Notes on Luke 9:1-27
If we assume and accept the arguments put forward by NT Wright (ex-Bishop of Durham) are valid. That the Gospels all speak of the life and death and resurrection of Jesus being the means by which the God of Israel physically came into his own creation to return that creation from the exile. An exile produced by the breach in relationship between God and humanity as described in the Genesis creation myth. It is really important that we read the Gospels with this underlying canvas or picture in mind. It is hard but it can be very fruitful and I believe will help to keep the Gospels relevant and challenging to us today.
Chapter 9 in Luke sees Jesus sending out his newly commissioned 12 apostles, (Chapter 6) on a mission that heralds in Luke the coming of the Kingdom of God. In fact Luke has Jesus telling them to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick, a marker itself of a new age. Mark has repentance as his key theme of this same mission and this could in part be due to Luke’s perception and his belief that repentance was a response in some way to redemption.
Herod presumably got wind of what was going on and is pictured as being perplexed. It’s clear that at this time people considered Jesus to be a great prophet in the line of Elijah or Isaiah. Perhaps they felt he was Moses come back, some even thought he was John come back from the dead. This is curious as it suggests that being raised from the dead would not make someone equal with God. And that is important. We don’t accept that Jesus is God because of the resurrection. The resurrection confirms an identity rather than proving it. It is clear here that the claim is not the same as that later made of Jesus, that he was the Messiah and that he was also LORD. Herod is depicted as wanting to meet with Jesus. Is this to have a nice civilized chat? Or to remove a potential threat? (He had already removed John and Jesus was going around doing stuff that proclaimed a new Kingdom – how do you think a reigning monarch would react?
Vv 10-17 has Jesus feeding at least five thousand, Luke only mentions the men. What about the women and children? This is a miracle that implicitly states that Jesus is greater than Moses and has Messianic overtones written all over it. It is a symbol of the Exodus story and it can be suggested that this is a type of Communion Meal. Looking beyond the obvious, there is a conversation within the middle which often gets missed. The apostles suggest the Jesus sends the crowds away because where they are isn’t suitable for this many people. Jesus challenges them to deal with the people and to feed them. The apostles remember have just returned from their mission, a bit full of themselves no doubt. Jesus, here, shows them the enormity of the task and gives them a hint again of who he is and what he is doing.
10: 18-27 has Luke immediately giving us Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Messiah. Mark has a number of events between these two scenarios, but Luke obviously wants us to take these two scenarios together and thus they need to be interpreted as such. Jesus has just shown himself as being a Messiah symbolically, and then he asks the group who he is. Although Jesus has attracted a large following it is clear that the majority haven’t realised what is actually going on. They are only seeing Jesus as an individual, so Jesus presses them and Peter speaks out saying that Jesus is the Messiah. He get’s it – or at least part of it!
In the western church today we see this as Peter recognizing Jesus as being God, but this wouldn’t have been what Peter meant in a 1st Century context. Peter meant that he had recognised that by Jesus’ actions of healing the sick, raising the dead, feeding the hungry etc that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah. What he and the others still had to learn of course was that Jesus was not going to be the sort of Messiah that they were expecting, and also that in Jesus, the hopes of Israel’s messiah were to be found in a unique fusion of the Kingly and Priestly roles.
Normally the Messianic role would have been filled by two people, a King and High Priest, both very much human. Being Messiah had nothing to do with being God.
So Jesus starts at the outset to teach them that whilst it is true, it must remain hidden for now as it is not how the nation had expected it to be.
V23 can be interpreted as suggesting pragmatically that the cross is what happens when you stand against Rome – this is just what happened to people who bucked the system. Luke adds “daily” seeming to suggest that the disciples of Jesus will need to renew their will to follow his way of life on a daily basis. Salvation is LIVING in the way of salvation. It is likely to be costly, but is the only way to true life. There is a clear warning here which seems to relate to the ultimate redemption of creation (v26) and hints at the image of the Son of Man given in Daniel Ch 7.
Jesus ends by telling the group that some who are there will not taste death before they see the Kingdom of God.
We’ll visit this next time!
© Colin Waldock