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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary

Luke 9

 

 

Verses 32-54

What Kind of a Christian Am I?

Luke 9:32-54

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

In the ninth chapter of Luke, we have at least nine marks of carnality displayed by the disciples. We will introduce the study by noting two of these, leaving seven to be brought out later.

As these nine marks of carnality are brought out, let each one endeavor to answer the question which we have used as the subject of this study. The objective is to discover not what the disciples did, so much as to discover what we are doing.

The Christians of today, after two thousand years of observation and spiritual guidance should be far more spiritual than were the rugged men of the first century who left their all to follow Christ.

The ninth chapter of Luke describes how Jesus Christ with His twelve Apostles went aside privately into a desert place. As soon as the people knew where He had gone, they followed Him. He cordially received them, and began to speak unto them the things of the Kingdom of God. It was not long until the day wore away and night came on. "And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto Him, Send the multitudes 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" (Luke 9:12 ).

1. The first mark of carnality which we see, is the effort on the part of the disciples to give direction to their Lord. They told Jesus what they thought He should do. How often is this true today? The "Tator" family are still members of the church. Miss Agi-Tator is always present in church assemblies. Miss Agi is always stirring up a fuss. She is a veritable cyclone of disturbance. No matter how calm the water, she can raise a storm from most unexpected sources.

Mr. Dick-Tator is also an always present member. He does not hesitate to tell everybody else what they should do. He is a self-appointed lord and master of assemblies. He gives his advice upon every occasion. He always knows the way in and the way out.

The trouble with Mr. Dick-Tator is that he is quite as ready to dictate to his Lord, as he is to his brethren. He knows just how God should run His affairs, and he is very quick to tell Him so.

The disciple who voiced the thought of the twelve and told Christ to send the multitude away, failed utterly to grasp the Lord's purposes and plans. He and the other disciples were shortsighted, on the one hand, and doubtful of Christ's ability to meet the issue, on the other hand.

2. The second mark of carnality was the disciples' unbelief as to how Christ could feed the multitude. "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" (Luke 9:13 ).

Five thousand men presented a tremendous problem to the disciples who knew nothing of more than five loaves, and two fishes. What were they among so many. In their eyes, even God could not feed so great a crowd with so little.

How often there are those who circumscribe and limit the Almighty. Is anything too hard for Him? Is there any exigency which He cannot meet? The Apostles did not say, "What are five loaves and two fishes, except God undertake." They said, What are "five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat."

They knew of no way to meet the situation except by their own strength. Alas, that is the difficulty in church life today. We think everything will fall to pieces except we do this, or we do that. Instead of counting God in, we count Him out. We lean upon the arm of flesh, instead of the arm Divine. We all know the story of how Christ met the exigency of that hour, and of how the multitude were fed and of how twelve baskets full were left over.

I. HEAVY WITH SLEEP (Luke 9:32 )

1. The supremacy of the physical over the spiritual. The carnal Christian still sleeps when he should be watching. He is weak through the flesh. He has the will, but he knows not how to accomplish. Like Paul he cries out, "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"

Are there not many Christians who are heavy with sleep? From the pulpit we have, ourself, observed many doing their best to keep their eyes open, as they tried to listen to the message. In spite of themselves, however, their heads would drop over, as their eyes closed. They were dead to everything we were saying.

2. The extent of their spiritual loss. That day upon the mountain top was the Utopia of the three disciples' experiences, thus far, with Christ. Nothing so full of glory and of meaningful vision had ever happened to them. In spite of their peculiar privileges and opportunities, they were heavy with sleep.

No verse of Scripture seems to us to have a sadder tinge than one which reads: "But Thomas, * * was not with them." The Lord appeared in His resurrection power and might disclosing Himself unto His disciples as the resurrection and the life. The Lord appeared unto them as the fulfillment of all which had been written of Him. The Lord appeared unto them as the dispeller of all their fears and doubts, but Thomas was not there.

Thus, on this occasion, it was too bad that the three disciples were so heavy with sleep that they could not catch the fashion of His countenance when it was altered; and that they could not see the glory of His raiment which was white and glistening. It was too bad that they were so heavy with sleep and that they could not hear the conversation which took place between Christ and Moses and Elias as they talked of His decease.

3. When they were awake. It was not when they slept, but when they came out of sleep that they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him.

It is only when we come out of our sleep; when the spiritual is supreme over the carnal, that we will catch the visions of glory. Then, with unclouded vision we will see Him and be conformed to His glory.

II. A QUEST FOR THREE TABERNACLES (Luke 9:33 )

Our verse says "And it came to pass, as they departed from Him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: let us make three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said."

1. Peter's desire was to immortalize the Transfiguration scene. He had a little, perhaps, of that spirit which prompted Job when he said: "Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock forever!" Job wanted to emblazon the confession of his faith in the sight of all men. Peter wanted to emblazon the wonders of the transfiguration in the sight of all men.

