Jesus sends out the twelve. He feeds more than five thousand people. Peter says Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is transfigured. The cost of discipleship.
VERSE 1. He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases.
gave them power and authority. Jesus imparts to the Twelve a special power and authority. With it, they could drive out demons and cure diseases.
Does Jesus give that power and authority to us believers of today?
He sent them. What is the mission of the twelve? What did Jesus want them to do?
Task #1: Preach God’s kingdom. This was fulfilled in verse 6.
Task #2: Heal the sick. This also was fulfilled in verse 6.
VERSE 3. He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey—no staffs, nor wallet, nor bread, nor money. Don’t have two coats each.
Take nothing for your journey. During the time of this mission, Jesus calls them to radically simplify their lives.
VERSE 4. Into whatever house you enter, stay there, and depart from there.
VERSE 5. As many as don’t receive you, when you depart from that city, shake off even the dust from your feet for a testimony against them.”
VERSE 6. They departed and went throughout the villages, preaching the Good News and healing everywhere.
preaching the Good News. They preached the Good News of Jesus Christ. What would that message have entailed? What would they have said?
How do you preach the good news? What do you say about the Lord Jesus Christ?
VERSE 7. Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him; and he was very perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead,
VERSE 8. and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the old prophets had risen again.
VERSE 9. Herod said, “I beheaded John, but who is this about whom I hear such things?” He sought to see him.
He sought to see him. Even Herod, as corrupt and profoundly self-centered as he was, wants to see Jesus.
VERSE 10. The apostles, when they had returned, told him what things they had done. He took them and withdrew apart to a desert region of a city called Bethsaida.
told him what things they had done. They must have been very excited.
VERSE 11. But the multitudes, perceiving it, followed him. He welcomed them, spoke to them of God’s Kingdom, and he cured those who needed healing.
VERSE 12. The day began to wear away; and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the multitude away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and farms, and lodge, and get food, for we are here in a deserted place.”
VERSE 13. But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we should go and buy food for all these people.”
You give them something to eat. Jesus puts the ball in their court. They need to solve this problem.
When a situation arises, Jesus uses it as a teaching moment. He is always training the Twelve.
Training as a disciple of Jesus Christ is a task that is never done. There’s always a fresh chance to practice, to learn, to grow.
VERSE 14. For they were about five thousand men. He said to his disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.”
about five thousand men. That number does not include women or children.
VERSE 15. They did so, and made them all sit down.
VERSE 16. He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to the sky, he blessed them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the multitude.
VERSE 17. They ate and were all filled. They gathered up twelve baskets of broken pieces that were left over.
twelve baskets. There was one wicker basket for each apostle to carry.
VERSE 18. As he was praying alone, the disciples were with him, and he asked them, “Who do the multitudes say that I am?”
he was praying alone. Jesus often goes away from other people to be alone, so he can pray:
Mark 1:35. Early in the morning, while it was still dark, he rose up and went out, and departed into a deserted place, and prayed there.
VERSE 19. They answered, “ ‘John the Baptizer,’ but others say, ‘Elijah,’ and others, that one of the old prophets has risen again.”
who do you say that I am? This is the greatest question. We need to settle it for ourselves. And it is the question we ask people in the Ministry of Evangelism.
VERSE 21. But he warned them, and commanded them to tell this to no one,
VERSE 23. He said to all, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.
deny himself. What does it mean to deny oneself?
One of the Japanese translations provides a great insight. The Shin Kai Yaku translation puts it this way: 自分を捨て (“jibun o sute”). It literally means, “to throw away yourself.”
In Jesus Christ, we throw away our sinful nature and take on his nature.
take up his cross. Whose cross is it that we take up? Do we carry the cross of Jesus Christ? No. Nobody could possibly carry that. Instead, we only carry our own cross.
Some translations add the word “daily.” We take up our cross daily.
follow me. Taking up your own cross is not enough. We must also follow Jesus Christ. We are his followers.
Matthew 16:24. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Luke 9:23. He said to all, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.
2 Corinthians 4:11. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus may be revealed in our mortal flesh.
VERSE 24. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose his life for my sake, will save it.
whoever will lose his life for my sake. What does it mean to lose your life for the sake of Jesus Christ?
VERSE 25. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits his own self?
VERSE 26. For whoever will be ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed, when he comes in his glory, and the glory of the Father, and of the holy angels.
VERSE 27. But I tell you the truth: There are some of those who stand here who will in no way taste of death until they see God’s Kingdom.”
in no way taste of death. Some people imagine that the twelve are still alive. However, Jesus only says they will still be alive at the launch of God’s kingdom.
