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Christmas Reflections: Walk Through Luke - Chapter 9



The Gospel of Luke tells of the origins, birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.


December 9

Day 9

Luke chapter 9

There are 24 chapters in this book

They bring us through the story of Jesus - the reason for this season.


I also include in the bottom or comments some “extras” like short videos and songs that you may have never heard (or artists you may not know) that resonate with me during this holiday time.


Each post will start with who is who so that you can get a solid understanding of what this chapter is about. I encourage you to read the chapter in your own Bible after you read this. If you don’t have a Bible there are lots of free apps. I use several versions in my studying to ensure I have a full understanding of what I’ve read.


This is my commentary.


Who was Luke?

A physician, a researcher, a traveling friend of Paul (mentioned in Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 1:24), perhaps someone researching facts to help the legal case for Paul while in prison in Rome, a non-Jew, the only Gentile author of a book in the New Testament. He penned not only Luke, but also Acts.


New characters continue to be introduced - new in this chapter:

* Herod

* 5000 people in Bethsaida

* Moses and Elijah

* A boy who was possessed

* Many unnamed people

* 3 men on the road


COMMANDMENTS & AUTHORITY

Jesus gave his 12 followers the authority to deal with demons, cure diseases, and preach the news of God’s kingdom. Jesus wanted the disciples to go wherever people would listen. He told them to take nothing with them but the clothes on their backs and to stay with people who would welcome them in. He also said if they went to a town where they were not welcomed - to leave, not make a scene, and just move on.


THOUGHTS OF HEROD

Herod found out what was going on but was unsure what to think since some people said John the Baptist had come back to life, or that Elijah had appeared, or a prophet from long ago had appeared.


Herod was perplexed because he had John beheaded. He said he wanted to see this man Jesus. (He was probably curious and even a bit afraid - he wasn’t ready to me someone who could transform his entire life and eternity).


NO QUIET SPACE

The apostles had returned and were telling Jesus how they had done. He took them to Bethsaida to try to bring them to a quiet place. But every time someone found out where Jesus would be, people came in droves. Jesus graciously talked to them about the kingdom of God and many people were healed.


HUNGER

The day started getting late and the disciples told Jesus they should send the people away to nearby farms to get something to eat and a room for the night. They were in the middle of nowhere with no accommodations or food.


5+2=5000

Jesus said “you should feed them.” And they told him they seriously could only come up with 5 loaves of bread and a few fish. They said they could go to a town for food but estimated there were 5000 people to feed (it was likely that it was perhaps double that number since this number may have only counted the men but not the women and children.) How long would that take? How much money was needed? How could they carry that much food back? How could they get it done quickly?


How many times have you had something hard to do and you don’t have the time, money, resources to get it done. And then - somehow God shows up.

This happens all the time to my mom Angie LaPlaca Russo. Each time we pray with gratitude. These disciples only were thinking of logistics and what they KNEW - not how God can do exceedingly and abundantly more than we can.


Jesus told them to sit the people in groups of 50 (or 100 groups). He took the 5 loaves and 2 fish, lifted his eyes to Heaven, prayed, blessed, broke the food into pieces, and handed the food to the disciples to hand out. They passed out the food in baskets and when they were done and everyone had their fill there were 12 full baskets of leftovers.


THINK ABOUT IT

One key lesson here is that if you just start giving yourself away (time, talents, resources) somehow God will continue to fill your bucket. The more you keep and hoard - the less you somehow have.


HE CARES WHAT WE THINK

Another time Jesus was off by himself praying and the disciples came up to Him. He asked what the crowds were saying about him and who he was. (He already knew but wanted to hear it from them).

Some people said he was John, Elijah, or a prophet from long ago.


Jesus asked them “what are YOU saying about me and who I am?”

Peter answered “the messiah Son of God and God sent you.” Jesus warned them strongly to keep that quiet and not tell that to anyone. He told them it was necessary for him to proceed through an ordeal of great suffering, be tried and guilty by religious leaders, be killed, and on the 3rd day be raised again.

