Darby's Bible Synopsis
Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.
In chapter 9 the Lord charges the disciples with the same mission in Israel as that which He Himself fulfilled. They preach the kingdom, heal the sick, and cast out devils. But this is added, that their work takes the character of a final mission. Not that the Lord had ceased to work, for He also sent forth the seventy; but final in this sense, that it became a definite testimony against the people if they rejected it. The twelve were to shake off the dust from their feet on leaving the cities that would reject them. This is intelligible at the point we have reached in the Gospel. It is repeated, with a yet greater force, in the case of the seventy. We shall speak of it in the chapter that relates to their being sent forth. Their mission comes after the manifestation of His glory to the three disciples. But the Lord as long as He was here continued His exercise of power in mercy, for it was what He personally was here, and sovereign goodness in Him was above all the evil He met with.
To go on with our chapter. That which follows Verse 7 (Luke 9:7) shews that the fame of His marvellous works had reached the ears of the king. Israel was without excuse. Whatever little conscience there was felt the effect of His power. The people also followed Him. Gone apart with the disciples, who had returned from their mission, He is soon surrounded by the multitude; again, their servant in grace, however great their unbelief, He preaches to them and heals all who needed it.
But He would give them a fresh and very especial proof of the divine power and presence that was among them. It had been said that in the time of Israel's blessing from the Lord, when He should make the horn of David to flourish, He would satisfy the poor with bread. Jesus now does so. But there is more than this here. We have seen throughout this Gospel that He exercises this power, in His humanity, by the unmeasured energy of the Holy Ghost. Hence a marvellous blessing for us, granted according to the sovereign counsels of God, through the perfect wisdom of Jesus in selecting His instruments. He will have the disciples do it. Nevertheless the power that performs it is all His own. The disciples see nothing beyond that which their eyes can estimate. But, if He who feeds them is Jehovah, He ever takes His place Himself in the dependence of the nature He had assumed. He retires with His disciples, and there, afar from the world, He prays. And, as in the two remarkable cases [See Note #25] of the descent of the Holy Ghost and the selection of the Twelve, so here also His prayer is the occasion of the manifestation of His glory glory which was due to Him, but which the Father gave Him as man, and in connection with the sufferings and the humiliation, which, in His love, He voluntarily underwent.
The attention of the people was excited, but they did not go beyond the speculations of the human mind with regard to the Saviour. The disciples' faith recognised without hesitation the Christ in Jesus. But He was no longer to be proclaimed as such the Son of man was to suffer. Counsels more important, a glory more excellent than that of the Messiah, were to be realised: but it should be through suffering suffering that, as to human trials, His disciples were to share by following Him. But in losing their life for Him, they would gain it; for in following Jesus, the eternal life of the soul was the question and not merely the kingdom. Moreover He who was now rejected would return in His own glory, namely, as Son of man (the character He takes in this Gospel), in the glory of the Father, for He was the Son of God, and in that of the angels as Jehovah the Saviour, taking place above them, although (yea as) man: He was worthy of this, for He created them. The salvation of the soul, the glory of Jesus acknowledged according to His rights, everything warned them to confess Him while He was despised and disallowed. Now, to strengthen the faith of those whom He would make pillars, and through them the faith of all, He announces that some of them, before they tasted death (they should neither wait for death, in which the value of eternal life would be felt, nor for the return of Christ), should see the kingdom of God.
In consequence of this declaration, eight days later He took the three who afterwards were pillars, and went up into a mountain to pray. There He is transfigured. He appears in glory, and the disciples see it. But Moses and Elias share it with Him. The saints of the Old Testament have part with Him in the glory of the kingdom founded upon His death. They speak with Him of His decease. They had heretofore spoken of other things. They had seen the law set up, or had sought to bring the people back to it, for the introduction of blessing; but now that this new glory is the subject, all depends on the death of Christ, and on that alone. Everything else disappears. The heavenly glory of the kingdom and death are in immediate relationship. Peter sees only the introduction of Christ into a glory equal to theirs; connecting the latter in his mind with that which they both were to a Jew, and associating Jesus with it. It is then that the two disappear entirely, and Jesus remains alone. It was He alone whom they were to hear. The connection of Moses and Elias with Jesus in the glory, depended on the rejection of their testimony by the people to whom they had addressed it.
