contended that it should be at Jerusalem; the Samaritans, on Mount Gerizim, and accordingly they had built one there. They had probably heard of the miracles of Jesus, and that he claimed to be the Messiah. Perhaps they had hoped that he would decide that "they" were right in regard to the building of the temple. Had he decided the question in that way, they would have received him as the Messiah gladly; but when they saw that he was going among the Jews - that "by going" he would decide in their favor, they resolved to have nothing to do with him, and they rejected him. And from this we may learn:
1. That people wish all the teachers of religion to fall in with their own views.
2. That if a doctrine does not accord with their selfish desires, they are very apt to reject it.
3. That if a religious teacher or a doctrine favors a rival sect, it is commonly rejected without examination. And,
4. That people, from a regard to their own views and selfishness, often reject the true religion, as the Samaritans did the Son of God, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
James and John - They were called Boanerges - sons of thunder - probably on account of their energy and power in preaching the gospel, or of their vehement and rash zeal - a remarkable example of which we have in this instance, Mark 3:17.
Wilt thou ... - The insult had been offered to Jesus, their friend, and they felt it; but their zeal was rash and their spirit bad. Vengeance belongs to God: it was not theirs to attempt it.
Fire from heaven - Lightning, to consume them.
As Elias did - By this they wished to justify their zeal. Perhaps, while they were speaking, they saw Jesus look at them with disapprobation, and to vindicate themselves they referred to the case of Elijah. The case is recorded in 2 Kings 1:10-12.
But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of - You suppose that you are actuated by a proper love for me; but you know not yourselves. It is rather a love of revenge; rather revengeful feelings toward the "Samaritans" than proper feelings toward "me." We learn here:
1. That "apparent" zeal for God may be only improper opposition toward our fellow-men.
2. That people, when they wish to honor God, should examine their spirit, and see if there is not lying at the bottom of their professed zeal for God some bad feeling toward their fellow-men.
3. That the highest opposition which Jesus met with was not inconsistent with "his" loving those who opposed him, and with his seeking to do them good.
For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
For the Son of man ... - You should imitate, in your spirit, the Son of man. "He" came not to destroy. If he had come for that purpose, he would have destroyed these Samaritans; but he came to save. He is not soon angry. "He" bears patiently opposition to himself, and "you" should bear opposition to "him." You should catch his spirit; temper your zeal like his; seek to do good to those who injure you and him; be mild, kind, patient, and forgiving.
And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
See the notes at Matthew 8:19-22.
And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.
Bid them farewell - To take leave, inform them of the design, and set things at home in order. Jesus did not suffer this, because he probably saw that he would be influenced by a love of his friends, or by their persuasions, not to return to him. The purpose to be a Christian requires "decision." Men should not tamper with the world. They should not consult earthly friends about it. They should not even allow worldly friends to give them "advice" whether to be Christians or not. God is to be obeyed rather than man, and they should come forth boldly, and resolve at once to give themselves to his service.
And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
No man, having put his hand ... - To put one's hand to a plow is a proverbial expression to signify undertaking any business. In order that a plowman may accomplish his work, it is necessary to look onward - to be intent on his employment - not to be looking back with regret that he undertook it. So in religion. He that enters on it must do it with his whole heart, He that comes still loving the world - still looking with regret on its pleasures, its wealth, and its honors - that has not "wholly" forsaken them as his portion, cannot be a Christian, and is not fit for the kingdom of God. How searching is this test to those who profess to be Christians! And how solemn the duty of all people to renounce all earthly objects, and to be not only "almost," but "altogether," followers of the Son of God! It is perilous to tamper with the world - to look at its pleasures or to seek its society. He that would enter heaven must come with a heart full of love to God; giving "all" into his hands, and prepared always to give up all his property, his health, his friends, his body, his soul to God, when he demands them, or he cannot be a Christian. Religion is everything or nothing. He that is not willing to sacrifice "everything" for the cause of God, is really willing to sacrifice nothing.