2. Peter's mistake was his desire to equalize the glory of the three characters Christ, Moses, and Elias. This is no small matter. We wonder if this same thing is not manifest in our day in an ever enlarged measure.

There are some who would give honor to Jesus, but, at the same time, they would honor Buddha or Confucius with similar monumental words. To them, Christ was a mighty Man, but no more than a man. They would, with one breath, call Him Divine, and with another breath, they would seek to deify other men. The spirit of the age is even going beyond the mistake of Peter. The spirit of the age even dares to humanize Christ, while deifying man. There are many who would not only rob Christ of His glory by placing Him in the back line of human achievement, but they would glory in men beyond any glory they give to Christ.

3. The Divine rebuke. Peter had scarcely finished his words, until down through the blue came the voice of God saying, "This is My beloved Son: hear Him." God will not for one moment allow anyone to debase His Son, or to lift up any man to the exalted position of His Son. Concerning the angels, God said: "Let all the angels of God worship Him." Concerning Moses, God said: "[Christ] was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he which buildeth the house hath more honour than the house." "Unto the Son [God] saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever."

III. A FEAR OF THE GLORY (Luke 9:34 )

Our verse says: "While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them and they feared as they entered into the cloud."

1. Fear is a mark of carnality. Where there is perfect love and undaunted faith, there is no fear. May we ask, therefore, who is it who is afraid of God. To this question we answer:

(1) The one who disobeys God is afraid of Him. As soon as Adam had sinned he hid himself in the trees of the Garden. As soon as Achan had sinned, he thought to hide himself by hiding his sin. When Saul had sinned he thought to cover his sin, under the pretense of Divine service. Sin always separates from God and fills the heart with fear.

(2) The one who fails to understand God is afraid of Him. The three disciples had been with the Lord during many days of travel. They had heard Him preach, had seen Him work miracles, and had watched Him pray. The full sweep, however, of His might and glory had never broken upon them. They had acclaimed Him God, and yet, somehow, they had never recognized the glory of His Godhead. Now, as they entered into the cloud, they were afraid.

2. Will saints fear as they enter His glory at the Coming of the Lord? We are all ready to grant that there are many today who are afraid to get too close in at a real, spiritual, Holy Ghost revival. They like to know Christ at a distance, but they do not like to know Him in the intimacy of His exalted Person.

What will such saints do when the Lord descends from Heaven with a shout and with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God? What will they do when He comes in the glory of His Father, with the Holy angels? What will they do when He comes with clouds, and they enter into the cloud? The Epistle of John tells us of certain ones who will draw back from Him at His Coming.

IV. THEY COULD NOT CAST HIM OUT (Luke 9:40 )

Following the glories of the transfiguration the disciples came down from the hill, and much people were there.

1. We should leave the glory of His presence on the mountain top to serve in the valley below. If God has given us revelations of Himself and visions of His glory we should not hold them with the spirit of a miser. We should tell them abroad. What He tells us in secret, we should herald on the mountain tops. What He tells us on the mountain top, we should herald in the dale. We get, in order to give. We receive that we may impart.

2. Valley scenes. Down in the valley there was a man with a demoniac son. Oh, that we knew by personal contact more of the sobs and the cries of the underworld. Many of us live in an atmosphere of spiritual vision while we utterly fail to touch the demonized, devil-driven multitudes which flock in the lower atmosphere of sinful life. To be sure, we should never leave the glory behind, but we should take the glory down to the sobbing crowds. Our Lord did this. He came forth from Heaven to sit with sinners and to eat with them. He did not enter into their sins, but He brought His light to shine away their darkness.

3. The disciples' failure. As soon as they came down from the mountain, a man said unto Jesus: "I besought Thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not." With what sorrow did Christ address the nine disciples who had been left while He took Peter, James, and John into the mount. In addressing them, He also addressed the religious leaders of their day, and said: "O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you?"

Beloved, are we less helpless than they? Do we rise in a chariot of victory, or do we walk in the maze of defeat? Is it not written of us, as well as of them, "They could not"? How sadly do we misrepresent the power and the glory of our Lord. The world brings to us her unclean and Satan-driven sons, and we stand helpless to deliver them. Would that the Church might once more receive a baptism of fire. Would that once more the Spirit would find believing hearts who would undertake for God.

V. HUMAN REASONINGS (Luke 9:45-46 )

1. They understood not. Nothing could have been plainer. Christ said: "Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of Man shall be delivered into the hands of men." The fact that the Words of the Lord Jesus were simple and plain did not in the least affect them, for we read, "They understood not this saying."

The natural man cannot understand the things of God for they are spiritually discerned. On another occasion, Christ plainly said that He would rise again on the third day. Yet, not one of them understood it, and not one of them was either expecting or awaiting His resurrection. Until this day the eyes of men are blinded lest the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ should shine in upon them and convert them. Christ plainly said: "I will come again"; yet, the majority of Christians know but little of His Coming.