But this is not all. The church, properly so called, is not seen here. But the sign of the excellent glory, of the presence of God, shews itself the cloud in which Jehovah dwelt in Israel. Jesus brings the disciples to it as witnesses. Moses and Elias disappear, and, Jesus having brought the disciples close to the glory, the God of Israel manifests Himself as the Father, and owns Jesus as the Son in whom He delighted. All is changed in the relationships of God with man. The Son of man, put to death on earth, is owned in the excellent glory to be the Son of the Father. The disciples know Him thus by the testimony of the Father, are associated with Him, and, as it were, introduced into connection with the glory in which the Father Himself thus acknowledged Jesus in which the Father and the Son are found. Jehovah makes Himself known as Father by revealing the Son. And the disciples find themselves associated on earth with the abode of glory, from whence, at all times, Jehovah Himself had protected Israel. Jesus was there with them, and He was the Son of God. What a position! What a change for them! It is, in fact, the change from all that was most excellent in Judaism to connection with the heavenly glory, which was wrought at that moment, in order to make all things new. [See Note #26]
The personal profit of this passage is great, in that it reveals to us, in a very striking manner, the heavenly and glorious state. The saints are in the same glory as Jesus, they are with Him, they converse familiarly with Him, they converse on that which is nearest to His heart on His sufferings and death. They speak with the sentiments that flow from circumstances which affect the heart. He was to die in the beloved Jerusalem, instead of their receiving the kingdom. They speak as understanding the counsels of God; for the thing had not yet taken place. Such are the relationships of the saints with Jesus in the kingdom. For, up to this point, it is the manifestation of the glory as the world will see it, with the addition of the intercourse between the glorified and Jesus. The three were standing on the mountain. But the three disciples go beyond thus. They are taught of the Father. His own affections for His Son are made known to them. Moses and Elias have borne testimony to Christ, and shall be glorified with Him; but Jesus now remains alone for the church. This is more than the kingdom, it is fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus (not understood, assuredly, at that time, but now is by the power of the Holy Ghost). It is wonderful, this entrance of the saints into the excellent glory, into the Shekinah, the abode of God; and these revelations on God's part of His own affections for His Son. This is more than the glory. Jesus, however, is always the object that fills the scene for us. Observe also for our position down here, that the Lord speaks as intimately of His death to His disciples on the earth as to Moses and Elias. These are not more intimate with Him than are Peter, James, and John. Sweet and precious thought! And mark how thin a veil there is between us and what is heavenly. [See Note #27]
That which follows is the application of this revelation to the state of things below. The disciples are unable to profit by the power of Jesus, already manifested, to cast out the power of the enemy. And this justifies God in that which was revealed of His counsels on the mount, and leads to the setting aside of the Jewish system, in order to introduce their fulfilment. But this does not hinder the action of the grace of Christ in delivering men while He was yet with them, until man had finally rejected Him. But, without noticing the fruitless astonishment of the people, He insists with His disciples on His rejection and on His crucifixion; carrying this principle on to the renunciation of self, and the humility which would receive that which was least.
In the remainder of the chapter, from Verse 46 (Luke 9:46), the Gospel gives us the different features of selfishness and of the flesh that are in contrast with the grace and devotedness manifested in Christ, and that tend to prevent the believer from walking in His steps. Verses 46-48 (Luke 9:46-48); 49-50 (Luke 9:49-50); 51-56 (Luke 9:51-56), respectively, present examples [See Note #28] of this; and, from 57 to 62, the contrast between the illusive will of man and the efficacious call of grace; the discovery of the repugnance of the flesh, when there is a true call; and the absolute renunciation of all things, in order to obey it, are set before us by the Spirit of God. [See Note #29] The Lord (in reply to the spirit that sought the aggrandisement of their own company on earth, forgetful of the cross) expresses to the disciples that which He did not conceal from Himself, the truth of God, that all were in such wise against them that, if any one were not so, he was even thereby for them. So thoroughly did the presence of Christ test the heart. The other reason, given elsewhere, is not repeated here. The Spirit, in this connection, confines Himself to the point of view we are considering. Thus rejected, the Lord judges no one. He does not avenge Himself; He was come to save men's lives. That a Samaritan should repulse the Messiah was, to the disciples, worthy of destruction. Christ came to save the lives of men. He submits to the insult, and goes elsewhere. There were some who wished to serve Him here below. He had no home to which He could take them. Meantime, for this very reason, the preaching of the kingdom was the only thing to His unwearying love; the dead (to God) might bury the dead. He who was called, who was alive, must be occupied with one thing, with the kingdom, to bear testimony to it; and that without looking back, the urgency of the matter lifting him above all other thoughts. He who had put his hand to the plough must not look back. The kingdom, in presence of the enmity the ruin of man, of all that opposed it, required the soul to be wholly absorbed in its interests by the power of God. The work of God, in the presence of Christ's rejection, demanded entire consecration.
Observe also here, that it is not only in the case of acts of power, or in that of testimony to the glory of His Person in answer to His prayer, that these prayers are offered. His conversation with the disciples respecting the change in the dispensations of God (in which He speaks of His sufferings, and forbids them to make Him known as the Christ) is introduced by His prayer when He was in a desert place with them. That His people were to be given up for a time occupied His heart as much as the glory. Moreover, He pours out His heart to God, whatever may be the subject that occupies Him according to the ways of God.
It is the display of the kingdom, not of the church in heavenly places. I suppose the words "they entered" must refer to Moses and Elias. But the cloud overshadowed the disciples. Yet it carries us beyond that display. The word "overshadowed" is the same as that used by the LXX for the cloud coming and filling the tabernacle. We learn from Matthew it was a bright cloud. It was the Shekinah of glory which had been with Israel in the wilderness I may say the Father's house. His voice came from it. Into this they entered. It is this in Luke that makes the disciples afraid. God had talked with Moses out of it; but here they enter into it. Thus, besides the kingdom, there is the proper dwelling-place of the saints. This is found in Luke only. We have the kingdom, Moses and Elias in the same glory with the Son, and others in flesh on the earth, but the heavenly sojourn of the saints also.
Note too that if Jesus takes up the disciples to see the glory of the kingdom, and the entrance of the saints into the excellent glory where the Father was, He came down also and met the crowd of this world and the power of Satan where we have to walk.
These three passages point out, each in succession, a more subtle selfishness less easily detected by man: gross personal selfishness, corporate selfishness, and the selfishness that clothes itself with the appearance of zeal for the Lord, but which is not likeness to Him.
Observe that, when the will of man acts, he does not feel the difficulties, but he is not qualified for the work. When there is a true call, the hindrances are felt.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
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?
But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
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.
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.
And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.