Then he told ALL the people that were there what they could expect for themselves:

  • if you want to come, let me lead. I’m in the drivers seat - not you. You must think of me, not yourself.

  • Don’t run from suffering but embrace it - your own life is not as important as carrying your own cross and being willing to die

  • Follow Me and I’ll show you how - those who try to keep their life safe will lose it but those who follow will have true life

  • Self help is no help

  • Self sacrifice is the way, My way to find your true self

  • What good would it do to get everything you wanted but to lose your own soul - you’ll have just destroyed yourself in the end.

  • If any of you are embarrassed or ashamed by Me and how I teach, I’ll be more ashamed by you for one day the Son of Man will return and everyone will see his power. He will come back with an army of angels and with the beautiful power of his father God. Do not be ashamed


He told them even some of them would see all of this happen and that all of it was true


ANOTHER MOUNTAIN TO CLIMB

8 days later he climbed another mountain to pray with Peter, John, and James. While he was praying - the appearance of his face changed and his clothing became a blinding White color. At once 2 men were there talking with him. They were Moses and Elijah. They were talking about his exodus and what would happen in Jerusalem, as this was the way God wanted him to leave this world.


The disciples were slumped over and asleep and when they Woke they rubbed their eyes and saw this happen. Peter addressed Jesus about this great moment and without thinking he told Jesus they should build 3 memorials.


While he was talking a light-radiant cloud enveloped them and they became deeply aware of God - even hearing him say - “this is my Son who I have chosen, Listen to Him!”

The cloud dissipated and Jesus was standing alone. They were all speechless and didn’t tell anyone what they saw.


WHERE HELP COMES FROM

They came down the mountain the next day and saw a large crowd. A man told them about his only child, a son. The boy was possessed and when a spirit would seize him it would throw him to the floor in convulsions with a foaming mouth, beating himself Til black and blue. The father told Jesus he asked the disciples for help but nobody could cure the boy

Jesus was frustrated by the men and losing patience. He said “how many times do I have to go over these things”?

I wonder how often Jesus must get frustrated with MY excuses in life. I don’t think Jesus is saying to me “how many times”. I think he just keeps pursuing me and telling me until it sticks. This is probably the biggest gift of grace. We must listen but if we don’t “get it” we must keep listening and keep trying and keep believing.

When the boy was brought to Him - he fell on the ground convulsing. Jesus ordered this nasty spirit to be gone, healed the boy, stood him up, and gave him back to his father. People still seemed surprised at these miracles that Jesus was Performing time and time again.


ASK WHEN YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND

While everyone was standing around talking about how great this was - Jesus said to them “don’t FORGET what I’m telling you - the Son of Man is about to be handed over and betrayed.” They couldn’t understand what he was saying but were too embarrassed to ask him to clarify. They literally stood around and were arguing about which of them would become the most famous. When Jesus saw how much this mattered to them, he brought a child next to him and said “whoever accepts this child as if he were me, accepts me. Whoever accepts me accepts my Father who sent me. The person who makes himself the least important around you is the greatest. Your spirit, not your size, makes the difference”. ARE YOU pointing people to YOU? Or to HIM?


We are small. He isn’t. Our thoughts and actions can only do but a portion of what God can do. However - it doesn’t mean do nothing. Even small things can make a big difference if you’re doing it for Him.

This reminds me of a song by an awesome person and artist - Josh Wilson called “Dream Small” that says “don’t buy the lies you’ve got to do it all, keep loving, serving, listening, learning, praying, hoping, seeking, searching. Out of these small things and watch them grow bigger. The God who does all things makes oceans...from river. Yeah 5 loaves and 2 fishes could feed them all - so dream small” look up the song. It’s beautiful. All of his songs are. I’ll share another one of his songs in the part below but I encourage you to check out Josh Wilson wherever you download and listen to music - he is in my normal rotation amd has been for years


RELATIONSHIPS

Back to the chapter. After Jesus said this John told him that they saw a man healing and preaching and wasn’t “in their club” so they tried to stop him. Jesus told them “don’t stop him. If he’s not an enemy he’s an ally”.


