Notes on Luke 9:1-36

Luke 9:1-36
AFTER the Lord had given a picture, as it were, of all that was going on in chap. 8., He raises the question in chap. 9. as to who He was, and He tells His disciples some should see His glory-for the mount of transfiguration shows what the glory of the kingdom would be. Peter speaks of the power and coming, “when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory when we were with him in the holy mount.” But it is a closing testimony at that time, though the glory would come; and as a signal that it was, the disciples were to shake off the dust from their feet, when they were not received. It is interesting to mark all the circumstances which bring out the fact of its being the Lord Himself there, and a test to Israel. He worked miracles, and could confer on others the power, as we have seen. Now we find another thing He is committing the power to several together, giving to those men, a number of them together, power and authority over the devils, and not only entrusting it to whom He pleases individually.
Three things we have noticed in connection with the testimony of the Son of man:
1, the testimony of God to Him;
2, the misery of man set aside by Him; and
3, devils cast out,
so proving that it was really the Lord visiting this world in grace and power. There will be the display of power by and by; but He was bringing in, in His own Person, the manifestation of that which will be then full and perfect, so being an earnest of the “powers of the world to come,” alluded to in Hebrews. This was not redemption, but the exercise of power in dealing with the enmity of man against Himself, and they would not have Him in this way.
Ver. 3, &c. He is sending out His disciples, and in so doing He disposes of all their circumstances. While He was with them, He supplied them with everything—they lacked nothing. The power of the Lord was there to take care of them, wherever they were. Afterward when He was going to leave them, He tells them to take a sword. They would have to shift for themselves, as it were; but while He was with them He was their shelter, &c. As in the demand for the ass to ride into Jerusalem, He proves His authority royal and divine altogether— “the Lord hath need of him.” The disciples depart, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere. Then comes the question of who He was; He would have the conscience awakened about Him. There are two things in man brought out by the question—curiosity is excited on the one hand, and perplexity and dismay on the other.
Ver. 7-9. He goes on, and wherever there is an ear to hear, He ministers to them according to the grace of the kingdom.
Ver. 11, 12. The disciples ask Him to send the multitude away. Let them go and get lodging. No, says the Lord, “give ye them to eat.” He does not now say He would feed them, but He is committing to others the same power as He had himself, and He would exercise their faith in what He could do by them. This applies to the church now. Faith uses the power that is in the Head. “Give ye them to eat.” What He expected was for faith to exercise His divine power, that which they saw in Him. We should be so reckoning on the power in the Head. The Lord was trying their faith in Him, “Give ye them to eat.” But no; they had no faith; they began to reckon on their resources— “We have no more but five loaves and two fishes.” So it is with us! No faith! Memory is not faith. “He smote the rock, that the waters gushed and the streams overflowed. Can he give bread also?” He gave us water, but can He give us food? We know He has done that one thing, but can He do this other thing to-day? We want to count on the energy of the Lord's love, and expect Him to be interested for us. When He said, “Give ye them to eat,” they should have expected He would give them the power. Jehovah was amongst them, exercising His own power; but we see in their answer the horrid principle of unbelief. Unbelief shuts out God, and limits itself to what it sees— “except we go and buy meat,” &c. “He made them all sit down by fifties in a company. And they did eat and were all filled.” It was said in Psa. 132, “I will satisfy her poor with bread,” and here He was doing it. This was said of their King, and He had chosen Zion; He had desired it for His habitation. He was here giving a sign that He was the One to accomplish this blessing, for He was feeding their poor with bread. He was not only sending out the power through His disciples, but Himself among them; not only as a man, a messenger, but as it is said in Hebrews, “the word began to be spoken by the Lord.” He was the Apostle. There were others sent afterward, but He Himself was there first as their Apostle. It is a solemn thing to think that the Lord has really visited this world! He has come and presented Himself first to His people Israel, but they would not have Him. It shows us what the world is we are in. God is now dealing with it in grace, though His Son has been rejected.
“Twelve baskets of fragments.” Just observe, in passing, that the number twelve is significant of power exercised in the way of government—twelve apostles, twelve gates to the city in Revelation, &c.
Hitherto we have been looking at Christ presenting Himself among the people as Jehovah, the Messiah; we now see Him as the dependent man, praying. He was Immanuel, God with us; Son of David; Son of man He was to be all. Then the question is started among the disciples, who He was. Some said one thing, and some another; but Peter said, “the Christ of God.” Upon this, He charges them to tell no man that thing. There was faith, however feeble, dictating this answer, and therefore there is no thinking about it. With perfect certainty, Peter says, “The Christ of God.” So it always is with faith. When the Spirit of God brings home the truth with power, there is no uncertainty about it. A man may not doubt whether Christ is the Son of God, or not; but the mind may work upon it, and think, perhaps, I do not love Him enough to be saved; then there is uncertainty. But when the Spirit, with power, shows whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him; then I believe it, and I see that my sins and my iniquities He will “remember no more.” It may set a man thinking about the consequences of a truth.