2. They were afraid to ask Him. Perhaps they did not want the light of His coming decease to break upon them. Had Peter, James and John stayed awake they would, at least, have heard Christ speaking with Moses and Elias about His decease. Now they did not understand and they feared to ask. Their fear, perhaps, was augmented by a dread lest He should again say such words as, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?"

3. They reasoned among themselves. Instead of inquiring into the depths of Christ's death, they began to argue about the honor which would be accorded them in His Kingdom. Each one seemed to want the chief place. The Lord kindly rebuked them by taking a child and setting him near by, while He said: "Whosoever shall receive this child in My Name receiveth Me," then He added, "He that is least among you all, the same shall be great."

How carnal it is to be seeking our own glory and particularly a greater glory than that accorded our brethren.

VI. USURPING AUTHORITY (Luke 9:49-50 )

1. The spirit of self-exaltation. John said: "Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy Name; and we forbade him, because he followeth not with us."

This spirit of centering authority in one's own group and of condemning those who serve outside our own circle is very prominent in this hour. Denominations foster this kind of a spirit. The Word says: we should have the same care one for another.

Are we ready to back a revival held by some one outside of our particular following? Do we rejoice in their successes, and their victories, as much as we rejoice in our own?

John must have thought that anyone who would not follow under their leadership could not serve the Lord. He wanted to stop the activities of all who did not walk under his banner. Would that we might forever cease from that spirit which says: "I am of Paul," or, "I am of Apollos," or, I am of "Cephas." Why not be all of us of Christ?

2. The Master's rebuke. The Lord Jesus said unto John: "Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us." The Lord must have spoken prophetically. He certainly looked down into our own day, knowing that we, as well as John, would walk after the flesh and in carnality. We take it therefore that His Words are applicable to us as well as to John. He who says: "God bless me, and my wife; my son John, and his wife; us four, and no more" is certainly not walking after the Spirit.

Let us remember that one is our Master, even Christ, and all we be brethren. The foot has no right to say to the hand, because it is not the foot, therefore it is not of the body. Our earnest prayer is the prayer of our Lord, "That they all may be one."

VII. ASSUMING JUDGESHIP (Luke 9:52 ; Luke 9:54 )

1. Those who repulse the Saviour. The disciples had gone ahead of Christ to make ready for Him. They entered into a village of the Samaritans, but the Samaritans would not receive Him. We would not condone at all the action on the part of the Samaritans. They were, no doubt, to be blamed.

2. James and John requested the privilege of bringing fire down from Heaven to consume the recalcitrant Samaritans.

(1) They must have experienced a bitter resentment. This was entirely foreign to the Spirit of their Lord. He taught us to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us, and despitefully use us. Carnality, however, knows nothing of spiritual life. It knows nothing of turning the other cheek to the smiter. It has never been able to heap coals of fire by deeds of kindness upon the heads of its enemies.

(2) They overstated the matter of the fire. James and John said: "Wilt Thou that we command fire to come down from Heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?" The fact is that Elias did not do any such a thing. He brought the fire from Heaven down to consume the sacrifice, but not the men.

In any event all judgment is given over unto the Son, and we are not to avenge ourselves, but rather to give place to wrath. Who made us the judge? Our Lord told us plainly: "Judge not, that ye be not judged."

3. The Lord's rebuke. Unto the disciples Christ said, as He turned toward them: "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."

How sad it was that throughout the whole three and a half years in which the disciples were constant companions of the Lord Jesus that it was necessary so frequently for Him to rebuke them. It is no better today. We too are filled with mistakes and we know not what manner of men we are. Let us therefore think soberly lest we speak in our own conceits.

AN ILLUSTRATION

Benjamin Franklin discovered that plaster sown in a field made things grow. Early in the spring he traced letters on his ground and put plaster into them. When the seed sprang up his neighbors saw that where the letters were sown there was a deeper green than in the rest of the field. The letters read: "This has been plastered." Franklin did not need to argue with his neighbors about the benefit of plaster for fields. For as the season went on and the grain grew, those bright green letters rose above all the rest until they were a kind of relief plate in the field: "This has been plastered."

I think that Jesus wants to write on our hearts the words: "These people are Christians." A good many people profess to believe that there is no virtue in the teachings of Christ, but if they see that we are patient and gentle and unselfish, kind and thoughtful and pure, that we never speak words of untruth or ungraciousness, that we do not live to please ourselves chiefly they will notice the great difference between the rest of the human field and our lives, and they will say: "These people are truly Christians." They will never find any argument against Christianity when it is shown in our lives, you may be sure.

 


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Bibliography Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Luke 9:4". "Living Water". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lwc/luke-9.html.

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