When was God’s kingdom launched? At the arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost?
VERSE 28. About eight days after these sayings, he took with him Peter, John, and James, and went up onto the mountain to pray.
Peter, John, and James. These three are part of the Lord’s “inner circle.” They witness some of the most special moments in the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ.
went up onto the mountain to pray. Do you go on special trips to pray?
VERSE 29. As he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became white and dazzling.
his face was altered. The three apostles behold a tiny bit of the true glory of Jesus Christ.
Moses. He represents the Law.
Elijah. He represents the Prophets.
VERSE 31. who appeared in glory, and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
appeared in glory. The three apostles behold a tiny bit of the true glory of a human in eternity.
his departure. That is, his death.
VERSE 32. Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they were fully awake, they saw his glory, and the two men who stood with him.
heavy with sleep. That is, “had fallen asleep.”
VERSE 33. As they were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let’s make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah,” not knowing what he said.
Let’s make three tents. This might allude to the Feast of Tabernacles (“tents”).
VERSE 34. While he said these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered into the cloud.
A voice came out of the cloud. This mysterious voice attests to the reality of what the three apostles were witnessing.
VERSE 36. When the voice came, Jesus was found alone. They were silent, and told no one in those days any of the things which they had seen.
told no one in those days. The three apostles kept this whole thing a secret. At least for the time being. Later on, they did share it with others.
VERSE 37. On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great multitude met him.
VERSE 38. Behold, a man from the crowd called out, saying, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child.
VERSE 39. Behold, a spirit takes him, he suddenly cries out, and it convulses him so that he foams, and it hardly departs from him, bruising him severely.
VERSE 40. I begged your disciples to cast it out, and they couldn’t.”
VERSE 41. Jesus answered, “Faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.”
Faithless and perverse generation. Let’s not be like those people!
VERSE 42. While he was still coming, the demon threw him down and convulsed him violently. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father.
VERSE 43. They were all astonished at the majesty of God. But while all were marveling at all the things which Jesus did, he said to his disciples,
VERSE 44. “Let these words sink into your ears, for the Son of Man will be delivered up into the hands of men.”
Let these words sink into your ears. Jesus is telling them to listen carefully.
VERSE 45. But they didn’t understand this saying. It was concealed from them, that they should not perceive it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
which of them was the greatest. This is antithetical to the nature of Christian discipleship. A true disciple has no feelings of rivalry. One-upmanship is not in the worldview of a disciple of Jesus Christ.
VERSE 47. Jesus, perceiving the reasoning of their hearts, took a little child, and set him by his side,
VERSE 48. and said to them, “Whoever receives this little child in my name receives me. Whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For whoever is least among you all, this one will be great.”
whoever is least among you all. This is exactly the opposite of what people think. Even in our day, almost all Christians imagine greatness in the same way that worldly people do.
VERSE 49. John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he doesn’t follow with us.”
Don’t forbid him. Many Christians try to destroy other Christians who see things differently. However, Jesus does not see the world in such a way. He does not forbid people who see things differently.
he who is not against us is for us. This is very open-minded. It takes a mature person to be able to see the world this way.
A true disciple of Jesus Christ is not intolerant of others. Xenophobia is alien to the worldview of a disciple. Our minds and hearts are open to embracing all.
SUMMARY: Before beginning his final walk into Jerusalem, Jesus set his face intently. He had a great determination to do his Father’s will, no matter where it led him. In Jerusalem, he would suffer, die, rise and ascend. He was not going to look back and second-guess his purpose or his destiny. He pressed forward with great resolve!
VERSE 51. It came to pass, when the days were near that he should be taken up, he intently set his face to go to Jerusalem
when the days were near. This is a reference to Christ’s own suffering, sacrificial death and resurrection. We see this in other verses:
Luke 9:22. saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and the third day be raised up.”
Luke 9:44. “Let these words sink into your ears, for the Son of Man will be delivered up into the hands of men.”
taken up. The Greek word is analambano. It means ascension (to God the Father).
intently set his face. Jesus has a great determination to do his Father’s will, no matter where it led him. He was headed to Jerusalem where he would suffer, die, rise and ascend. He was not going to look back and second-guess his purpose or his destiny. He pressed forward with great resolve! What an example for us!
There’s a great need for us to be resolved as well. In Luke 9:62 Jesus says:
Luke 9:62. No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for God’s Kingdom.
The land was probably very rocky in Palestine and if a farmer were to take his eyes off the path ahead of him while plowing, he wouldn’t furrow a very straight row for his crops and might even damage his plow.