Ver. 22. He now passes by the thing that has been already brought out, and He presents Himself to them as the Son of man, and He is going to suffer,—to be crucified. They must therefore be content to take up their cross. A new thing was coming in; He was going to be rejected, going to be slain, and the third day rise again. It is no longer Messianic ground, but in another sphere altogether beyond this their hopes must lie. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily.” “Daily” —this is the trial. A man might heroically do it once for all, and he would have plenty of people to honor him, and have books written about him, but it is terribly difficult to go on every day denying oneself, and no one knowing anything about it. It came to this, that if you spare the flesh in this life, you will lose your life in the next; and what if a man gain the whole world and lose his own soul? what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? It is not a question of bringing life down to the flesh; but if you lose your life here, you will get it elsewhere—above and beyond this world; “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” It is giving up the world for eternal life, or for eternal misery, that is the real question. “What is a man advantaged?” You must give it up; you cannot keep it.
There is the glory of the kingdom; there is the manifestation of glory coming. Those tastes and dispositions which are attracted by Jesus, cannot find their portion here. “They declare plainly that they seek a country; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God,” &c. “Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, &c., of him shall the Son of man be ashamed,” when He comes in the display of His own glory. (See Dan. 7:1; 31In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters. (Daniel 7:1)) One like to the Son of man came to the Ancient of days, &c., and there was given Him dominion, &c. Then He comes too in the glory of the Son of God -. His Father's glory, and in the glory of the angels. The angels are waiting upon Him who created them, for they were created for Him as well as by Him, and thus give glory to Him as Son of man; giving Him His proper glory, for He has not lost a tittle of His glory: “Thou hast set him over the works of thy hands:” “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” There was the same thing at Sinai. “The law was ordained by angels.” “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels.” (Psa. 68).
We are now finding the displayed glory in this triple character spoken of. (v. 26). It is that glory when He appears; and it is a question of His being ashamed of those who have been ashamed of Him—they could not deny themselves present advantage. I do not here allude to the Father's house, which of course has another character. Here it is the kingdom manifested in its glory to the earth.
Ver. 28. “He went to pray.” This is not mentioned in the other gospels He was going to show His disciples His glory, to give the declaration of His power and coming. From the other gospels we find that a week after this, He went up to Jerusalem where He was to be crucified. “The fashion of his countenance was changed.” An entire change of things is here. He talks of His decease, which He should accomplish at Jerusalem, where He ought to have been crowned; but there He is going to be crucified. There, where this horn of David was to bud, shall this root of David be taken, and by wicked hands be crucified and slain. This is the deep center of all the change “There talked two men with him, Moses and Elias.” This we may look at in two ways: dispensationally, as representing the law and the prophets; and in this way Moses held a very peculiar place, for it was through Him the law was given—Elijah had nearly as important a place also, for though the Jews were in a right position, they had failed in it, and he goes back to Horeb. The other prophets were never called to work miracles. Except the account of the dial of Ahaz, we hear of no miracle in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Habakkuk, &c. Those prophets, sent of God, gave proof that He was caring for Israel; but there was nothing like the calling back in Elijah Elias stood as the maintainer of the law, when the people had departed from it most grossly, though all the prophets, even to Malachi, called back to law.
Moses and Elias were taken away, and Jesus is left alone. Law was gone, prophecy gone, and Christ is alone, and He was going to be crucified. All the fabric built up by law and prophets (not the testimony given by them, but law as given to man in the flesh,) is broken up, because man ended by killing the Lord come in the flesh; therefore all is gone. Peter would have had the three established together, taken all alike, “Let us build three tabernacles,” &c. But that moment Moses and Elias disappear, and the voice is heard; “This is my beloved Son, hear him.” It is now the righteousness of God without law, in Jesus. Law did not send Christ. What law could have been put upon God to do it? Nothing but divine love could have originated such a thought. “Grace reigned through righteousness.” The law was good and perfect, but Christ was far beyond the law. Moses and Elias, therefore, were not to have any place with Him. God the Father put them aside, when Peter wishes to put them in connection. They disappear immediately. This is the important thing for us. Every word of law and prophets is the truth of God, but these were until John. Now the Son of God is the messenger of the Father's love, and the accomplisher of Divine righteousness. When He is there, the voice says, “This is my beloved Son; hear him,” —and He is left alone.
Mark, too, that they were occupied with His death, while talking with Him. One thing occupies the minds of heaven and earth. He was going to be crucified where He ought to have been King. Under such circumstances, there was nothing for heaven or earth to talk about but His death. And so for us, the great thing to talk about Messiah is, that He died. Though He could destroy all the evil that had come in, He must die—in grace of course. It must all end in death, because the carnal mind is not only under Satan's power, but enmity against God: therefore heaven has to speak.
Zion, the very place He had chosen, where He had been and is to be—the special place of God's favor, is to be the scene of His death. There they cast Him out of the world He came to save. The One in whom all human and Divine righteousness and perfections were centered, must die there. All man's nature, under the most advantageous circumstances; all man's wickedness, spite of the public, and patient, and varied ways of God in government, are brought out here.
Moses could deal with man as man; and bring water from the rock for them, in answer to their murmurings; the prophet the same, “Plead with me,” “Put me in remembrance, let us plead together.” But now, all this was gone. God had cultivated the vineyard, done all that could be done for it. There was yet one thing, His Son—the best of all. Him He sent, and they cast Him out and slew Him And now the testimony concerning man is, that he has “killed the Prince of life,” and “denied the Holy One and the Just.” We never can have peace then, till we get pardon through Christ on the cross. Then we see a true picture of heaven; but all the intermediate dealings of testimony are entirely short of what we have in Christ on the cross, because short of the ground of what man actually is, which fully came out only when he “killed the Prince of life.”