Have you ever done something and find out someone else takes what you’ve done and starts sharing it? There’s a difference between backhanded compliments and backstabbing or people who steal your ideas because they’re weak and can’t come up with stuff on their own. I’ve dealt with some of that in my career (maybe that has also happened to you. It’s so frustrating - but I learned I have to take my eyes off that person and off my own ego and anger, hurt or frustration. Then - try really hard to let it go and realize

  • MAYBE God will deal with that person himself.

  • MAYBE God made it happen for us to learn something.

  • MAYBE God did it so whatever I was doing (or you) could be spread further or to open space for us to do more).


What this example in the story is - is not about someone trying to be bigger or steal content. This “ally” wanted people to know Jesus. This was not self service. This was Jesus-service.


In the end this has nothing to do with tit for tat. It has nothing really to do with that other preacher or the disciples. It has everything to do with God.


HOW TO EXPRESS ANGER & FRUSTRATION

Jesus was preparing for his ascension and return to Heaven. He gathered up some courage and sent some messengers on ahead to Jerusalem. But when they got to a Samaritan village to set up the hospitality, the people there didn’t want to help. James and John wanted to send a bolt of lightning down upon them and kill them. Jesus emphatically said No!


Hasn’t this feeling ever happened to you? You need help from someone and they won’t give it to you? You have a bad customer support experience and get so frustrated. You can’t get things done because people show up late or unprepared. You ask people to do something and they just don’t deliver. I don’t think I’ve ever wished for a lightning strike to kill someone - but I have felt what I bet these guys felt.


They needed something to go one way and it wasn’t working that way. Sometimes - God just wants us to see something different. To learn something deeper. For us to remember HE knows this is happening.

3 MEN 3 LESSONS

They kept walking along and met a few men:

  1. A man who wanted to go with them. Jesus asked the guy if he really knew what was happening and that they didn’t stay in the best of places.

  2. He saw another guy and asked him to follow. He said his dad had just died and he needed to make preparations for the funeral. Jesus said “your business is life, not death. The time is urgent. It wasn’t that urgent to the man. His family came first.

  3. A third man said he was ready to follow but had to get some things straightened out at home. Jesus told him no procrastination or looking back. You can’t put off God’s kingdom til tomorrow. Look straight ahead and Seize the day!


These are hard lessons.

What would you choose to do?

We make those choices every day.


Tomorrow chapter 10


PRAYER

Lord thank you for your word. Let me not put myself before you or think of myself more than you do. Yet thank you for thinking of me with unconditional love and favor. Remind me to not question Or be Afraid about being provided for. Help me to not see lack, but rather overflowing baskets. Lord help me to not live in procrastination or excuses. I believe you want me to move and I pray that you make it abundantly clear what you want me to do by when and how. I got the Why part figured out. Lord thank you for all things and for blessing my life and my journey - May it all be for your glory. Amen.


MUSIC - the universal language

Here’s a song to welcome us to this day:

This is another a great Josh Wilson song. When you leave your old life it’s hard to not look back. But what is up ahead is so much better. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of the bad things of your past too but they don’t matter to God. A new life is in front. https://youtu.be/AeAP9x42QN8


Here’s another song that came out well over 15 years ago. The beat is entertaining but it’s the words from TobyMac that align with what you read above - to lose it to gain https://youtu.be/l7HM57XX-nQ


EXTRAS:

This is a beautiful clip from The Chosen that shows what it means to walk by faith, not look back, get used to different, and know that God can use anyone. Not only was Matthew despised - but wasn’t who you would think God would choose or who would follow. Not only was he - he wrote the very first book of the New Testament. The more I watch The Chosen the more I love Matthew. Watch it. It’s the best produced show on TV right now and streams free. https://youtu.be/7IUL9yq0We8


And lastly here’s a clip from Jesus of Nazareth. Think of how impossible it was to feed 5000 people. Unimaginable. And yet anything is possible with God. https://youtu.be/3E1A4pLtFDY

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