The idea of not looking back brings to mind Lot’s wife, in Genesis 19:26:
Genesis 19:26. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
Jesus faced Jerusalem resolutely. He was quite clear about the mission or journey he was on. Even though the disciples didn’t understand the full meaning of his mission, it was revealed to them bit by bit.
VERSE 52. and sent messengers before his face. They went and entered into a village of the Samaritans, so as to prepare for him.
sent messengers. Jesus wasn’t traveling alone and neither do we.
Once we are called to a specific goal as followers, we must stay resolved to not look back. We might be called to enter a Samaritan village, so to speak, and then be rejected. But that’s to be expected. Jesus himself was rejected lots and lots of times. But that didn’t stop him from his ultimate mission.
They didn’t receive him. Why did the Samaritans reject the messengers of Jesus? Did they have something against Jerusalem? Was it an old rivalry?
In our own lives, as we attempt to evangelize other people, we will likely face rejection along the way. But again, we have the example of Jesus before us.
So following Jesus is our priority. Even the best excuse should be weighed most seriously. Jesus is our Lord and Master. His kingdom is meant for all! He calls us to proclaim it from the rooftops!
VERSE 54. When his disciples, James and John, saw this, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from the sky, and destroy them, just as Elijah did?”
command fire … destroy them. James and John speak as though they can easily do this thing. They had not the slightest doubt about calling down fire from heaven. They believe they can work miracles.
Notice the “methodology” implied in their response. They didn’t say they would fast and pray. They didn’t speak of earning graces or buying an indulgence. They didn’t say they would injure themselves as a spiritual practice.
No, they said they could call it down. The miracle would come about because of their words.
Do you believe that you can do miracles? Why or why not?
he turned and rebuked them. James and John offer to use miraculous powers to kill. Jesus rebukes them. His followers should never ever resort to religious violence.
Unfortunately, Christians are among the most bloodthirsty, violent people on earth.
VERSE 56. For the Son of Man didn’t come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” They went to another village.
the Son of Man … to save them. What was the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ? How did he himself define it? Here are the verses we find in the four gospels.
VERSE 57. As they went on the way, a certain man said to him, “I want to follow you wherever you go, Lord.”
I want to follow you. This is a wonderful offer. Too bad it is all about self. Notice the bold assertion of self: “I” will do such-and-such. It’s all about the person’s ego, and not about Christ.
In the spiritual life, it’s never about self. It’s always about God and what he’s doing in our lives. Sure, our part is to have faith and to act on it. But it’s God who does the heavy lifting.
This offer reminds us of Peter at the Last Supper. He said that even if all the others abandoned Christ, Peter himself never would. That also was a great big ego trying to feel even more wonderful about itself.
So this wonderful-sounding offer doesn’t really amount to much at all. It’s really about self.
VERSE 58. Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. The Lord Jesus Christ was homeless.
Matthew 8:20. Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
VERSE 59. He said to another, “Follow me!” But he said, “Lord, allow me first to go and bury my father.”
Lord, allow me first. This person replies with the correct theology. He calls Jesus “Lord.” But his discipleship is immature. He says, “me first.”
In our day, many of those who focus on correct theology have tragically immature discipleship.
In those days, to bury one’s father didn’t mean to literally bury one’s father. It meant to go live with your elderly parents until, in the fullness of time, over the course of years, they finally passed away and you got the inheritance.
This person was deferring his commitment to Jesus Christ for at least a year, and probably more.
We disciples are called to a radical commitment to Jesus Christ. Our commitment to him should make all our other commitments pale in comparison.
VERSE 60. But Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead, but you go and announce God’s Kingdom.”
VERSE 61. Another also said, “I want to follow you, Lord, but first allow me to say good-bye to those who are at my house.”
Lord, but first allow me. This person also replies with the correct theology: “Lord.”
But for this individual also, the discipleship is immature. He says, “I want to follow you, Lord, but first allow me …” Let’s shorten that: “first … me.”
Jesus says his kingdom is more important than family. The Messiah and his message cannot wait. Let’s use our freedom to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. If we get that right, other things will fall into place.
Psalm 141:8. For my eyes are on you, LORD, the Lord. In you, I take refuge. Don’t leave my soul destitute.
Wisdom 7:11. All good things came to me with her, and innumerable riches are in her hands.
Sirach 51:21. My whole being was stirred to seek her; therefore I have made her my prize possession. (NAB translation)
Matthew 6:33. But seek first God’s Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well.
Luke 9:61. Another also said, “I want to follow you, Lord, but first allow me to say good-bye to those who are at my house.
Luke 12:31. But seek God’s Kingdom, and all these things will be added to you.
VERSE 62. But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for God’s Kingdom.”
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.